A Letter from Ali
Wow. It seems like just yesterday we opened our doors, and truthfully, I am still in shock. I mean, WHAT? I own a Pilates studio?? How did this happen?
Well, as with everything nowadays, it all started with a social media post. During a typical night scrolling through Facebook on February 2017, I stumbled across a post that my friend Hannah shared, entitled “5 reasons I think PureRyde is Oxford’s best workout.” Intrigued, particularly given Hannah’s disdain for working out, I clicked on the article to begin exploring their unique blend of intense Pilates reformer classes and cycling. I was bubbling with excitement.... and a little bit of jealousy. How did Athens not have a place like this? I had been hopping from yoga studio to barre studio trying to find a form of exercise I liked as much as Pilates, but nothing came close to comparing. Pilates had been a lifeline for me throughout my high school years. Initially, something that began as just a work out became a passion of mine- a perfect complement to my dancing life. I began instructing as a teenager, and the more I learned, the more I wanted this to be my career. I planned to major in exercise science at UGA, become a physical therapist, and move back to my hometown of Thomasville, GA to work at the Pilates studio there. But, that little Facebook post basically threw my entire plan out of order.
On a whim, I reached out to PureRyde to promote Athens as a place for them to possibly open a franchise, hoping I would be able to work out and teach there occasionally. Never once did I imagine that this would turn into me owning my own, independent studio. At the age of 22. Without a college degree. What happened over the next year can only be described as divine intervention. Doors opened; piece-by-piece, things fell in to place. It wasn’t easy by any means… I worked my a** off…I pushed through so much to get here. My parents’ divorce, losing a grandmother, fracturing my ankle which led to major surgery and the inability to walk for 2 months, and the loss of my mentor… but every bit of joy, excitement, love, and support made it all worth the effort.
I’m often asked, why the name “Pure Balance”? It’s difficult to shorten my answer to something simple because the word balance holds so much meaning for me. “Finding balance between your mind, body, and spirit” has become a mantra in my life. Each of these components works in tandem with the others to make us a whole, completely balanced person, but breaking them down may help to explain why this word holds so much significance to me.
Mind: Balance is feeding my brain with positive self-talk, but understanding that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes. Balance is having periods of growth and learning, but also allowing myself to take time to settle and be as I am. Balance is being calm and collected, but also giving myself grace when I need to break down.
Body: The most obvious is physical balance (which Pilates is great for by the way) but there is so much more to it. Balance is taking care of my body, feeding it with good, whole foods that make me feel great, but also treating myself when I am craving a chocolate chip cookie, or going out to enjoy a good meal and a few nice drinks with friends. Balance is working out/moving because I enjoy it and it makes my body feel good, strong, and powerful (NOT because I want to look a certain way), but also giving myself grace when my body is telling me that it’s tired; allowing myself to lie on the couch and watch Netflix, or taking an Epsom salt bath after a long day. Balance is working all parts of my body equally, so they can move better as a whole.
Spirit: (For me personally, spirituality comes from my relationship with God. But it’s important to know that everyone has spirituality whether you are religious or not.)
Balance is surrounding myself with people who lift me up, challenge me to be better, and bring me closer to God, while allowing myself to not be around people who bring me down. Balance is giving grace and love and light to those around me, but also giving myself some alone time when I am feeling drained. Balance is feeling centered in Christ, but also being connected with those around me, knowing we are a part of a greater story.
This is what balance looks like to me, but here’s the thing… balance looks different to EVERYONE. My dream for this studio is to help people find what balance means to them, and how to implement that in their life. And I mean life as a whole, not just one day or one week or one year. I think it is easy to think about things small scale. “Oh I had a really healthy breakfast and lunch and then worked out but I ate Mexican for dinner but its ok because it balances out.” Well yes, that’s true, but I encourage you to look at things on a larger scale. We have to understand that living is a verb for a reason; it’s ever-changing and evolving. We will have times where we feel good and on top of things, and times where we feel like everything is going wrong. And that is okay! The goal is to be able to recognize when you aren’t feeling your best, and knowing yourself well enough that you know how to recalibrate. Joseph Pilates says “the perfect formula to whole body health” is “exercise, proper diet, good hygiene and sleeping habits, plenty of sunshine and fresh air, and balance in life of work, recreation, and relaxation.” He says that if you are feeling off balance, you are probably lacking in one of these areas. Joe truly was a man before his time, and I could not sum it up better myself.
My hope and dream is that Pure Balance is a place that welcomes any and all bodies, that encourages and shines light, and that positively impacts all who walk through the door. I hope to see you soon!