Total Barre® Qualified Instructor, trained in Intensive Mat-Plus™, Intensive Cadillac, Intensive Chair, Intensive Barrels, Injuries and Special Populations
Founder: Wild Pilates – Auckland, New Zealand
Laura Mohi was a fitness instructor working at a gym when she fell in love with Pilates. Her passion for learning and teaching grew, and one day, after running some numbers, she decided to make the leap and open her own Pilates studio. In just three months, she opened Wild Pilates in Auckland, New Zealand, offering Reformer, Mat and Total Barre classes—she was just 26 years old.
Here is how she did it.
Laura Mohi was always into fitness. A runner and workout enthusiast, she chose to make her passion her career, moving from her hometown to become a fitness instructor at a gym in Auckland, New Zealand.
But after a few years, she wasn’t sure how she wanted to further her career, or which direction to take. The gym she worked at had a few Merrithew™ Reformers and other pieces of equipment, but there was no one to teach Pilates. The first time she tried Pilates, Laura thought it was strange that she wasn’t already training in it. The precision appealed to her, and she set about making herself the in-house Pilates Instructor, and spent the next few years taking STOTT PILATES® courses, including Intensive Mat-Plus™, Intensive Cadillac, Intensive Chair, Intensive Barrels, Injuries and Special Populations, and the Total Barre® Instructor Foundation Course. “It was a pretty good introduction to Pilates I think,” she says.
Soon she was pushing 90% of her clients towards Pilates. “I wanted to get more people into it,” she says.
The more she did Pilates, the more clear the direction of her career became. “I knew I wanted to do it forever,” she says. If she opened her own studio, she thought, “I could do Pilates all the time with no distractions.”
It seemed an unattainable dream, until she sat down and crunched some numbers. After realizing that it was financially feasible, she took her business plan to the bank. It was a challenge convincing the loan officer to front a single 26-year-old woman with the cash to start her business, but eventually she did it. And after that, “It all happened quite quickly.”
Within three months, she had found a space, ordered the equipment, set up shop, and opened the doors to Wild Pilates. “It was pretty scary taking this on,” she says. “The logistics of setting up a studio was intense.”
From the beginning, Laura realized the importance of branding, and has used the Merrithew brand to help her build her business. “Sticking to the Merrithew brand is really important,” she says. In addition to STOTT PILATES, Laura added Total Barre® classes, and they are going well, she says. But her main focus is Reformer training, which currently makes up 85% of the classes she offers. Currently Wild Pilates offers 32 classes per week with a maximum of five people per class, with an additional 8-12 private classes.
Laura ran training courses through Wild Pilates to find Instructors. She currently has one Reformer and Mat Instructor and one Total Barre Instructor—and herself. It’s hard work. Most days Laura works from six in the morning until seven at night, teaching about six classes a day and taking care of administrative duties.
Changing perceptions is also a part of an ongoing challenge. In New Zealand, Pilates is mainly known as a form of physiotherapy, not as exercise. “They don’t know it’s amazing for sculpting and amazing for fitness,” she says.
So Laura turned to social media to get the word out. Instagram allows her to show what Pilates is with pictures, and it has proven enormously helpful. It’s an easy medium to use to express the energy and vibe of classes through images, she says. And people often ask how to book classes through Instagram.
After Wild Pilates is fully established, she estimates it will take roughly 18 months, Laura plans to expand to another studio in Auckland.
Her advice to those considering opening their own studio? “Figure out the reason why you want to do it, and look for a gap in the market,” she says. You need to know exactly what you want to do, and chances are that no one is going to do it the way you are going to do it. “Everything else is just something you have to get through.”