Chasing A Dream, Having It End, Then Climbing Back Up….

At heart, I’m a dream chaser….I hear people say “Follow You Dreams” but so often you only hear all the fun, exciting parts of chasing a dream, not the real day to day challenges that come with it. And you hardly ever hear what happens when that dream fades away.

After almost 4 years in business, I closed the doors to Xtend Barre Charlotte in early 2018.  I’ll forever miss the amazing community that we built there. Walking into that amazing space each day, hearing the music pumping, and seeing all the smiling faces ready to sweat!

I learned how hard it is to open a business, operate it, and then realized it’s even harder closing it down. I’ve seen people at their very best and then their very worst. I’ve seen greed rear its ugly head and seen kindness spread like wildflowers. I’ve learned it’s ok to ask for help. I’ve learned that some people will stick with you, while others depart quickly. I’ve learned firsthand that following your dreams is A LOT MORE complicated and stressful than people sometimes want to admit or share.

I experienced some of my highest highs and my lowest lows while walking through that journey. Xtend Barre Charlotte will always be a part of my story and maybe some of the most fun, stressful, rewarding, scary times of my life…Looking back, I’ve learned so much about myself and the business world throughout the past years, but what happens when you follow your dreams and then they fall right through your fingertips?

After closing the studio doors, I was left wondering what I was going to do to sustain myself (and my coffee habit). While I was left trying to figure it all out, I was offered an opportunity to teach barre, giving me an immediate home base studio, which was exactly what I needed at that very moment, but I knew I would need to obtain another barre certification outside of the one I had with my franchise.

After searching for the right barre certification program for me, I came across Barre Intensity on Instagram and was immediately hooked! Just a few months later, I found myself attending their in-studio training, which only confirmed it was the right program for me! After completing their in-studio training and fulfilling their additional certification requirements, I was now a Barre Intensity certified instructor. This was the first time I had my own identity as a fitness instructor, not tied to a franchise, which seemed so different and honestly a bit scary. Still settling into my new role of fitness instructor (not business owner), I saw that Barre Intensity was looking for Master Instructors, and I immediately reached out!  Fast forward a few months and several additional trainings later, I am now a Master Barre Instructor with Barre Intensity!  It was at this point, that I began to regain my confidence and realize that just because the studio doors closed, there was still a place for me in the fitness industry.

With a few months of only teaching barre, I started to realize that long term physically I couldn’t continue to teach 10-15 barre classes each week and I needed to supplement my classes and income with something else. So I began to seek out other opportunities, utilizing skills I had developed while owning the studio. During that search is when I first became introduced to Club Pilates. Little did I know that Google search would forever change my fitness teaching path.

After seeing a posting for a new Club Pilates studio opening in the area, I submitted my application, and scheduled my first class at one of their sister studios in the area. Just a few days later, I was on the reformer at Club Pilates South Providence chatting with the instructor about my journey and my fitness/dance background when she mentioned they would be hosting a comprehensive Pilates training at their studio and she thought I would be a great fit.  Before I knew it, I was meeting with the general manager and signing up for 500 hours of Pilates comprehensive training.

I thought Pilates would make a great compliment to barre, since the two overlap quite a bit. It would allow me to use skills I already had from teaching barre and allow me to grow as a fitness instructor. After receiving all the material and reviewing the course work, I quickly realized Pilates training was going to be a lot more work than any of my barre certifications, but I was up for the challenge. After 5 months of work, including 12 in-studio days, I am approaching the finish line.  It’s not been an easy journey, I’ve learned so much about movement, Pilates, anatomy, and working with special populations. It has made me fall in love with Pilates and all the benefits it has to offer.

While the start of 2018 started with my dream of owning a barre studio ending, the middle of 2018 showed me that I could carry on even after my dream came to an end. I’ll end the year knowing that while starting over hasn’t been easy, I’ve found my way, grown even more as a person, and look forward to growing in both the barre and Pilates worlds.

Change is never easy, especially right after a dream ends…. But keep going, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and be on the lookout for the next dream that is placed into your heart!

“Every moment of our life can be the beginning of great things” – Joseph Pilates

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Shawna Baker
Originally a small town girl from West Virginia, who discovered she's really a Cali girl at heart, now calling Charlotte home. With a background in dance Shawna immediately fell in love with ballet-based barre workouts after searching for a way to stay active after a cross-country move to San Diego in 2007. Shawna spent 6 years at the barre as a client, enjoying the of mix of cardio & sculpting each class had to offer! A 2013 move back to the East Coast prompted her to follow her dreams and open a barre franchise of her own and share her love of barre with others. It was during this time Shawna realized her love of being in the studio teaching and educating others. With the studio ownership chapter behind her, Shawna now calls First Wind Cycling & Fitness home where she is working to build the barre program. Shawna loves to create challenging workouts that keep her clients on their toes while channeling their inner ballerina!