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.
When we last connected with founding member, Trinidad Pena, he gave us some great information. Born and raised in Santa Clara, CA, Trinidad is a staple in the neighborhood. He’s coming up on his 4th anniversary as a married man (lucky husband, Francisco better have a nice gift for him!)
“I took a manifestation challenge. Asking myself, what do you desire? And I thought about it for a while, I really thought it through. The truth is, the thought of barre kept coming through my head. I kept a journal and reviewed it often. 98% of it was all about becoming an instructor – manifesting that desire.” Trinidad shared.
“There was a significant focus on the mind, body, spirit connection and I was ready to go for it.”
For Trinidad, dealing with the stresses of COVID was as simple as two core thoughts: Stay healthy and stay sane.
“Mental health has always been important to me. Like most people I was a victim of high anxiety and depression, but COVID amplified it. So, I moved forward with the thought of becoming a barre instructor, but I was quiet about it and figured I would share it when I was ready.” Trinidad notes that owner, founder, Lisa Alberino helped in the decision making as well as the process of transforming from student to teacher. “Lisa was a huge influence in this and the equipe she has carefully assembled was incredibly supportive. As a student I was unconsciously being taught to be a teacher at labarre the entire time.”
Trinidad has seen his fair share of classes as he began with the studio over 4 years ago completing hundreds and hundreds of classes.
“A big influence was a purpose to serve and be in studio with people since the underground – seeing their hard work and seeing them becoming healthier inspired me.”
How was Trinidad going to use this inspiration and switch places from pupil to instructor? Easy. He was going to use his creativity.
“Personally, and professionally one of my goals this year was to be more creative. The opportunity to do so and to lead while doing it was right there.” He continues. “I had to get out of the cycle of ‘Is this good enough?’ I needed to boost that confidence and as I always say ‘Chest is proud, dig a little deeper!’
That pride has led Trinidad to the front of the class in one of the most difficult times this country has ever seen. Going front and center not only in studio but also virtually means taking your game to the next level. In his class you expect to get great instruction because of one key ingredient: The willingness from the members to embrace the situation as well. “We are going to work big time, but we are going to have fun! I go into the studio and get people inspired. New members allow me to see their progress in only a few class sessions and that fuels me!”
Trinidad’s methods are simple, effective, and embraced. He ‘goes with the flow’ and works alongside of those lucky enough to come to his classes. And what occurs during class?
“Let’s see what happens – we may not be perfect. But I know we will surely be having fun!”
After speaking with Trinidad, he closes the interview with a great thought. “For me, yesterday a member said, ‘I love coming to your class – there’s just something about your energy… it just turns a tough day around.’ That warms my heart because that’s inspires me and allows me to serve with purpose to my La Barre community. That’s why I chose to do this!”
Won’t you try and feel that energy from Trinidad? Sign up for one of his amazing classes, HERE!
I had never run more than a 10K in my life, but ½ marathons were trending at the time … I justified the race as a great way to meet people and I do love the way running shapes my body. The irony is, I adore the excitement of race day and the camaraderie that ensues, but I absolutely detest the act of running!
But this race was different … It was sexy! First off, it was held in San Francisco, what a better backdrop to take my mind off of every pace of the run? Secondly, all finishers receive a Tiffany necklace (maybe that should have been my first bullet point!?) Lastly, there are firefighters in suspenders waiting to party with the runners at the finish line. Oh, and did I fail to mention that Ghirardelli chocolates are given to everyone after they complete the race? SOLD!
The bummer is, through all of my training for the 1/2 marathon, I unfortunately tore my right hip labrum. My hip would periodically “lock up” and I would have to endure the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. I consulted with a Stanford surgeon who noted that the only way to repair this type of injury was with surgery. The surgery would be evasive, boasted a long recovery period, and required the use of a walker for six months. Compounding this woeful news, this doctor also shared that there was no guarantee that the surgery could fully eliminate the challenges I was facing. He recommended trying physical therapy (PT) a minimum of 5-days a week in lieu of the aforementioned surgery.
Having a degree in physiology & kinesiology, I am familiar with physical therapy and what it entails. PT is neither fun nor engaging for the mind, and it is certainly not built for consistency. While pondering options, a friend mentioned to me that she had maintained her running weight for an entire year by replacing running with barre classes. Barre workouts are engaging and focus on building strength in the hips, glutes, and core. The structure of a barre class is inviting, along with a friendly and welcoming environment which also engages the mind. I felt more comfortable committing to something that had this type of appeal, plus it’s no secret that PT is expensive and can add up fast!
Plain and simple, what happened next changed my life. I joined a local barre studio, took 5+ classes per week, strengthened my hip, avoided surgery, and ran my personal best ½ marathon time!
My story isn’t over there. It continually evolves, like labarre studios which I founded in 2017. The studio at 1445 The Alameda in San Jose, California has become a testament to shifting and pivoting and allowing people, like you and I, to expand our horizons and give us the best fitness experience around. Barre, Pilates, Yoga, HIIT, meditation and more are on the menu when you walk in our front doors. This balanced menu of options is amplified by some of the finest wellness providers in the Bay Area including esthetician and facial services, massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, lashes, skincare and more!
My story has twists and turns and still remains to be fully written. Are you to write new chapters in your story? We at labarre would love to be a part of it!
Birthday: September 27th
Hobbies: travel, barre (!), online shopping, learning about the enneagram, trying new & awesome restaurants (can’t wait to be able to do this again someday), visiting and exploring my favorite city and old stomping grounds, NYC.
Family Life: Husband, 3 kids (Luke-13, Mia-11, Jack-6), cat, bunny, and a new puppy … pure chaos!
Day Job: Montessori School Administrator
Favorite color: PURPLE
Song: SO many. I love many genres of music spanning several decades, so it’s hard to pick just one song. But, “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates always, ALWAYS brings a smile.
Playlist: Actually, I’ll never forget Leilani’s 80’s barre playlist with so many of the songs from my childhood - Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Debbie Gibson, Fame, Huey Lewis. I loved that playlist so hard!
Book: Anything by Glennon Doyle
Thing to do during lockdown: well, not really a THING to do, but I have grown a DEEP appreciation for spending all day in yoga pants. To the degree that I now feel quite offended when I have to put on “real” pants.
Training: Drumming with Krissy KT in November 2019, and then (finally) Barre Intensity in August 2020
What led you to barre: I was drawn to barre because of my background in dance. As an adult, I struggled to find an exercise modality that I enjoyed enough to stick with. I knew that if I could tap into the only exercise that I had ever truly enjoyed - dance - that I would have found something that I would want to come back to again and again.
What led you to labarre: I first came to labarre at the recommendation of Amber (Bilak Yip) during the end of the underground days and I believe that the universe led me to this incredibly special place. Labarre came into my life at a time when I truly needed healing. I had recently lost my little brother and was searching for a way to find myself again. I first fell in love with the way that labarre’s classes made my body and mind feel - an hour when I could focus on myself and not my grief. However, before long I recognized that there was more going on and that labarre was also helping to heal my soul. There is a magic here for those who are open to accepting it and letting it in. I am forever grateful to have found labarre at a time when I needed it most.
Philosophy/their WHY: Because everyone deserves to find something that fills them up and makes them feel good, inside and out!
Classes they teach: drumming & barre
Favorite classes to practice: drumming
Instagram handle: julie.saccento
Advice for new students: My advice to new students would be to know that there is no judgment here, this CAN be for everyone, regardless of body type or previous experience, and to make it work for you. And if you’re trying drumming for the first time … just have fun, keep moving, and come back again because I’m not sure anyone feels like they nailed their first drumming class!
First class experience: I convinced myself that I was “just there for the workout," but of course everyone was so encouraging, warm, and welcoming that I was hooked by the feeling of the community. I came back the following morning for my second class!
Piece of gratitude from the last year: Oh gosh … it’s been a crazy year, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for my own health and the health of my family. Gratitude for my job because it’s given me purpose despite the many challenges that COVID has presented. Gratitude for my kids’ school and the fact that they have been learning despite all of this. Gratitude for a safe, warm home, wine, grocery delivery, and Amazon Prime. Gratitude for labarre for encouraging me to get outside to take classes in the sunshine and fresh air and for fostering a community of truly amazing and KIND humans.
It's time to spotlight our guests, instructors, and those who make labarre studios the oasis that it is right here in the South Bay. We have written about our amazing members and equipe in the past and, in this new series, we will dig a little deeper and have some fun as we shine the spotlight once again... and first up is the lovely, Sarah Hays!
Birthday - November 2nd
Person I'd most like to meet: His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Favorite TV show - Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (yes really!)
Hobby: Coloring (I can even stay inside the lines! LOL)
Day Job: Senior Director of Student Services, School of Education & Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University; Lecturer in Public Health Program, College of Arts & Sciences, Santa Clara University
Instagram handle: sidhaysnamaste
What brought me to labarre: I had done kickboxing for quite a while, had done the big gym stuff and wanted something "else". I found labarre, signed up, and my life has never been the same. I have made amazing friends, I have my Labarre family, and my happy place.
What is my barre philosophy: My barre philosophy, my 'why' for taking barre (and HIIT, yoga, fusion, and drumming!) and teaching nearly all of them, is that it makes me better. I look better but I feel better. I'm more confident; I am happier after every class. I am a better wife, a better coworker, better daughter, sister, and friend. I am more joyful after all those endorphins are rocking through my body and I want everyone in my classes to feel the same way!
What do I teach: Barre Signature, HIIT, and Fusion
Favorite to practice: Barre!!
Advice for new students: Remember that we were all new students once. You are here with us, and we are so excited to see you! Try everything to see what speaks to you. You will find your tribe, your teachers, and your classes that bring you joy.
My first class experience: I found labarre at the tail end of the underground days. I was so excited to sign up but nervous as hell the first day of class! I wanted to be perfect but had no idea what I was doing, so naturally I wasn't going to be perfect; I wasn't perfect (and I still am not!) but had a wonderful time and couldn't wait to come back...and here we are, in 2021, still learning and growing, teaching and sharing the joy.
Piece of gratitude for 2020: I'm grateful for the little things. I love the little things. The biggest little thing was a driveway in April when we had to cancel our wedding; it's where I got to say "I do" to the love of my life. It was all we needed-- that driveway, our officiant, our rings, and each other. The little things are the best things.
2020 strikes again. And with every hit this year lands on labarre studios, my equipe, and those around me, I brace for impact and regain my balance only to swing back.
We have pivoted over and over in the past few months as you already know!
2020 hits: we create a massive virtual library.
2020 hits again: we take our classes outdoors.
2020 hits yet again: we take our wellness providers outdoors.
2020 hits yet again: we add LIVESTREAM to our virtual platform
2020 hits harder, yet again: we find a way to pivot and that is where we are now.
If we only had a DeLorean, we’d go back to the future, because 2020 has me feeling a little bit like Marty McFly!
In 2016, I had a vision of bringing a barre-inspired studio right here in San Jose, specifically in our historic building, and I faced pushback from a few angles including franchised studios.
It didn’t stop me.
With focus and passion I assembled an incredible team of founding instructors and we began building out 1445 The Alameda… but I needed to get labarre studios off the ground as our build-out took almost 9 months and rent had to be paid. So, I decided to teach classes for free for 5+ months, certify instructors, and start building our community as we were creating our oasis before the drywall was up and the building was completed.
During this time, I needed a space to achieve this lofty goal, and I was lucky enough to connect with Donna Maruoka, Founder and Director of Roundhill Studios. Donna has been a part of the ballet & dance community for decades and after her studio suffered crippling damage from a fire, she relocated to her space at 1043 Garland Avenue in San Jose, CA. There she continued on with her work with dancers of all ages.
Donna and Roundhill proved to be a great landing spot for labarre to launch, and we created our underground classes which were the foundation of our business! In under a half of a year we left Roundhill Studios and opened our doors on The Alameda always keeping Donna and her studio in our hearts and our family. You may notice the photos in the lobby of the ballet dancers around our studio, those photos were gifts from Donna and Roundhill Studios!
Well call Doc Brown and find some plutonium… because we are back at Roundhill!
Thanks to Donna and Roundhill, we have found a way to keep in-person classes alive as the pandemic is forcing our in-studio classes to be shut down for the third time at labarre. Her open-air studio – which is a safe alternative as we slide into the Purple Tier here in Santa Clara – is ready to roll! With a huge garage door and open windows to allow for great air flow and safety for the members and instructors, we are returning to where it all began. We are headed back to the future for the time being!
This movement has been coined, #OperationPivot! It’s not ideal but neither is anything that 2020 has thrown at you, your family, your friends and your life!
We here at labarre are losing sleep so you will have one less thing to worry about. Assuring that you are doing your very best to feel good physically and mentally is what we strive for. The good news is that our wellness providers are still at 1445 The Alameda and open for business with safety protocols in full effect. Even better, ALL of our classes will continue to be livestreamed so you won’t miss a beat!
Have questions or thoughts – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you immediately!
It’s time to PIVOT! So grab your mat, props, and smile and we will see you at Roundhill Studios until further notice!
Born and raised San Jose you may know Julie as she has been around since, well, the beginning! She is also a wonderful drumming instructor and valued member of our equipe.
This original member of labarre transformed into one of our terrific instructors but before we get to the present day, let’s jump into the time machine and get to know Julie and her journey.
This Northern Californian decided to head to UC Santa Barbara for school as she received a bachelor’s degree in communications. After school, Julie headed to New York for a change of scenery and fell in love with the city that never sleeps.
Relocating to San Jose, Julie discovered labarre in the Summer of 2017… for those who have been around, we refer to those as the “underground days”!
“I had tried a lot of exercise programs, but none of them ever stuck. That was until I tried labarre!” Julie was drawn to the fact that it fit well with her dance background and ballet training, something she had done for the greater part of her life. The unique classes at labarre were a wonderful addition to her routine, but it was the drumming format that captured Julie’s heart. “The fun of the musicality and rhythmic feel was amazing, and it really fit well. I love tap dancing and I feel like when I am drumming, I am tap dancing with my sticks!”
The change from student to teacher was about to happen. Never having taught a fitness class, Julie’s love of labarre would catapult her to the front of the class.
“The transition from student to instructor was challenging, but it was Lisa [Alberino, Founder] who said ‘I know you can do it and I believe in you!’ I wondered if I should really be instructing, but after making the leap I was thrilled. I think my next step will be teaching barre”.
Julie is a busy mom of three and she also runs a non-profit Montessori school, so her time is limited but she gets her reps in whether she is instructing or enjoying the fruits of being a part of the labarre equipe. An important step in keeping her mind, body and spirit balanced in such challenging times.
“What I have learned from the lessons of 2020, is that the ability to adapt to technology has really been amazing but not as amazing as the ability to connect with people.” Julie continues “As isolating as this all has been, it has been hugely connecting at the same time.”
2020 has affected all of us and when some semblance of normalcy returns, that means Julie and her family will hit the road once again. “We love to travel! We love Tahoe and have spent quite a lot of time skiing and snowboarding, but we adore the beach too, specifically Cabo. We go there as a family every year.”
Julie has taken her drumming class outdoors and is set to pull out her sticks and get people moving once again! “I tell my friends, come to my class. First of all, it’s the warmest most welcoming place, there’s absolutely no judgement. When we are drumming, it’s just a release, you can get a workout and rock out. Plain and simple.”
Get rocking with Julie as she takes to the great outdoors this week! Sign up HERE
Stopping and saying something kind can change the outcome of someone’s day. These days, especially, it is imperative that we find the beauty and kindness in the simplest of things. A friend’s phone call, a held door to assure someone can enter a store before you do, letting someone in your lane so they can merge without anxiety. The little things.
As we all work to get our minds free of worry, our bodies renewed with energy, and our spirits soaring with hope of what could and should be, we need kindness and gratitude to be our beacon.
Along with the entire staff at labarre studios, I know that we are here to cheer our guests on and make their experience an empowering and beneficial one. It is our job to push you that extra 10 seconds when you don’t have a lot left in the tank and then remind you that you are stronger than you think you are.
In that very same spirit of gratitude we are looking to put your thoughts out as it pertains to anything you would like to evangelize. Whether it be the instructors, wellness providers, fellow members helping to push you that extra mile in an outdoor class, a virtual class or even the virtual library that helps you get that workout in when the rest of the world is sleeping, but you are just returning from work.
Let us know, as we want to hear your words and what you love about the labarre experience.
It’s as easy as sending a line or two to email@example.com. Nothing fancy, nothing formal. We will then create a small post using your own words to help inspire instructors, members and guests to push on in these challenging times.
Thanks for being a part of the labarre family and let’s stay labarre strong.
PS: I will go first!
Founder/Owner labarre studios
As September crept into our calendar in this ever so challenging and unique year, we realized that we had stockpiled some incredible videos of your favorite instructors doing what they do best; helping you to design yourself in the comfort and safety of your homes.
Although we were producing a robust library for our members, we didn’t realize just HOW robust it was. With nearly 400 videos it became, well, a little overwhelming! It was time to re-imagine a more manageable way for you to get the workout you need with little searching.
Our exclusive library is organized by different disciplines such as quick clips, 30-minute workouts, barre, HIIT, Yoga, Meditation, and specialty classes. We have trimmed down the content to simplify your search for the perfect workout. We want you to get right to what you love most; a great workout for the mind, body and spirit.
If you haven’t visited the library lately, take a look and don’t be afraid to give us feedback or critique. If you are looking for a class and are unable to find it, send us an EMAIL and we will be sure to get that session posted!
We feel we have been as nimble and flexible as any company in the Bay Area during this time, and we will continue to innovate and find ways to bring you the most value as we navigate, together, the remainder of 2020 and what it holds.
We are with you every step of the way and we greatly appreciate your loyalty, commitment, and understanding. Thank you for keeping us working hard and keeping yourself labarre strong.
Laura has been with labarre for a little nearly a year and a half now and this staple of our community is also one of our shiniest examples of positivity and kindness.
The youngest of 4, Laura grew up in Alabama. Her father, a preacher, had the family relocating a little bit along the Southeast portion of the United States, but her Southern roots kept Laura grounded as she left home for college.
This new chapter meant moving across the country and settling in California where Wilson was offered a position at a high school, teaching English. “He then got a job doing music at a church. He’s all over with the instruments he plays; Guitar, banjo, piano… he can pick up anything… he’s a prodigy!”
Her path to fitness began prior to her move out west. In high school, Laura enjoyed basketball, volleyball and tennis and once she enrolled in college, to stay active, she took up running and Pilates.
Yearning for activity once she settled in California, Pilates reentered Laura’s life and a barre studio sparked her interest in different disciplines of fitness. Barre, however, ignited a true connection of the mind and the body to help engage her in her workouts and it was a move to the Rose Garden that brought her to labarre studios on The Alameda.
“The studio (labarre) was more diverse in its clientele than the other barre studio I had worked out at and it was affordable. I loved it… I was all in. So much so that after taking classes for a year I decided to take the barre instructor training.”
That transition from student to teacher is always an interesting one for those who make the leap and for Laura it was “great, but intimidating. I always said I could never be a teacher at any level and I took that as an opportunity. I had to do it. The community and the training are great. Lisa (labarre’s owner and founder) was very empowering. It was surprisingly better than I could have imagined. When I was in the training with everyone, I immediately noticed that we all shared the same goal and that was to strengthen our bodies and minds. I didn’t feel like I had to fit a specific mold, there was no cookie-cutter instructors. Again, labarre’s diversity was what drew me to it.”
Recently, Laura and Wilson have welcomed an addition to the family… a baby boy! (as a matter of fact, she is prepping all expectant moms with amazing pre-natal classes… which are free to ALL right HERE!)
With so many great instructors at labarre, how does a member differentiate them? What makes Laura’s classes – in person or virtual – special?
“My classes are light-hearted. They are fun but can also get intense. I will make you sweat if you come to class but not in a boot camp sense… You are going to sweat but I won’t yell at you.” Laura says with a laugh.
Those classes have helped Laura to have a great perspective during these challenging times.
“I am seeing the power of the labarre community as everyone is motivating each other.” Laura said. “The choice to do online classes that are live, show the strength of working out together. Anyone can take a YouTube class by themselves, but the connection of the community is so strong. That is the difference. People miss people. They’d rather connect online than not connect at all and that is powerful.”
When she is not breaking down exactly how we all feel, perfectly, Laura is patiently waiting for life to return to normal so she can do the things she loves. Besides being outdoors, backpacking and camping, she and Wilson love travelling and connecting with friends and loved ones… soon, we hope we can all do that.