Name: Allison Blust-Zang
Business: Absolute Pilates
Location: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness
Reason for starting? Absolute Pilates was started to bring classical Pilates with a modern fitness twist to the Harrisburg Pennsylvania area. It was a market that was in need of studio atmosphere for clients to come and move better, feel better, and be healthy. I believe that Pilates is for all bodies. We like to see clients set and reach goals.
Related: Read about another Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness entrepreneur here.
How do you define success? I think success is not just about dollars or smiles. For me it is something I am still working on. It is having a happy family, a happy team of teachers, and clients crushing their goals, all while still feeling like I am a human. Years ago as I started this journey I was told you cannot have it all – well I have a saying, “I want more.” I will keep working on balance and drive. Yes, things go up and things go down. Sometimes I feel successful other times I think, “Why am I trying?” That drive for wanting more is what keeps me going to grow the business and find the unicorn that is the success.
Biggest success: My biggest success thus far was helping some of my teachers reach their goals. I had three staff members leave their dead-end day jobs to become teachers. They are happier and more fulfilled than ever before. I helped one teacher find her first job ever at the age of 30; before she had gone from high school to stay at home mom and now to highly sought after instructor. Teachers who have gone on to found their own business in related fields are also a success to me. I think leaving a lasting impact on other women’s careers is my biggest success.
I am working to grow our Pennsylvania footprint. I would love to see the studio expand to touch more people that need Pilates. I am working to grow the roles the teachers take in managing the studios. I want to see the teacher training part of the business grown. The next big thing for that is to have the program certified by the Pilates Method Alliance. I am also working to grow our impact in Pilates for people going through cancer treatment. I hope to have time found a non-profit or b-corp to donate pilates to those in need.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Staffing has been my greatest issue. You want to clone yourself but you can not. I started my own teacher training program to do the next best thing. This program allowed me to train and retain teachers that are outstanding. I started the teacher training program in my area to educate the best teachers. It also allows busy people to get the quality education close to home. This has brought me my best teachers and we take the same approach to continuing education. I bring in a teacher to do continuing education every year for the teachers to help maintain the best staff.
While I was planning and building out my first studio that is not my house (the scariest business move I could imagine at the time) I realized I would now have rent to pay. I had grown the business in the very safe bubble of my basement for 3 years. I became pregnant with my daughter and my mother’s long-term illness became terminal. This studio was over 6 months late due to the construction process. It was the wildest ride. I knew I needed to get my house back to make this work. I also knew I needed staff to help while I took a maternity leave. I ended up taking pretty much zero days off. I was emailing clients while in labor and continued to run the studio while on leave. It was the early days of having teachers working for me. Things are so much better now and this was one of the original markers of success!
Related: 5 Crowdfunders to Watch – New Year, New Business Goals
Who is your most important role model? My most important role model is/was my parents. They made my life a joy and are always there for perspective. You never want to get overly confident. I got to spend a lot of quality time with both of them growing up. My parents were divorced and when I was young. That meant when I was with them, they were really with me. We did all kinds of things together that most kids do not do. They showed me the value of a hard days work. They also made sure I was set up to reach all of my goals. They supported me when I started the studio. My Dad still checks on how the business is doing on a weekly basis.
Edited by The Story Exchange