There’s a hush around Collective Hub HQ come lunch time, following a mass exodus to the bar. The barre, that is. Much like the rest of the city (and world, for that matter) we’ve been seduced by the ballet-yoga fusion that has former gym bunnies squatting in second position and raising their dumbbells in fifth. We have Emma Seibold to thank for tossing in her ten-year marketing career and kicking of the trend off in Oz with Barre Body – a unique workout taught across seven studios in Melbourne and Sydney. We took five with the nimble founder herself.
How did you create Barre Body?
After I had my first bubba, Xavier, I started incorporating barre exercises into my yoga practice and the results were incredible. I knew that the barre trend was huge in the US and that it was still yet to really take off in Australia, so I decided to create my own method, blending yoga, Pilates and barre exercises. I undertook some training, did a huge amount of research (via studios, videos, books) and weaved what I felt were the best and most complementary elements of yoga, Pilates and ballet into Barre Body. We found a gorgeous little studio in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, and Barre Body was born. There was lots of trial and error, but it was live, in classes, so I just adapted and moulded the style as we went based on how clients responded.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered with your first studio?
Fear. Fear that I wasn’t good enough, that we didn’t have the resources, that it wouldn’t be embraced by the Melbourne fitness community and that I would have to go back to a job! I overcame it with the best weapon of all against fear, love. Love for what I was doing, love for my clients, love for the brand I had created, and love for the challenge (the fear!).
How did you educate the community on this new style of workout and get your brand out there?
My marketing background helped. I knew a lot of people in the industry and worked my connections. I created a lot of content and seeded it where I could. I created a beautiful brand that I was proud of. Most of all though, I focused on creating an amazing experience for each and every client. That meant building a strong team and leading by example. It might be a cliché, but word of mouth really is the best marketing.
Has your business model changed as the business has grown?
We’ve adapted and shaped the studio and class model based on the locations we’re in and the needs of that area and those clients. We’ve built a really strong team and I’m no longer answering every single email and teaching half the classes! We continue to invest in the brand and follow the same strategy now as we did when we launched. We’ve expanded as we’ve been ready and have been very considered in everything we’ve done, but not so considered that we haven’t been able to be agile and move fast.
The wellness industry has boomed (to say the least!). Did you foresee this surge? And what trends do you expect we’ll see in the near future?
Yes absolutely! That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. I remember when I first wanted to learn more about wellness, there were only two book titles in Borders with “wellness” in the text. This was 10 years ago now! I expect to see multi-studio membership programs take off. I expect to see more digital innovation. I expect to see more boutique fitness studios. I expect to see a lot more online content and studios.
With the future in mind, where do you plan to take Barre Body in the next few years?
I would love to tell you our plans, but all I can say is that we continue to grow with passion and love! Readers can definitely expect to see more Barre Body studios; I can safely tell you that.
Any advice for someone wanting to forge their own path?
Be clever (devise the right concept), be brave (your plans and ideas will never be ‘ready’ or ‘perfect’ – at some point, you just need to go for it) and be true to your values as they will be reflected in the brand you create and the customers and clients you attract.
Check out Barre Body and a league of fresh start-ups in Issue 25.