By Alexandra Bonetti
Does paying $30 for a kids class make you cringe a little? This is a story about why it’s the best (and most far-reaching) $30 you can spend on your child. Don’t worry, you can still cringe after you read it — but you’ll do so knowing that $30 is well worth it.
I dreaded P.E. class growing up. My mom would tell me I was such a perfectionist that I didn’t give things a chance if I didn’t think I could be perfect at them. And let me tell you guys something, softball and dodgeball were not in my “get perfect” repertoire.
P.E. continued to intimidate me through middle school and high school until I started working with a personal trainer during my senior year of high school. It took a bit of personalized attention and someone who was committed to teaching me a form of movement that felt good to me. But once I got a taste, I truly fell in love with exercise.
Our first ever ‘Bari teen’ class started at our Tribeca location with a soft launch of the program over two years ago, and I saw so much of myself in one of our clients; I’ll call her Julie. I felt like I knew exactly what she was going through and feeling: Julie for sure hated P.E. and lacked that sense of belonging, that being part of a “thing” that you get when you’re on a sports team. Julie’s mom was actually the one who convinced us to open a weekly Bari teens class because her daughter wasn’t playing sports, and she didn’t know where else to take her. What started as a trial run evolved into a carefully crafted, intentional movement program that — drumroll — our “non-athletic” and athletic teens looked forward to (understatement of 2014) each week. These girls — some who knew each other, others who met through the program — finally had a team; they were a part of a tribe, and they began to love exercise and movement.
As I read this recent New York Times article about boutique studios starting to offer classes for kids and teens, all I could think was: YES. This is what we need to be giving these kids. You know how most adults hate running on a treadmill or plugging away on an elliptical — but then, they find that one form of movement (maybe it’s barre, or spin, or bouncing around on a trampoline) that gets them hooked and inspired to move and sweat every single day? This same 180 transformation with movement and exercise is within reach for every single kid and teen — if we present the opportunity.
This is the driving force behind our Bari teens program: we want our little not-quite-adults to get hooked on the power of exercise sooner rather than later. Why? If you can fall in love with movement from a young age, you’ll never stop craving it. If you discover a workout routine that works to energize you and shape your body in a way that gives you more confidence, you’ll never look back.
And once you’re hooked on this, it will spill over into other facets of your life. For teens, having more confidence allows them to explore leadership skills, make friends, and stay out of drugs and other unhealthy habits. It clears their minds, gives them more energy, strengthens their brains, and improves their focus. We all know the obvious benefits of exercise, but we can’t forget the bigger picture: a happier life.
So how can we help healthy habits start early — even when your teen doesn’t excel at [insert sport here]? What could make a difference? I think step one is to stop telling kids they can’t do something, and instead try to help them find something they can do and will fall in love with. So while their friends are playing a sport, they also have a “team” they can be a part of and workout with and sweat with; they’ll have an outlet to stay in shape and be strong and have something that’s theirs that they can also do with their friends.
We’ve offered Bari teens in Tribeca for a while, and we’ve watched these girls come to Bari and do a class and have fun and laugh and sweat. It’s clear that this has touched their lives in so many ways. I’m so excited to roll out a bigger Bari teens program this fall, and as we grow the program, we’re really excited to create something that will truly impact their lives in a positive way. Let’s give these kids the best shot to choose a healthy body now and be all the happier because of it.
In our discovery of what we don’t want, we often stumble upon what we do. Such was the case for Alexandra Bonetti Pérez, a former financial and management consultant, Wharton grad, and exercise fanatic, who sampled every workout possible during her years traveling as a consultant. Limited by exercise myths and methods that did nothing to transform her body, Alexandra left consulting and committed herself to developing a workout that delivered the results she craved. She knew fitness could be - and should be - a lifestyle brand; this vision for an inclusive space for nutrition, culture, art and a true community is the backbone of Bari.