#GirlBoss: Page Barker & her Pilates Studio

One of the sweetest fitness experts you’ll come across, Page Barker is one calm and collected Pilates instructor (and entrepreneur) with Southern charm that’s hard to miss. Her Pilates studio holds a zen, relaxed vibe that’s rare to find – thanks to her calming spirit during class. A combination of European & American techniques, Page has managed to develop her own fitness techniques and sequences that has proven rapid results with her clients. Growing up in Alabama, she worked as a dance instructor and later on studied and practiced Law professionally until she made a complete change in career- fitness through Pilates. It’s a hard decision to make but with her firm belief in pilates and the results it achieved, she decided to fully launch into the business of fitness. Here’s her story:

 

How did you discover your passion for Pilates?

After college I found Pilates at a gym in Birmingham, Alabama. I started with mat classes and quickly moved into private sessions on the reformer, chair and cadillac. Before taking Pilates, I always hated exercise because it felt mindless and uncomfortable, and I would just try to distract my mind by pushing myself through the workout. Pilates was the first time, outside of dance, that my mind was concentrated on what my body was doing and it felt amazing. For the hour I was in class, I was able to let go of my stress and fully refresh my mind and body. My body responded quickly, became stronger and more defined- pilates does that to you. I also discovered that all of the things I loved about dance could translate into the world of fitness. In dance, there’s a focus on how the body looks in the movement, but in fitness it’s mostly about how the movements feel rather than looks. Those were the same reasons I loved to dance – how it felt to connect to my body and my body’s transformation over time.

Her Chicago

I’ve been in Chicago for 5 years and so many exciting things happening in this city right now. I believe we’re in the midst of a major creative expansion in the health and fitness scene, and its so exciting to be a part of that.

Chicago has the perfect combination of big-city culture, arts, shopping, restaurants etc. and laid-back livability of a smaller city.

In 2006, I moved to Paris on a whim to teach Pilates at a French studio. I ended up staying for almost three years, which was an incredible experience, but after living in a city like Paris where people are super focused on external appearances, I love how down-to-earth Chicagoans are. It feels like relationships and how people treat other people is more important to being successful in Chicago than more superficial attributes, and I really appreciate that.

Chicago Hit List

Harvest Juicery for nutrition – Mod & Ethico for eco-friendly workout wear – P.45 in Wicker Park for clothes – And since I’m obsessed with kombucha, The Kombucha Room in Logan Square, and last but not least Arami for the best sushi.

What are the benefits of Pilates & what are typical days at Pilates studio?

One of the best things about Pilates is that we don’t overdo repetitions. Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates method, said that a few reps, performed well, were worth hours of sloppy calisthenics. This makes classes so much more enjoyable and keeps the mind engaged for the full hour. 

A lot of women are drawn to Pilates (our classes) because despite the workout’s  challenge, it creates long, lean muscles without building bulk.

Pilates sequences, specifically at Page One, consist of low-impact movements that are also designed intelligently from an anatomy perspective, so clients are able to execute all of the movements with no discomfort other than muscle burn in all the right places.

With a dedicated practice, Pilates is extremely effective at creating long, lean lines in the body very quickly.

Joseph Pilates was known for saying that “You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions.” In my experience, changes often happen even faster than that. At our studio, our workout sequences change everyday so the mind is constantly challenged to connect to the body in each session, and classes never get boring. Pilates workouts are designed to balance out the body by creating long, lean lines in the abs and arms, lifting and toning the glutes and thighs, and improving overall posture. There’s a flow to classes and we have discovered that the use of additional sensual elements to the class such as music keeps the mind engaged thus giving you a really hard workout almost without realizing it. People are always surprised when class is over because they feel like it goes by so fast. I firmly believe that workouts should NOT be miserable – it can actually be something you look forward to.

 

 

Why did you decide on Pilates, how did you start your business and what inspired you? 

Pilates was the first type of workout that I enjoyed and looked forward to. I found myself in the studio for 2 or 3 sessions a day – completely obsessed! For the first time since high school dance classes, I got this high from being fully present in my body while challenging my body. I became addicted to the feeling at the end of a session with total exhaustion paired with a complete refresh of my mind. Before Pilates, I always thought you had to suffer to create changes in the body, so I was amazed by the tone, definition and length I could build into my body in a short amount of time and without making myself miserable.

After teaching Pilates for 5 years, I decided to go to law school because I thought I needed a more serious career. I continued to teach Pilates on the side, and after practicing law for 3 years realized that it wasn’t for me and couldn’t ignore the urge to create a business that revolves around what I loved the most- Pilates. Having taught at studios in the US and France and having studied so many different types of Pilates, I felt an overwhelming desire to create my own version of Pilates sequences. I am deeply committed to the Pilates method, but I craved something fresh- I kept all  good things about Pilates while incorporating new information we have about anatomy, while  strategically building sequences that create specific lines in the body. A pro tip for readers- workouts should be designed to make us feel great, but also repetitive movements create shapes in the body, so we need to be very deliberate about the types of movements we’re doing during workouts.

I opened Page One Pilates in October of last year and it was the best decision. Even with the challenges of building a business, I haven’t regretted leaving the legal practice for one second. As cliché as it sounds, it’s more rewarding & fulfilling to do something that you love.

What changes have you noticed in the business of Fitness?

The fitness scene is rapidly evolving and there is plenty of diversity that is fueled with creativity. EVERYONE needs to exercise, so there is so much room in Chicago for growth. It’s healthy competition but we stand out by staying focused on our own method and style,  attracting people based on result. I only look to other methods and what other trainers are practicing as a way for us as fitness professionals to learn from each other and push each other to be better.

I believe the best way for your business to thrive is to continually evolve your method and stay at the top of your game.

How I contribute towards the good

In addition to the physical benefits- personal workouts and Pilates in particular have always helped me stay emotionally balanced. I recently read that 1 out of 5 of women take some sort of antidepressants or anti-anxiety prescription medication. Exercise has been proven to be extremely effective in the treatment of depression and one of my very specific goals with Page One Pilates is to create workouts that maximize the psychological benefits of fitness- my goal is for my clients to achieve overall well being. As convenient as it is to follow workouts by online streaming, I don’t believe that they carry the same psychological benefits as working with a group of people. So many friendships are made in our studio, and we are motivated by and connect to each other by sweating it out- together!

A Quote you live by?

Follow your bliss! It’s really that simple.

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