Barre3, the boutique strength conditioning gym, is known for its equal attention to both body and mind. Yes, there are grueling lunges and toning squats, but there are also elements of mindfulness and accepting one’s own strengths. Its philosophy encourages individuals to go at their own pace and trust intuition–it’s centered on the idea of feeling good inside and out, versus advertising how to get skinny arms. In fact, throughout its classes, you’ll hear a sentiment echoed repeatedly: You deserve to be heard.
So it makes sense that the company, which now boasts 150 studios in 98 countries, would invest in building peoples’ voices.
During the Fast Company Innovation Festival on Monday, Barre3 cofounder and CEO Sadie Lincoln explained how two years ago, amidst a company reevaluation and a pause in expansion, she came to understand how important speech is to her business.
Lincoln began taking many Barre3 classes in an effort to discover: What makes certain classes more popular and more powerful than others? Why do certain instructors connect better with their communities than others do?
A few weeks in, she discovered one element that, quite literally, spoke volumes: “It was in their voice.”
[Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]Lincoln picked up on a specific cadence infiltrating her instructors’ directions. Many addressed attendees in a tone that sounded palpably insecure. Dubbed “upspeak,” it’s when someone’s voice heightens then falls back down in a statement that ends like an open-ended question. There’s a distinct difference between strongly commanding a room to “root your feet to the floor” and asking, “root your feet to the floor?”
It’s essentially Clueless talk 2.0.
[Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]Lincoln recalls how certain instructors–most of them women–relied on this speech crutch when they felt less than confident. They were fully trained and capable, but their presentation thwarted their efforts to energize and inspire attendees. Oftentimes, though they used the same exact wording as fellow instructors, they weren’t able to fully fill a class.
The connection between voice and body, says Lincoln, was undeniable: “How we speak is really how we show up in life–just as much as our body language–but they’re connected.”
[Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]So the CEO hired voice coaches to work with her master instructors. These professionals did more than just call out their inflection mistakes. They also taught Barre3 employees how to breathe and talk from their chest in a more commanding manner.
“What blew us away is that voice is so much more than inflection–it is about confidence,” says Lincoln. “Even when we believe in something–if we’re put on a stage and we’re nervous–that’s when our voice, specifically women’s, does not show up the way that our minds mean it to.”
Sadie Lincoln [Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]The cofounder saw so many women, often taught not to “take up too much space,” falling into this voice trap. Like her, they’ve been holding in their gut since high school (“I wanted a flat belly,” she admits), not realizing voice is so vitally connected to the fully belly breathing.
The results were immediate, reports Lincoln. “It changed not only the instructors voices, but their lives,” says Lincoln. One told her she could now call up anyone and “get anything I want now. I’m direct, I’m clear, I’m confident.” Others said their relationships, work goals, and dating lives improved. “They have learned how to be more confident and influential communicators in the world beyond Barre3 …It was a game-changer.”
While Lincoln initially thought vocal training might make for more assured and happier employees, the coaching did far more–it affected the company bottom line. Barre3 reports higher class participation and an increase of wait-listed classes.
The experience propelled Lincoln to invest in voice training for her entire company, including home office and studio trainers. It’s now a mandated piece of on-boarding as Barre3 intends to empower employees “from within,” just like they do with attendees.
Shortly thereafter, Barre3 instituted 5-10 minutes of breathwork into its class curriculum. At the same time, the company began expanding, and now averages two new franchises a month. The two decisions go hand in hand, with Barre3 adopting the new motto, “in order to grow bigger, you need to grow better.”
Read more: 3 Easy Ways To Sound More Credible And Confident
As Lincoln explains, inhaling and exhaling is just as important as flexing one’s muscles or embodying a calm mind. It’s all connected.
“It’s being aware of all those patterns and how we’re showing up,” she stresses, taking a deep sigh. “It’s healthy to breathe big.”
HONG KONG (Oct 23): Chinese leader Xi Jinping opened one of the world’s longest bridges on Tuesday, during a tour to southern China that is seen by some as an opportunity for Beijing to reaffirm its commitment to economic liberalization.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is made up of nearly 35-km (22-mile) bridge and road sections and a 6.7 km (4-mile) tunnel, and has been dubbed the longest “bridge-cum-tunnel sea crossing” in the world.
Millions of plastic bottles are sold around the world each minute. Many of those are water bottles that end up in the trash a few minutes later, despite the fact that the people who buy them are not far from a drinking fountain or a restaurant willing to refill a bottle.
A new app called Tap maps out those refill locations and gives walking directions to the closest place that you can get water without extra plastic. “So long as you carry your own bottle, you never have to buy a bottle of water ever again,” says Samuel Ian Rosen, founder and CEO of Tap.
Rosen, the cofounder and previous CEO of the storage company MakeSpace, started thinking about the problem of bottled water while traveling. The usual explanation of why people choose bottled water is convenience; Rosen believed that a large part of the problem is really that people just don’t know where they can refill a bottle of their own. He searched Google Maps for water fountains in New York City, and found nothing. “I think people drink bottled water because they can’t find water,” he says.
As of launch today, the app lists more than 34,000 refill stations in 30 countries. Some of the locations are traditional water fountains, while others are restaurants or stores, like Sweetgreen, Lululemon, or Adidas, that either have refill stations or are willing to refill a bottle over the counter as a way to draw in customers. “I just realized that all these places were already giving out free water and none of them had a map that connects all of it,” he says.
In the U.K., a similar app called Refill also lists restaurants and cafes that can refill water bottles; like Tap, the project also gives stickers to cafes to put in their windows to encourage people to come inside and ask for water. But Tap, with a global presence, plans to expand more quickly. The app will soon add a feature to let users add new refill stations to the list, and later plans to let users rate locations, so it can refer someone to the best-tasting water nearby. “By connecting water to the internet, we can now start reporting on the quality of water and use Tap as a search engine for thirst,” says Rosen.
The app also includes locations that offer refills of sparkling and flavored water–Penn State University, for example, has a free Aquafina station with flavored water, and others offer refills for a small fee. It could later expand to other drinks, Rosen says, like soda, kombucha, or beer taps where users can refill growlers. “The future is happening now,” he says. “PepsiCo bought SodaStream for $3.2 billion. That’s the number two player essentially saying our way to become number one is to go bottle-less, right? That’s what I see happening.”