Certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor
STOTT PILATES® and Total Barre™ Instructor Trainer
Find her on Facebook: @pilatesfrance
Originally hailing from Canada, Julie Midgley is currently living the life of an in-demand STOTT PILATES® Instructor in the south of France. With a gorgeous Pilates studio on private grounds, a client list that includes celebrities and a solid partnership with the influential Planet Fitness Group, Julie is now the face of a fast-expanding Pilates movement throughout the country, and an ambassador for Lolë clothing in Cannes. Several interviews in magazines and on television have helped her bring even more publicity to MERRITHEW™ STOTT PILATES. She is now working on introducing Total Barre to eager French clients.
But Julie’s dream life didn’t just materialize out of thin air. She made it happen, through hard work, determination and a hefty dose of enthusiastic optimism.
Here is Julie’s story.
When Julie Midgley was 41 years old, her life fell apart. An expat living in France and working as a flight attendant, Julie had married a local man, and the marriage was dissolving. She lost everything in the ensuing divorce. As she struggled to put the pieces of her life back together, she began taking Pilates classes to help relieve some of the stress. She soon noticed that the only time she wasn’t crying was when she was in class. “Some people come to Pilates to rehabilitate injuries,” Julie muses, seven years later. “I came looking for rehab, too, but for a broken heart.”
As she looked for ways to change her life, Julie began researching Pilates programs and Instructor training programs online. When she clicked on MERRITHEW's STOTT PILATES, she was amazed to see that the MERRITHEW Corporate Training Center was located in her hometown of Toronto, and in her old neighborhood to boot. “It was an aha moment,” she says. “I knew that this is my avenue, and this is where I am going.”
Julie flew back to Toronto and invested in becoming a Certified Instructor. She stayed with friends and fast-tracked, taking classes during the day and studying at night. She enrolled in the fall of 2009, and on June 10, 2010, on what would have been her wedding anniversary, Julie became a Certified Instructor. But she didn’t stop there. “My dream was to bring STOTT PILATES® to the south of France,” she says. Julie bided her time, building up her experience in Toronto until an opportunity on the MERRITHEW website arose—an ad listing looking for a STOTT PILATES Instructor in the south of France.Though she had yet to earn her IT status, Julie jumped on a plane to France to meet the man who placed the ad. She was soon teaching in his studio.
As she began teaching in France, Julie hit the books once again to re-learn the STOTT PILATES terminology in French, asking her students to correct her when necessary and putting in effort to learn the language fluently. She also set about finding a space of her own to teach clients. When a friend casually mentioned a private gym he was constructing on his expansive property, Julie’s ears perked up. Although hesitant at the idea of having strangers visit his home gym, Julie soon convinced her friend and his wife to give it a shot. “No is not in my vocabulary,” she says, laughing. “When I hear ‘no,’ it’s the beginning of a ‘yes.’ “No’ means ‘work harder.’” Now, she says, her friend and his wife have become like adoptive parents to her. “They treat me like a daughter.”
Julie’s determination also helped her secure a Carte Professionnelle, a legal document that allowed her to make money from teaching Pilates in France. It took some convincing of a local bureaucrat, who had never heard of Pilates before. At first, he had said no, too.
“When I hear ‘no,’ it’s the beginning of a ‘yes.’ “No’ means ‘work harder.’”
While she had been studying for her Certification, Julie had made strong connections in the MERRITHEW community in Toronto, and one of them would prove especially influential. She befriended a new member of the MERRITHEW corporate team from France, Etienne de Pierrefeu, who worked in international sales. It was Etienne who introduced Julie to an old school friend of his brother’s, Nico Perot, who was working as a commercial at Planet Fitness Group. Nico had been searching for new modules for Planet Fitness when he found Etienne’s name on the MERRITHEW website. Nico fell in love with Pilates, and the three forged a business partnership that saw Pilates in the south of France explode. Planet Fitness soon became MERRITHEW’s equipment partner in France, and Julie became the face of Planet Fitness’ STOTT PILATES offerings.
Six years after returning to France, Julie’s days are filled with teaching a list of clients that includes elite athletes and A-list celebrities, and working with Nico and the Planet Fitness France team to promote MERRITHEW and STOTT PILATES throughout the country. Four of Julie’s former clients have become Certified Instructors and have opened their own businesses. At the recent Pompadour, a week-long fitness expo sponsored by Planet Fitness Group and Les Mills at the Club Med resort in Vittel, Julie’s 50-person classes were all completely sold out. But Julie is not stopping there. She is now working on bringing Total Barre™ to France. But she is still building on her main goal—to change the vision of Pilates in France, and make STOTT PILATES a household name.
“We’ve only just begun,” she says. “The best is yet to come!”