6-Pack Spotlight: Modern Barre Founder & Instructor, Julia Williamson

Modern BarreLet’s get one thing straight. I’m not the most graceful person in the world.

I took ballet from age 3 – 6 (maybe older … Mom, can I get a confirmation?) and then I took a pretty hard nose dive into sports. I’m talking basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, tennis … you name it, I did it.

And after trading in my tights and slippers for rolled soffe shorts and cleats, there was no looking back … until now.

A few weeks ago — pre-chaotic mess — I had the incredible opportunity to take Julia Williamson’s Ultimate Modern Barre class at her very own studio, Modern Barre in Chestnut Hill.

To say I was nervous is an understatement. However, I went with my energetic friend Allison who knew Williamson from their days at Hamilton College.

Class was incredible. And while I did not revert back to my days as a ‘gum drop’ wearing oversized purple tights that bunched around my knobby knees, I did manage to break a significant sweat — and more importantly have a blast doing it.

So let’s get to know this barre owner, who instead of slinging drinks is sporting sticky socks and crafting a killer total-body fitness class.

Caroline Earle: Do you remember the first barre class you took?

Julia Williamson: I do remember the first barre class I took, very clearly, almost down to the exact exercises we did. I was doing personal training at the time and one of my clients told me about barre. I’m not going to lie, I was a little hesitant to try a class. My first reaction was that my classical ballet days were behind me and my lifting and running routines were working pretty well; however, I thought I would give it a try.

Expecting to encounter a low intensity dance class, I was quite surprised to find it was in fact a fitness class (a very HARD fitness class!) and wondered if I was the only one shaking out of control from total muscle fatigue. I tried a few more classes at a smaller boutique style studio and realized how much I loved the concept of a workout that combined strength, endurance, grace and mind body integration.

Each class left me feeling completely energized and inspired and I really started feeling and seeing results in a short amount of time.

CE: Before opening Modern Barre, what were you doing for work? What made change careers?

JW: Before opening the studio I was working in outside sales for a start up company based in Kendall Square. Although I had been in sales for a number of years, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I was also doing personal training part-time as well as teaching barre and dance classes because those were the things I was truly passionate about.

I really wanted to blend my experience in both the business and fitness worlds and create something that would help and inspire other people. I had so many ideas for what I wanted to do and I wanted to be able to bring a lot of creative energy to my work without the constraints that you can sometimes encounter in the corporate world.

It took me about a year from when I decided that I wanted to open my own studio to actually leaving my job and opening Modern Barre. That year was a really exciting time for me and included a lot of brainstorming, planning, and learning … which still happens every single day when you own and operate your own business.

CE: Aside from teaching, what is your favorite way to stay in shape?Julia R. Class

JW: I love running in any form – long runs, interval runs, track sprints, outside, inside, road races, you name it. I played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school and lacrosse and cross country in college so running was always what I did to get in shape for the season.

It is very meditative for me and allows me to both clear my head and get a lot of thinking done. No matter how I feel when I start, I always feel better after I run.

CE: Favorite pre-class go-to snack — go!

JW: My favorite go to snack before class would have to be rice cakes with peanut butter and jelly. However, I do eat like an adult throughout the rest of the day. And I almost always have an apple and Kind Bar in my bag.

CE: If you could teach anywhere in the world (at any venue) where would it be?

JW: I’ve been really into Outlander lately so I would say the Scottish Highlands circa 1740. But seriously. I would love to go to Europe and do a huge pop up class in one of the big cities — plan it on a really nice day, in the middle of city, when everyone is getting out of work — flash mob style so everyone walking by just jumps in and starts working out. I think that would be pretty cool.

CE: What’s up next for Modern Barre? Studio 2?

JW: We have a lot of exciting things in the works. We are in midst of filming some short online videos for our new blog that will launch at the end of the summer.

We are also going to start offering live virtual classes so people from all over can join a class from the comfort of home. We’ve had some amazing clients who have moved to other states or out of the country and we are excited to be able to reconnect with them, as well as with new clients, through this new program.

Another offering that we are really looking forward to is our teen and kids’ dance and fitness program that will launch this Fall.

As far as a second location, it is certainly on my mind. Since 18th Century Scotland isn’t in the cards, it will have to be sometime in the future … probably around the Boston area.

Be sure to check out Modern Barre’s array of classes and try their new client 3 for $30 deal. They are also offering a summer special; unlimited classes for $145 per month using promo code ‘summer15’. 

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