How Barre Changed My Life

I didn’t have a fitness routine until a year and a half ago. Like many of us, I spent my teenage years enjoying activities with friends from yoga, to boxing, and seawall bike rides, but once I went to university that changed. I moved from the mild Vancouver west coast to attend McGill University in Montreal. It was a huge adjustment to a new life. I was living alone for the first time ever, handling a huge workload, and adjusting to a new city that operates in a different language and has extremely different temperatures.

I spent my last semester of university in Panama doing environmental research which included almost daily 4+ hour hikes studying nature. For the first time in a long time, I started to feel my heart working and my body getting stronger. When I returned to Canada I was committed to continuing with the routine, but anyone that has had a long fitness hiatus knows that once you are outside of an environment when exercise is part of your life, it is hard to keep it up and soon enough I found myself back in my non-active Montreal routine.

In September 2017 I was offered a job in Ottawa. Excited at the prospect of my first “real job” I took the jump and made the move despite not knowing anyone. I remember thinking a new city would be a great way for me to reinvent myself and find that fit person from my teenage years I was searching for. One of the very first things I googled before my move was “barre studios in Ottawa” I had heard of barre from friends in Vancouver and there was something about the mix of strength and grace that drew me to the exercise. I pinned the location on the map and began looking for places with a 15 minute walking radius to the studio. For four months I thought about going to class but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get myself to go. I realized the problem wasn’t having a place to go to, but the mental barrier of feeling vulnerable. Fearing that I would feel lost in class and not be strong enough to do every exercise.

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In December, I found myself surfing in South America when I remembered the first time I tried surfing in Panama. I had an “absolutely not, I do not surf” attitude which was a mixture of  fear and embarrassment. Eventually a friend convinced me simply by asking. “when was the last time you spent 20$ just to try something new”. That was all it took. All of a sudden the pressure was off. I wasn’t committing to becoming a pro surfer, all I was doing was ‘trying something new’ and guess what? Taking that one chance then led to an activity I have done multiple times. It’s funny how sometimes something so simple can change your mindset. When I got back to the city that January I made it to my first barre class channelling my friend’s “just try something new.”

I am so lucky to have chosen the Dailey Method Ottawa, a studio that not only offers an amazing workout but also a welcoming community. I remember during my first class getting to the halfway point and thinking wow I can’t believe we are already half way, that flew by. The no pressure approach and the friendly environment kept me coming back time and time again. Getting my foot in the door (literally) led the way for so many new things including adding spinning classes to my routine.  Six months after I took my first class I was going to classes almost daily even if it meant the 6:45 am classes (yes I never thought it would be possible for a night owl like me either).

I finally began to feel like the fit person I had been searching for and in this June I officially became an instructor. Trying that one barre class also led me to start a business. When I discovered barre I started  looking for communities online where I could learn about other studios and connect with barre lovers worldwide. I couldn’t find anything that unified the barre community as a whole so I thought to myself, if I am looking for a place to celebrate the activity outside of the studio, other people must be too!

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My journey with the Barre Jar has been a bit like my fitness journey. For six months I just thought and thought about the idea but didn’t take any action at all letting fear get the best of me. “What if people think it’s stupid” , “what if it doesn’t work?”. I channeled my well “let's just try it” and 8 months later I have been able to grow a community of over 5000 barre lovers worldwide, I pitched my idea and received a grant from Invest Ottawa, and on September 20 I will be attending the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (YEA) summit in Argentina as part of the Canadian delegation. The YEA meets each year in advance of the G20 Summit to champion the importance of young entrepreneurs. I almost didn’t apply to attend the summit because I knew I would be applying alongside some very established businesses. Because I had practiced taking a chance on new things time and time again since my first barre class, it became easier to find that “just try it”” voice.

In April I received an email from, Futurpreneur Canada, the non-profit organization making the selection, telling me that I had been selected as part of the Canadian delegation. I attended a pre summit meeting in Montreal and I realized that yes, there were some million dollar funded startups and some well established companies, but I also met other entrepreneurs who just like me, were at the beginning stages of their journeys. The meeting reminded me that no matter what it is you are starting, everyone somewhere took a chance to just try something once and the doors opened. That one barre class led to me finding my health, challenging myself to become an instructor, starting a business, and now being able to share that passion and vision with other young entrepreneurs from all over the world.

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As I prepare for the summit I am approaching this latest adventure with the mindset I learned in my fitness journey and embracing the opportunities that this path may lead to without putting pressure on myself. When was the last time you tried something new?