Sadie Lincoln: Barre3 Courage.
Sadie’s inspiring story and interview below is featured in my book Hustle Believe Receive
What does it mean to truly believe? For some it’s a process that happens over time, and is cultivated with effort, for others it seems to come naturally. But for all who wholeheartedly believe in their dream, it’s the courage to step out on faith that is the ultimate test of belief. It’s one thing to talk about it, work hard every day to get closer to it, and believe it will happen, but it’s an entirely different thing to take action that involves great risk. Most people stop at this stage of the journey. They fear the unknown. They like their “real job” while they quietly pursue their passion on the side. I know because for four years I’ve been one of those people, I get it, but those are not the success stories that change the world. Because it’s impossible to reach that level of success with your passion if over 50% of your time and energy is focused on something completely unrelated. It simply doesn’t work.
Everyone I’ve interviewed for my upcoming book Hustle.Believe.Receive. has displayed that courage which resulted in action. They risked everything to pursue their passion. It’s an undeniable common thread. And it’s a requirement for you too, at some point, if you really want to realize your dream.
No one is a better example of this than Sadie Lincoln. Nine years ago, in 2005 Sadie and her husband Chris were living in Oakland California, in a beautiful home with a view of The Bay. Sadie had a thriving career as a member of the executive marketing team for 24 Hour Fitness working directly with the CEO. It was an ideal career; one anyone would love and aspire to have. Sadie’s husband Chris, also had a successful career, they had built the “perfect” life. They had a child, two thriving careers and by all accounts they were “living the dream”.
“But it wasn’t us. It wasn’t who we really were as people, that life didn’t fit us.” Sadie tells me when she calls for our interview. “I’d discovered yoga when I was pregnant with my first child and fell in love with it. I didn’t connect with the gym environment, it never resonated with me. I always knew I wanted a big sexy career, but something that would allow me to be present with my children. And something that would be a family business.”
Chris and Sadie had looked at options in the past to start their own business, but the right venture had not come along. For most of her life she taught, and had a passion for group exercise, dating back to old-school aerobics in the ‘90’s. But the gym atmosphere felt too big, masculine and lonely. She loved the warmth of Yoga and its balance of ease with effort, but her body was ready for something different. She tried all types of exercise, studios and classes, even other Barre programs but nothing seemed to have the combination and balance she was looking for.
And then one day, in 2006, after having their second child; Chris came home and pulled a folded spreadsheet from of his pocket. On it was a plan he’d quietly been working on; running the numbers, weighing the options. “My husband is the opposite of me, he’s the analytically one. I act on optimism. I believe it will work out, so I jump all in. I’ve always been that way; Chris is a perfect balance for me.” On the spreadsheet Chris had mapped out a plan for them to sell their beautiful home, sell the second car, live minimally, quit their jobs and move to Bend Oregon… taking one-year away from work so they both could stay home and raise their two young children.
Sarah: What was going through your mind when he told you this dramatic, life changing plan?
Sadie: I was so moved. As a wife and mother, I thought it was so beautiful that he wanted more than anything to find a way that we could be home raising our children together. And then I thought, ‘well I don’t want to move to Bend!’ So we settled on Portland and decided we’d live minimally, renting a small home, and selling what we didn’t need. We packed up our car, our two kids and the cat, and drove to Portland.
Chris and Sadie went to work writing the business plan for Sadie’s dream group exercise studio; what would become the national franchise brand, Barre3. She incorporated moves from over twenty years of teaching group and gym exercises, and brought inspiration from many different disciplines. “Balance is my North Star.” Sadie says. “It’s what the ‘3’ in Barre3 stands for, like a triangle with three balanced points. Barre3 merged the wisdom of yoga, with the grace of the Ballet barre and strength of Pilates. She designed a studio to feel welcoming and warm, and put a child care center in the lobby, so moms like her could get a non-gym workout. “We put every penny we had into Barre3, all our savings.” Sadie adds.
Sarah: Were you ever afraid it wouldn’t work? That you would lose everything?
Sadie: Never. Not for a moment. I never thought of quitting. I always knew it would be big. We started the first studio in downtown Portland six years ago, but we did it with the vision that it would be a franchise. We believed it would take off, but didn’t know how big obviously. From the beginning I had courage. I wanted to create something totally different, something done my way. Yet you always have those voices that say; ‘who are you to think you can create a new form of exercise?’ But you just have to put that to the side and move forward with courage.
Since that first studio was opened in 2008, Barre3 has grown to have studios in 23 states, with 70 studios in the United States and five international locations. Barre3’s Portland based headquarters employs 20 full-time women, who were all once clients, and have over time organically grown into their individual roles in the company. Sadie recently launched a book tour, on the release of her new book “Love Your Lower Body” with the editors of Prevention magazine. She’s appeared on QVC, Bloomberg TV, and has been featured in Prevention magazine along with countless others. She’s even launched the new Barre3 online workouts for those of you unlucky enough to not have a studio close by. And oh yeah… rumor has it she even personally trained Madonna!
With all this success I asked Sadie; what was the moment when she felt like she was living her dream?
Sadie: I have that moment all the time, honestly, especially in the down time. Like when I’m in the office with my team, drinking tea. I’m surrounded by these amazing beautiful women who have helped take this vision and brand to an extraordinary place.
And last year on our fifth anniversary, my team organized a free public park class and asked me to teach it. We had no idea if anyone would show up; we’d never tried anything like it before. But over 300 people came, clients that have been coming since the studio first opened. It was the most magical moment, looking out at all those people doing Barre3, and my mom and daughter in the front row. My daughter even got on stage and helped lead the class with me. It was just so unbelievably amazing.
Sarah: What has been the best part of this experience for you?
Sadie: Validating that my intuition was right. That something which worked for my body could also work for thousands of others. I’m not a workout guru; I’m just a mom, trying to get her workout on.
Sarah: What’s your dream now?
Sadie: I want to keep going down this path of whole body health. I want to help families. The triangle of Barre3; our foundation is: exercise, nourish, and connect. I want to always grow and learn, and be a wise educator. And beyond the studio walls, I want to make sure the studios are servicing and engaging with the community. And of course I want it to be very successful and become an iconic brand that holds up over time.
Sarah: What advice do you have for someone who’s just starting out on their path to pursue their dream?
Sadie: Have courage. Be fearless. It’s a practice, learning how to make decisions that are not fear based. When we operate from a level of fear it closes so many opportunities. But be buttoned up; make sure you know what you’re getting into and do your research. Explore your options and ask questions.
And make sure you have balanced people around you, people who support you but can give you a different perspective. And always enjoy the moment… celebrate the joy of the moment.
I love Sadie’s story because it shows us just how critical courage is to the fulfillment of our dream. It’s that Hustle, the action behind our thoughts and words. It’s the thing that forces us to face our fear and move forward anyway. I also love the dynamic between Sadie and Chris, showing that either “born this way” personality is capable of stepping out on faith. If you are naturally optimistic, a “just go for it” type (like I am) that’s awesome and courage probably comes naturally for you. But even if you’re not, even if you’re more fact-based and cautious, you can summon courage and jump too; even if it’s after you’ve done a ton of research!
It’s always scary to step out on faith, to put your belief to the test, believe me I’m doing it right now on a daily basis. It’s terrifying. But it’s also so liberating. And for the first time in my life I know what each of these amazing people I’m featuring have been talking about when they say… “I have joy.” Joy is so hard to find in this life. It can be so elusive and fading, but if you are daily living a life you’ve purposefully created, doing what you love, you wake up with that joy. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever known, and something I wish for each of you to experience. It’s not for the faint of heart, but then again neither is success. The time it takes you to become successful is a critical journey that is building your resilience, proving what you’re made of, weeding out the people in your life who don’t bring value and making you the kind of person who can handle success with grace. So take it all as a valuable part of getting you to the next level, so that you can shine bright when the spotlight stops on you, the way Sadie does.
Note: I did NOT receive any compensation for this piece monetary or otherwise. However this is my favorite workout, and am proud to say I’m a paying monthly member taking 3-5 classes a week at the original location Sadie first opened in downtown Portland.. the Pearl Location, studio pictured above and in most Barre3 official photos.
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