[ Q&A ] : BARRE BELLE Owners Jill & Kristi


New fitness trends pop up on the regular, right?

Well – there are fitness crazes, and then there are full-blown phenomenons.

And barre workouts – which draw inspiration from ballet & other dance techniques – definitely fall into the “phenomenon” category. These boutique studios have a following that show up in droves – fully decked out in grippy, toeless leg warmers & ballerina fashions  with an edgy urban twist.


ESME LIFE caught up with the owners of BARRE BELLE –  the new local hot spot – to chat about why the crazy following of this style of workout is actually for a very good reason & how this studio sets itself apart in a fitness-focused city like Calgary.

Co-owners Jill Belland & Kristi Stuart have been friends and loyal lovers of the barre method for years. They say that about 3 years ago they first started having frequent conversations about their personal barre classes & began to casually ask “what if we just opened our own studio?” The duo – both then teaching barre classes at different studios- say they’d sit and chat about their love for the workout style – but they always met seamlessly in their vision & desire to evolve in their teaching and explore new ways of enjoying the technique. Those conversations have come full-circle as the 2 opened the doors to their dream in the heart of the Mission District on Valentine’s Day 2015 – BARRE BELLE. 

Both Belland & Stuart have always been heavily involved in fitness. Belland is a formally trained dancer and former Calgary Stampeders Cheerleader and Stuart began competing in dance at the age of three and is an avid runner – she qualified for the Boston Marathon in her FIRST race with a time of 3.32. She’s FAST.

So yeah — these 2 are crazy fit…just look at them.

[  Jill Belland (left) & Kristi Stuart (right) ]

Here’s what the inspirational barre duo had to say when we sat down with them:

Why should I do barre workouts?      [both] “If you want to get long and lean – this is the workout for you. It’s a technique that allows you the ability to be constantly changing and building a well-rounded physique.” 

I’m not a dancer & I’ve never done a barre workout – so what if I can’t do the moves? [Belland] “People feel they have to be strong or flexible to start out – but that is OUR job. The class is always ‘aspirational’. We just want you to finish & enjoy your time here.”

[Stuart] “Yes – we will push you hard in class – but it’s so fun! We really want everyone to love it as much as we do. Every person has to go at their own pace and do what’s comfortable to them. Really- we just want you to leave class happy, exhausted & ready to accomplish your day.” 

How do all those squats & weight lifting make me longer or leaner?  [Stuart] “The truth is in the details. Every single move we do is with a purpose. Women are so afraid of getting bulky with weights or squats but these moves target precise muscles. You’ll get those defined arms you’ve always wanted and that lifted bum that looks amazing in clothes.” 

What do you hope clients get out of the Barre Belle experience?  

[Stuart] “I think women are really drawn to a shared experience – so we want to create an environment that people really feel comfortable like ‘I want to be here’. We want to create a community. I love seeing women show up to 6am classes with 2 or 3 of their friends! Another thing that we really hope to pay attention to is the fact that so many women look at themselves in the mirror and say the most horrible things to themselves. So – if we can be a part of helping them get healthier and happier within themselves – that would be worth it.” 

Also a few random questions…

Fave Nail Colour?

 [Belland] “I love a pale pink or coral.” [Stuart] “Nude or a really bright colour – even a neon.” 

Beauty Tips?

[Stuart] “Sleep is my #1. oh and mascara!”  [Belland] “Dry shampoo is massive for me and lip chap!” 

Any indulgences? 

[Stuart] “Chicago Mix popcorn! I cannot get enough!”  [Belland] “Peanut M&M’s, chips & dip – oh and we both love Diet Coke.” 

ESME LIFE has been taking on the barre with these lovely ladies & we can’t wait to share more tips, info & motivation from BARRE BELLE.

We will tell you this from experience – you will leave this studio feeling inspired, clear-headed …and SORE! (In that hurts-so-good type of way.)

For more info on BARRE BELLE, class schedule, or just a little visual motivation to try a class – browse their website HERE or follow them on Instagram @barrebelleyyc

[  AUTHOR : Bekah Glass ]


[ photos via @barrebelleyyc ]

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