We had the good fortune of connecting with Rubecca Martinez Dalton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rubecca, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’m probably the most risk averse person in the world, which is kind of ironic for a small business owner! In general, I tend to take risks that will either launch me into a much better situation if it works or teach me a pretty good lesson if it fails. So either way, the risk pays off. Super safe right?!? I admire people who can take those big wild crazy leaps and land them. Knowing that’s not me and being ok with that has been crucial to running my own business and staying in my lane.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Tell us more about your business:
At Pilates Native, injured athletes are our jam.
We see a lot of folks looking to get past the aches and pains that make their sport hurt: sciatica, back pain, hip pain, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, shoulder stuff. We have lots of folks who have been cleared for return to activity after herniated disks. One of the biggest complaints we see is just really tight stiff muscles that make everything uncomfortable.
Our clients range from grandmothers who love to hike to Cross Fitters and Ironmen. Despite a broad age range and sport choice, all of our clients have two things in common. One, they are desperate for relief from their aches and pains and two, they are super passionate about their sport and not willing to give it up. Pilates Native is really passionate about keeping folks doing the stuff they love…pain free!
How did you get to where you are today business-wise:
I’m a School of Mines alum and Mechanical/Welding Engineer. I spent 15 years working in Oil & Gas before “retiring” to run Pilates Native full time.
As a Denver native, I’ve always been a big trail runner. A fall down one of the switchbacks on the trails at Red Rocks left me with some gnarly hip issues that started me down the rabbit hole of injury recovery. This included chiro, acupuncture, cold laser, supplements, PT, cross training, yoga and eventually landed me at Pilates and Stretch Therapy. Pilates and Stretch gave me my activity back in a way that was much more sustainable and was super enjoyable.
During a layoff cycle in 2010, I trained in the PhysicalMind method of Pilates through Pilates Concepts of Houston and got my Stretch to Win FST stretch certification as well. I’ve taught on the side since then, balancing Engineering and Pilates for a long time. In 2019, I really started leaning into the Pilates side of things and slowly built up Pilates Native over the last three years.
As someone who needs movement to exist, has been through the injury cycle and worked in an office for up to 10 hours a day, I totally understand the frustration that comes with being told you should just stop doing your sport to prevent pain. Every day, I’m super stoked and so excited to work with people who are so passionate about their sports that they are willing to try something new and commit to injury prevention as a way to keep them going.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about:
It seems like every day has some new little accomplishment to celebrate. In no particular order, the three that jump to mind today are:
1) Being able to offer equity sessions. One of the core values behind Pilates Native is being able to offer discount sessions to folks who wouldn’t normally be able to afford Pilates or Stretch Therapy. This has been a blast and the studio has been able to introduce a broad range of folks to Pilates who would never have been able to attend.
2) Spending lots of quality time with my kiddo is my number one priority, so days off and week-long breaks are a major part of my business model. Burnout is huge among small business owners, especially women, so being sure that breaks were built into the business was crucial for me. I have three amazing subs who take over on the weeks I’m out. It’s a beautiful thing to know you have an awesome team that you can trust and will value your clients the same way you do.
3) Pilates Native was approved as a PhysicalMind Pilates Instructor certifying studio! This means I now offer Mat, Equipment and Comprehensive Instructor Training and I’m super proud of the program we’re offering for instructor training.
To align with the studio’s mission of allowing space for rest, recovery and restoration + promoting diversity and inclusion, teacher training will run in a way that is sustainable to those values. By nature, Pilates instructor training requires a lot of time and a lot of money. You need to drop hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars all in one go and then be able to spend 20-30 hours a week in the studio, on top of your regular life. If you’re trying to work and have a family, or if you have any sort of budget, instructor training becomes super stressful, and for a lot of folks it just isn’t doable. Or they’re so stressed out they burn out and never teach. Or the stress and fast pace means they never get to really dig deep and understand the material, so they end up feeling incapable or not confident in what they know.
To combat all of that, Pilates Native extends the time frame of training so folks can work and have a life while doing their training. Trainees will have 6 months to complete Mat certification and 12 months to complete Equipment or Comprehensive training. Trainees can absolutely finish before that, the extended timeline just helps make the training more sustainable. We also offer a monthly payment plan, so folks aren’t going into serious financial stress or debt to pay for their training. And finally, instructor trainees will have the option to work privately with me or in super small groups. This allows folks to really dig in and learn the material without a lot of stress. Training should be fun and empowering! We want to develop instructors who feel confident and ready to go!
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way:
1) The world is such a crazy hectic place. Everyone is running on top speed and red-lining through most of our days while simultaneously being bombarded with things that steal our attention. To be heard, to be listened to, to have someone’s undivided attention (even for just five whole minutes!)…what an amazing gift that is. Being a good listener is the best gift I can offer the world right now.
2) How you show up for clients matters. I learned this from my super amazing business coach, Marta Spirk. If you’re exhausted, resentful and stressed out, will clients feel like you’re ready and able to help them? If you’re burnt out and annoyed, will clients feel excited and energetic about the work you do? If you are panicking about money, will clients see you as a hustler looking for your next paycheck? It goes back to making sure you’re taking breaks and taking care of yourself, so you can show up at 100% and be ready to take care of your clients.
3) It’s ok to keep your day job, scale your business and start small.
When we moved back to Denver, I was still working full time and Stretching people a few hours a week on a borrowed table in the corner of a kickboxing studio. From there, I moved to teaching Pilates using a teeny tiny home reformer in my rented office space.
Once the business made enough money, I was able to buy my own table and upgrade to a used commercial reformer. The next year, I was able to move to a nicer location, upgrade to a much nicer stretch table, and eventually was able to upgrade the Pilates equipment. Now, I’m leading a small team and retired from engineering!
It may not have been that amazing Instagram opening day, but the studio has never had any debt and has been able to operate in the black since day 1. Keeping my day job and scaling the business as I was ready has really helped keep my family as the number one priority, kept the financial side manageable and really reduced the amount of stress that comes with running a small business. It’s been super fun instead of super stressful.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh that’s a fun question!
I love Golden, so the week would have to include hiking at Red Rocks + the visitor’s center, pizza at Woody’s, beers at the Buff and the Ace, a tour through CSM to show off all of the new buildings that weren’t there when I was, ice cream at the Golden Mill, and a hike up to South Table to sit up on the castle rock on top. Definitely a stop in Morrison for some meandering.
Evergreen would have to be on the list with a lap around the lake + fishing/ice skating/paddle boarding (depending on the season). A drive up to Echo Lake with a picnic and a drive up to Mt. Evans.
A road trip through Boulder to Estes Park, a ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel in Estes, fishing or paddle boarding at Lake Estes, and meandering around the little shops there.
I also take all of our visitors to see my studio and treat them to a Stretch! So that’s always really fun. 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people! The obvious choices are my parents and my brother.
My brother is one of my best friends and my sounding board for so many business decisions. He also helps me move, build equipment and rearrange the Pilates studio every time I need help. My bestie, Alec Romero-Hoffman, who is an incredible artist and photographer. She is the yin to my yang and has been bringing the spontaneous wild side of life to balance my introverted nature since we were teenagers. My husband, whose catch phrase should be “Sure! Do it! Why not?” and my son who lights up the world and brings this entirely new and incredible perspective to everything I do. He makes sure I have my priorities sorted and am ready to enforce those boundaries. On the professional side, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have great mentors. From engineering, I owe a great deal of gratitude and thanks to Pat Patrick, John Zlatich, Mario Rivera and Mike Skinkle. On the Pilates and Stretch side of things, equal measures of gratitude and thanks go to Dr. J.D. Hasenbank and Dr. Daniel DeWalch. D and H saw the potential of an engineer in Sports Medicine and really guided me towards blending my affinity for numbers, spreadsheets and charts with yoga, Pilates and biomechanics.
Other: free Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/pilatesnative/
Karina Noelia Photography