If you have ever been to a labarre class, then you must surely know the fabulous Karen Zell. Yes, Karen… you know the one who has been here since the VERY beginning!!
“My family was going to dinner at Zona Rosa, and we saw the coming soon sign on the bank doors as we were walking by and I thought … ‘Ohhhh a new barre place! I’ve got to get in at the ground level!’ So, I went that night and I joined without even taking a class. I looked at a lot of other places before, like Pure Barre and Barre 3, and I like that type of modality as I have had a lot of sports injuries and barre worked for me, so I joined that night. I took the first class the next morning at the underground facilities and that was that!”
Karen joined labarre in the underground days of 2016. She is what we consider a labarre OG! She is also a Bay Area OG as this Santa Clara native was born in raised in the South Bay and proudly continues to call it home.
The community of labarre has also been home for this fitness warrior who has done everything from aerobics to gymnastics as well as outdoor activities across many levels including horseback riding and more!
It’s no surprise that she immerses herself in the place that she lives. As a matter of fact, Karen has taken that love for the community and Santa Clara with her throughout her career. She is part of the Santa Clara Unified system and she supports a team of 18 librarians as she herself was a librarian at an elementary school. Now at an elevated position, Karen visits schools to help with lesson planning and best practices across the area.
If that is not enough, Karen is reaching her year anniversary at labarre as an instructor and her journey to get there was one of motivation and commitment.
“When I look back” Karen notes, “It’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be!” Karen was a student for 4 years and shifted less than a year ago into a lead role.
“I thought this was going to be easy I had steadily done it, but I didn’t realize the many layers that were involved! Doing the exercises while thinking through the music and movements… I just had no idea. It’s been a great challenge which is why I wanted to do it. I needed to fill my mind and my body with a good active challenge and its definitely doing that.”
She is feeling out her style and she loves to have fun. “I feel funny and silly, and I am chattery and really like to keep the class going. I try to go next to people and motivate and teach. It’s really been fun and I know the students enjoy it.”
But the underlying reasoning for instructing was insightful and important as well.
“The big motivation for me is defining healthy. Being healthy means having freedom. My family history has a lot of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, things that have prevented my family from going out and doing normal, healthy things. Especially with COVID and the past years, it means being able to continue to do the activities that I want to for the rest of my life. It’s now more important than ever. Labarre has really allowed me to keep that alive.”
Karen continues to share her journey, “The timing of it was key and the state of the world was a part of it. I was at an all-time weight last spring. I had a little ‘come to Jesus’ talk with myself and something had to give. I was tired of online classes and tired of seeing what I was, and I needed a big kick in the pants! I was feeling low and enough was enough. I needed something bigger and that’s when the decision to teach came. It was a commitment because I would have to continue this on… it couldn’t just be a one-time thing. You must be fit to be an instructor. You just can’t get fit for one event… continually creating and getting better is what it would take to get there. It was a big picture thing.”
Karen notes what labarre founder and owner, Lisa Alberino put out a call to add to the instructor lineup, “That was it! I signed up.”
Karen’s passion for life is infectious and when not better herself and others at the studio, she loves hanging out with her friends and this may come as a huge shocker… she is an avid reader! Yes, this librarian practices what she preaches! (By the way have you joined the #labook club yet? If not, you should because its free and awesome… but back to Karen!)
Both of her kids are now in college so travelling is always a wonderful escape for Karen and her husband when she’s not cuddled up with a book. Any chance they can get out of town and explore is time well spent. “Just travelling, camping… doing the empty-nest thing is wonderful” she says with a smile.
So why try Karen’s class? Why try labarre? Why change up your routine??
“Just go for it – you lose nothing in trying! Try it on and see how it feels and you will never be sorry for trying!”
Words of wisdom from Karen Zell.