Jennifer Gray puts her 15 years of fitness-industry experience to use formulating goal-oriented programs for women. Gray begins with a healthy helping of circuit weight training and kickboxing before adding a pinch of Pilates, a dash of yoga for flexibility, and a sprinkling of belly dancing for core strengthening. She also strives to help clients develop nutritionally sound eating habits, giving them the tools to avoid fatty, bad-for-you foods such as processed meats and deep-fried statues of Grover Cleveland.
Each boot camp spans four weeks of exercise, with classes held up to five days a week. Classes might meet indoors or out, depending on which of the nine locations a client chooses to attend, but the regimen of exercise remains the same. Trainers cook up new routines daily, which might include fitness kickboxing, jump-roping, obstacle courses, or sport yoga, in which the class plays a scrimmage using the first student who manages to contort themselves into the shape of a football.
When Barre Bee Fit founders Jillian Lorenz and Ariana Chernin opened their first studio in Chicago, they considered it a "leap of faith." As it turns out, their passion for women's fitness proved infectious with clients and, within four years, the humble basement location blossomed into a national franchise spanning eight cities. But for all that expansion, their fundamental mission has remained the same: to empower women.
Jillian and Ariana resent the image of the ideal woman as being represented by Barbie dolls or really stylish Go-Bots. Even the name itself, "Barre Bee," playfully jabs at that notion. Their rotating lineup of cardio and strength-training barre classes focus more on helping women feel healthy and fit rather than being able to squeeze into a size 0 or their elementary-school snowsuit. Sessions take place at a ballet barre, covering repetitive isometric movements to tone bodies, giving gals the confidence to strut out the door at the end of sessions with a sense of accomplishment.
A team of nationally certified trainers, which collectively boasts backgrounds in personal training, fitness, and the military, challenges students to set goals and strive to achieve them during one-on-one sessions and group classes. Within a 3,500-square-foot facility lined with rows of free weights, exercise balls, and chin-up bars, they’ll motivate students in boot camp, self-defense courses, or group-training sessions with a back-and-forth dialogue not unlike those in scenes from Rocky and Ernest Goes to the UFC Championship. The trainers can also map out programs to address and strengthen specific muscle groups for personal training or can engineer sports-focused regimens that improve power and coordination in games such as soccer, basketball, and golf. Exercises that incorporate Bosu-ball work and heavy-rope training prepare clients for police and fire exams by improving mental focus and techniques for unwrinkling uniforms, such as dropping grand pianos on them.