Barre, a workout trend grounded in the basics of ballet but with a unique blend of pilates, dance, yoga and functional training, is a fitness craze that has taken the nation by storm. We love the combination of isometric strength training and high reps of small range movements for its effective toning that leaves regulars long and lean, rather than bulky.
But the workout, which is generally done in studios that boast a ballet barre, can be intimidating for first timers, particularly those without a dance background. To dispel the myth, we turned to the pro behind national chain The Barre Code, which recently launched an on-demand series of classes in addition to its popular studio workouts, to learn more about just what makes barre such a good workout — and also the secrets behind how they get those enviable dancer’s bodies.
Read on for the answers in this exclusive Pursuitist Q&A with Barre Code Co-Founder and Co-CEO Jillian Lorenz.
Lorenz, who co-founded The Barre Code with partner Ariana Chernin in Chicago, married their unique passions for dance and fitness when they started the brand in 2010. Today, they boast more than 30 studios nationwide.
Barre has really taken off in the past few years. Where do you see The Barre Code as filling a gap in the market, and how does it differ from other studios out there?
One of our most unique aspects, and a key aspect of how we differentiate our brand in the marketplace, is the fact that we go beyond the barre. Our program incorporates cardio, strength, and restorative class offerings, creating an all-encompassing fitness program. Our coaching is focused on what our clients can gain in our studios (strength, confidence, muscle, etc.), versus what they can lose. Our brand and group classes are centered upon positivity and empowerment, so you’ll get a healthy dose of inspiration in every single class.
For those who haven’t tried barre, can you explain a bit about why one should try it? We know it’s ballet-based, but how does it differ from a dance class?
Both traditional barre and combination classes like we offer are a great for every fitness level. Traditional barre is low-impact and easy on the joints, that’s why it’s great for everyone. The isometric movements with heavy repetition show results quickly, that’s why people love it.
Barre is built on ballet fundamentals, but not anything like a dance class and no dance experience is required. We do, however, offer alternative classes that go beyond the barre and combine cardio options and sequencing with strength that will allow those searching for more of a dance feel to get it! Our choreography and playlists also constantly change, offering a new workout each and every time.
For those of us who are barre fanatics, like myself, what is the best way to take class to the next level? Is there a workout I should combine barre with for best results?
The great thing about barre (and all workouts) is that how much you put in directly corresponds with how much you get out of it. Pushing yourself to give your all in class will leave you feeling both physically and mentally stronger. We have a very rigorous training program and see our instructors more as coaches to help clients tap into their souls and pull more out of them than they ever thought possible! Also, since our program is so comprehensive, we enjoy adding cardio into our routine as a complement to the strength workouts.
Your brand really took off quite quickly – you went from working this with a corporate job to running this full time within six months. What was the key to going from concept to brand?
My business partner Ariana Chernin and I knew that we had developed a concept that was pretty special, and we let that mission of empowering women lead the way. We both were working corporate jobs, but we spent every waking minute outside of the office focused on making our dream a reality until we were able to open our first studio.
Now you’ve franchised – which is a big decision to make (vs. staying owned and operated) … why did you go this route, and what is your suggestion to others considering this path?
Since our program was always focused on empowering women, the natural path led us to allowing our clients and fans to open their own studios in their markets. This gave us the chance to reach entirely new audiences, and gave women across the country a platform to live their dream lives. For anyone considering going down the franchise route, I definitely want to let them know that it is not easy, but it is so worth it. Hire a strong, supportive team and always go with your gut when bringing a new franchisee into the fold!
With the rise of apps like ClassPass, how do you keep customers loyal and coming back?
We definitely have seen the market change from when we opened seven years ago, but we use it as an opportunity to adapt and grow with the trends. We have always have an emphasis on community in our studios, and that is what keeps our clients coming back – both the chance to get a fantastic workout, and do it alongside women who have become their friends.
Barre is a fantastic workout, but it’s very trendy. How do you make sure it stays in style, and that people don’t stop coming?
Our mantra commits us to always evolving and we see ourselves as the trend creators. The ballet fundamentals are the same as yoga or traditional push-ups – they will be around forever. What we plan to do with our brand, The Barre Code, is to stay committed to our mission and offer the best-in-class fitness program that provides personal growth and empowers women to become their best selves.
You’ve recently launched on-demand classes. How do you see these as complementing your regular in-studio experience?
Our On-Demand portal is a sample of the types of classes you would see in-studio but they are designed in a way so that they are the perfect introduction to The Barre Code, rather than as a replacement for what you can get in the studio. There is no replacement for the feeling of strength and empowerment you get in a classroom, but The Barre Code On-Demand is perfect for vacations or busy seasons!
What’s the biggest misconception about barre, and can you dispel the myth for us?
That it’s not a challenging workout! Our program is difficult, dynamic, and ever-changing, which gives you a unique and amazing workout every single time. Just take a class and see for yourself!
What’s next for The Barre Code brand?
We have SO many exciting changes on the horizon. We are growing extremely rapidly and taking our concept even further. 2018 is going to be a huge year for us – we can’t wait!