What I’ve Learned After 17 Years of Studio Ownership

Opening day of In Balance Pilates Studio in Wilmington, NC.


...and today she’s 17. In Balance Pilates Studio began with one reformer. Each piece of equipment thereafter was purchased with cash as I made it. If you’re thinking of starting a studio please know it’s ok to start small. It’s actually BETTER. It can be done without debt AND some good old fashioned hard work. ⁣
I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. Even 17 years later we have slow months, clients quit, and unexpected things happen (Hurricane Florence 🤦🏻‍♀️). Don’t let IG trick you into thinking that every studio owner is killing it and that starting with 12 reformers is necessary or realistic. Like EVERYTHING on IG, you don’t have the full story. ⁣
Here’s one thing I have learned over the past 17 years and even more so in this past year...teach Pilates and (if you are inclined to do so) start a studio because you LOVE Pilates. ⁣
Don’t do it to get rich... you’ll be disappointed. Don’t do it because you think you know better than the studio owner you currently work for... you’ll understand immediately why she’s grumpy some days. Don’t do it because being a studio owner looks’s more hard work, late nights and early mornings than you can imagine. ⁣
Do it because you love when a client has an “aha moment.” Do it for the joy your client feels when she does her first unassisted roll up. Do it for the joy you feel when a client walks in the door talking about how she “did Pilates” while riding her bike over the weekend. ⁣
I have had the absolute privilege and honor of traveling the country teaching teachers over the past 3 years. The biggest thing I’ve learned during that time is how much I love to get up everyday and walk through the doors of In Balance Pilates Studio. I love In Balance more than words can express and I love sharing my days with Kristen Boyer Gruodis Carrie Broyhill Michelle House Heather Till
Thanks Wilmington, NC for keeping us around so long. We’re always here for you when you need us. 😘

Teaching Pilates Heals

I’m not gonna lie. Getting on a plane to teach workshops in Houston after my studio was destroyed by Hurricane Florence was not an easy thing to do last Thursday. The majority of the work being done to get In Balance operating by Monday was scheduled to happen while I was gone. Not being there while the work was being done didn’t feel right. Cancelling on 6 enthusiastic participants waiting to take three of my workshops didn’t feel quite right either, so I got on the plane and flew to Houston. 

The morning I left I felt hopeless and empty and sad. In my lifetime I have never been through a natural disaster.  It’s horrible.  The county north of me still hasn’t started school and driving through our small town gets more and more depressing everyday. As I passed piles of debris stacked taller than my car on my way to the airport, I actually felt relieved that I would have a break from seeing the devastation for a few days. 

Taking the trip to Houston was without a doubt the best thing I could have ever done. Along with teaching workshops I got to reunite with my dearest friend from when I was in teacher training. She is hands down one of my favorite people in the world, and I’m confident that I laughed more in the first 6 hours we spent together than I had in the last month. 

I also did my first Pilates workout in 4 weeks in her peaceful, private studio. I felt lighter, and free-er, and had a little more hope after my workout than I did before it. Things were starting to shift. I was reminded that Pilates works. My soul was beginning to heal. 

On Friday I drive my rental car to Bay Area Pilates Texas to meet the teachers I’d be working with for the next 2 days. They were amazing, eager, receptive and lovely, and I was emotional.  

This storm has confirmed for me that I DEEPLY love what I do.  For me teaching Pilates is not about counting reps and teaching an order. Its not about classical or contemporary. It’s not about teaching it right or wrong. As a matter of fact I realized this weekend that it’s not about exercises at all.  It’s about getting lost in being fully present for someone else. When I cue my clients while looking them in the eye, they know they’re safe. I tell them they’re moving beautifully knowing they may not have heard that in a while.  I make sure they know that I believe in them and hope that soon they’ll believe in themselves.  I’m not doing it consciously. I’m not checking off a list. I sense what my students need, and I deliver it with all of my heart. I’m in the moment with them, and you know what happens when you’re fully present for someone else?  You forget about your worries, stressors and sadness.  

The moment I cued that first breath on Friday the emptiness I had been feeling started to float away, my hope meter began to rise, and my sadness vanished. I was experiencing the rewards of being fully present and committed to others for the first time since the storm.  Teaching was instantly healing my heart.  I’m not sure I’m ready to say that I’m grateful for the storm, but I will say I’m grateful for my shift in perspective of my career. 

Thank you to everyone in Houston for giving me the opportunity to find my happy place again. Thank you for helping me completely clarify that I love my job.  My trip was amazing, and I’ll never forget it. 

⭐️Want to take a class with me? Enter you email address on my home page. Want even more? Try my online studio for 2 weeks for just $1. It’s full of inspiring workouts and tutorials. I know you’re going to love it!

How I Balance Motherhood and Work

I am often asked “How do you do it all?” and my answer, after I fall apart laughing, is “I don’t!”

When it comes to those little people who live in my house, I just do my best. Some days are prettier than others, most days are really, really messy, and all days I make mistakes.  I also have plenty of wins, and that’s what I strive for more of with my kids.  It’s not perfect though, I promise.

For most Pilates instructors we give 100% of ourselves at work and that often leaves us with very little energy at the end of the day for the people who need us most.  We’ve used up all of our happiness and patience at the studio, and we’re left feeling exhausted and crabby.

Like so many of my posts I’m not here to give you an answer for how to fix anything.  I just want to assure you that you’re not alone, and hopefully that will help you not be so hard on yourself.    




A Pilates Instructors Pregnancy Journey

For some people pregnancy makes them glow and feel glorious. Then there are the rest of us!  After a few months of glowing, my employee Carrie Broyhill found herself having a pretty hard time.  Here is our interview about her pregnancy, delivery and how her experience will affect the way she teaches forever.  I did this interview for those of you who have never experienced pregnancy so that you can have an honest perspective from a fellow instructor of what it can be like.  Everyone's experience is so different, but I hope you'll find this informative.  Make sure you also check out our prenatal series on the online studio. There are 12 sessions and that go from 13 to 31 weeks. Enjoy!

My Pilates Anytime Story

You guys! I am loving seeing posts of all the brave Pilates instructors submitting videos for a chance to be the Next Pilates Anytime Instructor. As the 2016 winner I cannot say enough about how much this competition means to me. I honestly still can’t believe I won.

In 2015 I submitted a video and wasn’t picked for the top ten. I was super bummed, but honestly I wasn’t surprised.  I mean, Who did I think I was for applying anyways?, said that little voice inside my head. So when it came time to submit videos for the 2016 competition I wasn’t going to do it. I had just had umbilical hernia surgery and had not been allowed to exercise for 6 weeks. I wasn’t feeling fit or confident, so I decided I wouldn’t apply.  My employees were not happy about my decision, to say the least, and basically bullied me to film a submission video.

I’ve heard a lot of stories of people using their first or second take. This girl filmed at least 50. I am perfectionistic, OCD, and part time crazy, so I was aiming for my very best. I’m absolutely not saying that’s the way you should do it.  I’m just sharing that for those of you who have done the same. You are not alone! I also filmed plenty of takes where my battery died or I ran out of memory on my phone. Those were the really fun times! UGH!!!

Finally I picked a take that was as close to my best as possible.  I submitted it and the obsession began! I wish I could say that I just chilled and hoped for the best, but that’s not my story or my personality type.  I decided that on the chance that I got picked for the top 10 I would start to get to know more Pilates people. Since I lived in a small town, my only resource for meeting people was social media.  At the time I had 250 followers on Instagram and my Facebook page had been inactive for 6 years. I was not well known or known AT ALL for that matter. I was determined to give this my best shot though, so I started to post a new exercise every day and reach out to instructors all over the world.  

In late August I got an email from Pilates Anytime that I had been picked for the top 10.  I honestly couldn’t believe it and for me that was enough of a win. That was until I got the call from Kristi and Amy congratulating me.  That’s when I realized I wanted to win the competition even more than I initially thought. I still knew I had very little chance of winning, but I was going to go down fighting.

That year, once the top 10 was announced, there was a month long waiting period before voting even began.  Once voting began, there were 5 more weeks until the winner was announced. It was intense and brutal. I probably checked the votes 30 times a day. Finally, on the last day of voting, I not only fell asleep that night with no more fingernails to bite, but also in first place. When I woke up at 3 am (I’m on EST so I had to wait until midnight PST to know for sure) I was still in first and that was it. I had won!

My life has changed completely because of the competition. I have taught for Pilates Anytime twice, presented a workshop for Balanced Body, traveled all over the country to teach my workshops, written for Pilates Intel, been in Pilates Style Magazine, am an ambassador for Pilates Nerd and developed friendships with so many cool Pilates practitioners.  I am also presenting at the Pilates Method Alliance Conference in October of 2018. None of these opportunities would have come to me without Pilates Anytime. I think it’s also important to mention that there are a lot instructors on PA who made the top 10 but didn’t win. Courtney Miller, Jenna Zaffino and Lesley Logan to name a few!

Pilates Anytime has opened so many doors for me and I will FOREVER be grateful to Kristi and the entire PA team.

So there’s my story.  I hope this helps inspire you to at least submit a video.  The Pilates community needs YOU! Applications must be in by July 22.  Please do it! You have absolutely nothing to lose!

I was able to arrange to have an entire day with my husband yesterday in celebration of my last year in my 30’s.  I decided to leave my phone at home so I would be fully present with my # 1 and take a real day off from work.  I know it’s silly, but when I got in the car and pulled away from my house with my phone locked inside of it I actually felt my heart skip a beat.

I am constantly plugged in to all things going on in my work life through my phone which is mostly fantastic.  I can attend to log-in issues for my website right away or instantly book a client in a class at the last minute.

I make a mockery out of those conveniences most of the time though.

I repeatedly check IG and FB as a way to pass a quiet moment. I message with one friend while I’m in the room with another friend. I feel the need to respond to emails immediately that do not need immediate attention.  These compulsions leave me feeling on edge and tense throughout most of my day.    

What I know for sure is that I work way too much because I “conveniently” can, and I’m not fully present most of the time.  I’m distracted and can rarely finish a task because I’m doing 3 things at once.  On edge and tense have started to feel normal.

So yesterday I did an experiment of 24 hours without my phone and here’s what happened after my heart skipped its first beat.  It kept happening. I am embarrassed to say that for about two hours I felt pretty icky, but it slowly went away.  And then it happened…I was actually in my body and mind. I listened to what Marc was saying, completed my own sentences, and even experienced having a complete thought.

I took-in the cloudy, cool, and rainy day we were having.  I also reached for my phone (which wasn’t there) at least 5 times because it’s my instinct to document lovely moments and share them.

At one point Marc walked to the car and I stayed at the restaurant alone.  I kept my gaze out and up rather than looking down at my phone.  I was in the moment.  I don’t remember the last time I had a minute alone, whether in the pick-up line or in the waiting room of a doctors office, that I didn’t fill with checking my notifications.   

So friends I’m writing this just in case you share my over-worked and overly plugged-in existence.  I learned yesterday that I CAN be more present, but I have to be intentional about it.  For me leaving my phone at home or in the car is necessary for me to resist the urge to check in with the electronic world.

I know most people have a very healthy relationship with their phones and are reading this and thinking “how sad!” and I agree!  I also have a suspicion that some of you understand what I’m writing about very well and this blog post is for you.

I’m Going To Live My Life With Less Pressure from Carol Brady and Martha Stewart

I am home. My trip to California to film for Pilates Anytime and attend the PMA conference was absolutely amazing. For me, this trip was an unbelievable professional experience, but I also learned a lot about myself. I was constantly brought to tears by the fact that I’m a different person today than I was 365 days ago.

I walked through the doors of Pilates Anytime this year and filmed 3 videos that I’m already proud of even though I haven't seen the final product. I drove myself from Santa Barbara to Palm Springs in a rental car and didn’t crash it or get lost. I spent 4 days making new friends, hugging friends I’ve never met in person before, and watching old friends move mountains. Most importantly though I experienced a deep, deep feeling of gratitude for my family.

There are times I feel like 2 people. Some days I transition between Pilates and Momming like a ninja, but most days I’m more like a hot, stressed-out mess. My family is left to deal with me being distracted and constantly immersed in my career.

I am so grateful for the man who’s rarely seen but keeps this crazy woman moving forward on a daily basis. He brought chocolate, flowers, and our babies to the airport last night to pick me up. I cried so hard when I wrapped my arms around him because in that moment I wasn't confused. I was crystal clear on how lucky I am. I could not do anything without him by my side. Anything.

I’m so happy to be home with a fresh perspective on what I have already and what I want for my future. At the top of the list are days with my people that are less distracted by work and full of all the feels. Some days that means arguments, long nights of homework, and forgetting to pack lunches because that’s the way it usually goes. I just want to be present when all of that is happening. I also intend to continue to pursue a kickass career. That will come with plenty of mistakes as well, but I’m not going to give up on my career just because it’s too hard to do it all!

I’m just going to have to do it with a little less pressure from Martha Stewart, Carol Brady, and all of the ridiculous preconceived ideas I have in my head of what being a working mom looks like. I’m going to do it MY way which will be full of flaws and hopefully a few successes too. I’ll update you in another 365 days.

Tips For The PMA Conference

The PMA conference is a month away!  Here are my insider tips to getting the most out of the conference.  Oh and just in case you didn't know I'm presenting this year!!!! Mak

The pics you'll see below are from my first PMA in Arizona.  I hope to see you all in Vegas this year!

#1 DOWNLOAD THE APP NOW                                                                    

If you're already registered you will want to download the app for the conference.  Search your email inbox for this email from the PMA:  PMA 2017 Conference - Download the Event Mobile App.  It explains how to download the app, and I swear you will be so glad you have it.  I must have opened my 100 times over the course of the weekend.  It has your schedule loaded on to it, so you'll know exactly where and when your classes are being held.  There's an activity feed where people write messages and communicate.  There's also a fun game called "The Hundred Photo Challenge".


From the very moment you arrive there's an amazing buzz of energy and excitement. Head directly to the registration desk where you’ll be met with huge smiles from the conference volunteers and a bag full of goodies. Make sure you check your goody bag this year for swag! I can't wait for you to see what I had made.


Don’t miss out on one minute of the Sip and Shop on Wednesday evening! It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the conference! It’s where you’ll see everyone for the first time, and meeting my social media friends in person was a total highlight of the trip. You'll sip on complimentary grown up beverages and walk through the shopping venue to check out all of the vendors.


#4 DON'T MISS THE PILATES ANYTIME PARTIES                                        

I am absolutely not kidding when I say don't miss this party.  Pilates Anytime is not only the an absolutely amazing online studio, but they throw the best parties!  This year Pilates Anytime is hosting two parties.  One is a Voguing Dance Battle. Please note that you must register for this party, so do that now!  They're also hosting a Radical Self Expression Party. Wear whatever you would like to radically self express yourself.  These parties will be amazing so don't miss out!



Speaking of shopping, you are going to need an extra bag to carry home all of the new stuff you buy and get for free! Many of the vendors aren’t only selling their best products but have free gifts, too! You’ll want to bring it all home with you, so just grab one of your 1,000 Lululemon or Athleta shopping bags, fold it up, and throw it in your luggage. I promise you’re going to need it.



Just one more tip about the shopping. Get ready to be tempted because over the course of the 4 days you’ll find more and more Pilates gear that you cannot live without. The Pilates Nerd booth alone will blow your mind, and there’s nothing like being able to see all of the Nerd gear in person. Also be sure not to miss the Good Citizen LA and Balanced Body booths which always have contest and prizes!  Click here to see the full list of vendors who will be at the conference.



I'm always shocked by how many outfits I go through each year. There are 3 sessions per day with at least one being a mat class, and you will get sweaty! I changed my Pilates clothes at least twice a day, so I would definitely come prepared with extra leggings. You could always just buy new stuff, too!


You will be using your phone a lot! You'll constantly be referring to the app to check your schedule. You’ll also be taking loads of pics, posting to your social media accounts, and videoing fun moments which will drain your battery. My cell phone died at once per day, so trust me, you’re gonna need backup. At the very least be sure to have your charger with you at all times, but I suggest bringing a portable charger. Here’s the link to the one I have.


There ya go! Just a few tips for having everything you need at the Pilates Method Alliance Conference.  In this one amazing conference you’ll get all of your PMA CEC’s covered for a year, admission to all of the parties, learn from the best of the best in the Pilates industry, and make tons of new friends! It’s an experience you’ll never forget, and I hope to see you there.



I Never Quit. I Simply Did A Pivot Turn.

I saw last night that everyone was posting their #nationaldanceday pictures on Instagram, and as I searched for mine something kinda big occurred to me. Making the decision to quit dancing at 19 years old before I even gave myself the chance to see if I could have a career as a dancer was one of the most brutal and terrifying decisions I've ever made. Every moment of every day of my life was fueled by my dream to dance for a professional ballet company. My body simply wasn't as convinced as my heart though. One day while I was icing my ankle (a twice daily requirement after my ankle surgery), I decided to "quit." I was sitting on my kitchen counter with my foot in an ice bath in the sink, and I thought to myself, “I will be doing this every day for as long as I’m dancing.” Within a few weeks, I had packed my apartment, jumped in a Uhaul, and moved to a new city hoping I'd quickly forget about dance and all of my years of training. 20 years later I’m finally realizing that I didn’t quit anything, and no matter how hard you try you simply can't forget your past. I realize now that I was unofficially studying movement and preparing for my Pilates career all along. One of the reasons I love the picture I posted above is because it reminds me of a yearly ritual from my dance days. Dancers have to take a picture in 1st Arabesque every year for audition season, and this was back in the day before you could review how a picture looked on your camera before you had it developed. When I went to pick up the pictures (3 days after I took them), I would panic that they would suck. If they did I’d shoot them again and again until they were good enough. I would study the pictures for hours and decide what I needed to do differently to get better results. My eye for form and movement along with my determination to always be improving shaped my future as a Pilates instructor. Today I’m choosing to rewrite the records that have played in my head for years about quitting and failing as a dancer. I now see and accept that I didn't quit, but I did a pivot turn. A badass, old school, jazz hands in the air pivot turn towards the career I was truly destined for.

My Go-To Session for a Beginner

My Go-to First Session

The first thing I want to say in this blog is that to this day I’m still a bit nervous the first time I teach a new client. I want the client to enjoy the session, and I'm constantly processing whether I’m delivering what they were looking for when they booked the session. I’m a big believer that being a little bit nervous is a good thing. I think it shows that you care and are invested in the outcome of the session. Being a little nervous and being anxious and unprepared are 2 different things though. My nervousness would instantly turn into panic if I didn’t have a plan. Below is my “go-to” first session with a beginner. It's not set in stone, and I never follow it 100%. It’s just my security blanket of Level I exercises that I know people will feel but are also safe. It’s been my experience that clients get excited when they’re a little sore the next day, so I try to include at least 1-2 exercises that deliver that result. I also believe in sticking to the Level I content no matter how strong they may appear though. Sometimes the stronger someone looks, the weaker they really are, so just throwing in a super advanced exercise to challenge them isn't necessarily the best strategy. I also make sure to address all ranges of motion of the body in every session I teach. Below I've broken down the workout and given you the reasons I chose the exercises listed. Click this link to download a FREE printable PDF of the workout without the descriptions. There is another video freebie below, so make sure you read the whole post for the link to view it.

Roll Back:
I like to do this before I teach breathing or pelvic tilts because it get's the client moving right away. It also tells me a lot about their body. Whether they can articulate their spine easily, where they hold tension (shoulders?), if they’re a natural breather, a fast or slow mover, etc.

Mat (I do this one the Tower or Cadillac since I’m already there)
Breathing (fundamental)
Pelvic Tilts (fundamental)
Define Neutral Spine
100 Beats

Leg Springs: Up/Down, Circles, Frog, Low Circles, Marches, and Beats
I always teach Leg Circles and Frog on the Tower/Caddy before the Reformer. I think it’s important to teach the movement on a stable surface before the rolling carriage.
Triceps Presses:
This is one of the exercises I like to teach in a first session because it usually make everyone a little bit sore the next day. While I hate to teach a lesson that’s only geared to making my client sore, I do like to have at least 1-2 moments where they get excited about a challenge. Triceps Presses are a great exercise that's safe and can give you the “wow I felt that” experience!

Single leg stretch
Double leg stretch
Criss Cross
Flight (fundamental)
Before I leave the Cadillac I like to incorporate these exercises to lay a nice mat work foundation and to address rotation and extension. I also like to introduce Flight, so I can refer back to it when we do Pulling Straps and T on the Long Box.

Long Box:
Pulling Straps (without straps)
Pulling Straps (with straps)
T (without straps)
T (with straps)
I think Pulling Straps and T are some of the hardest exercises to teach and execute. I always introduce them without straps to experience proper form then I add the straps. On a first session I’m VERY careful not to obsess over perfect form. I demonstrate proper form, have them do it without straps, then add straps, make a mental note of how I need to work with them moving forward and MOVE ON.
Short Box:
Side Bend
Twist without curl
Twist and Curl
Climb a tree (into to Climb A Tree only)
Here's your freebie. This video explains how and why I introduce Climb A Tree in a very first session. Click here to see the video.

Bottom Lift

Ladder Barrel
Runner’s Lunge or Ballet Stretches
I like to finish all of my sessions with a standing exercise and one of my favorites is Runner’s Lunge on the Ladder Barrel. If you don’t have a barrell you can put your foot on the Reformer footbar (locked in place) or even use the chair. Click this link to be directed to my Instagram post that shows the exercise on the Reformer footbar.

Wish you did more Pilates?

One of the things I wasn't prepared for when starting my online studio was that I would be doing A LOT of Pilates. My personal practice hasn’t been this strong in years, and as obvious as it may seem, I’m shocked by how amazing and strong I feel. I know how hard it is to find the time and energy to get your workouts in though. When you teach full time and have 1000 other commitments in your life, it seems like getting on the reformer for a one hour workout at the end of a teaching day is impossible. Here’s a tip for any instructors out there struggling with this. Make a 10-minute workout your goal. If you’re convinced that an hour workout is the only option, it can feel too overwhelming, so avoiding the workout all together is just easier. Setting a more realistic goal of 10 minutes removes the time management stress from the equation which makes you feel more excited about the workout all together. The really cool thing about this strategy is that usually once you get started and into a groove, you end up doing a longer workout. I hope this tip helps, and please let me know in the comments if you have any other strategies for being consistent with your workouts.

"A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics." -Joseph Pilates