Teacher Feature: Tiffin Bennett

From gymnastics, to theater arts, to ballet and now barre, Tiffin Bennett’s eclectic background has shaped the kind of dance and fitness teacher she’s become. She wanted to become a certified barre instructor to broaden the classes she could bring to her clients. After years of teaching at large dance studios, Tiffin recently decided to start her own small studio. Tiffin completed her IBBFA barre certification in May of last year and since has completed her Level 2, Level 3 and Prenatal certifications. We asked her some questions about her barre journey, her studio and how she is sharing her barre knowledge with her community in Idaho.

tiffinWhat was your dance or fitness experience prior to getting certified?

I danced as a child, switched to gymnastics, and was a competitive gymnast for six years— achieving national ranking on the Floor Exercise in college (NAIA Division). I switched back to dance, and earned a degree in theater arts with an emphasis in dance education. I was also fortunate enough to dance professionally with a small company, Burch Mann’s American Folk Ballet, including their tour of Russia, which can be seen in the documentary, Distant Dance. I’ve been teaching dance (primarily ballet and tap) professionally for over 25 years. Among other positions in several companies, I held the position of Lower School Director (ages 4-11) with Ballet Idaho Academy of Dance and Eagle Performing Arts Center, where — in addition to teaching students — I was responsible for creating syllabi and training teachers. I’ve also had the opportunity to work freelance as a choreographer within the musical theatre world.

Why do you love teaching barre?

Teaching barre has allowed me to take skills I’ve developed and honed over many years and adapt them to an entirely new setting and purpose. In addition to allowing me to work with a very different demographic than in the past, it has also given me tools to help dancers improve technique and overall strength, as well as assist in recovery from injury. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity it has afforded me to challenge myself and learn new techniques and exercises.

What’s your favorite part of class? A favorite exercise? Routine? Warmup? Cooldown?

Let’s begin with a couple of my favorite exercises: I love the Pulse Backs, as they are an excellent way to improve overall core strength while targeting the abs. They are easily adaptable to all fitness/strength levels, and give quick feedback — which encourages continued work. Another favorite of mine is the Attitude Leg Lift, with which I’ve put together a routine to Postmodern Jukebox‘s cover of “All About That Bass” which has become a class favorite (after all, we are working on our bases)! Because I have students covering a wide range of ages and abilities, I really appreciate the modifications, which let me tailor routines to all individuals, allowing them to feel successful and continue to be challenged. The great thing about barre fitness, and what I tell my clients, is that this is a maintainable exercise program, no matter the initial fitness level, physical challenges, or age. How wonderful is that?

However, the part of class that is my most favorite is easily the end, when I get comments like, “I feel so much taller, and more graceful!” or, “Thank you so much! I’m ready to start my day!” or “Miss Tiffin, I need you to know my back is feeling so much better since starting to take your class!” or “This is the best stress reliever I’ve ever had!” I love knowing that they feel better — both physically, and about themselves — after they’ve taken class.

How has barre impacted you and your community?

As mentioned earlier, I’ve enjoyed challenging myself with new techniques and learning new approaches to things I’ve already known. This has come with the added benefit of increased personal fitness. In addition, it has given me greater tools for spotting and correcting weaknesses in my dance students.

As for my community, my initial clients were largely made up of the mothers of my young ballerinas, and barre fitness has allowed me to connect with them on a much different level, developing relationships that extend beyond the standard teacher/parent paradigm. Through word-of-mouth, others have joined us, and I’ve witnessed a support system and community develop among my ladies that didn’t exist previously, through which we share in each other’s triumphs and bolster in times of difficulty.

How is your studio doing? Any advice for other barre-tenders looking to open their own studios?

My studio continues to slowly build. In all my years of teaching, this is the first I’ve gone out on my own. Adding barre fitness classes has added depth to my offerings, and a more robust increase in clientele. My advice would be to pay close attention to your specific (and individual) clientele, paying attention to their needs, likes, and areas of difficulty. Being sensitive to these elements will help you design more effective classes, allowing your clients to feel and be more successful, which is the ultimate goal, and which, in turn, encourages loyalty. Clients who are enjoying class, seeing positive results, and feeling successful, are the best advertisement you could hope for.

Any current goals?

I’m currently working on integrating the elements learned in higher certifications into new classes…. More to come!

Facebook Comments
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *