This weeks featured “rockstar” is Abey Rae Clark, the owner of Hummingbird Pilates, a full service Pilates Studio in Beverly Hills, California.
According to her websites Mission Statement, Hummingbird Pilates honors the legacy of the method, created nearly a century ago by Joseph Pilates. Its founding principles are based on the idea that one can truly transform the body through dedicated and rigorous practice. So, whether working on the mat, the Reformer, or the Cadillac, our Pilates instructors guide you through challenging workouts that tighten the core, improve strength and flexibility, and, of course, make you look and feel great. Abey Rae Clark, owner of Hummingbird Pilates
- 1 What is your background? (dance, group fitness etc.) Unlike a lot of instructors, I don’t come from a dance background. During the last year of my Psychology degree I was teaching and practicing yoga, and I started doing Pilates videos. I loved how it made me feel. I was having second thoughts about going to grad school and questioning what I should do when one day I just had this moment of absolute clarity, thinking, “I’m going to become a Pilates instructor”. So I set about making it happen.
- 2 Why and how did you start your business/ open your studio? I have always wanted to open a Pilate’s studio and it finally felt like the right time. I wanted to have a beautiful, welcoming space for people to do classical Pilates using Gratz equipment, which while the best there is, isn’t as common. I didn’t want to keep working at studios that used equipment other than Gratz.
- 3 Did you face any challenges when you decided to open the studio that you would like to share, and how did you overcome them? I didn’t want to order my equipment until I found the right space but once I found it things began moving really quickly. I looked at the space on Monday and I was signing the lease by Friday. The challenge was that, because Gratz makes everything when you order it, I had to wait two months until everything was delivered. That was stressful because my lease had already started. But luckily I had somewhere else to teach, so I was still working. And it actually gave me time to get everything else ready, so in a way it was a blessing.
- 4 Describe yourself and the Hummingbird Pilates workout. Pilates should be a strong, challenging workout! I try to stay true to Joseph Pilates’ original exercises because when done properly Pilates works wonderfully. At Hummingbird Pilates we work the method as a system, meaning we utilize all the different pieces of equipment depending on what the body needs.
- 5 What is your greatest business accomplishment? Teaching those first clients after officially opening Hummingbird Pilates in March was pretty surreal. I feel so proud of the studio and so blessed to work in such a great environment with such great people
- 6 If you knew early on in your career what you know now, what would you do differently? I wouldn’t be so hard on myself and expect such perfection from my clients and myself. As you get more experience you get more comfortable with the fact that it’s okay not to know everything, and that as long as you continue learning and growing as an instructor than you have so much to offer. I also used to feel like I wasn’t a good instructor if people weren’t doing the exercises just right. Now I understand that it’s okay for people to be where they’re at and part of being a good instructor is being patient.
- 7 What does your personal fitness routine include? I try to do Pilates a couple times a week. Sometimes it’s just a few half hour sessions by myself at the studio when I can fit it in, but once a week I try to do a private session with an instructor. I need someone to push me and I always learn something. Pilates has so many layers. It’s really quite fascinating! I also like to hike and walk with my dog and weight train with my fiancé, a trainer at Gold’s gym. My Pilates training really helps me stay safe and work my body properly. That’s the great thing about Pilates- it helps you do everything in your life better!
- 8 What does a typical workday look like for you? (Schedule) Every day is a little different, but usually I start teaching at 7:00 or 8:00am and the latest I finish is 8:30pm, with breaks scattered throughout the day. I usually teach around 30 hours a week. I’m sure I spend at least a few hours a day on the business side of things.
- 9 What is your eating philosophy? I try to eat as little processed food as possible and limit starchy carbs. I eat lots of vegetables and I’m not afraid of fat. Sugar and carbohydrates make people fat, not healthy fat sources. I do love sugar but I know it’s bad for me, and not just from a weight perspective. I’ve gone through so many phases of cutting out different things (e.g. no dairy, no gluten, no sugar) but I’m starting to understand that I do best when I eat everything in moderation. But that’s the hard part!
- 10 What is your favorite brand of fitness clothing? Definitely Lululemon. And I think American Apparel’s light sweaters are perfect for the studio in the summer time.
- 11 Do you have any advice for future female entrepreneurs? Don’t rush it. I was going to open a studio when I first finished my training over seven years ago and I realize how inexperienced I was. I think it would have been a disaster and I’m really glad I took the time to learn from others in a studio environment, both to grow as a teacher and also to pick up on the business side of things. And I recommend getting a line of credit, in addition to the savings you have or loans you get. Just as little rainy-day safety net!
- 12. How did you come up with the name for your studio? I’ve always loved hummingbirds and they were always around when I was growing up in Canada. I was inspired by the name of the Hummingbird Bakery in London. My sister sent me their cookbook and I thought, “Gosh, if I opened a bakery I’d want it to be called Hummingbird Bakery…. wait a minute….” And I think it fits. They are such beautiful, active little creatures with a lot of stamina!
Thanks Abey for allowing me to interview you. You have a gorgeous studio. If you are in Beverly Hills, take a few classes at Hummingbird Pilates.