UC Berkeley - B.A. in American Studies
Elaine Hayes thought she had it all figured out. After spending a year working in the fast-paced world of finance, she started law school. But while her career path seemed solidified, Elaine found herself still questioning what she really wanted. It was time to reevaluate in a major way.
After taking a leave of absence from her classes and enrolling in a program to become a certified Pilates instructor, Elaine realized her true passion wasn't in the courtroom. Instead, it was connecting to people in a deeper way; through movement. And three years later, despite her initial fears, Elaine has a job she reveres: running Mint Studios.
Teaching Pilates full time, Elaine loves watching her clients' bodies and minds transform. Even Elaine asserts, “I’m a much better Pilates instructor than I ever would have been a lawyer.”
You don't need to follow the path that seems obvious.
What inspired you to pursue a career in Pilates?
I was first introduced to Pilates as a young girl by my ballet teacher and immediately noticed the benefits. I felt stronger and it helped me significantly with my dancing. Ballet and Pilates became hobbies when I attended college and focused on my studies. I had always felt a lot of pressure (not necessarily from my parents, but mostly from myself) to be a doctor or a lawyer. So when I graduated, I went into finance for a year, then enrolled in law school. After a year, I realized that I had never actually stopped to ask myself what it was that I enjoyed. So, in true quarter-life crisis form, I took a leave of absence and reevaluated everything.
I realized I definitely didn't want to be a lawyer, that I wanted to be able to connect with people on a deeper level and that I loved movement. I decided to enroll in a training program to see where it would lead. I became certified to teach Pilates and from then on, there was no turning back.
I was completely in love with Pilates and teaching it. I never realized that it’s actually possible to like your job. To LOVE your job! So here I am now, three years later, teaching Pilates full time and happier than ever.
What does your job involve, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
There are two sides to a career as a Pilates instructor when you own your own studio. First, there’s a lot of hands-on work with people, a ton of talking and explaining concepts and a very physical aspect. The other side is the business side: bookkeeping, managing the schedule, marketing, maintaining the website, enforcing the 24 hour cancellation policy. The list goes on and on.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love seeing my clients transform themselves in body and mind. It’s amazing to see the increased level of wellbeing, self-confidence and mind-body connection. I live for those moments!
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Because I'm the sole operator of my business (for now), if I get sick, then the studio closes. It can sometimes feel like a lot of pressure. My clients depend on me and I have no one else who can “sub in” for me if I'm unavailable. Ultimately, it’s one of the pitfalls of being your own boss.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Yes. Because I work for myself and am also a perfectionist, it can be difficult to say no to a client when I know I need to set aside time for myself to eat, exercise and rest. Learning to say no and putting yourself first can be difficult, but it’s so important and is something I’m still working on.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
There have certainly been milestones along the way; like finally having a full schedule of clients and being featured in DailyCandy. In my experience, it’s always good to have a goal so that you can continuously grow. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I’ll say, “Okay, that’s it. I’m done.”
What are some of the rules you live by?
Go to bed early, drink LOTS of water (more than you think!) and be kind to others -- but even kinder to yourself.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
You have to be comfortable around people, especially in telling them what to do. You also need to be pretty dedicated to a healthy and fit lifestyle. Your clients look to you as a role model, so it’s important to live up to that standard. And if you're running your own studio, attention to detail, adaptability and persistence will definitely serve you well.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Calm down and don’t worry so much! Take a deep breath and think about what it is that really inspires you. You don’t need to follow the path that seems obvious.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
In five years, I hope to have opened a larger commercial space where I employ a fantastic group of instructors that continues to help transform the minds and bodies of our clients.