On 25th May 2019, the first ever Bare Summit was held at the Rambert Dance company. Organised and hosted by Vicki Anstey from Barreworks, and aimed at barre teachers, I was lucky enough to attend. In a nutshell? Even though I wasn’t a teacher, I learnt a lot and now have a newfound respect for barre. The teachers who were attending however, from speaking with them, got even more out of it.
Meeting the founder or Barreworks
After having been directed to the wrong studio (nope thank you, I’m not part of your theatre rehearsals!), I eventually turned up to the real event. They were mid-way through a warm-up from Zhivka, although it soon became clear if this was the warm-up, I’d be in trouble for the workouts! Holding resistance bands, we stretched and pulsed and warmed up our muscles. We then sat down to listen to Vicki, the founder of Barreworks, discuss her story and the past, present and future of barre.
What is barre?
Barre has its roots in ballet and originated with a woman called Lotte Berk, who developed exercises, done at the barre and on the floor, to work the whole body. Vicki combined her training with Lotte with that of the New York City Ballet Workout, and founded her own studio in Richmond. Vicki discussed how Pilates was always recommended as the workout for recovery and rehab but felt that barre could also provide as good, if not better results.
And Vicki’s passion and enthusiasm for barre is contagious!
Having done barre a couple of times, I absolutely agree that it makes you feel amazing. It can also help resolve tension in the body, help keep you injury-free, and improve muscular imbalance. As a pre- and post-natal PT, I couldn’t help but think that elements of barre would be perfect for my clients.
Throughout the day, talks were broken up with mini workouts, each taken by a different person. Even though each of the teachers were Barreworks-trained, it was fascinating to see how they’d made it their ‘own’ by incorporating their own style and personality.
Alongside Vicki, we also listened to talks from Katherine Ready, Zhivka Slavova, George Bownes and Erica Wolfe Murray.
Katherine, a physio who has worked for the past ten years with Olympic sports, talked to us about her work supporting Olympic canoers. As well as keeping her team injury-free, she was also responsible for shaving off milliseconds from their timings. She used barre to help both marathon kayakers and sprint kayakers improve their performance. Katherine revealed how barre utilises a lot of the localised stabiliser muscles. The beauty of barre is that each workout switches up muscle timing, intensity and speed to constantly keep your brain alert and to develop the ‘burn’ that barre is so famous for. As a result, those who are barre regulars see improved core stability, lengthening and flexibility, better balance and strengthening.
Zhivka took us through a session on the importance of cueing during sessions. This was a real insight into the complexity that a barre class holds for a teacher – you have to be thinking of a thousand things at once. I have a newfound respect for those top teachers. Especially useful for barre teachers, Zhivka shared her secrets and tips for running a more smooth class.
George, an ultra marathon runner and Sports and Medicine consultant, shared why he found barre so useful for his patients. He gave a lot of tips for helping barre teachers work better with GPs, highlighting the need for exercise as part of every person’s wellbeing criteria. Unlike spin or HIIT, which only increases cortisol levels and makes anxiety and stress worse, barre carves out mental space; especially useful for those who are older or injured.
Erica Wolfe Murray
Within minutes Erica had captivated the audience with her practical and relevant tips for working as an individual or as a small business. She took us through her unique method to understanding how to develop a USP, understanding potential revenue streams and more importantly, how to grow a steady income base. I learnt so much in the short time she spoke! Thankfully, she’s written a book called Simple Tips, Smart Ideas, which has everything and more for anyone who IS their own business.
These were a little disjointed as they were taken by different people and in between the talks, but as I mentioned earlier, were fantastic in showing variety.
Each workout was sectioned into different areas – arms, core, legs and glutes and stretches. And oh, the burn! It was fabulous as it really felt like you were working, but my goodness, I was surrounded by MACHINES! I especially remember Gen’s legs and glutes workout, mainly because the workout just kept going… and my leg was getting closer and closer to the ground, whilst everyone still had theirs at waist height! What I loved about the workouts is that when you think they can’t possibly go on any longer, there’s a slight variation in positioning or tempo which makes every groan – part in weird delight and partly because of the burn. There were moments when I just couldn’t hold the positions any longer and just stood there watching everyone else around me like machines.
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#Repost @barreworks ・・・ An incredible day with incredible people at the first UK Barre Summit. We got under the skin of barre, unpacked the essence of what it is and what it does. We set some strong expectations of how we intend to put barre not just ‘on the map’, but into our lexicon and across every possible audience. And we talked about establishing our individual and collective DNA to create thriving studios and a wider ‘Tribe’ of barre devotees. Thank you all for coming, contributing and committing to seeing barre flourish in future. See you next year! #barresummit #keeplearning #industryleading #thoughtleading #barrelife #barrecommunity
The goodie bag kept me topped up with snacks (I’d forgotten to bring lunch and we were so busy that there wasn’t a lunch break). I especially enjoyed the Clearspring seaweed and Rude Health’s Coconut bar. Networking was another highlight. I enjoyed chatting with those who had their own studios, as well as those who worked for others, to understand the challenges they faced. I even went along to a Disco Barre class, run by Sophie Ritchie after meeting her at the event, who’s also just brought the original Lotte Berk Technique to the UK.
Obviously a major highlight was having access to all these different people related to the industry in some way. Our last ‘session’ before we finished was an open discussion which covered everything and anything, from social media to dealing with the ‘competition’ to inspiration for ideas for choreography.
I’ve always been a big fan of pilates, but now I think barre has crept into my top three types of exercise, alongside boxing and the DeRose Method. For me, it incorporates everything and more that I look for in a workout – there’s strength, endurance, posture and the sense of achievement, with the added bonus of not being too sweaty. Plus, it’s fast-paced, so there’s less time to think about the pain! I’m keen to see how the Barre Summit evolves – I think it’s valuable to instructors and studio owners. It was inspiring to hear from experts how they see barre being valuable as a workout; instructors can better tailor their marketing and discover new customer segments. Additionally, the business advice was incredibly helpful and every single person there left with new ideas to put into action. Bring on BarreSummit 2020!
To find out more about the next UK Barre Summit, contact Vicki from Barreworks at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list.
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