It’s Not What You Lose, It’s What You Gain | Ep.4

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Barre workouts weren’t a popular thing when Rosa was starting her fitness studio. But she imagined a new style of training that centers around her trusted barre while leaving behind the intimidating (yet typical) body focus associated with dance conditioning.

Now her gorgeous coastal studio in New Zealand welcomes anyone who is looking to move with strength and freedom. She has a particular desire to empower students who may have felt left out of athletics earlier in their lives and felt that movement wasn’t for them.  

Her own brand of barre classes has evolved as the years have progressed. Her original workouts have been shaped by feedback from her members and the incredible instructors who’ve been an integral part of her journey.  

Timestamps

  • 0:00 Introduction to Rosa 
  • 3:29 What is Barre?
  • 6:06 Fitness philosophy
  • 8:40 Community and diversity
  • 11:20 Managing a team of instructors
  • 14:55 Journey to Barre Base
  • 19:43 Marketing Barre Base and Online classes
  • 27:40 Practicing vs Teaching vs Running a Business
  • 30:36 Administrative work (moving to Punchpass and running Punchpass in Covid times)
  • 35:30 Reception to Online Classes
  • 39:20 Client growth and feedback
  • 42:40 Last words of wisdom!

Special thanks to Rosa, owner of Barre Base, for being our special guest on this episode!

Transcript

[00:00:00] Rosa: A lot of people ask, “What's next for Barre Base?” And I don't think you have to have a next. No, keep things small. As you say, you don't want to—I mean, it's such a great brand that it has been that a lot of people come to us and ask. And they do license agreements, and they’d franchise our brand. But I just would never want that. I'd never want to let go of what the brand means to us.

[00:00:22] Claire: Hello and welcome to Good Moves, a podcast by Punchpass. On our show, we have wholehearted conversations with fitness and yoga studio owners to learn more about the unique ways they run their businesses and the inspiring ways they live their lives.

I'm your host, Claire. I ran a thriving yoga studio for eight years, and I've been part of the Punchpass team for almost as long. We have so much to learn from each other. Let's jump right in!

So today on Good Moves, we've got Rosa. Rosa is from Barre Base, a beautiful studio in New Zealand. Rosa, can you just start by introducing yourself and go anywhere you want to go?

[00:01:00] Rosa: Yes. So I'm Rosa. I founded—co-founded Barre Base back in 2015 with a friend at the time who has since moved on from the business. A few years later, she ended up going and studying to be a chiropractor up north. So since then, I've been going alone, somewhat, with a really, really amazing team.

But it’s a classic sort of founding story. We began out of renting church halls, and we've got a university here in Dunedin, so they've got a pretty beautiful old dance studio. So we used their studio there for a while.

We grabbed my mom and our friends, pulled them into the classes, and started creating Barre. And it's nearly been seven years.

Barre was pretty unknown globally at that time. It was starting to become pretty, not well-known in the States and the UK, but certainly not in New Zealand at all, and certainly not in Dunedin. We are right at the bottom of the south island.

Really, the main things there were trying to understand what Barre was and communicate that more clearly. Especially coming from a dance background, I think a lot of people in our community assumed that it was sort of an extension of teaching dance. But also trying to create our own version of Barre that wasn't too dancey, that was accessible, but still held on to that kind of ballet and dance flair.

So it's certainly shifted a lot. I'd say the first class I ever taught looked quite different from how I teach now. And with what we've learned along the way and all the different bodies that we've worked with. Now we've got our own studio. 

[00:02:37] Claire: It's beautiful. 

[00:02:39] Rosa: Yeah, thank you. 

[00:02:40] Claire: Your space is absolutely like a dream, I think, for all studio owners. It's just absolutely stunning.

[00:02:46] Rosa: Thank you. Yeah. It's an old heritage building here in Dunedin. Dunedin is full of really beautiful old heritage spaces that are really honored here. There are quite a few landlords and things going through so much time, money, and energy into protecting those spaces.

We are in Victoria Chambers down in the old precinct of Dunedin. We have a really amazing landlord, Ted Daniels, who is just this sort of best, most supportive dude. And he is really into supporting small businesses in Dunedin. So he makes it really accessible for us to be there, but we’re really lucky. 

[00:03:20] Claire: I think shockingly, landlords can really make or break a lot of small businesses, especially when you need a lot of space. It can be a real tipping point, I think, for a lot of people.

So you talked at the start about how you kind of had to introduce and educate people about Barre. And I confess, when I started doing some research, I was way off the mark. I definitely had that feeling in my head. But it felt a little bit more like a kind of a modified ballet class, I guess.

And I guess that's when you see the physical bar in photos and things like that, you kind of jump to that conclusion.

What is Barre? Can you describe a little bit more about what it actually is, especially the way that you do it?

[00:03:56] Rosa: Yeah, for sure. So I would say it's—the beautiful thing about the barre is that it's there to hold and support us.

If you think about going to a Pilates class on a mat where you're standing, or even a Vinyasa yoga class, it can be really challenging—especially for our older clients or people who have just had a baby or had an injury—to balance. So the bar is—first and foremost, it's there to hold on to. It's there to really help you find balance, alignment, and posture and give you that feedback.

And then when the ballet stuff comes in, it’s really just the length and the strength of the dancer that we're trying to sort of find. And their core strength as well. It’s certainly not dancing. I've spent seven years [pounding?] that, and it's really difficult. 

But if you stepped foot in the studio, you'd see that there's just such a diverse range of men and women. There are men right up through their seventies, which I think really surprises people.

We have quite a big influence from yoga in our classes as well. It’s quite mindful; it's quite slow. The moves are very simple and repetitive. I have been to quite a lot of Barr classes all around the world. I used to work full-time as a marketing manager as well. So I got to jump into lots of classes all around the world. And they were quite aerobic and were quite fast and had that more Pilates breath. But I would say we’re anchored in that yoga breath.

[00:05:22] Claire: I noticed that a lot of your instructors instruct both.

So you feel like there's a little bit more of a merging of yoga and Barr in your classes? Some are pure yoga, some are pure Barre, but there's a little bit of mixing in there?

[00:05:34] Rosa: Yeah, for sure. I think it's just more of that diaphragmatic breathing. When we breathe through the nose, we don't really hear the Pilates breath, which I would say a lot of people do around the world with Barre. We don't start with those kinds of warmups either. We usually ground them.

So it's a little bit more focused in that sense. And Barre is always misunderstood, I think. Because it is very tough, it's such a good burn and very low impact. So that's what makes it really great for all ages as well.

[00:06:06] Claire: Yeah, I saw that on your website as well, and I really, really love the way you phrased it. I thought about reading it verbatim as well, but I think it’s probably better to let you talk about it. But you were talking—or writing on your website about maybe you're coming to Barre to get fitter, stronger, maybe thinner, but then led into that possibly not being the point.

Can you articulate that a little bit better than I just did and let us know what your philosophy is for your community and how you approach those conversations about people who are looking to lose weight, et cetera, et cetera, through this type of movement? 

[00:06:41] Rosa: Yeah, absolutely. This one's pretty important to me. And I think coming from a dance background, for a start, it's very focused on your appearance and what you look like and how you show up with it as well. And being quite an athletic and sporty child, I had a lot of comments from dance teachers saying, “You look too strong; what have you been doing?”

It was very much body-focused. And as an extension of that, I went to an all-girls school. So there were just a lot of those feelings, and I did not want that to come into the Barre community at all. I wanted it to be an empowering space. And I think at the time, a lot of fitness was going there. I have a really good friend who is one of the world's leading CrossFit athletes, and she's so strong and so powerful. 

And those kinds of messages were so prevalent in those kinds of communities, but they weren't yet in Pilates or Barre. That was a big part of when we started creating our own brand, actually.

Barre Base—it's kind of your foundation. It’s not about the aesthetic. It's a tricky one because seven years ago, that world was full of get the dancer's body and burn.” It's all very kind of what you're losing, but I’m wanting to reframe it as to what you gained through the process. What you gain through exercise, not what you lose.

Our ethos is to move with strength and freedom. Whenever I'm asked those kinds of questions always, I come back to that. So that feeling of empowerment, that feeling of freedom and letting go of looking—wanting to look a certain way and just focus on working with your body, not on it, I guess.

[00:08:22] Claire: I think personally, the stronger I get, the less I care about what I look like, I think is what really comes down to. So it feels like that's kind of the prevailing philosophy for you guys too. So with that in mind, can you describe your community? What types of people do you have coming? You've touched on it a little bit. It sounds like anyone and everyone, but is there a general vibe that you find? 

[00:08:44] Rosa: It's very, very diverse, but I think people who are drawn to Barre tend to be people about 35 and onwards, and I started teaching at about 24. I think just because our teachers are mainly under 30—not all—people would assume that's the same with our community, but it's not like that at all.

Barre is very attractive for women who have had children, especially people who had been quite physical and then need to take another approach, people who have had injuries, and people who have been in a lot of pain.

The common theme, I think, is people—a lot of the time, it’s people who have been quite athletic in their past. They're looking for something that kind of meets that so that they're feeling that sweat; they're feeling that energy, but taking a far more restorative approach to their movement.

But yet, we've got so many different people in the studio and I wish—I have a no phones, no photos sort of rule. It's not written, but it's definitely a rule. I encourage everyone to leave their phones at the door. We never take photos of our clients or photos of the room, or videos. So you wouldn't really know unless you came.

[00:09:58] Claire: That's tricky from a marketing standpoint, I think because you do end up sometimes with—you want to take a picture of those beautiful, wonderful, different people, but it’s not appropriate. 

[00:10:10] Rosa: Yeah. I find it really difficult just because I think we definitely—I have such a strong opinion on this, but I know we could still do better. But currently, as it stands, the people in the photos are just our team which is great. Our team's beautiful, but I think the more diversity, the better. Dunedin is not a hugely different place either, so I think we all need to do better here. But it's difficult because I don't want to have to take photos of our clients and they're not there for that. 

[00:10:39] Claire: No, exactly. I think it's become such a normal thing for yoga studios to do, especially. And you know, sometimes people are in vulnerable situations just walking through life and they don't need the photo. Even if you tell them they can opt-out, it's still an uncomfortable conversation that they didn't sign up for when they decided to come to your class, so yeah, I really respect that. 

[00:11:01] Rosa: And it's so nice for everyone to be more present, you know? Our devices—the teachers included, like, “No. Put them away.”

[00:11:10] Claire: I know you have quite a team of teachers, which is great. I know from having my own studio, that one of the things that are challenging when you're managing a team is making sure that everyone's on board with taking care of things the way you want things taken care of, especially philosophically.

Things like not taking photos, respecting all body types, all those great things. How do you balance that with respecting the uniqueness and the individuality that your teachers are bringing to the table? Do you find that challenging or do you find they're all fairly aligned in the first place? 

[00:11:43] Rosa: We've all been fairly aligned. If there is someone interested in working with Barre Base, there’s certainly a bit of a screening process, but it's a terrible way to put that.

But I encourage people to come to the studio. We've got a first-timer’s deal. Come and try it. Come and get a feeling here because you may feel completely aligned with it; you might not. 

I usually prefer to hire from within so that I've got a really good feeling of that person, and their ethos as well. The teaching—I’ve in the past, trained a lot of people completely from scratch, because again, what we offer is quite different from a normal Barre course.

And actually, years ago, there was no such thing as a Barre course. You could do a Pilates one. There may have been in the States, but certainly not in Dunedin and certainly not in New Zealand. I think only—Barre courses have only really started here in the last few years. And they are quite short, sharp courses on the back of Pilates workshops.

I've trained up for people from no background; a little bit of dance background. Some have had a little bit of yoga background, but I've trained them up to teach Barre and that has been great. It's a lot of effort. Our teachers stay for a while, so—

[00:13:01] Claire: That’s fantastic. That’s beautiful

[00:13:05] Rosa: Trust your gut. You just have to trust your gut as well. 

[00:13:09] Claire: Sometimes, I think. 99% of the time, I think trusting your gut is good, but every now and then, I think someone really comes to the table and you're like, “These guys—” It's going to be great. But I think there are so many more facets to being a teacher in that role than people give credit for.

I mean, there are so many—you ask a lot, I think. Not you particularly, but as a studio manager, I think we ask a lot of our teachers, because we need them to be an extension of us, but also bring the good stuff to the table. So, yeah, I think it's a massively challenging role. I applaud anyone who does it, to be honest.

[00:13:41] Rosa: It is. And celebrating their diversity too and what they bring, as you say. No teacher is the same and that's what's amazing about it. And certain people will be drawn to different teachers. There's an element of letting go, I would think, I can say as well. 

[00:13:58] Claire: Oh, absolutely. When someone likes someone else's class instead of your class or moves on to something that's a better fit, you do have to leave the ego, I think, out of the conversation and just go, “That's great, whatever works for you”  

[00:14:09] Rosa: I've learned so much from the teachers that have been in the studio, present, and past, certain specific teachers, especially. I feel very on the same level as them and so many of them had been teaching even longer than me, you know?

I just feel so lucky that I can—we’ve all shaped what Barre Base is together. It's not just me; it’s not just my ethos. It’s all of us that have been in the studio, past, present, and our clients as well and what's important to them. A lot of what we do is just feedback from our members and I think it's such a collaborative effort.

[00:14:47] Claire: I totally understand where you're coming from. Was this always what you wanted to do? Was this the plan?

[00:14:58] Rosa: Being in some sort of fitness thing has always been a part of my life. I danced throughout my whole life but also was very interested in sports. I always had a passion for encouraging movement.

My high school—upon reflection, I've thought about this quite a lot—was a great school, but it was quite small and it was sort of—fit people and very talented sports people were very celebrated.

But there were many that were left behind and I was a naturally pretty fit person, but there were still sports that I was scared to do. There are so many things that if I went back to a high school and if I was a PE teacher or involved with some sort of schooling system, I would change just to get more people moving and make it feel more welcoming. 

Upon reflection of high school, in particular, those are messages that I really want to—things of importance that I want to bring into the studio because I meet so many women who come to the studio and have never exercised before just get this amazing buzz, feel welcomed in an exercise space for the first time and had just carried for their whole teenage lives, in particular, that sports weren't for them, or movement wasn’t for them.

So yeah, that's something I've always carried with me through dance, through high school. 

I studied indigenous studies, Maori marketing, and communications at UNI, the Maori language in particular. And post-university, I kind of—Dunedin's a small place. There weren't many opportunities at the time to sort of jump into a marketing role and I thought I wanted to stay here. So, my partner, Ollie encouraged me to—he was like, “What are your passions? Put them together.” And Barre Base was created.

[00:16:48] Claire: That's beautiful. 

[00:16:51] Rosa: Yeah, he's amazing. The other side of our online business as well. He's a designer and website developer and videographer, so very helpful complementary skills.

[00:17:04] Claire: Your website is beautiful as always. I mean, it's just stunning and I know you've got the video platform separate now to Punchpass, which is gorgeous. Is that going well for you—the online Barre classes? 

[00:17:17] Rosa: Yeah, it's almost a necessity, sadly with shifting in and out of COVID. It was something ironically that he and I had talked about for so long, but we both were working full time while I was running the business. I only finished working full-time a year ago. 

[00:17:34] Claire: Oh, wow. That’s wild. No idea. 

[00:17:38] Rosa: Yeah. So I was a marketing manager at a technology company and that was why having the team was so important as well because I also worked 40 hours elsewhere. It was a pretty flexible job and it was actually just across the road. The office was just across the road from the studio, so I could look out inside the studio, then run over and teach a lunchtime class. 

[00:18:01] Claire: Oh, that's perfect. 

[00:18:03] Rosa: Yeah. Yeah. Luckily, Dunedin’s so small, but at the same time, it did get too much and I wanted to put my energy and much more into the business. And having the online business grow, basically duplicated another business again. So we really needed to put the energy into that.

[00:18:21] Claire: You're back to in-person now, do you find the same people are accessing the on-demand stuff as are coming to class? Or do you feel like people have sort of separated out into two different realms? What do you think is happening there? 

[00:18:34] Rosa: It's a mixture for sure. I mean, we've just come out of another lockdown in New Zealand. Auckland is still in lockdown. Dunedin would put a little more flexibility and there are people who did online through the lockdown and had stayed there and decided to not come back to the studio for now, just because case numbers are growing again, so on and so forth.

So you've got that sort of group, then you've got a lot of people online who have lived in Dunedin who've had some connection to us in some way.

Some people in Germany—there's a woman who was an exchange student in Dunedin who just fell in love with Barre Base and has done it online ever since. So there's really a nice mix like that and then there are some people who potentially—specifically like young mothers who can only maybe get into the studio once a week but want a little bit more so they may do both online and studio.

Certainly a mixture, but having a studio does allow your platform to grow a lot faster in those early stages. I’ve just already got contacts.

[00:19:36] Claire: Yeah, absolutely. Do you have any sort of thoughts on what's next for you guys? Is it stay the course and just keep riding this out or do you have big plans coming up? What's going on? 

[00:19:52] Rosa: Yeah, there's a little bit of that feeling of the just week to week. Everyone collectively can understand that. It's just with COVID, you kind of have no idea what's coming next, but also trying to just focus on that all the time becomes a pretty tiring conversation. So yes, a slight sense of week to week. And I think I really do want to grow the online platform.

And because Ollie and I both have these marketing skills, I always equate it to—like a builder doesn't often do work on their own house. It's a little quite like that with me and Ollie with this business. So we both have goals and things we want to do. We're about to set up the space into an at-home studio.

[00:20:33] Claire: I was wondering about that when I saw it. 

[00:20:34] Rosa: Yeah, so I don't have to keep going back into the studio to film. So that's kind of the next step. There's a whole heap of big lights and things out there that we've purchased. So that's quite exciting. And then, actually putting some work into proper digital marketing.

We've been just relying on our clients and their friends and word of mouth really, and social media, but very little paid marketing. There are a few reasons for it. I personally don't have much going on on my own social media. I’m quite like a social media cynic, you could say. Study media studies and you become more like, “Hmm.” 

[00:21:13] Claire: Rightly so, I think. But it is a tool and you have to use it. I mean, that's the unfortunate part—you can't, unfortunately, turn your back on it as much as you'd like to, I think. Every now and then, I'll kind of connect with a studio owner or someone starting a business in another realm and they're like, “Oh, I don't want to do social media. I'll just do it organically.”

And I think we've really crossed that line now. You know, five years ago, maybe you could make a stand and draw a line in the sand. But I think that now it's absolutely essential and there's no way out. 

[00:21:42] Rosa: It’s essential. It is. And I find it much easier to do the marketing for the studio because again, it's not just—it's a very community feel. I've got all the team, but I am struggling with marketing Barre Base anywhere on-demand because it's kind of, I'm the face of it. I'm not really using and I do just need to get over myself and do it. But it’s hard. It’s a wee bit hard for me.

[00:22:05] Claire: Yeah, I feel for you. I get it, trust me. And I think it's really different shifting from marketing your studio when you really only marketing Barre to people who can physically show up. And I found that really interesting. As a studio owner, there are all these great marketing ideas floating around, but I don't want to reach people on Facebook that live 300 kilometers or in America. It doesn't actually help you at that point.

So, yeah, that's a massive transition from I want to market to my community that is physically here versus I want to find community out there, wherever, that resonates with us, that haven't actually been to an in-person class. Whole different world. 

[00:22:40] Rosa: And it feels a little bit more like you're talking about yourself rather than why we do what we do is to support other people and to make other people feel good.

And there are totally different ways that we could approach it. And there are so many beautiful testimonials and things. So that's the sort of next step, I think. It's growing that side of the business. The cool thing about online is that it's scalable. It could be just the amount of work, but you're really reaching a whole new set of people.

And if you grow your studio, you’ve got to add more classes. You've got to find new teachers and that’s exciting. I do want to put a cap on that at a certain point. I don't want to have two studios. I wouldn't want to franchise, so probably basically this allows us to create a little bit more growth, and reach a few more households, but do it ourselves and keep a cap on it.

[00:23:36] Claire: I think it's interesting because it does remove that—when I was a studio owner, I always felt like even if I could make hundreds of thousands of dollars in a studio, which I couldn't, I assure you. But even if I could, it wouldn't be right anyway.

I don't feel like we should be making—building mansions based on yoga or Barre, or any of these things that are set up to serve people and make them feel better. You should make enough to be comfortable, but you shouldn't be making millions of dollars, I don't think. That's my personal opinion. 

But I think with the on-demand platform, it's a little more—I'm not saying you're still going to be making millions of dollars, but I feel like it's a little more feasible to have it out there and go, this is actually a good income earner. I am reaching other people, but I'm not taking more than I'm owed or taking more than it's due to me from doing what I do in the community.

[00:24:23] Rosa: Sure. And when you're doing an online business, especially when you've got a marketing background, there are all those sorts of keywords that always come up. And if you're using integrations and things like that, it's really clear to see sort of what's coming in.

And your outgoings are huge. I mean, your video gear is expensive, and especially if you're doing it right, this can cost—video gear is expensive, but yeah, you are seeing a very clear kind of income coming in. You see how many subscribers you've got. And I get an email every time we lose one or we gain one. So it's kind of—it's very clear to see how you're going and what your growth is. And it's quite fun to set goals as well.

[00:25:07] Claire: How do you feel like you cope with—I know it's kind of intrinsically you are the studio and the studio is you to a certain extent. Do you feel like you cope well with those ups and downs? Can you kind of remove yourself from the studio and the on-demand? So both of them together, like losing students, losing subscribers, gaining—do you feel like that's part of the business? That you can ride that wave? Or does it sometimes impact you a little bit more than you'd like? 

[00:25:35] Rosa: I mean, I do get a bit gutted when I see someone decided not to continue, but half the time, actually the people are ending the online because they're coming back to the studio.

[00:25:44] Claire: That's a beautiful side of it. 

[00:25:46] Rosa: Yeah. So it's a nice swap. Whereas Ollies is like, “Oh no,” and I'm like, “Oh, that's okay. This week they're coming into the studio.” So at least, I make that connection with them. I do find it difficult and I'm as communicative as I can be with our online members to stay connected.

So we've got online, like a Facebook group, I send a lot of emails. There are a lot of them I message personally. And a lot of them are really beautiful. They’ll email back after a session, or if we do a zoom, maybe a face-to-face through a Zoom screen. 

But there are at least 50% who have chosen to do on-demand for that exact reason. They want to be anonymous. So it is a little bit difficult because you can't connect in the same way. There is that.

There are so many nice messages that come through, especially from people who work shifts or work really late or live remotely. There are a lot of use cases and examples of why on-demand is really powerful and how it does help so many people. I really didn’t think it wouldn't feel as amazing as it does seeing people face-to-face and seeing their progress. But there were some really nice examples of stories that have come through that make it all worthwhile. 

[00:27:00] Claire: Yeah, I think it does make a big difference to people, but your studio classes are full, very full. So people are clearly coming. Maybe too full in some cases. So people are clearly coming back for that in-person as well, and really enjoying it and having that connection, which I think is really beautiful.

[00:27:20] Rosa: It is at the moment, but COVID numbers—we've had to restrict our class sizes a little bit, which is why it does look busier than usual. So we’ve had to call out about eight people per class. 

[00:27:29] Claire: Yeah. But it's still cranking. It looks good. 

[00:27:33] Rosa: It is busy. Yeah, it is. We're very lucky. I’ve got a great support system. 

[00:27:39] Claire: So do you have any wise words of wisdom for people that are thinking of going into a business like this? Like just really simple. I guess we could start with, would you do it again? And I think I already know the answer to this question. You seem very at peace in your business and aligned with your business, which I think is a beautiful thing. Is it something you'd recommend to other people? 

[00:28:01] Rosa: I definitely don't think it is for everyone, actually. I think there's a really big difference between teaching and running a Barre studio business and also practicing and being a teacher.

There are a lot of people who fall in love with going to a Barre class or a Pilates class, or a yoga class and decide they want to do a training. That's the first step. And even inside that training, it might just be more for you. I think you have to sacrifice a lot of your own training actually to be a teacher.

[00:28:30] Claire: Totally. 

[00:28:32] Rosa: Yeah, I would do—when I lived in Australia, I took a wee sort of gap year, had the studio—the physical studio managed and I did all sort of admin from online. That's when we first actually got Punchpass because I had a lot more breathing room. So I was messaging you to get that all sorted out.

So yeah, when we were living over there, because I wasn't teaching, I went to so many classes on the Gold Coast, which was really fun. I was so fit and so strong and doing so much for myself.

It's not the same when you're teaching 15 times a week. You're physically tired from supporting those people in the classroom. You also don't want to continuously feel like you're at work.

A lot of people that I know who have been teachers have been doing a lot of online classes actually. Because it's kind of like they get to go home, not be at their workplace, but still move.

That’s an interesting—I would just really consider that it may not be for you. And you probably don't know until you try. That’s the truth. But there is certainly a difference between you enjoying exercising for yourself, you enjoying teaching and being at a whole other level again, of running a business because these things are a very, very small part of it, you know?

[00:29:50] Claire: Absolutely. And I think a lot of people almost get—not trapped because obviously, they're making conscious choices the whole way through, but they start teaching, and maybe their classes get popular. They outgrow their spaces, or they need more times at their spaces that they're teaching at.

Then they grab a studio and then I think they realize all the things that come with running a studio that are just wild.

Like the number of facets: we've touched on the marketing side of things, and we've touched on the online side of things.

But the things you have to handle as a studio owner—and managing people, I think, is one of the ones that really take people by surprise so I love hearing how aligned you and your teachers are.

I think that's awesome. I also don't think it's the experience of a lot of people. I think a lot of people are managing a bit more of a mixed bag of people, which is a lot more challenging, I think. 

Do you outsource anything at this point or do you feel like you're doing everything at the most? Is that your general vibe?

[00:30:44] Rosa: I feel like I've outsourced so much admin to Punchpass.

[00:30:51] Claire: Well, that’s a good start. 

[00:30:53] Rosa: Really. We used to do every extra reply. We used to take all bookings via email. I had like a Google sheet with just numbers and you know, how ridiculous is that in retrospect? And I remember our partner saying, “Okay, so how many hours are you doing admin a week and how much would you pay yourself?

And that's always like a really great way to decide whether you want to take on some new technology, you know, what are you worth? How many hours are you spending each week? What does Punchpass or Zero? Whatever it costs each month, it's totally worth it. 

[00:31:23] Claire: I totally agree. That’s outsourcing. I know I have that conversation quite often with people who are looking at coming to Punchpass like I would have spoken to you five or six years ago about it. And they kind of um and ah about paying that little bit more for the plan that you're on, where everything's kind of integrated and wonderful and works.

And I'm like, it's an hour of pay a month.

Like that extra little chunk a month that’s just going to take everything away from you. Like it just all flows and yeah, it's huge.

As you know, I came to Punchpass as a user and now ended up here and I agree. It just kind of took everything away. But it’s not—I mean, you've moved your content library or your videos are now somewhere else, which is totally reasonable.

I mean, we're not everything to everyone, but it is good to hear how much of that weight we've taken off of your shoulders. 

[00:32:12] Rosa: The video library didn't exist on Punchpass when we started doing online. So that's why. If that was there, then they would have.

So we got onto that quite quickly right at the start of the pandemic and I was amazed at how quickly you guys responded.

And the great thing actually, with having, I think, so many of the Punchpass team based in the States was that that was already happening over there far before it was happening in Australia and New Zealand. So those Zoom links were already integrated and we were straight in. It was just so easy. I’m so grateful for that. 

The video library wasn't, so we went onto another app. And then as you say, you’ve got a wee bit of stuff on that now. It's okay, it's doing its job. And then we actually only integrated with Stripe onto that new Punchpass plan recently so I think we started on like a mid-tier plan.

We had the wait list feature, which is amazing. Then only recently did I take that next step and get Stripe integrated and have all the payments go through online. Again, it’s so much easier.

I was managing all the memberships with emailing, like an antiquated kind of form that they saw and then set up automatic payments.

You know, you make these decisions and when you finally just pay a little bit extra—and it's wasn't the money. It was actually just the administrative time of getting that sorted. But it saves so much time now. So I feel like I outsourced too, with that. I have an accountant and it's a great system actually with her. It's kind of like pay for a year and you get to ask as many questions as you want. 

[00:33:58] Claire: Oh, I like that. 

[00:34:01] Rosa: Yeah, it's good. It's really good. And I don't—that's not my strength money stuff, no. I’m not great at it. So she just does all of it. I guess I outsource videography to Ollie, my partner.

[00:34:14] Claire: That works too.

[00:34:16] Rosa: And design work at times. But other than that, no. Everything else, we manage at the moment. 

[00:34:21] Claire: It's impressive. I think it's really—

[00:34:26] Rosa: It's nice; it’s intimate. A lot of people ask, “What's next for Barre Base?” I don't think you'd have to have a next.

[00:34:34] Claire: No

[00:34:35] Rosa: I think you can keep things small. As you say, you don't want to—I mean, it's such a great brand that it has been that a lot of people come to us and ask. And they do license agreements, and they’d franchise our brand. But I just would never want that.

I'd never want to let go of what the brand means to us. And yeah, it's just not my goal to have this big thing.

[00:34:57] Claire: It’s kind of nice to get to a point where you just kind of cruising along and you feel like you can ride the waves of whatever lockdowns and you know, things we're trying not to focus too much on anymore.

Knowing that you've got the tools to go back online or go in person again, I think is so huge. And we see so many people switching back and forth, and it's just so great for them to be able to flick that switch and go, “Sorry guys, we're back online.” Or, “We're back in the studio.” It's just such a—like you said, such an agile thing, and Punchpass—I mean, we were really quick. 

You know, we came in one day and it was like, “We're doing Zoom now.” And it's like, “All right, cool. We can roll with that.” And it just rolled out really, really quickly and it made perfect perfect sense. And I think it was a great evolution for studios that we didn't know we needed. 

I don’t how much hesitation you saw from your clients about watching an online class? But I just remember some of ours were like, “Nope, it's never going to happen. Like, it's just not the same. I don't have space.”

Did you have a lot of hesitation coming into it? Do you think those people have gone along the line? 

[00:36:00] Rosa: No. So, again, coming back to how I was saying that our clients often form our culture, we have a lot of women who’ve had breast cancer or have immunity issues. We’ve had pregnant women. We’ve had people whose families were overseas in France, for example, and the pandemic was already rearing its head there.

There wasn't a case in New Zealand at that time. I was starting to get people starting to come to me and say they feeling a little bit anxious, you know? “I don't know if I want to sign up for a six-month membership because what if COVID comes here?”

And I just remember basically just being like, “Okay. Straight away, I need a solution to this because I don't want to lose members. I don't want them to feel nervous in our studio. And basically, that happened. I mean, these conversations were happening, and then I decided that we would go 50% online and this was before COVID was in New Zealand. 

So I don't know why my gut was very strong there. I was like, “We need to go online.”

So I started pitching it to the members and said we had a 50-50 online and studio timetable now. On Punchpass, the zoom links you can jump in on there. And the week that we had a trial to see how it was going to go, the first cases of COVID were in New Zealand.

And then, very rapidly—New Zealand was super rapid with their lockdowns, as Australia probably knows. And we were in lockdown and we were already online. So it was so good and Ollie and I had already gone into the studio with the video gear and filmed about ten workouts.

The people that didn't want to do Zoom, or perhaps didn't have great internet had access to prerecorded classes as well. So we were sort of set to go.

Having a lockdown leaves people no choice. They want to move, they want to do something. So everyone was forced to sample it.

Then when we went back to the studio, some people were like, “I love having that option. I love being able to do like a short 20-minute workout. We'll go for a bike ride and then do a stretch class. There are just so many examples of how it works well for people who can't make it in. And even I live 20 minutes out of town, and 20 minutes out of Dunedin is a long hour.

Everyone thinks we're mad, living out here. But you don't want to have to drive three or four times a day and sometimes, that's your reality. So driving in just for a Barre class is sometimes not worth it. If you can do it online, that's great. 

[00:38:37] Claire: Do you think you would have come around to that anyway without COVID or do you think—

[00:38:40] Rosa: We were having the conversation already and I guess because we had the skills to deal with it. I feel so lucky that we had the video gear.

Ollie was a videographer, and he can set up and that sort of stuff for me. And I used to work at a booking system as well before I worked at the other tech company—a hair and beauty booking system.

So I mean, me and him, we research a lot into what system is going to work well, and we've discussed it for ages, but again, never got round to it as we were working full-time. 

But COVID kind of pushed us to do it and then COVID pushed us to then end up both leaving our full-time jobs. Ollie is a freelancer now and works for Barre Base anyway as well, obviously. And it’s the best thing that’s ever happened. 

[00:39:30] Claire: That’s so brilliant. I love that. No, that's so good. You guys did such a beautiful job and I love seeing all of your little bits working together. I think that's one of my favorite parts about your business: just seeing it all integrate. And I love how happy your students are. I think that's such a beautiful thing to see as well. We like having you at Punchpass.

[00:39:49] Rosa: I feel really lucky that people are really open. You know, it's Dunedin. Everyone's super laid back, down to earth, but also very loving and sharing. You get just really nice face-to-face feedback or even via email. People will want to tell you how grateful they are and it just makes all the difference. 

[00:40:11] Claire: It does make all the difference. 

[00:40:13] Rosa: Yeah. It's a selfless job, what we do. There's a lot of energy that goes into it and I love it. I never feel tired of it. I've got a lot of energy for it because I get so much out of it.

So I feel lucky with it, but it certainly does make all the difference when you’re getting that feedback and appreciation from your customers and seeing their strength. That's just the best feeling there is just watching people become confident, become more strong, sleep well, you know? 

People tell us regularly that they used to not be able to sleep through the night with back pain and it's not the same anymore. And yeah, it's pretty powerful.

[00:40:49] Claire: Yeah. We used to get the same in the yoga studio and it's an incredibly powerful thing when someone's so vulnerable and such a beginner when they come and you just see them start blossoming.

The strength it takes, I think, for people to take that first step is so underrated.

It's such a terrifying thing to do. Anytime someone walks through the doors, that's something new. I think it's just so brilliant. And then to see them progress and evolve in whatever that means for them. Yeah, it's a privilege.

[00:41:18] Rosa: There are some pretty cool stories about the benefits of Barre, but specifically, I think like when you're in that situation, especially teaching a class like a Barre class—they’re hard. And when much of it is mental endurance, it's like listening to your body, but also battling that kind of mindset and certainly seeing people shift.

I just love to see how they've evolved in other parts of their world as well, you know, in relationships, at work because you just see them walk in the door differently. And I know that they change how they approach other parts of their lives. 

[00:41:55] Claire: Or you see them get through hard things. You see them at the start of a hard thing and when they get through the hard thing and when they come out of the other end. And I think that's a privilege that long-term studio owners get to have as well. I mean, when you've been doing it for as long as you have, you really spend a lot of time with these people and you see them evolve. It's a beautiful thing. That's really cool. 

And I love how aligned your business sounds. It's not necessarily the way it is for everyone, but I think it's really inspirational to hear that that's the way it is for you because it sounds like it is just how you're walking through life. You've got it all, and your people. And Ollie sounds very helpful.

It sounds like a beautiful thing. It's been really, really great to talk to you today. Is there anything else you'd like to put out into the world? Any gems of wisdom? Anything you live by that you think you would just love to pass on or are you all good? 

[00:42:46] Rosa: Yeah, I think if you're teaching, keep doing it for all the right reasons. And think bigger than just—especially for Barre and Pilates, think bigger than just the body. I always sort of say one of my favorite things, as I've already touched on, is just working with your body, not on it, and focusing on what you gain rather than what you lose because there's just so much more as a teacher to get out of those lessons.

I think that's been the most rewarding thing for me. And that's what makes it more sustainable. It's focusing on those bigger things, the emotional and mental and [00:44:09 holder?], as we say, in New Zealand and [00:43:26 te Maori?]. It's just those different parts of the spiritual, physical, emotional, all of the facets. It's very yoga as well.

t's super important to make sure that that comes into the Pilates and Barre world because I do think it's been lost there a little bit. But Pilates and barre are just as mindful as yoga and just as powerful. And to not lose sight of that. And just to be the change because we don't need Barre and Pilates to be focused around body and a certain body type and what you should look like and burning your bum and abs. It's more sustainable to focus on what you gain beyond the body. 

[00:44:09] Claire: That's awesome. Rosa, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been really lovely to talk to you and really inspiring. I appreciate it.

[00:44:19] Rosa: Nice to meet you, Claire. Thanks for all the amazing support. Dunedin's full of Punchpass users now because—

[00:44:25] Claire: It’s a bit like Adelaide, actually. 

[00:44:28] Rosa: A lot of people like it. Our customers who use it, love it. People even ask if they can try and use it for all sorts of different things beyond fitness.

[00:44:39] Claire: We love all sorts of different things so that's awesome.

[00:44:42] Rosa: We appreciate your support and it just makes all the difference in choosing Punchpass. 

[00:44:48] Claire: Thank you. If you'd like to learn more about any of the guests that we’ve featured on the show or about Punchpass, you can head to our website at punchpass.com.

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