As trends come and go, so do South Side businesses.
The video rental store 48 Hour Video was the neighborhood’s most recent casualty. In its place has sprung Barreform, a fitness studio that offers the newest fad workout. Located on the corner of Fourth Street and Brodhead Avenue, Barreform officially opened its doors March 3.
Barre is a workout that was created by German dancer Lotte Berk in the 1950s. It combines ballet, yoga and Pilates into small isometric movements that tone and strengthen the body.
In the past few years, barre’s popularity has skyrocketed. Companies like Pure Barre, The Bar Method and Barre3 have opened locations en masse, both in the United States and internationally.
In the area alone, there are two different barre studios — Pure Barre is located in Easton, and Barre3, located in Allentown, is opening another location in Bethlehem this spring. Barreform is the first within walking distance to Lehigh.
Brett Jones, who founded Barreform with his longtime girlfriend Nora Hendrycks, describes the studio as a “one-stop shop boutique fitness center” because it offers more than just barre classes.
The studio’s megaformer workout class is designed to burn fat through controlled movements, fast transitions and intense cardio. Jones said before he opened Barreform, the closest megaformer studio was in Philadelphia.
TRX, or suspension training, is another class at Barreform. It leverages gravity and body weight so the user can perform exercises that target balance, strength and flexibility. The studio also offers yoga and mat Pilates.
For barre, TRX and mat Pilates classes, prices range from $22 for a single class to $360 for a package of 20 classes. For megaform, those prices jump up to $29 for a single class and $500 for the 20-pack of classes.
Jones understands that not everyone can afford the classes Barreform offers, especially in South Bethlehem, were a large percentage of the population is made up of Lehigh students and low-income families.
To encourage student business, Barreform is offering student discounts from now until the end of the semester — $100 for unlimited barre classes and $200 for unlimited megaformer classes.
Gabby Urken, ’17, who has been a certified instructor at Barreform since its opening, said the workout is worth the price because the classes are personalized to accommodate each specific group. Since Barreform is a stand-alone studio, instructors have free range to change up the music playlists and workouts in each session.
“It’s nice because we’re not getting orders from headquarters,” Jones said. “We are headquarters.”
He said a customer could take one of Barreform’s classes 300 times, and it would never be the same.
Urken said she understands the appeal of franchise classes because customers know exactly what they’re getting out of each class, but she prefers Barreform’s approach.
Chandler Coggins, ’18, was one of seven Lehigh students to join Barreform’s team of instructors the week after spring break. Like Urken, the students went through a 20-hour training process where they learned about managing class flow, cuing positions and designing choreography for their sessions.
Coggins said she had never been to a barre class before her training began. Now that she has, she’s hooked.
“I’ve always loved teaching others about health and fitness,” Coggins said. “Freshman year, I would have small yoga sessions in the hallways of Dravo even though we probably looked ridiculous.”
Urken said she wasn’t sad to see 48 Hour Video go, and she’s excited to see changes coming to South Bethlehem.
“I think by adding this, we might open new doors for other places to open like it,” Urken said. “If we keep adding stores like this and Broadway Social, then I think it’ll start to feel like a college campus instead of a college campus in a historic city.”
During the company’s inaugural weekend, Jones offered free “community classes” every day. He said the customers ranged from Lehigh students to South Bethlehem residents to people in the Lehigh Valley who traveled from 30 minutes away.
Although Jones has lived in New York City for the past 20 years, he still considers the Lehigh Valley home. He grew up in the Valley and completed his undergraduate degree at Muhlenberg College. For him, it’s the “perfect location.”
“We’re really excited about the space and its potential,” Jones said. “We’re thrilled the university is right here, and they’ve been really helpful. We want to serve the whole South Side, the whole Bethlehem and the whole Lehigh Valley community.”