Jessica Fritz Peters The Evolution of a Wellness Visionary
Jessica Fritz Peters The Evolution of a Wellness Visionary

Jessica Fritz Peters: The Evolution of a Wellness Visionary

Transitioning from solo dance to Pilates expertise, successfully operating a distinguished studio, Pilates Defined, successfully serving West Hartford for 15 years.

Jessica Fritz Peters, a former professional modern dancer and Pilates instructor, shares her transformative journey from operating a solo business to becoming a wellness leader in West Hartford, Connecticut. 

With a professional background in dance and movement deeply ingrained in her, Jessica’s path led her from performing across the Bay Area to establishing her own Pilates studio in West Hartford. Her story unfolds through challenges, growth, and the discovery of a supportive community of women entrepreneurs.

Early Days

Before COVID-19, Jessica epitomized the solitary business owner, handling every aspect of her studio alone. This approach, she believed, was the only way to operate. However, the pandemic and ensuing burnout forced her to seek alternative strategies. Opting for coaching and external support, Jessica found solace and inspiration in online groups of women in the wellness industry.

Foundation and Inspiration

Jessica’s journey into Pilates began unexpectedly. Despite having no initial aspirations of business ownership, her passion for dance and a serendipitous introduction to Pilates through a friend led her down a new path. Training under Madeline Black, a respected figure in Pilates, Jessica honed her skills and found a mentor who significantly influenced her career.

Challenges and Adaptations

Relocating to Connecticut introduced Jessica to new challenges and opportunities. Initially resistant to leaving the vibrant dance scene of the West Coast, she eventually embraced the change, leading to the opening of her studio. This step was a leap of faith, supported by her beloved family, self-education, and a basic understanding of business fundamentals.

Growth and Evolution

Jessica’s studio thrived on personal connections and a commitment to quality instruction. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, presented unforeseen obstacles, prompting a shift towards virtual classes and a reevaluation of her business model. Through coaching and community support, Jessica learned the importance of delegation, allowing her to focus on leadership and expand her offerings, including transformative retreats. A new endeavor: MoveFree Retreats. For this International Wellness retreat, no pilates experience is required- just a desire for personal reset and reconnection within an aligned, supportive community. This is not a Pilates Retreat. This is a beautiful example of the growth of women-owned businesses. This is seeing the need and potential, using creativity, and taking risks.

Philosophy and Differentiation

At the heart of Jessica’s practice is body awareness and empowerment. Distinct from fitness-centric network Pilates programs, her studio emphasizes the mind-body connection, teaching clients to become experts in their own bodies. This approach has fostered deep client relationships and set her studio apart in the wellness landscape.

Looking Ahead

Jessica’s vision extends beyond the studio, with retreats designed to address the modern epidemic of overstimulation and disconnection from the body. Her programs aim to restore balance and provide self-care and mental well-being tools. With a growing team and a dedication to her unique approach, Jessica continues to inspire and lead the movement toward holistic health.

Jessica’s narrative is one of resilience, innovation, and community. From a solo entrepreneur to a wellness leader, her journey reflects a deep commitment to fostering connections within and beyond the studio walls. Through her work, Jessica transforms bodies and empowers individuals to lead healthier, more mindful lives.

I am very proud and happy to introduce Jessica Fritz Peters, founder of Pilates Defined. 

She shows exemplary bravery because running a small business successfully for 15 years without giving up is a huge success.

Jessica, a former professional modern dancer and Pilates instructor, shares her transformative journey from operating a solo business to becoming a wellness leader in West Hartford, Connecticut. 
How did you decide on the name for your studio, and what significance does it hold for you and your business identity?

In 2009, when we opened, I wanted to be clear about exactly what we were going to do.  We don’t have yoga, barre, or other types of fitness. We teach Pilates, the very definition of the method. 

Can you share the process you went through to create your brand identity, including any challenges you faced in making your studio stand out in the wellness industry?

I have actually never felt challenged by this. Pilates changed my life, and I knew I had to share this with everyone I could.  Pilates has a long and trusted history. I have always leaned into the messages of its creator, Joseph Pilates, “movement heals.”  Pilates and movement have healed my body, and as long as I stay in my authentic beliefs, it holds up my business so that we can help others. 

There has been tremendous growth in our industry in the last 10-15 years. It is exciting that Pilates is now recognized almost everywhere. The growth could be seen as competition for my business. I think the more people moving their bodies safely, the better. I remain focused on my mission and the mission that I founded my business 15 years ago, to provide any willing person with a mindful, positive movement experience inspiring health and wellness in body, mind, and spirit. Receiving individual attention and care, each and every client  will walk out the door after a session or class feeling better in their body than when they walked in.”

We specialize in caring for the individual. We teach movement through a human lens, not a fitness lens. We will stay small and stay focused on each and every person, knowing and understanding them as part of our family and community. That is how we differentiate from Pilates in fitness environments with large group experiences.

Reflecting on your initial days, what were some of the biggest hurdles in transitioning from a professional dancer to a business owner in the wellness space?

I am a born do-it-yourself person. Scaling a business has required me to let go and learn how to delegate.  I have an abundance of energy, which is helpful, but it can also lead to burnout if I am not careful about creating boundaries for my personal life. 

How did you navigate the financial aspects of starting your studio, such as securing funding, budgeting, and managing expenses in the early stages?

I am eternally grateful for the support that my family gave me. It was financial and emotional. I couldn’t have done it without them. They believed in me and supported me. 

In developing your business model, how did you determine the proper pricing, offerings, and scheduling to meet your goals and accommodate your client’s needs?

For the first 10 years, I simply modeled my business after what I saw happening at other studios. I honestly did not spend much time at all thinking about my numbers.  But I never would have lasted if I had not made an investment in business coaching.  For the last 4 years, I have invested heavily in business coaching and mentorship. I am eternally grateful for the support of my coaches, mentors, and communities of fellow studio owners. I now have structures and habits in place to look at my numbers, understand them, and even enjoy them.

As your business grew, how did you approach the task of hiring and training staff to ensure they aligned with your studio’s philosophy and standards of practice?

One of the best decisions I made was to write my own curriculum for a Teacher Training program in 2008. I love teaching new teachers, and when they learn through the Pilates Defined program, it is a seamless fit to continue as an instructor and employee. That being said, I have also hired wonderfully talented instructors from other programs. I look for instructors who care about people. Again, it all comes back to our mission of making a difference in people’s lives. I hire for character and heart. Skill is always being developed, and I love supporting continuing education for my team. 

How has your marketing and client engagement approach evolved since you opened your studio? What strategies have proven most effective in attracting and retaining clients?

I hired staff. For so long, I was a one-woman show. I literally did everything. When I realized that not only did I not have to do it all, but someone else could do those things better than me, everything changed. Even though I did enjoy writing my newsletters and emails, I was not consistent. Retaining clients and marketing in general is so much about consistency. I now have a copywriter, a part-time CMO, and a social media manager. 

The wellness industry is constantly changing. How do you stay informed and adapt your offerings to remain relevant and meet your client’s needs?

Oh, that’s easy; I am a forever learner. I never stop reading and being curious. I travel, talk to other studio owners and instructors, and generally just stay engaged with peers.  A good teacher is always a student.  I take classes and maintain my own practice. And I talk to my clients. I stay connected with what their needs are by asking them, listening, and paying attention. 

Jessica Fritz Peters: The Evolution of a Wellness Visionary
Jessica Fritz Peters: The Evolution of a Wellness Visionary
Looking to the future, what are your aspirations for your studio? Are there new programs, expansions, or other ventures you’re exploring to continue your journey in the wellness industry?

I want to keep helping more and more people move and feel better in their bodies. There are people out there that don’t even know how much better they can feel! They don’t even know that the pain and discomfort they live with can be eliminated. I want a bigger team of instructors and am motivated to continue developing and teaching through my teacher training program. 

I see a huge potential for the growth of my retreat company, MoveFree Retreats. Right now, I am hosting two international retreats per year, and seeing how they sell out every time, I know there is a need for deep, immersive reset experiences. The amount of overstimulation and stress in our world is leading to burnout, fatigue, and illness. People are exhausted. I am so inspired to lead the experience of allowing yourself to truly slow down, and stop the addiction to being busy all the time. In the last few years especially, I have noticed a significant change in how long it takes my clients to settle in and slow down to breathe when they come into the studio. It worries me that it has become hard for someone to feel the breath in their body. There is too much to be disconnected. I am developing and integrating these concerns deeply in my retreats. 

Can you share your top five recommendations and cautions for women looking to start their Pilates studio?

5 DO’s from Jessica

  • Develop a strong personal practice and embody the method. You have to love this method with all of your heart and body and be an example of its transformation. Walk the walk.
  • Develop a strong foundation in teaching the method. Find exceptional mentors to learn how to teach. 
  • Invest in business coaching.
  • Develop peer groups and support systems.
  • Be clear about your mission and stay focused. If you love it and stay authentic, your clients will trust you.  

5 DON’Ts from Jessica

  • Do not try to do everything yourself!
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help.
  • Do not forget to be clear about your personal boundaries.
  • Do not be afraid to take risks if you believe in it.
  • Do not forget to move your own body and maintain your own practice. 
  • And I have one extra: Don’t forget to breathe!

Connect with Jessica