Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pilates but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Dalliday of Pilates on Demand, based in Peterborough, Canada.
Tell us about yourself
Pilates on Demand was started by my wife, Jessica Dalliday, in 2018.
She was personally affected by the toxic exercise culture that rewards undereating, overexercising and body manipulation to fit a specific ideal. It ultimately led to mental health issues and infertility, and she knew she wasn’t alone.
As a certified Pilates instructor and Athletic Therapist she felt compelled to be the solution - to offer an inclusive, accepting space for people to safely move their bodies, without the pressure to lose weight or inches. She felt everyone deserved to feel good in their bodies, regardless of their appearance. So she developed Pilates on Demand - an online, membership-based exercise website with a supportive community of individuals on their journey to body acceptance.
Today we have a library of hundreds of Pilates, yoga, barre and meditation classes, with a specific focus on perinatal and pelvic floor instruction. Jess grew the business and inspired many in her online and local community from 2018 until her tragic, untimely passing in April, 2021. At 38 weeks pregnant, Jess suffered a rare but serious complication of childbirth and we lost both her and my newborn daughter, Angeline.
I have since assumed control and operations of Pilates on Demand and am trying my best to keep her legacy and voice alive in the community. So many individuals were touched by Jess’ story in life, and her message and reach has only strengthened since her death. We continue to promote body positivity, health at any size and encourage any form of exercise or movement routine, no matter how small, as an achievement to be celebrated.
What's your business and who are your customers?
Pilates on Demand is a Canadian online Pilates, Yoga, Barre and Meditation class platform designed for real people with real bodies. We know how hard it can be to fit exercise into your busy day, especially as a young parent or caregiver.
Our affordable platform provides hundreds of convenient and safe exercise classes that you can do anywhere, anytime, at any skill level. With Pilates on Demand you can change your relationship with exercise and establish a movement routine that fits your life!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been being able to successfully take over and operate a viable business.
While that doesn't seem like much, I have zero training in business, marketing or commerce. I have an undergraduate science degree in Kinesiology and Physician Assistant studies and was working as a Physician Assistant in Emergency Medicine for almost 8 years before my wife passed away.
So when I was thrust into the position of owner/operator of a fitness business, with no experience as an entrepreneur, let alone one in the fitness industry, I was a bit lost. So I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to keep the lights on and carry Jess' dream forward.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with owning your own business is separating your self-worth from that of your business. My wife used to struggle with this a lot. You pour your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into this entity that you are so proud of and then you put it out there into the world. And when it doesn't perform the way you expect or you receive negative feedback or returns, you feel that on a personal level. And that's natural, because a lot of the business, in essence, IS you.
But, it is important to separate the success of your business from the success of you as a person. Because there are so many more important aspects of you and your life than your business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
1) Start today. If you ever think running your own business is something you might like to do, start exploring that idea today. You will only begin to learn what it takes and develop a plan if you take that first step and START. You'll undoubtedly make mistakes, but they will only help you succeed in the future.
2) Set boundaries. It is very easy to let your business become all-encompassing. Answering emails at all hours of the night and spending countless hours on your business is often the norm as an entrepreneur. But, in my humble opinion, it shouldn't be. Sure, if it is enjoyable and the ideal way for you to be spending your time, absolutely spend as much as you want on your "baby".
But, personally, owning and operating a business, while it is something to absolutely be passionate about, is ultimately a means to an end. A way to put food on the table and pay the bills, while building something you are truly proud of at the same time. But it shouldn't come at the cost of friends, family or relationships, which are the most treasured things this life has to offer.
3) Hire a great team. Your business and product/service are only as good as the people behind it. Not only will it impact your enjoyment of what you do, because these are the people you will be interacting with on a daily basis. But your product quality and customer experience will directly hinge on the personnel you choose.
Every interaction someone has with a member of your team or brand is an opportunity to generate a positive experience and the best type of advertising - word of mouth. A great team of friendly, dedicated employees will make sure you capitalize on every opportunity.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.