Your name? Michelle Smith
Your business name? The Pilates Pod
How long have you been in business? Just over 2 years
What do you love most about your job? Being able to help people improve their own lives with their own management tools in their own body. In one day, myself and my team could be helping someone with back pain, stroke or cancer rehabilitation, post natal abdominal separation, staying fit during pregnancy or helping professional footballers with their demanding fitness regimes- its always so different!
Your claim to fame? I used to teach Pilates to the England goalkeeper and his wife, as well as other National & International sports stars.
Your first childhood memory? Erm, crying having to go to nursery!
Most frightening film and why? I don't like gore movies, psychological thrillers and ghostly stuff is more frightening I think. I once saw a Japanese horror film with no subtitles and the whole lack of audio made it even more scarier.
What sort of training did you have before going into this business? I had been a pilates teacher for 12 years already, and successfully run my own mobile pilates teaching business in the early days as well as later managing another Pilstes studio for 8 years before I opened my own place. Plus I used to work for the BBC and be in media, so I've done everything from being a high level PA which requires huge organisational and attention to detail skills, with being a Researcher and Development Producer so I'm used to coming up with ideas galore. Everything you need for business. Anything else, I can either turn to hubby and Pod boss Ed for (design) or my accountant!
What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Wine and cheese always. My best ideas come from a creative brainstorm over a chilled glass of New Zealand Sauvignon and nibble of fromage. Plus acidophilus bacteria capsules, spirulina algae, and a massive host fruit and veg for my daily juicing.
What advice would you give someone who wants to set up their own business? Do it! Don't put obstacles in your way. If you want to, you can. Research your idea well, check out competition and if there is a gap in the market for you and you know people want it, start small but grow with the demand.
The one local business you couldn’t possibly live without in Hitchin? Apart from my accountant, it has to be TasteBuds. I'm always there for early morning coffees, quick mad panic lunch breaks, meetings, and even when Charlton is packing up! Combined with The Croft Wine Bar lads Ollie & Steve, I have got some great supportive neighbours always lending a hand.
Who is the most interesting person you have met? My clients! In the studio with trackie bottoms and bare feet they appear the same, but when you get to know someone deeper you realise there are amazing stories of people overcoming crime, loss, crippling ill health, famous artists, top athletes and that is amazing and interesting.
What’s your favourite spot in Hitchin and why? The top of Windmill hill. I like to make the steep walk to the top, sit on a bench in the quiet and eat lunch staring out at the world.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you? People say I LOOK like one of three people, Holly Willoughby, Kate Winslet and Kate Hudson, I ACT like a cross between ditzy fun filled Phoebe and a control freak Monica from Friends, and I LOVE Whoopie Goldberg, so who knows what the Director would come up with for me!
What is the last book you read? Sad I know, but I'm reading the Cranfield University Tsking your Business Further book, and before that it was Eat the Frog. I love a good business book!
What is the best thing that someone has said about you and your business? We have been blessed with absolutely hundreds of lovely testimonials about The Pilates Pod. One client said she never thought changing her body was possible without plastic surgery which made me laugh, one said we are refreshingly different doing things the way clients want, listening to them and acting on it. One said I was the best pilates teacher and business owner they'd come across and need to be cloned, but my favourite was my client who said that doing pilates training with us had given her the chance to be able to pick up and cuddle her kids again without back pain. That's just heart warming!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing – what one thing would you do differently? Should have done it sooner! 10 years ago I was teaching a lot of very high profile clients and I should have taken the leap of faith into my studio then, but I was young and scared and it took a decade later of confidence and the birth of my son to push me into it.
If you could be a super hero, what would you want your superpowers to be? Ha ha, as a kid I always used to want to have a wishing chair like in my favourite Enid Blyton books, and since I'm always rushing to fit in too many things and being late for stuff, I guess it would still be pretty handy to be able to be Supergirl and fly!
How would you describe your business in three words? Orange happy fitness
What were you hoping we’d ask you, but didn’t? If I can spell and say Mississippi really fast forwards and backwards! (yes I can!)
How have things changed for your business over the past few years? It's been a huge space rocket 2 years, we've changed fifty fold since the early mini Pod days when we first started 2.5 years ago thinking this new business would just be a lifestyle teaching job for me to have a few clients and a bigger work life balance, and now we're a team of 7, open 7 days a week and have won 3 awards! Still working on the work life balance bit!
What is the greatest challenge in running a business? Finding a break! There is always so much to do after you've finished the day job at the studio, we work often till 1am behind the scenes and juggling a toddler, staff and family time, but I absolutely love it and I love my team, hubby and son who make it all worth while while.
What are your plans for the future? 2014 is all about Pod 2! You heard it here first!
What’s the best thing about being a member of theBestof Hitchin so far? Connections, Louise and Keith know a lot of people who know other people so if you need a hand to make an acquaintance, or a number for an electrician, they know it all! Plus we find clients use it as a cross checker to endorse your skills that they read about, it's a good back up endorsement.
You can find out more about the Pilates Pod here www.thepilatespod.co.uk