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.
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.
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.