How I Became a Barre3 Instructor

@lilcrushphotography

@lilcrushphotography

I’m officially a certified barre3 instructor! I’m so incredibly excited to embark on this new adventure, deepen my involvement in the fitness industry in Toronto, and grow my knowledge as an instructor. Many people have expressed interest in the process of becoming a certified instructor, so what better way to shed light on my journey than through a blog post. Thank you for following along, and please feel free to message me if you still have questions after reading.

My journey to barre3 was spontaneous yet intentional. I was at a point in my dance teaching work where I was yearning for more, but I didn’t know exactly for what.

It’s all too easy to get bored of your current situation and let your curiosity get the best of you, envisioning a different lifestyle, career, or path than what you currently have. Whenever I start feeling like this, I like to reflect on where I currently am and make a list (in my head) of the pros and cons of whatever it is that I’m beginning to feel distant from. A few months ago I was finding my typically exciting routine tiresome. I needed to find a way to bring energy back to the chaos. After some reflection, I realized that the dance classes I’ve been teaching this season have become far more draining than they are engaging. While the rewarding aspects of teaching young students are incredible, it often can feel more like babysitting than dance instructing. So much of what I love about teaching dance is sharing my creativity and passion for movement with others who have that same passion. Don’t get me wrong, it is very exciting to spark an interest in a young student so I am definitely going to continue to make the most of my time with my itty bitty dancers, but I knew I needed something else to satisfy my teaching aspirations.

After a particularly frustrating day of teaching dance I did a quick search of other teaching gigs in the city. One of the first jobs that came up was for a barre3 Instructor. Having never taken a barre class, it may seem a bit odd that I so quickly thought that this was the right fit, but maybe that was a sign. The job posting was for instructors at barre3’s second studio opening in Toronto, which is conveniently located in my neighbourhood. Everything seemed almost too good to be true. The thought of teaching adults fitness who are excited to be there, willing to learn, sweat, and work, sounded like a dream! Plus, barre isn’t just your typical fitness class, it incorporates so many things I love, like yoga and dance.

I quickly jumped on the opportunity, whipped my teaching resume together and sent off my application. Around 5 hours later, I received a response asking me to come in for an audition. Wait, an audition? To be an instructor? That threw me for a loop, but I figured I’m a dancer, I know how these things work and I’d be happy to show them what I’ve got! With the audition one week away, I signed up for as many barre3 classes as possible, despite my busy schedule. The first class I went to was right after a pretty high intensity jazz class at The Underground Dance Centre. My legs were shot, my body drained, but I thought it’s just a barre class, I can handle it. I was quite quickly humbled by the intensity of the barre3 workout. I was sweating, shaking, but most importantly, I was smiling from ear to ear. Right away, I knew barre3 would be the perfect compliment to my existing fitness regime and I was giddy at the thought of leading others through this style of workout. My body was burning for the remainder of that week as I jumped right into the barre3 world head first. It was such an exciting new challenge that I felt ready to tackle.

@lilcrushphotography

@lilcrushphotography

The day of the audition I was coming straight from my Saturday or teaching dance, which as I mentioned before, can be hella draining. On the bright side, I was completely immersed in the teaching mindset that day and ready give the audition my all. The audition was a one hour barre3 class, taught by one of Toronto’s lead instructors. There was around 15 women there, from all walks of life. It was interesting to hear people’s back stories and what brought them to barre3. During the audition, a second lead instructor observed us to watch for things like energy level, musicality, and personality. It was a really fun hour of simply working out. After the audition was over, I connected with some of the other applicants who were new to Toronto. I was thrilled to be able to share with them my knowledge of the fitness community in the city and recommend my favourite places to workout based on what they were looking for. Coming to a new city can be tough, and with as many fitness studios as Toronto has, it can be intimidating. These conversations sparked an idea for Kaitlyn and I to be “fitness friends” for people who are hesitant to try out a new studio by themselves. But that’s a whole other story.

Back to barre3. I left the audition feeling confident. The visions of this new adventure were already forming in my head sort of like when you start to fantasize about a new relationship. I felt like barre3 and I were really hitting it off. A day after the audition I received an email asking me to move on to the second round of auditions. Woohoo! This portion of the process involved learning a segment of a barre3 class from a video at home, coming into the studio one on one with a lead instructor, teaching them that section of class, while being filmed. The video was then sent off to barre3’s headquarters in Portland, Oregon for the corporate team to review. As I got deeper into the process of becoming a barre3 instructor I began to really appreciate the level at which they select their instructors. The more classes I took, the more I realized that no matter who the instructor was, I loved the class. There’s so many instances where you go to a class at a studio that you typically enjoy, but due to huge inconsistencies amongst the instructors, some classes just aren’t as good as others. That’s not the case at barre3. The vigour at which they select instructors to join their studios (of which there are over 100 across the US, and soon to be three in Canada) is admirable and I was honoured to (hopefully) make it through the process and come out a certified instructor on the other end.

@lilcrushphotography

@lilcrushphotography

I practiced for my second audition at home for about a week. Practicing teaching while at home alone in my small basement apartment felt slightly odd. I did my best to try to practice speaking and moving with energy, despite the space I was in. When it came time for my audition, I was again coming straight from teaching my Saturday dance classes so I felt like I was in the zone. Remembering the sequence came naturally for me, but without realizing, my movements weren’t very pronounced and I wasn’t projecting my voice. The lead instructor gave me feedback after going through the audition once, and I gave it a second shot. She mentioned that the Portland folks like to see that you’re able to take feedback and apply it. I think the second time went better as I was more aware of the space I was in and worked at bringing my energy level up. I left feeling confident, but not 100% sure of what they would think of me. I’m sure they’ve watched endless audition videos and it’s hard to know exactly what will come across when they watch mine.

About a week after my second audition I received an email that I had been approved to move forward with the barre3 instructor training! I was so excited! My next step was to select a training date in Portland. Every barre3 instructor goes through a 3 day intensive training from their master trainers at their head office in Portland. I had a few trips coming up, as well as my already very busy schedule, but there happened to be a training date at the beginning of May that worked perfectly for me. Instructors also have access to an online platform called b3hub, where there’s an incredible amount of material to learn from, from entire classes, to playlists, to detailed breakdowns of each posture. Now that I had access to the hub, I could start learning my class. This next portion of training consisted of a few sessions a week, one on one with a lead instructor in Toronto who would become my mentor. I would learn the class from a video on my own time, and practice in the studio with my mentor.

Time was flying by. I would meet with my mentor twice a week after work or on the weekend to go over a new portion of class. I loved learning in a one-on-one environment and getting real-time feedback on my instructing. I’ve been teaching dance for years now, and although I’ve done workshops and trainings along the way, there isn’t a lot of ongoing opportunities for feedback and growth. I prepare my dance classes on my own, teach them on my own, and judge how it’s going based on my students growth without much feedback from other instructors or a mentor. It can be quite an isolated experience. As the weeks went on I found I was not only learning a lot about the barre3 methodology of teaching, but also an incredible amount as an instructor in general.

@lilcrushphotography

@lilcrushphotography

Before I knew it, it was almost time to go to Portland for my three day intensive. To prepare for the intensive training, each instructor-to-be teaches three family and friends classes at their home studio. It felt so great to teach loved ones and see their reactions to the class as well as my teaching. Kait and I’s moms even came to my last class! It was just myself, Kaitlyn, both of our moms, and my boyfriend Leon in the class and it was definitely a moment to remember, sharing a new passion of mine with those closest to me. Seeing our moms sweating, shaking, and working hard was a cherry on top!

As I set off for Portland, I was anticipating this groundbreaking experience. I couldn’t wait to meet 20 other barre3 instructors-in-training from all across the states who share a similar love for fitness and wellness, connect over our experiences, and learn together. I’d watched videos on the b3hub of the master trainers in Portland and was itching to learn from them in person. Little did I know that I was about to get hit with a really nasty stomach bug that would lead me to spend most of my time in Portland within the four walls of a washroom.

Leon dropped me off at the airport and we were both feeling great. On my flight I started to feel uneasy but I simply thought it was from flying. Soon after I landed and ate lunch I knew something was up. Long (and gross) story short, what I initially thought was food poisoning from lunch turned out to be a stomach bug that was going around Toronto that both Leon and I got. While he was in the comfort of our home, I was between my hotel room and the barre3 training facility’s washrooms… but I did my absolute best to remain positive, and make the most of my situation. The training consisted of three full days at the barre3 training studio with a master trainer, Andrew, and the rest of the trainees. We kicked off training with a circle chat with founder Sadie Lincoln. She has this incredibly contagious energy that revived me for the time being. Sadie shared her story and then we went around the circle sharing our own journey’s to barre3. Every single person there had a unique story that brought them to this point, some emotional, some hilarious, some life changing. It was amazing to hear the diverse community that I was very proud to be a part of.

To be honest, a lot of training is a blur in my memory. I know it was an inspiring experience, during which I learned so much from not only our trainer but also from the other trainees. Despite my inability to participate in a lot of the physical aspects of training, I truly believe I soaked in as much information as I could simply observing. By the end of the three day intensive, it was time for team teach where each trainee teaches the rest of the group a portion of class. The master trainer records his feedback on each individual to send back to their mentor at their respective home studios in the same fashion that they will during our certification video (more to come on this). I mustered up the energy to teach my portion of class, and felt amazing by the end of it! I was confident that despite my illness, I learned everything I needed to and was able to put it into action.

Portland is a beautiful city that I will definitely go back to soon since I didn’t get to do any of the exploring, eating, or sight seeing that I had planned. Back in Toronto, it was time to teach community free classes at my home studio. Depending on the studio, each instructor-in-training teaches a certain amount of community free classes to get practice teaching real clients. I taught 7 community classes, ranging from a few clients, to a full class. It was so much fun to dive right in after training and start getting real experience. After teaching all of your community classes, you have to send a video of your best class back to the Portland team for final certification. They have an extensive set of criteria that you must fulfill throughout the hour class in order to be certified. If you don’t check all these boxes (and do it well) you can try again but there is a limit to the number of attempts you get as well as a time limit starting once you get home from the Portland training.

About a week after I submitted my certification video, I received the email from my mentor that I’d officially passed my barre3 certification! While I wasn’t necessarily worried that I wouldn’t pass, it was still a great feeling to see those words in writing and know that I was officially a part of the barre3 team.

I’ve been teaching for about a month now, and I’m happy to write that I am seriously loving it. Joining a supportive, inclusive community that not only supports Toronto, but cities across the states as well, has been exactly what I needed. Getting to know new clients, some of whom have become regulars in my classes, has been really amazing. And as I’d hoped, teaching adult clients has been the perfect compliment to teaching my young dance students.

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Kaitlyn Sydney