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Julie of Endurance Pilates and Yoga Gives Back in Big Ways!

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Julie Erickson, a Babson graduate has dedicated her life to helping those with disabilities, athletes, Boston Marathon Bombing victims and everyone in-between. Even though she is an avid traveler and well known among the fitness world, she stays humble and never forgets that her son is her greatest joy.

Name: Julie Erickson
Location: Boston
Age: 44
Current title/company: Endurance Pilates and Yoga
Educational background: MBA, FW Olin School of Business, Babson College, BA Tufts University

First I want to start out by saying how impressed I am by your social media presence. I know that you attended both Tufts and Babson, did you focus on marketing and communications while you were studying?
I was an English major at Tufts, so definitely honed my communication skills during those 4 years! At Babson, I did focus all of my electives on marketing, but the best thing about Babson’s MBA program is that there is a big focus on entrepreneurship most of us end up opening our own companies.

Before you opened Endurance Pilates and Yoga you worked at Staples. How did you find your passion for fitness and decide to dedicate your life to helping others?
In my past life, I was a Global Product Manager for Staples Corporate and after that a North American Product Manager for a communications firm called Genesys. I started teaching fitness part-time right after I graduated from Tufts and over the past 22 years, I have been able to pursue many certifications I have well over 30 certifications and trainings, 5 of them are Pilates alone. I am constantly attending continuing education workshops, at least 10 or more every year and I travel to NY at least once a month for my own workouts with another instructor assisting me and watching my form. I just recently finished a year-long program in Health Coaching and can offer services in health and nutrition to our students at Endurance. I have been a life-long exerciser and I can say this, I am in better shape in my 40s working out for a living than when I was in my 20s working in corporate and teaching fitness part-time. I am truly blessed to have a job where I make a significant impact on people, their health, and fitness. I also train the instructors that work for me each of them has 1,000 hours of study with me. I have had many teachers change or choose to teach as an occupation under my guidance and that makes me very proud!

You offer assistance to clients who suffer from Parkinson’s as well as those that have endured a life changing disability. How are your programs different for these clients as opposed to the ones that you offer in your studio for the public?
They’re not. We use the same knowledge and concepts with every client that walks into our studio (or I train on their living room floor!) and that is to train the body that is in front of you. Some days, my 20 something NHL star needs the exact same inner thigh engagement for stability as my 68-year-old woman who is recovering from a fall. We might use the same exercises, maybe choosing different Pilates apparatus and hands-on according to their particular strengths on that day. Every single workout that we give in the studio is absolutely personalized whether you are a 30-year-old runner looking to PR at the Boston Marathon or a single amputee learning to smooth out gait in order to walk confidently on these Boston sidewalks without a cane.

I know that Pilates and Yoga focus on your mind, body, and soul. Do you use any special techniques or focus on healing the mind in addition to your full body workouts?
There is so much going on in our sessions, I have students that tell me they had to focus so much on what they were doing, they couldn’t remember the exercise that we had just done! There is no place for the mind to wander, in fact, if I am doing exercises to their fullest extent, I cannot talk while I am focused, so if I need to demonstrate something which is rare (we don’t ever do the workouts with our students) we cue, direct, do hands on and manage our students movement patterns. There is no time to worry about what happened at work, school or at home because all of the focus becomes very much on the present and on the state of the body at that particular time. Joseph Pilates wanted folks to be able to completely control all of the muscles of the body via the mind he called his method Contrology. I have students that work out with me every single day and I can say that in each case, I can tell exactly what is going on outside of the studio. We carry our stresses within our physique, I can see the stresses of travel or a difficult situation at home, work or school in the body that walks in the door and I adjust the workout based on what I see in my student.

What was the biggest challenge that you have faced since changing your career and focusing on the health industry and how did you move past it?
I opened my entire studio with one brand of equipment and then ended up switching the type of Pilates I was teaching to a better form which meant I had to invest in all new equipment. This definitely tied up my cash flow and delayed profit for a couple years,  I made the investment in education and equipment in order to bring the Classical Authentic Method of Pilates to Boston. From a business perspective, it was hard to explain to folks why it was so important to do so, some folks don’t realize there are very different systems of Pilates. I chose the best and have studied 4 other methods and what we teach at the studio is hands down, the best for all bodies when taught correctly, like I do and all of my well-trained instructors do.

You’ve been able to work with people from various backgrounds and lifestyles and have dedicated your time to helping victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. How did you get involved with this work, and how has it impacted your life?
My mother was l lifelong juvenile diabetic who was a single and then a double amputee because of circulation concerns arising from diabetes. In her lifetime, I was not as adept a trainer, so I was never able to offer her the help that I am today for my students. Shortly after the marathon bombings, my dear friend Carmen (we were in a mommy group together when our boys were babies they are 15 now) contacted me and asked if I could help her sister who had lost both of her legs in the bombings. I replied of course and over the past 3.5 years have worked with Celeste, her daughter Sydney and several of the other folks injured in the bombings, I also have a few new students learning to navigate life in their prosthetics whose injuries occurred in other accidents.  All of the work that I did with the folks injured in the marathon bombings and with a young teenager whose injuries occurred in another accident is pro bono. I have dedicated these countless hours to the memory of my mother in an attempt to “pay it backward”  I wish I had possessed the talent to train her and the prosthetic industry had seen the advances that we see today so that she could have walked without pain, danced and run like the folks I work with today!

Do you offer training sessions for young men and women who want to become certified Pilates and Yoga instructors?
I do offer training for Pilates instructors, it is 1,000-hour commitment, so not to be taken lightly and takes a minimum of about a year. I do offer less intense trainings for Personal Trainers to teach our Endurance Mat program and our Barre Boston program. I have been asked about teaching a yoga training, it is definitely on the to-do list!

After all of the sweat and hard work, when was your “aha” moment that made you realize that this was your passion?
It has always been my passion. I don’t know if I ever had an aha moment! I have just worked tirelessly for many years to realize this dream of owning a studio in Boston, training private clients 50+ hours a week, mentoring and training teachers and dedicating hours to pro bono work to give back. I’ll give an example - on my son’s 10th birthday, I needed to be in NYC for the day to teach and so that I could be observed teaching as part of my apprenticeship. I left my house at 2 A.M., taught, left NYC, got home to celebrate in the evening, got up again at 2 A.M. and went back to NYC for more teaching and observation, then drove home again that evening. While keeping my business going, my child learning and cared for and completing one of my Pilates apprenticeships.  I am an extremely hard worker and I finished my MBA with an infant. Anybody that has kids knows just exactly how difficult that is. I used to teach my 5 A.M. classes while my husband was working in CA with my son in a stroller or watching a movie during the class he never made a sound and to this day, I can bring him wherever I need to be!

Do you have any advice that you would give to your younger self that you want to also give to my readers?
Definitely, live below your means and find a partner that supports your passion and don’t ever give up on having an occupation that aligns with your absolute passions, there is always a way to make things work. When I decided to open a studio, my husband was very supportive and I needed him to be. To purchase equipment, secure a lease and get a business off the ground, you definitely need to have some cash in the bank or be able to secure a loan.  We looked at it as an investment in me versus the, at the time, the underperforming stocks we had just lost some of our investments in during the 2008 time frame. It made sense to put our cash into something that I knew I could work very hard for and that the outcome of the business would depend on my management, promotion and teaching skills. I was cash flow positive very quickly as I had tried to keep fixed costs as low as possible. If you are opening a business, as much as you possibly can, do it without a partner, investors or employees for as long as you can at least until you are at 125% of your capacity. I likely got to 150% of my capacity and I still paid my employees much more than I paid myself in the first couple years as I purchased all of the new equipment for the studio. I work every single day of the week, work while I am on the treadmill getting a workout in and still I sometimes feel like I am behind. I delegated only when I absolutely had to and it is definitely a challenge to hand things off to another person knowing that some things that you may not have ever let slip by actually do. To me, I had to make this decision with the assistance of an executive coach as I found I was getting to bed at 2-3AM to be up at 6 A.M., working for 12-15 hours and then 2nd shift home stuff and kiddo stuff when I got home and 3rd shift marketing, social media, business stuff usually after 11 P.M. at night. I was exhausted but one thing I never let myself skip was a workout. I ran between 2 and 4 marathons every single year since I have opened my business. That kept me very honest!


♡ DARLING DETAILS ♡ 

Have you ever traveled for work and if so, where was your favorite place that you traveled?
I have traveled a number of places for work including Denver, St. Louis, Alabama, all sorts of places in CA, St. Paul, Kentucky, Montreal, Florida, Texas, Arizona,  all of the Northeast many times and I am sure I have forgotten a few places in between! My favorite place to travel is always NYC and I try to get there at least once a month for my own workout and continuing education!

Are you an activist in our community or do you have any other passions?
I work with several non-profits to help raise awareness and raise money for amputees and challenged athletes including 50legs and Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and recently became involved in the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. I am active in volunteering with local causes in the South End in Boston including charity events, complimentary yoga and Pilates for kids and will be working as a volunteer starting next week for high-risk pregnant women at Tufts Medical, teaching them yoga and meditation techniques. We are working to sponsor a family through the studio to help defray the travel costs associated with adjustments to his prosthetic leg. I feel very privileged to be able to give my time back when possible to help others that may not otherwise have the means to afford Pilates or some of the resources that these groups provide.

What is your favorite memory?
The birth of my son.  He’s 15 years old now and the proudest moment of my life was when he wrote an essay that started with the following sentence, “My name is Alex Erickson and my favorite activity is the competitive sport of baseball, my most treasured possession is a valuable signed baseball and my hero is none other than my hard-working mom.” He was 12 years old at the time and I read it over his shoulder as I was getting ready to attend a fundraiser for two of the amputees that I was training. Of course, I was in full makeup at the time and had to choke back happy sobs. Having a child is my most important job, I tell younger folks wondering whether they want to have kids or not, the following: If I lost it all, everything, my business, my home, my husband, my car, all of my possessions and I was sitting on the side of the road as long as I had Alex with me, life would still be OKAY even more than OKAY, we could make it good! I earned an MBA Magna Cum Laude (finishing when I had a baby!), have won several “Best of” awards, but nothing compares, not even close, to the joy of being a parent and seeing my son grow up knowing that he sees everything I do in business and in philanthropy and is making decisions in his own life to assume leadership roles and to volunteer his time to help others as well.

What is your favorite way to stay in shape aside from Pilates and Yoga?
I run every day (or plan to run every day) between 30 and 60 miles per week. I do a full body workout we call PAIN (Perfect Assets In No time) that includes kettlebell, TRX, Pilates, and Tabata as well as other forms of HIIT at least once per week. I plan on at least 2 sometimes up to 4 marathons per year with a couple half-marathons associated with each marathon and then a few other shorter distance races. Pilates keeps your body beautiful, however, you need to do cardio as well. Running is my choice of cardio because it is efficient, like therapy to me and just keeps me super strong and able to tackle my crazy 15 hour days. I do Pilates in my body every single day and when I need the mental release, take a yoga class.
 
What is your favorite fitness class or course that you offer in your studio?
I love my Experienced Mat class, most of the students are teachers and we can really get through lots of great Pilates mat exercises! I also love PAIN (described above) but I mostly teach private sessions at the studio and I enjoy working with every single one of my students!