|HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL
October 29, 2010
||Hollywood's Cardio Barre pumps up move into Houston
by Allison Wollam
The company behind the latest Hollywood workout craze figures Houstonians are looking for another way to slim down while it rolls out a national expansion.
Cardio Barre, which offers, high-energy, no-impact exercise classes that combines dance moves using a ballet barre and light weights, is planning to open three locations in the area within the next three years.
Celebrities such as the cast of the popular “Glee” television show and actresses Amanda Bynes, Dakota Fanning, Ashlee Simpson, Samantha Harris — not to mention the Pussy Cat Dolls dance group — rave about the “addictive” workout in entertainment magazines.
Participants work out at a ballet barre — a fixed, waist-high handrail — performing moves like those used by dancers to build strength and flexibility, but at a fast pace that keeps the heart pumping.
Richard Giorla, founder of Cardio Barre, says he’s currently in talks with several potential local franchisees.
“Houston is an ideal market for our concept,” says Giorla. “We are targeting Houston because it is an urban market with many affluent neighborhoods. We’re on the brink of national expansion and Houston is definitely on our list.”
Giorla says he hopes to attract students from local universities as well as area residents who are looking for a new way to stay in shape. He says the concept typically attracts women in a wide age range.
The River Oaks and West University areas are Giorla’s first choice for sites. He says he only wants to open a maximum of three locations in the area so the workout facilities won’t compete with themselves the way that Curves do with gyms on almost every corner.
“We like to be a little more scarce,” says Giorla. “That also helps with a better profit margin.”
Giorla says the rough economy hasn’t had much impact on business and says people are still trying to stay in shape and stay healthy throughout the recession. He adds that the low cost of $16 per one-hour class makes the class affordable to most people.
The former professional dancer — who trained in ballet and worked for Michael Jackson, as well as a stint at Chippendales — started the concept in 2000 after suffering an injury that prevented him from dancing.
He started franchising the concept in 2007 and has six Cardio Barre locations in California.
He says although all gyms and workout facilities are “technically” competitors, he doesn’t feel like Cardio Barre has any direct competition because the concept is unique.
“There’s nothing like this workout,” he says. “We have to deal with copyright and trademark infringements at least three times a week.”
Giorla figures the concept has been so successful because it hearkens back to the days of the Jane Fonda Jazzercise exercise programs, where women from a community met and exercised as a group. He adds that the no-impact workout is even safe for pregnant women who want to stay in shape up to two months before their due date.
The only question now is whether Houston women will turn in their stripper poles or P90X workout DVDs for the Cardio Barre experience.
Bella Barak, owner of Houston-based Bella Body Fitness LLC, a certified trainer for women, says she’s done the cardio barre method before and it is similar to the methods she uses at Bella Body Fitness in the balance and lengthening aspect of the workout.
“The problem people might experience with only sticking to Cardio Barre for a workout is a lack of real strength and cardiovascular endurance,” she says. “I think it’s a great supplemental type of workout, but those looking to get into ideal physical shape won’t get there solely with Cardio Barre