Houston’s Most Beloved Bosses in 2017

Our readers nominated their favorites, and we asked them their management secrets.

"This is my family—this is my team—and if I don’t have these human beings in this studio, I don’t have a business. Your team should be treated better than your clients.”

 

WHEN JESS HUGHES opened her first Citizen Pilates studio in 2015, it was with years of experience under her belt—in the oil and gas industry. After 18 months in her new business—and opening a second location—she realized that running a boutique fitness studio required a big shift in her management philosophy. “A few of my instructors started to leave,” says Hughes, and exit interviews revealed a pattern of unhappiness with what they perceived as overly assertive leadership. “As you grow as a leader, you have to stop and go, The same things are happening in my business. They all left on the same terms; they were frustrated. You have to literally sit down and go, Oh, it’s me.

After this tough realization, Hughes embarked on a mission of change. “I just did a huge personal assessment and said, I have to pull back a little bit and realize I’m no longer in a very strait-laced oil-and-gas environment that’s dominated by men.” She asked her mentors and staff to help her change course. Now, thanks to her focus on employee satisfaction, Hughes says, people are “beating down the door” to work at Citizen Pilates—and just in time, as they’re opening two more studios very soon and will be adding more instructors to the 12-member staff.

On valuing employees: “Arianna Huffington once said to me [at a conference]: ‘Are you treating your team better than your clients?’ And you think, Well, why would I do that? My team doesn’t pay money to take classes; my team doesn’t make the studio money. And then you stop and you go, oh, wow—they do. If you can’t recognize that as a business owner, then you’re gonna have a rude awakening. This is my family—this is my team—and if I don’t have these human beings in this studio, I don’t have a business. Your team should be treated better than your clients.”

On creating a positive environment: “You want to lead by example. Smile. Ask someone how their day was. Be nice. I’m all about recognition: gift certificates to Lululemon, gift certificates to Juice Girl. I think that getting those little surprises of unsolicited thank-yous to your team goes a long way.”

On when to let your Type A side out: “I’m a control freak. But guess what? I have full control over me. I don’t have a lot of control in this world, but I have control over what I say, how I say it, when I say it.”

An Open Explanation to all Citizens

If you don't have Facebook's On This Day feature turned on, do it.  I use it as my daily reminder of how much life has changed, how much I've learned to throttle back my public opinions and for those less adult moments, I enjoy the occasional chuckle when I see old status updates that started with a verb. Remember those?  Today's memory touched a soft spot compliments of an article that originally appeared on Your Fairy Angel and eventually made its way over to The Huffington Post in 2013. In the article, Iris Higgins recounts the 3 years she spent as a weight loss consultant only later to admit that while many of her clients walked in healthy, they walked out with eating disorders, body image issues and the notion they were a “failure.”

We don't post sexy videos and we certainly don't take before and after weight loss photos of our clients and despite all this, our digital media creativity is being copied by local and regional competitors at a bold pace.  I'm absolutely flattered.

Weight loss.  I hate that phrase.   

I eat to live and live to eat in one of the best foodie cities in America.  Thanks to Houston's enterprising chefs like Ryan Pera and Justin Yu, I never have to leave my neighborhood, or flip flops, for a 5-star meal. But I digress and am once again distracted by food. When my "weight loss" Facebook memory popped up this morning the irony wasn't lost on me that four years later, I am now the face of a fast growing start-up boutique fitness studio in its third year.  I don't wear crop tops, or string bikinis and have never in my entire life been on a 1,200 calorie diet.  I don't take pictures in front of fans to make my hair blow back and you'll never see me post a selfie of my backside while peering over my shoulder with pursed lips into the mirror. 

Higgins' realization that it wasn't just weight loss clinics aiding this sense of body failure only answered half the question no one wanted to ask.  Short of a true medical conundrum, why are doctors and registered dietitians on medical advisory boards, mass media and magazines fat shaming everyone?  

Yes, sex and shredded abs sell but happiness is also a predominant force in today's experience-driven group fitness scene.  

Let's take a stroll back to sophomore biology class and remember the 4 major chemicals in the brain responsible for happiness: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins (DOSE).  Nicole Lazarro, (look her up, she's amazing) notes it doesn't take magic, just a little bit of science to understand the role each chemical plays in our quest for happiness and client loyalty.  She reminds us 80% of serotonin exists in our guts, and is governed by our state of hunger. So when you get hangry, there's an actual reason why. 

A little closer to home, Citizen Pilates' mission isn't to defy your ear drums or to rock your body to unrealistic BMI indicies. We are so much more cerebral than that.  We understand the benefits of essential, proper movements and the importance of a strong structure from your feet to the crown of your head.  We don't post sexy videos and we certainly don't take before and after weight loss photos of our clients yet despite all this, our digital media creativity is being copied by local competitors at a bold pace.  I'm absolutely flattered.

All eyes are on Citizen and they should be. We're touching people's lives and giving them a sense of confidence they haven't found anywhere else.  As 2017 rounds the corner towards cooler weather, Citizen is poised to transcend the meaning of fitness with the addition of more instructors, more class times, community partnerships, wellness programs and yes, expansion.  We'll be further reducing our third party booking options as they equalize experiences in their users eyes while increasing our membership options for those who have a hectic life + work schedule.  

Hi, my name is Jess Hughes and I am a thought leader not a fitness fiend.  Welcome to The Citizen Experience.    


5 Ways to Make a Healthy Lifestyle YOUR Lifestyle

Sometimes the idea of truly living a healthy lifestyle can seem a bit overwhelming. It can be hard to break old habits and old excuses and most people just don’t know where to start. Lucky for you, we can confidently say, “stop sweating it,” save THAT for our killer Pilates classes. We have broken down 5 easy steps that will help you live a healthier lifestyle.

1.      Create a routine

It takes 21 days to create a habit, after that it’s smooth sailing. Make a habit of waking up early, eating better, and working out. Commit yourself to 21 days, without ceasing; more importantly, make it something you look forward to. Of course we recommend taking a Pilates class, but any class offering structure and community are helpful to sustaining great habits. Whatever your workout, do it for 21 days. After that, your body will start to crave that structure.

 

2.    Work out with a buddy

Working out can seem like a daunting task when you’re by yourself. Sometimes we need that extra shoulder to lean on, and that’s what friends are for (and not for talking you out of said workout.) Get a workout partner that you can depend on, someone to tell you to put the donut down and pick up the gym bag. The more people involved, the more people you have to cheer you on through the journey. So grab an encouraging friend, or two, and make that healthy change together.

 

3.    Meal Prep

When life gets hectic, your diet is usually the first thing to go. The truth is, junk food is way more accessible than healthy options. So you have to stay prepared. The best way to do this is to meal prep. Meal prepping isn't just coming home each day and packing yourself lunch for tomorrow. It's making sure your fridge is full of healthy meals, so when you get the urge, driving thru McDonalds on the way home is no longer a justifiable excuse.  An investment of time and money into preparing healthy options for the week will not only help pave the path to looking better, it’ll help you feel better each day.

 

4.    Get plenty of sleep

Getting your full 8 hours of sleep is imperative. Studies show that a lack of sleep increases your risk diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Additionally, when you DO get a sufficient amount of sleep, your mind will be clearer and your energy will increase. Giving you the boost you need to prepare a healthy meal or do a late night workout. Skip the Netflix and chill, and instead just chill with a full eight hours under your belt.

 

5.    Set goals

Setting goals allows you to measure your success. It gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation while also helping you organize your time and resources. The best way to set your goals is by writing it down and making a plan. Once you start seeing results and checking off your accomplishments, you won’t want to look back. Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 20! Write the goal down, make a plan, take action and make it happen.

We believe that you can live that healthy life you’ve always wanted. It’s important to us that you have a place to call home as you achieve your goals. We'd love to offer you an opportunity to join our Citizen family. Book your first month of Pilates classes at Citizen Pilates for only $129, and start your journey to a better you.

Top 5 Reformer Pilates Moves

The year is coming to an end. That means it’s time to reflect and create goals to better your future. If you’re like most of us, it seems like 2016 came and went with a blink of an eye and some resolutions just didn’t get accomplished. It’s OK! This year we are helping you get prepared to accomplish one very important goal, staying active. Reformer Pilates is great for overall strength, flexibility and coordination. Plus, it’s just ridiculously fun! So look no further, we’ve got you covered. Unless of course, you’re taking a peek at our awesome form and cute leggings.

Here are our top 5 Reformer Pilates moves to keep it tight all through 2017.

1. Front Lunge Slides

Who doesn’t want legs for days? This Front Lunge Slides targets your hamstrings for some seriously strong legs.

2. Leg Lifts

Perfect legs lead to a perfect bum. The balance & strength required of these Leg Lifts are no joke, but totally worth it for a JLo booty.

3. Cross Body Lat Fly

Make tank top season year round. This Cross Body Lat Fly does some serious work on your shoulders and biceps.

4. Supine Arm Circles

Girl, you’re bringing sexy back! These Supine Arm Circles target your arms and back, with a subtle ab workout too.

5. ELEVATED Wheelbarrows

Planking just got harder with these Elevated Wheelbarrows. This move literally targets every muscle in your body. Trust us, you’ll feel it.

Okay, so we know you are dying to jump into your next Reformer Pilates class. If you live in Houston or are simply visiting the Houston area, you’re in luck. Everyone's first class at Citizen Pilates is only $10. We have two locations in the Houston, Heights. Let’s start off this year the right way, together.

5 Minute Plank Challenge

Our goal this November is to build our core strength towards a FIVE MINUTE PLANK! Those Citizens who take the challenge each day in November AND share their progress will be entered to win a one month complimentary membership. We'll be giving away FIVE FREE MEMBERSHIPS* valid at both locations. 

Plank in the studio, from home or on the road but give us all you've got every day.

Please register below and let us know you're taking the challenge with us!  We'll be with you every plank of the way.

Name *
Name
There are 100 social sites, we know. Here's what we're tracking for the challenge!
http://
#CITIZENPLANKCHALLENGE

*Promotional monthly memberships will be subject to current membership contract terms in effect as of December 1, 2016. Promotional memberships will begin upon winner's activation and will expire 30 days from activation. Promotional memberships must be activated within 3 months of notification of winning and may not be gifted, paused or used towards any other services or products.  

What’s Going on at Citizen Pilates?

Wow! Time sure does go by fast when you’re planking. Just last year we opened up the first Citizen Pilates, a reformers Pilates studio right in the Houston Heights area. And now, we’re opening up our second Citizen Pilates location in December. Why? Our sole complaint is “we can never get into a class,” because classes are always booked.  BUT, we’ll just have to blame that on our awesome instructors and that inclusive #CitizenExperience.

Either way it goes. We are super excited to expand. And the good news is that we will still be in the Houston Heights area, only 2 miles west of Houston Ave. The proximity of the two locations will effectively double our capacity while still maintaining the intimacy of the close community that we’ve created.

And that’s just it. This community of Pilates lovers is the sole reason why Citizen Pilates has expanded. When teaming up with NextSeed, we received an overwhelming amount of support, raising our goal of $100,000 in just 5 days! It’s amazing to know that the community believes in Citizen Pilates as much as we do.

The new Citizen Pilates studio is 1,500 square feet of space located at 940 Heights Blvd. And with the money raised through NextSeed we were able to fund the purchase of new Pilates equipment and the interior build out. Two words. Pilates heaven.

Can’t wait to open the doors to all of you on December 5, 2016! Our schedule is LIVE for both locations so get your reservations in early before you get caught on the wait list!

CITIZEN PILATES RAISES $100,000 IN RECORD TIME

Success for the Reformer Pilates studio’s investment campaign helps Citizen Pilates with its second location opening in the Heights

HOUSTON, TX – Jessica Hughes opened the doors to Citizen Pilates, a boutique Reformer Pilates studio in the Heights, in 2015. The team cultivated a true community experience within the space, and demand quickly overwhelmed the schedule’s capacity. The studio soon began building its second location. As part of its financing solution, the studio launched a NextSeed campaign, and in less than 6 days, the team had raised $100,000 and met its maximum goal.

The funds were not simply a significant boost towards opening the new space. Citizen was able to leverage NextSeed’s investment platform to open up the opportunity for everyone in the community. When Jessica first opened Citizen’s doors, she aimed to create a Pilates studio that emphasized fun and challenging exercise routines that were complemented by a culture of inclusion.

The NextSeed campaign served as an extension of that focus by allowing Citizen’s loyal current clients and potential new clients to participate in the studio’s growth.

Citizen Pilates launched its investment offering on NextSeed on September 22nd. The team initially planned for a 6-week campaign period to provide ample time for reaching its targeted $65,000 minimum and $100,000 maximum goal. However, investor response was immediate. Seventy-five investors jumped on board quickly, and Citizen reached its maximum target in less than on week – a record time on the platform.

Over the past year, Citizen Pilates had created a surplus of demand for classes at the studio. Even with upwards of 60 classes each week, the current space has not been able to accommodate the demands of the community. Classes are regularly wait-listed and reserved over a week in advance.  The studio’s second location is already under construction, located in close proximity to the first studio in the Heights. The team is currently on track to open its doors in December.

Media Contacts:

Jessica Hughes, Owner

Citizen Pilates

jess@citizenpilates.com

713.815.8357

Abe Chu, Co-founder

NextSeed

abe@nextseed.co

832.583.6299

ABOUT THE MODEL CITIZEN

Jessica Hughes, Owner of Citizen Pilates

Jessica Hughes is a native Houstonian and the owner and founder of Citizen Pilates. Her career as an analyst for two Houston-based oil companies helped shaped her keen sense of detail to economic sensitivities, project management and executive administration.

Despite her admiration for corporate culture, Jessica is a successful entrepreneur with recognized strengths in small business start-ups and proactive marketing initiatives. In 2010, she co-founded an independent bicycle fitting studio – a model never successfully proven by predecessors within Texas’ cycling industry. Today Tad Hughes Custom Fit Studio remains Texas’ only independent, service-based bicycle diagnostic center. Its brick and mortar location in the Heights services cyclists, runners and triathletes throughout the southern United States.

Jessica has also served on the boards of Northwest Cycling Club, where she is a lifetime member, and the Texas Bicycle Racing Association.

ABOUT NEXTSEED

NextSeed US LLC (“NextSeed”) is a SEC-registered Funding Portal and FINRA member. Headquartered in Houston, TX, NextSeed is an online debt crowdfunding platform that helps U.S. small businesses raise capital from any investors while showcasing their business. For more information, please visit www.nextseed.co. 

 

Pay it Forward, Be a Mentor

This new venue has established a healthy culture of community based fitness in a relatively short amount of time. The promotion of strength in numbers is evident in an energetic yet soothing setting. The compulsive need to test physical limits blends surprisingly well with an atmosphere of serenity. Familiarity and intimacy result in a collective of enthusiastic residents in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle at Citizen Pilates.

When Sam Stephens first reached out to me with a feature request, I did not give it much attention.  I could not differentiate his value proposition from fitness bloggers before him nor did I understand his purpose.  Although he never asked for more than an opportunity to photograph the studio while understanding the benefits of Pilates reformer, I was compelled to challenge this budding entrepreneur's intended direction.  It is those tough questions we rarely ask ourselves that set the standard for all our business is to become.

Sam brings an unbiased view of local businesses through vivid passages and historical references void of biased opinions. His professional photographs complement his positive attitude towards his features, leaving readers a sense of pride in the establishments they frequent.  I am honored to share our Flex in Texas Feature with you and although Sam Stephens is paving the way for Texas businesses to flex a little muscle of their own... Pilates leaves us the most flexible of all!