Welcome to EW‘s weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with the founder and creative director of Dubai-based fitness studio Barre Effect, Nora Hameidani. Originally hailing from the US, Hameidani relocated to Dubai in 2013 after living in New York City where she trained and instructed with Physique57.
With a wealth of experience in the fitness space, Hameidani decided to open her own studio Barre Effect, which officially opens this week on January 27, 2021.
EW sat down with Hameidani to find out more about her impressive career history and what made her want to enter the realm of fitness.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I really enjoyed maths growing up and it was a subject I felt like I really excelled at however when it came to university my true passion was in the arts and dance. Looking back now it shows that I like it when things make sense and are logical which is where my need for the organisation must come in.
What was your first job?
I worked at Starbucks throughout high school and college, which ended up kicking off my love and addiction for coffee. I liked being busy and having tasks, plus the added bonus of drinking coffee all day and talking to people. Making someone’s day with such a simple pleasure like coffee and exchanging a few words was really satisfying.
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Talk us through your career history.
I moved to NYC directly following college graduation and was training alongside performing with several contemporary dance companies. I auditioned and was chosen to train and instruct with Physique57, which is where my fitness and teaching experience started. When I was asked to move to Dubai to teach fitness I made the choice to give up the “starving artist” lifestyle and further my career while exploring the world. Since moving I have taught throughout various boutique studio, using various methods, however, Barre is where my heart is and starting my own brand and studio is truly a dream come true for me and a challenge that has been really rewarding.
What inspired you to go into fitness?
Growing up as a ballet dancer and continuing dance into my early twenties, fitness was a natural progression. I had always cross-trained and learned from a young age the benefits of keeping your body strong and limber. Dance and fitness really go hand in hand as they challenge both your strength and endurance. Being inspired by music and the buzzing off the energy of the people around you… doesn’t get much better than that.
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Talk us through the Barre Effect method and opening up your own studio.
The Barre Effect Method is a reflection of my experience in Barre and other methods as to what I find the most effective and fun! Continuously moving, and flowing from one muscle group to the next, it is impossible to get bored or plateau. Fast-paced with clear explanation, the instructor will be able to challenge the strongest client while also having the class be accessible for a newer, less experienced client. It is all about the instructor and that is why I have hand-picked and worked with the best of the best, and am excited for Barre Effect to be a fun place to work. I am a huge music fan, and at Barre Effect we plan to bring all the tunes and keep them loud.
What eventually brought you to Dubai?
I moved to Dubai for a one-year contract with all intentions of moving back to NYC. However, I met my now-husband (through a client) and the rest is history! We have two boys, Zayd (3.5) and Dylan (1.5) and a dog Koda, so the real fitness is keeping up with them.
What are the key elements of your role?
I plan to continue instructing as that is my passion and where it all began, however, I am excited to take on the role of Founder and Creative Director for the studio. I’ll be focusing on ensuring that the Barre Effect Brand and technique is the top in Dubai and that the clients and staff are happy and motivated. Every brand and studio are unique, so I am excited to learn and evolve with the needs of the women of Dubai. I am all about collaborations, and particularly in supporting other Dubai-grown small business so looking forward to future partnerships and relationships.
Talk us through your daily routine.
As any mom of young children knows, my day starts pretty early with coffee and getting ready for school. Once we are eventually out the door and have given our drop-off hugs, every day is different and scheduled tightly to get the most out of my time. I’m either on meetings/emails, teaching a class, or at a workout class for myself. I try to work out at least 5 days a week, as it is my “me” time and the best reset button. Afternoons are more meetings, errands and emails, in between Lego, bikes, and dinosaurs! Once the boys are asleep, my husband and I are at a dinner, catching up with friends but most likely on the couch binging on Netflix.
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What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Do you, follow your gut, and don’t let anyone rain on your parade. If it is something you are truly passionate about and have the best intentions then it will all work out. There is nothing in life without honesty.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Everything always works out in the end and if it doesn’t then it becomes a great learning for the future. I try to remember this when I am stressed or anxious about something.
And what is the worst?
Honestly, I can’t think of anything but I feel that you can learn from bad advice. If someone is giving you advice, they probably want to help you and have good intentions, so you can always learn from their experiences.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
I tend to overthink things, so I am working on trusting myself and instincts more and not sweating the small stuff. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I’m learning to let go and know there is only so much you can control. Having kids has actually helped me with this; they help me to put things in perspective and realize what really is important.
What are your goals for 2021?
I’m hoping for a healthier, brighter future post-pandemic. Barre Effect is an example of optimism and hope for things to return to a bit of normalcy and for us to come back to the life that we previously knew and loved. A strong launch of the brand, with a happy team and happy clients… that would be my biggest goal.
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