It was October 2016 at a UVA Medical Center health fair that I first voiced my desire to own my own studio.
Hanna, the owner and founder of barre.[d] studio and one of my very best friends, and I were working a table representing the Charlottesville studio. Our portable barre was missing a key piece to make it stable enough to actually demo on, and people were more interested in snagging a free tumbler than they were signing up to take a class, but I found utter joy in telling person after person about barre – what it is, how it could help them, why they should visit us in our studio.
I don’t remember exactly what prompted me to voice my desire to Hanna right then and there, but I did. I told her I wanted my own studio. And she said “okay.”
A couple of things.
First, I had been thinking about this for a while. I had been teaching several classes a week for a year and a half at that point, with another year of experience as a student. Despite my newfound love of weightlifting, barre was – and still is – my favorite form of exercise. I would daydream about what my studio would look like, where it would be, what sort of marketing I would do, the type of events I’d hold, the sort of students I would have. It was something I had wanted for several months at that point. I had figured out that working with women in a health and wellness capacity is what sets my soul on fire. I was a month out from taking my personal training certification exam, and devouring everything I could about fitness, coaching, and nutrition.
Second, Hanna is one of those friends. She’s the kind of friend that, twenty years from now, I’ll still be sending memes (or their futuristic equivalent) that no one else thinks are funny to on whatever sort of device we have at that point. She’s the kind of friend you call when you have big life wins, big life lows. She’s the person that you text when you are all fired up about how long dinner is taking, only to realize you never turned on the stove eye (last night) and when you fall over a stack of weights while attempting to flirt post workout because of course you did.
She’s also the friend that says “wanna go to surf camp in Nicaragua?” and you say yes without really thinking about it. I’m the friend that encouraged her to drive to Ohio to pick up a second chorkie (sorry, Nick!). And, most importantly, she’s the kind of friend that, when you say “I want to open my own studio” says “okay.”
And so began an almost two year process.
We started almost right away. We looked at a place not even a week later that I thought would be THE place. After a lot of back and forth with the landlord, it was definitely NOT the place.
Back to the drawing board.
Other iterations of this plan formed. They fell through for one reason or another, and all because God had a bigger plan at work. Had I opened a studio right then, I would have been “stuck” in Charlottesville, and by mid-2017, the gnawing feeling that I didn’t want to stay in Charlottesville had started to nag me.
2017 was a year full of NO in every area of my life. I wasn’t a big fan of 2017, generally speaking. NO is such a tough word to hear, especially over and over, especially when your heart is on the line, in both relationships and business. But, NO proved to be the right word. NO made sure I stayed on the right path.
Chapel Hill fell together in a way that can only mean this is where I’m supposed to be. After hearing “NO” from WorldStrides when I tried for a new position, and “NO” from a job that would have taken me back to Nashville, I got the first job I applied for in Chapel Hill. People I barely knew connected me with people they knew in Chapel Hill to help me find an apartment. When it was time to move and I was worried about how I would make ends meet while I waited for my first full paycheck which would be a full six weeks after starting my job, my apartment complex gave me a month of free rent for signing a lease, ensuring my bank account wouldn’t run dry.
The future home of barre.[d] studio Chapel Hill is its own sort of serendipitous story. We looked at the space in December but didn’t sign anything until late April. At one point, I gave up on it and looked at other places. I let it go, only to have it boomerang right back around. My leasing company has been kind and generous. We’ve all been patient.
That’s not to say there haven’t been issues. The build-out on the space, which is new construction and no more than concrete and sheetrock, has come to a screeching halt for two weeks now while we wait on the town of Chapel Hill to do an inspection. The postcards and business cards I ordered came in, both with the website address printed wrong, and had to be re-ordered. I set up my Mindbody account so I can start selling founders’ packages, only to have Google auto insert the wrong business name, something that required phone calls and emails and a few days to get corrected. Anything with my bank seems to take forever.
But, it’s happening. I’m opening my own barre studio.
The goal grand opening is late August, but with the delays from the town, I’m realistically expecting it to be closer to September. The town of Chapel Hill is slow. I try to remind myself that delays mean more time to hype up the studio (Hanna’s pep talk right there), but I’m chomping at the bit to get in and teach a class.
There are plenty of days where I don’t know how I’ll pull this off. I need at least two or three more instructors. I need a place to train them since Chapel Hill won’t let us in the studio until it’s completed and has a certificate of occupancy. I’ll still be working full time. It won’t be unlike the schedule I kept in Charlottesville, with all the teaching and studio work and gym visits, and I, for one, can’t wait. But I know there are going to be days of pure exhaustion and days when I wonder what in the hell I was thinking.
But I also know that this town needs barre.[d] studio. It’s ready for a studio like this, a studio that welcomes all women from all walks of life and all fitness levels, a studio that encourages, inspires, and pours into its clients.
It’s been nearly two years in the making, but my dream of owning my own barre studio is becoming a reality. The sketches I drew on the back of a blueprint to show where I wanted walls and the bathroom are taking form. I’m hiring instructors. Launching packages. Trying to commit to a floor stain and paint colors.
And I can’t wait.
If you want to follow along with studio progress, head over to our Instagram or Facebook. It’s worth a visit to see a sneak peek of the reception desk Lazy Guy DIY is custom building for me. It’s going to be utterly stunning.
Here’s to dreaming big. Following the path.
And trusting that it will all work out.