Boutique Barre Studios: Let’s Talk Niche and Barre

People can still find barre studios around any corner. If not specifically dedicated to barre, studios will specialize in pilates and yoga and offer barre classes. Nonetheless, its popularity has not declined and they are far from scarce. So why has this very niche form of boutique studios seen such success?

In this article, we will dissect the importance of marketing to a target audience and solidifying a niche, the significance of barre, and bundling an experience. Bundling the experience simply means that a membership or class attendance goes beyond the actual class itself in value.

Note: Header image taken from Fashion Magazine.

What is Barre?

Undoubtedly, it’s got a cool name. A memorable one at that, especially for ballerinas.

Barre began in the mind of Lotte Berk, a ballerina with an injured back. With the back being a tough area to heal, Lotte used her knowledge of low impact dance moves and the advice of her osteopath on functional strength exercises to exercise safely. Over time, she saw ample improvement in not only her injury but her overall strength and mobility as well.

A barre, for people not knowledgable on ballet, is simply the wooden bar mounted to the wall or freestanding that ballerinas use to practice their movements and posture.

Therefore, the method Lotte Berk Method was developed to help shape any body into dancers’ bodies using dance technique and functional strength training technique. It included yoga and pilates techniques. Lotte’s method become so popular that she began training celebrities at the ranks of Barbra Streisand

In fact, this was similar to the dance-oriented Jazzercise movement that became so popular in the 70s but has origins in the UK. Both leading to the eventual emergence of boutique fitness studios. Of course, the method has been adapted and tweaked to form many other branches of techniques over time.

Boutique Studio Industry

The boutique fitness industry booms for a reason. That reason breaks down into multiple parts, but the overarching factor to success is the niche that studios find themselves in. Many people do not want to think about building out a workout routine and clawing their way to get to the right equipment in the gym. The niche that boutique studios provide helps the person take the thinking out of exercise. All they have to do is show up, listen, put in some work, then grab a smoothie with the girls or guys from class after.

People seek out these studios to accomplish more than just one goal of getting fit. Studio-goers need a bundle of value with their experience. The value in boutique fitness, like barre, derives from the unique experience that brings together a community of like-minded people. Boutique studios have immense power in their uniqueness, even the franchises. For lots of people, going to the gym just doesn’t cut it.

The majority of those who attend studio classes are women. In part because throughout the history of boutique fitness studios the focus he’s been on women as the target market. Women are also generally more social with the same-sex compared to men. In fact, female-to-female interaction is more rewarding for women than male-to-male interaction for men. With this affinity for same-sex interaction, a fitness studio predominantly attracting women of similar age and interest will have more loyal customers.

How does barre succeed in its niche?

All eyes are on the celebrities and famous athletes who have incredible figures at a high cost. People of this status have the time and money to spare on hard, heavy hitting training routines to maintain that figure. Athletes’ (all encompassing) spend the majority of their lives training and rehearsing to apply their skills and strength to their profession. The good figure and health are just a bonus.

Barre uniquely takes a generally graceful mix of fitness regimens and combines them to provide people with the figures of dancers… at a quarter of the cost. The average person wants the body of an athlete or dancer to look good and feel good and barre feels good!

Barre Studios: What is barre?

It’s a low-impact workout that helps participants move their bodies more gracefully and powerfully. It instills a good sense of awareness and body-fullness that helps the person exercise with reduced risk of injury. That fact alone cultivates an extremely important nice factor for barre studio owners. I’m sure you can sit there and think of at least 5 types of people who benefit from low-impact exercises for any particular reason.

Lets list a few:

  • Pregnant women
  • Senior Citizens
  • People with sciatica
  • Those who suffer from arthritis
  • People suffering from any injury
  • People suffering from tendonitis

And the list goes on! Not only does the low impact have an impact on its desirability, but its ability to seriously strengthen the core and increase flexibility. Just about anyone can benefit from barre and apply it to other regular routines like athletic training of all types.

Overall, barre studios have the unique ability to market to any one of those groups. That’s on top of the benefits that anybody can reap from the routine. Therefore, the customer base is wide open but can narrow well.

Brining the Customers Together

In barre’s history, it has been attractive to women for many reasons. Lotte sold her method as a way to increase sex appeal and play into a woman’s self-confidence and beauty. She became well-known for it along with her effective method. The method kept her moving until she was over 90 years old and keeps her daughter moving at 87 years old.

Training in the Lotte Berk Technique | Lotte Berk - The original home of  the Lotte Berk Technique, still taught by her daughter Esther Fairfax
Esther Fairfax, Lotte Berk’s daughter, works to keep her mother’s method alive and marked in history.

Still, women find themselves attracted to the benefits of feeling more confident and self-assured in any of their life’s endeavors. Pair that benefit with meeting other women and creating a sense of community of women who find themselves in the same boat. Now you’ve got a social community to cater to. Often, people want to find community in the things they participate in. That’s why people run pickup games for various sports or form adult kickball and softball teams.

You can combine fitness with a sense of community to create a strong sense of value for a membership at a barre studio. People who attend barre classes can rely on each other for accountability and support to reach their goals. They can rely on each other to feel less alone in their struggles with wellness or other personal ailments. They can rely on each other to simply be friends!

Whatever the case, the power of barre and community are effective together. Thus, barre studios hold power.

However, there is something missing form all of this…

Men and Barre Studios

So we’ve talked a good bit about women, but where are the spaces for men in this area of exercise? Well, barre has been marketed in the image of women and femininity. We saw this with other, more “feminine” types of fitness like yoga. Yet, over time, the presence of men in yoga has grown significantly. Men are increasingly taking part in barre fitness, so it’s important to recognize the space they hold within the community.

So there is, without a doubt, hope for men’s space in barre and it’s extremely important that more men are welcomed into it. Any form of fitness has benefits for everyone. It might just take a little bit of modification and recognition of the ways men’s and women’s bodies move differently. Nevertheless, there are advocates for men in barre working to ensure their presence.

“Barre helps strengthen all the little intrinsic muscles, muscles that we don’t use in everyday life,” says Rod Buchanan to British GQ. Buchanan is the co-head of barre at Psycle and an obvious advocate for raising awareness of the effects of barre in all its forms for men. He, along with many other men who own studios or instruct barre classes, have modified and developed barre methods that have less feminine energy and more universal attraction to both men and women.

Who else makes a difference?

An important aspect of inviting men into this space is the women. Often, men try barre for the first time and attend regularly because they were invited by their female friends or significant others. With anything, we must recognize that neither gender owns a space in fitness and health because the intention is for all to benefit for the greater good of our communities.

Now, the same goes for those naysaying men of women absolutely killing it in a Gold’s Gym. Let them be and encourage them to be better! Both men and women have a part to play in making all forms of fitness and health-conscious spaces welcoming for all.

How to Get Certified in Barre

Okay, so now you have learned some about barre and are thinking, “well what do I do now if I want to start my own barre studios?”

Well, there are a plethora of studios you can join to become an instructor first and see how it fits your interests. Yet, before that, you will need to get certified to become a barre instructor. Once again, there are a plethora of options for certifications.

My best suggestion would be to call the barre studios in your area to get an idea of what they are looking for when hiring a new instructor. Many franchise barre studios provide their own rigorous training programs to fully prepare their instructors for teaching full classes.

Read The Barre Blog for detailed information on the various options you have for geting certified as a barre instructor!

There are plenty of reasons to explore and branch out in your fitness career, so keep barre studios in mind if you are looking for an interesting new niche.

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