Barre3: How a Respected Star in the Fitness World Found Synergy with Learning Management Software
Jason Bacaj | 4 min read
Our clients here at Wisetail are an amazing and seemingly endless font of wisdom. Every so often we like to put the spotlight on them so everyone else can benefit from the knowledge they drop whenever we talk.
A while back we spoke with Heidi Waltermire, a Master Training and small business development leader at barre3—a powerhouse brand in the fitness industry—about the origins of our partnership and some of the ways barre3 differentiates itself. We’re grateful to Heidi for taking the time to visit with us about the strategy and tactics employed to help better connect the more than 700-person instructor team working across the nation to help others lead healthy, balanced, happy lives.
Wisetail: Rather than just a simple training tool, barre3 wanted a solution that would support and enhance the culture central to the company’s growth and success. What about Wisetail stood out in that regard?
Heidi Waltermire: We could tell early on that Wisetail cares about the drivers of culture. Our founder created something really wonderful from the beginning, which was encouraging clients to make the class experience their own, listen to their bodies, and respect what their bodies need that day. Most fitness companies and theories are all about ‘no pain no gain’. There’s a judgment that if you’re not giving it more than your all, you’re not good enough. The truth is, there are some days when it’s a miracle we even leave the house. Maybe on that day I’m not going to be able to give it my all but at least I’m here.
When we can support our instructors in celebrating clients conquering these obstacles and when we can transmit that message more fully through videos and interactive training, we can ensure a true barre3 experience of respect, warmth, and community for every client.
Site user-friendliness was so important to us, so after signing we took our time with implementation. We played with it a lot, set up several systems for categorization, worked back through it thinking of how it might be received, then tweaked it for our needs. We knew that the previous way of communication was a huge deterrent by not being user-friendly. So, we set out with a top priority of making sure instructors could find what they needed as quickly and simply as possible.
Everything we do is to enhance user-friendliness. We have always looked at The Hub in terms of having a lot of empathy toward the individual instructors—treating them like a customer, branding the site, and providing a full barre3 experience even on our back end.
“The sharing of this new theory or posture used to take weeks if not months, but now we can post a video, run the analytics on who watched it, then decide whether we need to do more outreach all within one week!”
W: When barre3 partnered with us, Wisetail was most prominent in the restaurant and hospitality industry. That was at least a minor risk, what led barre3 to take the leap?
HW: We need all of our classes, nationwide, to be taught with the same level of integrity and consistency, which is the same with the hospitality industry. Our 700+ instructor team needs easy access to any changes we’re making to our classes on a daily basis.
Before Wisetail, we’d communicate with instructors using a combination of mass emails and Facebook messages. It really was hit or miss. We would send out information and cross our fingers in hope they would eventually get the message.
W: Sounds like you were looking for a way to track that information was actually received. How did that functionality change barre3 operations?
HW: A pillar of barre3 is innovation, which means we are always researching, testing, and releasing new moves, postures, and music.
To keep things fresh in every class and fulfill our instructors’ mantra of “always challenge and never bore,” we send out new innovations on a monthly basis. Sometimes the new innovation is actually a move we no longer wish to be taught at barre3. This posture removal typically is a result of consulting with an anatomy expert, where we find out the posture/movement is not providing what we want.
The beauty of our Wisetail site, which we branded internally as “b3 Hub” or “The Hub,” is that we now know if the message of our new innovation has gotten across to our nationwide team.
Barre3 is for everyone. They don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to exercise. Instead, they empower each individual to modify postures and develop body awareness for lasting results.
W: What are the main successes you’ve seen?
HW: First, it’s been great for new instructors to jump on The Hub, devour a lot of information, and stay inspired. I can watch their activity via the admin reports, take their classes, and see their consistent growth as instructors. In the past, new instructors would climb and plateau, climb and plateau in terms of ability. Now they can create their own pathway for learning, which results in steady growth and little to no periods of plateau.
Second, the majority of our instructors have been teaching for a long time and we’re seeing them get reinvigorated because the site is clean, simple, branded, and all content is easily accessible and searchable. Our more experienced instructors despise having to waste time poking around through email archives. They keep emailing and telling me how much they appreciate The Hub.
Their other favorite aspect is the ability to search for people they went through training with years ago and reconnect! They are sending each other recognition messages and rekindling friendships around the country.
“Our instructor culture is based on a love of learning, so they are all gathering on the Hub for the content and techniques to help them be better instructors.”
Finally, we are able to tap into the collective knowledge of our instructors, which has huge value to the entire barre3 family. Our instructors love sharing videos, articles, and tips on how to teach amazing barre3 classes. We commonly have instructors asking for help with modifying postures for clients with knee injuries, hip replacements, and all sorts of scenarios. Now they can ask these questions on The Hub and receive collective wisdom from instructors all over the country including the Master Trainers in Portland.
One specific question that stumped the Master Trainer team was about a client facing difficulties with her TMJ and her instructor reached out through The Hub for support. Little did we know, we had an instructor in another part of the country who actually has TMJ and was able to provide guidance. It has been such a valuable platform for collective wisdom.
Sharing information in real-time has been a huge boost in our ability to carry out our mission of nourishing the body and making connections to lead a balanced and happier life.
“It has been such a valuable platform for collective wisdom. Sharing information in real-time has been a huge boost in our ability to carry out our mission of nourishing the body and making connections to lead a balanced and happier life.”
Heidi leading an impromptu barre3 session at Apex3 in Bozeman in October 2015.