Barre workouts first shaped up on the scene in 1959, and today they’re a popular choice of exercise. The workout incorporates elements of yoga, pilates, and dance, using ballet techniques. Classes can be found at boutique gyms, barre-specific studios, and franchise locations across the world.
Perhaps you’re passionate about barre and have been a teacher at another studio for a while, but you’re starting to think about opening up your own business. If you’ve never opened your own fitness business before, it can be hard to know where to start, as there’s a lot to consider. There’s everything from building up your membership base, finding a suitable studio space, sourcing equipment, business insurance, and generating a steady lead-flow for your studio.
Here, we’ll go over everything you need to know about opening a barre studio in 2021. Before we dive in, we’ll take a quick look at why barre has become such a popular choice of workout and 3 successful brands to inspire you. Skip ahead to:
- Why is Barre So Popular?
- 3 Successful Barre Brands Across the World
- How to Open a Barre Studio in 2021
Why is Barre So Popular?
Barre promises members “long-lean muscles” and offers a fun and challenging workout for people of all ages and fitness levels. The exercise became hugely popular back in 2015, and according to Audra Skaates, founder and owner of the Main Barre in Downtown LA, this is down to how inclusive barre is: “it’s completely inclusive. Everyone can do it. It’s not intimidating. And it’s about flexibility and tiny movements.”
Because of the growing interest, now is a great time to get involved and build your own Barre business. Naturally, starting any fitness business requires a lot of hard work, but you can reach your goals with the right planning and strategies. Next, we’ll take a look at some successful studios around the world to give you some inspiration.
3 Successful Barre Brands Across the World
1. Physique 57
Physique 57 was one of the first barre-focused boutique fitness studios to pop up in New York City in 2006. Today, the brand has studios across the world, offering a new boost to barre workouts.
Physique 57 has also developed both an on demand and live stream offering. On demand servies promise over 300 cardio and strength barre workouts for people of every fitness level and adaptable to any space. The virtual live streaming classes follow the same strictured format of an in-person session.
2. Pure Barre
Pure Barre is probably one of the best-known barre brands, with almost 550 locations open across North America. The franchise provides its signature Pure Barre Class, alongside tailored sessions to suit different experience levels and classes to target specific areas of the body.
With over 120k followers on Instagram, the brand has built an exceptional global presence through content designed to inspire and motivate women across the world. The brand now also integrates with the Apple Watch, enabling members to track their progress by tracking class start times and setting class names as an activity type in the Apple Health app to better capture performance data.
3. Studio Fire
Alongside nutrition services, Studio Fire’s well-rounded offering is designed to encourage members to move intuitively. Classes range from hot and cool yoga, barre, meditation, HIIT, and stretch classes.
The studio is located in Columbia, South Carolina, with a broader business concept at the same premises. The Well Collective is a plant-focused cafe, smoothie bar, and lifestyle boutique, and the combined businesses make the facility a one-stop shop for all things wellness in the local community. We’ll refer back to this successful fitness business for some tips on starting your own studio in the next section.
How to Open a Barre Studio in 2021
Here, we’ll go through everything you need to know to turn this great business idea into reality.
1. Build up a Following in Your Local Area
You can bring in new members and build up your clientele in a reasonably low-risk way by offering local sessions. To begin establishing an audience, consider hosting classes in public spaces. You can start creating brand awareness by hosting local sessions without investing a lot of money in new equipment or hiring a facility. This will allow you to expand your student base while searching for a suitable location.
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Classes can also be held at local schools, recreation facilities, or the YMCA. Running local classes will also allow you to try out different class sizes and teaching methods. This is a fantastic opportunity to try new things without having any overheads to pay for. Some gyms will even let you host classes on their premises in exchange for a part of the proceeds.
You might even consider starting out by running a series of pop-up classes, like Studio Fire Co-founder Hannah Bratcher. Before opening her first physical location, Hannah ran a series of pop-up classes, ‘Bend and Barre’ at local events. From here, she opened her own pop-up studio, where she met business partner Kelly. The pop-ups helped the pair become established in the local community, so they had a loyal base of members when they opened their first brick-and-mortar location. You can find out more about Hannah’s journey here.
2. Find the Right Facility
You’re at the point where you’re teaching local classes in your area, and you’ve built a loyal following of clients who love your workouts and teaching style. You’re ready to take it to the next level and open a physical location. There are a few things to think about before deciding on the facility that’s right for you:
Generally, you’ll want your studio to be as visible and easy to spot as possible. People should be able to see your barre studio from the street to maximize brand awareness and attract potential new members. Keep in mind who you’re trying to attract when choosing your location. Who will your target audience be? As a broad example, let’s say you’re targeting young working professionals. If there’s a hot spot of local offices in your area, this would be a prime location for your demographic.
You’ll want to consider what you can offer in terms of parking, as some members will drive to the studio. It can be off-putting if you have to pay a premium for parking every time you hit the gym! Perhaps, if the location is well connected via public transport, you won’t feel that parking is essential. But it’s important to consider all options so you can ensure the studio will be convenient for members to get to.
Your business plan will need to include financial planning and projections – before you physically open your studio. There will be a list of outgoings before you even get started: think about employee costs, equipment, and marketing the business, to name a few.
To determine how much you can afford to spend on renting your studio space, you’ll want to outline what you plan to have coming into the business. Start with the following you’ve built of clients who’re attending your local classes: If all of the members you’ve been teaching locally follow you to your new venture, how much would this contribute to the business on a recurring basis?
3. Business Insurance
If you’re opening any kind of fitness business – you’ll need insurance. First and foremost, you’ll want to be covered if a member has any kind of accident at your facility. But you’ll also need to make sure you have a proper building insurance policy in place too, should you experience anything like a flood or fire, as both could damage massively your facility.
Shop around for insurance; it could be a good idea to reach out to other gyms and studios in the area and see who their cover is with and what they’re covered for. Consider the points below when choosing your insurance cover and policy provider:
- What liabilities are covered?
- Which areas of your facility are actually covered by insurance? I.e the studio itself, the lobby, locker rooms, etc.
- Are there any special requirements for payouts?
- Will the insurance cover meet the building’s lease requirements?
4. Launch a Website
Having an effective website is an essential part of opening your own barre studio. Firstly, it will help people to find you, which is especially important when you’re a new business. Secondly, it will form an essential part of your lead generation and marketing strategies; it’s where you’ll drive leads to, run pre-sales before you open, tell your story, and where you’ll show people what makes you stand out from the rest. Plus, a website is what most potential new customers will seek out when they are considering joining your studio.
Depending on the budget you have available, it may be best to source an external company get things off the ground with your website. Aside from the basics like your design and navigation, there are a lot of aspects you’ll need to get right. If you hire externally, they’ll have the expertise to make sure you hit the ground running. If you’re going it alone, check out this blog post for some inspiration.
5. Equip Your Barre Studio
Compared to traditional gyms and fitness studios that may offer a range of classes, kitting out a barre studio will be more minimal in terms of equipment. There’s no need for an extensive weight selection or expensive machines!
Barre is primarily a floor-based workout, so this is the first place you’ll need to focus your attention. When it comes to what you’ll need for classes, dumbbells, bands, and exercise balls form a key part of any resistance workout. These increase the difficulty and help with muscle building and toning. On the whole, you only need light weights for barre, with most classes needing more than 5lbs, depending on the movement. You’ll also want to source some mats unless you will encourage members to bring their own.
6. Promote Your New Studio
Promoting your fitness business will be an ongoing task, and you’ll adapt your marketing strategies as you grow. There are tonnes of ways you can promote your studio, and while you’ll want to devote some of your time and budget to paid advertising, there’s also a lot you can do for free with digital marketing:
- Social media – growing your following and community on platforms like Instagram
- Content marketing – generating organic traffic to your website with SEO keywords
- Generating online reviews to build your authority
- Working with local fitness influencers
When it comes to opening a barre studio in 2021, it’s a combination of establishing a name for yourself, building up your membership base, choosing the right location, and marketing your new business.
But above all, it’s about determination. Starting any new business will come with challenges and roadblocks, even with the best planning, preparation, and intentions, things will go wrong! Every time you fail, you learn, and as you overcome each challenge, you will come out on the other side stronger – and ready to face the next hurdle.