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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What I learned as a Barre fitness instructor

By Emily Jackson

People participate in a a Barre class at Studio Barre and Lounge in Black Diamond, Washington. // Photo courtesy of Shay Camp-Masias.

Have you ever felt intimidated at the gym?

I have, and it almost kept me from one of the best opportunities of my life.

Avoiding the Gym

As a kid, my first and only experience at the gym involved running on the treadmill at age 12. I didn’t know much about weights or equipment but everyone else in there clearly knew what they were doing. I decided to stick to recreational jogging and sports.

In high school, sports and dance kept me fit and healthy enough. Some of my friends who worked out regularly told me about the benefits of cross-training, but the thought of the gym still made me cringe. Besides, I didn’t have time for the gym because I was in dance classes four days a week.

Fast-forward to senior year of high school. I signed up for a health and PE class at my community college, and nervously went into the world of fitness. It was great. I discovered the joy of getting stronger and intentional fitness planning.

Even though the gym didn’t intimidate me as much, I never wanted to go alone. Also, working the machines didn’t seem as enjoyable as dance. As I prepared for college, I wondered what I would do without an intensive dance schedule.

Changing the Game

Enter Barre fitness. Barre is a group fitness class that combines elements from Pilates, dance, yoga and weight training. A class features choreographed moves to motivating music.

Since Barre is a low-impact class that improves flexibility and mobility, any person of any fitness level can participate and enjoy the benefits. And of course, no dance experience is required.

When I found Barre, it was like my two favorite ice cream flavors had been combined into one. (Chocolate chip cookie dough and caramel pecan—I’ll keep waiting for you.)

Barre mixed the fun of dance with the perks of functional training and weights into one flavorful class. Plus, I never had to work out alone. I was hooked, and soon earned a certification to teach Barre.

People participate in a a Barre class at Studio Barre and Lounge in Black Diamond, Washington. // Photo courtesy of Shay Camp-Masias.

Finding a community

I began teaching Barre classes at the Student Recreation Center this year. The opportunity to find and create a community has been one of my favorite life experiences so far.

Every week, I have the privilege to see my fellow students get stronger, gain confidence and learn how to view their bodies in a healthy way. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It’s also been great to work with the Wade King Student Recreation Center staff. It’s amazing to see how the staff supports each other, whether by subbing for a fitness class or asking about the other person’s chemistry midterm.

Essentially, working as a fitness instructor at Western helped show me the importance of community.

It also showed me that the gym doesn’t have to be intimidating. Grab a friend and visit a fitness class or pick a workout buddy to try the weight machines. You can even go for a swim or work with a personal trainer. There are so many resources at the Rec Center, and group fitness classes are just one of many.

So next time you feel intimidated about going to the Rec Center, call a friend and ask them to come along. Maybe you’ll be glad you did.

Western Barre classes will rest for the summer and return in Fall 2018. Group Fitness classes will continue this summer at the Rec. For more information about group fitness classes, visit the Wade King Student Recreation Center Fitness Page, or check out @wwucampusrec on Facebook and Instagram.


  1. When you are on that stage, in front of a fitness class, you will change lives. All your passion, skill and professional training will go into inspiring and motivating the people in front of you. You will help them fall in love with fitness.


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