Andrea Barber tells PEOPLE she had completely "moved on" from acting – until Fuller House came along

By Rennie Dyball
Updated January 13, 2016 10:55 AM
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When Full House wrapped in 1995, Andrea Barber left show business behind.

Immediately after playing Kimmy Gibbler on the family hit sitcom, she headed off to college. After school, she worked in higher education, got married and became a stay-at-home mom to two children. It wasn’t until the spin-off Fuller House came along that Barber, 39, even considered a return to acting.

“I had a great experience as a child. I love the craft, I just don’t really like the business,” Barber tells PEOPLE. “The marketing of yourself, going out on auditions and the unpredictability of the profession is really hard on my family life. It’s just a really tough business.”

But when show creator Jeff Franklin approached her about reprising her role as D.J.’s best friend, Barber did not hesitate. “I came back to this business simply for Fuller House,” she says. “It was a dream come true. I didn’t have to audition for the show and I get to work with people I already know and love! I feel very fortunate.”

Now an avid runner – she’s completed 26 half-marathons and 3 full ones and is currently training for her fourth – Barber says she discovered the sport later in life, but at a fitting time.

“It was a coincidence I started running right around that the time that my marriage was falling apart, and it was the single best thing I could have done to get through my divorce. I just needed that time to be alone and to get out whatever I was feeling, to just pound it out through the pavement,” she says. “Running has been a great mantra for my life, too. It’s all about moving forward. I met my current boyfriend Michael through running. It’s great to have this common interest. Running has just brought so many positives to my life. I feel incomplete without it.”

The same can be said for her TV and real life BFF, Candace Cameron Bure.

“Working together again on the same set that we grew up on, we just had a blast,” says Barber. “That was absolutely the best part of doing the show, getting to spend so much time with Candace and Jodie [Sweetin]. There aren’t that many people who can relate to my personal childhood. The three of us shared this unique history.”

On the new show, “I loved the direction they took Kimmy Gibbler in,” she says of her character, a fellow mom who moves in with D.J. to help her raise her own children. “I think people really want to get back to that good, fun, clean comedy with a little modern twist. Something you can watch with your kids but definitely will appeal to the adults.”

For much more on the Fuller House cast reunion, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

And she’s looking forward to interacting directly with fans once Fuller House starts streaming on Netflix Feb. 26.

“Our fans have been so loyal, even before Fuller House was a thing, Tweeting us during the Nick at Nite episodes at 2 a.m. when they were sick with the flu and couldn’t sleep,” she says. “I don’t think they are going to be disappointed. It’s not just a repeat of the same Full House, it’s a fresh show but it has that nostalgia factor. We can see and appreciate how those characters grew up. I hope people Tweet me their reactions because I want to read them all. I can’t wait.”