More than a kick butt workout, the magic of Studio B is the amazing women who gather here each and every day. Each woman brings her own unique strength and story to the barre and it is my honor to use this space to spotlight a barre addict on the first Wednesday of each month.
This month, we are honored to introduce you to our fearless leader Nancy Cushman Brown! Is this the barre addict post you’ve been waiting for?! Us too! Today, we are crazy excited to feature Nancy, because without her none of this Studio B magic would even exist. She is the brave visionary who dreamed up a place where women could come to be empowered (not only physically, but mentally and emotionally); where women could connect rather than compete; and where women would ALWAYS leave feeling better than when they came. What a gift she has given to all of us. Nancy is strong, graceful, funny, encouraging, and all around fabulous. She takes impeccable care of each Studio B client, ensuring that each woman gets the workout her body needs (safety, form, and effectiveness are totally non-negotiable for this lady, to all of our benefit). Not only is she a boss babe, but she is also the mom to three incredible children and an unwavering friend to so many. If you haven’t taken a class with Nancy, move it to the top of your bucket list! Nobody ever regrets a good Nancy butt-kicking. Prepare to be inspired (I know we are!!):
BARRE ADDICT // NANCY CUSHMAN BROWN
Q: Introduce yourself, your journey to barre, & to creating Studio B:
A: I have 3 amazing children and away from Studio B, spending time with them and cooking for them is my passion. They have been raised as health little organic eaters with an incredible connection to understanding how food and exercise makes them feel. I have received calls many times from other parents in line at the fast food drive thru asking permission to feed my child with their family. Those calls always made me laugh when my children were young. I knew they wanted to fit in with friends and were curious, but deep down preferred to come home to a healthy meal or snack. In the end, I want them to be happy and healthy.
Food and exercise have been both my best friends and worst enemy. Growing up as a competitive gymnast was tricky. There was a lot of emphasis placed on looks and weight. It took its toll and lead to eating and over-exercise disorders in my 20’s. The self loathing and self depravation that come hand-in-hand with eating disorders is very hard to shake. Food and exercise are considered rewards one day and punishment the next. Finding balance and happiness in that type of storm is pretty impossible. After gymnastics, it was hard to know where to turn. I was on my own and hit the gym like no other. Working out 2-3 hours at a time sometimes twice a day became a way of life. When I got bored with weight lifting contests I turned to triathlons. Many days I would get up before 5 am and spend 2 hours on on my bike followed by an hour in the pool. I would rush to class (as a nursing student) and then feel a need to go for a long training run in the evenings. Looking back, the funny thing is I never really felt good and didn’t look physically how I wished I would. I was miserable. Stuck on a hamster wheel chasing myself. This abuse went on for years until I discovered Pilates while living in Atlanta in 2000. Suddenly, I felt like I was doing something right. Something healthy and good for my body. I began working with a Master trainer and knew I was on the right path. The results were amazing and I finally felt good about myself. I knew I wanted to take my fitness profession out of the gym and onto the mat and reformer. An abrupt move from Atlanta to Nashville changed everything for me. Long story short, I found barre exercise. For me, it is like Pilates only better. I fell madly in love… fast forward 7 years and here we are. Barre is hands-down the best exercise I know of. A day away from the barre is always difficult for me. I guess that is why I have one in my home!
Q: What is the Studio B method?
A: The Studio B method is 100% based in Lotte Berk’s true “barre method” with a very strong Pilate influence. I take ballet, Pilates, yoga, and current research and years of experience with women’s exercise and blend them together for the Studio B barre class experience. Every class is different. The music is always different. We are able to give individual attention to each client in every class. We are hands-on and truly want you to get he most out of every rep in every class. We always have modifications to work around old injuries.
Q: What makes Studio B so magical?
Studio B is indeed a magical place. Most everyone seems to feel it. Our mission is to nurture your body, mind, and soul while we kick your ass and praise you for your effort and beautiful form. We push you to places you did not know you could go and you have new friends by your side as you do it. Clients have told me that Studio B is like an awesome sorority without the mean girls. Honestly, I well up when I even ponder how to describe the Studio B experience. The women are the strongest, most talented, intelligent, compassionate, focused, caring, and loving group I have ever encountered. It is beyond a dream come true for me. Cassandra has been very key in this vision and by my side every step of the way. She is like a sister to me.
Q: How would you describe your personal health and fitness philosophy?
Super simple. It has to work for you and make you feel your best. If you dread it, don’t do it!! …The End.
Q: What does an average week in workouts look like for you?
I teach at least 12 barre classes and a minimum of 6 private barre classes per week. That is pretty taxing and exhausting and I am sore 7 days a week. My goal is to take 2 additional classes per week and take a brisk walk for an hour 3-4 times a week. I do not always meet my goal, but still feel good about my activity level.
Q: What do you eat on a typical day?
I start the day with a big glass of water followed by a hot coffee that is always a religious experience for me. I add coconut oil, whole milk and a touch of raw sugar. Breakfast is always toasted Ezekiel bread (sesame is my favorite) with nut butter, sliced bananas and sliced strawberries.
I love soup, so I make a pot every week. For lunch I typically have a big bowl of homemade soup or an arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette and an over medium egg on top.
Dinner is always tough because I get home so late from the studio most nights. Luckily, my kids love grilled fish, chicken, and veggies and sometimes leave leftovers for me! I cook for them every afternoon. Other family favorites are turkey chili and sweet potato and black bean burritos. I love my Vitamix, so smoothies seem to happen daily at my house, too.
Q: What is your favorite way to treat yourself/indulge?
It usually involves wine and my sweet girlfriends. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is a favorite.
Q: How do you prepare for a special event or photo shoot?
I eat 100% clean. No sugar, no sodium, and lots of water. A spray tan always helps. 🙂
Q: What is the biggest health mistakes you see your clients making?
They do too much cardio!!!!!! They workout too hard, burn too many calories, eat too much after exercise; they reward themselves with large portions of the wrong foods; & they are too hard on themselves.
Q: What advice do you have for women who want to feel confident and beautiful in their bodies?
Women typically come to barre because they want to change their bodies and aren’t happy with where they are. Perhaps, they feel what they have tried isn’t working. I think that helping each of these women to feel confident and beautiful in her body requires two things: changing the way she is doing things and also being realistic.
For the first piece, barre helps women walk taller, build long and lean muscle, and changes their presence. After a few classes, a woman’s aura changes and people start to notice. When she walks into a room, people begin to respond to her differently because she is naturally walking with more confidence. When this happens, she starts to feel better about herself. Feeling better about herself makes her want to take care of herself even more – it is a beautiful and positive cycle.
The second piece requires a woman to stop comparing her body to other women. Everyone is created differently – some of us are tall, some are short. Some are naturally more muscular, others more willowy. Barre is like a hair salon: A woman can bring me a picture and say “I want my hair to look like this!” Now, if she has super short curly hair and wants stick-straight long hair, it just isn’t realistic. But, once a woman can embrace and accept her natural beauty, barre can help enhance that! It will help a woman create the best version of her body and self.
Q: Which moves do you believe are most effective at creating a strong, lean, feminine body?
C-Curve; thigh work with hips; & standing seat work or Pretzel.
Q: What is your mantra?
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
This can apply to the physical – like certain physical activity or eating certain foods. Just because you can go out and run 10 miles doesn’t mean it is the best for your body. But, it also applies to our commitments. As women, we over-extend ourselves constantly. We feel that we have to say “yes” to everything we technically could do. This just isn’t so! Sometimes saying “no” to something is the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health.
Q: How can people follow along with the great things you’ve got going on?
Book a class with me (you can do that here!)