#MOTHERMUSE: Elise Barlow
Elise is the founder of The Movement Society, an online Pilates platform. Her online platform is truly something special - you can pick and choose anything from a 10-60 minute workout, beginner to intermediate class and this can all be done in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere in the world for that matter).
Tell us about The Movement Society (MVMT) and the catalyst behind starting it
The Movement Society is an online Pilates platform that brings our unique method of Mat Pilates to women around the world. We specialise in movement for all levels and have members that are super fit and love an advanced, strong flow, to beginners wanting to be walked through the fundamentals. Our most recent addition is a really comprehensive (and love-filled) pre and post-natal offering. Being a new Mum, it was incredibly important the online platform had workout options for everybody, at every level, for every energy level and mood. You can transport to the studio and do a 60-minute pilates class, or squeeze a 10-minute quickie between naps or meetings. It’s instant access to great pilates content for movement lovers.
You went from having a pilates studio to launching your online platform which is a big brave leap. Did you always dream of this transition from studio to online, or was it more of a ‘light bulb moment’ transition?
I always dreamt of creating an online offering and had spent almost 12 months creating online content that I was a bit nervous to release. COVID provided the perfect push to pivot and get our content out there. It blew my mind how positive the response was and made the decision to transition my focus from being an “in-studio/physical pilates business” to purely “online” easy.
You have had the business for 6 years now, what has surprised you the most as the business has grown?
That there are always new problems and challenges to face. Spending less time “perfecting” and just sharing your product/service with as many people as you can. I wish I would take more risks and back myself more. Our biggest growth has always come from “uncomfortable situations”. It is easy to get in your own way. Every mistake is a learning experience and a stepping stone to better things. I have a big sign on my computer saying “done is better than perfect”. There are lots of disappointments and challenges along the way, but just keep going and growing and you will get there.
You started MVMT child free and since growing the business you have welcomed the most gorgeous little boy Max into the world. I imagine this phase would have been very challenging, all your energy and love now being redirected to your newborn and the worry that you're not giving your business your all. How did you juggle the act?
I worked really hard during my pregnancy to build out the systems and create the content so that when Max did arrive, I had a gracing period of time to focus solely on being just his mum. I filmed about a 4-month pipeline of content and had it pre-scheduled and delegated extra administration and business tasks to the team. The hardest bit was when I returned to work, and the juggle is real.
When I did return to work, it was with a whole new perspective. The transition from running a business child-free to with a bub was extremely challenging. Navigating this and also being the face of a Pilates brand, I felt so much pressure (all placed on myself by myself) to do everything I did pre-bub and for my “body” to look like it did before bub. This has helped my approach to movement grow even more. I am more considerate of what this feels like and how movement can help ENORMOUSLY.
But it’s all definitely a balancing act. Some weeks you’re killing it as a mum, other weeks you’re putting more time into your business. I’ve been forced to work more efficiently, and productively. It’s bloody hard - but I constantly impress myself with what a busy Mumma can fit into very short awake windows haha.
Do you have any advice for mammas starting their own business with a newborn?
If you choose to start your business with a newborn, firstly be kind to yourself and take your time. Motherhood is already so emotionally and physically exhausting, so remove any extra pressure that comes with starting a new business if you can and have systems in place so things can run without you as much as possible.
Keep circling back to your why, and long-term vision. I am a big believer in “playing the long game” to ensure the time/energy you’re spending on your business is something that will pay off for you in the future. Breaking things up into smaller, more manageable pieces when things feel overwhelming.
It’s also ok to not be ok. Motherhood and running a business are hard and sometimes lonely and isolating. Finding support groups and like-minded individuals going through similar things is wonderful. I’m always here.
Can you recommend any good apps/books/podcast/resources etc that have helped you grow your business significantly?
Love a Podcast. The Diary of a CEO, The Game with Alex Horomozi, Youtime, Behind the Brand.
I’m so loving YouTube atm. Elise Darma (Instagram/socials), Ali Abdaal (productivity).
And if you’re not a member of Lady Start Up Facebook group, I find that a wonderful resource and place to ask questions.
What is your favourite thing about running your own business and on the flipside, the one thing you dislike the most?
I love the freedom, and flexibility that comes with running my own business. Being able to work from home and my own hours makes the mum/work balance more achievable. It is so special and personally satisfying to see the business grow. On the contrary, being responsible for everything and never being able to switch off can be really challenging. Working from home can be isolating. The good definitely outweighs the bad, and it’s a privilege to be able to share what I love with the most amazing community.
What has been your proudest moments to date at MVMT?
I fell pregnant 4 months after launching online and got married 2 weeks before Covid. It was a BIG year. Getting married, having a baby and starting a new business in a 12-18 month period - I am proud to have survived it all.
But if I had to choose -
Pivoting online in a week, and doing it without a website.
And more recently, creating the prenatal movement program with my cousin Soph.