Start-Up Story: Live & Breathe Pilates

My name is Steph Grey and I opened a Pilates studio, called Live & Breathe Pilates, just off Camden St, Dublin 2, two years ago in 2012. My previous background was in sales and IT.

I started taking Pilates classes as a client back in 1999 as I was prone to injury and it was recommended by a friend. I was hooked as soon as I started. I felt fantastic and the logic of Pilates really appealed to my brain. Soon I was taking 2/3 classes a week and wanted to know more and more about how this system of movement was making my body really feel alive for the first time in years. I ended up deciding to train as a Pilates instructor to to get a deeper understanding of the method. I had NO intention of ever teaching anyone but part of the certification requires clocking an amount of teaching hours and that's what got me started. That was 2005 and I was working full-time in IT sales and not really liking the job much.

Small Steps

I then started off teaching small groups of work colleagues, that progressed to renting a room locally for some Sunday night classes. More times became free in that studio and gradually I added more and more classes to my schedule. I was working full-time in the IT day job and then teaching 20-25 hours of Pilates a week as well. I realised this was not sustainable long term, but I needed the financial security of a monthly wage. I approached my boss at the time with the idea of going part time and working from home. He agreed and I was delighted, it freed me up from traveling to the office every day, and allowed me to be more flexible with my hours. It was a lot of work, but without the dual income I would not have attained my long-term goal of opening my own studio.

We eventually found the perfect premises after a long search in mid 2011 and signed a 10 year lease on 1st December that same year. I definitely recommend you employ a solicitor for the lease negotiations, it's well worth it. The fit out started before the ink was dry and we opened for business at the end of January 2012. It was a mad two months, I was still working part-time in IT, fitting out the studio and teaching. The fit out was expensive, as the space was previously a textile factory and needed a complete overhaul, but that also enabled us to put our own stamp on it. And it was all worth it. We now have a fantastic light filled space that's a pleasure to teach in and clients love it.

In mid 2012 I gave up the IT job completely to focus on growing the business.

The skills I had from the IT job as well as my husband's understanding of IT and design really stood us in good stead and has meant operationally we can do most things in-house. This reduces overheads - though certain areas need other's expertise, so we engage with other local small businesses to work what we needed help with. Our web designer mentioned Small Business Can as a good resource hence we signed up.

Business Model

Our business model is, of course, to keep monthly outgoings as low as possible, whilst offering quality classes and instruction to our clients. Doing a lot ourselves helps keep these costs down, but it does take up a lot of our time. We recently put in a new online booking system and re-designed our website, making it easier to use for clients, and making our class schedule more flexible. This has had the added bonus of reducing our admin overheads somewhat too.

Much of our business comes from word of mouth, and we are active on social media. We also network with local GPs and physiotherapists to offer clients a path to recovery from injury. It is always a challenge to get new business but as word of mouth spreads and people become more aware of what we do, we hope client numbers will continue to increase. Our ethos is quality over quantity every time so we will strive to keep our standards high and make sure every client who walks in the door has a great experience.

Over the coming months we plan to offer more teacher training courses, offer more workshops for clients and continue to provide individual and group training sessions. We hope to take on more instructors as the studio gets busier and to make really good use of the space we have.

Written by Steph Grey. For more information visit

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