How To Change Careers And Become A Barre Instructor

If you’ve ever found yourself exhausted, grumpy, and worn down from your 9-to-5, quietly googling “How do I change careers and become a barre instructor” on your lunch break … you’re not alone.

In fact, many of the people who go through our online barre teacher certification program are hoping to do just that!

But it can feel totally overwhelming. Where do you start? What about all the money and time you spent getting the education you needed for your current job? Would you really enjoy the day-to-day reality of being a barre instructor more than your current career?

We get it. Our Melrose senior studio manager Camille has a Master’s Degree in Public Health and left a career in biotech to be a full-time barre instructor. Here’s how she did it!

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was very young, I wanted to be a singer/ mega superstar like Tina Turner, Diana Ross or Cher or a journalist like Christiane Amanpour. By the time I got to high school, I wanted to be a social worker.

Tell us about your initial career path!

My undergrad is in Human Services and my Master’s Degree is in Public Health. I’ve completed six years of education in addition to high school.

I really enjoy empowering people and solving big, complex problems. Upon realizing how systemic most issues people face are, I wanted to work on a more macro level at the environment and see how public health could improve our environments.

What was your public health career like? What did a “normal work day” look like?

I’ve worked as a research associate and then managed a program that trained research associates. I much preferred the people aspect to managing versus being in the lab or writing reports.

A normal day consisted of marketing for the program I managed, recruiting, interviewing and planning for the training programs that ran 2-4 times a year. Emails and meetings for consensus and relationship building were all major parts of my day-to-day work life.

When did you first start to consider leaving public health?

I didn’t plan on working in public health for long. I knew before I applied to grad school that I wanted to teach barre and movement full-time. I come from a family of immigrants and education is highly valued so I pursued my degree as more of a personal achievement than a professional one.

It wasn’t until December 2022 when I was on the company’s annual two-week long Christmas break that I started to realize I could not go back to an office job. I had to make my reality something I was proud of! I knew that I had developed a very special practice and after some time of dedicated journaling, came to the conclusion that there would be a way to sustain myself while pursuing fitness full-time.

Tell us about your relationship to yoga and barre! How long had you been practicing before you started to consider doing it as a career?

I was in dance as a little girl and have practiced group fitness since high school. I fell in love with the gym at 15 and enjoyed trying all the mat pilates, strength training and yoga classes.

In 2016, barre was very new to me and the classes I took at Barre & Soul seemed like a great marriage of movements I really enjoyed! I took three classes at Barre & Soul and knew that I wanted to teach the method.

Representation is important to me. I was the only woman of color in most classes and I knew becoming an instructor would be fulfilling to me and inspire current and prospective clients!

Can you walk us through the process of changing jobs? How long had you been teaching classes before you decided to quit your public health job?

I had been teaching barre for seven years before I quit my biotech job and joined Barre & Soul full-time. I got my first start at a black-owned yoga studio in Soul City Yoga in Lynn and really grew in my teaching experience there.

In December 2022, when I decided to pursue it full-time, I had been coming up on a year in my biotech role. I emailed Andrea (Barre & Soul’s owner and founder) to see if she had any opportunities at the studio and to learn from her as a wildly successful business owner. We discussed various happenings in her studios and after interviewing, I became the Senior Studio Manager for the Melrose, MA location.

Do you use any of the skills you learned in your old career in your current one?

Customer Service! As a program manager, it’s all about relationship building and professionalism is key! I can and do work with all sorts of personalities and I think this is in large part due to my education, travel, and customer service experience.

What does a normal workday look like for you now?

In my current role, I typically wake up early to teach or to get my own movement in. I am at the studio by 5:45 am or 8:30 am to teach a class and mingle with clients.

I eat breakfast after class and then answer emails, tidy the studio, have meetings with our Regional Director and other teammates, take classes by other instructors, brainstorm workshop ideas, mentor instructors, meet with local restaurants, organizations, etc for partnerships and run errands to Staples, the post office, Target, etc! My days fly by because there is always so much to do.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching barre and yoga and managing the Melrose studio?

The clients. I work with the smartest, most caring and dynamic women on the face of the planet. They are always down for a chit chat before and after class and I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me through them. I love that the majority of my clients are regulars who’ve been coming for years.

What surprised you most about making this career change?

How taxing teaching full-time can be on the body! I’ve never worked a job that required me to be “ON” so much. I really do feel like I’m working my dream job, in my performer era on tour with my classes as my “shows” in different cities. (LOL!)

It may sound dramatic but at the end of the day, as a passionate instructor, nothing matters more to me than my class and the client’s experience. I take my clients' progress seriously!
In corporate, I was far less connected to my work.

It’s great being an employee at Barre & Soul because I can always find a sub and have PTO but most studios hire instructors as contractors so you have to think about your health a lot more carefully as getting sick or just wanting time off could potentially derail you.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering making a similar switch?

One of my first therapists told me to determine my values and everything else would flow from there. Andrea shared with me that if you want to teach full-time, you need to think about how you’ll make money. I love both of these pieces of advice because your values determine how you spend your money!

If your desire is to teach full-time, take some time determining what your values and goals are and lead from there. Please note: my goals for teaching were definitely based on how I wanted everyday in my life to look and how I wanted to feel rather than what I wanted to have.

It will not happen overnight. If you have to work another 2-10 years in your current job to build a safety net, then do that! It takes time to carve out your niche but as long as you are intentionally moving towards what you love, you will make a way.

Are you ready for a career change? Click here to watch our free video masterclass on how you can earn $40k a year (or more!) working part time as a barre instructor!