Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Allie Tichenor, owner of Pilates Punx, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Pilates Punx is a woman-owned Pilates Studio offering private and group Pilates sessions for the community. We strive to be a welcoming studio that makes anyone and everyone feel comfortable - taking any of the intimidation out of boutique fitness. Our mission is to help clients alleviate pain and gain strength through proper Pilates instruction, with an emphasis on the how and the why. We cater to the "other," the counter-culture, the folks who don't feel like they fit in at the average studio. We are a music-driven studio with a deep connection to rock, punk, and metal music.
We are excited to announce that we are launching a Pilates Teacher Certification Program later this summer, so we will be able to grow and reach more people!
Tell us about yourself
Pilates Punx was started in 2016 by Allie Guillerm Tichenor. Initially started as a small business with a single instructor, Pilates Punx began as a home studio and a way to offer affordably priced Pilates, targeting the non-average Pilates client - the person who needed exercise but may not feel comfortable setting foot in a traditional studio setting.
How did I get into this? It honestly was a completely random series of events. I moved to Los Angeles in 2012, and while I've always enjoyed working out, I couldn't quite find a gym or workout routine that worked for me in my new city. I was working at a bar, and a coworker of mine was getting certified to teach Pilates; the studio she was training through was opening a new location in Echo Park, so she had me come and take her class. I had never done Pilates on any of the apparatuses before, just a few random YouTube mat videos, and I had always hated group fitness classes because I always felt lost. I was so glad that I went because it was the first group class that I actually enjoyed! I got a free month pass and then took advantage of a 50% off offer the second month, and then… I just couldn't afford it at full price. I decided to take the certification program that my coworker went through just to learn Pilates for myself "really well" with a plan to never have to pay for it once I was done. But I screwed up and fell in love with teaching. The problem was, I never quite felt like I "fit in" at the studio, I got certified through, and I began to think about what I would do to make a studio "for people like me." I've always loved rock, punk, and metal and often would get distracted by the awful music at the gym or fitness studio. I thought, "surely I can't be the only one!" And it turns out that I'm not.
I am motivated by the feedback that I have gotten from clients about the studio, but more so by the ability that I have, learned through Pilates to help people alleviate pain. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to hear things like, "I was considering knee surgery a year ago, and now I don't even need it anymore; I'm pain-free!"
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has to be that - I'M STILL HERE.
COVID was not kind to businesses and put a real strain on every single industry. As a new business owner, only open six months before the shutdown, I'm really proud to still be standing here in 2022 and actually thriving! I went through a rollercoaster of emotions in 2020 and really questioned if this was all worth it. "Do I love this enough to stay open and wait this out?" "Is this really what I want?" And the answer was - yes! I love what I do; I did everything possible to stay relevant, to shift and change my business model, to continue learning and grow - and I really feel a sense of accomplishment when I reflect on what was happening just two years ago and how I felt back then vs. now.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things when it comes to being a business owner is coming to the realization that no one will ever care as much as you. You can hire employees, and they can be the best match for you, an excellent employee, a top-notch instructor, but at the end of the day, they go home and can just shut it off. They can go on vacation and relax. As a business owner, you care a lot, and you have to in order to be successful. So I'm always working, thinking of ways to grow, fixing, helping - and I'm not great at delegating. At the end of the day, with a great team, everything can run smoothly, but it's just an added layer of care - caring about your employee's wellbeing, wanting to make sure that they are happy at work, making sure that you provide a healthy and happy work environment. Is it possible to care too much? I think maybe that's my issue.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The number one tip I give people thinking about starting their own business is "Don't do it!!!!" - I often joke about the stress, but what I really mean is - make sure that you really LOVE what you're doing because if you don't, just cut your losses now.
The second tip I'd give is that if you DO truly love it, stick it out, persevere through the hard times because the good outweighs the stress - and there are so many opportunities to throw in the towel, but YOU CAN DO IT!
And my third tip would be: talk to other business owners! It's really lonely being an owner and a boss. Friends don't always know what you're going through, but other business owners do! Find a network, whether it's through a class, your neighboring businesses, or events. You'll get some perspective and maybe even a good idea or two (major shoutout to Goldman Sach's 10,000 Small Businesses Los Angeles Cohort 19 for giving me a space to finally not feel lonely and for teaching me to think big!)
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
There are countless resources for small businesses, and I suggest anyone even thinking about a business to explore the SBA (Small Business Association) and the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) - particularly PCR if you're in LA. Take classes, sign up for free webinars, apply to that program, apply for that grant - you never know what you might stumble into if you try!
I also want to say: support small businesses - even if it's not in your field - let's support each other as much as we can. And if you take fitness classes - book directly with your studio - do not use a 3rd party app (ahem, ClassPass.. don't do it!)
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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