Kara B. is one of three (!) instructors named Kara at B Present Studio. She’s a veteran of the fitness industry with twenty years of experience teaching group fitness, and has been teaching at B Present since 2013.
How did you first get into the fitness industry?
I was always involved in athletics; I ran cross country and track and was a cheerleader in high school. I also ran cross country and track my freshman year in college, and it was an awesome experience, but there are so many other new things to explore in college. So at that point I transitioned from always just running to try something different. I found a step aerobics class at the local YMCA, and from that point fell in love with group fitness. When I went back to college my junior year, a small gym was opening and they asked if I wanted to teach aerobics there, and that was my first job in fitness. I think I made about $5 a class and it was mostly my sorority sisters that came to my class!
I continued teaching while I was in college [at Bradley University and then at Notre Dame]. I’ve been teaching ever since, with the exception of one time in my life that I had to step back to finish my dissertation. I had taken a break and then returned to my doctoral work after having my first daughter, so when I returned to school I had to be really disciplined.
How did you first discover B Present?
I was speaking to a client/friend and she gave me the whole “You won’t believe how hard it is!” spiel, so of course I had to find out for myself. I love to be pushed, so that challenge is what got me in the door. And she was right–it was hard! It was also different; my first class was with Kaley and I wasn’t sure what was going on at first with all the talking and motivational speaking [laughs]. My client had failed to mention that part. In all my years of taking classes, I had never been in a class that was anything like that, where the talk was so positive and geared toward every one of the women in the room. I embraced it! It was the first time I had heard “Take this moment for you, and let everything else go;” I don’t think anyone had ever said that to me before. That’s a message that all women need to hear.
So how did you end up becoming an instructor at B Present?
I had been going to B Present for about six months, and had decided that I really liked this barre thing and was going to do a training–a national barre certification–so that I could teach it. I assumed that was what I would need to teach at B Present. I texted Tammy to tell her that she had really inspired me, that I loved barre, and that I was going to do this training. And she was like “Oh…that’s great!” And then a little bit later she texted again and was like “Well, since you mentioned it…are you interested in teaching at B Present?” It just had totally escaped my radar, and hadn’t occurred to me that Tammy did her own in-house training. So of course, I said “Yeah, I WOULD like to teach at B Present!” and it was that simple–I didn’t do the other barre training, and I did the training with her instead.
How was the training for the B Present method different or similar to other types of trainings you’ve done?
That’s a good question, because I’ve actually told Tammy that the process that she uses for training instructors is one of the most in-depth trainings I’ve ever been through, especially because of the practical side–the student teaching. For me, that was absolutely the best experience. It was a great way to get feedback that I’ve never had before; here I am twenty years into this, and I had never actually had anyone assess me on my ability to teach. It was a gift.
It’s good that you were able to take away a positive from that instead of feeling like, “Ugh this is so annoying, I’ve already been doing this for so long.”
I totally saw it as an opportunity to learn and get better. B Present has made me a better instructor than I was two years ago. I’m more client-focused than I was before. It’s a little intimidating to walk up to a stranger and tell them to squat a little deeper, or adjust the range of motion, or make corrections. Now I’m always touching people, grabbing sweaty shoulders, turning toes out! I’ve developed a comfort with that. The atmosphere lends itself to that.
“B Present has made me a better instructor than I was two years ago.”
What does barre bring to the table that’s unique among other forms of exercise?
I’m not doing cardio at all like I used to. I used to spend every day spinning or running; I would never lift weights. B Present has brought a big mindset change to me about the importance of strengthening and toning versus all the cardio. I saw an immediate change in my shoulders, in my deltoids, and I was like “Wow–that is really making a difference.” I realized that I AM burning calories in there, my heart rate is still getting up there, but I’m not pounding myself to death anymore. I love Barre Beautiful so much for that reason. My husband and I enjoy running half-marathons together, but each year I battled something–my knee, my hip, something–it’s just too much. I don’t miss having those issues. I don’t have those issues with barre.
As an instructor, what barre has done for me is helped me to open up about myself and talk about myself. I’m really challenged to be vulnerable and open.
So this interview is only mildly terrifying for you, right?
[laughs] I was studying all of the other “Meet the Barre Tender” posts to see what I was going to have to say! You know, I don’t like to talk about myself. I don’t really like to call attention to myself. It’s probably why I fell into a career in engineering, because it meant digging into work, looking at the details, and solving problems. I love that part, but I didn’t have to put myself out there. I never had to stand in front of people and talk. That’s actually probably why I did fitness; it was the one thing that got me out in front of people and pushed my boundaries a little bit. But even that wasn’t the same as now stepping into B Present and standing at the front of the room and telling everyone what’s going on in my life. But I do want to share those things with you, and let you know that you’re not alone. It’s easy for all of us–including me–to think “This is my struggle, I’m alone, I’m the broken one, I need fixing.”
That is in part how–thank goodness–I got to where I am today. I’ve left my full time job now so that I can really dig in to who I am and what I’m passionate about, what fills me with joy. I want to be on mission, but I’ve struggled over the last few years with what it is that will really bring me happiness. I won’t be able to get on mission unless I slow down and create that space. Engineering gave me a busy life where I didn’t have to think about me and deal with those parts of me, and now I’m ready to.
“It’s easy for all of us to think, ‘I’m the broken one, I need fixing.’ I want to let you know that you’re not alone.”
Want to take a class with Kara B.? Find her on the schedule and sign up for a class here!