Niki Rein is the founder of barrecore, a series of movements that uses a ballet barre, someone’s body weight and isometric exercises to stretch every muscle group in the body. After moving to London in 2009, Niki spotted a gap in the market and set up the first barrecore studio in Chelsea. Since then the brand has gone from strength-to-strength and has subsequently opened five more studios across London, and will be opening a couple more later this year. Celebrity clients of barrecore include Princess Beatrice, Rita Ora, and Victoria’s Secret model Jourdan Dunn.
1. Women are viewing their fitness differently, and London is starting to cater to that
When I moved here about 6 years ago it was a completely different scene fitness-wise. You either went to a big box gym or you went to a private members gym like KX. There wasn’t much in between. Boutique fitness was just starting to open up and there were some group Pilates classes.
This is where the biggest shift and change has come. There are so many boutique fitness studios opening up, meaning that most of the women who live in London and have an interest in health and fitness are now being catered to.
Whereas most women in London never felt inspired by big box gyms, now there’s the whole community of wellness; there are bloggers and fitness experts and they’re talking a lot on social media. I feel that it’s really come together. London is a trendy city and it’s really good that so many people are appreciating the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Today women are willing to spend their money on their health and fitness as opposed to high fashion.
2. Fitness has become a lifestyle, not just an activity
We see ourselves as the “Home of fitness, health and wellbeing” because fitness has become so much more holistic. The core of our business is group classes; we do about 45 group classes per day across all studios as well as private training, nutritional counseling and retail products.
What I love most about barrecore is the community we create in all of our studios. Clients come before the class and hang out and we chat about anything from our kids to the latest wellness products. We also have an online class business, a virtual platform where we have classes running from 25 minutes to an hour long so that you can take us with you. We want to makes sure everyone is feeling good, learning a lot and getting a really tough workout whether they are in studio or on the road.
We do local events and have different partnerships. For instance, in Kensington we partnered with Pavilion to do a barre breakfast. It’s no longer just about the classes that you deliver, it’s also about collaborating with other like minded brands to elevate each others business with further reach.
3. Your current clients can be the best source of new business
We find that many of our quality clients come from our current clients, so we spend a lot of energy in the studio making quality connections with current clients and encouraging them to bring their friends. In the boutique fitness model, we count on clients coming to class, unlike a traditional gym that oversubscribes and counts on their clients not coming. Our clients show up to classes and therefore see results. As the clients and their friends notice the changes in their physique and confidence, the word of mouth spreads like wildfire.
4. Location is still essential
This all starts with knowing exactly who your client is and the best location for your client. Our growth’s been very natural and organic because of the communities we’ve created around each of our studios, but the audience changes slightly per studio. For example, our target market in Chelsea is not the same as the target market for the Mayfair studio. We’re opening in Hampstead in October, and imagine that market will be similar to the Chelsea market.
There can also be other significant benefits to selecting the right location for your studio, which most owners probably don’t consider. Our studio in Cavendish Square is close to Vogue house and the other publishing houses; it’s great to have those so close by. We’ve been blessed with some great press coverage and this has undoubtedly helped us achieve that. Plus, barrecore really tailors to a journalist’s busy lifestyle.
Anyone who has opened, or is planning to open, a studio in London will know just how difficult it is to find locations. We hired someone full-time (on a temporary basis) to help us find locations. This made the whole process far less stressful!
5. Scalability is becoming much easier
London is a very transient market. Many of our clients have moved here and subsequently moved away. We’ve focused on building a big following in the States and Europe, which is much easier to do with the internet and social media.
Another way we’re doing this is through our online workout videos. About 8 months after we first opened, we actually closed down the studio for a month, whilst we built a second classroom. We wanted to stay in touch with our clients during this period. We filmed a bunch of videos just before we closed, and created an online platform where people could watch them.
The uptake was excellent, and everyone was asking for more over the Christmas holidays, so we decided to film more. Now we film videos a few times per year and release them throughout the year, so that wherever you are, you can take your favourite class with an instructor you know. It’s not like picking some random video or DVD online, you already know and like the instructors.
We’re also running a social media campaign called #barreabroad, where we encourage people to take a picture of themselves doing a barre move whilst on holiday or overseas.