When Janelle Brennan took her first Barre class at a friend’s studio eight years ago, it immediately clicked. In the seventh grade, after getting her first horse, she began competing in dressage, which she describes as a “synchronized dance between you and your horse.” Dressage requires a lot of body cues and core strength, and in doing Barre, she got the same feeling of being in touch with her body and strengthening it from deep within.

After her friend got pregnant, Janelle was asked to start teaching a few classes each week. She quickly grew addicted to the feeling of being part of someone’s positive journey, to watch them grow stronger and more confident. It was a completely different world than her day job as a lawyer.

Eventually, Janelle was given the chance to purchase the studio, but her daughter was only a week old at the time. During a late-night feeding, Janelle decided, “This is crazy! I can’t do it!”

It was a regret that would shadow her for four years. Janelle finally got to the point where she didn’t want to wake up in 30 years, wondering what could have been.

After brainstorming with her friend, Janelle knew she needed to push the limits to create a place that didn’t already exist in the saturated fitness market. She started thinking about what she loves to do and the kinds of workouts she loves to have. From there, she started developing classes, including a twist on Barre, which she calls Sculpt, and a boxing-cardio class called Strike.

In April 2019, she officially opened the doors to Core Four Collective, a multi-practice fitness studio located at 125 South Stevens in downtown Spokane.

“I wanted to create a place that was like your third place: work, home and Core Four – where you can come to the studio and commiserate, you can celebrate, you can take a break. And know that we’re all here for you. We can create these connections that you may not have already formed in your busy life,” Janelle shared.

When Janelle moved to Spokane 20 years ago to attend Gonzaga, downtown was not as vibrant as it is today. It’s a fitting analogy with Core Four’s building space. When they first started leasing, there was only one other tenant, and now it’s filled up. This speaks to the bigger downtown and how much it’s flourishing.

“It’s cool to have so many more restaurants, businesses and people in this central hub of activity where people can see our sign and come in. To be part of that energy is really neat,” she said.

For Janelle, the best part of being downtown is the walkability for clients. Pre-COVID, they got a lot of business from people staying in the hotels downtown, and many clients attend classes during their lunch breaks. As a busy lawyer, Janelle understands the need for escape.

“I love that minute you can take to get away from your computer. You can completely free your mind, reset everything, refresh yourself, and then come back to whatever you’re doing better and stronger.”

When the COVID-19 shutdowns began in March 2020 – not even a year into her business – Janelle wanted to keep clients engaged, so they began streaming one fitness class a day.

“We decided we’re going to do this; we’ll show up,” Janelle said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re at home struggling, or the kids are screaming in our ears, we’re going to take these moments for ourselves and still find a way to meet.”

Janelle’s goal for the future is to grow the Core Four community and be known as the most “inclusive exclusive club,” where everyone wants to join, not just because it’s so cool, but because of how they’ll be cared for – mind, body and soul. She’s looking forward to doing more partnerships with Riverfront Park over the summer and hosting various events and pop-ups throughout the region.

Her advice to other women who want to open their own businesses is to never let fear stand in the way.

“Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone to see what you’re capable of,” Janelle said. “If it works out, beautiful. If it doesn’t, at least you got to try something you loved for a bit.”

Photo by: Mica Sansaver