We had the good fortune of connecting with Gretchen Wagoner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gretchen, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
Creating a team of other instructors who I (for the most part) already knew in some capacity was key. I hand pick every instructor and wanted to make sure that when I opened the studio, it wasn’t just me teaching classes but a mixture of instructors and styles. The common thread at BREATHE is high quality, attention to form, and a knowledge of teaching both for fitness but also a strong post-rehab knowledge. It is very important to me that my instructors continue their Pilates education past their initial Pilates Certification, whether that means us brainstorming about students, injuries, and anatomy, taking classes or Privates from one another or doing continuing education. BREATHE PILATES Miami has also become a place for all Pilates instructors (not just BREATHE instructors) to congragate for Continuing Education. Prior to COVID, we hosted many other instructors and courses including Pilates for Neurological Conditions and Pilates for Knee & Hip Replacements.
What should our readers know about your business?
Our studio is small but fully equipped! What sets us apart is that we have almost every piece of Pilates apparatus, while some studios only have Reformers. We do a lot of Private and Duet sessions and so we want our students to get the most out of their Pilates practice. That means in addition to a Reformer, you are also using the Cadillac, Ladder Barrel, Pilates Chairs, Spine Corrector, and Foot Corrector, etc. Even in our group classes, you will use the Reformer, Spine Corrector, and the Springboard, (which a basically an abbreviated version of a Cadillac). Pilates is a complete system that was invented and meant to be done on various pieces of equipment, not just one. One of the things we are most proud about is how creatively and efficiently we pivoted with COVID. BREATHE’s instructors were amazing and all learned the technology as quickly as possible. We created a virtual schedule that literally kept us afloat during the three months we had to have our studio doors closed. I am proud to say that we are still offering a virtual platform and have students joining from all over the country and world whom we’ve never met in person. It wasn’t easy in the least, while others were sharing recipes or having Zoom happy hours, I never stopped working or hustling. While that may not be the healthiest work/life balance, it kept us going and thankfully we are now open in person as well and thriving. Along the way, I learned to let go of control and to delegate and use my staff more. Being a bit of a “Type A personality” and someone who normally finds it easier to do things myself, this difficult time gave me no choice but to lean on my staff more than ever and I found that as a whole things ran more smoothly. One of BREATHE’s core values that I think describes us well is: Exhale Fully, every obstacle has a solution. We strive to create a friendly, relaxed, and calming demeanor to those who choose to work with us.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living and working in the MIMO area means that I don’t leave the area often. And there are so many treasures in this neighborhood that one doesn’t really need to! I always take “out of towners” to Shuckers, especially if they are a visiting from the Northeast during winter months like my best friend would be. The view can’t be beat, its relaxed and they have a great smoked fish dip and tuna tartare. Another favorite is Boulevard Baes, with it’s outdoor grill and seating, it reminds me of the fabulous outdoor restaurants in Tulum. Having The Anderson right next door to the studio is quite convenient too for grabbing a drink after work. Traveling a bit farther would have us spend a day at Fairchild Tropical Gardens or Deering Estate, especially when they are showing an exhibit with a local artist.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to my students who followed me from studio to studio, sometimes on the other side of town! And those who came to work with me when I was just seeing Private clients out of my home in Miami Shores. All their support and encouragement made it possible to create the brick and mortar space that is BREATHE PILATES Miami!
Headshot of Gretchen Wagoner – Photo credit Eli Peck All other photos – Photo credit So-Min Kang Photography