RedBird Pilates & Fitness is a studio based in Austin, Texas. RedBird Pilates was founded by Lee Vallely in 2007 and is now co-owned by Lee Vallely and Elisabeth Kristof, who also serves as co-director.

1. How did you choose your location for the studio?
We started very small, without any deep pockets to pull from. We started by working out of Lee’s loft apartment. The growth of our studio happened very organically, and before long, we had to expand.

We found a studio close to the original loft location, and we have expanded several times in the same area as our population has increased. As we continue to grow, we think about what pockets of town would most benefit our current clientele.

2. How did you build your method and brand?
We have hired consultants to help us look at our business with more altitude and become clear on what we stand for, who our client is, and how we can best serve them. We also hired help to craft and communicate our brand to our community.

3. What has changed with your method over time?
Our method comes from years of research, studying under skilled movement practitioners and working with thousands of clients to learn what achieves lasting results. We began with the idea that it is not what you do, but how you do it.

The foundation of our method (quality of movement, proper alignment, precise movement execution) has not changed over time, but we have added various new programs, like suspension-band training, that make sense with those guiding principles.

Many of our clients are women over 50, and we recognize that as they age, they want to preserve the longevity of their movement abilities by including functional fitness movements, gross motor skills and stability work to their routines.

4. What questions do you ask yourself while adding new classes/equipment/styles to the studio?

  • Does it serve a RedBird client?
  • Does it fit within our clearly defined methodology?
  • What does the research say: is it effective, are the results proven and measurable?
  • When partnering with another company to add a new program: do their philosophies and principles align with ours?
  • Can the revenue generated from the addition of this class/equipment cover the incurred cost and generate profit?

5. How did you define your target users?
We have spent years defining our client. We know who RedBird will speak to, and we can now identify them as soon as they walk in the door. Often, your client closely resembles you; after all, most of us build our methods and brand off of our own beliefs and needs. So start with thinking about what YOU look for in a business and movement program, and build from there. We started out to primarily service women – that spoke to us. But as we have grown, so has our male population.

We also conducted numerous surveys with our current clientele to find out what it is that RedBird provides for their lives, to discover who they are, and understand why they stay. This is something everyone should do – define YOUR client, know what need your studio is fulfilling for your clients. Why does your studio or your method matter to your clients?

6. What advice would you give to studio owners in other cities who are worried about ClassPass taking away from their key user base?
Educate your clients. Make sure they know what you stand for, what makes you different from every other studio in your city, and why you are important to them.

We build strong and deep ties with our clients. We know where they hang out, what their hobbies are and what matters to them, and we mold our RedBird client definition off of that information.