Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
While attending a Prince concert in 1997, Kamilah Barrett was invited on stage by the pop superstar, a move that changed her life forever. "My 20-minute solo performance led me to tour with him through the fall," she reveals. After returning home to Fort Washington, Maryland, Barrett became inspired to turn her background in track and field and dance into a full-fledged career in the fitness industry. "This need was so deep, almost a spiritual obligation, to help people feel better and live longer, " she adds.
After creating her own company called Heel Hop and training with ACE and AFFA certified fitness coordinators at her hometown's Bally Total Fitness B Fit University, Barrett was picked up immediately and worked for a handful of gyms across Maryland, in addition to assisting senior citizens in nursing homes and churches. "After meeting so many great people, for my 23rd birthday one of my bosses referred me to the president of a private fitness corporation that furnishes fully-loaded gyms, machines, and aerobics rooms for all the government officials in Washington, DC," she notes. "I became one of the aerobics coordinators there where I programmed classes, performed personal training, and created monthly activities."
After eventually moving to Los Angeles, in 2008 Barrett was asked to audition at Cardio Barre, a wildly popular fitness movement created by one of her gurus, Richard Giorla. After seven years, she's still loving it and is a favorite at the Santa Monica studio.
"Cardio Barre is a a healing, non-judgmental environment where anyone can participate no matter what your fitness level or condition is," she explains. "My clients have been known to call me their 'fitness reverend' because I have a level of patience that can be matched with the biblical story of Job. My training style is inspired by both Carol Burnett and Tony Robbins; I create motivational scenarios within class to explain the heart of each exercise, but I also like to keep everyone cracking up!"