Alisia is a total BOSS and I'm so glad she's been willing to share her story today!!!! We met when I first moved to DC and she was a new mom trying to figure out what was next for her career. I've loved watching her adapt to this amazing new phase of her life (she's now pregnant with twins!) with such grace and focus.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career
I studied Political Science and Communications in college and then went on to get a Master's Degree in Public Administration. While I was in grad school I went for a run one day and tore my meniscus in my knee. Running long distances was now out, so I turned to Pilates and fell in love. I enjoyed the classes so much that I asked the instructor what it took to certify to teach. I found out that certifying to teach Pilates Mat classes was a pretty simple process so I decided to go for it. And by my last semester of grad school at The George Washington University I was also teaching Pilates Mat classes in their Health and Wellness Center.
In 2008 I started working as Congressman Chaffetz' Communications Director on Capitol Hill. It was my dream job. I absolutely loved everything about it. And I was still able to teach pilates classes during early mornings and on the weekends. After a little over a year of teaching Pilates, I decided to invest almost $4000 and around 400 hours to learn how to teach on all the pilates apparatus (the Chair, Cadillac and the Reformer). It was quite the process. If I wasn't on the Hill, I was at the studio getting my hours in. Afterwards I began teaching more reformer and mat classes at a Pilates studio. And then I got pregnant.
I had been working on the Hill for three years when I had my first baby. I went back to work full time, and tried to manage life as a full time working mother. While I loved my job, I couldn't do it all. I was still teaching 4 hours a week as well as working full time and being a mom. I wanted the option to work part time, but that wasn't available. So I quit and then starting working for Mia Love's Congressional campaign as her Press Secretary. It was a perfect fit, I was able to do what I loved from home. I could teach as many classes as I wanted, and I was able to spend a lot more time with my baby. I then had two more kids and after another three years of working from home on Mia's campaign, she made office and my job became unnecessary. It was perfect timing. Three kids is a lot of work, and it was time to take some things off my plate. I always thought I would stay politically active. And while I do my best as an engaged citizen, I have surprisingly loved being able to immerse myself into Pilates.
Why did you decide to build a studio in your home?
With three kids I quickly realized that if I wanted to teach more classes, the best way was to do it in my home because child-care is just too expensive. I invested over $10,000 into better pilates equipment (I had already purchased a reformer when I was in training). Having a studio in my home gave me the flexibility to teach more group, semi-private, and private classes. The flexibility of teaching during nap times, bed times and early mornings is key. My husband goes out of town a lot, and getting babysitters while he was gone was just getting to be too much. This way I can teach whether he is here or not.
I still teach at a studio a couple hours a week. I think it is important to have a connection to a professional studio to stay engaged in the pilates community, take classes, and learn from fellow instructors. I also teach barre, spin and pilates classes at a gym. Even though gyms pay less, they have child-care available, and that opens up a lot more options to teach. But even with the studio and gym classes, I would never be able to continue teaching as much as I do (about 15 hours a week) if it wasn't for the options that my home studio gives me. I now have four children with twins on the way. It is a busy life, and I am grateful everyday for the time I get to teach. I love everything about motherhood, but I do think it is important to spend time everyday doing something that you enjoy doing outside of being a mom. It keeps me sane. And it makes me more grateful for the time I do get to spend with my kids.
How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?
Some of my dearest friendships have come through teaching clients. The time we get to spend together doing pilates weekly is unique. Between exercises we often open up about our struggles, our successes, our frustrations, and our greatest joys. We laugh, we cry and we definitely sweat! After teaching I always leave feeling uplifted. Clients are so encouraging and grateful for having their "Abs" kicked. Some clients have been with me for 10 years now.
At this point I honestly teach--not for the money--but because of the support, love, friendship and encouragement I get from my clients!
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?
Be open, life doesn't end up how you thought it would. I never thought I would be into the health and fitness industry. I never played sports growing up. I never did dance or cheer or anything really. I was into student government. I loved politics. But I found pilates in my 20's and I fell in love. I never thought that teaching pilates would be so mentally stimulating. But it is amazing to learn about how the body works. I love when clients come to me with certain injuries and I get to figure out the best way to work their body in a way that is safe for them. I love the continuing education classes. I love that I am always learning and striving to be a better instructor. It is a unique challenge and career that when I was younger, I could have never imagined myself doing and loving.
What is your career-related mantra?
Pilates is focused on strengthening your core. Joseph Pilates believed that when you core is strong (your deep Ab muscles, as well as back and glute muscles) that everything else will fall into place. If you are consistent in strengthening your core, your movement in anything else you try will be more efficient, supported and stabilized. Muscles are not built over night. It is requires consistent dedication.If you take a break, you notice the difference when you try and get back at it. And sometimes it is in strengthening those smaller stabilizing muscles that you really see a difference.
I believe that the same concept can be related to life. That if your core VALUES are strong, the deep ones--(like honesty, kindness, a strong work ethic, and a belief in something higher than yourself) that everything else will fall into place. If you are consistent with the little things (like prayer, scripture study etc) then everything else will be more efficient, supported and stabilized. It requires dedication, and if you take a break you will definitely notice a difference in your life. It is in the little choices we make each day that really make a difference.