“We all need to move more, not just exercise more” With Katy Lush, the founder of Lush Living

I feel that all movement counts. Just because you didn’t get your heart rate up to a particular number, for a set amount of minutes, don’t…

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I feel that all movement counts. Just because you didn’t get your heart rate up to a particular number, for a set amount of minutes, don’t discredit carrying your kids around, weeding your award winning garden, or laying down to mediate with a few deep breaths. We all need to move more, not just exercise more.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Katy Lush, the founder of Lush Living and Chicago River North Pilates. She specializes in mat Pilates, GYROTONIC® Tower, GYROTONER®, Jumping-Stretching Board®, Pilates Reformer, Pilates Cadillac, and Ladder Barrel with a focus on restorative/rehabilitation exercises. Lush recently launched a new digital platform called Lush Living.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In college I studied Ballet and Pilates was one of my courses. This was before there were the beautiful manuals that there are today, so we had to draw all the exercises from scratch. Aside from my ability to draw amazing stick figures, I apparently was fairly knowledgeable about breaking down the movements and my professors encouraged me to pursue teaching Pilates.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

One day a transformer blew outside my window. The power went out on the entire block. Besides the lobby going dark and the air turning off, my client and I realized that we could keep moving forward with her session as the equipment isn’t run on electricity and the space has gorgeous sunlight streaming in. It was in that moment that I realized you could take this work with you anywhere.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

I wish my mistakes were funny and I had a good story for you. Most my first starting mistakes involved double booking clients, thinking I booked someone when I didn’t, sleeping through my alarm. That sort of thing. I was usually horrified, embarrassed, and quick to apologize and offer free sessions to compensate their time. Actually, this just happened last week. I guess we’re all human and scheduling is a full-time job and things happen!

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

See above. Ha!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I feel like the first thing that comes to mind is quality and care. My instructors have a minimum of eight years’ experience teaching with loads of continuing education and secondary certificates in GYROTONIC® exercise, Feldenkrais, Franklin Method, and Restorative Exercise. Besides their extensive experience and professionalism, my instructors are very caring and empathetic people. We often cover each other’s clients and consult one another about clients we may have questions about. It’s definitely a collaborative collective!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Lush Living is my new spin off company from my brick and mortar, Chicago River North Pilates, that offers virtual training options for people who can’t make it into the studio. Lush Lab offers an online course called REboot that is a 6-week intensive to get you back into a workout routine with effective, therapeutic exercise. Lush Live offers virtual online live sessions with clients like Skype. Lush Lessons are a curated class where you fill out an online survey and I send you a link to a personalized class. And finally Lush Library (coming soon) will be a subscription based library of workouts to choose from.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Know that old saying, you have two ears and one mouth? Listen to people when they speak. Take a day to sleep on major decisions. Learn what your boundaries are with staff and clients/customers. That may be the most difficult thing to implement.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Actually, it’s my dad. He used to work in business development and helped me to come up with the business deal to purchase the studio from the previous owner about 15 years ago. The previous business owner wasn’t as business savvy and I remember typing out notes to give to her and she would give me hand written notes back. I saved them. I sometimes look them over and remember what a great plan my dad created for the purchase of her business. Then I proceeded to ask him for a small business loan. Ha! I think I paid him back within the first month. I’m crazy about living within my means and I operate with very low risk. I may have inherited that from him.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I truly love my clients and instructors. I love the work I teach. The studio is my laboratory. My clients have such faith in me that they allow me to test new ideas and exercises out on them. If they don’t work, they get tossed. If they do work, I try it on the next client, then the next, and I begin to see a pattern emerge. What works best, what cue works best, am I being clear enough, was it too difficult, did something about it hurt them, did the client look like it went over their head, etc? Those are the questions I try to answer every day to help people move more and incorporate more movement into their lifestyle.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1.) Boundaries-Your clients are not your best friends (unless they came in to see you and you were friends first), they’re not your business advisor, relationship counselor, or parent. They are your client. They come to you for a service, which you provide and you shouldn’t take advantage of that relationship. I realized early on that I found myself unloading on some clients and felt that it was unfair of me to eat into their session. I ended up going to see a therapist, because one, that’s what they’re there for and two, then I could focus 100% on my clients.

2.) Live within your means-I witness and speak with many other business owners who lease too large a space, purchase too much equipment, and over extend their means and then “pay themselves last” if there’s anything left. I have a business minor and fell in love with Excel in high school. I love to crunch numbers and budget and see where I can cut costs and see where I feel the need to spend. I believe small holes sink the ship, and so staying on top of minor business expenses is just wise.

3.) Apologize-when you mess up, don’t give an excuse. Just apologize. It can feel painful in the moment, but asking forgiveness of someone is much more impactful than trying to explain why you slept through your alarm. Speaking of which, I used to set 3 to be safe.

4.) Practice what you preach-I take classes from other instructors and regularly attend continuing education. I’ve also been teaching 20 years and know that I always have more to learn. Just because for the first five years of your career you took every workshop with every pro, it doesn’t mean you have learned all there is to learn, and you’re done. I also take private sessions from other colleagues in Chicago as well as around the US. It’s fun to see how other people teach and I always learn something.

5.) Stay on top of trends-I hired an SEO specialist and VA before they existed about 10 years ago. I put out a Craigslist ad. Ha! Then I had a social media specialist and blog writer helping me before it was a career for some. This year I created an online offering suite called Lush Living to give people studio quality digital content to take their on the road or do from the comfort of their home.

 You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel that all movement counts. Just because you didn’t get your heart rate up to a particular number, for a set amount of minutes, don’t discredit carrying your kids around, weeding your award winning garden, or laying down to mediate with a few deep breaths. We all need to move more, not just exercise more.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It sounds so pessimistic but it’s, “hope for the best, but expect the worst.” I’ve always had an exit strategy, savings, and am prepared for any major disaster. But, as those things haven’t happened, I am optimistic (or maybe realistic) about where the studio is today, where my own vision is, what’s coming down the pipeline, and what to watch out for. In the meantime, l keep experimenting with my clients and seeing what works best to instill more movement into my clients lives.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m obsessed with Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert. Before that it was How I Built This. I love hearing how entrepreneurs think and work, because it’s definitely a different way of thinking. If I could think of a person I would want to sit down with, it may be Ashton Kutcher. I listened to him on Armchair Expert and he loves to learn. And think outside the box. I feel that exercise is about to take a major leap into the natural movement realm. Much like it’s doing with food, though usually runs about 20 years behind. People are only getting more ill and injured. Why? I find our lifestyle of convenience is beginning to work against us and make us even more sedentary and that one hour of working out twice a week, or shoot, even daily, doesn’t negate the eight hours plus clocked in a chair. I bet Ashton would find that interesting, even with the tech he’s involved with. He has young kids like me and he spoke about how they really only need soft skills, which I completely agree with. Also, robots don’t need to move to survive, but humans most certainly do.

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