Why is Barre Bee Fit So Successful?

One of my favorite expressions is, ‘If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.’  Barre Bee Fit (BBF) Co-founders Jillian Lorenz and Ariana Chernin have built many doors.  Lorenz and Cherin have created a community of fitness followers and doers that began with one River North location and now plan for 15 locations across the country in 5 years.

BBF offers more than just barre based classes.  They also have kickboxing, Tabata-style high intensity interval workouts and yoga on their schedule.  Their classes focus on more than just the exercises and brackets.  Beyond the sequencing of their themed based movements, BBF is thoughtful in presenting a workout class that has the right music, lighting and even vocabulary.  The instructors are trained on using only positive words and can be differentiated from other franchises that equate working out with pain for gain, growth with discomfort and the time training is a punishment for enjoying life.  BBF does not present the time they spend with their clients as 60 minutes of redemption from the weekend, but rather an hour of self-improvement & empowerment that also transforms the body.

I had a chance to catch up with Lina Belkin, the Chief  Training Officer of Barre Bee Fit.   After spending some time with Belkin, while hanging with some POW! members at The Haymarket Brewery, I knew I needed to write a story on amazing roll in BBF  Here is our interview:

Chief Fitness Officer for BBF

Chief Fitness Officer for BBF

How did you land at BBF?

I danced while i was in college in a modern dance company.  So I was used to moving every day in the afternoon.  When I got my first job here in Chicago in corporate marketing research, I found myself going stir-crazy every afternoon.  I stumbled across the BBF River North studio while taking a walk and signed  up for a class.  After my first class, I was hooked.  I remember calling my mom as I was walking back to work, telling her that I love the class and I wanted to teach it.  I was very persistent with the instructors at the time, always asking when the next instructor training would be available.  While I waited I took every class that fit in my schedule.  Finally in 2011, I got an audition and began as a sub.

When did you start working for BBF full-time?

Finally in 2011, I got accepted into the instructor program and started teaching like crazy with only one official class on the schedule, I picked up every subbing opportunity I could get my hands on.   In 2012, BBF decided they wanted to expand their instructor training.  They were growing and they knew they needed to breed really great instructors that properly represented the vision of Jillian and Ariana.  So I worked my job at BBF and the marketing gig full-time until 2013.  But it was great!  I think working in a corporate environment helped me when I was writing the instructor training program, because i wanted to professionalize it as much as possible.

How has BBF’s workout program changed ?

I think it has evolved into a full fitness program designed for the woman’s body.  It incorporates elements of strength, endurance, cardiovascular and restorative stretching.  Although it originated in barre based programming from Lotte Burke, the combination of Jillian’s dance and Ari ’s athletic background is very apparent in all of our classes. Our program is broken down into these categories of classes:

  • Barre Bee Format Classes (can be in the heated room)
  • Interval Based Classes
  • Dance Based Class (32 count based phrasing)
  • Kickboxing Classes
  • Stretching & Restoration Classes (can be in the heated room)

After reading about the BBF culture, it makes me want to understand more.  Can you tell me how it differentiates you from competitors?

BBF has been positively impacted by competitors that also offer barre-based fitness classes.  These boutiques heighten the consumers’ awareness that this type of training might be worth trying.  The mission of BBF is to take the average woman and positively impact their life.  But not just her body, but the way she thinks about her body.  This effort is driven by an innovative force.  We are constant changing the experience so each time our clients arrive they are received by the familiarity of our studio & instructors, but surprised by new nuances in our music, lighting & motivational commentary.  Additionally, we change choreography weekly. Each instructor is assigned a completely new routine each week, and no two instructors are on the same routine. This ensures every time a client comes in, they get a different workout to challenge the body in a variety of ways.  These are the aspects I embrace as I constantly update our instructor training program.  Because it was what drew me in. I tap into my first experiences so that I can properly capture the mission of the owners and appropriately grow the program.

BBF is growing fairly fast, do you think its national growth will cause it to lose its intimate characteristics?

Not at all.  We perfectly leverage technology to communicate with our instructors Nationally.    We refuse to allow the distance interfere with the vision of our training. I am always working on mastering all the features available in technology to fully communicate every detail of the program, evaluate our instructors and continue their training so the BBF centers are streamlined.  Because we require our instructors to par-take in continuing education at least once a month, our use of technology is the framework for our expansion.  We are always improving the way in which teach technique, create modification, insert inspiration and reinforce biomechanical foundation.

It was these variance they drew me to better understand BBF.  I was completely impressed with the expectations BBF fit places on its instructors.  BY requiring ongoing education that occurs once a month.  Lina, Chief Training Officer updates the focus each month motivated by technique improvements , modifications, inspirations & biomechanically foundations.

Do you have any events coming up that you would like to tell people about?

Yes, I will be leading a workout/motivational lecture and brunch at the Palomar Hotel on Saturday May 17th. Also, you can catch me regularly on the River North schedule on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.


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