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Throwback Thursday: How to Start Your Own Fitness Business

  • May 21, 2015
  • By Brittany
  • 10 Comments

Hi friends!  So I don’t normally post on Thursdays anymore, but I had an idea awhile back (like two days ago) to start a Throwback Thursday series on the blog.  Other bloggers, you probably know and understand how much hard work goes into a post and after a day or two, it floats off into the internet abyss never to been seen or heard from again.  Well, I’ve been blogging for almost three years now and I’ve built up a pretty good arsenal of posts so I’m bringing ’em back for ya!  Every Thursday I’m going to be featuring a post that has already been published on My Own Balance.  I hope this series will introduce new readers to some of my older posts and maybe remind old readers of some tips or recipes or workouts they saw awhile ago but forgot about.

I though with my recent announcement about opening a barre studio, that this post from October 2013 was most appropriate: How to Start Your Own Fitness Business.  Enjoy! (Please note that Urban Girl Squad and Re: AB are both now closed–so maybe this isn’t a good post?  Actually both of the founders decided to move on and do other things).

In October, 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?  What do you think of Throwback Thursdays?

By Brittany, May 21, 2015
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10 Comments
  • Allie
    May 21, 2015

    This is a GREAT idea, Maybe you should add a link-up?? 🙂
    I actually remember this post and it’s such great advice. I know because I owned a fitness studio and I can say YES to all of the above. Sometimes I toy with the idea of opening another one but it’s SOOOO much work…as you know!

  • Danielle @ Little Mama Big Life
    May 21, 2015

    Love this idea! Great post and info for anyone starting a business!

  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat
    May 21, 2015

    I think this is a great idea and yes, I agree with Allie, a link-up would be awesome! Definitely some great tips here!

  • Cailee
    May 21, 2015

    This is amazing!! You are so inspiring!! Can’t wait to hear more! Lovely post and tips! Thanks for sharing! I would love to start my own health coaching business one day!! 🙂

  • Holly
    May 21, 2015

    Such good advice about starting a business–and timely. It is a great idea to do Throw Back Thursdays. I like it!

  • Melanie @ Happy Being Healthy
    May 22, 2015

    I love your Throwback Thursday idea and I love this fabulous post full of so much helpful information! It’s so cool that you’re starting your own business too!

  • Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    May 22, 2015

    Cool post idea! I find it so interesting that Brooke started teaching in her apartment and made it work even though it was a tiny space. I think she’s a good example of finding a way to make it work when you really want something. And now I’m wondering why her studio closed?! Seems like such a great story!

  • Marielle
    May 22, 2015

    Love this post, great tips! Gosh having my own fitness studio has always been at the back of my mind but it’s so overwhelming to know where to start…and I’m definitley not very good at the business-y stuff!

  • Kimberly {Manifest Yourself}
    May 26, 2015

    I’m currently working on getting my business even bigger and better now! 🙂 It’s such a process – but it’s so worth it.

    + I love the idea of this series!

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