As a lifelong dancer, Nini Gueco says she was no stranger to movement, but her body totally changed when she became an instructor at one of San Francisco’s first barre studios in 2011. As in, she lost 30 pounds and dropped four dress sizes.
But while her results were impressive, Gueco thought they took just too damn long—and that the classes weren’t fully tapped into the music. So she ditched her career as an auditor and mortgage consultant, came up with her own method, and opened Avant-Barre in San Fran’s SoMa district, where classes feature circuit-like training and heart-pumping cardio bursts between moves.
“I wanted to take and teach a class that combined strength techniques with easy-to-follow choreography set to music that actually made you want to move,” Gueco says. “I wasn’t sure if people would understand my vision, or if I would even be able to execute it.”
Fortunately, both things worked out really well. In her own words, here’s how she made it happen.
My “aha” moment
It took me a while to realize the role fitness had always played in my life. I danced from an early age, so when I discovered barre it drew me in naturally. At that point, I was 30 pounds heavier than when I was dancing, but my dedication to barre helped me shed those unwanted pounds. So my love for barre truly stems from my gratitude to those studios that helped me take control of my body again—and I just wanted to be able to put my own spin on something that changed my life.
Choreographing my schedule, and classes
There’s no typical day. I do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. The only thing that is constant is my process for choreographing a class. As a dancer, I was only concerned with how I was able to interpret the music through movement and making sure it translated well on stage. Then, when I was working as an instructor for another studio, my job was to plan exercise sequences and teach them to the beat of the music, but not necessarily to feel the music. With the style we teach at Avant-Barre, it’s a hybrid of both, so there’s careful planning of the playlists and choreography that takes a lot of time.
I also try to take classes at least three times a week to experience how our classes feel firsthand. It contributes to the evolution of the technique.
The most surprising aspect of being a fitness entrepreneur…
…is how rewarding it is to see the positive changes we’re making in the lives of our clients. I knew there would be physical changes, but I didn’t know how quickly they would see them. I hoped people would eventually love our studio, but I didn’t prepare for the loyalty so early on. On more than a few occasions, clients have told me that they never thought that they would enjoy exercising until they tried our classes. That is the most rewarding thing ever.
Why sticking to your vision is key
There will always be critics, there will always be negative people, but if you work extremely hard and dedicate yourself to what you love, your supporters will outnumber them all.
A lot of people thought I was crazy to create something that was so different from what people knew and were used to. But if I had let fear of being judged and criticized stop me from following my heart and executing my vision, there would be a huge community of people still searching for their place in the fitness world.
How I’m celebrating Small Business Saturday
We’re hosting a special class at 11:00 a.m.—this is the first time we’re participating in Small Business Saturday, and we’re excited to be included in such an amazing event!
For more information visit avant-barre.com
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