When I was Brooke’s yoga teacher, she would tell me that my underwear line was showing and I should stop wearing “granny panties.” When she subbed for my classes, I told her to wear a loose shirt and cover her cleavage so she wouldn’t distract the students. She is not fragile. Brooke says many great things in this interview but one of my favorites is that Encinitas has a “yoga situation.” Brooke decided Studio Barre is more her schtick than yoga and now owns Studio Barre Carmel Valley.
Tell me about your early dance training.
I started ballet when I was 3. And my mom said that my dad was not into it. Apparently 3 is too young for people to start dance. But my mom went to the studio and begged and they let me start early. So I was full-on with pink ballet slippers and pink tights, the whole 9. That was in Fresno. I basically grew up in a dance studio with really awesome dance teachers.
Did you ever get sick of it? I remember cutting ballet class in junior high.
I definitely cut class sometimes but ballet and jazz and tap kept me from getting into any real trouble. In 7th grade I was burning out and wanted to quit. My mom was like, “Sorry, you’re not quitting.” So I would say, “Mom you suck. I hate you. I’m a 7th grader with angst.” But she never let me quit and I’m totally grateful for that because who knows if I ever would’ve gone back or what would’ve happened to me.
By mid-highschool I was again happy to be dancing. I switched dance studios and joined a more competitive studio that would do the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and more official style ballets. I went from child’s play dance class to a legit situation. Yeah, in high school I was in the Nutcracker every year and realized that dance was totally my gig. And I used to get in trouble from my dance teacher that I had too much of a tan and the size of my boobs were too big. I was like a B! And like I can help my boob size, ya know? I was also a cheerleader in high school and my ballet teacher was not a fan of that because she was convinced that all the training she was doing to my body was being negated by what I was doing in cheer. That wasn’t necessarily the case.
Now I’m a DD. She never saw these, I don’t think. These were add-ons after I left Fresno. I left when I was 18, came right down to San Diego State and I got my boobs done when I was 20. From like 4th grade on, I was president of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee and I always told myself that I would get boobs one day. Plastic surgery in my family isn’t taboo. Or here in San Diego with the beach lifestyle. I saved and saved. And I knew I wasn’t gonna be a ballerina anyway. So I wrote a check for 6 Grand when I was 20 years old and got ‘em done.
Also around 4th grade, my nose grew bigger than I wanted it to be. So I always told myself that I was gonna get my nose done.
What brought you to yoga?
I was living in Encinitas with my mom. I’ve always worked out and gone to the gym and I noticed that Encinitas had a yoga situation. I thought, “OK, I dance, I’m pretty flexible. I might as well try it. I’ll do anything once.” I saw a class taught by Michael Fukumura on the schedule at LA Fitness. Of course Michael is the most glorious teacher to get me hooked. And that was when I was 18. My mom went with me to that class. She said, “You’re a crazy person! Why did you think I could handle that class?” But I didn’t know what it was gonna be about. I just thought we were gonna get bendy and breathe. (laughs)
I never looked back until like 2 months ago when I opened my own business. And now I don’t have time to do anything else but own it. I rarely even take a [Studio] barre class. I teach barre like 20 times a week but as far as me having time to take a class, it’s maybe once a week.
How did you find barre?
I heard from everyone that barre was such a good workout. And I was still taking ballet classes in Solana Beach at Ballet Art. I would go there, and I was in college and in shape, and I would see these women coming out of the barre studio who were just rockin’. They were over 40 with these ripped arms. So I looked at the prices and just couldn’t afford it. A couple years later, my friend Bridget had a gift certificate and was afraid to go alone. So that’s how I took my barre first class. And I was completely hooked from then because it was just the right mix of dance studio (with mirrors, a barre and wood floors) and awesomely loud music (which I love) and a kick-ass workout. And there was no competition with 15-year-olds in their pointe shoes and bunheads.
I knew in high school that dance wasn’t gonna be a career path. It was just something that I loved. And I would do it forever in some way. Maybe by taking old lady tap lessons when I was old. Or owning a dance studio.
In college I remember thinking, “I just want a job where I can wear yoga pants.” And this was before everyone wore yoga pants everywhere. I had all these weird failed jobs. Like selling Real Estate where I had to wear a suit or slacks and blazers (which I look horrendous in because my boobs are so big. I look like a linebacker.) So tada! Now I have a job where I can wear workout clothes all the time! So now I only wear beachwear or spandex. In everything else I just feel like not-myself.
What’s left on your bucket list?
I don’t even have a bucket list right now because I’m so focused on opening this business. That was one. So, check. I do need to move out of my mom’s house. That needs to happen soon. (laughs). I hosted 2 yoga retreats in Bali. Hello, like, Dream Land. I opened my own business. Met an awesome dude. Still don’t have any human children. So that’s a goal that I’ve continued to work on.
I’ve noticed that anyone can say anything to you and you don’t care.
Someone said to me the other day, “I didn’t mean to be offensive.” And I said, “If you can offend me, I will make you a trophy.”
Actually, once I was waiting tables at En Fuego in Del Mar (before I got my nose done) and a table said that I reminded them of a celebrity. They found her on their phone and pulled up a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker. Finally I got off worked, cried and called my mom. She said “Ok tomorrow we call the doctor. Let’s go do this.” And we did it. Now no one asks me if I’m Italian or Jewish and it’s great. My nose was already an insecurity I had without anyone saying anything. It was already something that I wanted to change about myself regardless of what anyone said.
What are your favorite bands?
(laughs) You will die. I love Pitbull. And all music except heavy metal- even country! I’m pretty obsessed with Iggy Azalea right now. And her ass!
What charities do you support?
Any animal charity I’m into.
Brooke can be found almost all the time at the studio she owns: www.studiobarre.com/carmel-valley/