Beauty and the biz
EAGLE, Colorado – Lots of corporate CEOs attire themselves in black, but none wear it as well as Carrie Rezabek.
When the Pure Barre founder and CEO could decide where on God’s green earth she wanted to live, she chose the Vail Valley.
“The Vail Valley is a place with an active and healthy lifestyle,” Rezabek said.
Rezabek just opened the first corporate Pure Barre studio in the Edwards Riverwalk. She teaches some sessions, which is a little like Einstein teaching freshman physics at Princeton.
Rezabek created the Pure Barre system. It’s aimed at women, but it’s good for everyone.
“We believe women spend most of their time taking care of others. For the hour they are in the Pure Barre studio, it is our job to take care of them,” Rezabek said.
She didn’t set out to push the fitness paradigm. She just incorporated some dance with a little soccer and lots of flexibility.
Pure Barre lifts the seat, tones the thighs and upper body, flattens the abs and creates the long and lean muscles of a dancer through small isometric movements centered around a ballet barre.
“It’s an athletic approach to dance,” Rezabek said. “I just teach what works for me. If I have a little muffin top, I think of things I can do about it. It’s a gift. It just pops into my head.”
Rezabek has been a professional dancer, a top level competitive soccer player, a choreographer, a fitness guru and an attorney. Dancing careers are short enough, and she cut hers even shorter to go to college and dance at Michigan State University.
She finished her business law degree with a 4.0 GPA. When her college advisors asked if she was going to law school or medical school, she chose law school so she could dance for three more years.
She piled up a mountain of law school debt, practiced as much law as she could for three years to pay it off, saved a little and opened her first studio in 2001, Carrie’s Ballet Barre.
By the way, it’s pronounced “bar,” as in sports bar, and guys have been known to call and ask about football games on television and draft beer specials.
With no clients, no signs and no bathroom, that original Birmingham, Mich., studio quickly grew to a new location, a staff of 30 and a large client base.
Success brought her full circle to a place she didn’t want to be.
“The success of Pure Barre the company required me to step out of studio life almost completely and spend my days behind a computer, doing things that I had fought to get away from,” Rezabek said.
Rezabek is young and adorable, but she’s Old School about her business. She didn’t borrow money to start it or grow it. She added studios and staff as she could afford them. She has sold everything she owns a couple times, and spent more than one night sleeping in her car because she couldn’t pay for anything else.
“I never borrowed any money. I did everything on a shoestring,” she said. “People see where we are now, and some think it’s always been this way. They don’t see what went into building this. I get a call a week from venture capitalists and I just ask them where they were 10 years ago.”
She landed in Los Angeles and launched several studios around the area. Eventually, though, she wanted out of that city so she packed everything she owned in her car and drove to Denver. She opened a Pure Barre in Cherry Creek, and now there are six around the metro area.
She’s been living like a gypsy for 10 years, moving from city to city to set up studios.
“I could finally choose a place I want to live and settle down,” Rezabek said.
She chose Edwards, and opened the first corporate studio.
You can own your own Pure Barre. A franchise costs $40,000, Rezabek said, and it’ll run you another $30,000-$50,000 to open the doors, depending on your lease.
It’s working. They’ve been franchising since 2009 and they’re up to 50.