Interview conducted by Jenn Hatch, Communications Blog Chair
After taking her first class at The Barre Code Chicago in 2010, Cami Kirschner knew she found a barre-based workout that was different from the rest.
We sat down with Cami to find out how this workout inspired her to bring The Barre Code to Austin and what advice she has budding entrepreneurs in the fitness industry.
Q: What were you doing professionally before becoming the leading woman at The Barre Code Austin?
A: Before opening The Barre Code Austin, I was the Chief Compliance Officer for an investment manager in Chicago. This has been a complete departure from my prior professional career!
Q: Has fitness and health always played a part in your life?
A: Fitness and leading a healthy lifestyle has always been a part of my life. I was a competitive tennis player growing up and even outside of that commitment all of my extracurricular activities revolved around fitness. When my tennis career ended, I felt the need to fill the void and sought out activities to keep my routine new and fresh. I love yoga, cycling, swimming. You name it, I’m up for it!
Q: When you were in Corporate America, how did you make time for your health ?
A: I am very cognizant that if I’m too sedentary my mental and physical health suffer. It isn’t always easy, but I know that I have to prioritize getting my body moving and healthy eating habits. I prefer to workout early in the morning before the rest of the house is awake but if I can’t make that happen, I’ll make time throughout the day. I also don’t put too much pressure on how much time I have to spend working out. If I can only sneak in 15 minutes one day, then that’s it!
Q: Do you think it’s important for professional women and business owners to make a healthy lifestyle a priority?
A: Absolutely. It is the ripple effect… If your stress levels are too high or you aren’t putting healthy things in your body, everything else will suffer. I notice that I’m less productive, more distracted and on edge when I start to let my health and wellbeing slide.
Q: When did you first find barre and The Barre Code?
A: I found barre-based workouts around 2004 in New York. I was definitely hooked on the results that I was seeing. However, some of the early barre workouts I discovered weren’t sustainable for me as there wasn’t enough variety in the workout to keep my attention. I found The Barre Code in Chicago in 2010. I was immediately hooked. The Barre Code isn’t just a barre workout but a community of women empowering each other. I found myself less focused on the results yet more tied to feeling I had when I left. The Barre Code offers cardio, strength and restoration classes so you get a variety in class type in addition to a motivating and inspiring environment.
Q: How did you know you wanted to open your own studio?
A: While I enjoyed my previous career, I had a longing to be an entrepreneur in a field where I could help people. When I started to go down the path to actually make this happen, it felt like a natural fit!
Q: What did it feel like to open your studio doors for the first time to the public?
A: I won’t lie, I was nervous! Will it be well received? Can I carry out the mission? But ultimately, other than raising two kids it has been the most rewarding time of my life. I’m so proud of the community we are building!
Q: What has it been like over the last year+ as business owner?
A: Owning your own business is stressful because the buck stops with you. The biggest thing I’m learning is how to find balance. It can be hard to shut off, I’m constantly thinking about what else I can be doing to be successful and support my team. In addition, unexpected issues arise and often right when things are running smoothly! But with each lesson learned growth occurs and I’ve become more patient yet decisive along the way.
Q: What is your favorite part about your business and/or being a business owner?
A: Three favorites come to mind:
- Creating a culture and community that starts with you;
- Witnessing hard work come to fruition from a team of dedicated individuals;
- The flexibility it offers because you can set your own hours (albeit a lot).
Q: Do you have any tips for women who aspire to start a business in fitness?
A: First, make sure you truly believe in what you are trying to deliver. It is a competitive space so if you don’t have your heart and soul behind what you are starting, it likely won’t last.
Second, ask a lot of questions: What’s already out there? Where is there a void? What demographic am I trying to reach? Will it last in an economic downturn?
Join YWA Saturday, December 9 at the Barre Code! The class is only $10 and all proceeds are being donated to the YWA Foundation!