A niche fitness franchise is stretching further into the Richmond market.
Pure Barre, which sells ballet barre studio franchises, is set to add a new location in the West End. Sarah Love, the new franchisee, has leased space at 6234 River Road near the University of Richmond and the Country Club of Virginia.
Love plans to open in May in the 1,800-square-foot space in the River Road Shopping Center. Her operation will join a Pure Barre studio at 4017 Lauderdale Drive near Short Pump and neither are the only barres in town.
Locally based Corner Barre opened its second location last summer. And Barre Boutique hit Carytown about a year ago.
Love’s new venture will step into a highly competitive local fitness market that includes large gym chains like Gold’s and Fitness Evolution, as well as a growing swath of niche gyms that offer cycling classes, CrossFit workouts, kickboxing, stripper-pole workouts and other specific disciplines.
Competition isn’t new for Love. She played varsity soccer and lacrosse at Randolph Macon College before graduating in 2004. Love said she’s tried many gyms, from the boutique to the big box, and sees a demand for ballet barre fitness.
“Women are over jumping like maniacs and flipping tires around,” Love said.
Love would not say how much she’s spending to join the Richmond fitness market but is financing her efforts with the help of family and friends.
The Pure Barre franchise fee is $44,000, according to the company’s website. It estimates startup costs range from $111,500 to $182,500. Pure Barre now has 200 locations.
Its studios offer 55-minute workouts that incorporate a ballet bar. Like the Pure Barre near Short Pump, the newest studio will charge $175 for a one-month membership with unlimited classes.
Love is hoping her experiences in the hospitality industry will translate well to the fitness business. She was a partner at the Café Caturra on Grove Avenue before moving in 2009 to Wilmington, N.C., where she worked as the shop manager at a country club.
Though happy to be back in Richmond, Love said the catalyst for her new career was her father’s April 2013 passing from cancer.
“Everything lost its luster,” Love said.
Her commute in Wilmington took her past a Pure Barre each day and one day in May Love decided to give the gym a try. The isometric movements and friends she made proved to be a welcome outlet.
“It was the only 55 minutes of the day I could escape the heartache of losing my dad,” Love said. “I became addicted to it.”
Love applied to buy a franchise three months later.