The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
My first business “baby” was a large-scale format Pilates center in San Francisco called the Mercury Fitness Pilates Center. I opened the studio with my husband Darren, a 15-year Pilates enthusiast and fellow believer in my vision of making Pilates affordable and accessible to more than just an affluent demographic. We were the first studio in San Francisco to offer discounted group mat and apparatus classes, as well as traditional private training so that more people could experience the incredible benefits of Pilates without spending upwards of $100 per hour to take a one-on-one session. We opened in 2006 and our business exploded, giving us the stability to start a real family of our own!
We had our daughter in 2008 and our son in 2010, which blew our minds and so very much enriched our lives. But it also complicated things for we were the only two of our extended families to live in California; everyone else lived on the east coast and we suddenly realized how important we felt it was for our children to be closer to their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. So we sold our SF business in 2012 and moved to Chicago, where we opened our second studio The Mercury Method.
The Mercury Method is my own signature exercise system combining elements from Pilates, yoga and strength training into one total-body workout, set in a studio heated to a temperature-charged 98.6 degrees. We opened in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood in 2012 and now we're concentrating on licensing the four customized workout routines to big box gyms throughout the country. I also choreograph and star in fitness workout DVD's (you can watch clips from each of my workouts here), I am currently earning my Holistic Health Coach certification at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I blog about fitness, food and family at ListentoLara. Oh, and I run around after a three and five-year-old constantly, there's that!
What do your kids think about your job?
My kids would much rather watch The Magic School Bus on NetFlix than mommy talking about getting in shape for summer on the local news. But I am starting to see that the example my husband and me are setting about healthy living is really beginning to integrate into their little psyches. Whenever my kids are doing anything remotely physical, they're sure to tell me that they're “working out,” and I feel their muscles, eyes growing wide, and let them know how impressed I am with their efforts! And my daughter is hilarious—a picky eater by nature—she now asks about her food, “Mommy, is this organic?” and of course it is! I want to pass on the importance of health and fitness to my children so they grow into strong, powerful adults who see wellness as an essential part of life and not just a take-it-or-leave-it thing. They are my inspiration and motivate me to keep myself strong and energetic for the long run, and it's my responsibility to give my kids the knowledge and tools to do the same.
Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?
Last fall, I was doing a lot of early mornings at our studio, which left my husband to get my daughter up and dressed for preschool. Before I left the house, I would lie out her clothes, put her school bag by the door, and basically prepare as much as I could so all Darren had to do was wake the girl up, brush her teeth and feed her. But one morning I forgot there was a field trip planned for that day and that all students were required to wear a special shirt used to identify the class, as well as a packed lunch. I received a frantic text from my husband, who had clearly been chastised by the preschool teacher for not following the rules! My daughter went on the field trip the odd man out—without proper attire, without any food and when I picked her up, she was pale and had dark circles under her eyes! She was clearly starving and had refused to eat anything her friends offered her at lunchtime (did I mention the pickiness??). Luckily she enjoyed the field trip, but continues to bring up (at the most strategic, guilt-inducing moments) “the day mommy forgot to pack my lunch.”
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
I feel very proud of the fact that my husband and I took a leap of faith and chose to work for ourselves, to create something we were proud of and could call ours. Despite our lack of experience (and our lack of business expertise—we're both theatre majors from UCLA!), we have always had passion, vision and a unique ability to work together both professionally and romantically. Eight years ago we let go of the trapeze and trusted that the there was something to catch on the other side and we did it! I also feel very blessed that I didn't miss out on motherhood—starting our first business was all-consuming and we almost forgot to have kids! But luckily, I gave birth to my wonderful children at the ages of 37 and 39. I feel that, despite the immense busyness of life, I can look at my precious family and know that I've already won.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
In May, Mamalode did a Starter Series feature on my good friend Emily Mitra of DOSA. Emily has been following my blog and was so gracious to connect me with Mamalode's COO and Publisher Dori Gilels who also happens to be Emily's sister! I am so happy to have found Mamalode; often in the throes of motherhood, emotions are stunted by endless daily tasks and to-do's, but reading Mamalode stories from contributing mothers always pulls me back into my skin and brings my soul back up to the surface!