In early March of this year, Barre3 in Berwyn—the yoga meets Pilates meets ballet barre studio owned by Becca Bagge Carr—was humming along, having just completed an interior studio refresh and planning for a new member push in the spring. When her bustling studio was ordered closed by Governor Wolf, Bagge Carr was forced to reinvent her entire business model in a matter of days.
How did you react when you learned you had to temporarily close your studio?
Oh gosh I think the spent the whole day hiding in my closet from my kids, just agonizing over the decision. At first, we offered members a free month in the future if they would stay with us, just because we didn’t know where this was going or what would happen. Then I got on the phone with other [barre3] franchise owners to talk about what to do. We decided to transition to virtual classes, but I had to shut the studio down for about a week to pull it all together.
How did the transition go?
It was pretty much a disaster at first. We stream classes through Zoom, which is a software made more for meetings. Our classes are built around a unique combination of music and choreography, and Zoom automatically limits background noise, so sometimes clients couldn’t hear us or the music. My dad is an audio engineer, so he helped me work through the kinks, and eventually we figured it out. Fortunately our clients were patient with us, and now it’s running smoothly.
What’s your new class schedule like?
We offer seven live classes a week and one prerecorded class on the weekends for members only. Clients have 24 hours to take a live class once it’s uploaded.
Did you lay off any instructors?
No, all have stayed with me, though they’ve gone from teaching four to seven classes a week to just one a week. However, it’s a lot harder to teach virtually.
Why is that?
Your heart is pounding every time you do it. It’s a huge shift to go from in-person to virtual instruction. It’s much harder to teach a class with no client feedback, such as eye contact or smiles. It’s more taxing mentally. You have to work really hard to make connections.
Have most clients stuck with you?
Yes. We have a really loyal, very close community here, and they’ve shown us a ton of support. Clients really like the virtual classes and have asked us to keep them even after we reopen the studio. Another neat thing is that clients who moved away are able to take classes with us again, so it’s been fun to reconnect in that way.
How will things look when you reopen?
Well I think it’s going to be very hard if they limit the amount of people we can have in the studio or specify the distance they can stand from one another. It will be difficult for us to cover our regular operating expenses and still make money. That’s something I need to figure out. What I think will happen is we’ll offer a mix of in-studio and virtual classes. Even when the studio does reopen, some people still might not feel comfortable coming in. Plus, we won’t be able to offer childcare when we reopen, and we have a lot of clients who are moms and depend on that.
Did you ever consider shutting down the studio?
You know I always come back to our why. We want to help people be balanced and healthy and fight the lonely. For most people, this is the loneliest time in their lives. We can’t just leave them and close.
You can visit their website @ barre3 Berwyn or follow the studio on Facebook (@barre3berwyn) and Instagram (@barre3berwyn).
Main Line Neighbors subscribers can use promo code B3MLN try a free livestream class.