Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alycea Ungaro, CEO of Real Pilates, located in New York, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a Pilates company that believes in exceptional human potential and the power of the teacher-student relationship to unleash that potential. We train teachers to teach and students to master their own unique physical capacity.

Tell us about yourself

As a small child from a domestic abuse home, I sought movement as a refuge. The dance studio was a safe space. I wanted to create that space for others. I built my company in my living room and slowly grew into a global organization. Watching our teaching team nurture and inspire clients to achieve incredible milestones each and every day never gets old. Every day is like a birthday gift in our studios.

Do you have daily rituals for work / wellness / fitness / mindfulness?

I wake up at the same time every day. Sleeping late on weekends doesn't serve my energy level and throws off my internal clock. The 6:30 alarm is a non-negotiable for me.

I start my day with hot Tea. I've always been a tea drinker. Black or green. No sugar but a plant-based milk. And cardamon pods. It's delicious! Late morning or midday, I'll add an iced coffee to the mix - but Tea is my morning wake-up.

Skin products are minimal. My skin leans dry and breaks out easily, so I use a Zinc soap bar and Nivea cream on my face at night. That's it. I rarely wash my face in the morning - since it was cleaned at night - just a rinse. No retinol, no sunscreen, nothing special.

Long walks in NYC are one of my favorite things to do, and even in the cold weather, I'll often clock in a few miles of walking.

I take liquid Vitamin D 3 seasons of the year as a New Yorker! A few drops from my favorite lab - Thorne.

My workouts are my mindfulness. Pilates, Strength training, and some Dance classes. If I could move every day, I'd be happier.

Finally, I'm a learning junkie. I have to learn something new, earn a new degree or certificate, take a course, or learn a new skill at all times. Most recently - I've been learning Italian!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

All of it! I could not have imagined I would build a company with multiple locations or write five Pilates books, create apparel with Puma or build the first Pilates app. My creativity has been exceptional - as the industry has changed - I've been able to conceive of and develop brand new things. Since 2013 we've been growing our international teacher training program. Grooming the next generation to take up the mantle of Joseph Pilates' original work is probably the legacy I'll leave behind.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Personal relationships between employer and employee are the most challenging. It's like a breakup every time someone leaves. I fall in love easily and get my heart broken a lot. I've learned over the years to accept that most will move on and that while they are here, I just enjoy them the best I can.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Ooh - that's hard. Let me try.

  1. Plan ahead - far ahead. What do you see as the future of the company? Once you can see it - you can chase it. Businesses are like cooking recipes. Use only what you need - not all the ingredients in the kitchen.
  2. Hire for the right reasons. Desperate need leads to bad hires. No matter how much you need someone - don't hire someone who doesn't fit your vision or someone you can't communicate with.
  3. Open every door. I make it a rule never to dismiss an opportunity. If a proposal doesn't sound right - I ask, "what would make it work for me." If I can't get there, so be it. But often, that question can really turn a mediocre opportunity into a grand slam.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I would say if you want to work for yourself solely because you don't want to work for someone else - that's not good enough. Find something that inspires you because you can't inspire anyone else if you aren't inspired yourself.

Where can people find you and your business?




If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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