How to Start a Fitness Business in the Hudson Valley

Pilates instructor and studio owner Chelsea Streifeneder shares her secrets to success in Studio Shape Up, her new book.

Body Be Well Pilates

Photo by Franco Vogt


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It’s tough to start a business in the Hudson Valley (or anywhere, really).

Coming up with that brilliant idea for what promises to be the next big boutique, restaurant, or service is a piece of cake. When it comes to putting the gears into motion and pouring love, sweat, and money into that spark, however, life gets a heck of a lot more challenging.

So when a business finally makes it past that hurdle of finding its footing, then goes on to carve a successful niche for itself for over, oh, let’s say 10 years, the achievement is more than a little impressive. Add to that the fact that said business does so amid an increasingly crowded playing field of like-minded enterprises and you’ll be wondering just what secret sauce it takes to make that fledgling idea go from existing to thriving.

Chelsea Streifeneder has just the recipe to success for you. Since 2009, the Hudson Valley-based Pilates instructor has worked to make bodies strong with safe, challenging workouts at her two Body Be Well Pilates locations in Catskill and Red Hook. Not just a fitness expert, she also serves as a lifestyle and motivational speaker for healthy living and wellness practices. Now, in 2019, she adds to her ever-expanding resume a new credential: author.

Just launched on February 12, Studio Shape Up: The Keys to Transforming Your Fitness Studio Into a Thriving Business (Morgan James Publishing)  tackles the problems that plague business owners at every level of the game. The topic is one that came naturally to Streifeneder, who was forced to find her own answers as she faced unexpected challenges and setbacks through the course of her career.

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Photo provided by Chelsea Streifeneder and Transmedia Consulting


“The past ten years have been a whirlwind of ups and downs that no one tells you about when you start running a business,” she declares. “I started doing Pilates to rehab and make myself feel better after a dance injury. I knew nothing about running a business, except that I love Pilates.”

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When Streifeneder began her practice with 600 square feet of space and a single reformer, she had no idea Body Be Well would grow as much as it has. Of course, she also had no clue about the challenges she would face along the way. From rude clients to uncooperative colleagues, she tackled it all head on, without a guidebook to help her.

In Studio Shape Up, Streifeneder seeks to remedy the lack of instruction she received as a business owner making her way in a growing industry. Walking the line between instruction manual and memoir, she offers her advice in a fun, educational way that interweaves best practices with personal anecdotes. She offers ways for entrepreneurs to deal with difficult individuals, make a business thrive, break free from a rut, and carve out that often-elusive “me” time.


“People will help you. That’s one of the biggest things I had to learn.”


“If you are feeling stuck, you can find something to help you move forward. To make it a nice, fun read, there are actual stories and emails. You might laugh out loud,” she notes, then rephrases, “you will laugh out loud.”

To celebrate the book launch, Streifeneder hosted a local debut at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck on February 12 before heading off for signings and workshops in Dallas and Nashville through February and March. She’ll also be offering her consulting services to studio owners in places like Arizona, California, and Florida.

When asked about her top piece of advice from the book, she doesn’t hesitate to respond.

“Ask for help,” she declares. “People will help you. That’s one of the biggest things I had to learn.” After that, she cites finding and defining a team, whether that be of family, friends, or coworkers, who can believe in you and support you through the highs and lows of life. With that core group rallying behind you (and Streifeneder’s book, of course), you have everything you need to persevere through the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship.

Are you ready for a shape up?

Related: Get Your “Om” on at Hudson Valley Yoga Studios

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