4-3-2-hold low…heels an inch higher…tail tucked tighter…show those beautiful barre arms!
by Erica McCray
My pulse increases at the thought of being in the studio leading the amazing Barre Forte Gainesville members through a high-energy class! When I registered for my first class–which was donation-based to benefit an animal shelter–in September 2016 becoming a member was not on my mind. Regular exercise, group and individual, have always been an integral aspect of my overall wellness routine. Friends recommend barre classes specifically at this studio because of the great, low-impact/high-energy workout and the empowering community created by Brinn Strange, instructor/operator/owner. I felt comfortable and pushed hard during the hour-long class (many instances of shaking out and jumping back in!) and energized to return in the following days. It didn’t take long for me to be hooked on the studio, the barre babes, and the results! This format in this environment, brought unique improvements in my mental and physical health.
Over the first few months of being a member, I was motivated by the various in-studio challenges and as I grew stronger and more in-tuned to my body, I gained stamina and a desire to improve my form and ability to take advanced options throughout class. When I neared my 100-class milestone, I became curious about training and becoming an instructor. I discussed it with Brinn, but had no intention of becoming one–I was just curious! After that conversation, the idea kept surfacing. Taking the instructor training could be an opportunity to advance my skills as a member even if I wasn’t going to become an instructor. Hmm…intriguing.
I have a teaching background and thought at the very least—if I did pursue becoming an instructor—it wouldn’t be totally foreign. Leading, identifying needs, communicating with and encouraging others comes naturally. Teaching in a studio that feels like a second home would be a new and exciting challenge to push my thinking in a new way.
The days prior to training were filled with anticipation. I didn’t expect it to be easy; I knew it would be physically and mentally demanding. The compressed 2-day format was only the beginning! The weekend programming built on what we (I attended with four ladies) knew about barre from a member perspective. The training gave access to some of the best barre minds so we could gain knowledge about the intentionality of the format, music, physicality, and choreography so that we could be more in-tune during classes we attended and to be prepared to choreograph and ultimately lead classes. We discussed these concepts and practiced with feedback, and demonstrated our learning–yes, there was a test!
Ultimately, I did decide that becoming an instructor at Barre Forte Gainesville was my goal. As I said, the training was just the beginning. I spent time practicing alone, with my barre sisters (i.e., other ladies in training), and different instructors over several months to become comfortable with choreographing and leading individual quadrants (i.e., arms and shoulders, calves and quads, glutes and hamstrings, core) then a full 60-minute class. Instructors and members alike were encouraging and held me accountable for pushing toward my goal.
If you have any inkling of taking the training for your own knowledge and skill or with the goal of becoming an instructor it is a worthwhile investment. Before long, you will be counting bars of music while you’re driving and choreographing while brushing your teeth!