We had the good fortune of connecting with Allie Guillerm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allie, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor behind my success and more importantly the success of my brand is authenticity and passion. Working with people, caring for other human’s bodies and teaching them movement can be draining. You really have to care about what you are doing to care for others, to succeed at it, and to keep clients coming back, specifically to you. With a market that is extremely saturated in Los Angeles (I can’t tell you how many times friends from home referred to Pilates as “so LA”) I had to create a studio that would stand out among the many. While I haven’t seen many Punk and Fitness cross overs, it’s not just a gimmick or a theme for the studio. I truly and authentically love punk rock, rock n roll, and metal. Walking in the doors, the studio is 100% me. From the black/white/purple theme of the studio to the records on the walls being from my personal collection to the “Fucking Fitness” neon sign, this studio is me in a physical space. I have tied my love for fitness and music, and created a space that I personally would want to visit, and made it a space that is inviting. I am true to who I am, but have felt intimidated to set foot into certain stores, bars, or social events. I wanted my studio to be a space that people would feel comfortable entering; to make something that can be intimidating to some feel like home. I truly don’t think that this is something that can happen unless it is organic and authentic. And it’s a labor of love, which is not something that makes you rich overnight, so there needs to be a level of passion in that. My drive certainly has been a factor behind my success, but I owe my passion and authenticity to myself for the success of my brand. There are easier routes to take and versions of my studio that may be more common or palatable to the masses, but knowing that I’m not the only person who happens to enjoy working out but doesn’t like club music out there, lead me to open Pilates Punx.
What should our readers know about your business?
Pilates Punx is a small Pilates Studio offering group classes and private sessions. We have both Classical and Contemporary Pilates classes, which you don’t find in too many studios around — most places are one or the other. We also have a whole rock n roll/punk vibe, catering to the counter-culture, meaning that it’s the Pilates Studio for the people who want to come and work out, listen to good music, and not feel out of place. It’s more record store/vintage shop than a Zen experience. I am the most proud of the client feedback that I have gotten so far, and the sense of need that we have fulfilled in our neighborhood. We’ve offered a place that is comfortable to everyone — men, women, first-timers, folks with injuries, people just getting back into exercise, and also people who know what they’re doing and want an ass-kicking! I laugh as I read “was it easy?” Opening your own business is NOT easy. I got to where I am business-wise with a lot of hard work, determination, stubbornness, and necessity. I worked hard to complete my Pilates Teaching Certification and didn’t quite fit in at the studio that I was initially working at. I started daydreaming about what MY studio would look like if I ever opened one. A lot of people that I met, fellow certification students or instructors were teaching Pilates as a way to supplement their passion – actors, musicians, art teachers, and so on. I was all in. I also quickly learned that you can’t teach 40 hours a week. It’s really hard to fill your schedule in a way that works and I was having a hard time condensing my schedule so I was working 7 days a week, but never could get back to back hours each day. I was driving all over the city and wasting time driving instead of teaching, after about 2 years I lost my voice. I physically couldn’t teach as much because it’s impossible to communicate when you are inaudible. I just needed a way to get ahead of it all and for starters, being in one place was key. But also figuring out how to cover more hours than I could physically work, which meant having other instructors. So once I ironed out this whole idea, I quickly learned that no one wants to take a chance on a NEW business owner. It was really hard to get a loan, even a loan that was MADE for a new small business. Thankfully I found the SBDC and began weekly meetings with a business adviser; after almost a year of working with them I got funded!….and only THEN did I realize that most people have business partners and I was out there on my own. It’s been a wild ride and all I can say is that there were a lot of times that I could have just given up, but I’m just too damn stubborn for that. As far as lessons that I’ve learned along the way go, I think I just underestimated the emotional support that I was going to need and the validation for what I was doing. I would get really down and one client telling me something positive would feed me for a week. It reinforced why I was doing this. And finally, I just want people to know that… I really care a lot about what I do and I am so grateful to share it with people. One of my favorite things about my job as an instructor is to see clients get stronger and to help point out the changes that they might not even notice. I have such a connection to what I do and I make a point of bringing in instructors who also care. I also really love to help even the instructors grow, give them a place where they can feel proud of what they are doing, a place to learn. I try to keep prices of classes as low as possible to make Pilates accessible because I believe that it truly is for every BODY.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I love to play tour guide! One of my favorite things about opening Pilates Punx has been the relationships that I have made with the neighboring businesses. So, Day 1 I would make them take a Pilates class with me, and then we’d shop next door at the great vintage shop Gimme Danger. We’d get a coffee and some little bites across the street at Cuscatletca Bakery and I’d let them drool over all of the furniture at Moti Roma and Sunset Bazaar. We’d poke around at the Social Type for all the cute cards and a postcard for them to send home, and then wave to the amazing artists at American Electric Tattoo Co. (I don’t know if I’d bring my human friends, but while we were in the neighborhood, my dog Morrison would take his friends to Washing Spot for a nice grooming from our favorite lady, Liz) I don’t like going to crowded places and avoid the “happenin’” spots, so I’m not often at a bar on a Friday night. But if I want to go out on a Friday it’s to La Cita where they have Angry Hour every Friday afternoon to early night. Hosted by my friend Raul who plays the best punk rock, and hopefully, Calixto is behind the bar. One of my other favorite bars to go to is Crawfords. That’s right, your Pilates instructor loves a place who’s menu is exclusively Fried Chicken and Beer. I love getting coffee at Caffe Vita, and I love the Vista Theater that’s right there by Vita. I also always take visitors to see the sunset at Griffith Observatory. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take them for a drink at Tiki-Ti while I was in the area. I honestly love street tacos more than any sit-down restaurant, so I’d do a tour of tacos. I grew up in Massachusetts. The food that I thought was good Mexican food and the thing that I thought was a taco was a waste of taste buds. The best thing about California, aside from sunshine, is the tacos. But I also love Guisados, so we’d eat all of the tacos. If I’m playing tourist with a friend I skip Hollywood and go out to Venice. I definitely enjoy some time walking on a boardwalk and dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean, and there’s something that makes me feel like all boardwalks are the same, be it Wildwood, New Jersey or Venice Beach, California. And then I’d probably be tired of being around people and we’d wind up at Crawford’s again. And of course, given the right timing, a show at the Greek or at Hollywood Bowl, because outdoor shows are still a total novelty for this girl.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to call attention to a wonderful service out there that helped take me my idea and rough draft of a business plan to owning my own studio – The SBDC and more specifically Joseph Duncan at the SBDC (Small Business Development Center.) The SBDC is funded by the SBA – they offer all kinds of courses for free, to help you learn all of the ins and outs of small business. By taking a course on how to write an executive summary, I was given access to a Business Adviser, for no cost. This has been one of the most valuable things as a small business owner. I have been working with Joseph Duncan as my business adviser since October 2018 and he has helped guide me, and continues to help as I am navigating closure due to COVID-19. I also would like to recognize so many of the Pilates Instructors that I have had the pleasure of working with and working for – I’m always learning from my surroundings and I’ve learned a lot from a few wonderful people that I have workshopped with or worked alongside. I get a lot from taking classes and I am endlessly thankful to be able to learn from them (even if they don’t know that I am.)
Other: MindBody: https://mindbody.io/locations/pilates-punx