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Saltwater Therapy I Raw and Real I My Journey of Closing My NYC Pilates Studio and Starting Over: 1

Please note that these are my journal entries during a real, raw, and vulnerable time in my life. There could be spelling errors and grammatical errors.


Closing a business is not what I would have thought in a million years. It is worse than any break up I have experienced and I feel it is worse than a divorce. Even though I have never been divorced, as I was told this by a client of mine, who closed her business. You are the only person in the relationship and it is divorcing a part of yourself that is not working anymore. You have to make the choice to bail, alone. There is no other person to talk to, to make the decision. I know break ups can be mutal, or one sided and the other person sticking it out has no choice to let it go if the other is not in it anymore. But there is a dialogue back and forth between 2 people. How do you tell your self that the business which you have built with blood sweat and tears that you need to leave? It is a mind fuck for sure. Pardon the vulgarity, but I think that explains it best. " Where do you go?" "Who are you now?" "What are you?" "Did I give up?" "Was I not strong enough?" "Smart enough?" "How did I not see that mistake?" "Why did I not see that coming?" "Am I a failure?" Are the questions that came up most.

I am taking you on a journey of my mind. I couldn’t write everyday…it was too painful to do so. I just had to get through the motions and day by day duties of the business and to recount it killed me at times. I did have strength to reflect and I kept writing as is so you can see the working through process There is a lot of repetition, but that helped my final decision and warning it can be a bit dark.

Step One: Realization

I am starting this documentary with a heavy heart. My Pilates Studio of 12 years is coming to an end. Or end of an era. Which I am not sure. Or what my next era is going to be. There are so many emotions attached to it. 11 years is a more then a decade of blood, sweat, tears and more blood, more sweat and more tears expelled by my soul. And to think I might walk away with so little kills me and makes me feel like a complete failure.

Everyone says no keep it going, but how much more can I take from my reserved gas tank? What once was a studio that taught me about life, commitment and sacrifice is not teaching me lessons that fill my soul, but depleting it. Or is it teaching me survival? Or tough love? Because I am survivor I always have been. I am like a cat: Throw me out the window and I always land on my feet. So maybe this is my ultimate test? I don’t know, so I am writing it out on paper so I can read the words back and make sense of everything.

In my life, I beat an eating disorder that took 10 years away from my life. I beat the heartache of not becoming a professional dancer. Or my professional career was only short lived which lead to an eating disorder. I am not married or in a committed relationship right now. I came close a couple of times, but I saw the writing on the wall. I walk alone a lot. Maybe it is my path? I cannot say. Or better yet, I am to pass into the life I always dreamed of: Freedom just to live and be in continuous movement. Which brings me to my passion and life coach: Surfing.

Surfing on A Wave:

To me it is the harnessing of nature’s energy that is a gift you were rewarded from the ocean. You can feel that magical dance of you, the wave and your board. I relate it to ballet. Once a dancer always a dancer and when I am on the wave it is my partner, the board becomes my pointe shoes and the sound of rushing water is my music. When that is in sync, my heart dances, my body reacts and I am free. Freedom and Movement= Salt Water Therapy.

My passion for surfing started as a fluke. I signed up for a surf camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. I figured why not try it before I get too old. I was 39. Nowadays 39 is not old! It was not the actual Witch’s Rock, which I found out later, was an advanced break and I have not tackled that break yet!

Most of the time I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I got my ass kicked. I couldn’t paddle past the white water. Or I thought I was only supposed to catch white water. The school never got me past practicing getting up on a wave of white water so what did I know. I thought that was surfing! I was definitely a Kook with a capital K. Once and only once I caught a real wave ,or green waves as I heard it called, and rode all the way to shore screaming the whole time. I wanted to get that feeling again! That one wave and I was hooked for life, so my surfing journey began.

NY Surf Buddies:

This meetup group was the best thing I could have done. It has changed my life. I met some of my best friends here and they will be lifetime friends for sure. Surfing brings all types of people together. For instance, lawyers, doctors, scientists, teachers, fitness professionals, Pilates Instructors, DJ’s, electricians, Photographers, carpenters, chiropractors, real estate brokers, small business owners, graphic designers, painters, TV production, fire fighters, police officers, and the list goes on. I never would have met most of these professions in a “regular” life situation. Surfing gives you variety and freedom and keeps life moving. Just like the ocean and what life is supposed to be. Always moving and changing and we are supposed to be adaptors to the rhythm of life. Surfers are adaptors to the rhythm of the ocean. Which when you think about it if we didn’t have an ocean we wouldn’t have life. So you see how close to life we are when we surf? Now do you understand why we love surfing. In my opinion, it releases a biological, primal instinct that we lost long ago as humans. Technology is even worse nowadays. It has dulled the human instinct. So we need to keep it and practice it. Or at least I feel I need to do that and surfing teaches me that. That is why I love surfing too. I unplug from everything when I am in the water and it feels great! All the people I ever met surfing have the same common thread coursing through their blood regardless of their profession.

My friends from NY Surf buddies are my life timers. They get why I need to surf and there is no judgement between us and that is such a beautiful thing.

When I Can’t Surf:

Fall when my work schedule gets hectic and I start teaching more not because I want to, but because I have to. That statement holds a lot of emotion. I have a beautiful Pilates studio that on the outside it looks like I am successful, but on the inside I am crying and suffering. So when I have to do something in it, because I negotiated a bad lease and screwed myself. Just to even pay my bills, I sleep in the studio and rent out my beautiful apartment at least one week a month. It helps me keep my surfing fix going, too. I will do anything to keep surfing.

Living out of a suitcase kills my soul a little bit everyday. I am living a private hell and I am ball and chained to a life that I really didn’t want. Surfing becomes a memory and out of my reach. I desperately try to keep in my life, but this happens every time. My business, which is supposed to give me freedom, chains me down and makes me a slave to the struggling economy and country. I feel like I put money in everyone else’s pocket, except myself: The irony of a small business and doing what you want. No one tells you what happens when you start to fail. What you feel like or how you get out or how to work through the sickness back to health. No one tells this side. And to be honest this needs to be out there so when entrepreneurs fail and trust me, they fail all the time, you need some guide or understanding what is happening to you. You need to know that it happens to the most successful people. Life is not a smooth journey ever! To grow you need the pain and suffering, but you also need to not stay in that pain and suffering too long or you will be doomed. And doom spelled backwards is mood. Mood gets you nowhere.

Winter 2014:

It is a rainy cold day in NY and the day before Thanksgiving. I really want to surf tomorrow, but looks like I can’t. I have to make the Turkey for Thanksgiving and once again Kim is the responsible one. I am the one that leads, but doesn’t get any where in her life.

At this point in my life, I am really stuck working everyday. I got to go to San Diego, but it was work for the future. And at the end of the week , I was in California warm weather and waves and I didn’t surf. I just couldn’t stress myself out to try to rent a board and go in the water that I love. I was depleted, done and at that time felt so lost. How the hell do I get to to San Diego and have a new life when my old one in NY is so entrenched with chains and responsibility that I have no idea how to begin to cut them loose? I cannot seem to get that out of my head and move on. I am heading head long into a depression and I am desperately trying not to go there. I know what that is like and it will take time for me to come out of it again. I don’t have a lot of time to spare anymore.

Do I really just give up my dream of surfing everyday and working with at least half the stress I have now? That is not a dream that should be out of reach, but for me it is. I am not married or have kids, but one thing that entrenches you more than marriage is a business and it feels like you have 10 kids. Who would have thought that this was the absolute worse to get out of.

I am trying to get out of my depression, but I have good days and bad days. Today was a bad day because I made a bad call not to go surfing. Which probably would have helped my mood. Now the regret has dampened it along with this rain. Also the fact I do not have any time off for the Holidays. Hell, I never get time off unless I leave NY so I can breathe again.

I really dread my day to day life. That is kind of fucked up. No that is fucked up. I always was the type of person to fight, but I am giving up and that is what is scary. Maybe surrendering is the thing to do in this situation that I can no longer control. I just ask for a miracle. Even if that is a direction I should take. Right now I am so in the dark that I am scared.

December 7, 2014:

The cold has set in and I have come to face the fact that I will be ball and chained to my work until I figure this break out from my prison. I am trying to think of it as a classroom instead of an actual prison. It helps to get through the days a little easier. Also I am trying to keep a check on my wine consumption. I am drinking all the time and crave it at the end of my stressful day, which is the beginning signs of an alcoholic. I know alcoholism very well. There are a lot in NYC. I have seen it destroy and it continues to destroy people I know. My heart goes out to them. I know because I am an addict. I had anorexia and Bulimia from 14-16 years old then it was being fat for years with compulsive eating until I found Pilates. But that is another story that I have to tell.

I also have a wine trade so it makes it dangerous, but it helps me eat out sometimes when I have to be on a budget. Here we go, food again is becoming the only thing I can control. The control theme is money, which is parallel to my eating disorder. See writing thoughts down really helps to see the pattern you thought you were over. I guess once an addict always an addict regardless if it is food, alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, the list can go on, but you get the point.

So yeah I have a lot to deal with. My surfing is gone now for the winter, but I need another positive vice. Pilates always has been my savior, but with the crap going on with the business I am trying not to hate it. I think I have started to separate the actual Pilates from the business. I decided I HATE the business side and I need out. I put my business up for sale and decided that I will probably not get any monetary gains from a 11 year biz. Like I said before, that breaks my heart, but as time goes on I am trying to make other connections and focus on what I do best and that is teaching... I am one of the best Instructors out there just no one knows that yet. I am not a cocky person at all. Mater of fact, I called my business BENT not Kim Kuznitz Pilates because I wanted to be anonymous and not let me only be the “star”, but to have team of Instructors that were “stars”. I have that in harmony, it just isn’t paying the bills. My team knows it and I can’t hide it or stop the heavy feeling of the studio dying. I can’t lie or be “happy” that I am living out of suitcase once a month just to fight to keep the studio open and do the right thing for my clients and my instructors. I love all my Instructors with their crazy, quirky ways. They are all loyal and I am sooo fortunate to have them. I wish with all my heart that I can pay them more or else they will leave. I can’t blame them if they leave. BENT will no longer be in existence because I can’t run that huge studio with the huge overhead myself. Hell, no one can! No one would even do what I am doing now! It is absolutely nuts and I know it. That is the ironic part. But I don’t have a choice right now.

At this point, doing the absolute worse thing would be to stop paying rent I will get evicted which would take 3 months. Maybe I can work all the favors I owe, but highly likely. I am stuck making some enemies, but in life nothing ever goes as planned. Remember that. Burn that into your brain and don’t ever forget it. If you learn that lesson, then the hardship you are going through will be just a little easier and in the hard times a little easy is better then beating yourself up and beating your spirit into the ground.

March 21, 2015

Happy Spring! NOT! The weather in NY is even mirroring my mood. It snowed once again yesterday. I stayed in and studied my wine books. I am switching careers or I think that might be the option. I figured I have studied the fitness business and it doesn’t make sense to me to stay in it any longer. I am not benefiting from it at all. I work 60-70 hours a week and make about 40-60K . So you see I am making a meager salary with banker and lawyer hours.

I wake up every morning stressed out of my mind. My body is reacting with mysterious joint pain and digestive problems. I have to go to the doctor’s, but just can’t. One I have no time to take care of myself or for that matter any money to. But the main thing is I am afraid my body will break down completely. The one thing that has been tried and true is my strength in my body and my endurance to take any beating that comes my way mentally or physically. I get knocked down a 1,000 times and I get up 1001 and keep struggling to move forward until I gain my courage back.

So you see there are signs all over the place to move forward. But the major question is HOW and WHERE?

Rewind 3 weeks ago:

I had an emotional meeting with my staff. I had 2 choices the one choice was to close my doors or the second choice was to possibly move upstairs and save money on my rent for the next 2 years and then leave NYC. It was a very hard meeting, but the staff was so supportive that it would be even more difficult to close.

I took a huge risk with people leaving and not caring. Of course there will be some and I see the Instructors will be looking out for themselves. I totally understand that, but I just couldn’t hide it any longer and I am not a good liar at all. I guess I need more practice on my poker face!

You see I realized I do love what I built, but at the same time I am not making any money and struggling to make ends meet. I am not getting my personal gratification or recognition for my work at all. I have been hiding behind BENT for years and no one knows who I am or what I can accomplish as an Instructor. I also just don’t see this business making anything. I can’t see it. Every bone that is thrown my way is something that is not worth pursuing in the end. It looks so tasty with all that promise of meat and nourishment, but when I go to pick it up it is a brittle old bone that has been decaying for years. Empty. Empty promises and a total illusion to what really is.

The decision is to be made by April 1 whether to close or to move upstairs. Now I realized that timeline is unrealistic. There has got to be negotiations and talks and that can take 2 months or more not one. So the resolution will be in August as far as I am concerned.

I had one of my desk staff give me that advice to make a deadline when I was an emotional wreck. When you are facing the closure of your business and everyday you wake up with the weight of the world on you and your energy is burnout beyond belief you don’t think. You just want everything to end. And sometimes those thoughts can be your own life. Yes I go there. When I start to imagine how I will kill myself I get scared and, of course, I would never do it. But I think the scariest part of all is that I am even entertaining those thoughts. Think about it. You are a single 47 year old woman, never married and work every damn day of your life so there is no room for a relationship. Even though at this point, I’d rather be single because I have a lot of great friends, a quirky cat and a family that supports me so having a significant other is not my priority at this point. It really never has been the forerunner of my inspiration. It has ALWAYS been career and friendships. In reality, having a partner helps ease the financial burden tremendously. So I thought shit I should have gotten married for a business arrangement at least!

Love is a commitment in itself and it doesn’t and shouldn’t be binding. I feel the binding strangles the flow. If you are both committed to one another just do it and live it. Sometimes it will end and the very lucky ones it won’t. I guess celebrating it is the wedding part, but all that vow stuff can get tricky. People change and life changes. Just like my business commitment has changed. I still love it, but I can’t go on in this situation no longer.

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