You know her from Mondays with Margot and as one of the most sought-after teachers and trainers in the Canadian and Brazilian worlds of Pilates and movement education.
In this interview, I step into the mind of Body Harmonics founder, Margot McKinnon and delve into her secret to success: empowering her team to give their best in order to help clients be their best. Also, discover how Body Harmonics came to be and what keeps Margot going after 20 years.
Gabby: How did the idea for Body Harmonics first come about?
Margot: Body Harmonics didn’t start as a totally “formed” idea, it was an evolution.
When I first trained in Pilates, taught all around the city. I set up groups in various fitness clubs because there were not many options at the time.
Then, someone I trained with contacted me and asked me if I’d like to work with her. We set up programs at clinics and wellness centres and were soon approached about becoming a teacher training centre for a US-based Pilates school.
Body Harmonics started because we needed space to run our teacher training programs. It really started as grassroots and very small. Our only thought at the beginning was to offer a form of exercise based in the Pilates method that was going to help people actually stick to a program.
Gabby: What were you doing before Body Harmonics? Did you ever think this would be your path?
Margot: Absolutely not! I have a Masters Degree in Adult Education and Programming and have always loved teaching – it’s easy for me and it energizes me. But, when I got out of school, I knew I didn’t want to be confined to the classroom.
I first got into Pilates in university, but I wasn’t very interested in it, didn’t like how it felt, and I didn’t get it. It sounds so crazy, but the woman who taught the classes took me aside and she said “I think you would be really good at teaching this and should consider getting trained.” And that’s what made me do it.
This experience taught me so much when it came to teaching teachers. Now, I really watch for skill in students that they may not know they have. Because thanks to the person who saw that quality in me, I got into this field.
Gabby: Was adoption of the Body Harmonics program quick?
Margot: Yes, it was immediate because of the way we approached it.
My background in adult education fed into the idea of helping people stick to a program. The very first tenant of teaching an adult anything is making sure it’s relevant, otherwise they won’t continue with it. Adults just have too many things pulling on their time and commitments, and exercise classes programs are the first things we neglect when we’re stressed.
We put an intelligent, educational focus on it to inject as much relevance as we can for them based on what they want and need. This way, we’re able to provide services that are meaningful.
Gabby: Do you believe you have a quality that makes you a successful entrepreneur?
Margot: Sheer willpower, because I didn’t start out as an entrepreneur, and had no background in business. We were always focused on providing something great for people, but at the beginning it wasn’t about building a brand.
I still have trouble calling myself a boss and still don’t feel like Body Harmonics is mine. In fact, the other day I was at the studio late at night after everyone had left. It was dusk out and I looked and thought, “Wow, this whole place here… We created this.” That was the first time I ever thought that in 20 years! I actually had that moment of feeling very proud of it and it was very cool.
Gabby: So, is entrepreneurship something that has to be fostered through business classes, or it something that is innately present within someone?
Margot: It’s definitely harder without that experience, but at the same time it’s exhilarating because you constantly have to puzzle through problems.
In terms of a certain entrepreneurial quality, I believe there’s something that makes you want to make a difference in people’s lives. We can have our challenges, but I don’t worry about that because I know we’ve created something that’s so valuable to people. We have a 20-year track record to see that we have something that people get a lot out of. It’s just a matter of doing the right thing to keep going.
Gabby: What do you think sets Body Harmonics apart from other studios in the city?
Margot: I would have been shy to say this before, but I can really see how important it is to have someone strong at the helm because it sets the tone for everything.
One of my strengths that has helped Body Harmonics thrive is believing in the power of a team and the abilities of people. I see the people’s potential, and want it to be fully realized.
You can see that what we’re doing is working because we have a whole network of people who are thriving and living their lives based on this work.
Gabby: What keeps you going in your 20th year at Body Harmonics?
Margot: The fact that it feels like we’ve just scratched the surface, and I think it’s a constant evolution.
We’re starting to work in a different way and I think that we are finally owning how good we are at what we do. We have always valued what we do and have seen what it provides for people on a daily basis, but we can finally say that we’re great because we’ve worked hard to earn it.