Mobile Pilates: making exercise accessible and affordable

MatWorks Pilates

Phoebe Heyhoe wanted to make it easier for women to exercise, by offering mobile Pilates sessions in your home, workplace, community centre, local park or online. MatWorks Pilates was launched back in 2015 and, with a lot of passion and hard work, Phoebe has grown both her team and client base, and continues to inspire women with her positive approach to exercise. 

The passion: What inspired you to set up your business? 

I was working for another Pilates company in Auckland, New Zealand and found that all my clients complained of a similar issue: that traffic and parking were so difficult that it was hard to make it to classes on time. This got me thinking, what if I could provide an alternative which removed the excuses not to exercise? This is where MatWorks Mobile Pilates was born. I started out going into homes and work places to teach one-on-one and small group sessions and now we have expanded into community classes and online programs too. 

The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?  

Back in 2015 when I founded MatWorks I was the only person on my team. I was a solo woman band, instructor, receptionist, social media guru, website developer, marketing manager, you name it I was doing it.  As soon as I had enough money to buy a set of 12 mats I was off knocking on people’s doors, cold calling multiple businesses and trying to generate some traction in the market. One of my advertising ideas was to run an open public class outdoors so that people walking past would see the class and want to join us. The first summer I ran 7 classes a day, 6 days a week in two popular parks in Auckland. By the end of the summer I had 100 new clients and MatWorks was on its way to becoming a multi-instructor company. Shortly after that I hired my first instructor and slowly we grew to the 15-person team we are today and this marketing initiative developed into the well-known and extremely popular Pilates in the Park. Along the way I met and instructed many women in various stages of pre and post pregnancy and developed a personal passion for watching and assisting in the progress of these incredible women.  

The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?  

My biggest breakthrough with my business thus far was definitely when I met and worked alongside Dr Mae Cannons to develop my 12-Week Post Natal online program. Dr Mae is a GP, mother to three, low carb, high fat eating advocate and an instructor at MatWorks Pilates. Her in depth anatomical knowledge and personal experience of three pregnancies contributed greatly to the success of the programme. Particularly as she hadn’t found Pilates prior to her first birth, for her second birth she discovered and experienced the benefit of Pilates in the pos-partum period only, and the third she trained in Pilates prior to conception, during gestation and in the post-partum recovery period. This program has seen hundreds of women not only experience lower levels of sciatica and pubic symphysis pain during gestation, but also aided in quicker c-section recovery times, quicker return to pre-pregnancy posture and weight and, most notably, the reconditioning of diastasis recti. 

Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family? 

Prioritising me. It’s far too easy, especially in the early stages of running a business, to let the work become more important than your own self-care. Fortunately for me, it’s impossible to preach self-care to others that I’m trying to help when I’m not doing it for myself. I not only had to make this a top priority so that I was in the best shape to help others, but I also needed to experience self-care firsthand to be able to give the most genuine advice. Mentoring my staff to look after themselves was a great help for me in developing my own self-care practices, which involve daily Pilates, meditation to wind down after a big day, playing the piano and recognising when I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and not being apologetic to say “No” when it gets too much. 

Luckily my partner is a paramedic and this is something she has to keep on top of also, so we have become very confident in telling each other when we need more “me” time.  

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