Did you know that over 11 million people practice Pilates as a form of exercise? If you haven’t tried Pilates, it is all about slow controlled movements that make your muscles toned, long and lean and it is a tough workout that will leave you feeling energized and sore and get you looking great all at the same time. Pilates can also be intimidating if you haven’t tried it. The trend is group classes and walking into any group class as a beginner is always intimidating, but when you are talking about a Reformer Pilates class, where you will be balancing and doing exercises on machines with pulleys, well, you might walk into a studio and turn around and walk right back out. That is why Jessica Hughes, owner of Citizen Pilates, decided to make her Pilates Studio a place that welcomes everyone, no matter what your athletic ability is, how your look, your age or what you wear. Citizen Pilates is for everyone, and this is why Jess’s success is allowing her to open a second location in January, after launching her first studio in July 2015.
Jessica Hughes – The Citizen
Jessica Hughes moved to Houston when she was two years old, and she attended Lamar High School and the University of Texas. What we like so much about Jess, other than the fact that she is just plain awesome, is that she doesn’t apologize for being her and follows her own path. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer in her senior year in high school, as a show of support, Jess shaved her head three weeks before her senior prom and kept her head shaved for almost two years because it was easy and she could save money on hair products.
When her father started to get into mountain biking and racing he took Jess to the races with him and out of boredom decided she wanted to race too. With a mountain bike under her, she considered herself a weekend warrior, and we believe that this has shaped Jess Hughes into the person she is today.
Mountain biking has always been cerebral for me. The terrain is constantly changing and you are constantly having to reevaluate which way you are going to get over to point B, versus riding on the road. The course is always changing, the people are always changing, the equipment is always changing, and I could make better use of my brain on a mountain bike trail than on a flat road.
And, Jess Hughes is cerebral. Mountain biking and the way that Jess describes it is very much like being an entrepreneur, where the landscape is constantly changing, and you have to be ready to reevaluate your plans and make changes at a moments notice. Jess has shown she can do that with the birth of Citizen Pilates. But, that’s not the only thing that Jess Hughes does.
Jess is calm, even, super focused and very busy. She not only runs the back end of her husband’s business, but she also has a full-time job in the oil and gas industry, where she has learned invaluable lessons that she takes into her business negotiations. Jess doesn’t have the ability to not work, but she can be still. She exudes confidence and warmth that you are instantly drawn to when you meet her, but you also know that she means business and that she is serious at the age of 34.
Citizen Pilates came about because Jess was taking group classes and couldn’t find her tribe for Pilates. She realized that the vibe of the studio was what would make it or break it, and she also knew that she wanted to create a place where everyone would feel comfortable, and that is what she has done. Citizen Pilates has not yet been opened for a year and already almost every class is full, but Jess has implemented a very easy and comprehensive way to get on a wait list with her downloadable app.
It’s easy to sign up for classes, and the first class you attend is free. Jess is a marketing whiz, has not had to take any partners for her business and done very little advertising. Citizen Pilates has grown so fast that she is opening a second location in the Heights, not too far from the first location, in January of 2017.
But, just a short four months after opening Citizen Pilates, Jess was in a horrible car accident and at the hospital when they ran routine scans of her lower abdomen to see if she had any bleeding or internal damage, they found a mass on her kidney. In January of 2016, Jess had surgery and had her kidney removed and found out she had cancer. Between the time that she was in the car accident and the time of her surgery, she had to get her affairs in order, and that also meant training one of her instructors on how to run the studio, which meant letting go of some control of her baby.
Citizen Pilates has thrived and so has Jess, who is cancer free right now. Has having cancer changed her?
I didn’t think I was going to die, but it was a quick reminder that life can get from you away at any time. I used to let all the little things bother me, but now nothing phases me. I’m a nicer me, and I’m more understanding.
And, when it comes to being an entrepreneur, what’s Jess’s advice?
Never start anything with convenient pre-existing strategy. It needs to be something that is distinctly yours and never lose touch with Corporate America. When you work for yourself, you lose the ability to collaborate, so it’s important to realize that others can do things that you can’t do, and to bring in people where you need to do it, but to do it wisely and smartly.
Why go to Citizen Pilates?
If the word Pilates is intimidating to you, I want to give people the opportunity to prove them wrong. I want 45 minutes to see if I can change their outlook on life.
We know that if you go to Citizen Pilates, your outlook on life will change.