Enthusiasts take lead in Exhale barre classes
When the new Exhale Spa opened at the Hamilton Princess last year, Andrea Barker was first in line to sign up.
Fellow barre enthusiast Cammii Horrell also leapt at the chance to get back into a workout she had always enjoyed.
Neither of them realised that within a couple of months they would be the ones leading the classes, both having qualified as barre teachers through the Exhale training programme.
“I love it,” Ms Barker told The Royal Gazette. “It challenges you in a totally different way than being a student in a class.”
The 34-year-old pricing actuary, who lives in Pembroke, said she loves seeing her clients improve and be challenged.
“I love pushing them to their fullest capacity and just taking them to a place where they didn't think they could go and that's really rewarding.
“It's also an hour where I am really 110 per cent present in that moment and I am so focused on them that everything else doesn't matter.”
Exhale Bermuda opened last year as part of the hotel's $100 million renovations. Part of the Exhale brand, it is one of 30 locations globally. Exhale is particularly known for its barre classes — a full-body workout that includes ballet-inspired moves.
Ms Horrell, Exhale Spa's first Bermudian barre teacher, added that she finds teaching to be a really fun experience.
“It's amazing. I love creating a new class for people and seeing all the people who work really hard and achieve their goals.
“I definitely feel the confidence building and I feel like I'm becoming a better teacher because of that.”
The 22-year-old receptionist said it is also really rewarding to see the change in her students when they have been coming for a while.
Both women took up barre workouts years ago through Martina Capuano at the Jackson School of Dance.
Although Ms Horrell stopped going for a while, she picked it up again last summer just before she went on a big Europe trip.
“I loved it all over again. Then when I came back from my trip, Exhale was open. My mom had been coming here so I started coming here.
“Barre is something I have always loved. I used to do ballet when I was younger, so dance was always my main way to exercise and I like that barre is quite similar to it — it's very similar kind of movements so it all came very naturally to me.
Ms Barker, on the other hand, does not have a dance background. Never having been much of an athletic child, she stumbled across barre when she started looking for a type of exercise she would enjoy.
“I've been doing barre itself for four years. I did it four or five times a week and then when I found out that there was an Exhale studio opening here, I decided to become a member. Apparently I'm the first member for Exhale Bermuda. I was quite keen.”
Ms Horrell knew she wanted to teach eventually but it was not something Ms Barker had considered.
When she was approached about taking the teacher training course by one of the co-founders of the Exhale brand following a retreat last October, she didn't take her seriously.
“I thought she was joking. I thought she said that to everybody and apparently she doesn't. I didn't think I had the confidence for it.”
But she agreed to take up the offer when another trainer also suggested she consider it. Together with four other women from the US and the UK, Ms Horrell and Ms Barker participated in the five-day training course.
Ms Barker said: “It was very physically and mentally demanding, or challenging. In a totally different way than my other job, which is in an office.
“Basically we learnt everything from musculature to modifications for injuries and pregnancy, to actually putting together the choreography and learning how to put together a class.
“And most importantly, learning how to teach on the spot, not just memorise choreography. It was teaching us how to teach.”
Both women have now been teaching for several months. While the number of classes per week vary, many students are the same ones who started the classes with them. “It's been nice because I've known a lot of the students from the start,” Ms Barker said. “I felt like I was walking into a community and not starting from scratch.”