Sometimes taking a small leap of faith has the potential to transform your life. Sound a little far fetched? Read on! Pure Barre studio co-owners Dana and Devon prove that chance meetings and seemingly small decisions can re-direct your path in hugely positive ways.
Devon and I both took our first class at Pure Barre Okemos on August 24, 2012. At the time, I was going to a local gym and just doing cardio on the elliptical. I ran into my daughter’s old teacher while there and she gave me a free pass to a Pure Barre class, saying “You’re spunky, I think you’ll really like the music!” Honestly, group fitness wasn’t my thing and I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I took the pass to be polite, with no intentions of actually going. When I ran into her again, I knew I was caught! I decided to try the class and at least see what the deal was with this whole concept. I was nervous, but thought, “I work out, I got this, just get through the class and you’ll be done with it.”
Like many clients, I was immediately hooked. Having unexpectedly lost my father only one month prior, I was doing some soul-searching, thinking about where my life was going and just immediately realized: “This is what I want.” I wanted to become a teacher and eventually a studio owner; I knew instantly. I had found my “aha!” moment.
Prior to being a Pure Barre owner, I worked as an x-ray tech. I received my associate’s degree in applied science – at the age of 18, it sounded like a great plan. I knew I wanted to help people. It was a means to an end. I did my job and I performed well, but I knew I wasn’t in love with it. I was desperately longing to be passionate about my career, but it just didn’t make sense. I didn’t know how to get there, but I knew it wasn’t what I was doing – and it’s not like you can just quit your career! That’s why my first Pure Barre class was such an eye-opening experience. It clicked immediately. Of course, I had no idea how I was going to make it happen. My background was in the medical field and I had no idea what went into owning a business. I had dance experience, but kept thinking, “How is this going to fit?”
A few months later, Devon and I met in class. We didn’t have many men at the Okemos studio, so I of course chatted him up about his experience. Fast forward one year into the friendship, and we realized we both took our first class at this studio on the same day! We couldn’t get over what a crazy coincidence it was.
Devon had been looking for the perfect investment opportunity, but had yet to pull the trigger because he hadn’t found something that really seemed to fit. When he joined Pure Barre, he knew this was it – and we quickly realized our goals aligned. One day we just decided to apply, and later discovered the Okemos studio was up for sale. It was absolutely the perfect opportunity. Our home studio could be ours!
Devon and I had very different backgrounds coming into this experience, but we shared a passion for Pure Barre. I run the day-to-day operations, and Devon is very much the business-minded partner. This has been a very humbling experience for both of us – you can work your whole adult life and quickly realize that managing people in this environment on a daily basis is a whole different ball game. I’ve definitely learned to listen more. Having been a client for so long and knowing how it feels to enter a studio for the first time definitely helps me to relate to my own clients better. I know exactly what it’s like to be intimidated and a little overwhelmed, so when those roles were reversed, I could relate. Being a part of the community is also a new role; it’s kind of like you’re suddenly this local celebrity and people see you differently. You have this presence, and it can be a bit nerve-wracking – but it’s all for the greater good. We love to be involved with events and organizations in our Okemos community. When it comes to sponsoring a soccer or volleyball league, our motto is always, “Why not?” We’re able to introduce so many people to the technique this way, and of course, they’re instantly hooked like I was. It gives us this great chance to be role models and spread the Pure Barre love!
The workout speaks for itself, so everything else is just icing on the cake; if you also have owners that care, a beautiful studio and an incredibly nice staff, it’s a bonus. We feel so honored to own the Pure Barre studio that brought us together nearly three years ago.
My friend Caroline began taking Pure Barre classes in June of 2012. She pushed me to try it out because I’m always looking for something new to keep me active. I figured at the very least I could try a class and move on if it wasn’t for me. I loved that first class with Caroline and signed up for the new client special immediately after the fact. Pure Barre was everything I could ask for – I have some general knee problems, so it was fine for me to perform all the exercises without pushing too far past my limits while still getting a great workout.
I began to meet a really awesome community of people in the studio, which is my favorite thing about Pure Barre to this day. I was the only guy taking classes regularly at the time, so everyone looked at me like I was Big Foot – no one could believe what they were seeing. (Men typically attended class with their significant others and clients never saw guys coming out of their own free will.) It got to the point where everyone was like, “Is this for real?” “Why are you coming here?”
I loved talking with everyone about my experience. Everything within that studio was, and still is, extremely positive. I became so passionate about this brand instantly. I introduced my sister to Pure Barre and even met my fiancé in class. We’re getting married in August!
When Dana and I became friends, ultimately deciding to open a studio together, there were a lot of ups and downs throughout the process. This was something we wanted for over a year before we actually made it happen. At the same time, we went from clients to owners very quickly. We leapfrogged between these roles, which is tricky enough to master if you’re good at it – and we were brand new to this. Our clients have found us to be very approachable. We’ve been there, and we’re very present. Dana and I are accessible and always willing to meet with people. When I take class in our studio, I sit there and chat with everyone just like every other client. The way I see it, I’ve already bought into this concept. I’m sold. We want our passion for Pure Barre to shine through, giving our clients the chance to love it as much as we do.
We had plenty of ideas of what things would be like when we owned our studio. It’s amazing how different things were once we officially owned the business! Dana and I make an amazing team because we allow our strengths to shine through while also learning from one another every day. In my 9-5 life, I’m an attorney. I went to school for a long time and I understand the legal aspects of what my clients need from me. Things are black and white there. Owning a Pure Barre studio is a complete 180 from that – understanding this environment is Dana’s specialty. It’s no easy feat to anticipate each employee’s needs, roles and personalities and how to address each unique situation. There’s no book or universal answer. Each person on any given day needs something different and no one solution is going to work for every circumstance. I’ve learned so much from Dana when it comes to interacting with people and loosening up a bit. Dana has learned how to be more cognizant of the business side of things from me. I’m continuously crunching the numbers and my role is geared toward making the client experience better. Dana is down in the trenches every day and her focus is on what’s in front of her. We have very defined roles in our business and we complement one another very well.
Extending our passion for Pure Barre to the Okemos community has been a journey filled with fantastic partnerships as well. We generally don’t say no when people ask us to help out – in fact, we’re always looking for more ways that people can ask us to get involved! We want everyone to do well and if there’s a way we can partner with another local business, we jump at the opportunity. It’s something I really enjoy.
Whenever someone in my life is having a hard time with something – if they’re unhappy in their job, a personal relationship, whatever the case – I always tell them to take a chance on something. Had I never gone to that “Free Friend Friday” class with Caroline, I would never be where I am today. While this is a “business thing” for me, it is something I truly do love. I’m so happy I took a chance and stepped into the Okemos studio nearly three years ago.
From Dana Owen and Devon Glass, co-owners of Pure Barre Okemos, MI.