Shaper: Niki Rein

Show aired on 3rd June 2017

Transcript

Elliot Moss
The brilliant Oscar Peterson with Mas Que Nada originally Jorge Ben. Good morning this is Jazz Shapers, I’m Elliot Moss thank you very much for joining me. Jazz Shapers is where you get to hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and right alongside them we put someone who is shaping the world of business. We call them Business Shapers. I’m really pleased to say my Business Shaper today is Niki Rein and Niki is the founder of a really cool business called Barrecore and Barrecore founded in 2011 is a fitness business but its ballet meets huge amounts of exercise meets fun and we’re going to be talking all about that with her very shortly. In addition to hearing from Niki you’ll be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya who have got some words of advice for your business and then we’ve got some fantastic music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul; Cécile McLorin Salvant, Blue Lab Beats with some new music and this from Mr Al Green.

The soulful and delicious voice of Al Green with Tired Of Being Alone. Niki Rein is my Business Shaper here on Jazz Shapers and as I said she is the founder of Barrecore and Barrecore – a great name by the way – is a fitness business with a difference and she is here to explain what it is. Hello. How are you?

Niki Rein
Hello, good thanks Elliot.

Elliot Moss
Thank you for coming.

Niki Rein
I’m excited to be here.

Elliot Moss
Good I’m excited you’re here too it’s always good to have something which is going to make us feel good and exercise does apparently. Now tell me about Barrecore and then I want to go back a bit. Why did you found this business and what exactly is it?

Niki Rein
So Barrecore is a fitness boutique fitness business and the meat of what we do are group classes using your own body weight as resistance so there’s a ballet bar around the room and we have small props, playground balls, light weights and we use balletic type movements at high repetition to create rapid change in the body. We also do traditional exercises like planks and press ups so we’re getting a mix of different contractions that create amazing change in a very short period of time. I started Barrecore standing for its barre which is the French ballet bar and then core, we use a lot of core strength.

Elliot Moss
I’m now sitting upright because I know, I know I’ve got to use my core more often.

Niki Rein
I’m watching.

Elliot Moss
Thank you. You’ve got excellent posture mine’s not quite there yet. So sorry carry on, Barrecore so the barre from the French meaning the word for ballet and then core as in the core.

Niki Rein
Exactly so not that creative but clear I hope and when I moved over in 2009 no one from the States, no one was doing any sort of barre fitness which was becoming bigger and bigger in the States and I had already been doing dance based training prior to that and I was just shocked that no one was doing it over here so I did it on a one-to-one basis and small group classes out of a little mews house and one class grew into two classes and then it was time to open the first studio in 2011 and it was really scary because no one was charging kind of the boutique model pricing which we count on clients coming to classes whereas the big box gyms they count on you not coming. It turned out to be a success straight away and it’s been really fun to watch everyone’s bodies change so rapidly.

Elliot Moss
I’ll ask about men and women in a minute but how many studios do you now have open?

Niki Rein
Eleven now.

Elliot Moss
So eleven in the last, that’s in six years and I imagine that the openings have sped up in the last few years is that right?

Niki Rein
Exactly. Exactly. We have a few more planned for this year as well which is exciting.

Elliot Moss
And just very briefly before we go to Cécile McLorin Salvant and so on. What made you, I know you’re into sport but what made you think that enjoying sport could then become your commercial way of making a living?

Niki Rein
You know it happened naturally it was never my plan or intention I’ve played soccer since I was five years old and did a bit of a gymnastics and I was never a dancer it’s kind of always the question someone asks me and I feel a bit like a fraud but you know I started off in the wellness industry as far as kind of I did teach a bit of yoga but mostly was in the spa industry so for about ten years and then I got sick of doing all the work myself.

Elliot Moss
Well that’s a good enough reason to set up a business and we’re going to hold it right there. I think that’s it, that’s it, that’s what I set up a business for to make sure other people did stuff too. Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper that’s Niki Rein the founder of Barrecore, that’s barre as in ballet in French and the core that I am now trying to hold and I suggest you hold it too. It’s a good exercise. Time for some more music. I promised Cécile McLorin Salvant here she is and it’s Wives And Lovers.

Wives And Lovers from Cécile McLorin Salvant. Niki Rein my Business Shaper, founder of Barrecore and we’ve been talking about exercise and how you went into the world of exercise and beyond obviously other people helping you deliver your product as it were and not running around and doing it for yourself. What was the attraction of this particular type of exercise because it does sound like a fusion of a number of different disciplines and you said I’m not a dancer but do you have to become qualified to become a Barrecore Instructor?

Niki Rein
You do to work for us. Our teacher training is actually extremely intense and quite long, it’s about two and a half months in total and roughly twenty hours a week of training but we’ll test out an instructor. You don’t have to have prior training to become a Barrecore Instructor but we like to bring on those that are either Pilates qualified, personal training qualified or have taught dance before because we actually have a lot of performers, a lot of musical theatre performers and they tend to make really great instructors because Barrecore is really hard it’s you know you’re only using your own body weight so it’s confusing to the mind when your muscles are quivering and shaking and you don’t have a heavy weight load besides your own body.

Elliot Moss
Well it depends how much you weigh you see. It’s always hurting Niki I’ve got to lose some weight. The question I also have though is when you went from doing the classes and you know we all know lots of people who say they teach Pilates and do one-to-one. To move from that to actually then creating, to investing in your first studio, to constructing a timetable to actually having more organisation to having to think about the money in a much more meaningful way, to bank accounts and so on and so forth. Did you do that all solo or did you have help?

Niki Rein
I did a lot of it myself and boy was it a steep learning curve but I mean I am a big believer in that kind of angels fall into place right when you need them and you know I don’t think anyone can do everything by themselves and I definitely couldn’t have done everything by myself so I did have help along the way but it might have been friends or it might have been you know an investor or you know my husband at the time, like everyone sort of chipped in and helped and it worked.

Elliot Moss
And do you feel in those early days when it was nothing, did you think actually I’ve made a mistake here? Were there moments when you said oh maybe I should just leave this maybe this was just a bit of fun?

Niki Rein
Honestly it was sort of like I was on the train and I couldn’t get off. I actually preferred doing one-to-ones, I didn’t even like teaching group classes which I love doing now I hope and obviously but at the time I just, I didn’t know that I wanted to work that hard to open up a studio. I didn’t know if I wanted to learn you know about real estate in a new country and you know all the kind of ins and outs. But it was just sort of happening it wasn’t even like I felt like it was very much right place right time and there was times where I was just, I just knew it was going to work. I had no question.

Elliot Moss
The new country thing I want to talk about that because obviously you know the thing we always say about Americans and Brits is we’re divided by a common language I think the nuances of living in a different place to the one you were brought up in are actually much, the longer you spend in a country the more you realise you didn’t understand. Have there been those cultural difficulties or has it been the girl from Seattle has just made it big in London and the rest?

Niki Rein
I mean it’s been one you know, one speed bump or mountain to climb after another but it’s been really, it’s been a pleasurable experience it’s just you know I bring up the real estate thing because that’s been the hardest challenge to come over its just finding locations and how that whole system works and it’s you know it’s much older than in the States and the rules are much more stringent so it definitely wasn’t easy and it took, I felt like the very annoying American calling, hi it’s me again, hi it’s me again, I’m back.

Elliot Moss
Hello I’m the annoying American and I’m building a business.

Niki Rein
Exactly.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my not annoying American at all Niki Rein, founder of Barrecore about how she has indeed built her business and got investment along the way which we’ll come to after the travel but before the travel we’ve got some words of wisdom I hope for your business from our programme partners at Mischon de Reya.

This is Jazz Shapers here on Jazz FM. I’m Elliot Moss and every Saturday I meet someone who is shaping the world of business and doing a fine job of it too. The fine job today is being done by Niki Rein and she is the founder of Barrecore and it’s a fitness business which in 2011 was just the twinkle in her eye, it was a few classes and in 2017 there are eleven studios around town, around London I believe at this point.

Niki Rein
The UK.

Elliot Moss
The UK, okay where else are they then?

Niki Rein
So we have one in Bristol, Leeds, Harrogate and Alderley Edge.

Elliot Moss
Oh wow okay you have spread your wings.

Niki Rein
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
You were invested in and it was Octopus Investments a very well-known investment house. How did that come about? How did they come to the conclusion that you were a good bet?

Niki Rein
You know Octopus, I was really nervous to bring on an investment firm I’ve just had small you know more angel investor shareholders from the beginning and so for me this felt like a big deal going from a small business to really trying to grow the business so I met with a few different firms that were interested in investing with us and Octopus was clearly the match straight away. It was very like-minded, they understood the business, they could see you know the dream that we have and we’re part of their growth fund so they’re you know it’s not the right here right now that they’re helping us with but it’s over the next few years which is really exciting, it’s wonderful to have their knowledge from the other businesses they’ve invested in and the contacts that they have so it was a no brainer.

Elliot Moss
What do you think they bought Niki? I mean apart from it’s a good idea and there’s a few numbers in there I’m assuming they buy into you and if so what was it about you that they liked?

Niki Rein
Well I think that I definitely don’t blag the reality of what we do. I truly you know believe in what we do and I don’t think barre is a trend at all. I know that boutique fitness and fitness in general has become quite the trend and we’re lucky to be riding that wave but you know the results we offer are real and you know if you show up you will see results it’s plain and simple and we have such an amazing community at the studios and a great loyal following. We don’t have a lot of turn so I think they appreciate that especially in a customer business it’s not about just cycling people through the doors.

Elliot Moss
And in terms of your own ambition for this business has it morphed along the way?

Niki Rein
Yes for sure.

Elliot Moss
Where are you today? What do you think is this going to be I’m going to create a hundred studios and then move on or is it this is my life, where do you sit on that?

Niki Rein
You know I really love the start-up process and watching it grow and really watching the team develop and grow I think that’s been fascinating and kind of fine tuning our approach and teacher training and all that. I thought it was going to be like a you know maybe I will open three locations in London and that was sort of where I thought it was going to go and just be a nice lifestyle business but there’s clearly opportunity and it’s so fun to show people what barre is. A lot of people don’t know what it is and so I really would love to expand into Europe I think there’s definitely a market there so that’s on the future horizon.

Elliot Moss
And for you you’re going to be involved for the foreseeable?

Niki Rein
I’d like to be, I’d like to be I mean I don’t know you know, I don’t know in ten years. I’m a creative person so I like to create new things so as long as I can be creative I’ll be around because I do love the business.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper today that’s Niki Rein. Time for some music this is Blue Lab Beats featuring Nubya Garcia and it’s called Keep Moving and it’s really good.

That was Blue Lab Beats and I hope you liked it as much as I did. Niki Rein is my Business Shaper we’ve been talking about ambition a little bit. You mentioned your team as well at Barrecore and you said you liked to watch them grow. What’s made you happy I mean why is that good… you know important to you. Some people you know they hire people and they say well I have to hire people and that’s the worst bit of the thing that I do. I just want to get on with the business and the idea but for you it seemed like you were saying something quite different.

Niki Rein
Yeah you know we’re a people business. If I don’t have amazing happy Instructors and front desk people I have nothing at all because I can’t do all of it myself I learned very quickly. So if the team isn’t developing and growing and enjoying the process then you know it’s definitely not fun for me and we’re a very feedback driven culture and most of that is positive feedback I really believe in a you know more of a positive psychology approach in the wellness industry you know after all you might as well try to have a good time along the way and there are stressful moments and you know we all make mistakes and I think if you’re making a decision and it ends up being the wrong one the intention is actually in the right way and it’s you know I’m not afraid to say, hey next time maybe not that way, try a different approach.

Elliot Moss
Is that what you do? I was wondering because is there a standards thing. I mean obviously you give people inductions and you say this is the vibe we want to create and so on but then making it better when it isn’t quite working are you just a quite direct person?

Niki Rein
I am but I’d say it’s definitely a soft approach.

Elliot Moss
Seattle soft.

Niki Rein
Seattle soft, West Coast.

Elliot Moss
Just relax, you might want to think about this, like that?

Niki Rein
And I think it’s showing the you know the consequences of you know kind of explaining that because I don’t think you know some people just don’t see the trickle-down effect of you know their actions and sometimes it’s just like okay do you see you know how that affected the client or the front desk where you know your colleagues and you know we all show up to do a good job and we all want to be liked and I know that’s the intention of every single staff that we hire.

Elliot Moss
Now at the moment you know every single member of staff pretty much I imagine and it’s manageable. Now let’s go forward three years and you’ve got three times as many studios is that something you’re going to enjoy do you think when you’re having to delegate those kinds of conversations. I imagine there’s already some delegation because you’re not in Leeds and you’re not in Bristol all the time do you think that will keep you happy or do you like the hands on thing?

Niki Rein
I think that will come because we’re getting more of that now with the studios outside of London and now you know I can’t, what bothers me now is I used to know the kind of ins and outs of you know of everyone’s lives. Like what part of town they lived in and you know it really bothers me that I can’t remember that information but you know I think if the leaders on the teams are you know as connected to them then I feel like for me it’s fun to watch those leaders care in that way.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with Niki plus we’ll be playing a track from blues man Eric Bibb that’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

That was Eric Bibb with the thoughtful as usual blues number with A Dollar In My Pocket. Niki Rein is my Business Shaper talking about building dollars, we haven’t actually talked about money and if you haven’t been listening and you’re going to catch the last few minutes she’s the founder of Barrecore and Barrecore is a relatively new business, six years in. How many studios? Eleven did you say?

Niki Rein
Eleven.

Elliot Moss
Eleven studios around the country and it’s a cross between ballet and hard core exercise and you create this community feel as it says on your website. A quick question before I talk about the money actually. Men, I imagine mostly women do this only because you know that’s what I’ve read but is that true and if so why aren’t more men like me doing it?

Niki Rein
I want to know why more men aren’t doing it too.

Elliot Moss
They just think it’s too feminine is that the thing?

Niki Rein
It is a lot of feminine, I mean ballet being the kind of base of the workout is a more feminine way of moving. We do have more sort of masculine classes like we have a HIIT class which involves high intensity interval training where we do burpees and you know.

Elliot Moss
I can make this roar, real men.

Niki Rein
You can grunt if you want to. Exactly.

Elliot Moss
It’s probably not a good idea.

Niki Rein
But you know we do have men come it is predominantly women and you know I think it’s really fascinating when we first opened we… there was not really a lot of body weight resistant classes so men generally just did heavy weights and some men did yoga, still very few and very few did Pilates. So when we did have men come in we actually had about 50% kind of had to leave the room to go and throw up rate when men came in.

Elliot Moss
Seriously?

Niki Rein
And that’s changed so much with HIIT training and a lot of kind of resistance you know CrossFit and all these types of workouts because it’s now more the norm because you know using these kind of asymmetric contractions which are basically where you hold a contraction and then you might move a little bit within it so that deep burning shake you know men were generally used to doing big power moves. Where you know these small little movements you don’t necessarily feel powerful but they’re incredibly strengthening so I think you know we didn’t get a lot of return male clients in the beginning but now actually we do have male clients that do come regularly, just not a lot of them.

Elliot Moss
And tell me about the money thing. I mean we haven’t mentioned it at all, we haven’t talked about the size of the business but obviously it’s growing. How important is it that you’re going to hopefully either enjoy a nice income as you go through this or make a lot of money if you were to sell it.

Niki Rein
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Does it, do you think about that?

Niki Rein
You know every once in a while I mean you know I have a very you know financially driven board so it has to be on the forefront of my mind all the time but that was never my intention of starting the business. I truly love what we do and like I said earlier that you know the results are just amazing to watch so that brings a lot of joy. Of course it’s important to me and I, you know would never want us to you know we’ve been a very cash positive business from three months in so it’s really worked.

Elliot Moss
It’s looking good. It’s been great talking to you Niki. Thank you for sharing where you’re at with me right now.

Niki Rein
Thank you.

Elliot Moss
And good luck with everything. Just before I let you go what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Niki Rein
So I chose You Make Me Smile by Dave Koz. I chose it because I used to, when I lived in LA I got the chance to meet Dave Koz once because I used to, being as I said in the spa industry and I used to massage his brother and was family friends with them so he’s a lovely guy and I love his music and You Make Me Smile just puts me in a good mood.

Elliot Moss
Well here it is just for you.

That was Dave Koz with You Make Me Smile, the song choice of my Business Shaper today Niki Rein. Super calm, a real lovely West Coast kind of attitude towards life. Balanced, really interesting balance between the business and the passion behind her business. Really good stuff. Do join me again, same time, same place. That’s next Saturday, 9.00am sharp here on Jazz FM. Meanwhile stay with us, you know the drill, coming up next Mr Nigel Williams.

Niki Rein

Niki Rein was born in Seattle. Until the age of 18, Niki played competitive football and enjoyed lifting weights at university, but found that she put on muscle easily and did not feel as feminine as she would have liked. She was then introduced to dance-based fitness, which changed her body shape and outlook. She has spent her professional life turning fitness into a lifestyle and for over a decade has been working with clients to improve their bodies through exercise, clean eating and healthy living. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 when she started teaching yoga which subsequently led her to dance-based exercise.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

“…it was really scary because no one was charging the boutique model pricing. We count on clients coming to classes whereas the big gyms count on you not coming.”

“It turned out to be a success straight away and it’s been really fun to watch everyone’s bodies change so rapidly.”

“I know that boutique fitness and fitness in general has become quite the trend and we’re lucky to be riding that wave but the results we offer are real and if you show up you will see results.”

“I really would love to expand into Europe. I think there’s definitely a market there so that’s on the future horizon…”

“I’m a creative person, so I like to create new things. So as long as I can be creative I’ll be around because I do love the business.”

“I really believe in more of a positive psychology approach in the wellness industry. After all, you might as well try to have a good time along the way.”

“I have a very financially driven board so it has to be on the forefront of my mind all the time. But that was never my intention of starting the business.”

“We actually had a 50% ‘have to leave the room to go and throw up’ rate when men came in…”

“We’re a people business. If I don’t have amazing, happy instructors and front desk people I have nothing at all.”