Where to start? It's been a long time since I wrote a blog post. Frankly, I got burned out. Prior to the pandemic, I was burning out due to an intense work schedule and while I was so happy to be working so much, it was also stressful. I worked a lot! For those that don't understand, Pilates instructors work when there is demand and that often means mornings and evenings or weekends when clients aren't working. It's what I signed up for and it's more than understandable but it's still a challenge. Combined with working at three studios, I was working from 6am- 9pm most weekdays. Of course you get breaks, but that can be challenging too. A five hour break between clients leaves you either rushing to get stuff done or trying to rest, while always thinking about when you have to go back to work so you never fully relax. With all the gaps and travel time between studios, I was working a lot but not earning enough to warrant that effort. Studios only pay you for when you are teaching and rightfully so. You work to fill your schedule and limit gaps but that's sometimes easier said than done, especially if you don't have availability because you're running around the city. It's a vicious cycle!
This is in no way a petty party or an attack against studios, it's just stating my facts. Everyone has different experiences. I just realized something needed to change. The pandemic caused a BIG change. I went from working like crazy to not working at all! One of my studios permanently closed almost immediately, the other two went into virtual classes and we all took a step back. Days, weeks and then months passed without studios even being allowed to open. We finally got the green light in August of 2020 only to close again on October 10, 2020, where we would stay until August of this year.
I tried to reboot my podcast, write, cook, walk and otherwise stay busy but I slipped into a rut and depression. The few virtual classes I taught weren't enough financially and I had to use the government assistance (CRB). I was lonely and lost as to what my future would look like. I was also (like most) overwhelmed by the state of the world, between anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers, BLM and other atrocities that came to light this year. I'm still overwhelmed by our society but that is another post. But this state is where I stayed until around Christmas when my boyfriend encouraged me to make bath bombs. He financed all the supplies, had a logo created, came up with packaging and I spent HOURS making these pretty little bath bombs. It helps me so much, to physically make some and have a finished product to hold... he was right, it helped. After the holidays, I made some more for Valentine's Day and Easter, before giving it a break (more coming this holiday season!)
Which is when I got my motivation back! I restarted my podcast in April of 2021 and have 18 episodes now, that I release on the 1st and 15th of every month. I love using my voice to highlight violence against women and share stories to bring awareness to these issues. Femicide podcast is available on all platforms, including ApplePodcasts and Spotify. I'm sticking to my posting schedule and my listening audience is growing. It makes me feel so proud of myself every time I post a new episode.
But something still didn't feel right. I was still driving across the city to teach virtual classes and was really worried about what my career would look like once we reopened. Then that changed. I had an opportunity that while seemed great on the surface, wasn't what I wanted for myself and it left me feeling worse than I did before. So again, I spoke to my boyfriend who gave me the support to try something different. Having someone who has your back no matter what... it's everything. So in July I quit my jobs, both of them. What did I have to lose? After I did it, I told him and he said, "I hoped you would but I didn't want to push you." He had more faith in me than I did in myself. But I took that leap and ran with it. I hosted outdoor group classes in the park all summer, made and distributed thousands of flyers, put signs up all over my target area, created a new social media account specific to my business and posted, posted, posted!
Shawn Marie Pilates is now flourishing and is growing every week. My friends and family have been so supportive, sharing posts, taking classes and telling all their friends. I'm my own boss and while I'm still working mornings, evenings and driving all around to my clients; I'm happier than I've ever been.
If you're interested in working with me, I offer personalized in-person private and semi-private sessions in the comfort of your own home. Located in Toronto's west end, I bring all the props and small equipment to you and work around your busy schedule. A perfect alternative to studio training for those uncomfortable with being in-studio during the pandemic or that are immune compromised. Also a great solution for work-from-home professionals and stay-at-home parents! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule a complimentary phone consultation.
Of course I'm still nervous, change is always scary. Not returning once the studios officially re-opened in the fall, brought back a lot of emotion. I loved my clients and coworkers so much and not being there has felt so strange. But I'm doing what is best for me and I know it was the right decision. I wanted something that was my own.
I'll make mistakes and have struggles, that's a part of any new business and just life in general. But I'll be okay. That's what I've learned.