Maven to Know: JULIE THORPE, BUSINESS CONSULTANT, CLUB PILATES OWENER, MASTER TRAINER & NATIONALLY CERTIFIED PILATES INSTRUCTOR
Julie Thorpe, 55, wears many hats including that of a small business owner of Club Pilates—the boutique fitness studios located in downtown Indy, Fishers, and Carmel—where you can take incredible reformer-based classes. She and her husband call Noblesville home, moving out of the city after their children were grown to enjoy lake life.
“What I love most about any neighborhood is its people,” she tells us. “Where we live people are always outside being active and everyone looks out for one another. What could be better?
Ironically, they then turned around and opened a businesses that find them commuting back into town. Thorpe shares what she loves about Pilates, how she’s had to adapt due to COVID-19, and some of her favorite Indianapolis spots.
Maven superpower: Pilates is my superpower! It keeps me strong, healthy, and focused so I can handle the daily stresses of a very busy schedule.
Did you always know you wanted to work in the world of fitness? How did your career/education path lead you to where you are today?
I have not had a straight or planned path in life at all and I am grateful for my various experiences. I’ve worked in retail, purchasing, programming, manufacturing, chemical development, real estate, sales, and management.
I am currently a business consultant in the field of green chemicals and have co-authored books on innovation and leadership. What I love about teaching Pilates is the positive change I get to see in people from those that are overcoming physical challenges to those that are discovering the ability to control their mind/body connection. It’s all good and it feeds my soul. The studios are my happy place!
How did you come to the world of Pilates specifically and what do you love about it?
My husband, Ralph, found the Club Pilates opportunity. We visited their studios in California and loved their mission to bring Pilates to everyone. We opened our first studio in 2016 and are opening our fifth studio this year. I have met so many amazing people and I truly cherish my Pilates friends. What I love most is hearing all the positive testimonies from our members.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Pilates?
That Pilates is like yoga or that Pilates is easy.
Typically, yoga focuses on postures and sequences designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones while opening the many channels of the body so energy can flow freely. Pilates is designed to build long, lean muscles through controlled movement and improve oxygen flow while balancing all the muscles of the body. It is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.
As you may have heard, Pilates does have a special focus on the core, or what we call the powerhouse. When the core is strong, and the muscles of the body are balanced you improve your performance in all other activities and reduce the chance of injury. Pilates also improves balance, coordination, and posture.
Pilates is only easy when done incorrectly. The value of a good teacher is in their ability to help you correct the inconsistencies in your body and help you continually learn and grow in your practice. A beginner class is still challenging to the expert that knows how to perform the exercises to fulfill the needs of their body. Joseph Pilates said “A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.”
For a novice who is intimidated about Pilates and the reformer, what would you say to ease their nerves?
Our instructors have over 500 hours of training to start—they will guide you. Our intro class provides you a taste of a reformer class. It introduces you to the equipment, the lingo, and the concepts so you are confident when you join your first full class. You will see that reformers are designed to support your body and provide feedback during exercise, for more controlled movement and increased proprioception. We also offer private training, which I highly recommend, to work one-on-one with an instructor for a personalized routine to strengthen, balance and overcome any specific challenges you may have.
What makes Club Pilates and its community special?
Our community of members genuinely want to learn to perform Pilates exercises correctly to receive the most benefit. Our instructors are passionate about Pilates and provide great instruction so members continually improve, even those with physical limitations. Our members listen carefully to the instructors and strive to be helpful to each other, even outside of the studio. They are a community with a mission to master Pilates to improve strength, muscular balance, and agility for a better life.
Like so many businesses, you’ve obviously been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. What adjustments have you made and what have you learned about yourself and your business in the process?
Club Pilates studios are reservation-based and provide a 6-foot by 10-foot private space for each client during class so the changes we have had to make are relatively minimal. We have added in-line air purification systems that are proven to stop 99 percent of viruses, mold, and bacteria in the air. We increased our disinfection protocols along with more hand-sanitizer stations, added mask protocols, reduced class size, and reduced the number of props utilized during classes. We also added virtual classes.
Through this pandemic I realized systems are fragile, people are strong. Most of our members have returned to the studio and have been patient and understanding with us and each other. We feel blessed with such great members and staff!
What can people expect from the Club Pilates experience right now?
People can expect to have their own space and their own equipment to use along with experienced instructors providing the highest quality Pilates workouts. In addition, we have beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes along with a variety of classes featuring apparatus such as Exo-chair, TRX, barre, and more. Overall, people can expect Pilates to help them move better, feel better, and live better.
How have you seen the fitness community in Indy grown and change over the years? What do you foresee in the future?
We have watched and participated in the growth of boutique fitness in Indy. It is a great option for those that seek a more personalized experience. I hope to see boutique fitness continue to grow so everyone has fitness options that work for them.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years? 10?
We would love to see everyone get the opportunity to see the changes Pilates can make in their body and their life. We have invested a lot in our teacher training program in which participants graduate with a minimum 500 hours of education and training. Teachers that complete our program can take their National Pilates Certification exam and have endless opportunity in the fitness arena. In addition, due to the growth of Club Pilates the opportunities are vast: Instructors can teach almost anywhere they visit or relocate.
How do you like to relax at the end of a busy week?
Boating with friends and family is my favorite way to relax when the weather cooperates. Otherwise, I love shopping and dining out at the amazing variety of local establishments we have here in Indianapolis and the surrounding area.
Along with Club Pilates, what businesses or places around Indy have you been excited to visit as reopening has gone on?
I’m visiting our local shops and restaurants as much as possible as they reopen. Of course, those near or between our studios are visited most often. Some of my favs: The Garden Table, Peace Water Winery, Fork & Ale, Verde, Daredevil Hall, Boombozz, Chiba, Pure Eatery, and the Boathouse Kitchen & Swan Dive. And I don’t want to forget Noble Coffee Company who continued to deliver coffee to my car with their custom kayak paddle during the closure—so cool.
Aside from those at your own studio, do you have any favorite classes to take around town or online?
My favorite fitness activity is getting together with other Pilates and fitness trainers and sharing favorite new exercises and experiences. I am very social and enjoy working as a team, so I’ve really missed it during this pandemic. We’ve done some virtual sharing sessions but it’s not the same as being together in the same space. Social people, like me, are in withdrawal.
Club Pilates is an Indy Maven partner.
Abby Gardner is Indy Maven’s executive editor and a total Pilates devotee.