Being a barre teacher

What’s it really like to be a barre teacher?

Words: Gemma Dawkins

Image: Marceau Photography

There’s no doubt about it – earning a living as a barre teacher is fun, rewarding, and good for your butt. But like all jobs, it comes with its own unique set of perks and peeves. We asked our teachers to spill the beans on what it’s actually like to be a barre teacher.

  1. Early birds and night owls

Teaching barre certainly isn’t a 9-5 (or Monday-Friday) commitment. When we asked what the most challenging part of the job is, Kathryn said “5am wakeups in Melbourne’s winter”, while Mel opted for “rainy early mornings”. It’s true – as a barre teacher you’ll have to get used to skipping the snooze button. Likewise, with nightly evening classes, sometimes you’ll be starting work at 6am and finishing at 8pm. But the payoff? Kat Lee sums it up: “Although the hours are irregular, it’s easy to create a work/life balance, and who doesn’t love a sneaky arvo nap!”

  1. Money matters

By and large, most studios in Australia will hire their teaching staff as contractors. What does this mean? Well, rather than earning a set salary, you’ll invoice per class.

On the plus side, this means your schedule and earning capacity is nice and flexible – like you! If you have a holiday or financial commitment coming up, you can opt to teach more classes and give your income a boost. Or, if you’re juggling study or decide to go away, you can usually find someone to step in for your classes and you’re free as a bird.

But this freedom comes at a price: you won’t get paid for classes you don’t teach. Contractors don’t accrue annual leave or sick leave (which is why you’ll be paid a higher rate). And one more money delight: tax. As a contractor your pay won’t have tax deducted automatically. Before you start rejoicing and clicking ‘add to cart’, remember you’ll want to set a percentage aside each month if you don’t want a hefty bill come EOFY.

  1. In sickness and in health

There’s a definite physical perk to being an instructor – you’ll actually use your activewear, and not just for brunch. Tess counts “getting to be active” as one of her favourite things about teaching. Instead of being trapped in an office all day you’ll accrue a whole lot of incidental exercise and generally come home feeling that gratifying mix of sore and endorphin-high.

When your body is your office, it’s even more important to look after it. As Kat says, “Teaching frequently can sometimes cause imbalances and overuse injuries in the body. It’s challenging to sometimes take a step back and just rest. Verbal teaching is a must.”

Regular massage, physio, acupuncture and more can be necessary – and before you start dreaming of lavender eye pillows and Enya, it’s not that kind of massage. Think more deep heat, strapping tape and someone asking you if their knee in your back is causing any referred pain (YES IT IS). This can all be costly, but also tax-deductible.

If you do get sick, you’re best to stay home rather than sharing it around with your clients. However, this isn’t like the office where you can simply dash out an email from your sick bed, informing your boss that you won’t be in. If you can’t find someone to take your class – especially if it’s last minute – you may find you have no choice but to soldier on in.

  1. Healthy and happy

Speaking of health – as an instructor you’ll get to learn a lot about it. As Mel says, it’s a privilege to “be in a position to know about all the up and coming health trends and sometimes even get to try them out – I am constantly collecting amazing podcasts, books and other bits and pieces!” In fact, the community aspect of health and fitness is one of our teachers’ favourite perks to the job. When we asked Mel why she chose this work, she told us “For the love of movement and being connected into a community of like minded and passionate people … and sometimes the stretchy pants!“

  1. All the time in the world

At first glance, the schedule of a barre teacher looks like heaven. Most ‘full-time’ instructors will teach between 15-30 classes per week, depending on what style of classes they teach. But before you start planning your 15 hour work week – hold up. That’s just the teaching hours. Unless you’ve mastered time travel, you’ll need to travel between multiple studios, which Tess knows means “getting public transport everywhere”. You’ll need to allow to arrive with time to set up, greet and check in clients, and get yourself prepared to teach. Once class is finished you’ll wait until the studio has cleared, then tidy up and lock up. Once you’re home there’s the admin tasks such as invoicing – your favourite – as well as emailing clients or studios to book class times, workshops and appointments. And somewhere in there you’ll need to actually plan your classes. No wonder Lilly tells us that the most challenging part of her job is “ensuring I make space and time for my own exercise”!

  1. It’s a passion project

The one thing all our gorgeous teachers have in common is that they LOVE what they do. That’s why Liana tells us the most challenging part of her job is “finding a balance. Not feeling guilty when giving myself time, rest and space.”

When you work from passion, it’s hard not to take setbacks to heart – Elyse finds it most challenging “whenever I am unable to help someone feel a movement, find a position, or accommodate someone with a particular injury”. But on the flip side? She tells us the best bit is “Working with inspiring, like-minded people who also love health and fitness. Also the clients! You meet so many interesting people”. It’s a sentiment all our teachers share. Liana agrees: “An office job is not an option. I enjoy so much to be in a creative beautiful space, surrounded by beautiful like minded people, creating magic!”

And gorgeous Nat sums it all up: “I get to teach as part of a team of women who inspire me. And I get to teach to the most friendly of faces. There are the special ones who turn up nearly every week and it is so comforting creating a caring community.”

Ready to start your teaching journey? Our world class teacher training programs will get you there. Click here to learn more.