I have a confession to make: I haven’t had a job in almost 3 decades! I’ve NEVER had a guaranteed salary! It’s interesting what things you learn when you spend 35 years creating work and income for yourself. I love not having to ask for a day off, to come in late, or leave early. I take as many vacation days as I want, whenever I choose. The freedom is worth the risk!
My first experience as an entrepreneur was working as a hairstylist on commission, which lead me to open my own in-home salon in order to be with my child. Years of great success in that field inspired me to start buying into a franchise of hair salons and retail businesses, at the height of which I consecutively owned and managed 3 locations.
I “accidentally” tried Pilates on a trip to LA. I was so blown away with the Reformer machine that I came back to Calgary and sought out private sessions with an instructor. I instantly loved the way it made me feel, and the changes in my body happened so quickly! When my instructor moved away, I decided I needed to buy my own Reformer. I realized that I needed some training in how to use it properly as I knew it was a complex machine. This lead me to find a course to become a Pilates Instructor, which I had no intention of doing professionally, as I was very busy with my 3 businesses. Throughout the course, I saw so many incredible transformations: not just physical, but mental. I witnessed people with serious injuries and/or special needs able to use this machine when all other forms of exercise hurt them. It was profound and life changing! I sold my businesses and became a Pilates Instructor! That was almost 10 years ago – since then, I have built a following of clients quickly as a private contractor (still no salary). Eventually, the entrepreneur in me decided I needed my own business again. I enjoyed the camaraderie and learning from other instructors in the studio, but I was ready to take my life to a new level…one where I had the freedom to travel and explore while still creating income.
A very loyal client decided to move to France and was heartbroken to give up our sessions. Out of that, Skype Pilates was born! I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but I was willing to try. I had recently recovered from a traumatic knee injury which had me in a brace from thigh to ankle for 7 weeks. As a private contractor, the show needed to go on, I needed income! The brace made it impossible for me to demonstrate any exercises, so I quickly became very adept at verbal cues. It made me a better instructor! I already knew I could command my clients without poking in person, so Skype didn’t seem too difficult. Turns out, I wasn’t very tech savvy in the beginning. It took some trial and error, and lots of visits to Best Buy and Google to get free advice. Then there was the website, marketing, lighting, sound, and a lot of little details I hadn’t thought about.
As the tech side of it came together, I became more creative about how and where to offer sessions. I wanted my clients to have a studio experience from the comfort of wherever they choose. I started Skyping them from different beautiful locations whenever I could, and encouraged them to find the most beautiful place while on vacation to do a workout. Virtual Pilates means that they can literally do Pilates whenever and wherever they like, while having a qualified instructor telling them what to do, demonstrating where needed, checking to make sure they are doing things right and not hurting themselves, and for the fraction of the cost of having a trainer come to them. They realize that the 2-way conversation is far superior than watching a video. We can chat about things and have a few laughs. It’s like having a coach and workout buddy in one! They’re not wasting their time searching for just the right workout, only to find somewhere in the middle of the workout that it’s not the right level for them, that they don’t enjoy the instructor, that there are no modifications for their sore back or wrist, and that there are exercises which are too easy or too difficult. Having the instructor giving feedback right there on Skype alleviates all of that. The instructor can modify or change the workout according to the client’s needs, moods, and injuries.
The majority of my clientele are women (70%) and men (30%), of an age between 35 and 55, who enjoy a good challenge, but have some sort of injury or body issue that requires some modification. I have fun names for my exercises, such as “Worst Ab Exercise Ever”, “Punch To The Gut”, and “Butt Blasters”, so they need to have a sense of humour while they work hard.
My business has become very popular with people who live in rural areas that can’t easily access a Pilates studio. A number of my clients have bought Reformers, TRX, props, and small equipment for home use; however, it is not necessary, as I teach mat work and body weight exercises as well.
As I continue to learn and grow my business, I have been asked to help others do the same. My years of experience with business coaches, seminars, and starting, running, and growing my own businesses, have led me to a new chapter of coaching others how to take the plunge and be their own boss! Pilates is such an amazing lifestyle – it gives me joy to share it with as many people as I can!
Karyn Duffy is a fully certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor. She is so deeply passionate about helping others improve their posture, reduce pain, and transform their bodies that she decided to make it her career.
If you would like more information, please visit her at www.fitreformed.com or follow her on Facebook or Instagram @skypepilates.