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San Francisco native Nini Gueco wanted more from the traditional barre workout, she wanted to share her take on the barre revolution happening in fitness. Armed with a love of dance, music and movement, she has built Avant-Barre to be a full-bodied barre powerhouse.
I understand you’ve been a dancer from a young age, how did that passion translate into a barre routine?
When I tried my first barre class, I fell in love! It felt like ballet; the muscle movement was familiar, and my body recognized the motion.
What sets Avant-Barre apart from other barre workouts?
For me, traditional barre classes were missing something. They focused on isometric movements, and I was getting a great workout, but I was always itching to burst out and do more. There is such a close relationship to music and movement, and I wanted to connect that in a barre workout. I knew there were more dynamic movements I could be doing, and I wanted to create a more full-body workout that incorporated full-range motion, which also tied seamlessly to music.
So out of craving a more dynamic workout, you built Avant-Barre. What else fueled your inspiration?
I live in San Francisco and, while I’m not tech-y, the spirit of the tech revolution happening here inspires me everyday. The technology field is always looking for ways to do things differently and innovate.
A sense of community is also important to me. I wanted my studio to be a place where community could be built. I want women to talk to each other, meet new friends, gain an accountability partner! We welcome everyone here. I want this to be an accessible and fun experience for everyone.
Author’s note: It’s working! In the few hours I spent at the studio, a few women who had never tried barre dropped by and were welcomed into the studio chatting easily with the warm Nini and Catherine. As women arrived for class they were catching up on each other’s weekends, and being introduced to anyone new. The vibe was more brunch than barre before and after class!
One last bit of inspiration – Beyoncé! She keeps one-upping herself, pushing the envelope. I love that she embraces her body – she put curves on the map – and when she’s working out, she’s doing it because its fun, she’s enjoying herself. That’s how it should be.
What has been your biggest challenge in opening your own studio?
Keeping to the timelines I had set for myself with completing the studio space, and with that, letting go and knowing things aren’t always going to play out exactly as you planned. You can’t foresee everything, and I had to learn how to pivot.
Well you seem to have learned quickly! Let’s talk about success; have you had any defining moments?
I had a day when I was at the studio (not on the schedule, but just to hang out and say hi to the team and clients) and I just sat back and got to see everything happening in front of me. Clients were coming in and feeling comfortable in the space. My team was running everything smoothly. I thought “we’re doing something right, we recruited the right people, we built the right team, we’re building an amazing community.”
How do you balance everything?
I honestly have no idea, but I do know that I have my sanity because of my spectacular team and my extremely supportive husband, Kevin Gueco – he was the one who convinced me that I should start Avant-Barre in the first place.
My team is like my second family. They treat Avant-Barre like it’s their own, and it shows in how they care for each other, the studio, and the clients.
I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to watch over my business baby when I’m not physically there. And Kevin is just the most amazing partner to have. He believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes. He pushes me and challenges me to do things that I would never think to do but is the first one to give me a big hug if something doesn’t go as planned.
How to you unwind, do you have any secret indulgences?
Singing karaoke with my husband! Music is the best way to express myself. Everyone has a favorite song they sing to themselves in the car or in the shower—now amplify that joy with karaoke! I pick the weirdest songs, like 60s folk songs or 90s rock ballads. On a good or bad day, it just works for me!
Do you have any health and well-being tips to share?
Stay hydrated! Drink more water than you think you should. Lemon water, cucumber water, whatever… just drink it, and when you think you’re drinking enough, drink more!
Also, we remind our clients to think positively. Every day, think of one win you had, even if it wasn’t the best day (even if the only win was drinking water!). Positivity can change your frame of mind and adjust your attitude for the rest of your day.
Any last words of wisdom for women?
Be comfortable in your own skin. Confidence is one of the sexiest traits anyone can have – it’s magnetic. You’ll be amazed at how much things fall into place when happiness radiates from within.