Conversation :: Sadie Lincoln, Founder of barre3

A couple weeks ago, I sat down at my desk and dialed the number in front of me.  On the other end of the line, Sadie Lincoln, founder and creator of barre3, answered my call and we spent the next 45 minutes talking all about her creation, the future of the program and barre3 as a fitness program that works for everyone.  Read on for the second part of the barre3 conversation.


I took my first barre3 class with Regan Nelson and my second with Sadie Lincoln.  To say I felt honored is an understatement – two of the individuals at the core of the movement were here in Washington, DC (on separate occasions) and as a barre3 novice, I was literally learning from the best.  As the barre3 creator, barre3 instructor and a barrre3 studio owner (Portland, La Jolla and the newly opened Manhattan, NY location) Sadie truly has her fingers on the pulse of all that is the barre3 movement. 

The idea of barre3 came during an intense 6-month yoga practice and the concept was created at Sadie’s kitchen table. It has since blossomed into 50+ studios around the world, with people in more than 60 countries following the online workouts and nutrition program.  The reason it’s drawn such a wide fan-base? It feels easier to do than a lot of other workouts, yet it yields the same results by using a number of different types of training.  Ironically, the small movements done in a barre3 class, either in studio or online, bring big results because it focuses on the whole body by strengthening, stretching and torching calories. 

“Barre3 is more about the “3” than the barre," said Sadie, “the three is symbolic of balance, like a triangle, where ballet barre meets yoga and Pilates. The essence of barre3 is finding a balance; sometimes you have to get out of balance to find balance.”

Mrs. Lincoln built the company’s model around balance, “you don’t have to sacrifice life to find balance.”  Everyday at the company headquarters in Portland, Oregon the employees shut their door from 2-4pm to focus on family and do errands. The space inside the studio is warm and inviting to encourage opportunities for people to make meaningful connections with others. “Our core essence is to find balance, but WE as a company are constantly evolving because of love of learning and the constant desire to challenge ourselves.”

 When the company launched in 2008, Sadie and her husband put their entire life savings into the movement and really wanted the studio to allow them to be around their kids.  The idea of “work smart hours” meant they worked during the kids naptime or while they were in school.  “Do I need more experts, better investors, and partners,” she asked herself, “ I always had the idea of “courage and trust your intuition.”  They have a minority investor (30%) and in August 2008, during the recession, the studio opened and thrived. Call it a woman’s intuition, but she said she knew the whole time that it would succeed.

I asked her about cross-training.  "Should clients only do barre3 or do you recommend they also participate in other forms of fitness?”

“Barre3 is dynamic, flexibility, strength, but all exercise is good and I’m a fan of all disciplines," she said. "The key? ALL FITNESS IS GOOD! I really want people to feel good in their body. As a consumer, you want to find something that fits YOU.  If you love it, you’ll be consistent.”

One of the concepts I found most encouraging about Sadie was her lack of fear and unhealthy competition.  There are other barre studios and disciplines, as well as yoga studios that offer barre, but she doesn’t feel threatened, nor is she concerned that others will steal her ideas.  “You can’t copy fitness,” she said, “but like art, you can imitate and be inspired.”

We both agreed that the landscape of American’s health needs improvement. The overarching message isn’t working, so Sadie and her team are rewriting that message. “We’re looking to do things differently by embracing the idea of 10 minutes. Erasing some of the formulas that we’ve been told. Some of the ideas are intimidating,” she said. Barre3 is creating a new dialogue and taking exercise from being a chore to something that is simply a part of your day.  “Toddlers to teenagers can participate.  Teachers are playing a 5-minute workout, where children are doing it in their classroom. It’s fun and joyful, work smarter, not harder. The concept of “no pain no gain” is outdated and unnecessary.”  And this is where I was thrown for a loop.  As a competitive athlete, it was drilled into me that the harder I pushed myself, the more I practiced and the more I hurt meant that I would be a better athlete and, ultimately, be in better shape than those who weren’t emulating a similar fitness plan.  So to be honest, while my first class was tough and I had the “shakes & quakes,” I left feeling as though I needed to do more, something else, another class or go for a run.   

Our conversation flowed and Sadie is a true delight.  I enjoy talking to interesting people, who are doing interesting things and are also kind, thoughtful and smart.  Sadie truly embodies all of those things… and then some.  A few more tips from Sadie and the barre3 lifestyle:

1.     Know where your food comes from.

2.     There’s nothing low fat about diets – eat healthy fats.

3.     Focus on alignment & find the right modification.

4.      Be mindful.

5.     A true educator encourages students to learn on their own

Last but not least, I asked Sadie for her top fitness or health related tip. As a lifestyle brand, and not simply a fitness company, in true fashion, she listed a few of her top tips in no particular order:

“Get up and move. In your street clothes, wherever you are. Move; Move all day; Drink green tea. Crowd out.**”

Want more Sadie? You can check her out here and here or head over to Rodale to purchase her book “Love your Lower Body: The 8-Week Plan to Sculpt a Slender, Strong, and Beautiful Physique.”


Crowding out: Not letting go of things you really love, but introducing new things. You don't need to cut it strait out. For example, have green tea twice a week instead of your normal morning coffee, but enjoy your morning java the other five mornings. Change out your cupcake for a cup of berries once in awhile. Crowd out the less optimal foods for more nutrient dense options.