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How an Injury Led This Dancer to a Career as an In-Demand Fitness Instructor

Jay Sullivan Photography, courtesy Julie Granger

Dancers crossing over into the fitness realm may be increasingly popular, but it was never part of French-born Julie Granger's plan. Though Granger grew up a serious ballet student, taking yoga classes on the side eventually led to a whole new career. Creating her own rules along the way, Granger shares how combining the skills she learned in ballet with certifications in yoga, barre and personal training allowed her to become her own boss (and a rising fitness influencer).



Her Introduction To Yoga

After beginning her ballet studies in France, Granger eventually made her way to the U.S. in 2007 to train with Boston Ballet and later, the Joffrey Ballet, where she was first introduced to yoga. “One of my dancer friends insisted on taking me to a yoga class, but I really did not want to go," Granger recalls. "I had the usual prejudices dancers have about yoga. I went nevertheless, and I immediately fell in love with it. From that point on, I started taking yoga every day, often before morning ballet class." But even so, Granger was still in pursuit of a serious ballet career.

Making The Switch

"I was training at the Joffrey, and I had this long term injury that was bothering me. I wasn't feeling fulfilled or challenged, and I started asking myself a lot of questions about if this was what I really wanted," she says. "I decided to go to school in New York, where I could dance every day so I could keep both doors open."

While studying management and entrepreneurship at New York City's Baruch College in 2014, Granger decided to become certified in yoga, and by her last semester in school, she was teaching. In 2015, she began training to become a barre instructor after Equinox reached out to her. "I never really consciously decided to be a fitness instructor, it kind of just happened to me," Granger says.

Becoming Her Own Boss

Today, Granger mixes things up with a combination of personal training sessions and group classes (she's even co-hosting a retreat in Greece this summer). And ballet is still part of her day-to-day. In addition to teaching six children's ballet classes each week, Granger implements her training into all of her fitness classes.

"Music is very important in my classes, and that is definitely because of my ballet training. I make sure the playlist follows class progression, just like the pianist would in a ballet class," she says. "I also incorporate a lot of core work in my classes, and they're all very alignment-based because of my dance background. In my barre classes, I use the ballet positions and vocabulary. I know a lot of people enjoy that because it makes them feel like a dancer."

Building Her Brand

Granger has also built an impressive following on social media. Her exercises—which she posts to her Instagram each week—are something everyone can do whether they're at home or traveling. But she especially encourages ballerinas to give yoga and barre a try. "Yoga has helped tremendously with my balance and flexibility, and it also helps strengthen and stretch deep muscles that dancers use and that are usually difficult to access, such as the piriformis," she says. "Regular practice can also help dancers who are going through stressful times like injuries or auditions because you learn how to use your breath to calm down your nervous system."

"I love the fact that my schedule is never the same—juggling the different formats I teach, making new connections every day, and hopefully helping people live a healthy lifestyle," she says. "For as long as my body can keep up with me, I think I have the perfect job."

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Cynthia Oliver in her office. Photo by Natalie Fiol

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