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Top Stories of 2017: Gina Matthews Brings Cardio Barre to Oxford

Longtime Oxford resident Gina Rounsaville Matthews (center) and her staff can help anyone get into better shape for the new year at Oxford Cardio Barre.

Oxford entrepreneur Gina Rounsaville Matthews has a passion for fitness, but she loves a juicy cheeseburger with fries, too.

Looking at her, you wouldn’t believe the toned, petite Matthews has touched red meat in years or that she’s the mother of two small children born barely a year apart. That’s what a regular workout at her new Cardio Barre Oxford studio will do for you.
Matthews opened the studio, located at 3000 Old Taylor Road, earlier this year and already counts members of the Ole Miss Rebelettes as students. Created by dancer/choreographer Richard Giorla, a former lead dancer for Michael Jackson, the Cardio Barre program is a high-energy, no-impact regimen that combines barre moves, light weights and cardio in a single workout. And, with Giorla’s powerhouse reputation behind it, it has become the regimen of choice for actresses and celebrities ranging from Dakota Fanning and Lucy Lawless to Paul Stanley of KISS.

Matthews, who earned her degree in marketing and communications at Ole Miss, grew up dancing, took gymnastics and was an All-Star softball pitcher as a child. 
“I was the girl who would do back handsprings to catch the ball,” she recalled.
After college, she stayed in tip-top shape while working at several corporate jobs, but she left the business world to have her two children, Wilson, 4, and Mary Charles, 3, with husband Wil Matthews, a local businessman. She also underwent thyroid surgery after having her second child.
“With all that behind me, I wanted to get active again so I could feel good about myself,” she said. “I had previously taught Pilates and considered opening a Pilates studio, but I didn’t think that would be competitive enough in this market.”
Once Matthews discovered Cardio Barre, she knew she was onto something special. Giorla developed the workout after suffering a devastating hip injury. “He needed a workout that would help him maintain his dancer’s physique without re-injuring his body,” Matthews said. “Part of the beauty of Cardio Barre is that it has no impact on the body—a person with, say, a bad back could do this workout without any worries—but it’s definitely high-intensity. You’re going to be sore. You’ll know you worked out, and you’ll quickly start to see results in your body, usually after just three classes. But it doesn’t put any strain on the body if you’ve got previous injuries or are worried about getting injured.”

Although grounded in dance and barre-based, the workout doesn’t require any dancing experience, Matthews said. But stick with it, and you will have a dancer’s body over time.
“Cardio Barre isolates every single muscle of your body,” she added. “You’re working that inner thigh that you never worked on before. You’re putting into play parts of your body you didn’t know you had. That’s the power of dance and barre moves—when you turn out your leg and your hip, you’re hitting a muscle you don’t normally hit when you run or walk or do squats or the elliptical. You’re working those specific muscles that have been neglected all your life.”
Each class takes students through a number of sections, including ballet moves without weights, cardio with weights, and sections that focus on the arms and legs.
“Cardio is incorporated throughout the workout, you’re constantly moving,” Matthews said. “There’s also an actual cardio section within the workout with a much faster tempo to get your heart rate up. But because you’re always moving in a continual, fat-burning, strengthening, dance-based motion, the entire workout is cardio.”
Matthews said Cardio Barre classes are ideal for “anyone whose goal is to lose weight, lengthen, tone and strengthen muscles, and become more flexible. As far as getting a dancer’s physique, you can’t do any better than barre, but if you want to lose weight and burn calories, you have to do cardio. We offer the best of both worlds in one class.”

All of Cardio Barre Oxford’s instructors underwent an intensive training course at the corporate headquarters in Studio City, California. Matthews’ facility, which is the only Cardio Barre studio in Mississippi, has all 5-star ratings on its Facebook page. And Matthews said anyone, male or female, between 14 and 75 will benefit from the workout. “Right now, we actually have a 15-year-old and a 70-year-old taking our classes,” she noted.
“After having two kids, my abs look the most defined they’ve looked since before I first became pregnant with my oldest child four years ago,” Matthews said. “And I still eat cheeseburgers and fries when the craving hits. That’s how good this workout is.”
For clients with children, Cardio Barre also offers a childcare room. Space is limited and must be reserved in advance. For more information about Cardio Barre Oxford, call (818) 761-6006.

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on in May 2017. Gina Matthews is expecting her third child in early 2018.

Rick Hynum is editor-in-chief of Email him at
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