Sydney Soschin - Owner of The Pilates KreweIn the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was raging in Florida, and fitness studios were scrambling to figure out how to navigate this ever-changing landscape. At the time, most fitness professionals, including Sydney, did not feel that working out in a small space with others was safe. While the studio she worked at was closed for a while, when it re-opened, Sydney and other instructors decided to wait and see how things would evolve regarding COVID. As things moved forward, Sydney thought, “I think I can do this better.”

And The Pilates Krewe was born.

Nevertheless, if opening a fitness studio in the middle of a pandemic seems anything but ordinary, neither is the journey Sydney took to arrive at such a milestone.

When carrying her infant son down the hardwood stairs wearing socks and slipped – quickly grabbing the railing to prevent dropping him, Sydney severely dislocated her shoulder, tearing a ligament. After a painful surgery (reportedly worse than giving birth), Sydney was referred to a physical therapist to rebuild her strength. As those sessions neared an end, the physical therapist recommended Pilates to strengthen her core and prevent future injury. Sydney followed through, finding a local studio for classes.

In those moments, however, studio ownership was far from the top of her mind. Sydney fell in love with Pilates. As a mom, Sydney struggled with weight gain like many new mothers. Finding Pilates gave her strength in her shoulder, but also confidence and the ability to lose weight and feel better – physically and mentally.

A neighbor and Pilates Studio owner helped coach Sydney and referred her to resources for becoming an instructor. Sydney began training and met a master instructor, Patricia Welter, who trained under Lolita San Miguel, one of Joseph Pilates’ original students. That makes Pat a “2nd generation” trained master instructor and Sydney a 3rd generation trained instructor – a rare title in this day and age of “fly by night training” and “weekend certifications.” In fact, becoming a Balanced-Body certified instructor requires hundreds of hours of observation, several sessions of days-long training in various skills and disciplines, and academic work in anatomy, class planning, and more.

After completing her certification, Sydney Soschin began teaching at studios across the Tampa Bay region. Then finally, the moment came – albeit via a pandemic – for Sydney to go out on her own and build the ideal studio her way.

The Pilates Krewe is a vision and collection of best practices observed and conceived to be member-centric. By placing member and staff satisfaction ahead of profits, something interesting happened. In her first month, The Pilates Krewe was profitable. But how?

Instead of chasing enrollments, couponing, and promotions, Sydney focused all her energy on finding the best possible instructors and creating the most compelling member experience.

She spaced equipment far apart, limited classes size, offered more classes than any other studio in the area, brought in HEPA air filters, sanitized, and sanitized more, and masked her instructors (and members).

No jerks allowed. Sydney created a “no jerks” policy. A policy focused on building a community amongst members to support one another regardless of age, experience, demographics, body type, or physical capabilities. She wanted a place for everyone to feel welcome, safe, and comfortable enough to tackle their own fitness challenges.

Ask an instructor, and you’ll quickly hear that being part of the Krewe is unlike anything in Tampa. The staff support one another and are paid equally at some of the highest rates in the region. Sydney believes in equal pay, living wages, and supporting her staff. In fact, TPK has helped new instructors finance their certifications – something she’s happy to do for the right people – a positive attitude with a willingness to get to know members and help them succeed. Sydney partners with her mentor, master trainer Patricia, to regularly enrich the classes and instruction at the studio. Investing in professional development is important for keeping instructors current and excited about fine-tuning their craft.

It’s not going unnoticed. Sydney’s success in the face of hurdles – plentiful options for fitness in the region and a pandemic – has caught the attention of other aspiring studio owners, professional associations, news media, and existing owners. She’s received many requests to share her “secrets for success” and to franchise the business model.

Members appreciate this keen attention to their needs. Sydney and her team specialize in adapting classes for those recovering from injury, expecting moms, and her older clientele who need accommodations for osteoporosis or ailing joints. In fact, athletes, cross-trainers, and military personnel have all called TPK their workout of choice for building core body strength, improving their fitness, and gaining confidence – a place that is anything but ordinary.

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