Setting her own Barre

Started as a new personal workout to share with friends, Smart Barre turned Allison Poston ’96 into an entrepreneur.

Smart Barre, Kristy Rittby, Allison Poston

Smart Barre is run by Kourtney Kanaly Little ’10, Allison Poston ’96 and Kristi Rittby ’97.

Setting her own Barre

Started as a new personal workout to share with friends, Smart Barre turned Allison Poston ’96 into an entrepreneur.

fter having children, former professional dancer Allison Poston ’96 missed ballet and the way the exercise made her feel. She liked yoga and Pilates, but sometimes they weren’t enough. She tried boot camp-style classes and quickly tired of the way instructors coached their students.

In 2008, she decided to create her own regimen, drawing inspiration from the Lotte Burk Method, which places an emphasis on strengthening and lengthening the spine and body core. Thus began her version of barre.

“I liked the intimacy of barre classes. Small, personal, boutique-feeling,” she said. “I wanted other women to experience that, too.”

Barre workouts, which have been around since the 1950s but primarily used by dancers and models, are among the hottest fitness trends today, with barre studios popping up across the country. Devotees include celebrities, such as Madonna, Kelly Ripa and Sofia Vergara.

Set to motivating music, the barre technique combines ballet barre work, yoga and Pilates with orthopedic stretching to help produce a lean, toned body.

Poston started the style for herself and invited a few friends to join, never imagining that it could be a business. But as more friends joined, she needed studio space and help in leading classes.

In 2011, Poston opened her first studio on Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth, developed a training program and hired instructors, some of whom were clients.

“Word suddenly spread about Smart Barre, and the next I thing I knew, it took on a life of its own. I was amazed that it took no time. It just happened. It evolved,” said Poston. “If you had asked me five years ago if I would have a franchise, I would have said you’re crazy. But I’m doing what I love to do. We’ve kept it simple and it works.”

Now, with partners Kourtney Kanaly Little ’10 and Mallory Moorman, she has franchised five locations, three in San Antonio managed by Little, and two others in Fort Worth, run by Kristi Rittby ’97.

“This exercise technique just fit me perfectly. It’s smart. It’s about protecting the body. Because it doesn’t involve any jumping or bouncing, it protects the joints,” said Rittby, who started as a Smart Barre client. “It’s a creative outlet, too, not just exercise. As a teacher, it keeps me intellectually stimulated. I’m always coming up with new music to use and different variations of exercises. No two classes are ever alike.”

Smart Barre is for women only. No ballet experience is required.

There are two types of  60-minute classes — Open Level and Smart Cardio — with no more than 20 students each. Each focuses on a total body workout and incorporates postural alignment and core strengthening. Using isometric movements and orthopedic stretching, clients strengthen and lengthen muscles without adding bulk.

The studios also offer 30-minute condensed versions of both, plus a 25-minute stretch and restore class.