Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Petrie.
Hi Emily, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
If you asked me 10 years ago where I would be now, I NEVER imagined I would be in the position I am today, running a Pilates and PT studio in Denver! The reason is: that I am originally from Indiana and moved out here 10 years ago without a job, place to live, or any idea what I was going to do. I just knew I was excited for my curly hair to be out of humidity and pumped to not have to survive another Midwest winter.
I left my career in the art gallery and museum work back in Indiana and fell into the local Tech scene working at numerous start-ups as a Customer Success Manager, grinding away my 20s with endless work, travel, stress, coffee, and of course fun. I have always been a person who plays just as hard as they work and that can take quite a toll on your body and mind if you don’t make space to recover.
You’d think I would get the hint when I threw my back out 8 times in 2016 as I was in chronic pain due to herniated discs in my low lumbar, a pinched nerve in my left side that left me with nerve damage in my left leg and foot to this day. As all of this was unfolding, in March of 2017, my Grandad took his life weeks after having a back surgery of his own for low back pain and losing the feeling in his legs.
Our family was in shock, but I understood. Saying that terrified me and my Mom, but I got it because nerve pain and not being able to do daily tasks that seem as easy as breathing becomes unbearable and you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It was truly the darkest time in my life mentally and physically. I lost the feeling and function in my left foot and was in so much pain that I made the call to have back surgery while on my parents’ floor as I couldn’t get up.
I had surgery by the same surgeon as my Grandad just two weeks after he died, talk about a mental f*ck (can I say that?). I spent time back in Indiana recovering – taking full leave from work, life, and all things fun in Colorado. I ran into numerous issues and setbacks with the recovery that I am now sharing with clients as they go through similar issues.
After my first PT session with Bre at LoDo Physical Therapy, she directed me to continue moving through Pilates and I landed at Firehaus Pilates (our former studio name) where I met Rachel. Rachel introduced me to the Pilates practice, which I have to say looked like medieval torture before I knew what I was doing. I was hooked from here, asking questions as I went through ups and downs with my recovery. So many questions that I think that’s why Rachel guided me to become an instructor.
I became certified in Polestar Pilates, a rehabilitation-focused, PT-driven certification. I became an apprentice at Firehaus and began teaching classes on the side while I still worked in the start-up world. I felt the pull to go to teach Pilates part-time as I contracted at an IT company that embraced my new love for movement. The opportunity came up for me to transfer to full-time and I took the plunge!
Since then, I moved on to help manage the studio and then the world of in-person studios came to a halt with COVID-19. The owner, JoAnna, decided it was time for her to sell the studio, so I jumped in to take the studio over in December 2020. If I would’ve know then that I was going to have my second back surgery in February of 2021, I’m not sure I would’ve taken over the studio. But I am so grateful that I did!
This time around I was in disbelief, but also prepared for what I was going to go through surgery and recovery-wise. In the midst of all of this, I got engaged to my best friend and planned to marry him in May of 2021. We didn’t have much going on last year. The only pre-wedding workout I was doing was prepping to walk down the aisle with my Dad without a limp and we did it!
In 2021, we changed the name of the studio to Uncommon Practice Pilates as we are focused not only on classes and private sessions but have a PT and extensive network of professionals to help guide people for injuries, etc. My goal is to continue to create a welcoming, fun, restorative space for EVERY body to move and learn more about their body and what it can do! We support people at all levels of experience, and age, and specialize in pre/post surgical movement, rehabilitative movement, and pre-post natal Pilates.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I took over the studio in December of 2020, so we were right in the midst of the pandemic and trying to figure out how to bring back an in-person small business during it all. We wanted to make sure it was safe for our staff to teach and for our clients to move. It was a tough time to know what the right thing was to do.
But, we became closer as a team and with our clients in the process. Our clients gave us great feedback and were flexible with how classes, teachers, and schedules needed to change. It makes me so grateful for the people we have in our community here!
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Uncommon Practice Pilates (UP Pilates) is a studio in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver that encourages supportive movement through all stages of injuries for our clients. We strive to help people as they have an injury they are recovering from, prepping for surgery, recovering from surgery, and then keeping them strong and challenging them when they are not in that state.
We have pilates classes for all levels and ages. And we offer PT and private pilates instruction as well to help new practitioners as well as those who need a bit more attention or specificity than is available in class. Our studio has a sign right when you walk in that says ‘Movement for everybody.’ This is for everybody and every BODY.
I started my journey here with the original owners and felt so welcome, and safe to move, and it opened me up to learn so much about my body and its recovery. I took that base and added PT, along with focusing on the injury life cycle, so we can best support our clients to minimize their downtime as much as we can to get them back to living and doing the things they love.
I am really proud of our team and how they have prioritized clients in our space. It can often be intimidating to come into a pilates studio, with equipment that looks like a medieval torture device and tries to keep up in a class. Our classes afford our clients autonomy by also having the instructor right there if you need a question, help with an adjustment, or even to chat about what you did that weekend.
We have 6 in each class as max to make sure we can get around to each client for the cueing they might need. Any more than that in a class can make it tough to give each person the support they need for a successful movement class.
Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Can I say two? Ok, I’m going to say two… I would have to say creativity and persistence. The pandemic changed how the world functions with in-person services. It changed our business and the offerings we have here. We had to creatively adjust what we offer and how. Many of those changes still exist in our current offerings.
Persistence is the core characteristic that got me and the studio to where we are today. I have to admit there were several times during the pandemic I wanted to shut down the studio, couldn’t work another hour, and felt behind, how could I keep going teaching and working this much?
But looking back now, I am so grateful for the tough times because they make me appreciate the little things that I wasn’t able to enjoy. I get to see my husband more, I am home in time for dinner at a reasonable time, and I have weekends back to enjoy this gorgeous state we live in. If I didn’t push myself or the studio, I wouldn’t be writing this now.
- New client deal: 1 class for $15
- New client deal: 3 classes for $45
- New client deal: 3 private sessions (55 min) for $150
- New client deal: 3 private sessions (30 min) for $75
- Physical Therapy: 1 session (60 min) $85
- Website: https://www.uncommonpracticepilates.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uppilatesco/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uppilatesco/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/uncommon-practice-pilates-denver