Interview: Kylie Roberts of Aleenta Barre
Co-founder of Aleenta Barre, owner of a luxury Endota Spa and a mum to twin four-year-olds - Kylie Roberts definitely doesn't shy away from a challenge. We chat the world's newest fitness craze, the Victoria's Secret workout and downtime with the influential businesswoman.
BNKR: Could you just tell us a bit more about Aleenta Barre for someone who might be new to it?
Kylie: So barre is relatively new to Australia, however it’s been in the US and the UK for a good 50 years. It was developed by Lotte Berk, a dancer who had some injuries, and needed a form of fitness to rehabilitate. She realized that it was also an awesome exercise for others. So it’s been around a long time, but has just really hit Australia. You take one hour classes – the way we describe it is that it uses yoga, pilates and ballet technique to create a really effective form of exercise for females to tone and strengthen their bodies. We have traditional styles of barre – which we call Burn and Blend – and then we also have a cardio kind of barre - Barre Fit - which is like an interval training style, then we do a more yoga based style – so we have a variety of classes within Aleenta.
So what would you recommend if someone had never done a barre class before – which classes and maybe how many would you recommend doing to see results?
When we opened we ran a three week challenge, which is 10 classes in three weeks, and if you didn’t see any results you got your money back. We had hundreds of people do that, and we never gave any money back! In terms of the type of class to kick off [with], Burn is always an awesome class because it’s really challenging. Any of our classes can be done by someone who is super fit or someone whose fitness is not at that level – and they can take breaks throughout the class. Most people have to take breaks even if they’re super fit! Over time obviously you get fitter, your technique improves and you get stronger and you can do more and more of the class.
Tell me a little bit more about you – have you done ballet or those kinds of dance previously?
Sure – my business partner, Claire Bastow, and I both own Endota Spas. We met 10 years ago working at Endota head office, and loved the experience that you have at Endota Spa. We were looking for a new challenge, and we wanted to do it in the health industry because that is what we love! Claire had been doing barre classes overseas and interstate and loved them, and I had done ballet growing up so I had a good understanding of ballet technique. Claire is also a qualified Pilates Instructor – so we started talking about it, loved the form of fitness and started doing some classes and really enjoyed it. So it really went from there in terms of loving the style of fitness – people become quite addicted to it – and at that point in Adelaide we felt there was nothing like what we wanted to offer. We wanted to offer barre fitness, but have an amazing experience at the same time, so we wanted it to be a place where women could come and work out in a beautiful environment, feel very comfortable, enjoy it and create a community around that. So that was our goal and our aim when we created Aleenta.
What I quite enjoyed was that it was quite a small class size, and you do get assistance if you need it, if your technique’s not quite, there’s definitely someone there to point you in the right direction.
Correct – and the classes really are all about technique when it comes down to it, because anyone can do an exercise and not utilize the correct technique – you can sort of do that and cheat to make it easier [laughs]. But I say to people, literally you can never not find it challenging, because if you’re continually improving your technique it gets harder as you go along.
You rotate the routines quite often for the different classes as well, don’t you?
Yes, so that’s one of the things that’s quite different about Aleenta, that we have a four week rotation of classes. And the purpose of that is, one, so you can go to Rundle Street or Bourke Street or Burnside and you’re doing the same classes, so there’s consistency there, but also you can see yourself improve over the four weeks. This also ensures that the different muscles are worked with the class rotation.
What’s your fitness routine like?
I am lucky I get to come to work and exercise for a living! I love the day after barre classes and that feeling of muscle soreness and that you have worked hard. I have twin toddlers, so like everyone it’s challenging juggling working, fitness and classes – being a mum is always challenging to fit everything in, but I feel that it’s important to have time for yourself. We have a lot of females come in and their exercise class is the only time they really get to themselves, to focus on themselves.
How do you unwind?
That’s a good question – probably for me, unwinding is actually spending time with my family. Work is very busy – life is busy – and so for me just being able to jump in the pool with the kids and have time to be in the present is my unwinding time. I quite like some ‘me’ time too - going for a Saturday morning run, a yoga barre class, hanging with girlfriends, or shopping. Definitely shopping helps me unwind!
What would you say would be your most popular class?
I would say that Barre Burn without a doubt is our most popular class.
It is described on the website as the ‘Victoria’s Secret workout’ – so maybe that’s why?
[Laughs] It’s funny – people always ask ‘what class should I start off with’, and quite often we say, go for Blend because it has a little bit more stretching – you have a few more breaks throughout the class. But it’s a bit of a misnomer because quite often Blend is just as challenging as Burn. There is no doubt it lives up to its name – your muscles burn and your legs shake!
Obviously it would help if you had something like ballet experience, but do you have to have any kind of particular experience, or can you just be a complete beginner to start?
For our style of barre you don’t need any kind of dance or coordination experience at all. Even though we do have a lot of students that did dance growing up and they love the idea that it kind of harks back to that, there are some styles of barre that are quite dance-y but ours is not. Ours is an exercise and has its roots in technique – but there’s absolutely no coordination required at all [laughs].
You would have a lot of people that would see amazing results – with your three week challenges etc. – what would you say the best feedback you’ve received from someone has been?
I actually wrote a blog about a student recently because it really touched me. A student from Melbourne, sent us an email completely unprompted, to say that Aleenta Barre had changed her life, and that after having children she had quite bad muscle separation and had been told that she would have to go and have a major operation to fix it, because she’d tried lots of different exercise styles and had had no success. And she started with Aleenta, and her muscle separation has completely disappeared, and she felt like she’s got the body she had when she was 20, and she looks amazing. She said for her, because she was very self-conscious after kids, it has had a really big impact on her life. And she is super committed, she comes four times a week and looks fabulous for it.
For me being a mum, and completely understanding what she was talking about, it really resonated with me. That’s just one story, but quite a common theme that we hear from students that are really committed, and had awesome results. I love hearing from women who haven’t found an exercise that they love, and they come to Aleenta and they love it, and its really made them have a thirst for exercise, which is so rewarding.
For me Aleenta Barre is about celebrating heathy women and enjoying being fit and healthy and looking after yourself. As women we constantly give and sometimes we lose ourselves amongst all that. But being healthy is more important to me than what you weigh on the scales. We want women to celebrate being healthy but enjoy themselves at the same time – go and have a champagne on Friday night, you know, and do some classes during the week to make sure that you’re looking after yourself.
It always comes back to balance doesn’t it?
All images courtesy of Aleenta Barre.
Words: Lucy Ahern