By Kate Daly | Special to the Almanac
The racks of faded bikinis are gone. So is the paper sign that filled the shop window for years claiming two people were "corrupt, abuse power, and violate civil rights."
The commercial space at the corner of Menlo Avenue and El Camino Real in Menlo Park is opening for business again on Feb. 28 with a new Barre3 studio that combines ballet barre, yoga and pilates in one class.
Karen Bradshaw, 39, of Atherton is the owner of this franchise, one of nearly 100 locations in North America and the Philippines. Barre3 studios already exist in San Carlos, San Mateo and Los Altos. Company headquarters is in Portland, Oregon, where all owners and instructors go for training.
Ms. Bradshaw says what differentiates Barre3 from competitors is her company's goal: "to live happier lives."
Beyond classes, she explains, Barre3 offers a sense of community. Online at Barre3.com, members have access to 200 workouts and "a large library of whole food recipes that nourish your body with the good things and try to crowd out bad things" like processed foods.
She describes her one-hour classes as using "a lot of small range motions, an inch down, an inch up, with large range motions added and cardio boost added."
During the work out she tells students "at Barre3 we like to say, 'slower is harder.'"
Ms. Bradshaw says she's excited to be back in the area. She went to Encinal, Hillview and Menlo-Atherton High schools. After college she worked in Los Angeles for Time Inc., and then a media company in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, before moving to Santa Barbara, where she owned a Dailey Method studio for four years.
She sold that somewhat similar fitness business to return to this area, where she has family who can help out with her 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Justine.
After searching a while for the right opportunity, Ms. Bradshaw started leasing 989 El Camino Real last August. The former tenants, Just Add Water and A Tan for All Seasons, had left and "I had to demo the whole space," she says.
The sign in the window was targeted at a police officer and assistant district attorney who worked on a case more than 15 years ago involving towed cars that were parked at the site.
Ms. Bradshaw says she is grateful for the support she received from Menlo Park's economic development manager and the mayor, and Midglen Studio Associates of Woodside in guiding her through the renovation process.
The result is one room with a retail display, childcare corner, water bottle filling station, lockers, shower and restroom. The other room is uncarpeted with mirrors lining one wall, wooden hip-height barres running the length of two sides, and semi-sheer shades covering the windows.
Shelves provide storage space for the small weights, elastic bands and mats used during class. A sound system provides music from Barre3's playlist.
Ms. Bradshaw says she has already received more than 780 reservations for her introductory week of free classes. The schedule is still in flux, but for now she plans to offer classes on weekday mornings, afternoons and evenings, and on weekend mornings.
"Discounted Founding Memberships" are available; otherwise the regular cost is $175 a month. The drop-in fee is $20 per class. Class packages lower the rate. Childcare for children up to age 8 costs $5 per child.
Ms. Bradshaw is teaching along with four other young mothers with different skill sets. One is an ultra marathoner, another was a ballet dancer, for example, but they are trained to work with all ages, and welcome pregnant women and senior citizens.
Ms. Bradshaw says at her former studio, "we had some amazing women in their seventies."