I work in an extremely stressful environment. I spend most of my time debating ideas and policy positions with people. More importantly, I spend most of my time sitting! At 29 years old, I’m already feeling like sitting all day isn’t the best thing for my body or mind. I’ve always loved to work out but, as we all know, life gets in the way sometimes, and I for one don’t always prioritize it like I should. Luckily for me, I married a man who values taking care of himself, both mentally and physically, above everything else. He’s always pushed me to put myself first and do what I need to do to feel healthy and confident. And that is how I got here, a newly-certified barre instructor.
An Expensive Hobby
I started taking barre classes roughly three years ago. For those who don’t know what barre is, it’s a 50-minute class of small movements targeting your arms, chest, core, seat, and thighs, all set to music. It primarily uses your own body weight for resistance. It’s basically a mix of pilates and ballet. I liked the small class size, hands-on corrections, and just generally the other people in my classes.
Biggest problem — the classes are expensive! In our area, they are $27 a class or $250 a month, which adds up quickly!
Shortly after FIIntrovert and I started dating, he bought me an unlimited pass as a birthday gift (which should shock those who read this blog and know how he likes to save money. It’s how I knew he was already head over heels!). It was a short walk from our condo — and I loved it.
It was my alone time — a chance to get away from work, outside noise, and just focus on myself. A couple of years later, we started working out together with a trainer, which is one of my favorite parts of the week. It’s important for us to spend some time together not talking about work, home improvements, budgets, etc. — and staying in shape is a great hobby for us to share. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive hobby and it finally forced me to make the decision for myself — how do I justify paying for barre and our trainer?
Turning an Expense Into an Income Stream
I went to barre one day during a rare lunch break and I learned that they were hiring for a new part-time teacher. I did not feel qualified to be a teacher (my legs still shake way too much in class to teach someone else how to do it!), but the studio manager said I was absolutely the right candidate (someone in shape, loves the studio, loves barre), and she told me to apply. In doing so, I learned that teachers get to attend as many classes as they want for free while getting paid to teach. They also get discounts at stores like Lululemon and ALO Yoga (which for the women reading this, you know how much those purchases add up!). So, free classes, extra income and discounted workout clothes — Triple Score! How could I not at least look into this, right?
Working for It
Little did I know, I would be sent down south for formal training to earn my barre certificate. The studio paid my full travel outside of my hotel in exchange for a year-long contract to teach, which was fine because why would I do all this work to leave right away? Due to my travel hacking husband, I knew we’d have points to cover it, but the studio’s rate at the Marriott next door actually ended up being more economical than using up all our points, so we paid the $400 bill for the 4 nights I was there.
At training, I met the most fascinating people; everyone was there for a different reason — the mother of three who is looking for an excuse to get out of the house for a couple hours a day, the recent college graduate who isn’t sure what she wants to do next, the NFL cheerleader looking to supplement their income, and many others.
We trained for eight hours a day on everything from technique to form to musicality and even biology and anatomy. It made me appreciate my teachers more than ever! I came home and immediately had to start practicing for my video test workout video and exam. Trust me when I say, they make you earn those free classes and side income! I learned last week that I passed and I am in fact teaching my first class this week. To say I’m nervous is an understatement but I couldn’t be more excited to do this.
Health, Financial, Social, and Professional Benefits
I’ll walk away from my first month of teaching with a little over $400. Is that going to change our lives significantly? No. But does it allow us to put a little more into savings? Absolutely. Does it help if we have an unexpected home cost? Sure. Does it even mean I can splurge on the occasional facial or massage? I’ll wait a few months for that. Or as my husband (FIIntrovert) says, “wait at least until that $400 investment in the training is earned back!”
So why am I doing this and going through all the stress? Well, the free classes are number one. Being able to work out when I want to and how much I want to without having the concern over how much money that is taking out of our monthly income is huge. The small side income doesn’t hurt either and it’ll help us achieve our financial independence goals faster.
But the biggest thing is the personal development. I never imagined I would be strong enough or fit enough to teach an exercise class, let alone command a room of 15 to 20 women and men multiple times a day. It takes different skills than those I use on a normal basis. It’s made me feel more confident and empowered than ever before.
Finding a Tribe That Energizes Me
Much like my husband, I am introverted, but I didn’t realize it until after I met him and progressed in my career. Even more recently, my office floor changed from actual offices to an open floor plan where we all sit together, which made me realize even more so how much I need alone time to think. Teaching barre is forcing me to get out of the house, get away from work, take myself out of my comfort zone, and learn a new skill. My tendency would be to stay with what I know but, fortunately, I have a husband who has pushed me to try something unfamiliar, and now I’m excited for this new chapter. Plus, I’m getting paid to spend time with people who have become great friends. Yeah, it might add to my daily stress occasionally, but the good outweighs the bad, for sure. Maybe when we retire early, I’ll love this so much that I’ll start doing it full-time!
For those who are thinking of taking on a second form of income — figure out what it is that you like to do and see if there’s a way to continue doing it while also getting paid for it. Maybe it won’t feel like quite so much work then. And maybe you’ll get to do that thing you love so much for free with people you feel connected with!
What activity do you wish you could get paid for or do for free in exchange for working at it on the side?
This was a guest post from FIIntrovert’s wife. The FIIntrovert’s goal is to help 1,000 introverts reach financial independence through his blog. Extroverts and ambiverts are welcome too, but he knows they didn’t need a special invite. When he’s not writing about personal finance and career advice, he enjoys making his wife jealous by spending copious amounts of time with his dog, consuming non-fiction, playing guitar, and skiing.
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