How One Businesswoman Took Control Of Her Health — And Created A Fitness Company In The Process

Not all business owners have an "a-ha" moment, but Alexandra Bonetti, the owner and founder of fitness company bari, remembers hers clearly. Working as a consultant at the time, Bonetti was traveling often as part of her role that involved merging and acquiring oil firms. She didn’t have enough time to sleep well, much less work out and take care of herself. The fitness enthusiast felt unhealthy and exasperated. Desperate to take back control of her life, she shared how unhappy she was with her mother during a family vacation.

“I told my mom I was sick of my job, and I wanted to do something different,” Bonetti explains. “She said, ‘Why not do something with fitness?’” At first, Bonetti wrote off the idea completely. She didn’t think of herself as a coach or personal trainer ... she was a business woman! But that night, she couldn’t sleep. Instead of tossing and turning all night, she built a business plan for a fitness method involving dance cardio, trampoline cardio, and muscle sculpting. Six months later, she left her job to support bari full time.

Today, there are bari studios on two continents, and Bonetti has officially taken back control of her health and her life. We partnered with smartwater to talk to Bonetti about how business and working out intersect, and her mission to make fitness fun again with bari.

"While searching for the perfect workout, it was hard for me to find a one-stop shop where I could go, have a great workout, have a ton of fun, and be part of a great community — so that’s what I set out to build.”

Behind The Inspiration For The bari Method

“I was never a workout addict by any means, but while working in consulting, I realized I needed to take control of my life and my health again, so I started working out. I fell in love with fitness, and tried every workout method you can imagine. While searching for the perfect workout, it was hard for me to find a one-stop shop where I could go, have a great workout, have a ton of fun, and be part of a great community, so that’s what I set out to build.”

How Her Business Background Translates To bari

“If you want to be an entrepreneur, having a business background is really important because you learn a ton of structure and organization that you’re going to need when starting a company. But until you actually start a business, there's just going to be things you’re never going to know until you try. My advice is to just go for it.”

"A trampoline is one of the best workout tools that anyone can use ... You feel like you just went running on a cloud."

Why The Workout Works

“bari has three main elements: dance cardio, trampoline cardio, and muscle sculpting. Each class mixes and matches these elements, which gives clients variety and a consistent workout. People love the trampoline aspect of class. A trampoline is one of the best workout tools that anyone can use because it’s really fun, it’s super effective — it really gets you moving and pumps your heart rate up — and it’s low impact, so it’s easy on your joints. You feel like you went for a really long run, but you feel great after — your joints don’t hurt, your body doesn’t hurt. You feel like you just went running on a cloud. I think people love bari because it’s really fun and empowering. It definitely leads you through a challenge, but you always feel very accomplished after.”

How She Dealt With Skeptics

“Fitness wasn’t my background and I wasn’t a fitness fanatic before I opened bari as a business, so I think a lot of people were very hesitant about my career choice. But I just felt in my gut that it was the right thing to do. I really wanted to do it.”

"Working out is a really easy gateway into [being healthy], but you have to workout, you have to eat well, you have to stay hydrated, you have to sleep well, and you have to be happy."

On Health And Happiness

“Being healthy has a ton of components. Working out is a really easy gateway into that lifestyle, but you have to workout, you have to eat well, you have to stay hydrated, you have to sleep well, and you have to be happy. You have to be doing things that generally make you happy so that you feel healthy.”

On The bari Community

“Our tribe is probably the best and most exciting part of our company. At most gyms, you go, you work out, you drop your dirty towel and you leave. At bari, it’s very special because people stay after the workout — our tribe stays around and talks, supports one another, and helps each other through the journey of health. Our community has really become the backbone of what we do, and why we do it.”

"Working out helps you fall in love with yourself, it helps you believe in yourself — you believe in what you're capable of and you start making your own rules."

Why She Makes Fitness A Part Of Her Everyday Life

“Most people come to work out because they want a better body, and I think that’s pretty universal. But I think working out can help you gain confidence, which is a lot more magical. Working out helps you fall in love with yourself, it helps you believe in yourself — you believe in what you're capable of and you start making your own rules and living by things that really make you happy.”

Her Favorite Part Of Being A Business Owner

“One thing that I love about bari that I wasn’t expecting is the community that we’ve built. I think our clients support myself, and our trainers just as much as we support them. It’s a very inclusive, supportive environment.

"There’s an expectation to always look good ... and put on makeup, and be great at our jobs, and have kids, and take them to school — but also be CEOs. It’s exhausting."

Why She Loves Providing An Outlet For Other Women

“We have a great mix of both men and women clients, but I love working with women because I just think there is so much expected of us. There’s an expectation to always look good ... and put on makeup, and be great at our jobs, and have kids, and take them to school — but also be CEOs. It’s exhausting … That’s why I love working with women and see them being empowered, taking control of their lives and do things that they love.”

How bari Stays Elevated Among Other Boutique Workouts In NYC

“bari keeps being innovative by always staying on trend, by researching the latest sport science, and even though we stay really true to results, we always make sure the workout feels fun and empowering. I don’t settle and we try to make it so our clients never settle. I love what I do, I love my job, and I think there’s always an opportunity to be better and keep going — and that’s a big part of bari."

"My goal is to empower as many women as I can.”

On Strength

“Strength is something we all have inside of us, and the more we tap into it, the more we are in control of it.”

What Keeps Her Motivated

“What moves me is personal growth, and also seeing my clients grow. My goal is to empower as many women as I can to make their own rules so they can live deliriously happy lives.”

For more about Alexandra Bonetti, check out the video below:

Bustle on YouTube

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Photos: Jeff Holman