Q&A With Pure Barre Babe Sami Sweeney
Feeling inspired lights the fire within and feeds the soul. Finding inspiration isn't always easy, which is why I wanted to start a new Q&A series featuring people who personally inspire me, in hopes that they will inspire you too. When I think of a strong, powerful woman, this blonde bombshell couldn't fit the description more! Meet Sami Sweeney: Pure Barre owner, instructor, teacher trainer, and the list goes on and on... When she agreed to FaceTime with me to answer the questions I had for her, I was ecstatic. As someone who empowers women so much and inspires us ALL with those abs, I knew she would have some great answers and messages to share. Keep reading to see why Sami should be on your radar if you're looking for inspiration!
LW: Let's just start with some background information, how long have you been teaching Pure Barre and what involvement do you have in the Franchise now?
SS: I started teaching in 2009 when Pure Barre was first developing and it was like love at first sight! I remember it so vividly, it was everything I could have ever wanted in a fitness program and I knew it right away. I own and operate 6 Pure Barre studios in Seattle, work as a Regional Master Teacher Trainer for our training department teaching across the country, and I am one of 7 members of the Strategic Development Committee for Pure Barre. This group heads up innovation and development of the technique itself. I also get the pleasure of leading the workouts for our DVDs and online streaming videos.
LW: That's amazing! How did you first discover Pure Barre?
SS: Post college, graduating with a degree in Finance and Economics, I got a job in Finance and within the first couple of months there I was miserable. Having experience with fitness, I figured if I could find something to teach then I could at least throw it into my day and have something to look forward to. I remember looking through Craigslist and I had an interview with a Yoga studio, which I'm so glad didn't happen because it would have spun me into a whole different direction and then I ended up meeting with the owner of Pure Barre. I never looked at it as something I could make a living doing in the beginning. It started as just wanting to do something for me.
LW: Looking back at when you took your first Pure Barre class, does any thought or memory stand out to you?
SS: Um, yeah! I grew up as a competitive gymnast and I cheered in High School and at College level, so I always worked with a coach. I remember thinking that Pure Barre was just as good as having a coach giving me specific, custom advice, but in this group setting that was very female focused which I loved. I think in my past I so frequently had male coaches that didn't quite understand that a woman's body moves very differently and needs very different things than men do, so I just found it to be intelligently crafted for the female physique. I loved its focus, but also its movement to music; had it not had that musically driven aspect I probably wouldn't have been sold.
LW: Other than gymnastics and cheer, did you have any other athletic background before Pure Barre?
SS: I was really into tumbling and stunting. Partner stunting was my favorite and I wanted to be the best at everything I did.
LW: Name three things most people might not know about you.
SS: I love that question! A good one that everyone is always surprised by is that I married my high school sweetheart, so my husband and I have been together for 16 years. We are also actively business partners together, so thats a cool way to spend my life. Another one is that I love beer, hoppy IPA's in particular. I worked for a brewery in college, so I got exposure to all things beer and became like a beer snob before I was even 21! The last one is that I spent the first 10 years of my life on a small island in the Puget Sound. I think it really made me open to people at a young age since it was such an intimate lifestyle.
LW: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in taking a Pure Barre class but might be a little nervous or not too sure what to expect?
SS: Nobody is judging you! It's a judgement-free zone. No one has time to look at you and think about what you're doing, it's such a mental game to take class that we are all so in our own head that we don't have time to look and see what our neighbor is doing. Stay in tuned with your body and know that shaking in positions is not only expected, but encouraged!
LW: So true! What would you say is your favorite part about Pure Barre?
SS: Hands down, the results that Pure Barre gives people. I know the results it has given me, but I am very invested in my clients and seeing their bodies get stronger, more flexible and capable is what makes me stand behind it. Pure Barre produces results and does what it says it will do.
LW: Speaking of results, we are all dying to know how to get Sami abs! Lets start with the physical part, what kind of work out regimen do you have?
SS: I mean, I take a lot of Pure Barre. Because I'm in my studios so much I take more classes than most people probably should. I take somewhere between 4-7 classes per week. I don't do any other workout regularly, but I dabble a lot. I can learn so much as a business owner about what other brands are doing well in our fitness community. I appreciate everything from CrossFit, to yin yoga, to Fly Wheel. So, I probably do about 2 different workouts per week in addition to my Pure Barre classes.
LW: As far as eating goes, do you try to stick to any specific diet?
SS: What works best for me, and we are all so different, is basically a Paleo diet. I feel my best when I cut out gluten, dairy, and eat a lot of lean meat. I always have a protein shake in my morning with avocado and almond milk and protein supplement; something good and grass fed, whey protein is what I go with. Throughout my day, its veggies, meats, some fruit, lots of nuts, lots of fish, I love fish.
LW: Do you have a favorite cheat meal?
SS: So living in the South for several years, I learned to love Southern food. Fried chicken is a weakness, with lots of hot sauce! I don't have a sweet tooth at all, which I feel fortunate for that. I'm all about savory. Also, beer! Since I don't do gluten I know that there is going to be some bad feelings that come from it, but hey its worth it.
LW: What's your favorite on the go snack?
SS: I love GoMacro bars & Epic bars. GoMacro is the yummiest and is hearty and will feel me up, like most bars won't. RX bars are good too! My friends tell me I eat way too many bars, I do! It keeps me fueled when I'm low on energy and need to have something quick. I love half of a banana and almond butter, that will always be something I go to. There's some good sliced deli type meats I'll bring with me and almonds, things that are easy to eat or I don't have to have a lot of it, to keep me going.
LW: These are good notes for us all to take! Switching gears, what is one beauty item you could't live without?
SS: I swear by eyelash extensions! It's incredibly addicting, I can't go without them. I teach a lot of early morning classes, so to know I can just brush my teeth and leave the house and look awake because I have these big lashes, I love them.
LW: I am with you on the lash extensions! I usually get mine done too. What is the best advice you've ever received and from whom?
SS: That's a tough one because I have received so much good advice over the years, but what comes to mind for me is my dad, a really great business mentor. He's really engrained in me the idea that failing and struggling is all part of this. You are going to fail, but how you respond to that is what really matters. You have to learn how to cope with these things and grow from them and know that you'll come out stronger if you don't let it get the better of you.
LW: That's great advice to even keep in mind when taking a Pure Barre class! What inspires you? How do you find inspiration?
SS: With 6 studios, I'm in my car so frequently, I listen to a lot of podcasts and audible. I try and absorb as much information about business ownership and the fitness industry in general to stay inspired. I love taking various fitness classes, learning from different mentors, and spending quality time with my brainiac of a husband for real inspo.
LW: For those days that you just don't feel like working out and have every excuse in the book to skip, how do you motivate yourself to get to class anyway?
SS: I have to remind myself how I feel afterwards. If I really think about the endorphin rush and feeling I get after class I know its worth it. I never come out of class going, "oh my gosh why did I just do that for an hour?" I just have to visualize how good it feels to be done with it and thats usually enough for me. Also, I find Pure Barre meditative. It's my time to get in my body and be present, its mentally and physically good for me to make time for!
LW: That's such good advice. I will definitely keep that in mind next time! Name one habit you are trying to kick.
SS: One big one is to stop littering in my car so much! Because I'm in my car all the time I'll have empty Kombucha bottles or bar wrappers laying around, my car can be gross. So my new thing is, if I bring it into my car I need to take it with me when I leave my car.
LW: So funny! Just a couple questions left for you. Where or how do you feel like your most authentic self?
SS: Nowhere in particular, but I am super extroverted so when I am by myself it is not where I feel most authentic. Being around others and emotionally connecting with others is when I feel most myself.
LW: Last question, what is your definition of success?
SS: For me to be successful, I really have to love what I do for work. I find a lot of self value in creating and building and growing something. I love the challenge of owning these studios, its been the most empowering thing ever. Doing things that are not only making my life better, but making other lives better, thats the end goal. If I can contribute in a way thats impacting people beyond my own personal reach, that would be success for me.