In our SPOTLIGHT SERIES, we're chatting with Lina Alvarez of The Barre Jar who we've gotten to know over Instagram over a common love of all things barre and Daub. Lina started the Barre Jar in January 2018 on my one year anniversary of falling in love with the exercise and the community. Lina's work is already being recognized by some key players in the game. Read on to learn more about Lina and her barre journey.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with the Barre Jar?
My name is Lina Alvarez and I currently work in foreign policy while living the barre life. I grew up in Vancouver where I fell in love with yoga and the fitness studio environment, I spent my university years in Montreal, and I currently live in Ottawa where I teach barre, and run The Barre Jar! I started The Barre Jar in January 2018 on my one year anniversary of falling in love with the exercise and the community.
First off, congratulations on being selected as part of the Futurpreneur G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance! Tell us more about this. Did you see this coming?
It came as a big surprise! The G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (YEA) is a global network of young entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them. They meet each year in advance of the G20 Summit to champion the importance of young entrepreneurs to the G20 member nations. A friend of mine had brought the opportunity to my attention and I applied with high hopes but without many expectations since I knew I was applying alongside some very established big businesses. Luckily, Futurepreneur Canada, a non-profit organization that provides resources, financing and mentoring to aspiring youth business owners believed in my vision and selected me as a participant. I’m so excited to be able to attend the conference not only to represent the Barre Jar but also to be able to connect with other entrepreneurs and to advocate for entrepreneurship policies that benefit youth and women business owners.
How long have you been working on The Barre Jar?
The idea for the Barre Jar came to me about a year ago. I discovered barre and I LOVED it. I started to look for communities online where I could learn about other studios and connect with other barre lovers worldwide. I couldn’t find anything that unified the barre community as a whole so I thought to myself, if I am looking for it, other people must be too!
What do you think has contributed to your success?
I am on a mission to tell the stories and showcase the women of the barre community from around the world to inspire and empower each other. I might be the one behind the brand, but it is not about me. The Barre Jar is about the students, teachers, and owners that make us stronger physically and mentally.
Since making a big comeback, barre has split into new methods, locations, and studios. I have made it a point to go beyond this divide and focus on what unites us. Our love for the exercise, the power that it makes us feel, and the positivity that I have found in every single studio that I have ever visited. I have been able to connect with so many amazing women and my focus is always on them. We might play different music, we might do different moves but the heart and soul of it is the same.
Where do you see The Barre Jar going in the future?
I would love to start introducing apparel into the mix. My family is from Ecuador where we’ve had a sewing machine business for over 40 years. When I was little I remember going with my grandpa and my dad to deliver sewing machines all over the country and the opportunities that these machines brought to people. I have always had a foot in the apparel world because of this and I would love to work with designers and suppliers in Latin America and Canada to make beautiful barre gear. I strive to live a sustainable and purposeful life and I want to produce clothing that inspires and empowers those that make them and those that wear them. Anytime I wear my Daub and Design leggings I feel joy knowing that they were hand dyed with love in a country that I am proud to call home by a woman who I admire.
Do you set daily, weekly, monthly goals? How do you best keep yourself on track and accountable?
I strive for monthly goals. But I admit, I struggle with this. I am a very “ big picture” type person so I set ALL the goals and I set them all at once. When all you see is a huge mountain, no matter how beautiful, it can be hard to start the climb and easy to feel defeated. I have actually worked with a business and a mental performance coach in the past year to get a better handle on my goals and to stop being so hard on myself about the time it will take to accomplish them. They have both taught me the importance of breaking down tasks into the smallest steps possible and also zoning in on my 'why'. Beyond the physical and tangible measures, your soul has a reason for pursuing your goals and you need to hold that close to your heart and use it as motivation.
You recently got certified as a teacher at the Dailey Method Ottawa. What prompted you to go in this direction?
It was my love for barre and the studio. Before I stepped foot in the studio, I had taken a pretty big hiatus from fitness. I had tried going to different fitness classes and found such an intimidating unwelcoming environment. When I arrived at The Dailey Method Ottawa, I found the opposite. It is the most positive environment that is open to everyone and keeps you coming back time and time again. One day I was sitting in class and I thought, what if I could be on the other side of it? What if I could help others discover their physical and mental strength and a fitness routine they love? I was pretty intimidated to even ask about the teaching process. Other than being a camp counsellor, I had never really taught anything before and I admit I am not a flexible person. I took the jump and did the teacher audition and was selected for the training. I now teach 3 classes a week which has helped me develop my public speaking skills, inspire more students, and realize that barre is about so much more than how straight your leg is on the bar or how far you take your splits.
What are 2 healthy habits you can share with us that you cannot live without?
I work at an office from 9-5 and I always make an effort to walk around at least once an hour. Making the jump from being a student to a working professional I really notice the strains on my body if I just sit all day long. Thanks to barre, I have become obsessed with the alignment of my body while I work. Take a check of your body once in a while and notice what you are doing. Are you slouched? Are you crossing your legs all day? You are going to feel that later. Strive for alignment and engagement and don't be afraid to bring props. I have a barre ball I keep between my ankles sometimes to remind me to not cross my legs and avoid strain on my hips and spine.
Any advice for finding a live/work balance?
Hahaha this one is a tough one for me. While I am building a career as a fitness professional, I am also starting a business, and building a career in an office from 9-5 Monday to Friday. There are days when my schedule ends up being 16 hours of work from teaching classes, to coming home and working on The Barre Jar. One thing I learned is to be intentional and realistic with my time. Sometimes I would think okay ' I am working on The Barre Jar ALL WEEKEND' then I would end up not doing anything at all because I felt so tired and like it was a huge task. Now, I set timers for myself and prioritize what needs to be done. One hour of focused work can amount to way more than 5 hours of distractions. At the same time, I used to feel guilty if I went out with friends when I knew there was so much that I could be doing, but those evenings often end up being the ones that spark my creativity and inspire me to keep going. I think the number one takeaway here is to stop feeling guilty about what you do or don’t do. Barre is a mix of strength and ease and it is important to find this in your life. If you do the things you love when you need them, you will end up exactly where you need to be.
It sounds like you're really driven my community and a commitment to fitness. Is this what you’re hoping to achieve with the Barre Jar? On what level – regional, national, global?
Yes! I have lived in so many cities (Quito, Panama, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Montreal, and Ottawa) and I can’t wait to live in more. I am working on taking the community globally. I often daydream of going on a worldwide "barre crawl" and visiting studios all over the world. Keep an eye out for that.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any events coming up? Any advice? Shout outs? Are you looking for collabs of any sort?
I would love to meet other barre lovers and female entrepreneurs! I pride myself on having a crazy brain full of ideas so I am always excited to chat you can find me @thebarrejar on instagram or www.thebarrejar.com . My advice is to keep working towards your goals. The good things take time, but nothing good gets away.