It was a cool night in late February when I first met Jenn Varzari, MA’01, LLB’04. My friend had invited me to a “barre on the heavy bag” course at UNDRCARD Gym club. Over the next few months, under the party lights and punchy bass of a workout that left me dripping with sweat and feeling so energized, I learned just how amazing Varzari is.

When the barre studio she was teaching at closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, she took to Instagram to teach online classes. She languished in the seemingly endless cycle of working and homeschooling. She teamed up with other studio instructors and took their classes to a local park, raising money for charity in lieu of class fees, raising nearly $11,000 in that first COVID summer. .

Eventually, Varzari and two fellow studio instructors joined forces to create parent + fit to further build an inclusive fitness community that they had come to love and desire. They started by giving classes on Zoom and outdoors. In July 2021, the trio contacted UNDRCARD to see if they could use their space.

“Our values ​​align with UNDRCARD values, and we all have similar personalities,” says Varzari. “We weren’t there as sexy fitness providers; we are down to earth, real and passionate about teaching. We do this because we want to connect and move with people. The UNDRCARD team saw that we were not there to build our own separate community, but to help build theirs.

“It really was the perfect match.”

Jenn Varzari co-founded kin+fit in July 2021.

Magda Hudy, BA’05, BSc’05, PhD’13

From litigator to entrepreneur

So how does a litigant at a major oil and gas law firm become a small business owner, fitness leader, and community builder?

“Honestly, I didn’t like my job from when I was a summer student with the company, but I was there for almost 11 years,” Varzari recalls. “I was at the point where I had to decide if this was my job forever. I looked at my female band partners and wondered if this was what I wanted. I don’t know if they were happy, but ultimately I knew I wouldn’t be happy where they were.

Varzari left the company and joined Aviva Lawyers in 2016 as a full-time litigator and began taking spin classes at a local studio. It was the first time she could use fitness to improve her mental well-being and to ease the transition to the new job and the stress of raising a young family. She was so inspired by the support instructors she met that she gave teaching a chance. After completing it Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association (AFLCA) training and taking a barre instructor course with her sister, she landed a teaching job at the Calgary studio.

“I wasn’t outgoing before I started teaching, but after that first lesson I realized, ‘This is what I’m supposed to do.’ And that was something I could never have pursued while working in big business.

Varzari also credits her teaching with making her a better lawyer.

It gives me confidence to talk about something I’m passionate about comfortably in front of a large group of people and connect with people after class. I couldn’t do this within the legal framework before; I couldn’t sell myself as a lawyer before because I couldn’t believe in what I was selling.

Restoring the main objective of kin+fit

Varzari’s desire to give back to the community continued even after in-person classes resumed, building on the connection and enthusiasm people feel doing things together. She recently held an event with one of her private classes to purchase and package over 100 bags of menstrual products to distribute to homeless Indigenous women, and assembled a group to run the Calgary Marathon 10K in support of the Love For Lewiston Foundation.

“People want to give back and they’re looking for ways to make it easier for them,” she says. “People also want to do things together because it makes them happy, so it makes sense to combine the two.”

His business partner, Alissa Kazakoff, BSc’17, has seen firsthand Varzari’s power to build community and bring people together.

“There are few people I’ve met who have a heart as big as Jenn,” says Kazakoff. “She has a knack for connecting with people from all walks of life and making them feel heard and supported. Jenn’s generosity and kindness have been some of the most rewarding parts of working together on the kin+fit project; building this community and all our initiatives would not be possible without it.

“And, of course, her work ethic, her passion and her commitment to the cause are second to none. I am lucky to have her in my life as a friend, business partner and life mentor. .”

Clearly, a sense of community drives everything Varzari does, whether inside or outside the fitness studio.

“Ultimately, kin+fit was created out of a common desire to share our love of group movement and music and to create an inclusive fitness community,” she says. “I love seeing people meet and, week after week, they become friends. I never thought that at 45 I would have more social connections and friends than I did in high school. That’s thanks to trying something new with those first spin classes over eight years ago.

Ali Abel is the communications manager for the Faculty of Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running (slowly, she says), stand-up paddleboarding and throwing punches at UNDRCARD.