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Hidden Gems: Meet Jillian Hessel of The Well-Tempered Workout, Inc. (aka Jillian Hessel Pilates)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jillian Hessel.

Hi Jillian, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
In my late teens and early 20s, I danced throughout Europe with Professional Ballet Companies. One day, I fell in rehearsal and I injured my back. X-Rays showed a pronounced scoliosis or curvature of the spine. This pre-existing condition had been severely aggravated by my fall. I received treatment for the pain, but I continued to dance professionally, both in Europe and back home in New York City with various troupes until, at age 26, I could no longer endure my constant back pain.

Then, a fellow dancer referred me to my first Pilates Teacher, Kathleen Stanford Grant. Kathy literally “took me apart” and put me back together! Thanks to Pilates, I was able to continue dancing well into my 40s, and I immediately began to teach Pilates, as well, to help supplement my meager Dancer’s income.

I maintain to this day that I became a MUCH better Pilates Teacher because of my back condition and also due to my dance background. I founded my own Pilates Studio, called The Well-Tempered Workout, here in Los Angeles in 1988. I also have studied Iyengar Yoga extensively, so Dance, Yoga & Pilates have contributed greatly to my work. The core principles of alignment, centering, breathing and moving with grace and power are tantamount to my teaching style.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has always been a struggle to actually run the business for me. I love the teaching part, of course, but you still have to understand the financials. As a former professional dancer, I never had any formal business training, so I didn’t learn about the “bottom line” of how to actually run a business. At first, I was overly generous financially to my employees, having been a “starving dancer” myself, for so many years! I always envied my colleagues who somehow attracted business investors, or partners, to help with the business end of running their Studios.

I tried a couple of times to merge my Studio with other Pilates teachers, but in the end, this wasn’t a great fit, so I’ve remained solo. There’s always a LOT to do, and the advent of Social Media has been very time-consuming for me, although I must admit I do enjoy posting and scrolling on Instagram!

When Covid hit us, many Los Angeles Pilates Studios were forced to close their doors. However, Zoom has opened up many new training possibilities for me, and I have found I actually enjoy coaching students both privately and in groups, online! I now operate out of a Home Studio, and I find this suits me best.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
The Well-Tempered Workout was Incorporated in 1988. It is a Boutique Pilates Studio, located in Mid-City in Los Angeles, California. These days, I use Jillian Hessel Pilates as my operating name, as I am a Pilates Specialist.

I am Certified through UCLA Extension as a Health Fitness Instructor, through American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Council on Exercise , (ACE)  , National Pilates Certification Program (NPCP) and through the Functional Aging Institute (FAI).

I teach Private, One to One Pilates Sessions, both in person and online via Zoom. I also offer an extensive On Demand Legacy Library of Workout Videos. I host Special Online Live Group Workouts, which are then uploaded to my Library, where students and Pilates teachers alike can view and review them. Lastly, I travel both Nationally and Internationally to present Classes and Teacher Workshops at both Pilates Fitness Conferences and Private Studios.

My training style is quite unique due to my lineage: my original teachers and mentors were all students of Joseph Pilates himself, so I am considered a 2nd Generation Master Pilates Instructor. The fact that I have both studied and taught Pilates for over 40 years is not only proof to its’ efficacy but also a testament to my unique teaching Style, which combines the grace and flow of dance, the use of breathing from Yoga, and of course the core strengthening of Pilates.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I had a wonderful performing career as a professional ballet dancer. I was lucky to be born in New York City and to study at many of the best training schools for dance as a youngster. I moved to Europe at age 16 to continue my studies, and I began performing professionally at age 18. Although I eventually injured my back, my injury led me to study with the greatest Pilates teachers, trained directly under Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Method. My Mentors gave me my second career as a Teacher, and I love helping others discover the Magic of Pilates!

I have had the greatest good fortune to ride the wave of Pilates’ rise in popularity-it has now grown into a Worldwide Phenomenon, which was always Mr. Pilates dream-unfulfilled during his lifetime.


Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jerry Camarillo, Pilates Anytime, Rosanna DeCandia

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