In this episode of HR on the Mat, Courtney and Peggy talk to Gina Shupe, owner of Body Mind Core. They discuss owning a business, surrounding yourself with good people, and the challenges of meeting virtually vs. in person.
This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.
Welcome back to HR on the Mat, where we talk about the parallels between your work life and your yoga mat. I’m Courtney Scott from Balance and Harmony Yoga. Joining me as always is Peggy Hogan from Purple Ink. And as you can see, today, we are on site at Body Mind Core with Gina Shupe, Owner.
Gina, do you mind telling us a little about…about your journey to BMC, and also a little bit about owning your own business?
Well, I am a marketing and business person by training. Back to school, a business degree, both undergrad and MBA. And I worked in the corporate world and worked in a variety of functions, including sales and marketing, most recently, brand management, also did some teaching and some consulting along the way. And all throughout my journey, something that’s always been a constant, no matter what job I was in, was an interest in health and fitness and nutrition and just being a healthy person and living that way. So it’s always been a constant no matter what I was doing in the work world. So I had been off for a few years raising my family, and I decided I really needed and wanted to get back into the business world, because I missed it, and I wanted to build up the skills that I had, so when the opportunity to purchase Body Mind Core came up, it seemed like the perfect fit for me, just because of my interest in health and fitness and yoga, Pilates, and Barre, the modalities we have here, as well as using those business skills and running a small business, which was always kind of a dream of mine. So that’s how I got to Body Mind Core. Last November of 2019 was when I took over the studio.
I, as a practitioner here, I’ve always loved Body Mind Core in that triad, because as you know, yoga in the definition is that connection between breath, body, and movement. And so can you share a little bit more about kind of what the name means to you and the practitioners here?
Sure, I mean, the name was with a business before, so I took that over. I did make a few adjustments to…to it, took out the “and,” and added a new logo and things to try to broaden it a little bit, but…. We are all about working your body, but it’s so much more than just a body fitness exercise. It’s that mind connection, and then it’s a little bit of a take on…usually it’s body, mind, and soul, but you know, this is body, mind, and core, because every exercise, every modality that we have here does focus on the core, because the core is so important to our strength and our…our health, not just when we’re working out, but just being able to hold yourself, being able to sit up at our computer and be on a Zoom meeting these days. I mean, our core strength is so important. So I like how that ties into both the body mind connection, as well.
And one of the things that I found really integrating in this studio and in this space was the core of the community and how that this space and its…its beautiful aesthetics, and also in the way in which the members interact with each other does create a portrait of itself, of community. So can you talk a little bit about how you’ve been able to create a community or sustain the community that once was as you’ve taken over ownership, and then how you’ve endured and adapted to the changes regarding the pandemic and how the business models have to change while keeping that core?
Yes, absolutely. You know, I didn’t mention that aspect of the core…that’s one thing neat about the word, it can have a lot of meanings. But you know, the core was here, and there was a very strong group of people and a very family-oriented community, which is what I loved about it when I was considering purchasing it, because I like that kind of atmosphere. I like feeling like I’m welcome somewhere, people know who I am when I come in the door. I feel like I’m part of something. And I feel like that’s what we’ve been able to have here and continue to build on in the past year. And as we rolled into the pandemic, that became even more important and critical, because people wanted that when we were apart. We tried to do things where we still had people together. We had a Facebook group for the members and we kept having an on-demand library of classes. And now that we’re back in the studio, since June, we still have that community, but it…people depend on that, because they, especially now, this may be the only place they’re going out to. I have a lot of clients that there aren’t doing anything else outside of their home except coming here, because they still want to get what they get from here, which is their workout and their their body mind workout, as well. And so that core is super important for people and for us as a community, because it’s a challenge. This has been a challenge. And us, knowing that we’re serving people in that way is very motivating and keeps us wanting to be here and helping to keep this community strong enough so we can get through to the other side of this pandemic.
And I think our business community is hurting in the same way. Like, while some people are really embracing work from home and the freedom and flexibility that it brings, we are hearing about, you know, depression, and people are missing that engagement, especially single people, you know, they’re really missing going to work and seeing some of their colleagues. So I think it’s going to be interesting how this all shakes out. But I know a lot of employee engagement kind of initiatives have had to really change, you know, you’re hearing about business lunches with DoorDash cards, and you know, just trying to kind of keep that sense of community has been really challenging.
Absolutely. I actually can’t tell you the number of people who have said to me, Thank you for for being open and still providing this, it’s a saving grace for me to have this to go to and feel still part of something, because we feel so separate right now.
So taking your marketing and your professional background combined with a small business, can you share some learnings that our viewers might be able to benefit from in terms of combining those two different passions along with your interest in health and wellness?
Well, it’s been interesting, because it’s pretty much nothing that we anticipated it to be when we took over the studio, when I took it over. I mean, we just dealt with it. Something…nothing that we had planned was it actually was.
There wasn’t pandemic insurance.
No, there was not. And you know, so I spent the first few months kind of getting to know the business, and then we were just kind of getting rolling after the first of the year, like most businesses like this, and then everything stops. So adaptability and ability to change and roll with it are just crucial skills in business, in life, in this. You just…you just had to be able to do that and change plans, because I had lots of plans to market and grow the business, and we went into survival mode. So you had to be able to deal with change, quickly adapt, pivot, which is an overused word at this point, but it’s true. And you know, it…I learned that maybe I could have done something different. I don’t know if I’ve done everything right. Nobody thought we’d be doing this digital stuff quite as long as we did. So what I chose to do, was it the best choice? I don’t know, but we’ve stuck with it and we’ve just built on it, and we tried to make the best of what we chose to do, and that’s…. Instead of reinventing the wheel three or four times, we try to just make the most of the choices that we made, and we feel like we’re in a good place.
Can you talk a little bit…and you mentioned that about from a digital space perspective, that you didn’t expect to be in the space of doing it so long. And Peggy, I’m sure you’re hearing it from a lot of your coaching clients in terms of the mental fortitude it takes now that we are 10 months into this, you continue to want to rally the troops. You have a increasingly hard job, cause you’re trying to rally a community plus rallying the teachers, and so you’re looking at it from all sides. Can you talk a little bit about or share maybe some practices that have worked from you from just kind of being willing to get up every day and continue to champion the decisions you’ve made, live in those decisions, and continue to progress forward looking towards the time when the pandemic is something that maybe we’ll one day laugh about?
But can you talk a little bit about that mental fortitude of a leader?
You know, you just have to just pull up your bootstraps and do it, because there isn’t anyone else to do it. As a business owner, a small business owner, I’m the only one, so whether I want to or not, I just have to. But I…I’m just a self motivated person, so it’s not super hard for me to do, but there are days, you know, there are days, and you have to surround yourself with good people. That’s the number one key of leadership is surrounding yourself with good people. So I feel like the team that we have in place, which is primarily just teachers, and they’re all independent contractors, but they have a connection to the studio. They have a desire to serve the clients that we have. They’re very dedicated, even though they may have other positions, they may have other jobs, and…but they…. I feel like that we’ve created enough of a community that they are willing to help out when ever they can. So I just tried to be a good communicator, you know, communicating with everybody on a regular basis. People want to feel like they know what’s going on. People want to know, feel like they have a say. I ask people’s opinion, you know, I’m not a…I’m not an expert in owning a studio. I’ve been doing this for a short period of time. So I ask others their opinion, and take that into consideration, and I think they see that, hopefully, and so they feel valued that way. And in terms of getting people to continue to come in, people want to be in the studio teaching. That’s why they became a yoga, Pilates, Barre instructor, so getting them to come in, it’s not too much of a challenge. They want to see the students, they want to see the people in the studio. I think virtual is harder for some than others, because it’s nothing like what people expected when they became a yoga instructor, for instance, that whole part of yoga is the connection in the room, being able to touch people, being able to adjust and help somebody with what they’re doing, and that part is so missing right now. So at least when we’re in the studio, we can talk people through it, we still aren’t touching anybody or making adjustments, because of COVID, but there’s…there’s still that connection. So getting people to do it online is not…it’s just something we have to do, and we just…just have to do it with the end in mind. But eventually, we know we’ll be back together. When we have our classes, we talk to our…you know, we’re recording a class, and we talk to people like you’re there, because we just want people to feel like it’s not just a random class that they could get off of YouTube, which, right, let’s be honest, there’s a million classes on the internet that you can find. When it’s somebody you know, and they’re talking to you, and they’re saying something that you remember them saying or saying something funny, you feel that connection, you’re actually there. So I try to encourage people, I think the thing we find, though, is that people wanna bug out before the end, and the end is one of the most important parts of your practice. So that’s one thing that we try to encourage, you know, don’t be so drawn by everything else that’s going on in your house that you take off early, because it’s harder to do that when you’re in the studio.
Well, I think that’s an interesting correlation to, at least what I’ve found, in terms of the conference calls, Zoom calls or GoToMeetings or whatever, you know, technology choices, is that there is really quick for people to just log off and come back on versus when we were in face to face meeting in the conference room, you have to factor in those extra five to ten minutes of chit chat either before or after. And it seems like a lot of that has fallen off. And so I think as a leader it’s a really good point, that we continue to have those small but meaningful engagements with our community, all stakeholders in our community, to continue those relationships in this time. So last question for you, we want to be extremely respectful of your time, so thank you so much for that, Gina. But can you share anything in terms of misconceptions of owning a small business and/or misconceptions of kind of a yoga practice? It’s not, you know, this…our series is called HR on the Mat, where we try to advocate it’s really not, you don’t have to be a practitioner. It’s really just correlating what you do from a total wellness perspective, and how does that correlate to what happens from a work and a personal life perspective, so if you could share some misconceptions for both yoga and owning a small business, that would be wonderful.
You know, I think the first thing that comes to mind for misconceptions of being a small business owner is that you think, I’m the owner, I get to do whatever I want. And I think the clients think that too. I remember just a week ago it was Thanksgiving, and I was in here, we had a Thanksgiving class, and I was in here and somebody said, Well, why are you here, you’re the boss? Well, there’s no one else to be here. And especially now. because we are on a much smaller staff, I don’t really have a lot of help. I don’t have a desk staff right now, because things are a little slower, we need to be slimmed down, and we just need to get through this. So I’m in, I’m mopping the floor, you know, I mean, it’s things like that you have to do as a small business owner, because there isn’t anyone else to do it, and you just have to do it. And I don’t mind doing that, because I want to be a part, I want to be that kind of leader who doesn’t mind getting in there and doing it. But I think the misconception is that, Oh, you’re the boss, you’re just over here, you know, doing whatever, it’s nothing or if somebody ever is doing this stuff, the stuff actually has to get done and it’s, you know, it’s the owner, especially in times of challenge, which is obviously, this would be a time of challenge. So that would be a big misconception that I think is funny and sort of interesting. The biggest misconception I always get about yoga is that you tell somebody you’re…own a yoga studio or that you do yoga is that, Oh, I’m not flexible, I can’t do that. The whole point is opening yourself up, not only physically, but mentally as well. And people just feel like they aren’t ready for that, and especially from a physical standpoint, they’re just afraid of it. I can’t even touch my toes. But you have to start somewhere. Everybody starts somewhere, and people aren’t putting their legs above their head, you know, to start with. So I just encourage people to start somewhere. You know, there’s…there’s classes of all different levels, and then the teachers are trained to help you with modifications. So it’s one of those things where you just have to try and have to start. It’s a practice. It’s a practice, it’s meant to be a learning opportunity throughout your entire class, and whatever…whatever that day is on your mat. So I just try to encourage people that they don’t already have to be flexible, and they will learn physical flexibility, and will also learn mental flexibility…
And balance. And I know that, you know, in your name of your company, that is so important right now, when you’re thinking about mental health and thinking about wellness and core strength. I know, you know, a lot of my friends are in their 50s, and we’re starting to feel some of those things, even though we’re very active, and we’re playing tennis, but I’ve got a friend today going to OrthoIndy to get her knee looked at, and you know, all…balance is really key as we get older to prevent some of those falls that happen. We’re in winter in Indiana, and you know, we don’t want to slip. We want to be able to catch ourselves and have that core strength. And I just went to the doctor a couple days ago, and my numbers were so much better, and I don’t think I’ve changed that much about my eating, but I think my exercise, and I am doing some, you know, personal training too, but but it’s the core and the muscle that’s really helping a lot that too. So
Well, and balance is so important, not only physically. And the only way to work on balance is to work on it, is to practice it, is to practice trying to do whatever exercises or moves would help with balance, but also balance in life. We need to be balanced, and I think that’s one thing we have learned throughout this year is being a little more balanced in life, which, I think if we look at the positives and what we’re coming out of this year, it is one of them.
Yeah, and maybe letting go of some of the things that don’t matter. You know, I think of just the, you know, is it okay to buy something or get takeout instead of spending time cooking every night? You know, like, those are the choices we all make. Staying balanced, but…. Well, thank you so much for your insight. And I’m sure it’s…it’s interesting, there might not be people planning to buy a business right now, but hopefully they’re planning down the road, and certainly some of these lessons could be applied for that as well. So we will end today with our…the way we would end a normal yoga practice.
Yep, so we’ll do one closing breath as a community. So inhale, arms go up. On the exhale, palms come to kiss, down to center, your focus follows there. Thank you for your wisdom today, Gina. We appreciate it. Namaste. And thanks for all of our viewers and we will see you on the next episode of HR on the Mat. Until then stay well.
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