As much as I enjoy fitness now, it’s hard for even me to believe that for the majority of my life I basically thought I hated most forms of exercise! I was not an athlete in high school and barely exercised at all in college. After college (when it started to catch up with me!), I bounced around from yoga, to spinning, to Pilates, to a trainer and so on, but never really found anything I loved. Additionally, I have always fought with lower black problems, which led to anxiety when exercising. However, after my first pregnancy, I knew I had to do something to get back in shape. I hired a personal trainer and suddenly found myself running three miles per day. I thought, “Wow, maybe I could be a runner!” But, no…by the time I could run a 5K at my goal, my back completely gave out on me, and sent me running to the doctor who later said running was the worst possible thing I could do for my body. Uh oh! What now?!? This is about the time that I discovered Pure Barre, a low-impact workout that focuses on core and tiny muscle groups… Hallelujah!!!!!! I had found my match!
I can’t say enough good things about Pure Barre! It allowed me to exercise throughout my entire second pregnancy (up to the last week as seen above!) and I believe has helped tremendously to keep my back problems at bay. After my pregnancy, my body definitely bounced back way more quickIy than it did with my first child. I also feel stronger and more capable now, which has led me to incorporate other types of fitness in my regimen (yoga, Tracy Anderson, etc.). I love that there are over 300 Pure Barre franchise locations, so whenever I’m traveling there’s always a Pure Barre close by! I guess I’m not the only one who swears by it 😉 The community at Pure Barre nationwide is super strong too and there is always a fun challenge to keep it interesting.
I sat down with Christina Cromwell and Jennifer Stone who own two studios in Greensboro, North Carolina to talk all things Pure Barre. Read on to learn about why they chose Pure Barre, how it has changed their bodies (and minds) and how they learned to balance life while owning their first business. And, as always, we love to hear about what people eat in a day, so here’s what they told us…
“I’m 100% guilty of being addicted to cheese. At least once or twice a week I’ll have my favorite dinner of all — fresh tomato and avocado with olive oil and salt and pepper, lots of cheese, prosciutto, wine, and fresh fruit of some sort!”
Breakfast – Black coffee and an apple
Snack – Hard-boiled eggs, nuts or a Quest Bar
Lunch – Smoothie or a large salad
Snack – Nuts or a Quest Bar (if I’m working out in the evening)
Dinner – Zucchini noodles with ground turkey, homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms and spinach or Salmon with roasted veggies
My philosophy with eating is very similar to my philosophy with exercise. Give your body what it NEEDS, which may not always be what your body wants. You have one body and what you put in is a direct impact to what you will get out of it. If you fuel your body with good, nutrient rich items you will not only feel good but see results in your efforts at whatever exercise you take part in. If you fuel yourself with nutrient lacking or “empty” items, you will feel tired, fatigued and will diminish any kind of muscle growth or change you are trying to create….I also used to think that it didn’t really matter what I ate because a calorie is a calorie, right? If I ate two donuts that were 450 calories it was the same thing as eating a hearty salad with chicken, avocado, and nuts that were 450 calories, right? NO!!! Your body recognizes and breaks down those 450 calories in completely different ways because of the ingredients and nutrients (or lack there of) in both. While they are the same amount of calories, the bulk of those 450 calories in the donuts will be STORED as fat while the bulk of the 450 calories from the hearty salad will be USED as energy, muscle repair, and muscle growth. Big difference!!
Interview with Christina Cromwell and Jennifer Stone
Opening your first (and now another) Pure Barre studio was very brave of you. What helped motivate you guys to do so and how did your past experience help you?
JS-When Christina and I opened our first studio, our main goal was to take our passion of Pure Barre and spread it to others, hoping and praying that one day it would become a successful business. We had no idea the direct and immediate impact we would make on the Greensboro community; however, it was truly a testament to the hard work and dedication we put in from day one. As we saw our first studio utilized at high attendance and maxed out our services available (classes), we knew that we had an opportunity to make Pure Barre Greensboro bigger than it currently was. We didn’t want the limits of the studio space (capacity per class) to hold us back from new clients we could reach, serve, and inspire through Pure Barre. Thus, Pure Barre New Garden was born!
CC-It is hard to pinpoint what helped motivate us. I think we both are just very driven, hard-working people and when we both decided we were passionate about Pure Barre and that this is what we wanted to do we fed off of each other’s energy and passion and motivated each other. I know we both have different strengths and weaknesses and G (Jennifer’s nickname!) truly motivates me in certain ways to keep going or to be better. We also are both blessed with amazing families that believed in us from the beginning and instilled a sense of hard work and determination. We both also played sports growing up and at a collegiate level and learned to never give up, to power through, and to fight for something you are passionate about. When we became close friends, both had a passion for Pure Barre, and worked well together we knew this is what we wanted and could do.
For those readers looking to take the leap and follow their dream of a career change or starting a new business, what advice would you offer them?
JS-I would tell them to be fearless. One thing Christina and I did in opening Pure Barre is that we never looked back. We never looked back and said, “what if this happens?” or “why didn’t we do this?” We ALWAYS looked forward and we jumped on every opportunity we had. We actively and tirelessly pursued a dream, which is the attitude you must have if you wish to start a business. If you are truly passionate about what you do, your fears will have less power. Keep your focus forward and not behind. Your passion and drive will always be your guide.
CC-I think I would say first off — are you 100% in? Are you willing to give it absolutely everything you have and more? People often underestimate how much it takes to start a business and really the only thing that matters is the passion behind it, it will get you so far. My advice is to eat, sleep, and breathe your new career or business. To recognize when you need a break and to schedule that into your schedule, to realize that sometimes there is an off button and you need it, and to never give up. You can and will figure it out and make every situation work for you. My advice is persistence and passion!
The fitness world seems to grow and change daily. Why did you guys choose Pure Barre and how do you think it differs from everything else out there?
JS-Pure Barre was much more than a work out for me. I recently had finished my four years of college tennis at UNC and was very scared about being a regular student without hours to devote to a sport that had just defined 18 years of my life. I didn’t know how I was going to fill the void of not only working towards a goal but also working towards a goal with a team. Pure Barre was the perfect fit for this void. Not only did the workout challenge me, but also it had the most loving and uplifting community. It sought to not only enhance your body but to enhance your character.
If you ask most of our clients why they chose Pure Barre as their fitness community, many of them will respond with an answer that has nothing to do with the workout itself. They will instead mention the family that they love and the team that they are a part of. Pure Barre creates a team that is there to pick you up when you’ve had a terrible day at work or a fight with your boyfriend. It’s a team that makes you feel a part of something bigger than just yourself or your workout. We want everyone to be their best selves and reach their potential not only in the four studio walls but also in life. So there, that’s how I think Pure Barre differs from any other fitness because it is so so much more than just a workout.
CC-We chose Pure Barre because we absolutely loved it as consumers, loved it as clients. We both started out as clients. We saw how it changed our life, saw the positive impacts on our body and our minds and knew it was something that we wanted to be a bigger part of. We both knew it was something we wanted in our lives for years to come and took the leap from college to jump right into a career we were going to be passionate about. I think Pure Barre differs from other fitness trends out there in multiple ways. The music, the high intensity yet low impact workout, the ever evolving and challenging classes (4 years taking classes and still never know what is coming next and always sore), and the community it forms. Before moving to Greensboro, I knew three people who lived here — G, her mom, and her dad. Pure Barre is not only a great workout, but also an amazing community of strong woman. I have met all of my friends, mentors, business contacts, etc. through Pure Barre. I think that is truly one thing that sets us apart. We truly have a family atmosphere and it makes coming to “workout” or head into “work” more than just that.
How often do you two take Pure Barre classes and what other types of fitness (if any) do you enjoy?
JS-Pure Barre is the one workout that has truly changed my body while keeping me healthy. During college, we did a ton of heavy lifting and plyometric work. I constantly found myself injured and not getting any stronger. When I started taking Pure Barre, I saw not only an immediate change in my strength but I saw an immediate change in the shape of my muscles. My joints felt better during my workouts and my body didn’t feel like I had gotten run over by a car as I laid in bed at night. I usually take Pure Barre 3-4 times a week and platform once a week.
Besides Pure Barre, I truly love just about everything in the fitness community! From boxing to cycling, yoga to tennis, boot camps to running, I take part in it all! After college, I got really into running and am currently training to run my 6th marathon to qualify for Boston a second time. I also teach spin class 4-5 times a week and love going to Power Vinyasa Yoga. I also love breaking out my tennis rackets and playing around with my brother who also competed at UNC.
CC-I take Pure Barre usually 5-6 times a week. I like to get one of those as a Platform class and then I also enjoy spinning! I teach cycle once or twice a week and think it is a great compliment to Pure Barre. I also enjoy yoga but don’t get there as often as I would like…here’s to hoping I can get myself to yoga after putting it out there!
How have you seen your bodies change since starting Pure Barre?
CC-My body completely transformed when I started Pure Barre. I grew up playing soccer and lifting heavier weights, running, and hopping on random machines at the gym when I would go. When I started taking Pure Barre I noticed increased flexibility, improved posture, improved strength, clothes fitting differently, and a more long lean build. I was amazed! I could finally touch my toes (still working on the split) and started seeing definition in my legs, arms, and abs. The changes I was seeing in my body are what kept me motivated and I kept working hard to see how far I could come.
How has the addition of the Platform (cardio) class changed Pure Barre?
JS-Platform has been a huge addition to Pure Barre. It has been the perfect cardio compliment to a toning and strengthening Pure Barre class. It is equally challenging and intense but has a more freeing concept behind it. We have seen many of our clients be pushed further out of their comfort zones with the addition of Platform. One client, in particular, is a woman in her fifties who has been a devoted Pure Barre enthusiast for the last two years. With the addition of just one platform class a week, she saw changes in not only her muscles but in her resting metabolic rate. I absolutely love the class as not only a teacher but also a client!
CC-The addition of Platform has changed Pure Barre for the better! I have always loved Pure Barre but enjoyed doing a little cardio on the side to get that extra sweat and heart work. I absolutely love how Platform was built off of Pure Barre and keeps things familiar, but at the same time is so different and challenging. I think our clients have enjoyed it and I hope they continue to see how important it is to add it into your weekly routine — for the extra sweat, extra calorie burn, the challenge, and the cardiovascular benefits.
What are your favorite fitness apparel brands and/or pieces?
JS-I am pretty mixed! For pants, I love ALO. For fitted tanks, I really like a new brand that we have been carrying called Kira Grace. The supplex they use is a good combination of stretch and support. I also think they have really playful designs and intricate details that a lot of athleisure wear lacks. For outerwear and pullovers, I love Beyond Yoga. They have a bamboo fleece that is to die for! Their outerwear pieces also are super comfortable and hold up really well. For muscle tanks or lose tanks, I really like Spiritual Gangster. I would love to see our studio bring in Koral and Karma but we also have to be cognizant of price points and styles that would serve the Greensboro community we have.
CC-Currently my favorite fitness apparel brands are Alo Yoga, Spiritual Gangster, and Pure Barre. I absolutely love any high waisted pants, strappy bras, and flowy long sleeve tops for layering. You can usually catch me in long pants, a Pure Barre or muscle tee by Spiritual Gangster or Barre Socks, and a longer sleeved top to keep me warm in the studio!
How do you like to mix in your fitness apparel with your regular everyday clothing?
JS-All. The. Time! Fitness apparel has completely transformed in the last five years. People are now regularly spending $100-$150 dollars on a pair of yoga pants and wear them in their everyday wardrobe. I love wearing a pair of pants with some booties in the winter and a chunky sweater on top. There are so many cute jackets I have that I wear to lunch with friends, out to football games, or even to cocktails at night. Basic pieces can be very versatile!
CC-100% guilty of wearing fitness apparel 24/7! During the week you usually will never catch me in “regular everyday clothing”, my regular is fitness apparel. On the rare occasion I’m out on the town during the week I usually am still guilty of wearing what I wore in the studio all day. During the winter I love to pair my barre leggings with sweater and wedge boots to funk it up a bit. Sometimes I’ll throw a jean jacket on top of my barre clothes and call it a night, or I’ll pair a flowy, low back top with a pair of jeans and wedges! The ratio of fitness apparel to regular everyday clothing in my closet is way out of balance, but works for me!
We know owning your own business, teaching and guiding others can become all-consuming. How do you incorporate self-care into your daily or weekly routines?
JS-A lot of my self-care comes in the form of other exercises and fellowship. There are days when I need a mental and physical break from Pure Barre and that is when I head to yoga or take off on a long run in my neighborhood. However, there are days when I need a break from exercise completely because I am worn down or burned out. When that happens, I love to go hang out at my family’s house and relax on the back porch with a great book and my pup, Rudy. I also love art and will spend time drawing at night to relax and unwind. A long shower is also a huge game changer after a very long and stressful day 🙂 And maybe a sweet treat from Gigi’s!!!
CC-Self-care definitely takes a back seat quite often for me. I try to use my morning coffee/breakfast as my kick-off to the day and time for myself. I’ll catch up on emails/read articles and get set for the day. For me, it is my morning routine that brings me temporary morning peace and time by myself to get set. My days are full with over a million and one different to-dos and talking to amazing people each day, but weeknights are usually “me” time. Whether I am prepping for class, reading, doing admin work, or watching a new show on Netflix I usually use my nights to myself or dinner/drinks with a friend to have time to decompress. My self-care definitely consists of doing things for others/the studio but it makes me happy and right now works!