Episode 13: Finding a business to support your lifestyle – with Guro Eide

Pilates instructor Guro Eide explains how she’s designed a business which both fits in with her lifestyle and also builds on her unique selling point.

Today’s guest

Guro Eide of The Pilates Guro

Website: The Pilates Guro

Facebook: The Pilates Guro

Guro discovered Pilates in 2005, as a result of on-going back problems – and she hasn’t looked back since.  After repeat visits to the physiotherapist for back and shoulder pain she finally found help in Pilates. She immediately recognised the benefits, improving not only her back and shoulder pain, but also her core strength and posture, as well as helping her to relax and release tension.  Guro enjoyed Pilates throughout both her pregnancies, as a safe and excellent form of exercise that also prepared her for birth and helped her recovery afterwards. Having trained and qualified with Body Control Pilates in 2012, Guro now runs small and friendly classes in her studio at the bottom of her garden, the small class sizes enabling Guro to adapt the type and level of exercises to each individual client.  Guro also has a reformer for 1:1 sessions, and she is qualified in teaching pre- and post-natal Pilates, and Pilates for bone health.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • How an interest can lead to a change of career
  • How to stop becoming bored of your passion when it becomes your livelihood
  • The importance of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and working on your self-belief
  • Recognising when you need coaching or support
  • Remembering why you started the business in the first place and what it was supposed to do for you

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.

Episode 13: Finding a business to support your lifestyle - with Guro Eide

Guro Eide
I did really feel like I lost myself a bit. I didn't sleep much. We don't have a lot of family nearby to help out... My other half was starting to work in America, almost two weeks a month. You know, I was on my own a lot, and I think I realised I had to start doing something and feel like I was starting doing something for myself and not just for other people. So I did take...

Jeremy Cline
Whatever it is you end up doing, it's so important to design around what suits you and that you don't lose sight of why you're doing it in the first place. And that's what we're going to be covering in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. Now you may remember back in Episode Six, I interviewed Michelle Smith, who used to work in TV production and who now owns and runs a pilates studio. Well, Guro Eide who is today's guest is another pilates instructor who also used to work in TV production for the BBC. But that's where the similarities in their stories end. Guro has created quite a different business to Michelle's. And as you'll hear, that's really been very deliberate. So let's dive in. Hi, Guro. Welcome to the show.

Guro Eide
Thank you very much.

Jeremy Cline
Can we start off with you just telling us a bit about what it is that you do?

Guro Eide
Yeah, so I'm a pilates teacher. So I teach small pilates classes, mostly in my back garden in my little studio, and then I teach for a pilates studio in Letchworth as well. They're small mat-based classes mostly, and then I teach one-to-one on a pilates machine as well.

Jeremy Cline
And you do that at the Letchworth studio, or do you do it in your back garden?

Guro Eide
I do that in my back garden and the Letchworth studio.

Jeremy Cline
Okay, so you've kind of got two things going on - you teach at the studio, but you've also sort of got your own practice as well?

Guro Eide
Yeah, so I run my own very small business, but it's a nice business. And then I work as a freelancer for the studio in Letchworth.

Jeremy Cline
Cool. Okay, well, we'll come on to how that works with the two businesses but before we come to that, I'd just like to go back and talk about how you got where you are, because pilates isn't your your first career is that right?

Guro Eide
Yes, that's my second career I suppose. I used to work for the BBC. So for about 17 years I've been in the film and media industry, radio as well. I studied Film and Media and Psychology at university in Scotland, I'm originally from Norway, so made the move as a 19 year old - studied in Scotland then moved to London and was working initially for a small production company, and then ended up at the BBC in 2005.

Jeremy Cline
And what drew you to that sort of world?

Guro Eide
So I suppose I've always been interested in the media industry. Originally, I did want to study psychology as well. I ended up at this university that did a film and media and psychology degree. And I really wanted to sort of merge those two, you know - I've always been quite interested in mental health and stuff. But then I almost by default, landed in this production company that was making music documentaries. Found that I really, really enjoyed it, and then just moved on from there really, and I think I feel like in the beginning I really loved it, but I always wanted to be more on the creative side, whereas I ended up... I think BBC is quite quick at pigeonholing you.

Jeremy Cline
So when you say you kind of went in by default, what does that mean?

Guro Eide
So I started off as a production secretary, because that's what this little production company needed. And I think once you get into one - so in the film and media industry, you either have the creative side, which is, you know, making the films, making the radio output, producing it, or the more managerial admin side - and I found that even though I really wanted to move into the creative side, it was really, really hard, particularly once you started in BBC as on a one ladder they were very sort of separate, and it was very hard to make the jump.

And I did you know, my first few years for BBC were great. But then I did start to become a bit more frustrated.

Jeremy Cline
And was that because you weren't allowed to make that jump?

Guro Eide
Partly that, and BBC also was getting bigger. And so I was production manager. So I was, you know, dealing with the budgets, the staffing, planning production schedules. So most of it was you know, it was very interesting, but then you also had the - for me as production manager - how to deal with the outside world or our programme making, which was getting the commission's, getting the money approved. And as the BBC got bigger, that started to get more and more difficult, and I felt there was more and more red tape around what I was doing, more and more frustration, more and more new IT systems that didn't work. Will the BBC be angry at me for this?!

Jeremy Cline
I don't know of a single organisation where people don't complain about the IT!

Guro Eide
Exactly! So it just became quite frustrating. And then actually, by the end of you know, we had moved out to Hitchin, so I had already a long commute, then having a child, and making those two worlds merge was quite tricky.

Jeremy Cline
Do you think you were on your way out of the BBC even before moving and having a child? Or do you think - had circumstances been different - that you might have stayed there?

Guro Eide
I think I might have stayed there. I think certainly if I had, if I didn't have that pull that I wanted to be more at home, I could have put more effort into, you know, making my change within the BBC and try different roles. But I also knew that then going into more a productive or creative role at the BBC would demand even more hours, more travelling, and with wanting a family at some point that was going to be harder to do.

Jeremy Cline
When you were starting to think in these terms - where did you see yourself ending up? How did you see this transition happening?

Guro Eide
So I think I started that transition quite a long time before I actually left. You know, I started off doing pilates myself, because I had a bad back, and bad shoulders. I started seeing someone at the BBC who was actually working as an osteopath at the BBC, who recommended pilates. And whilst doing that, I, you know, I found I really, really enjoyed it. I then got pregnant, did pilates all through my pregnancy, and then started to think actually, maybe this could be something that I could make a change into. Once I've really had enough of the BBC and if circumstances allowed it, I could at least have that to fall back on.

Jeremy Cline
I'm curious as to how you got from doing pilates to deciding that you wanted to teach pilates because there's there's lots of people have hobbies, interests or they discover something which helps them in some way like pilates and I'm a huge advocate of pilates. I've been doing it for 15 years, I think - something like that. But it's one thing, really enjoying it as a hobby or as something which helps you maintain your physique and your physical health, but quite another deciding that actually you want to teach it. So how did you sort of get from doing to teaching?

Guro Eide
So I think at that point, I was starting to realise, the BBC probably wasn't where I wanted to stay forever. I also having had that sort of always wanting to work, you know, psychology and mental health, I realised that pilates actually is a, you know, it's a form of exercise, but it also promotes good mental health. And it's a way of working more with people in a different way that I used to. You know, I was working with people at BBC, but this was more on a wellbeing stage really. And as I was doing more and more, I started to question more and more why that move was good for me and why I should be doing this move as opposed to that move and how I could, you know, develop my own strength, which started to make me more interested in the human body as well. So then, thinking about that, and combining that with something that I already knew, I really love doing, and there was also the pull of always being able to learn more, you know, so when I started to go more into the pilates, I realised actually, it was really nice to be back on the, you know, studying again and learning new things. So, yeah, and I thought, you know, I wanted something that was that I could do locally, and that I could work around school times when it came to that. Also because I am from Norway I am quite keen on being able to take the children back as much as I can. So I was then looking for a career that would allow me to maybe have more school holiday time off and dictate my own hours really. And yeah, as a pilates teacher, that's working out really, really well.

Jeremy Cline
So were there any other things that you considered when you were looking for something which ticked all these boxes?

Guro Eide
Well there's always the money side, you know, we needed to bring in some money. Which, you know, unless you become a big studio or a pilates teacher to a famous person, and then get lots of clients. It's not - on the level that I operate on - it's not a lot of money involved in it, but it's enough to keep it ticking over. I am fortunate that you know, I have another half that do bring in a bit more. Also when I first started out, you know, I wasn't bringing in much at all, so we were able to live on his salary. So that has been very fortunate - I probably wouldn't have been able to do it completely on my own. Although I do have friends who have done that, so it is doable. But yeah, and just something that allowed me to meet people, help people, you know. So I do see a lot of people who've got back care issues, injuries, old injuries that they need to strengthen up from. And it's a very nice I suppose feeling of being able to see that actually what you do can make a difference, even if it's just to one individual, whereas making TV programmes and radio programmes, you know, it's great, but you didn't see that close reaction, I suppose.

Jeremy Cline
Did you consider doing anything apart from pilates when you were looking to transition? Was there anything else you thought that actually maybe I could try this, maybe I could try that?

Guro Eide
So you know, there was options of going into trying to find similar work locally. But again, for me, that wasn't really... You know, I was looking at what I was doing, and the opportunities weren't there as much. And also I did fancy making a complete change, you know, having been in the industry eventually I left in 2017. So having done the same thing for 17 years, I did feel I wanted to try something else.

Jeremy Cline
Pilates started out as something that that you did, and it's now your livelihood. And I always think that there's a danger when if you do something which you enjoy, and then you make that your living - you make it your career - that you risk, losing the joy of what it was that you did in the first place. So, for example, one of my hobbies is music. I absolutely love it. But the idea of actually trying to make a living from it, I just - well aside from I don't think I'm good enough - but I just think it would it would sap the enjoyment that I have for it. So is that something that you've experienced, and how do you maintain the enjoyment when you've got to keep it going in order to make your livelihood?

Guro Eide
And so that's certainly something I was worried about. I remember saying to one of my supervising teachers, as I said to her, wow you're so lucky you get to do this every day! And she said, Well, it's different when you're actually teaching it rather than just doing it. But so far, I haven't got to that stage. I think what does help is - so I do my own practice, I go to see other teachers, which I learn a lot from. There's also a lot of sort of online workshops that I look at most weeks planning my classes, I try to always mix it up so that I don't get bored from it because I think if I get bored teaching it, then certainly my clients are going to get bored and I, you know, I need to keep them entertained. I need to keep them challenged. And there's always, you know, as part of my being part of the association that I'm part of, you have to always have earned some credits every year, your personal development credits, so I always have to make sure I get new training, which I think will always catch me just as I think I'm a bit bored of what I'm doing now. I'll go on a course, and it gets sort of lifted again and you know, I get invigorated and excited about it again. Yeah. So by always keep learning new things myself, I haven't experienced that sort of being tired of my own job yet.

Jeremy Cline
So did you ever get the start of a class and think I'm not sure I really want to do this?

Guro Eide
No, I don't, I'm still actually sometimes nervous going into class because I want to perform my best you know - I want to give them something that keeps them challenged and excited about coming to a class. So so far - talk to me in 10 years time and it might be different!

Jeremy Cline
Let's talk a bit about the the actual change itself. I mean, internally, did you think at any stage, 'God what am I doing, you know, I had all this experience - 17 years in production at the BBC - and I'm about to go and do something completely different?' Did you ever have doubts - doubts about what you were doing, doubts that you could make it work?

Guro Eide
Massively. I still have doubts. There was that can I make it work? Can I bring in the clients? Can I? Because that's the other side to it - you have to do advertising, you have to, you know, do all the admin, you have to do marketing you have to get your business running. And then there's also that sort of what if I'm no good at this? You know, what if I can't teach pilates? What if no one's going to come because I'm no good? And there's still that sort of, oh gosh - like I would hate, I'm getting better, but I don't particularly enjoy teaching pilates to other teachers because you feel really self conscious, you know, and I think that's yeah, that's still there. I'm trying to ignore that voice. But there's, there's always going to be self-doubt, I think. But you just got to believe that you can do it.

Jeremy Cline
And so what do you think has stopped you succumbing to the self-doubt, so you do actually do what you do?

Guro Eide
I think I've been working quite hard on sort of self-development recently. So that's more a new thing where I just think, right, I've just got to try it. What's the worst thing that can happen? Like covering for other teachers - I'm not the first one to raise my hand if someone's asking for some cover, but I'm getting there. And I'm thinking actually, I can do this. There must be a reason my clients are coming back year after year. You know, some of them have been coming for five, six years now. Yeah, I've been working quite hard on my own self-belief and I think maybe even getting older has helped.

Jeremy Cline
So when you say you've been working on your self-belief - what does that look like? What does working on your self-belief mean?

Guro Eide
I've done some courses. I've been going to you know, get some coaching. Reading books. Yeah, and then just not taking things too seriously, not taking myself too seriously, and just thinking I've got nothing to lose really to try out. No one can sack me! That's the benefit of working for yourself.

Jeremy Cline
That is true! When did you start to recognise that this coaching, courses, reading books, self-development was something that you needed to do?

Guro Eide
I think probably about three years ago, four years ago. So I've got a son who is nearly ten and then I have a daughter who's five, and after she was born, you know, we had an awful time sleeping. I did really feel like I lost myself a bit. I didn't sleep much, we don't have a lot of family nearby to help out. My other half was starting to work in America, almost two weeks a month. You know, I was on my own a lot - and I think I realised I had to start doing something - yeah - feel like I was starting doing something for myself and not just for other people. So I did take up some coaching, which has really helped and I think gradually I just been feeling like I'm getting a bit of me back, bit of my own life back.

Jeremy Cline
And how did you find what you needed? So you're in this position where things were a bit stressful. What made you choose a particular coach for a particular type of coaching?

Guro Eide
So actually I started going for a massage because I realised that actually I needed to just have an hour to myself, where I got a bit of muscular release. She was also a life coach, and she had just started running some equine coaching - so with horses - and suggested I should try it. So I did. So I signed up for this five months equine coaching, which really helped I think, and then we also sought some help for my daughter's sleep. And that help sort of turned in to be more of a help for me, really. So I carried on seeing that person as well. So yeah.

Jeremy Cline
Tell me a bit about this equine coaching. Is this sort of coaching people through the medium of horses or something like that?

Guro Eide
Yeah. So they take you out on the field. So I did a couple of sort of private ones and then there were some group ones as well and they will give you, you know, they'll take you out on the field with lots of horses around. They give you a task to do, so some of the exercises would be like a physical exercise where they ask you to, you know, walk the horse round a field, initially, maybe with a lead but then ideally by the end of it, you should be able to just walk and the horse will follow you, which had a lot about being connected to yourself and believing that you could do it because if you didn't believe it, the horse will pick it up, and they won't do it either. So it was working a lot with that, then some of it would just be talking around the horses. So you know, a bit of a sort of coaching therapy session, but the horse would give my coach a signal. So the horse would do something, and she would pick that up and say, well, actually, I think, you know, there's something you're not letting yourself talk about now, or believing, and it just allowed her to go a bit deeper I think. So yeah. Really interesting. Very interesting.

Jeremy Cline
Absolutely. I'd never heard of this before. I'm fascinated by it. And so this was the business that your massage therapist has started, or this is something she referred you to?

Guro Eide
Yeah. So she was working there as well as doing her massage business. Yeah, they do it for autistic children, they run a lot of workshops for them. So yeah, it's very interesting.

Jeremy Cline
What was your reaction when she suggested this? Because to me this just sounds quite wacky and off the wall!

Guro Eide
And I suppose it was but I thought actually, I just need help so yeah, I'm happy to, to try anything, you know, because it was all related to not sleeping and not feeling like I had any control really, over my own life, I think. So that was probably about three years ago. But then I think that released sort of a willingness in me to explore other things and become a bit more happy to try things out and a bit more sure of myself and if I have any issue, so it's, you know, I'm using it a lot with my children if they don't want to listen. Well, partly that's because I'm not actually listening to myself when I tell them to go and brush their teeth because I'm doing something else. So it's, it's all about being very, you know, it's the present - being present in the moment and mindfulness - but it's taken up in a horse setting where you actually have to work a lot harder to get the horse to do it.

Jeremy Cline
Fascinating. I'll have to look that up. Turning a bit more on to the business side of things - so at the moment you've got the freelance teaching in the studio, and you've got your own business - where do you see that going? Are you looking to do more of one and not the other? Do you want to develop your own personal business? Where do you hope this is all going to go?

Guro Eide
So working in my own studio is lovely, but it's really nice to also be part of a bigger pilates teacher community. So I think I would always want to keep the other freelance part really just because you know, one of the things I suppose I do miss a little bit about not being at the BBC in a team, feeling like you're part of something a bit bigger, a bit more buzzing - even though I meet people and I see clients and a lot of them have become good friends - but there's always that you know, there's no one there to bounce ideas off. You know you need you need a bit more - yeah, more colleagues really. So I think I would like to definitely still keep that. My business in my garden is space limited. I will as the children get older definitely start running more classes and maybe also branch more out into the equipment. So at the moment I've only got a reformer but there are loads of other pilates studio equipment that you can qualify on and have so yeah, once the children are bit older and a bit more independent then I certainly want to build more on both my own business but also maybe go into other places and teach more with other people.

Jeremy Cline
And do you think you'll outgrow the shed at the bottom of the garden? Do you think you get your own premises, or does that suit you?

Guro Eide
At the moment that suits me. You know, we've already got two pilates studios in Hitchin. I don't know how much more big pilates studio could Hitchin... you know, could they take another one? I don't know. And then you kind of if I start to travel again then we're losing the part that made me do it in the first place. And I think for me - at least right now - my USP is small, having the smaller classes you know. I have no more than five people in each class. Whereas as soon as you branch out, I will have to have nine or ten at least in the classes. So for now as long as we can manage financially with what I'm doing I'm quite happy, but certainly in the longer run I want to get more training, maybe branch into more sort of a sports-specific pilates - you know you can do pilates for runners, golfers - so maybe find more of my, maybe more of a niche market. I don't know. There's so many opportunities.

Jeremy Cline
Yeah. I loved what you said there about not losing what it was that you were after in the first place. And I think this is a danger when people start their own business is that they just feel they've got to expand and get bigger. And as you do that you do get busier, and you've got other things to worry about. And it's not actually why you set on it in the first place. So I love the fact that you're saying that and bringing home that point. And it's, I think it's a really good take home that just because you've got your own business, if you do have your own business, that doesn't mean that you've got to be ever expanding it because that's not the reason necessarily why you got into it in the first place.

Guro Eide
Yeah, and I think if you're happy with what you're doing, then you shouldn't feel you have to expand it all the time. If you do it for financial reasons, fair enough. But yeah, then you find yourself maybe going full circle again.

Jeremy Cline
In this journey has there been any particular resources, courses, books, anything that the listeners might be able to look into if something that you've said resonates with them, then there's something that they can look at a bit further?

Guro Eide
Yeah, so I think that you know, the horse, the equine coaching, which is called the warrior course - is certainly something that helped me. I mean, I by the time I started doing it, I'd already qualified as a pilates teacher, but I think it helped me to take that extra step and believe a bit more in myself and believe that I could do it. And I would have, you know, I would have left the BBC eventually anyway. It was helped certainly by the fact that I went back after having our second child, did BBC four days a week, was teaching pilates three days a week and childcare two days a week - it didn't really add up! Basically I was working all hours because flexiworking is great, but it means you work anytime you get a chance to do the work. But then I had just decided I needed to resign from BBC - I couldn't do it anymore - when they decided to close the programme that I was working on. So I could volunteer for redundancy. Which was great, and that certainly helped me, but I think even without that I would have made the jump, because that course just gave me the belief that I could do it and the strength to do it, I think.

Jeremy Cline
And where can people find out a bit more about you if they want to come along to one of your classes or see what it is that you're doing?

Guro Eide
So I've got a Facebook page called The Pilates Guro, G, U, R, O. And then I teach at a place called The Pilates Space in Letchworth as well.

Jeremy Cline
Guro, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure talking to you and best of luck with the business.

Guro Eide
Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

Jeremy Cline
Okay, well, I hope you enjoyed that interview. It's clear that Guro has taken a positive decision not to expand beyond the small pilates classes that she offers. She recognises that these small classes are her USP, her unique selling point. But more than that, it also fits in with where she is in her life and what she wants to do. And this really highlights what I think we all do need to remember and something we often lose sight of. And that's that our own version of success - it's very personal to us. We tend to look at success quite objectively: who has the bigger business, who works the longer hours, who gets paid more. But that doesn't mean that this objective view of success is necessarily what is success for us, what's right for us individually. And I think this really is something that we lose sight of, and it's really important that we don't lose sight of that, that we come back to okay, but maybe they are working longer hours, maybe they are earning more but would their lifestyle fit in with me, what I want, and what I need? You'll find the show notes for this episode at changeworklife.com/13. That's number 13 - one three - with links to all the resources mentioned. There's also a link to the new Facebook group. I've set this up - it's designed to be a safe space where you can discuss any career issues you're having, or help out other people if you think that's something that you might be able to do. So please do join. I really want to make it a place where we can all help each other with our careers, with our working life. Next time my guest and I discuss a topic which is really the one that got me started on this podcast, it's all about the midlife crisis. What is it? How do you identify it and how do you handle it when you get there? You don't want to miss it. And I can't wait to see you there. Cheers. Bye.

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