How Your Pilates Practice Helps Your Pilates Business

Running your Pilates business isn’t the easiest task out there. Couple that with moving your business and starting fresh and you’ve got yourself a challenge. But, wouldn’t it be great if you already had experience trying to do something challenging? Wouldn’t it be easier to attempt to start over if you knew from experience that with consistency, dedication, and curiosity you would get where you desired to go? I mean, wouldn’t it just be awesome if something already existed in our lives helping us with one of the biggest challenges, our business? Oh, wait, practice Pilates much?

This week’s guest blogger shares her story of moving her studio, starting over from scratch and allowing her Pilates practice to be her business guide. Here is Nicole Martin of Ritual Pilates…

When I started the master’s program at Vintage, I KNEW I was going to walk away with a new Pilates practice. What I did not anticipate were the changes I would make in how I approached the rest of my life; including my business. I’ve always enjoyed the parallels between real life and pilates but this past year of learning took it to a new level.

Shortly after I completed the program, I moved my studio. I had a busy sweet little space in uptown Oakland. I will always miss the Bay area, but our family needed to slow our life down a bit. We wanted to stay in CA so we chose San Diego. Starting over is slightly terrifying when you’re self-employed. I have yet to establish a clientele so this leaves me with a lot of time to refine how I approach the business side of things, and I wanted to share a bit about my journey so far.

Right after signing a big lease, I found myself starting to panic. New studio, no clients. EEEKKKK! I did panic for a bit, maybe a week. But then all of the sudden, with no real grandness about it, I just stopped. Instead, I found my Pilates brain kicking in. Pilates brain is a term I’m stealing from Ken Krech at Vintage. It’s the part of your brain that likes to do things efficiently, smoothly, in a way that benefits the whole. He can relate moving furniture to balance control off; his Pilates brain is super refined.

So, instead of panicking, I hopped on the reformer to work out. I can’t stand on the street corner and yell out, “Pilates, come and get it!” So I thought, I should give myself a workout while I have the luxury of time. Pre “The Work” my workouts had a slightly negative tone, if something didn’t feel right I’d get frustrated and run through a list of things I could be doing wrong. These days I have a much better inner dialogue and my trouble shooting consists of a few questions to keep me moving. With out meaning to I started trouble shooting my situation of “new studio/ no clients” in the same way during this workout. This evolved into an ongoing exercise of how I can use the concepts I love about The Pilates Method to better run my business. What I love about this practice is that these concepts have helped me shift my perspective on a large scale and with the little daily details. Here are a few:

Know where you are going

It’s important to know where you are going in an exercise and you do it without giving it much thought. You know where to put your body, how many springs to use, and how many repetitions. You also know what exercise follows. The order of the exercises is logical; it helps you physically progress through the workout. I love this part of teaching and tend to get really into how well laid out the method is and how it all fits together.

My Business Application: Set up what you want your business to be in great detail and also consider what comes next. I decided I wanted to see it written out. I have the mat order written on a giant piece of slate in the studio – I’m very visual. So I wrote out on index cards how I’d like my business to run and how I’d like it to progress and laid it all out in front of me. This gave me clarity. Currently, I’m offering privates, duets, Skype sessions, and consultations. What’s next? After seeing it laid out, I decided I wanted to add one mat class with the goal of offering three classes per week. In 6 months I’m adding an open studio class. Offering an open studio class is a very logical progression to me, and I want it to lead into a monthly workshop for instructors. Knowing where you are and where you are going not only clears things up it also gives you stability and confidence.

Stay Curious

What if we never got out of our quads in knee stretches, gah! Wouldn’t that be a bummer? Keep your curiosity in how to use the shoulder blocks. What allows you to connect to your heels? How can the foot bar connect your upper and lower back? Hmm, isn’t it all so cool! Definitely not about working harder or panicking, just needs some figuring out patience, and commitment.

My Business Application: Stay curious about branding, marketing, and how your studio sets itself apart. Networking is my life lately and keeping a curious mindset has changed how I approach it. When networking I try to hone in on what about the Pilates method would the person in front of me love (not need, because that’s an entirely different animal that you have to sneak in after you’ve built a relationship). What would be the SIZZLE for this potential client? Keeping curious and that “figuring out” mentality has made networking fun and helped me personalize my conversations about Pilates and my studio on a whole new level.

“Haste is the enemy of a fast tempo.”

My favorite Jay Grimes quote.
Just go, just move! I’ve heard that A LOT in my Pilates years. I’m the queen of Haste. Or WAS, I should say. I’ve now learned how fun it is just to move your body and figure it out along the way. There are times when it should be sloppy; to break out of old patterns and start using new muscles it can be messy. Enjoy the journey! Fast tempo isn’t rushed or speedy; it’s just quick. And it feels good to move quickly and allow for your body to find its rhythm, that sweet spot that drops you right into your center.

Business Application: Find a rhythm for getting things done and then DO them. It may take a few weeks to find a good balance and figure out how much energy you have. Being that I’m new on the block a fast tempo is important; there is no time for perfection. Sunday night I sit down and email myself an agenda for the upcoming week, it takes about 20 minutes. I lay out what needs to get done each day, and these are things that WILL get done that week. This is not a wish list or a bunch of maybes. Doing this on a weekly basis and knowing that perfection is not the goal allows for me to get quite a bit done.

Allowing my Pilates skills to inform my business skills has been a life-saver throughout this transition. As instructors, Pilates seeps into our lives in so many good ways with out us even realizing it and I’m grateful for the opportunity to use it in this new way. Whether you’ve moved, are going through a transition of any kind, or just looking for a shift in perspective with your business practices, try taking what you love most about your workouts and applying them to what you like least about running your business.

Owner of Ritual Pilates

~Nicole Martin

Follow Nicole on Facebook, Instagram and check out her gorgeous new Pilates space in San Diego, Ca here. Feel free to contact Nicole for Pilates sessions in person and via Skype here


I don’t know about you but I love how Pilates does more than teaching us how to move our bodies. It really can help us learn how to move our businesses too. Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your wisdom and how you apply your Pilates practice to your business.

Don’t forget to comment below!



This week we have a big week of juicy Pilates business ahead. On Saturday 8/12 join me for an hour of “How to have a life and be a Pilates Instructor,” and then next week a webinar on group classes! Plus, a joint blog post between me and my friend in Atlanta Pilates studio owner Joel Crosby! If you haven’t had a chance yet check out the weekend of workshops he and I are teaching this October.


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17 thoughts on “How Your Pilates Practice Helps Your Pilates Business

  1. This came at a perfect time! I just signed the lease on a new space and can definitely relate to feeling pressure. Thanks for the tips and wishing you the best!

  2. Nicole- what a great article. I can’t wait to see your space in person for a killer workout (by the time I make it to San Diego, you’ll have a line out the door I bet!)… you’re an inspiration to me and the link between personal Pilates discipline and business practices is vital. I’ll definitely be putting your words of wisdom to use this year as I transition my little studio across country and juggle a new mama schedule. Thanks for sharing Lesley!

    • Dearest Lydia, it warms my heart that you made time to read my article given that you have a newborn, 3 year old, and are moving to FL in a few days. You inspire me!!!! Let’s please compare notes as you get set up in FL- gotta stick together. And, you’ve just given me a great new goal to envision everyday: line out the door!. xx

  3. This post was also very timely for me as I have moved twice in the last year in the San Diego area and ready to introduce Pilates to a smaller town east of San Diego. I had just sat down to lay out many projects in this grand process and Nicole’s post set me more at ease at how to navigate through. Thank you for sharing your journey Nicole.

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