Barres and Wheels continues legacy of former studio

By Hollie Grace James – 

Dance, yoga, running, pilates – Marie Boivin has always been keenly interested in the world of fitness and nutrition, praising its ability to get her through “difficult phases” in her life. Though many of her adult years have been dedicated to advancing her career in the financial industry, she never completely gave up on this passion, always carrying it with her, until life itself, as it so often does, pushed her in a completely new direction. Finding herself at a crossroads and caring for an ailing mother diagnosed with brain cancer, she wasn’t quite sure where things were going. And then, in a tiny hospital room at The Queensway Carleton, an idea was born. She cast aside all uncertainty as this new concept lit up her dying mother’s eyes, and time stood still because this exact moment would become a defining one – she was going to open her very own fitness studio. 

Three days after the passing of her mother, the idea became a concrete reality, with Marie signing the lease of a “beautiful space in Stittsville” and officially opening Barres and Wheels just in time for her late mother’s birthday. Although in creating what she truly loved, she was ultimately faced with navigating completely new territory. Marie combined Ottawa’s strong barre community with a strong spin community, and if the old adage rings true that it’s all in the name, Barres and Wheels was born for success. Here, the curriculum is all about adhering to Marie’s motto of sweat, sculpt, and refuel, with a selection of classes built for precisely the ability to do just this. There are a variety of ways to do each though, explains Marie. For example, you can sweat it out at spin or bootcamp, sculpt with a traditional barre class, and finally refuel courtesy of in-house café Avoca, which offers healthy smoothies, coffee, and food. 

It’s all in the family at Barres and Wheels. Marie Boivin’s son Leo is her right hand man. Her daughter Florence is a spin instructor and her other daughter, Mégane, teaches barre. 
It’s all in the family at Barres and Wheels. Marie Boivin’s son Leo is her right hand man. Her daughter Florence is a spin instructor and her other daughter, Mégane, teaches barre. Photo by Hollie Grace James

“Studio 1 was simply a trial,” says Marie, “to see how things were going to go.” And things certainly went well. So well, in fact, that Marie decided to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Barres and Wheels with the big announcement about a second location. By October 2018, Sugar Mountain on Elgin St., where patrons once flocked to achieve the buzz that only comes with overindulgence on sugary snacks, officially transformed into quite the opposite – two floors of Barres and Wheels fitness furor. And Marie didn’t intend to stop at Studio 2 either. When the owners of popular Wellington West barre studio Inside Out decided it was time to move on to other things, they couldn’t simply leave their clientele hanging. Marie was eager to step up to the challenge of “continuing the barre culture that Inside Out had created.” The third, and newest, location of Barres and Wheels took over 1416 Wellington St. W. on January 28, 2019.

“We are loving the location,” beams Marie. “It’s such a vibrant and exciting neighbourhood.” Across the three locations now dotted across the city, the mindset remains the same – redefining exercise with a love of pure and simple movement. The barre workout, originally conceived by German ballerina Lotte Burke, is a combination of ballet, pilates, and yoga movements designed to accentuate definition while building a long, lean look. Spin is the flip side to this coin. It’s the ultimate cardio workout, designed to build endurance. A “clubhouse feel” with facilities that allow people to head back to work in full blow dry and makeup was important to Marie, but she is equally invested in her instructors. “We are selective. We tend to stick with people who have experience and certifications in the fitness industry,” she says. “When not properly monitored, too often injuries happen so quickly and that sets you back months.” Her main goal, however, is for people to simply feel good. “When you focus on sweat, sculpt, and refuel, you don’t need to diet – if you focus on this as part of your life, you will feel good.”


*This feature is brought to you in part by Back on Track Physiotherapy and Health Centres.

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