how to become barre instructorIt’s official — as of last week, I am a paid, professional ballet barre instructor! This has been a (written, defined) goal of mine at the VERY least since October 2012… one of the things I included as part of my “ideal life” when I attended Making Things Happen in Atlanta six years ago. I have long admired and enjoyed the physical practice of barre, and this past January I decided to truly dedicate myself to it and become a studio member, working out 2- 4 times a week every.single.week. I had taken barre for many years off and on — pop-up classes at Lululemon, freebies here and there, a few months’ stint of Groupon classes at a time. It wasn’t until Lilly was a year old and I was tired of being “skinny fat” after a year of nursing and pretty much not exercising (save for a few weak “mommy and me” yoga classes or walks around the neighborhood), that I started taking barre more seriously. My previous toned hot yoga body had long gone away, and while I was still content with my figure (it grew, birthed, and fed a HUMAN CHILD, for goodness’ sake!), my muscles were pretty much nonexistent and I had major flat mom butt. It felt hard to get out of the house with a one-year-old so I started taking barre3 classes online. They’d range from little 20 minute snippets to full hourlong classes, and they did enough for me to feel like I got some definition again and shaped up my arms and lower body pretty quickly.

Then of course I got pregnant again, with AnnaCate. I tried to maintain my online workout regime but honestly even the half hour online barre classes would leave me lightheaded and winded, so once again I let exercise lay by the wayside. (Which honestly I was too fatigued and exhausted to even worry about!) AnnaCate was born in February 2017 and postpartum a HUGE wave of energy returned as I recovered from being deathly ill. I had undiagnosed cholestasis for weeks before AC was born and my diabetes was not managed excellently, so the combination of things left me nearly incapacitated by the time she was born a month early. (At 9 lb 5 oz, mind you.) Instead of getting hit like a ton of bricks by the newborn phase, I was shocked to find that I felt human again and my liver started functioning the way it was supposed to, so I wasn’t sallow and withering away anymore. (It also helped to have the relief of that nearly-10-lb baby out of my body! Plus a “cake-sized” placenta that was the “biggest [my OB] had ever seen”. Insert huge eyes emoji.)

2017 was a year of pretty poor health, considering all things. Pregnancy had shot my pancreas to crap. I didn’t get a Dexcom until October, and it was midyear before I switched to the amazing endocrinologist I see today. I wasn’t exercising, I wasn’t eating well, I was strung out from lack of sleep and overloading my schedule with responsibilities I shouldn’t have taken on, and overall I was depressed and filled to the brim with anxiety. There were many times in which I felt “This has to be my breaking point…” and knew I needed to make a big change. Especially after the decision to invest in the Dexcom (which — NECESSITY for type 1 diabetes, y’all. NECESSITY), Drew and I had several come-to-Jesus conversations about how I needed to prioritize my physical health and start a maintainable, consistent workout regimen. I loved barre and there was a barre3 studio close to home that offered childcare, so we agreed I’d become a member and do it for real.

So I did! I started in January and kept going. Unlike other times in my life when I would go hard for a few weeks then taper off for several months, I just kept showing up. The financial commitment was a major part of that (I am WAY too cheap to not follow through once I’ve purchased a contract of classes!), and I am so grateful for it. I loved the practice, I loved the hour of solitude (and childcare, just a wall apart but loud tribal music drowning out whatever chaos was ensuing over there), I loved the way it transformed my body, and I loved the way it gave me SERIOUS sanity. An outlet for my aggression! I have to think it’s done wonders for my diabetes control too, but that still has a ways to go on improving (which is really more about my diet than anything).

In April, my friend Chi from church invited me to her barre studio, which was doing a “bring a friend for free!” special that month. I had never even heard of Village Barre before, but it was ten minutes closer to our house (Chi and I live in the same neighborhood!) and although it offered fewer classes every week, it did have childcare 3 days and enough flexibility that I could make something work between me and Drew’s schedules. And an explicitly Christian-based community. So I gave it a shot. I went to the first class (taught by the owner, Rachel) just to try it out, laughed a little at how different a lot of the moves were (and how completely uncoordinated I felt doing them!), and also mused to myself, “Man, she’s basically screaming at us all class!” I wasn’t 100% sold, but they offered a month special if I signed up that day, and I agreed to cancel my barre3 membership after my next month was up to give it a shot. I figured, worst case scenario — I get a month of barre at a discount and can restart at barre3 in June, best case scenario — I have a new studio to become a member at!

May was my first month at Village Barre. I tried to go as often as possible. It surprised me that it helped having fewer class options because I was limited, so I knew I HAD to go in the mornings when they offered childcare, or I HAD to go at 6pm on certain days. I ended up actually going to MORE classes than I was at b3 for that very reason, and Drew and I were both surprised by how well it worked on the days I’d meet him on his commute back from work to swap the kids over to him so I could hit up an evening class. There was definitely a learning curve, since I had been used to taking the same b3 classes every time I’d go, versus the tap n’ pow{h}er and praise n’ pow{h}er offerings that sprinkled in amidst other traditional barre classes at VB. (I also thought tap n’ pow{h}er was going to be a tap dance class — ha!! VERY WRONG. It’s a cardio class and it is VERY HARD.)

When my month was up, I knew for sure I wanted to keep going to Village Barre. I got a three month membership (debating whether I should do month-to-month or purchase a year in advance or what) and once again, just kept showing up!! In July Rachel casually mentioned in one of our classes that a teacher training opportunity was coming up and to look at the pow{h}er method website for more info. Not thinking much about it, I decided to google it just to see what the time and financial commitment it would take in case that was something I might pursue in the future. I couldn’t find anything local so I asked Rachel in person. That ended up spiraling into a longer conversation, then a text conversation, then the next thing I know, a September training was scheduled in Franklin on the weekend that worked for me! Not even a few DAYS later, I had a wedding and got an unexpected tip in the EXACT. TUITION. AMOUNT. for barre training! God tends to be VERY clear with me on certain things He wants me to pursue (because I am a slow learner and hardheaded and tend to not pick up on things that may be subtle — thank you, Lord!), so this was definitely one of them.

The first weekend in September I completed my training!! It was much less painful than my yoga teacher training (first off, because I’d already gone through the very difficult and vigorous 200hr RYT for hot yoga five years ago; and secondly, because it is not remotely a 200hr training and just so different by design!) and so uplifting, encouraging, inspiring. Exactly what I needed. I demo’d a mock class a couple of weeks ago and then co-taught two classes, and to my surprise and delight (I expected the process to take so much longer!), I got to teach my very first REAL classes last Thursday and Friday!

God’s hand has been in every single step of this process — from me going to “potential teacher training workshops” and informational sessions at other studios for literally YEARS and it never feeling right, to this literally getting placed in my hand and taken care of, 100%. He has been faithful through every piece of the puzzle and I am SO grateful. And I LOVE it, y’all!! My playlist is upbeat and energizes me and was so fun to come up with. I love the community of women — OMG, they are inspiring in and of themselves! I love the leadership and camaraderie of my fellow teachers (several of which have prayed with me over a very difficult situation when I was visibly distraught). I love the physical movement. I love what it does to our bodies! My kids love coming and playing with their friends. It is THE BEST THING.

If you’re in the Nashville area and want to take one of my classes, I teach every single Friday at 5am! Would love to see you there!!!!