By Brigid Morrissey

Nikki Naseef found a new fitness technique that worked for her.  Photos: Sunni Wigginton 

I asked Nikki Naseef how she would describe the type of workout she offers at her Barre3 business, but after I grunted my way through the hour-long class, I knew the answer to my own question. The penguins from the movie Madagascar might say it best: “You didn’t see anything.” Because to a spectator who happens to glance through the window, it wouldn’t look like we were doing much. The motions of this technique only range about an inch at a time, so the movement is slight.

But after experiencing the workout firsthand, I can say it’s much tougher than it looks. “It’s a full body workout that combines Pilates, ballet, and yoga,” Nikki says. “It’s challenging, but there are modifications for all levels or those with any type of injury.”

Those modifications work even if you’re pregnant. That was the case for Nikki when she tried barre for the first time. She and her husband owned a gym in Portland, Oregon, which happens to be the location of the Barre3 headquarters. Nikki had reached a point where working out in her own gym had lost its appeal. Plus, it’s hard to find comfortable yet challenging exercises when you’re expecting. Barre3 was the answer.

After her daughter was born, Barre3 classes were Nikki’s way to find balance, which is central to the company’s approach to fitness. When she was discouraged by her post-pregnancy body, a moment with Kimi, her instructor, changed her outlook. She was right in the middle of telling herself I could never do that when Kimi walked up. “She put her hand on my shoulder and said, so only I could hear, ‘Wow, you look so strong.’ It empowered me,” Nikki says. After that moment, which she says she will never forget, Nikki knew she wanted to be more than just in a class. She wanted to lead a class.

Nikki’s introduction to Barre3 classes became the inspiration behind her business. 

Nikki auditioned for a position as an instructor but didn’t get it. She didn’t let that deter her. Instead, she asked for suggestions on areas to improve and eventually earned her way into the Barre3 family. Around the same time, Nikki took a trip to Louisville where her mother and sister reside. Then the lightbulb went off. There was nothing like Barre3 in the area at the time. Watching her daughter’s interaction with her family members was enough to convince Nikki to stay. In January 2015, Barre3 opened on Frankfort Avenue.

Nikki’s new business has been successful because she uses her own personal experience to relate to anyone who walks into her class. “It was my first time once too,” she says. “Our goal is to make every single person in here feel comfortable so you can walk in like you own the place.”

Although the movements are minimal, a Barre3 workout is intense. 

I can attest to her philosophy. I was immediately met with warm smiles when I strolled through the door. I was shown around the building (which includes an area for childcare—yes, CHILDCARE!), then I was led to the corner of the classroom area where I could find the weights, mat, and band I needed for the class.

The workout was accompanied by upbeat music and the high intensity of Nikki’s encouragement. Her energy is what made the class unique and fun, and by the end of that speedy hour, I had worked up a good sweat. “People have the mentality to get on a treadmill to lose weight,” Nikki says. “It’s best for your body not to do the same thing over and over. My favorite part [about Barre3] is that it never gets easier. The mind and body connection just deepens.” Take a look at the short video below to see one of her class sessions.

If you’re looking for a new routine in a zestful environment that values the time you should take for yourself, then check out Barre3. Nikki will be there to greet you at the door, and it won’t take long for her to remember your name. “Sure it’s a great workout, but that’s a perk,” she says. “(I want the people to know her welcome) is coming from a genuine and authentic place.”

Creating an atmosphere centered around convenience and comfort is an important aspect of Nikki’s business.