it has been far too long since i introduced y’all to a female entrepreneur. one of the best things about the blog is sharing the spotlight with others. for those of you new to Style at a Certain Age i have an interview series Over | Under that features hard-working women from all walks of life. authors, jewelers, fashion designers, and ceos.
since i’m passionate about fitness, it was about time i interviewed a woman of like mind. if you’re wondering what a Pilates reformer class is all about then this post is for you. i’ve been jabbering about Pilates reformer classes since i started working with Pure Balance Pilates at the end of 2018. first of all, Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that strengthens muscles while improving alignment and flexibility. Pilates movements target your core, although the exercises work other areas of your body as well. a Pilates reformer class is actually fun. yes. this is exercise that’s fun and challenging and never boring. the reformer machine gives added resistance and a sliding surface that challenges your workout. honestly, it feels like you’re flying at times! i first discovered a Pilates reformer class when we lived in Minneapolis several years ago. it was love at first sight. the benefits of Pilates are innumerable. it helps with your posture, muscle tone, flexibility and a strong core which helps with balance. when we moved to Athens i searched high and low for a Pilates studio only to discover there wasn’t a single one in town.
but all that changed in the fall of 2018 when Pure Balance Pilates opened their doors. i can’t tell you how ecstatic i was to sign up for private sessions. Pilates is the key to age with grace and strength. whether we like it or not certain aspects of our body diminish with age, muscle strength, bone health, balance, and flexibility to name but a few issues. but there’s hope. understanding what to do, what to avoid, and how to pace ourselves is essential for remaining strong and healthy. if there’s one form of exercise that will help with aging strong it’s Pilates. i can personally testify to the benefits of Pilates. what with a serious case of arthritis to contend with, Pilates not only gets my body moving but Ali provides valuable feedback during our one-on-one sessions that help me keep moving all week long. my body is strong enough again to add on a weekly group class. and i’ve been able to add on strength training back into my exercise routine. ladies, are you ready to meet Ali Hall owner/instructor of Pure Balance Pilates? let’s get to it.
Ali is the 23-year-old owner of Pure Balance Pilates. her love of movement started at a young age. she grew up dancing with South Georgia Ballet in her hometown of Thomasville, Georgia. by the time she was 16, she was dancing 20+ hours a week. however, this strenuous schedule began to put a strain on her body. Ali started having severe low back and hip pain and feared she would have to stop dancing. this fear led her to a physical therapist who practiced Pilates-based rehabilitation. Ali started taking Pilates privates three times a week and was absolutely pain-free within a month. she fell in love instantly with the practice and continued taking classes as a form of cross training.
in 2014, Ali moved to Athens to study Exercise Science at the University of Georgia. while she fell in love with Athens immediately, the town was lacking one thing… Pilates. Ali spent her summers back home in Thomasville, interning at the local Pilates studio, and began teaching classes after studying the Pilates method with the owner.
in the spring of 2017, Ali decided she wanted to bring her love of Pilates to Athens, so she began working towards opening a studio in this town she had fallen in love with.
Ali is a graduate of Polestar Pilates Comprehensive instructor training and was trained by Karyn Staples, P.T, Ph.D.. Polestar Pilates is the leading international authority in Pilates education, and provides one of the most comprehensive curriculums in the world, focusing on principles backed by scientific research.
a broken ankle at the beginning of June 2018 caused Ali to have major ankle surgery, but she didn’t let that stop her. Pure Balance Pilates opened September 17th, 2018.
ali in action. Pilates reformer class
Ali, are you over or under the age of 40?
I am 23.
Everyone has to start somewhere. What was your first job?
Growing up, I danced with a ballet company, and that was pretty much a full-time job when combined with school. By the time I was in high school, I was in the studio 25 hours a week at least, so there wasn’t much time for anything else. Go to school, go to dance, get home around 8 or 9, eat dinner, do homework, and go to bed. That was my daily schedule, and then on Saturdays, we were usually in the studio from 9-5 for rehearsals. Honestly, though it taught me so much more than a job ever could. That’s where I learned my biggest life lessons, how to work hard, be disciplined, passion, failure, success, time management, poise, confidence, and supporting those around you. I honestly don’t know where I’d be today without that.
Why is fitness important?
To quote Joseph Pilates “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness,” and I truly believe that. If I told you there was a pill that you could take every day to give you more energy, help you lose weight, boost your self-confidence, lessen your pain, help you sleep better, reduce the risk of dozens of diseases, keep your bones/muscles strong, help you sleep better, and just overall increase your quality of living, would you take the pill? Of course, you would. That’s what exercise does for you. The benefits are endless. When you sit down and look at them all, it’s hard to understand why people are so resistant to being active. I think the key is finding something that you enjoy doing, or at least that you don’t hate, as one of my clients likes to say. Joe used to talk about conditioning the body in a way that you can go about your daily life with “zest and vigor.” That’s the goal. When you shift your focus away from “I need to work out to look a certain way,” to “ I need to workout to feel good and be the best me that I can be” it changes everything. That’s when you see results.
ali adjusting my form. Pilates reformer class.
How did you decide to start your own company?
Hmmm. I don’t know, it just kind of happened. No, actually, there was a little blood, sweat, and tears and a lot of fate that went in to it. I got my start in Pilates when I was still dancing as a form of physical therapy. I was pain-free within a month of doing Pilates 3 times a week and absolutely fell in love with it. I quickly realized this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The physical therapist I was working with at the time became my mentor. I came to the University of Georgia intending to major in Exercise Science, graduate and go to PT school, and then go back to work with her in my hometown studio, or franchise her studio in another town. It was a beautiful model… a full wellness facility with PT, pilates, barre, yoga, personal training and nutrition counseling… It seemed like my dream job. I spent summers interning there and also began teaching
Pilates for the first time. Over the years though, and through a series of unfortunate events, I realized that my mentor was not someone who I wanted to emulate or be tied to anymore. She betrayed me in a way that I didn’t think was possible, on top of gradually tearing down my self-esteem and my confidence and sense of purpose Pilates had given me. I came out of that situation feeling very lost, and I had to build back up everything she had worked so hard to tear down. I went from having my whole life planned out to not knowing if I wanted to go to PT school anymore. As I wandered around aimlessly, I stumbled upon a Pilates studio that my friend was going to in Oxford, Ms. It was a small franchise that offered athletic reformer and spin classes. On a whim, I reached out to see if they had considered Athens as a future location for one of their studios, and after talking with one of the owners, it evolved into me opening a franchise studio here. That didn’t happen exactly- along the way, I decided that their brand didn’t fit what I had in mind for my studio. But, it did make me think that owning a studio actually was possible for me, even at my age. All that I needed was that little spark to remind me who I was and all I was capable of, and I took off at the speed of light. I began to envision, create, and establish my own studio. Out of a place of broken confusion, Pure Balance was born.
Take us through a typical day at Pure Balance Pilates.
Luckily, I have other instructors who take our early morning 6 am classes because I am NOT an early riser. I’m usually at the studio by 8:30 or so to open and make sure everything is set for the day. I generally then teach all morning until 12 or 1… a mixture of privates and classes. After lunch, I either continue with privates through the afternoon until I have another class to teach, or I have a few hours break from teaching so I can get management and business things done. Then, I usually teach again until about 6:30 or 7, head home to eat dinner, and frequently work a little more depending on how much I taught that day. It’s not unusual for me to work a few 12-14 hour days each week, but I try not to do that every day. When you’re a new business owner, you are everything… instructor, manager, marketing director, accountant, maid…. If you don’t do it, it’s not going to get done. So for me, it’s all a balance between teaching classes and privates, interacting with clients, and then getting the actual business side of things done.
What do you think of first impressions?
Oooohhh… This is a hard one for me because I have social anxiety, so I don’t always make the best first impression. Obviously, I think they are important. We should always try to put our best foot forward when meeting someone new, especially in a professional setting. However, I do think that we should give ourselves and others grace when first meeting someone because we are all human… we get nervous, we act awkward, and sometimes, first meetings are tough. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try our best. It just means that maybe if we meet someone and it doesn’t go well, but our gut is saying that it was just a fluke, maybe give the person another chance. On the flip side of that, if you meet someone and on the outside, it goes great, but your gut is telling you that the person’s intentions are wrong, or something is off…. trust it! Proceed with caution!
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I once asked my Godmother, who is in her late 70’s, what her biggest life lessons were. She responded with “don’t worry too much about what other people think, and don’t take yourself too seriously.”
ali giving a demonstration. Pilates Reformer Class
Do you have a favorite quote?
ahhh there’s so many. The short answer is Carpe Diem. Seize the day. It’s one that my dad really pushed growing up, and has always been close to my heart. It’s just such a nice reminder to show up for yourself and those around you each and every day. Get shit done. Be brave. Or maybe seize the couch because you are tired. It means do whatever you need to do to feel accomplished and fulfilled in that moment.
How do you relax?
Ocean, lake or pool?
Ocean. 100% Put me on a boat in some beautiful blue water…That’s my happy place. I grew up in South Georgia, very close to the Florida panhandle, and my family is big into saltwater fishing and diving, so anything to do with the ocean makes me happy. I actually was going to be a marine biologist until I found Pilates.
What 3 words describe your current life?
Change. Growth. Intense Gratitude.
ali, thanks so much for stopping by today. for anyone interested in discovering more about Pure Balance Pilates, ali is offering 15% off of your first class or private session. just let her know beth sent you!