Episode 12 - Yoga, Pilates & The Barboza Method!
Joining us today on the fitDEGREE Podcast is Stefanie Barboza, owner and CREATOR of The Barboza Method!
Stefanie created a workout method for an aging client in failing health that couldn’t partake in regular physical activity. Her client saw such dramatic improvements in her health that she started sharing with all of her friends. Before Stefanie knew it she was teaching her method to more people than she could count and had a whole studio based around it.
Best way to reach her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Main - Dan: fitDEGREE is more than just two guys with microphones. It is the studio management software you've been looking for. For more info, reach out to me on our website at www.fitDEGREE.com, on Instagram at the handle, fitDEGREE, or my email, dan.berger, that's B-E-R-G-E-R, at fitDEGREE.com to get the conversation started. Alright now onto the show.
What's up and how you doing, everyone? Welcome to the fitDEGREE podcast. Thankfully, nothing has changed, and I'm still your host, Dan Berger, along with my wonderful co-host, Nick Dennis. Let's get to it.
So talk about the heart and soul of the studio fitness community. Today's guest, Stefanie Barboza, owner and creator of the Barboza Method, is the epitome of good karma. Stefanie created a workout method for an aging client in failing health that couldn't partake in regular physical activity. Before Stefanie knew it, she was teaching her method to more people than she could count and had a whole studio based specifically around it. To top it off, her original client saw dramatic improvements in her health as well.
Thanks for joining us, Stefanie. How's the weather in beautiful California today?
Guest - Steph: Yay! It's actually kind of overcast but it's usually gorgeous.
Support - Nick: Oh no!
Main - Dan: What's bad and overcast for you? Overcast and 63?
Guest - Steph: Yes. That is a cold [inaudible 00:01:31] here in LA.
Main - Dan: I am unbelievably jealous from my sunny 29 in New Jersey. Sunny and windy. Let's not forget. Very windy.
Guest - Steph: Yes, that is why I left the east coast.
Main - Dan: Oh where are you from on the east coast?
Guest - Steph: I'm actually from Maryland.
Main - Dan: Oh, what part? I used to work in Maryland and spend all my summers down there.
Guest - Steph: Oh that's crazy. I lived in Pasadena, Maryland.
Support - Nick: So now did your journey start in Pasadena, Maryland or what brought you out to California?
Guest - Steph: I came out to California for college. I went to Baltimore School for the Arts for high school. I majored in dance. Then I came out to California to go to Cal Arts for a dance major, sports minor, then I went to AMDA, American Musical Dramatic Academy and I did musical theater so dance has been a part of my life all my life and my workout method is based off the muscles that you use to dance. What makes the workout different is that it's all on the floor.
Support - Nick: Okay, now what do you mean by that all on the floor compared to-
Guest - Steph: Compared to mat Pilates, compared to floor barre is that some of it's done on the floor and some of it's done propped off of the floor. With mine, you use the floor as a mat to stay straight so you lay on your back to workout your stomach. You lay on your side to workout your legs, your outer thighs and inner thighs. You lay on your stomach to workout your back and your glutes and your hamstrings and then you sit up at a right angle to work out your arms. You literally use the whole floor as a map to stay straight, using also the mirrors that I've used to create my studio. I have three point of views. There's mirrors on two sides of the walls and on the ceiling. You have the third point of view which is that ceiling one which is everything and that's kind of the reason why I decided to open a studio.
Support - Nick: Oh so you went to studios, you saw this issue, and you said, "I'm gonna open a studio." Right away, first thing, mirror ceiling.
Guest - Steph: Yeah, cause what was happening was I was correcting people's forms and most studios have mirrors on one or two sides of the wall so they were able to see the lines when they were sitting up or when they were laying down and looking at the side, but they could never see what I saw.
Support - Nick: Right, right.
Guest - Steph: Yeah, I wanted to give them what I saw because it helps them to learn the form. To not just use it in my class, but to use it in other classes.
Support - Nick: That makes a lot of sense. Dan and I go to the gym a lot and there's a lot of mirrors. A lot of people are taking videos of themselves and normally it's for the wrong reasons, right? They want to see how they look for their-
Main - Dan: Hey, no judgment.
Support - Nick: -ego, they want to post videos to Instagram of what they did, but you can really ... when I do a lot of my physical therapy work or my prehab work or any of my alignment work, I will try to get in front of mirrors to make sure my posture's lined up because that one's a hard one to feel because it's different. Then for my big lifts where I'm trying to put on more weight on them, I won't use a mirror because it's gotta be all feel, but then I'll take videos to see, okay, at what point am I breaking down, and then assess it from there. That's really innovative to do, that ceiling mirror. I've never heard that before. I can imagine that could really help. Now you see what looks right, you remember how you feel when you were in that position, and then like you said, for the other classes, you have that there.
Guest - Steph: Yes, exactly. It's never about what you do, it's always about how you do it.
Support - Nick: Yeah, that's a good one.
Guest - Steph: My theory is always practice makes permanent because there's no such thing as perfect.
Support - Nick: I like that.
Guest - Steph: If you keep on doing something in repetition, it will become a habit and that's what my class teaches. It teaches good habits and tries to break the bad ones.
Support - Nick: You're absolutely right. Sitting, standing, walking, all things we do, and no one knows that they're doing it incorrectly. They don't think there is such a thing as incorrect but years of sitting and standing and walking the wrong way can cause a lot of problems.
Guest - Steph: Right. You have to realize the people that go to the gym all the time and lift all the weights all the time, you can see their body. It changes, but it's a different shape than someone who is certified and trained because they know the alignment and that will shape your body differently.
Support - Nick: You're absolutely correct. I've been working on it a lot the pas six months or so. It happened because of an injury and it made me take a step back and be like, "I need to fix" ... and you just think it raises your ceiling on what you could possibly do if you really lay down the foundation of correct posture. People overlook it so easily. I can see in your classes why that would be so important.
Guest - Steph: Yes, it is very important. Like you mentioned before, my workout was created around a 60 year old woman. She was going on dialysis within that year and she had no thyroid. Thyroid gland regulates the calcium and hormones in your body and calcium's energy so she also had, not just depleted energy, but it would occasionally crash where she was fine and then she wasn't okay. The reason why the whole workout's done on the floor is like I said, based around her abilities. She was unable to sustain standing for an hour so I put her on the floor. It conserved energy and it kept her body properly aligned. It eliminated the risk of falling and we were able to isolate specific muscle groups and work them out one at a time without not necessarily doing the whole body exercise all at once.
From there, she built strength and then we started incorporating more body parts all together and then she kept getting better and better and she was completely in the black from needing to go on dialysis. She moved to Israel and now she's great.
Main - Dan: Wow. It must've been a serious improvement.
Support - Nick: When's the last time you talked to her?
Guest - Steph: We do sessions about three times a week. What's today, today is Thursday. I talked to her on Tuesday.
Support - Nick: Oh so you're still in touch. Are they online or does she come back and spend time here?
Guest - Steph: Yeah, we work out really late at night cause it's early in the morning in Israel. Whenever she comes to visit, she comes to the studio and we clean up her lines and clean up her form.
Support - Nick: Cool!
Guest - Steph: It's a little bit harder to do it on Skype because I'm not physically there, but visually, we can see everything.
Support - Nick: Let me ask you, when you were helping this woman, did you open your studio ye? Or was this, you did this, you helped someone, and realized, "Wow, I could help a lot of other people too?"
Guest - Steph: Actually, she realized I could help a lot of other people. I didn't believe it at all. I created this workout around her and then she stared referring me to other people. Every time I met with those other people, I tried to do ... I brought all my dumbbells, I brought my weights, I brought all these elastic bands, I brought all these things, and they're like, "No, no, no. I don't want any of this stuff. I want to do what you did with that woman." I'm like, "Why? You're in your thirties, your an able body, why do you want to do any of this stuff?"
Anyways, I did it on them and I obviously upped it a little bit and got much harder, but I started repeating it on other privates and then I started putting together group classes and one of my first group classes was in one of my private client's homes. I did it in her living room and once I got up to six people, I rented a studio down the street. Once that got full, I rented another studio in Hollywood and then I rented another studio all the way in Hermosa so I had these three different studios that I was renting studio space from and then I opened my studio in West Hollywood.
Main - Dan: What was the timeline from when you started working with this woman to taking privates, to renting studio space, to actually owning your own studio?
Guest - Steph: I worked with her for a year and then another year was just doing privates and then those group classes that I started and renting out studio space and then I got my studio. It was about two years from when I started it, when I created it. Now I'm in my third year of owning my studio.
Support - Nick: I don't think you could've had a better lean startup entrepreneur method if you tried. As low risk but constantly just taking steps forward, growing out your space before moving onto the next. That was textbook and that worked out really really well to the point now you are your own studio owner.
Guest - Steph: It's kind of crazy because my path of life was not this. I was still performing, I was producing, I was acting, and-
Support - Nick: Now you're helping.
Main - Dan: So you were still very active. You were doing a lot.
Guest - Steph: Yes, I was doing other stuff and this was kind of just my [inaudible 00:11:26] money, my money to get head shots. Okay great, I'll go workout with this person. Great I have more money to pay for this acting class and to do this and to do that. It just kept on eating up all my time and I was like [inaudible 00:11:40]. I was like, "This is something real." Especially when people were asking for it. They were like, "Oh, I love your method." I'm like, "What is my method? What are you talking about?" It was very interesting to work backwards because it was never like, "I want to do this. This was something great that I figured out and I'm gonna share with the world and I need a space and I need to run my business and duh duh duh." I was googling "How Do I Run A Business?" How do I do this? How do I get an LLC? How do I get a loan? What am I doing? It was kind of playing catch up but it really lit a fire under my ass.
Everyone's like, "Oh, the universe pulls you in directions, duh duh duh." I'm all about energy, believe me, but I'm also about making my own luck. It was just pulling me to this direction of I had to start a studio, I had to start this movement of going back to one, back to basics. Clean up everything. That means no machines, no weights. Just you on the floor. In dance and ballet, all you're using is your own body weight to lift your leg.
Main - Dan: Absolutely.
Guest - Steph: I was really just going back to basics and I feel like the world is so full of gimmicks and things like, "If you buy this, you'll get skinny. If you get this, you're gonna be gorgeous. If you do this, then you're gonna be perfect."
Support - Nick: Especially in LA.
Guest - Steph: Exactly. Especially in LA. That's why my target demographic is 40 and above.
Main - Dan: Is it simply things that people aren't normally doing? Different types of movements than just the normal walking or picking something up. Is that what makes it challenging and so beneficial because it's just moving in different ways?
Guest - Steph: Yes, what it is, it targets the smaller muscle groups. You know when you naturally work out, you use the bigger muscles groups, the flashier muscle groups. These are the internal, the small ones. They literally shape your body [inaudible 00:13:47] through your spinal structure, your core base. It's all about teaching better habits and the correct habits and breaking those old habits. You run and you're exhausted, you hang forward. When you're tired, you hang forward. If you put your hand on your trap, when you're hanging forwards, you can feel that it's engaged. It's turned on. That is the wrong muscle to use.
Main - Dan: I never thought of that. I'll have to try that next time.
Guest - Steph: Yup. When you use your lats, you have to pinch the shoulder blades back. You have to pull your chest up, you have to hold yourself up, and then you'll be contracting different muscles that do not affect your trap. It's all about just training your body. When you run, and you're exhausted, instead of putting your hands on your knees and leaning forward, you want to try to loop your fingers behind your back and open up your elbows and lift your chest to the ceiling. That's gonna bring you more oxygen. People don't realize that. When you run, you should run a little bit higher in your chest because then you'll bring in more oxygen and then you can run further.
Main - Dan: You mentioned one thing that's really interesting that I see all the time. That's with distance running, runners. I am by no means the fastest guy on the field or a runner type, the way I'm built. I'm not lean and quick but I watch so many people who say, "I run six miles a day. I run five miles a day." I watch them jog. Their strides aren't equal. Their arms, instead of pumping forward and back, swing across their body. They let their feet flop out to the side instead of moving in a straight line. I watch these people that, you are a distance runner. This is what you do. I go, "I may only run two, three miles, slower than you, but I'm paying attention to doing it right because people have impressed upon me that you gotta do it right or you're gonna have problems."
I never understand why people who invest so much of their time ... again, we say sports specific, that's their sport, but they're not investing in doing the only thing that their sport consists of properly. Running is their sport. Why would you not run properly? Why would you not take the time to fix these little things? I often wonder how great those people would be or how much benefit they would receive if, not that I can talk, they're outrunning me seven days a week, but how much better would they be if they straightened their back, tucked heir elbows, had their legs go in a straight line, all those little things about what you mentioned.
Guest - Steph: Exactly. I don't want to be mean, but I feel like when people do something like that, they're thinking more of the smaller picture than the bigger picture. They're like, "Oh, I ran four miles today. I'm gonna run five miles. I'm gonna run more, more, more." They're probably our age, in their 30s, maybe a little bit younger, a little older, but the thing is that they're not going to be able to sustain it.
Main - Dan: Right.
Guest - Steph: As you get older, you want to be able to sustain. Maybe you won't be able to run four miles, maybe you'll be able to run two miles, maybe you'll be able to run one mile; the point is you'll still be able to run. You'll be able to keep on running if you do it correctly because if you do anything incorrectly, you're going to injure yourself. That's gonna stop you from doing what you want to do. That's why bringing it back, my method-
Support - Nick: Everyone book their ticket.
Guest - Steph: That's how I do it. [inaudible 00:17:23]. My workout, it does clean up injuries, because it puts everything back into alignment and back to proper form. You'll learn that everyone says it's your body's reality. Once you lay on the floor and you see yourself at every angle, and you're just laying flat, you'll realize how hard it is to turn on the back of your legs just by laying down on your back. You'll realize how hard it is just to get your arms up by your ears or you'll say, great, my left arm is there, why is my right arm up, why is my right arm moving that fast? You'll be able to see, oh my left arm is weird and my right is fine. Same thing with your hips or same thing with your muscle building. I find people with their obliques incredibly shaped differently. Completely different from one side to another. It has nothing to do with their dominant side or their non-dominant side. It's because of the way that they work.
Support - Nick: That's so correct. My right side is my coordinated side but it is by far so messed up compared to my left. I am working right now on fixing my groin, fixing my lat, fixing my shoulder, all of my right side. My left side, it's tight because it's trying to keep my right side up with it, but yeah, that's exactly. It's nothing to do with dominant. I find that's probably my weaker side because I'm more comfortable doing weird things with it where my left side, if I don't stay in line with how my body wants to work, it's just not gonna happen.
It took you two years to go from dialysis client to owning your own studio. How long has it been since you owned your own studio and made this a full time gig?
Guest - Steph: It took two years. Oh wait a year and a half? Probably a year and a half. What I used to do is I used to teach dance classes and I used to manage apartment buildings so when you guys move out here-
Main - Dan: You'll get us awesome apartments?
Guest - Steph: -apartment building! I used to manage four buildings and actually the owner of the four buildings was the woman that I created the workout method around.
Support - Nick: That's so cool.
Guest - Steph: We started working out together and I told you she was the one that was like, "You need to keep on spreading this. This needs to get more."
Support - Nick: She's a business person so she knows when she sees something.
Guest - Steph: She's a business person for sure. I was serving tables and doing bottle service and she was like, "Do you want to manage these apartment buildings?" I was like, "Nope." She was like, "Well you should, because it'll each you how to deal with people, problems." Because as a business owner, as you know, that's all you do. You put out fires. Oh is that on fire? Fantastic.
Support - Nick: I don't know about fantastic but yeah, I know what you mean. How good of a firefighter am I really judges how good of a business person you are.
Main - Dan: I get more stressed when there's no fires for too long and I know something's up.
Guest - Steph: [inaudible 00:20:36] What is happening? What are we doing? She's the one that encouraged me to do that and then after a year and a half of business, I got rid of all the buildings and I don't manage them anymore and now I'm full time in my business. There was a moment of overlapping where I was just scared to let it go because when somebody else is paying you, you know that you're getting that money, but when it's you paying you, sometimes, if you have that money, it's just not reliable. This is one of those times where I really just had to take the leap and I'm so obviously clearly so glad that I did and I know that I was good because then I had more time to do my business.
Support - Nick: I'm sure you had to have seen a lot of untapped potential to be like I have ... like managing these building is slowing me down because I could do a lot more if I had the time with my Barboza method.
Guest - Steph: Yes, exactly. It was a no-brainer decision for sure but it was still just scary. It's hard to leave stability.
Support - Nick: Yeah, I say that's a common thing. Whether it's business or not, that's a normal human reaction that you have to overcome because usually everything you want is on the other side.
Guest - Steph: Exactly. Like I said, it was kind of a no-brainer but you just gotta do it. It's about jumping, but jumping smart. You can't just jump blinded, it doesn't-
Support - Nick: Like we said, you took a lot of ... it doesn't sound like any of it was on purpose, unfortunately, but it seems like you took a lot of small, strategic steps, to make this a really calculated risk.
Guest - Steph: Yes. As much as I could calculate because Google can only tell you so much.
Support - Nick: That's for sure.
Main - Dan: So we have found.
Any big plans for the Barboza method in the future? Anything exciting coming out?
Guest - Steph: I was really focusing on getting another studio going but I feel like I can reach more people and build [inaudible 00:23:02] by doing it online so I have an ebook that I've been working on for the past year. I shot it and then we had to break it up into little [GIFs 00:23:12]. We're gonna be putting out an ebook. More of a library of all the exercises and breaking that up into little segments as people need and starting to do some workout videos. We're doing 20 minute musts. Like I voiced to you before, my concern with putting anything online is just the person in the living room or wherever they're working out is just pushing play and not thinking too much about form and just doing it and plowing through the video-
Main - Dan: Right, they're looking for the magic bullet.
Guest - Steph: Right. Really try to figure out how to strategically plan that so I'm thinking of designing a mat with some lines to help people with so every time you purchase an online video, you'll get a mat that's catered to the Barboza method so I'm working on being able to spread my workout method within a bigger radius than just West Hollywood.
Support - Nick: That's a great idea.
Main - Dan: Absolutely.
Support - Nick: I really think it sounds, to the business owner it sounds good, but to the consumer, they'd be like what? Charging more money for something like that would make people take it more seriously. If it's something like a $99 purchase when it could be easily a $300 purchase, people will buy it. They'll try to blast through it. They'll go a couple days. They won't see the results. They'll quit. If someone makes an investment, they'll take it much more seriously up front and then you have that sticky customer that's not going anywhere and they're gonna proudly share on the social media platform we talked about before the call, all these social media platforms about how great this method is.
It really sounds like you've created something unique. I wouldn't be afraid to charge what you think it should cost instead of cutting people a deal because I bet you they'll take it more seriously.
Guest - Steph: I feel like I've obviously done my homework and gone to a million classes in LA, especially in LA, because there's just so many here available. There's always something new popping up every time. I always do my due diligence of checking out what's out there and a lot of these businesses, I personally feel like they're more just producing a product that I don't approve of. You have a bunch of different Pilates studios, you have a bunch of different yoga studios, you have these bunch of different yoga teachers and these Pilates teachers and where did they get their certification from? They got it online. They did 240 hours of yoga training, duh duh duh. Great, now they're certified. They paid $400 and now they're certified and now that person is teaching me yoga. That's how people get injured. The business owner of that yoga studio is just about producing in masses and not producing in masses of quality.
I'm trying to ... the reason I named it Barboza method is because it's my last name and I try to follow Joseph Pilates business model, but he died and then his six predecessors took it on from there and then started pretty much the business. I'm trying to keep it where I'd rather care about teaching my teachers how to teach it because we're very hands on. It's a very small class. Twelve people at the max. Every teacher, including [inaudible 00:27:15] everybody and we fix forms and if there's a hiccup in class because somebody's not getting something, we will break down that exercise until that person gets that muscle or else we can't continue on without injuring ourselves.
Main - Dan: Because that's not the Barboza method.
Guest - Steph: It's about being able to create alignment and body awareness within the student before even teaching them how to lift the leg.
Main - Dan: We actually talked to someone the other day that their studio, they said the same thing as you. They were looking at others, it's a studio in Washington and they were saying, "I'm looking at these other studios and all they want is more students, more students, more students, more students." She said, "Theoretically, if you have 300 students and they're not going anywhere, and they're coming once or twice a week, then all your classes should be full. The fact that you've got 300, 400, 500 students and they're not coming back, they are going somewhere, why is your business based around continually getting more students? Her model was she only took students that came on recommendation and then she would vet each student personally and say, "You're a great fit for our studio or here's another studio you would be a great fit for." Even though she only had around 150 students and was only doing four classes a week, all of those classes were prepaid in full for the next year. Tell me that's not a studio owner's dream, to have all your classes for the next year full before the year even starts.
Guest - Steph: Right. You have to realize as an entrepreneur, you invited me to do this. You get to choose who you put in your life. Who you get to have in your life. When I run a class, when my teachers run a class, they know how to run it like I do. When you're so specific on how you do things, people will either love it or they'll hate it. People who hate it, they're not like minded people like you anyway. You as an entrepreneur with any business get to pick and choose who gets to come in and who don't. I personally don't ever tell people, "No, you can't come back." They get to choose if they want to come and work that hard again.
Support - Nick: If someone wanted to keep the conversation going with you, Stefanie, what is the best way to reach out to you?
Guest - Steph: You can go to my website at www.thebarbozamethod.com. You can find me @barbozamethod on Instagram and The Barboza Method on Facebook. We're also on Twitter and my phone number is (323) 545-8151. First class is free. I have reviews on Yelp. You can look me up on ClassPass. I am one of the hardest classes in LA and yes.
Support - Nick: So everyone living in LA or anyone with vacation plans to LA, if you want to get the best workout of your life in, head over to the Barboza Method.
Guest - Steph: Yes.
Support - Nick: Alright, thank you so much for coming on the show today. We really appreciate it.
Main - Dan: It was a real pleasure to have you.
Guest - Steph: Yeah, thanks so much guys.