How Barre Makes Me a Better Business Owner

Our guest author today is Tori Dunlap, the owner and founder behind Her First $100K – a company dedicated to empowering and educating women on how to become financially independent.

Tori at head of table

Growing up,  I often performed in our local theatre and in college, chose to double-major in Theatre and Communications. Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time dancing and moving. I loved theatre and dancing on stage because it was so expressive, fun, and communal.

After college, I realized that I didn’t have built-in tap (my absolute favorite) or jazz classes in my schedule, and for a while, I struggled with how to find a new workout routine for myself as a post-grad. I tried yoga and spinning to various successes, but there was always something missing.

Then along came Barre –– a Pilates-based workout built on the foundations of ballet. I headed into my first class expecting for it to be a breeze, and when I tell you I have never been that sore in my life, please know I am not making any exaggerations. In my theatre major mind, I thought I’d get a nice workout and have a little fun –– what really happened was that I got a killer workout and had a blast.

I hopped into a Barre workout class whenever I could and felt my strength, poise, and flexibility begin to grow. Naturally, I was devastated when the pandemic hit and my Barre studio closed for classes.

Being away from my favorite form of physical exercise gave me some space to really miss it. I realized that Barre didn’t just act as a way to move my body –– it kept me sane and made me a better business owner. 


I was already a small business owner and working full time when I started taking Barre, but even I couldn’t pass up a good deal. I was able to work at the front desk in exchange for free classes –– which was both fun from an “extroverted-meeting-people” perspective and from a financial one! 

One of the things I loved when I checked into a Barre class or ran the front desk was building relationships with the instructors and other clients in the room. I loved seeing the same people and getting to know them and connect with them in something that was totally outside of my usual. I spend a lot of time around other business owners and personal finance people –– and it was great to walk into a class where I could meet, chat, and sweat it out with people I might not meet otherwise.

This is meaningful for anyone looking to grow their networks, but even more so for small business owners. Being a part of a community that has nothing to do with your business opens you up to new perspectives and opportunities to grow in new ways. I loved this part of showing up to Barre class. You never know who you could meet –– a business partner or contact, potential customer, or even just a new friend!

I didn’t go to class expecting to meet these people, I just enjoyed being there and connecting with others. The rest happens organically.

Replenishing My Energy

My company, Her First $100K, employs a fully remote team. I love offering this benefit to my employees, but each of us struggles with portions of remote work, especially in a year where we spent so much time at home. As things have been opening up again, I’ve made my way back to Barre class and I have noticed a HUGE difference in my energy levels.

I feel more energetic not just on days when I’m in class but for several days after. When I work out, my mind is clearer, my body is calmer, and I’m in a much better mood overall. This especially helps during long days full of press interviews when mental endurance is a necessity.

Hitting up my Barre class is so much less about burning calories –– it’s about moving my body in a way that gives me joy and makes me feel more confident when I’m taking on the day ahead. Thanks, endorphins!

A Stress Savior

In the same vein, running a business where I’m a public figure with an audience of over 2 million can be incredibly stressful. I love my community, and I put in the work to bring them the best information and education I can, but there are downsides. 

Last year, I went negative viral (aka, I had a TikTok gain traction for the wrong reasons) and was slammed with hate comments, nasty emails, and even death threats. It was one of the hardest months of my life. On top of it all, it was right in the middle of the pandemic and my Barre classes were not happening. 

I realized, especially at that moment, how important those classes were to me. They were a safe space to freely express myself physically and even emotionally. The determination it takes to get through a good Barre workout is an act of mental fortitude in and of itself, and I needed it more than ever. The old saying is true –– you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. I didn’t know how much I needed that Barre class until I didn’t have it.

Fortunately, things eventually blew over and life got quieter again.

This spring, I was finally able to go back to class and I almost cried. I didn’t even care that I couldn’t walk for two days after –– Barre was back. My happy place, my endorphin escape, was back.

Building your (financial) muscle

In my Navigating the Negotiation course, where I teach people how to negotiate their salaries and get paid their worth, I use Barre as an illustration of building confidence when negotiating. I see negotiation and many financial principles, like budgeting or saving, as muscles we need to regularly flex and keep strong.

In the course, I tell the story of my first ever Barre class. I could not move the next day. I literally could not move a single bit. There was a moment, laying in bed where I said, “I’m never doing this again.”

And now, I do it three or four times a week. It’s not easy –– it’s still really hard sometimes. My legs still shake and my arms are still numb, but it’s slightly easier because I’ve done it enough times where it feels comfortable in my body.

That’s what it’s like negotiating. That’s what it’s like to save money from each paycheck. That’s what it’s like to start investing. It’s a muscle that you build and strengthen until you’re not even thinking about it anymore –– just getting stronger and stronger every day.

Do you have to take a Barre class to be a good business owner? Heck no. But could taking a workout class regularly or even joining an adult sports team help you build a better business, social life, and even financial success? Oh heck yes, it can.

Plus, you can wear your fitness tracker and get all sorts of incredible bonuses with Paceline. Rocking a workout high, saving money, and building your business all at the same time?

Count me in.

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