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Southern California Edit

Brittany Freeman: From Barre to Bike!

Meet one of our newest instructors: Brittany Freeman! When Brittany isn’t shaking up the schedule with her hair flips and contagious energy, she also owns her own barre studio in Orange, Ca, Tone Barre. Our Anaheim Hills GritCycle studio is UBER-excited to announce they’re adding 7 am classes to their Saturday morning line-up. We couldn’t think of a better way to bring fire to the weekend than with our own spitfire: Brittany Freeman!


From her first “bounce” in the Saddle Room, Brittany was hooked on GritCycle and was determined to be an instructor; already a business owner and instructor trainer, Brittany found herself on the other side of “clipboard”, auditioning and trying to impress fellow managers. She recently stopped by the blog to let us know how it felt to go through someone else’s teacher training and what she learned. She also explains how she’s able to balance teaching at GritCycle and maintaining her own boutique fitness studio after battling a debilitating spinal disease.

  1. Brittany, you come from a world of Barre, what in the world made you want to teach at GritCycle?

Well, I’m a little crazy so if there is anyone who is going to do something wild like this it would be me!  In all seriousness though, it was the diagnosis of a rare spinal disease that turned my world upside down and led me to want to teach at GritCycle. 

When I started teaching fitness 7 years ago I knew that I had found my passion.  Coming from a world of dance growing up, barre classes just really spoke to my soul.  I literally lived and breathed all things barre.  But when I was diagnosed with my spinal disease the ability to teach was ripped away from me.  Yes, I still had Tone Barre the business, but I missed everything about teaching.  Unfortunately, it sometimes takes losing something to realize how lucky you were to have it and how much it was a piece of who you are.

Insert GritCycle.  About 3 months after neurosurgery {which was supposed to be a two-year recovery…I am 1 year 4 months post op as I write this!} I was feeling really frustrated with all the things I wasn’t able to do.  So I did something crazy {see a pattern?}.  I snuck out of the house {I wasn’t driving yet so I literally took an uber} to Nicci’s gritty quicky class.  I sat in the back row and I don’t think I stood up on the bike once.  But I made it through 30 minutes sitting on a bike, moving my legs, and absolutely falling in love with everything that happens inside the saddle room.

And at that moment, that first class back, I found the piece of me that had been missing.  Even now it’s hard for me to put into words what it was like.  I spent months not knowing what my future would be like.  Surrounded by words like “lifestyle change”, “pain management”, medication, and excruciating pain to top it all off.  I didn’t know that I would have the strength to ever walk into a workout class again.  I didn’t know that it would even be possible for me to go back to teaching.  I didn’t know that I would be able to physically push my body again.  But once I had that moment, where I knew it was all going to be possible again, I knew that THIS is what I was going to teach again. 

And here we are!


  1. Being a studio owner, you typically have instructors audition for you, what was it like being on the other side when YOU auditioned?

I was SO nervous!  So yes even though I know you are supposed to ditch the nerves and just be you I couldn’t help it.  Just because you’ve been on the other side of the clipboard doesn’t mean it is any easier to be the one auditioning!

  1. What was the best thing about teacher training? What was the hardest thing about teacher training?

The best thing about teacher training was obviously the one and only Katie Osumi!  She really is not only an amazing GitCycle instructor but the teacher of the teachers.  She knew when to push when to praise, and how to mold all of us unique trainees into a GritCycle instructor. And I’m not just saying that…she is kinda the momma bear responsible for many of your beloved instructors!

The hardest thing about teacher training was getting out of my own head.  I am such a natural perfectionist that even though I knew training was to practice and get better and to learn I would be so frustrated with myself when I didn’t get it right! 

  1. What’s the difference between Barre teacher training and GritCycle teacher training?

Hmm, I had to think about this because there is so much that is similar.  I would say that barre teacher training has more memorization which can actually be an obstacle for some trainees because unless you love school it can be a little like that in the beginning.  And for GritCycle teacher training there is almost more of an underlying emotion that has to be grasped to successfully tie together music selection, drills, mood lighting, and the overall magic vibe that happens with the spin bike and blue lights in a dark room.

  1. What advice would you give to others who are interested in auditioning and teacher training?

First, if it is something you are interested in go for it!  That doesn’t mean go into the audition blind but it does mean have faith in yourself and your ambitions.  Next is to be prepared…which means a few things.  1.  Take class as much as possible and get a good feel for the studio’s teaching style, community feel, vibe, etc., 2. Get ready to audition which means practice, prep your outfit to look the part, and even reach out to an instructor or two for their words of wisdom and advice.  3.  Be okay with a no.  Just because you don’t make it the first time doesn’t mean you won’t make it in the future.  Sometimes you need to take more classes, sometimes you need to absorb the studio’s vibe better, and sometimes the audition is just competitive.  I’ve heard no before and it didn’t stop me…so don’t let it stop you either! 

  1. How do you balance teaching classes at GritCycle and running your own Barre studio?

Ahh, the word balance means it’s never easy but it is totally do-able.  To be honest I have to credit both the team at GritCycle and the team at Tone Barre for making it possible for me to juggle both as well as my amazing husband.  Grit has been supportive from day one of me juggling both worlds and so has my amazing team at Tone Barre. 

  1. How do you prepare differently for your Barre classes versus your GritCycle classes?

So glad this question was asked because it is so different!  For barre, I like to arrive crazy early and just let the space speak to me.  I normally arrive at Tone Barre without any sort of plan in mind…I let the space and the props inspire me.  Sometimes I try crazy things with props and other times I flip through our studio manual to see what exercises someone hasn’t done in a long AF time {yah…there are literally that many!}.  Grit is the total opposite.  I have my playlist locked and loaded and my drills mapped out.  I listen to my playlist in the car and do the moves on my steering wheel as I drive.  I pick one or two songs to listen to one more time as I do my sound check once I arrive at the studio.  No matter where I’m teaching I drive with my heated seats on {yes even if it’s 100 outside I blast the AC to balance it out} and a lacrosse ball behind my back to loosen tight muscles. 

  1. How do you recover differently from your Barre Classes versus your GritCycle classes?

After barre, I am definitely in need of some protein!  Carbs aren’t bad but I’m just not a huge meat consuming person so protein is definitely something I have to make sure I get in.  After Grit Cycle I definitely need some extra stretching and electrolytes as I re-hydrate. 

  1. What is your advice to those who may be facing similar physical adversity you have faced?

My advice to anyone facing something similar to what I’ve gone through with my spinal disease is that you are never ever alone.  It is hard to feel like everything is going to be okay when the world around you is moving forward and you are suddenly not a part of it.  It’s okay for that to be emotional and hard, but don’t let that take away your hope and fight.  Reach out for help.  Find a support group online, someone who has been through it before {I’m always here for anyone anytime}, a mental health professional, a hotline.  There are people out there who care!

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Brittany!!

Anaheim Hills {!}, make sure you book yourself NOW for Brittany’s debut on Saturday morning. We are finally adding 7 am classes to the Saturday schedule, and Brittany will be your girl to start your weekend off right!!!