Filling a much needed gap in the NYC fitness market, Cara Simon started the brilliant Concierge Pilates: an on-demand Pilates service where you book a certified instructor to train you in your home, office or hotel. It can be a challenge for many to find ways to accommodate schedules to coincide with studio class times. This eliminates that obstacle and allows you to find the time to take care of yourself on your time and on your turf! We sat down with the savvy entrepreneur to learn more about how Concierge Pilates came to be and why we should all incorporate pilates into our lives.
Food + Mood NYC: Can you give us some background on how Concierge Pilates came to be?
Cara Simon: I’ve been doing Pilates for over 10 years. It was the one exercise that was low impact enough for my knee injury as well as my lower back pain. After my 1st few months of doing Pilates, I noticed my pants were big on me, my back pain was gone and I was feeling strong! After a loss in 2018, I gained a fair amount of weight and wanted to do something for myself, so I decided to get certified in Pilates. I wanted discipline and I knew Pilates always provided me with that. Along the journey, I met some amazing instructors. I learned quickly that their schedules were all over the place. For ex. one instructor worked on the Upper West Side, then in Brooklyn followed by Tribeca. She spent hours running around NYC to get from studio to studio. Then some days she had 2 hours to kill in between teaching and other days 4-5 hours that was wasted in coffee shops. She wasn’t the only one! I thought there had to be a way to fill empty times for instructors! I started to research and I couldn’t find a single Pilates service where you can book an instructor to come to you. I emailed countless individuals who offered in-home services. Unfortunately, the replies I did get had super limited windows of availability and the response time was 2-3 days. I was determined to fix this gap in the market. For busy individuals, immediate gratification goes a long way – being able to book something like a private session in your home when it’s convenient made sense. Shortly after, Concierge Pilates was started. I created a booking platform as easy as ordering an Uber to your front door. No waiting for a response to book an appointment. Instructors are provided their own business app where they control their schedules plus they get to choose the neighborhoods they want to work in that is convenient to them. As a consumer who was always on the go, not able to make it into a studio due to work travel schedules – this was the perfect platform for those in need of convenience as well as a want for 1:1 attention. We made the offering available in-home, in office and of course, hotels! No one should miss their workout just because of their busy schedules or inability to make it to a studio or gym.
F+M NYC: Can you explain some of the benefits of pilates?
CS: There are many benefits of Pilates. Increased muscle strength in your core – abs, lower back, hips and butt are just a few. Pilates tones, lengthens, improves posture, and it becomes rehab/prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalance. There is a mind body connection associated with doing Pilates. For many, it becomes a stress relief and helps people relax. Pilates is a thoughtful activity, whereas it improves your concentration. Overall, for me, by doing Pilates I remain pain free and find myself flexible, balanced and strong. With individualized attention, you can draw the focus on different areas of the body that are in need of strengthening.
F+M NYC: What process do you go through to find and hire your instructors?
CS: The process to find instructors was a lengthy one. I emailed some of the top certification programs in NYC, followed by recruitment on LinkedIn and Indeed. In the beginning, no one knew who we were, so it was a challenge. Reaching out to 500+ people, I started by having phone conversations to make sure communication was clear and all questions are answered. We then hosted in-person interviews where candidates did an audition, followed by a meeting with our Chief People Officer and then some 1:1 time with me so I can review the tech platform to make sure individuals were comfortable with the technology. At the end of the day, technique and personality were the most important qualities. It was important that the instructors were people that were personable and folks would be comfortable with them in their home. It was extremely important to me that injuries were addressed and that you really felt that individual attention. When consensus was met with the Concierge Pilates team, we then ran background checks. We launched the service with 25 instructors on staff. Now, we receive 3-5 requests / week from instructors who have heard about us and are interested in becoming part of our service.
F+M NYC: Can you give us three Pilates techniques that we should all incorporate into our exercise routine?
1. Breath: Learning how to breathe to make exercise more effective is something that can be carried into any routine, not just Pilates.
2. Flow: All movements are thoughtful, controlled and balanced. All body parts are connected, and having the right flow provides for sound mind and body.
3. Concentration: We visualize ourselves doing movement that help us in ways that are beneficial to our body’s need for movement and stretching. Becoming able to focus on what each part of the body is doing at any particular time makes us super aware of our body awareness.
F+M NYC: Besides pilates, how do you take care of yourself on and off the plate?
CS: I try to eat clean whenever I can! I did a wellness retreat in 2017 that taught me all about eating clean. After sticking to organic and grass-fed foods – my whole body transformed (inside and out) and I had never felt so good! I try to minimize processed foods as a whole and cooking is a huge part of taking care of myself as I can control what goes into my body. In addition, I have a big dog that I try to take on long walks as much as possible. Overall, I am a foodie at heart and I don’t deprive myself. To me, it’s about feeling good, staying strong and loving life.