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Saltwater Therapy I Raw and Real I My Journey of Closing My NYC Pilates Studio and Starting Over: 2

May 2015

Well the final decision was at the beginning of this month we are staying put for another 2 years. That sounds so daunting and torturous I know, but what choice do I have at this time. I had someone FINALLY interested, somewhat , to buy the studio. I know they are looking for a second space and that is the key word here they were “only looking”. I was going to try to make this work some how. I thought for sure they would make an offer and we would bargain down because my freedom is more important than money or is it? But I got nothing! Again. (Head banging slightly on the wall)

Welcome to the world of my business world. For the past 3 years it has been nothing but a hustle and a struggle and no moving forward. Oh wait! I move forward for a month and it seems great! Then I get knocked back for the next 3 months and will never get ahead. Imagine that roller coaster going on for 3 YEARS!!! That is why I am done with this business or owning/running a studio.

It is the death of an Instructor, a death of character or the building up of character in my case! And the death of financial stability, unless you have a husband to pick up the pieces or a sugar daddy, but here is theme of prostitution in that scenario that I particularly would like to avoid. No thanks!

I am trying to see the positive in all this. I own a Pilates studio and it is a small business. Small business owners make LESS than some of their employees or independent contractors! YES I will say that again SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS MAKE LESS THAN SOME OF THEIR EMPLOYEES AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. Well I do or it feels like I do at this point in my business. So you see why I need to leave?

Is the American dream is shot. Can only the rich can open up a small business and survive? Honestly you need money to make money these days. Forget ever paying yourself a decent salary. You will work 7 days a week, check in on the business on your vacations…..what is a real vacation ,anyway? I have NO idea! You make about $5/hr if you are lucky. You will not enjoy your life anymore because you are obsessed and stressed that you CANNOT EVER stop working. If you do, you are dead in the water, you won’t pay your bills, rent, real estate taxes employees and then you find Air BNB!!! Life is a bit better.

Air BnB is my sugar daddy. I make quick cash when my business sucks it out of me. Now there is a slight downside, I become homeless for about a week or 2 depending how much money I need to make that month. It does become like an obsession though. I keep booking and booking and see the money filter into my back account, personal NOT business. If I am going to be “homeless”, this money is hard earned and mine! But guess what I get a little bit of my light in my soul back. I can travel and take my semi-vacations, I might even save some money for my Get the Fuck out of NYC and Go West Young/ Old Woman Fund. California has been on my radar since I started surfing 7 years ago. Yes I know I heard from everyone so I really don’t need you judging too. Why? You say? Keep reading and I will have all the answers for you. You may not agree, but here’s a little light in all this sarcasm:

Not everyone’s Journey is the same. Not everyone’s Journey takes a short time. Actually that is why they call it a Journey it shouldn’t be quick. It should be mindful though and sometimes you have to take the course over a few times before you get the lesson. And that is OK. You are unique and an individual.

Here is a definition of Individual:

Noun: a single human being, as distinguished from a group.

Adjective: of which each is different or of a different design from others

I am an individual and I’d like to stay that way. I would also like the world to stay that way. Stop grouping people, things, businesses etc in boxes or certain society rules. Sameness is so boring and doesn’t spark creativity.

June 25th 2015

I am still here, but cracking under the pressure. I feel like I am dying inside. I am listening to my Inspirational playlist, but it just makes me sob. I can’t be happy when I see my business taking its last breaths. I know it is. I feel it ripping my heart to pieces. I know I said I hate it, but I really love it. It IS like my child and I see it dying and it breaks my heart. As my fingers are furiously flying on my computer keys to get this emotion that is pouring out of me down…I can’t keep up. I can’t keep up my business either. Very symbolic.

JUST WAIT by the Blue’s Traveler:

“Time’s a beauty of the road being long.”

Just wait, just wait just wait and it will come

Just wait, just wait just wait and it will come

I feel deep down inside I will need to close. I can’t shake it anymore

“No such thing as a failure who keeps trying. Coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace.”

I am not giving up I am giving in…

July 11, 2015

I did it! I found a solution to save my reputation and maybe this will lead to something more beautiful and peaceful. I love small business owners who are like me: we support each other even if we are in the same business. Competition is not good these days. Not is this economy.

I am merging with the 2 women who were interested in buying my business. I knew they couldn’t buy it when I saw the two of them running their current business and being overworked like I was.

That is what I needed for my business, a partner. I have no idea how I lasted 3 years. I am sort of still sane, but changed in a more powerful way and so much wiser I cannot describe the feeling or knowledge I gained from this experience. I look at it like my Rite of Passage to something so much better and the people who support me are amazing. It very important to have a huge support system. That is one reason why California is in the distance. My support group is here. My inspiration is there.

August 22,2015

One more week. It has been a hell ride for sure. People are not what they seem especially when you finally stand up for yourself and get called a “liar and a cheat” “disgusting” “dishonest” you didn’t make BENT I did. Ha! That is good one. Yes that came from one of my supposedly loyal instructors who turned out to be a manipulative, disrespectful, hurtful, and an immature person. I would have never suspected that. There were other ones in involved, but this one leads the group. Wow is all I can say. Bullying in your own business. My question is if I was such a liar and a cheat and dishonest why did you stay?

All I did was enforce the non-compete ,which by the way this person signed! Now the professional and mature thing to do would be respect it and sit down and negotiate it out. If this person did that it would have been so different. This person obviously disrespected me so much which to this day I am really not sure what I did. I can guess. Maybe I didn’t hand this person my business to them for free? Ok this person is obviously smoking it. I guess that was a dishonest thing to do to protect the contract and the clients I got for this person? Ok I am a bad person. The thing I learned in business is one keep your business to yourself. I was trying to be nice and fair, but killed myself in the process. I thought I could do it differently. Novice choice, but I really learned. Boundaries are set for a reason and make sure they are enforced, no exceptions. Keep the negatively out especially when you are running the business single handedly in NYC. You need all the positive re-enforcement you can get.

One thing is they couldn’t handle change they had a gravy train that ran dry. It was easy working in my studio. I gave way too much freedom to the trainers and desk staff whom I trusted. The final years though I had that gnawing feeling in the gut that I really didn’t trust them. Well my body didn’t and my brain was trying to reason that they had the studio’s best interest. They didn’t, they had theirs even though they claimed it was for everyone else. They disrupted the studio so much that all the other trainers had to deal with their BS as well as dealing with the sad situation that we were merging and changing drastically.

I made the huge mistake of letting the whole staff in. That is when things dramatically changed. One thing I learned was that your staff are NOT your friends. They cannot be. Maybe a few select that are mature enough to keep the boundaries, but the rest cannot be. It just has to be what it is. Co-workers can be friends, but business owners cannot. It is hard because you work with these people everyday. You get comfortable with them. Open up and then you are stung when adversity hits. Trust me adversity hits a lot in a small business especially when you try to do everything yourself because you are forced to. One thing that is humanly impossible and I don’t care how much you think you can. You can’t. But here is the thing: to get trustful and good help is almost impossible too. So what do you do? One wise mentor said, and we will call him Obi One Kenobi, Hire and fire, hire and fire, hire and fire. I want to add to that: try to Psychological profile them if possible. Not sure how to do that, but people can be very unstable and not too loyal. I guess really try to go with your gut not your reasoning. When I reasoned and ignored that sick feeling in my stomach, my brain was wrong every single time.

60 Days after Closing:

November 1,2015

It has been 60 days after the closing and it has been a ride ever since. I had to mourn the business and I know some people thought I was crazy to close, but this is why I did it:

I was dying and I knew it. Dying not in the physical sense, but if I kept on it would have manifested in the physical and I knew it deep in my heart. Heart is where I believe everyone should live. Even though it doesn’t make logical sense they should. I try to do that everyday and it has been one of my biggest challenges most of my life. So my heart told me to close my studio at 47 years of age, not having an MBA or definitive job to go to or a huge savings, but I had an NYC apartment. It is somewhat of a safety net. I couldn’t do it with out my business and my parent’s help. A Pilates studio owner, or this one at least, couldn’t have done it alone. But I did manage it by myself and I sustained the apartment. I still have it and won’t lose it. Thank God.

What I learned in the past year about myself, my co-workers, my friends, and my parents was a huge eye opener on life in general. First, I want to talk about who I was becoming under stress when I had the bigger studio. I was burnt out to start and I couldn’t get my creative mind going and my energy was thick and heavy, not the Light, happy, free spirit I usually am.

When you take on a bigger studio on the verge of Burnout it is so dangerous and not a wise decision, but I did. Rewind back 3 years ago to my old space on W. 54th St. when I got the letter in the mail in February from my landlord that they weren’t renewing my lease. They were dicking around so to speak and said they MIGHT renew under the new terms AFTER we just negotiated a contract and I paid my lawyer $800 dollars to do that. BUT it wasn’t transferred to a new lease. Live and learn. I thought it was set.

I got pissed and insulted and said “fuck them I am leaving.” I knew of a space on W. 50th, the building I started off in, and now the second floor was available. Floor to ceiling windows and people will know who and where I was. It glittered and called my name. I negotiated what I thought was a good lease considering the rents in Hell’s Kitchen, but there were things I was too naïve to see or know. I was backed against the wall and wanted out of my other space or thought I had to be out or else my studio will not have a home and that is death to a business. In retrospect, that might not have been a scary place to be at all. I could have found an affordable place and yes I would have lost clients, but not as much I had lost in this recent space. A novice small business, owner who only followed her instinct succeeded fairly well. It was when I stopped listening to my gut I started to fail and crumble. I felt moving and taking on double the space was a huge gamble and I wasn’t sure if I was up for it. I did it anyway. I needed strength to run this space and I just couldn’t find it. That is when I knew I was in trouble.

I started making mistakes and going against all what I believed in: Low overhead really personalized customer service. I now had very high overhead and my profits when right back in the business. I was no longer paying myself, but I would expense everything through the company. I had to keep this going or else if I closed I would lose everything I ever worked for. Day by day I lived. In a way it was huge lesson learned that I could actually sustain that, but at what expense. I became a shell of myself and I saw that happening to me. Kim was still there on good days, but she was gone most of the time. The stress and pain of seeing your baby slip from your fingers and there was nothing you could do was such an empty awful feeling. I don’t wish it on anyone. I just saw myself dying which was the turning point. Not only was I dying, but I became obsessed with the numbers not the customers. That is when the attendance started to drop. I also had construction the duration I was in the space, a stabbing, a gas leak, and Hurricane Sandy all hit within one year. Not to mention the violent assault of one my dear friend’s husband, who worked for me and was my top trainer who left New York that same year.

I was scared. What have I gotten myself into. Well I needed to get myself out somehow, but didn’t know how. That is when the suffocating feelings started.

I kept fighting that feeling though. “ I cannot fail, I thought. I must prove to myself and everyone who was watching me fall, that I could pick myself up. I was really good at what I was doing, but no one knew or my numbers and business surely wasn’t reflecting that. But I set out to prove it. I couldn’t let go. That inner conflict haunted me for almost 2 years. I carried that for 2 years and my body started to weaken. I lost weight and looked fabulous, but on the inside my strength was deteriorating. My light was dimming so to speak and my lightness turned heavy and angry. It was dark. So dark that before the actual end, I had flitting suicidal thoughts. It would have been easy just to end my life and all of this burden and stress will go away. That was another turning point when those thoughts became more frequent.

That in a summary is why I closed. I was not going to let a business destroy my life, my body and soul.

Right now I live life day to day as my business has taught me. I don’t want to think or obsess about making numbers, money or overhead.My overhead was $20,000/month that I don't have to worry about anymore. It would have been $22,000 now if I kept the business open. My brain is so tired of that or maybe I rewired it. I don’t know. But I live in the present and just ride the waves that come my way. Some may be the best rides of my life and some may be mediocre or even wipeouts. I like wipeouts though they toughen you up, but I think it is time that I have some really great rides and some that will last forever. We’ll see.

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