As a former professional ballet dancer and teacher, Laurie Glatzer brings three decades of experience and knowledge as the new owner of the Wilton Center barre method exercise studio Barre Studio. She has since changed the name to BodyQuest Studio, making the Wilton spot the third studio she now owns and runs, in addition to locations in Westport and Fairfield.

Barre exercise is a very focused combination of ballet-based moves, weight-bearing exercise and stretches that devotees say is body- and life-changing. Glatzer and instructors in her studio teach based on the original barre method created by dancer Lotte Berk.

“It is your absolute blend of mind-muscle workout. Barre method engages you so thoroughly mentally—to find the perfection of a simple movement, that’s what brings the spirit part into it. Muscle work is very typically arm work with weights, the stretching is pretty universal, what you’re going to see in many yoga classes, many stretches that you’ve seen done at the gym. Barre method takes so many beautiful elements from yoga and ballet, modern dance, jazz positioning, and puts it in a class where you’re guided through it by an instructor. The beauty of this Barre work is, you feel secure because the instructor that’s teaching you has had years and years of training behind them to guide you appropriately,” Glatzer says.

Glatzer’s own experience comes from training at Canada’s National Ballet School and years of being a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. She also owned her own ballet studio for 19 years, but started to feel that her own body was taking a lot of punishment. “I was getting to the point where physically, that was just too challenging for me, you know the hip joints and the knees and all that as a ballet dancer tend to give out. And I hit kind of the turning point of ‘What am I going to do next?’

When she started training in the Lotte Berk method she found it to be life changing.

“I fell in love with it, started training, took about 3-4 months to train, and then began teaching it. And the passion, for what this does for you as a teacher, I can’t even compare, as a ballet instructor, how different it is to teach this, versus how I taught ballet as a teacher to children. The joy we get, teaching this powerful method. Which literally not only can change [students’] bodies, but it can spark something in them and make it become very passionate for them, and make them never want to stop doing it. I have clients that have been with me since I first started teaching in 1999. It just doesn’t get boring, because you always want to go a little deeper in the muscle and find that new design in your body. So it’s an amazing method,” Glatzer raves.

She also says it’s a good complement to other forms of exercise that focus more on cardiovascular health.

“I am a big proponent of doing other things, barre is not something that you just, do, and do nothing else. You’ve got to add the aerobics to it, and it’s a beautiful blend to cycling, to running, to yoga. So it would never be right for anyone to say, ‘Barre is the only thing,’ because it’s not the only thing,” says Glatzer adding that what she sees in a barre workout can go hand in hand with aerobics.

“This is just different in that you are truly the person that’s designing your body. By the depth of your effort, the consistency and how many times you chose to take it,  but it is a method than can transform you physically, whereas aerobics, you get the stamina,” she says.

When the former owners of the Barre Studio came to Glatzer about taking over the Wilton studio, she was excited about bringing her approach to town.

“I said, ‘It’s an adorable studio, it’s a great town, I will see what I can do with this.’ What I’d like people to know is we do offer anyone new to Body Quest in Wilton a month of unlimited classes for $110. And they can take all the different instructors and kind of see what we do. What’s different about us than franchises is we’re beyond the boundaries of what franchises give their studios. Every class is a unique experience, which is really important. Your body won’t change if you know exactly whats happening next.”

Glatzer has kept the same instructors who taught at the Barre Studio too, so people who used to be clients will see familiar faces.

“They’ve been friends of mine for 10 years. They’re too much of a gift, and they’ve got the knowledge and the experience. In order for it to be taught well, you’ve got to have instructors that know what they’re doing and can literally do it in their sleep and know when someone isn’t getting into the muscle well enough or deep enough. So, experience speaks volumes when you’re going to a barre class.”

Glatzer also hopes people will come in and try out a class, even people who may not be familiar with the barre method or who have never taken a barre class before.

“I just want people to know that it’s not a scary method, that it’s an effective method. And that it’s not gone in Wilton and that they need to realize that this is a unique experience that really can empower them and benefit other things that they are trying to do. I believe aerobic work is great, and it has a certain place; then you need your muscles to be long and lean and powerful. And this is the kind of method that will give it to you. It needs to be experienced.”

Glatzer’s website includes class schedules for all three studios.