An Ode to AUXO: Reflections from co-owner Brinn Strange

July 27, 2021

'Sometimes you have to break your own heart to follow it." -- An Ode to AUXO from co-owner Brinn Strange.

I have had so many amazing memories and milestones during my time in Gainesville, but a few months ago my heart started being called back to the mountains, back to my family, back to the west coast.

However, packing up AUXO was tough. One of the hardest processes was when I took down (and promptly placed in my ‘treasures’ box), all or your beautiful faces from our Class Club boards and community boards. But I took a moment to hold each picture to my heart, to share a story with anyone who would listen, to reflect on the impact that person had on my life, and to wish each person in every picture well in their future endeavors.

It broke my heart to take the ash wood barres down from the walls of AUXO. I discovered that the two inches of space where the brackets were screwed in was a noticeably lighter shade than the rest of the barre, which had been worn and darkened through six years of continual use. The hard work and sweat of hundreds of amazing humans who had used that barre to stand taller, to support their beautiful bodies as they put their full weight on the barre in flat-back chair and water skier, to stretch and lengthen their muscles, had left its mark. This discoloration represented some members’ favorite spot in the room next to their barre bestie (or the fan), or the friend they had yet to meet.

During the final weeks of our brick-and-mortar location being open, many of you shared how much AUXO meant to you, too, and I thank you for that, but, in the end, AUXO was just four walls and impermanent fixtures--YOU all were the ones who showed up with your unique life experiences, energies, gifts, and greatness and left a piece of your heart on the space. It was my pleasure to learn your names, hear your stories, and remind you to stand tall, with your shoulders “rolled up, back, and down,” but it was YOU who graciously laughed at my jokes, trusted me with your workouts, and showed your loyalty and commitment to yourself and your studio. Thank you.

As ‘transplants’ to Florida 6.5 years ago, we knew no one besides a few members of my husband’s graduate program, but we left with an entire community of friends who we love like family. Gainesville will not only always hold a special place in my heart because this is where we had our two amazing little ones, but it is also where I birthed a business, which required a lot of hustle and heart: both from me and others.

It took my husband’s constant support and encouragement as he literally laid the foundation for the studio by installing flooring, building a wall, hooking up speakers and being on call 24/7 for maintenance and tech issues in addition to coming home after a long day of work to have a kid thrown in his arms so that I could race back into the studio to teach again. It took neighbors and friends reminding me that ‘I can do this’! They helped with childcare, attended studio events, and more. It took clients and staff bringing me hand-me-down maternity wear and clothes and toys their own kids had outgrown. It took members speaking up and being willing to take a leap of faith to attend teacher training and spending countless hours working on choreography as they became the faces of our amazing AUXO team. It took Alix’s patience and creativeness, Amy’s strong shoulders to pick me up when I was down, Deanna’s continual ‘go Mama’ cheerleading, Emma’s willingness to teach a million classes and remind us how beautiful we all are, and the dedication of each of the AUXO staff to bring their unique energy and awesomeness to AUXO. And it took YOU, dear AUXO family and Gainesville community, to offer grace when I was pregnant and could no longer demonstrate certain moves, who brought me meals when I was sick last fall, who offered ideas for new events, like Bad Girlz at the Barre (thanks Lynne), for shirt tank ideas, for new yoga class locations, for all the wonderfulness that made AUXO more than a place to work out.

As I pull into Spokane, Washington today, after a long journey that took me and my family literally across the country, I am simultaneously heartbroken to have left such an amazing and impactful place and joyful to be closer to family, to smell fresh mountain air, and to know that, through the beauty of technology, I can still be with you from across the country (and right in your living room) through Amy and my AUXO Coast-2-Coast offerings.

My ask is that you carry on the attitude of service to the community and love and respect for each other that we fostered at AUXO. Continue supporting and empowering one another just as I am thinking of you and rooting for you always!

With warmest wishes for a lifetime of happiness, health, and following your heart,  

--Brinn Strange