A Balancing Act: Senior Molly Burns’ trained to be a certified barre instructor

Senior Molly Burns teaches two to three yoga classes a week at Power Life Yoga. In order to get the job, she went through a month long certification process.

Senior Molly Burns instructs participants in her barre class Mar 2. Burns teaches lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the week at Power Life Yoga. photo by Riley McNett

by Julia Kerrigan and Riley McNett

photos by Riley McNett
story by Julia Kerrigan

The Dart: What is barre?

Burns: That’s a good question. Barre is like a Group-X class where you work on targeting the small of your muscle with smaller movements to tighten up the muscle, and then I teach cardio barre so we throw in cardio bursts inside it so you get your heart rate up, and it’s in an 88 to 94 degree room so your body is already burning calories once you’re in there, and then mixing the small movement with intervals of cardio, you get your metabolism up and burn as many calories for as long as you can. It’s like a mix of power yoga, ballet technique and cardio.

The Dart: What made you want to be a barre instructor?

Burns: My aunt is one and she was the one that got my mom and I started in barre in November of last year. The lady who owns the studio, last spring, was like, “Hey, you should be certified.” and I was like “I’m 16, no way José.” She came back around in the fall and was like, “Now you’re 17, you should do it.” So I got into it because Jenny pushed me to be in it.

The Dart: When did you become certified?

Burns: This past November, exactly a year since I started at Power Life.

The Dart: How long did it take to become certified?

Burns: It took about a month. It was two weekend intensives, where it was two nine hour days. I was so sore on Monday, because I took 12 barre classes in a weekend. Then we did Tuesdays and Thursdays for three or four hours for the whole month of November.

The Dart: What are some challenges you faced while trying to become certified?

Burns: Balancing everything. The other people I was training with weren’t going home to homework. I had a hard time figuring out the balance between it all. That was the hardest part to stay confident in, because it was very evident how young I was. They all had already been in the exercise field, and I was like, “I’m 17! I don’t even know where I want to go to college!” I compared myself to the other teachers a lot. In the end they hired four of us and I got it.

The Dart: How many classes do you teach a week?

Burns: Regularly I teach two, but sometimes I teach three because people get sick and they need subs.

The Dart: Are you also attending a few over the course of the week?

Burns: I’ll take a minimum of 3 or 4 and I’ll also throw yoga in there too. I’ll teach a barre class and take a barre class, and if I’m not teaching I’ll take a barre and a yoga class on top of each other, to balance each other out.

The Dart: Why is Power Life Yoga different from other fitness places?

Burns: For number one, the community. That’s the first thing that you are taught when you’re becoming a teacher. Our rooms are smaller so you never have more than 35 people in a class, so as a teacher it’s easy to get to know the person and the way they move. That’s really important, getting to know you as not someone who just comes and works out but what you do as your job and you just get to know the people. We’re not just a yoga studio, but we’re also not just a Group-X studio, we’ve combined the two.

The Dart: What is it like to be working in a field where the people are so much older than you?

Burns: They don’t really know I’m in high school. My bio on Power Life says I’m in high school but once you’re in that space you just have to transform your personality into this super confident person. You can’t let your mistakes get to you, otherwise the whole class will fall apart. When I’m in that room I try not to think about how much younger I am then they are and that helps. A lot of them don’t know and they’ll find out and say “You’re 17? Definitely thought you were in your 30s.” It’s funny to watch them realize I’m 17 and realize things like I wasn’t born when that song came out and I played it in class.

The Dart: What are your favorite songs to do barre to?

Burns: I have a new playlist every week but I find “My Type” by Saint Motel and “Sax” by Fleur East are pretty regular repeats.

The Dart: Do you find yourself being more confident because of the personality you use when you teach?

Burns: Yes and no. I feel like I’ve always had to put that on because before teaching barre I was teaching Irish dance and I was dealing with a lot of parents there and I’m a preschool teacher in the summer so again, I’m dealing with a lot of parents. I love to talk in front of people. Teaching barre has made me more confident, especially in my practices, like not doubting myself as much.

The Dart: Do you think you’ll continue with this in the future?

Burns: I definitely do. I want to find another studio, because my favorite part about barre life is that student-teacher connection. Plus, it keeps me motivated to stay fit.

The Dart: What advice do you have for someone interested in barre?

Burns: Just to try it. You don’t have to be a dancer, men do barre, I have men who come every week that are regulars. You don’t have to have perfect technique to come, you just have to be willing to try something different and be willing to be a little goofy with it. Some of the things you’re gonna do you’re gonna be like “my butt is in the air.” You just have to be okay with it and have fun with it.