Becoming a Pilates teacher and opening my own studio is the realization of a dream. This is actually my third career; I was a professional orchestral musician for over 20 years until nagging repetitive use injuries curtailed my performing opportunities. I then began working as a financial advisor and retired two years ago to fully devote all of my time to running my studio. I started taking Pilates lessons more than 10 years ago because I was curious about it. It was love at first footwork!
After taking several privates a week, I decided to take a mat certification course, mainly to learn more exercises to supplement my equipment lessons. Wow- that course ignited a fire that I couldn’t put out. I started gaining new clients (since student teaching hours was a large component of the training. The following fall, I decided to pursue comprehensive training. My client list continued to grow and I was renting space at various studios to teach. My vision of what I wanted in a studio atmosphere conflicted with the spaces I was training in so I started looking for my own space.
I found a beautiful location and opened BellaBody Pilates in Phoenix, Arizona on August 1, 2014. I worked for another few months as a financial advisor, doing the “quick change artist” from my suits to Lululemons and then decided to retire in December and haven’t looked back. All of my previous work experiences–creative, teaching, business and planning have melded together to give me the foundation for running my studio. I’ve considered expanding but enjoy taking time off and frankly don’t want the hassle of managing staff and increased expenses. I will continue to teach until my health or other circumstances tell me to stop.
My clients range in age from 10 to 84. My original clients are still with me. I would say the majority of my clients are close to my age, give or take a few years. I just turned 60. I teach several Silver Sneakers mat classes each week to retirees. Some of these clients could not get up and down without assistance; now they are my class leaders.
If it weren’t for Pilates I know I would be in lousy shape. Pilates helped me through a 70 pound weight loss (with no hanging skin that plagues most people with large weight loss), got me through knee surgery and multiple rehabs. I wish I had the beautiful, athletic dancer body that graces the pages of Pilates Style magazine, Facebook and Instagram, I wish I didn’t see the judgmental looks from other instructors and prospective clients, but I have a strong, beautiful flexible body of a 60 year old grandmother, with c-section and other scars- and am a proud role model for my clients and friends. I may never be able to perform some of the advanced exercises because of my physical limitations but there are many more I CAN do.
Am I successful? How do we define or measure success? From a business perspective, my studio is thriving, I have a devoted following and I adore what I’m doing. I was in the black four months after opening and have continued to increase my profitability and attendance. My real success is having a wonderful husband of almost 34 years who has supported me through thick and thin, two fantastic grown children and a beautiful grandson. All the rest is just icing on the cake. I am grateful to have the chance to positively affect people’s lives and spread the Pilates Love!
Deborah Lavinsky, PMA®-CPT
13825 North 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85022
I’ve been taking Pilates with Deborah for a little over a year. Having attended mat classes, as well as solo and duo sessions, I can attest to Deborah’s skill in adapting and challenging all levels of fitness. Though I had exercised extensively over the years, I had become a bit complacent and needed to become more active and strong again. Pilates looked intriguing and after a couple of introductory solo lessons with Debbie, I was hooked.