Updated: Mar 4, 2019
I’m not so much the “blogging type”, whatever that may be, but it seems the time has come that a blog is the most efficient and effective means to communicate with and support my students and colleagues around the country and around the world, and hopefully make some new interesting connections as well.
The inspiration to start this blog comes from all the students and colleagues with whom I’ve sat over coffee who’ve had all sorts of questions and dilemmas relating to our somewhat peculiar field of “movement”.
A little bit about my background: I got my BFA in Dance from the University of Michigan. During my time there I suffered a pretty bad ankle injury. I would go on to see five Physical Therapists in the next couple of years, but couldn’t quite get past the injury. When I graduated and everyone else was auditioning for companies my ankle was still so bad I wasn’t sure I could continue to dance on it. I took a year off and lived in Dublin, backpacked around Europe, and waited tables.
Upon returning to the States I was determined to rehab my injury to get my dance career back on track. It was 1997 and Pilates was a somewhat of a new concept in Michigan, but I’d heard of it through dance and somehow decided this is what I was going to do, for my body and to make some money without having to wait tables.
A dancer friend gave me a postcard about a new pilates studio called Equilibrium that was opening in the Detroit area and that was looking for trainees for the first teacher training course being offered. I ended up being in that first training course and was hired almost immediately to teach, as there weren’t any experienced trainers in the area. I would finish with my coursework for the day and immediately teach to my clients what I had just learned in class. It was total immersion into the work, not always ideal, but a great way to learn fast.
We were doing Stott Pilates, as we’re so close to Canada ( where Stott originated), and were the first Licensed Training Center in the States. Later I became an Instructor Trainer for Stott, which I did for several years, and then left Stott to pursue other pilates perspectives. I’ll discuss that path and why I made that choice in a future post.
With the pilates work my ankle got stronger and stronger and I was back to dancing, working with several area choreographers on various projects, as well as creating my own works.
With commuting to the studio about an hour away from my where I lived and also trying to fit in all my dance classes, rehearsals, and performances, it became clear I needed to work closer to home. But there was no studio in Ann Arbor. And that is why I opened The Movement Center.
At about this time I was also falling in love with GYROTONIC® and began flying around the country to study with various Master Trainers, as there were none in Michigan, or anywhere close to Michigan for that matter. Pretty much no one in Ann Arbor had heard of GYROKINESIS®, and still back in 1999 few were even aware of Pilates yet. But I had no trouble quickly building a client base and was actually fully booked the first week I opened my first little studio.
I never really wanted to be a studio owner, but I needed a place to teach, so I created it. It was small at first, just me in a small space, but then clients became trainers and wanted to work with me, and then we needed a bigger space, and then a studio manager, a bookkeeper, and eventually a social media manager, and at some point I realized I gone from working in a cozy little collective to employing about 12 people.
By 2013 I was a mother to a pre-schooler, teaching clients and teacher training courses for GYROTONIC®, GYROKINESIS®, and Stott Pilates, then often getting home after a 12 hour day of teaching only to have to deal with admin work. I had four of my ten trainers go on maternity leave at the same time and had no way to cover the clients. Leaving the studio to take courses for myself, or just to get away, became more and more difficult. I felt a great heaviness of the responsibility for the livelihoods of the trainers and staff. I was miserable.
Until the day an answer presented itself to me I had no idea how I could get out of what I had created. It dawned on me I’d spent five years building the business, five years enjoying it, and five years wishing for a way out. Then one of the my trainers and the studio manager asked me to meet for a coffee to chat. They had a vision for opening a big wellness center. It was a huge venture. They asked me to come in as a partner, but I asked could I please just work there and be done with running a business. So, after lots of planning and work, we transitioned the trainers and clients to the new studio.
Now I’m based out of a larger wellness center that offers private training, group classes, wellness coaching, massage, and has a juice bar and a full desk staff who handle all the booking and payments. I have the freedom to travel for courses, or just to have a vacation, and I have a base for teaching clients and educational courses. I teach clients from 7am through 1pm, Monday through Friday so, except when I have a course running, I have plenty of time for my son, workouts, time with my partner, and for getting to dance class or a weekly open drawing session.
I hope that some of what I’ve learned from these years of experience can be helpful to others in the movement industry.
I welcome your questions, thoughts, and feedback. What are the issues you’re facing as a trainer? I’d love to hear from you!