Barre Fitness Dunbar is celebrating its first anniversary in September. This unique workout combines ballet barre, pilates, functional training, and stretching. With a variety of class formats and modifications for all levels, no two workouts are the same.
Joèl Adrienne Amzil and Lani Brown are the owners of Barre Fitness Dunbar. They met in 2016 at a playgroup their toddlers attended.
Joèl says, “We spent a fair bit of time together and talked a lot about what was next for us in our lives. For something extra to do together, we thought we’d try a fitness class or two and I introduced Lani to Barre Fitness Yaletown. She really liked it and we got the idea to open a studio together.”
Physical fitness has always been important to the friends. Dance has been part of Joèl’s life for as long as she can remember; she began dancing at age two. She continued to dance through her teens and took classes as an adult. Lani was a figure skater in her youth, and as a junior coach, she taught children how to skate.
Barre Fitness is a Canadian franchise. Barre’s co-founder Ella Jotie and Barre headquarters trained Joèl and Lani.
Lani says, “We are also finishing up our professional fitness certifications with the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association. I am doing Group Fitness and Joèl is doing Pilates.”
Joèl explains how they chose Dunbar for their studio.
“We lived near Queen Elizabeth Park for many years and my older daughter went to school in Kerrisdale. After I dropped her off in the mornings I’d sneak in a barre class in Dunbar and got to know and love the community,” she says.
“When the West 41st Avenue location became available I was excited as it was a place that was wonderfully familiar,” says Joèl.
They both manage the business and love working at the front desk and chatting with clients. There are seven instructors on staff.
Their children attend the same elementary school, which allows these busy moms time to work during school hours. They are appreciative of their husbands’ ability to adapt their schedules to lend a hand with the kids.
Lani says, ”When we have things to do, places to go, or a sick kid at home, we’ve been able to cover for each other. And we truly do have the most wonderful staff. Our front desk ‘Barre Tenders’ are the absolute best and they keep the place running smoothly, even when neither of us is there.”
The space was formerly a fitness studio and required little work.
Lani comments, “We painted the interior and refinished the floors. We had some custom millwork done in the reception area and in the studio, plus some new lighting and decor and that was about it. These changes really did make a difference and the space looks and feels great.”
“There’s room for everyone at our Barre,” says Joèl.
Although their client base is primarily women, men also enjoy the classes and love what it has done for their bodies. University students through to people in their 80s attend classes. Joèl remarks, “Their strength, flexibility and muscle endurance are staggering. I am inspired every day by so many of our clients. As for those who are newer and are just starting their fitness journeys, it is amazing to watch them gain confidence and skill in the technique. It seems that the magic number is three or more classes per week to feel the best results. Barre classes are a very good choice for maintaining body health. I have a chiropractor that recommends Barre above all other forms of exercise. It focuses on proper alignment and strengthening, toning, and lengthening every muscle group in the body in a way that avoids injuries that come with other forms of exercise.”
Lani says, “One of our key core values is focusing on fun and creating happiness. We want people to leave the studio feeling more energetic and joyful than when they came in.”
Joèl adds, “We love hearing conversation and laughter before and after classes. There’s nothing better than having people just sit and talk after class, not rushing out, but enjoying the full experience. We not only want to offer great fitness classes, but we want to open up the space to connect with others.”
Lani says, “We like to hear that our clients have fun and feel good in their bodies. Our bodies are amazing and have carried us through many years and many different experiences and circumstances; they should be cared for and celebrated.”
With the arrival of the pandemic, Barre Fitness Dunbar had to alter its method of operation. March 16, 2020, was the last day of in-studio classes.
“It was a very strange feeling to lock our doors that day. We’d only been open for six months and then we had to shut it all down in what felt like an instant,” says Joèl.
One week later they had set up a brand new virtual studio; clients took classes at home taught by the instructors from their homes. It caught on quickly and people adapted well.Some joined classes in real-time, while others waited to get links to the recorded classes to do at their convenience.
On June 1, 2020, Barre Fitness Dunbar reopened.
Lani concludes, “We have had to decrease our class size by quite a few spaces. And of course, we have all the proper cleaning and distancing protocols in place. Clients are steadily coming back, and it’s great to see them and they are happy to be here too. Our little community is rebuilding itself, and it’s a great relief. We still have a way to go before we get to where we need to be, but if things with COVID-19 stay as they are, and hopefully get even better, we are optimistic.”
Barre Fitness Dunbar
3584 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver BC V6N 3E6