This is a big year for women and a big year for Body Harmonics. So, on the eve of International Women’s Day, which happens to coincide with Body Harmonics’ 20th Anniversary year, it seems fitting to celebrate—by applauding the many women behind the growth of Pilates and by learning from a successful woman close to our hearts: Margot McKinnon, Founder of Body Harmonics.
The real power behind Pilates
Although originated by Joseph H. Pilates, it can easily be argued that the Pilates method of exercise—in all its various and wonderful forms—was popularized by women. At last count, close to 10 million people1 in North America regularly attended Pilates classes and one-on-one sessions. Look around any Pilates studio and the vast majority of these devotees are women. So are the tens of thousands of instructors who teach Pilates.
At Body Harmonics’ two studios in Toronto and Affiliate Teacher Training Centres worldwide, the majority of teachers and teacher trainers are women. And, while dear Joe may have dreamt up many of your favourite exercises (think saw, the hundreds and teaser), according to the Pilates Foundation in the UK, it was his wife and business partner Clara Pilates who was
“… the real teacher in the studio and allowed the method to be passed on to apprentices (the ‘Pilates Elders’) who talk of Clara as being the nurturing force behind the man; Clara established the tradition of evolving and adapting the Pilates method to suit the individual needs of clients.”
Learning from Margot’s success
Not unlike Clara, Margot made a name for herself in Toronto in the early 1990s as one of the city’s go-to Pilates teachers. Especially when it came to her respect for the brilliance of the Pilates method and her skillfulness in adapting it to suit different postural types and abilities.
“I have always felt that the most important thing about teaching others to move well is to focus on what they can, not what they can’t do,” says Margot. “Because of this, I spent years (and many sleepless nights) developing new approaches, modifications and exercises that would make it easier for people to realize their optimal movement potential and for teachers to help them get there.”
This passion to help people feel “able” prompted Margot to open her first studio in Toronto in 1998. From there she attracted and cultivated a like-minded group of teachers—
teachers with a passionate interest in working together to help people move well and feel well. A Teacher Training program with Affiliate locations worldwide, a second studio, two integrated health clinics , and dozens of videos and manuals later, and 20 years passed quickly.
Today Margot’s company remains a going concern directly employing more than 55 smart and talented women. So, in light of all this growth and success, and in keeping with this year’s IWD #PressforProgress theme, Shoptalk asked Margot what “secrets to success” she has to offer after 20 years in business.
Margot’s top 10 tips for success
- Find potential in everyone… always—your colleagues and your clients
- Keep your message simple, clear and compelling—for everyone’s sake
- See problems as opportunities—whether in business, bodies or in life
- Listen before you speak—you’ll be smarter
- Build strength and flexibility from within—in your body and all aspects of your life (I love this synergy and how one feeds the other)
- Let others shine—that’s all there is to it!
- Embrace diversity and empathy—we are all human after all
- Lead by example—give it your best shot, take responsibility, don’t dwell on what goes wrong and laugh often
- Cultivate a great team and invest in them as people first—this is where I start every single time
- Always have your clients’ best interests in mind—never lose sight of why you got into the business of helping people in the first place
“More than anything,” says Margot, “My belief is that you can build a successful business and a gratifying life if you stay true to your purpose. When I look back on the last 20 years, more than feeling good about where Body Harmonics is today, I feel great about HOW we got here.”
Celebrating success on International Women’s Day
So, as International Women’s Day quickly approaches or at anytime throughout the year, why not take a moment to celebrate the successful women you know and give a shout out to #PressforProgress.
About International Women’s Day
IWD is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements while calling for gender equality. It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognised each year on March 8.
Be part of the conversation:
Alison Hope, BA, has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than two decades—
both as a trainer and on the business side. She owns a boutique marketing and communications firm called Hope Communications which specializes in lifestyle and social impact brands. Alison holds a Body Harmonics Pilates Level 1: Mat diploma and is currently completing her Level 2: Reformer diploma.