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How to Start Your Own Fitness Business

  • October 14, 2013
  • By Brittany
How to Start Your Own Fitness Business

Hi friends!  How have you been?  Before I left for California (which I can’t wait to tell you all about!) I attended an event hosted by Urban Girl Squad called Career Insights: Starting Your Own Fitness Business.  The speaker for the event was Brooke Siler, a renowned Pilates instructor and owner of Re:AB, a popular workout-to-the stars Pilates studio in NYC.  She has authored several books, including The Pilates Book (Amazon affiliate link), which I bought waaaaaay back when it came out in early 2000s.  The book has sold over a million copies.  So obviously Brooke knows her stuff and I’m excited to share with you the insights I learned on starting your own fitness biz.


1.) Do it because you love it.  This is true with everything and I don’t think anyone would recommend that you start and run a business you don’t love but Brooke attributed a large part of her success to the fact that she loved Pilates and she just wanted to talk about it all the time to everyone who would listen. She gained clients this way and her business is truly better because she cares so much about teaching as opposed to just the business.

2) Keep your eyes and ears open.  Brooke started her Pilates studio right when Pilates first started to take off.  Boutique cycling studios like Flywheel and Soul Cucle have recently become huge.  Look around and see what’s happening.  What do people like?  What could be the next big thing?  This takes a lot of industry knowledge and a keen business eye but if you dedicate enough time, you can do it.

3) Befriend the media.  Brooke has never advertised her studio once in the 17 years it has been open in NYC.  Everything has been through word of mouth an media.  She is the go-to person for Pilates.  As a blogger, I understand how important media relationships are and they are much easier to form than you may think. One tiny article in Vogue booked Brooke’s studio out.  You want that press!


4) Have high standards.  People love Brooke’s studio because the workouts are high quality and its full of amenities at no additional cost.  Having high standards will keep clients coming back and willing to pay your price

5) Love people.  Brooke loves training and talking to people all day long.  She wants her studio to be a friendly atmosphere with great customer service.  When you don’t advertise and everything is word of mouth, no one can have a bad experience.

UGS 4(Source)

6) Start small.  Brooke never knew she wanted to have a fitness studio.  She was just always talking about Pilates and then her friends started asking her to come over and teach them.  Pretty soon she realized she would need some reformer equipment but she lived in 600 Sq ft.  So she cut her sofa in half and bought a reformer and put it in her living room. She started training clients 8 hours a day out of her own apartment! When she eventually was looking for space for her studio, she went downtown to a not so nice area that is now one of the trendiest areas in NYC. She started with 1,200 Sq ft until she could take over the apartment next to her and then the one after that and she ended up with 5,000 Sq ft.  Big dreams can start in small spaces.

6) Have great business sense or be prepared to hire someone who does.  Remember this isn’t all about the fitness.  Being a small business owner is a lot of hard work.  If you have no clue about how to run a business: volunteer, intern or go work for a small business or take local college classes.  You’ll need to wear many hats as a business owner, everything from doing the books to cleaning the floors.

UGS 3(Source)
I was clearly very animated here asking Brooke about her experience working for Crunch and a boutique fitness studio.

7) Never sell out and follow your intuition.  Brooke was approached to do many things, like infomercials and book deals, that did not connect with her vision.  She stayed true to who she is and ultimately she was successful because when the right opportunity was there for her with her studio and her books (she has a new one with Women’s Health coming out that we got to preview call The Big Book of Pilates– note this is an Amazon affiliate link), she knew it and jumped at those chances.

Readers, have you ever considered starting your own business- fitness or otherwise?  Have you ever owned your own business- what would you add to this list?

By Brittany, October 14, 2013
  • Allie
    October 14, 2013

    This is awesome!! I have actually never heard of her but she is obviously very successful and knows her stuff! I was definitely shaking my head with all the points she mentioned. I owned my own studio for five years before selling it to stay home with the boys (long story!) but plan on opening another once they are in school full-time. It’s definitely a huge undertaking but if you love it, it will grow. I believe that 100% because I did it.
    PS – You look so professional! I love your style:-)

    • FitBritt
      October 17, 2013

      Thanks Allie! I would definitely love to hear more about your studio. I think it’s great that you plan to open one again when your children are in school.

  • Carla
    October 14, 2013

    Thank you so much for sharing! I was teaching fitness at the beginning of the year and as much as I like doing it I did not care for teaching it.Except Pilates. I love to teach that but it is not very big in our area as it’s a small community. In five years it will catch on and I’ll be ready! LOL

    I love the last tip and would apply that to blogging as well.

    • FitBritt
      October 17, 2013

      I definitely think a lot of these tips can apply to blogging because blogging is a small business in a way. I guess as long as you love teaching Pilates, it doesn’t matter if there is a huge following or a small following. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Nicole
    October 14, 2013

    Neat, thanks for sharing! I find it so interesting how she has never once advertised.

    Absolutely, I have always wanted to own my own business and think about it often. I’d like to open a vegetarian cafe, olive oil/wine tasting place, or something like that. We’ll see what the future holds… maybe one day! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • FitBritt
      October 17, 2013

      Oh I remember you talking about your veg cafe plus olive oil and wine tasting. I think that’s a great idea! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Davida @ The Healthy Maven
    October 14, 2013

    This is so helpful!!! I’m not so much interested in starting my own fitness business but I’ve been looking into breaking into the food industry and am taking tips from anyone willing to give them. I’m learning how to network which is definitely new to me (i know have I been under a rock or something?). Keep more posts like this coming!

    • FitBritt
      October 17, 2013

      I definitely think these same general principles could be applied to a food business. Your business would be very successful, I’m sure!

  • Tara
    October 14, 2013

    When (if) I become an RD, I would love to open my own private practice later down the line after working for a few years. How did I miss that you came to CA?! I wish you could drive up the 7 hour ride and come visit me in San Francisco! Hopefully we can bump into each other the next time I fly to NYC.

    Are you interested in owning your own fitness studio?

    • FitBritt
      October 17, 2013

      Definitely WHEN you become an RD! ๐Ÿ™‚ We actually did a big Cali road trip starting in Palm Springs then Laguna then Big Sur and then Sonoma. We flew out of San Fran but it was a family vaca because we don’t see my in-laws since they live in Australia. Next time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat
    October 15, 2013

    I’ve definitely thought about starting my own business and it’s something I’d love to do, but it definitely is kind of scary and intimidating. I definitely love these tips though! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady
    October 15, 2013

    Yes, absolutely have had the thoughts several times and actually have plans. I love reading posts like this and following people like Allie (as she mentioned her previous ownership and future plans to own again). Thank you for sharing this. There are so many alternatives in the fitness industry to making money. I love it. There is definitely potential to transition to full time/primary income from fitness related. I love what she has done and continues to do with her passion for Pilates.

  • Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit
    October 15, 2013

    Great post and what a fun event to attend! Owning a fitness/nutrition business would be a dream, but yes, so much work goes into it. I love that she stuck with her vision and didn’t take on extra things that didn’t align with her true goals.

    • FitBritt
      October 16, 2013

      Totally agree. She was very lucky in her business but I think if you are shrewd and dedicated, you could end up like Brooke!

  • Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    October 15, 2013

    Sounds like a great event! I’ve never thought to start my own business but I can imagine it feels so rewarding to accomplish that. I like to tip to not sell out too. As a blogger, it is really easy to fall into that trap!

    • FitBritt
      October 16, 2013

      Totally agree. I think her principles could be applied to a lot of different situations and in a way, blogging is really a small business too.

  • Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama
    October 16, 2013

    First of all and most importantly YOU LOOK SO GORGEOUS!!!! Yes to your whole OUTFIT!!!

    Ok next, I LOVE UGS! Let me know when you are going to another event, I am doing aqua zumba tonight with them, can’t wait! This is great advice, word of mouth is completely awesome in NYC especially when it comes to fitness!

    • FitBritt
      October 16, 2013

      Thanks Nellie! ๐Ÿ™‚ I did Aqua Zumba with UGS last year!! It’s a lot of fun-you’ll love it! We should definitely do an event together!

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