In 2001 (at age 23) Tanya had been treating as a physiotherapist in a clinic in Brisbane, Australia and although she was feeling rewarded as she was helping people to improve their injuries, she was feeling like there was more that she could be doing for them by helping them to prevent injuries rather than just treating them.
At the same time I had recently concluded a career as a swimmer, being part of the Australian Swim Team for many years including a berth on the 1996 Olympic Team. I too wanted to help others to get fit and healthy as it had been such a big part of my life for so long and I saw personal training as a way to combine my desire to help others with my passion for fitness.
Like Tanya, I too thought there might be a way out there to make a bigger impact and help others even more than with just the same old stuff... I wanted something unique, something profound, most importantly, something that people actually liked to do!
Pilates was the answer. We had both been exposed to Pilates through swimming as a cross training tool and looking back on it I was actually swimming my best when I was doing Pilates. We both did our Pilates training and started to teach Pilates mat classes at local halls, gyms and peoples homes.
In 2002 the local gymnasium was renovating and someone suggested we talk with the owner of the building to see if there was an opportunity to rent space and start a Pilates studio. All the tenancies were taken but there was a space that was earmarked as a garage for the owner to park his car in. After several requests this garage was made available as a space for our very first studio.
We wanted to get a loan of $10,000 to buy a couple of pieces of equipment but at 23 years of age with no assets and no money in the bank, a credit card was our only option. We took a gamble, signed the lease, bought the equipment and away we went.
The studio was only 35m2, right under a squash court (so very noisy when there was a game on) and it flooded each time it poured down with rain but we just loved it. We loved the work, loved seeing people improve so rapidly with the workouts we were giving to them and people obviously liked it because they kept on coming back!
We were pretty busy within six weeks of starting really and things just grew from there. We instructed the matwork classes in the gym which we were in and we stayed in this same location for seven years helping people to achieve their goals. I estimate that Tanya and I both took around 60,000 client consultations each and I took many more than this through mat classes as well.
We loved helping people and seeing the success people got and so we wanted to do all of the instructing, but knew we couldn't do all the work ourselves, so we started to employ some team members. At this stage we had no idea what we were doing when it came to this and we realised some of the people we employed had no idea about Pilates! We were fortunate to employ some really great people and others that really needed a lot of help.
We realised for the first time that we did things differently to everyone else out there and because we had both taken so many clients, and both of us had a desire for helping our clients to achieve success, we had naturally been assessing and reassessing what worked and what didn't work over many years to get our members the best results. We were always thinking of better ways of doing things, better ways to describe an exercise, better ways to sequence a workout to make it harder for year after year.
We knew we had to make it easier for our team members to learn what we had discovered over the years of instructing and analysing, so we set about a process of photographing, collating, writing and describing every Pilates exercise we used in an easy to understand yet incredibly comprehensive manner in order to fast track the learning process of new employees.
In 2008 we opened our training program up to the public and people of all backgrounds could train to become a Pilates instructor and we are now fortunate enough to be the largest Pilates education supplier in Australia and expanding globally.
In 2009 we knew we had to expand our studio and so we bought a premises for our first flagship studio at 246 Hawthorne Rd, Hawthorne, Australia. This was a big step as we had gone from renting a 35m2 studio to now owning and renovating a 200m2 building.
We had a belief that we could do it and I had a desire to create a space in which people could totally escape to, a place of luxury, a place where they felt like a Hollywood celebrity. We had a belief that we could continue to provide a great service and when combined with a beautiful environment that people would enjoy working out in and success would follow.
We had traditionally instructed Pilates the way that many studios operate with one instructor taking a handful of clients through a class, but in this new space we had the opportunity to try something different. We wanted to be able to help more people than we currently did as we were booked out for months in advance in our old location and we knew that not everyone could afford to come to Pilates and so when faced with the challenge of making Pilates more affordable and accessible for more people combined with the desire to help more people to enjoy the many benefits of Pilates, I develped with the Digital Exercise Delivery System.
This is what could be described in simple terms as a DVD lead Pilates reformer class, but what it has done for us as instructors is it has freed us up from having to demonstrate an exercise as now the DVD does the demonstrating and describes the exercise for us so that now we can focus more on our client and their technique greatly improving the quality of an ordinary group reformer class and keeping costs down because now one instructor can help many more people without the level of service deteriorating at all.
This new use of technology was again all a bit of a gamble for us as a service delivery like this had never been done anywhere in the world before in any segment of the fitness industry, so it was all very new to everyone including our members.
Now the Digital Exercise Delivery System helps to keep us organised across all of our locations giving us a way to provide our members with an unparalleled level of quality combined with consistency that has never before been able to be achieved and we see this as the future of the Studio Pilates business.
In late 2011, after being away on holidays and a visiting a gym to do a Pilates mat class and it ending in dissatisfaction and disappointment, it again became apparent to me that there was a real need to help gymnasiums to be able to provide awesome Pilates classes to their members that were a challenging yet safe workout from a great instructor.
This was when the Studio Pilates International Health Club Program was started with the aim of helping gyms and health clubs to get world class instructors teaching awesome classes in their clubs. The only way this could happen was by combining great Pilates training with heaps of support given to the instructors by having them continue their education long after their course is completed and further support them with a structured program to follow so that once again there is an enhanced level of consistency and the highest quality.
We are now looking into the future with a firm vision to help one million people a week to enjoy the magic of health and fitness by providing the best Pilates classes in the world.