Women: Following their dreams. Talking with Johanna May, combining pilates & business

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Last week I announced a new series on the blog called Women: Following their dreams.  My aim in doing this series was to, once a month,  introduce you to many and varied women who all have one thing in common, they have been brave enough to follow their dreams.  Maybe you might be inspired by one of their stories, maybe their story will strike a chord with you, maybe what they are doing is something that you would like to do too, maybe you will find a new interest, talent, idea or realise that these woman are just like you and me and the only thing holding you back is you. So grab a cuppa and take a seat and see where this series might take you.

Today we are talking to Johanna of Johanna May Pilates who I met when trying to reclaim my body.  I wanted Johanna to share her story because she had a dream and with tenacity and talent she followed it through (and appears so calm and centred while doing it). Jo’s dream also has the added benefit of teaching others to be fit and healthy and to take care of themselves inside and out so we can all take something from that – a double whammy interview!

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 The serene and centred Johanna May

A year ago you opened your own pilates studio, how did you get to be here and doing this?

I was always a dancer but after many years of intensive dance training, my body was not coping with the load. I was searching for a way to keep my body moving, but also conditioned in a healthy way. I found Pilates, and never looked back.

I have always been into dance, movement and health, and I had a dream of having my own studio where I could teach all of the things I am passionate about under one roof. Though I never put a timeframe on this goal, it was always there, in the back of mind as sort of the end-goal, so to speak.

I am a firm believer that the universe listens to what we put into it. What we speak out loud holds a great deal of power and when we say what our goals are, there is a certain commitment to them that allows us to bring them into fruition.

As time passed, it became very clear to me how I would go about achieving my goal. I knew what studios I wanted to work with to get my training and when I eventually opened my doors, the row of shops I wanted it to be located in and what I wanted the space to look and feel like. I also knew that I would not make any move until it felt right for me to do so.

Around January of last year, I began to really feel the itch. It was time for me to start looking for a space. After many months and failed real estate ventures, I decided to accept that I would find the right place when the time was right for me to do so. A couple of months later during the long Easter weekend, I drove my friend home from the south coast. She lives in Kensington, and each time I was in her area, I drove past the strip of shops I had always envisioned my studio in. To my utter delight, the beautiful space I wanted was open! I was thrilled! I contacted the shop owner immediately to check on the availability of the space and find out which real estate company the property was under. I confess that I was annoyingly persistent, but I knew in my heart that this was meant to be my space. With the timing right, I was eager to get my way.

After nearly three months of negotiations, I was handed the keys to my studio, and here we are.

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 The studio is lovely I can vouch for that

To say this has been an incredible, challenging and totally rewarding experience would be an understatement. Owning this shop has taught me a great deal about myself, my clients and the business itself. Most importantly, it has reiterated my strong faith in going for what you know is right for you and allowing yourself the space to follow your own path (and maybe push a little hard to move things out of the way here and there).

Did you have any experience in running a business before setting up your own studio?

I had no business experience before I opened, plain and simple. I just had a dream of having my own studio. I worked for a number of years in high end studios, learning from them, seeing how their studios function.  

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Do you have a business mentor? Who?

I have always asked my Dad for business advice. He has been running his family business for well over 30 years, so plenty of experience. I must admit he was pretty good at not treating me like his daughter, but as a business woman, which was really want I needed.  

Why Pilates?  (And with personal interest what are the benefits for mothers in particular?) 

At a glance, it can be hard to see the depth and challenge of Pilates.There are people who even perceive it to be “lazy” exercise; this is far from the truth. Once you get into the the studio and feel the intricacies and control of each movement, you really begin to feel the full benefit and challenge of Pilates. I truly believe that pilates is the perfect exercise to bring the mind and body balance and strength back post-delivery.

Even conditioning

As much as we all love to address our weak bits (which tend to be our arms, inner thighs, abs), Pilates addresses your whole body, from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head – in every single session. Creating this balance is vital to your bone, muscle and joint structure.

Mind Body Workout

Pilates has a very strong mind/body focus. The movements and the muscle connections are so specific that each require a great deal of concentration and focus. Pilates teaches you to become in tune with your body. Whilst you’re pregnant, there is often the feeling that you have no control of your body, and in a way, you don’t. There is a real truth in the ideology that you just have to let nature take its course. That said, it is essential to support the changes in your body and bone structure. One must make those muscle connections and memory patterns so that the added weight is supported by the skeletal structure during pregnancy and the healing process can commence post delivery. For mothers in-particular, being in tune with their body is often last on their checklist. Coming to class and tuning into your body, thinking only of yourself for one hour, is the best therapy I know of.

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Low impact

Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise, combining weight training and resistance exercises. The movements strengthen bone tissue without impacting on joints and bones. This allows for continual practice without wear and tear on the body, and therefore generates strength and overall improvement at a sustainable rate.

Long and Lean

Unlike common forms of exercise that creates short bulk (which often cause injuries). Pilates elongates and strengthens your musculature while improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility.

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Improving muscle elasticity & joint mobility – exactly!

What are you doing when you are not teaching or working on your blog (check it out here)?

To be completely honest, not a lot. My week is pretty intense actively speaking, so my down time tends to be relaxing. I love to swim and cooking is a real passion of mine. It’s not always gourmet, mind you, but I really enjoy feeding my friends and family. As I only have one day off a week at the moment, I also like to head away for the night. My parents have a place up the central coast in North Avoca. I go up there a lot and just hang out. I walk on the beach, go for a swim, drink some wine on the veranda… just live in the moment, as they say.

I can’t not ask then, what is your all time favourite meal? 

I love spaghetti bolognese. Everyone has their own version of it and I just never get sick of any of them; I could happily eat it for breakfast lunch or dinner.

Obviously just getting out there and moving is what’s important but sometimes looking the part helps with motivation, do you have a favourite fitness wear brand?

As silly as that may sound, there is a real power in what you wear. I personally think it can set the tone for your workout. I’m a Lululemon girl myself. I love the fit of their clothing. The higher-waisted pants and longer tops are my favourite combos. Their clothing makes for a great fit. I have also just discovered their sister label Kit & Ace. It’s not here in Australia just yet, but they have beautiful basics. It’s great to see more activewear labels coming into Australia. As a fitness professional, I am excited that soon we will have far more choices at our fingertips.

I read on your blog that one of your goals this year was to travel to Ningaloo Reef in WA, why is that and are you doing it?

Unfortunately, I don’t think this trip is going to happen this year. That said, It is most definitely on top of my list. My last few adventures have all been overseas and I feel like I should explore Australia more. I have never been to Western Australia for a start and Ningaloo Reef sounds absolutely spectacular.

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I think I’m going to be adding Ningaloo to my travel Bucket List too!  Image source

Now you’ve been a business owner for a year what are your top 3 tips for anyone wanting to start their own business?

  • Make sure your idea is clear and thought out. Know exactly what you want to have on offer, and have future goals in mind.
  • Don’t go bigger before you are ready. Slow and steady is not just safer, but allows you to enjoy the process of your business growing without it becoming overwhelming.
  • Don’t be intimidated by your “competition”, learn from them. Go to other businesses, see how they run. Follow them on social media. Be inspired by the people in your field.  

You have achieved your dream in owning your own studio which is amazing, where do you see your business going in the future?

This is a big question. The truth is, I am a little nervous to answer it. In the short- term, I hope to see my business grow and flourish. I have no intention on becoming a large studio. For me, maintaining a healthy work life balance is important, so boutique is the key for me. It’s my intention to hire more staff over the next 12 months which will allow for more class times and I like the idea of introducing different perspectives.

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Thank you Johanna.  I think what you have achieved in the past year is incredible and just goes to show what can happen if you follow your dreams!

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So there you have the first in our “Women: Following their dreams” series. I hope you got something out of it, I for one, got that if you have a goal and hold on tight to it you can make it happen and I think Johanna should be really proud of herself and what she has achieved so far.  I can’t wait to see what she does next and in the mean time I’m off to her Booty Barre class!

If you want to know more about Jo, you can check her out on her website here, FacebookInstagram or Pinterest

Next month we are talking to a very talented Brazilian Mum of 3, artist, author and lover of red lipstick, who can it be? You will have to wait and see.

If you have any questions or feedback please send them through or just drop either Jo or myself a line.

Photo images of Jo are by Angus Plate, Lauren Aimee and Johanna May

Are you living your dream?

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22 comments on “Women: Following their dreams. Talking with Johanna May, combining pilates & business

  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    May 5, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I’m loving this series already! That studio looks amazing!

    • Vicki
      May 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks so much Sammie. It is a lovely studio and Jo is gorgeous.

  2. Renee Wilson
    May 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    What an inspirational woman to kick off your series. That studio looks fantastic. If only you were in my area. Congrats to Johanna. I love that she had a dream, listened to the universe and took that leap. I am working up to taking that leap, but not ready yet 🙂 #teamIBOT

    • Vicki
      May 5, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      She is isn’t she. I love that she took that leap and I look forward to hearing about it when you do too.

  3. Ilana
    May 5, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Great post Vicki. You have captured the amazing Johanna to a tee and explained the advantages of pilates as another form of exercise! Looking forward to your next installment!

    • Vicki
      May 5, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you so much. She is pretty amazing isn’t she. x

  4. Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages
    May 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    This is very inspirational. And I have Ningaloo on my Wanderlust list too!

    • Vicki
      May 5, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks Malinda. I didn’t know about Ningaloo until Jo told me about it (which is a bit bad seeing that I lived in Perth for 9 years (when I was very young!)) but it’s on my bucket list too now. She is a bit inspirational isn’t she. Thanks for stopping by x

  5. Nancy | Plus Ate Six
    May 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    What a great post! Totally different to what I was expecting and I love it. Lovely to see someone following their passion in life and making it work for them.

    • Vicki
      May 6, 2015 at 12:04 am

      Thanks so much Nancy. She’s pretty inspirational isn’t she.

  6. EssentiallyJess
    May 5, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Wow starting your own pilates studio is pretty impressive!
    I love hearing about women who just go and do things. It’s pretty inspirational.

    • Vicki
      May 6, 2015 at 12:05 am

      Isn’t it Jess. I love that Jo followed her passion through and has been so successful at it.

  7. Erin
    May 6, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Hi Vicki,
    Another great blog this week. I loved learning about Johanna
    Warm regards
    Erin
    http://www.findmyniche.com.au

    • Vicki
      May 6, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Thank you so much Erin. She is quite inspiring isn’t she?

  8. Sonia Life Love Hiccups
    May 7, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    What a beautiful and down to earth woman. She deserves every success possible xx

    • Vicki
      May 7, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      She really is lovely and just got on and followed her dream!

  9. Hugzilla
    May 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I did pilates for a few years before I moved to WA and no longer had the best pilates teacher of all time. I’d love to do it again but we live in a rural area now, with no studios in the area. Sad face!

    • Vicki
      May 10, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Oh no very sad face. I will have to get tips from you on moving interstate!

  10. Sasha @ From the Left Field
    May 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    What an awesome series lady!! Great idea. And great interview- Johanna sounds amazingly grounded and focused. Inspirational indeed! xx

    • Vicki
      May 17, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      I know I wish I was as grounded! Thank you x

  11. Kristy @ Loulou Zoo
    May 23, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    What a great series! Love it. And I love Pilates also, so a lovely lady to feature. I can vouch for how much it can help improve your fitness and shape (especially during and after pregnancy!).

    Also, Ningaloo is amazing and totally worth visiting! x

    • Vicki
      May 23, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Thank you. She is such a lovely lady. I’m a bit jealous that you have been to Ningaloo….

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