Strong Yet Feminine Profiles are a series of interviews, showcasing ambitious women who are striving to follow their passion. Many are working full time and pursuing their dream on the side, some have already taken the leap, and share their experiences (the good and the bad!).
Any career decision is difficult, but making a leap into a different field, in order to pursue a true passion, has to be one of the most inspiring stories. I know, for me, hearing stories like these were crucial to bolstering my confidence when considering my own change in direction.
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Becky Uden, Founder of Uden Pilates, shares her story of how an accident, potentially detrimental to following her dreams was turned into the driving force for doing something she loved full time, and helping others.
Q: Tell us a bit about your career path before you focused 100% on Uden Pilates
I was working for a digital media company, sales side, in a very fast paced environment, for about 12 years. My typical day involved lots of meetings with different brands trying to pitch solutions for their media campaigns. I was trying to generate spend, working to targets and I felt a lot of pressure to achieve and perform.
It was however very people focussed, which I actually loved. Getting to know people and building relationships is what I enjoy and excel at. I enjoyed the corporate space and learnt a lot about business and the struggles and demands of London - both physically and mentally on people. I realised personally and from what I observed how important it was for people to step away from their desk, and take some time out to recharge and reset.
I think it was this aspect that made me realise it was so important to find balance in your every day. That was where the shift started to happen, as I started to go to class more regularly myself during lunchtimes, and I could see the benefit of Pilates and taking time for myself first hand. I got my addiction at this point.
Q: When did you start pilates and what is the first step you took to going professional?
About 7 years ago, I had a snowboarding accident and took a hard hit to the ground, damaging my lower back. Much of my rehabilitation was focussed on Pilates based excises to rebuild my strength and movement. It was throughout this journey and subsequent increase in Pilates I was doing that I decided I wanted to train in the discipline.
Q: Was there a eureka moment when you knew you had to go for it?
Alongside my job in media, I embarked on teaching Pilates, Starting to build and establish my brand. It grew very quickly for me as I had tapped into both private clients, and teaching sessions within the cooperate space. There is huge demand here for wellness programmes as employers realise they need to look after their people. My eureka moment happened for me when I was at a tipping point, something had to give as I was at capacity juggling the two roles. I decided to follow my heart, my passion and do what I found most fulfilling - I now focus on Uden Pilates full time.
Q: What has been the most challenging element of this journey?
The initial income drop and the security that goes with being in a full-time PAYE job. That being said I love challenges! Life is full of them, without challenges you will never grow and what’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t go right and you learn another lesson. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey of solving.
Q: What has surprised you the most about being self-employed?
How organised you need to be. Its not just about doing what you love. You become very exposed. There’s a lot you don’t know to start with, But that’s how I have learnt so much. By being thrown in at the deep end, with no other ‘teams’ to hide behind or ask questions, it becomes one long learning experience, but a hugely rewarding one which I’m thankful for.
Q: Were your friends and family supportive of your choice?
They have been amazing and without their support I would never have had the confidence to take the leap to turn my passion into a business.
Q: What is it that motivates you when you feel like giving up?
Thinking back to working for someone else, and just how liberating it is working for yourself. You control your life, your hours. Now I’ve tasted this, I would never be able to go back to the restrictions of working for someone.
Also my clients. Seeing them progress, seeing the positive changes and their enjoyment is the most rewarding aspect of what I do. It drives and inspires me every day.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone else thinking of taking the plunge to go it alone?
To trust your gut instincts and have faith in yourself that you can do this.
Also be realistic, what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn't work out, you can always change path, but its better to a have tried, than have regrets about not pursuing the what ifs.
Q: What has been the most rewarding moment to date?
Watching my business grow, organically through recommendations. Taking me to a point where I could make the leap to stop working in an industry that wasn't serving me well, and focus entirely on my now established Pilates business.