A Pickering woman's job loss leads to new virtual Pilates studio

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A Pickering woman who hadn't planned on opening her own business before the pandemic forced her workplace to close, has made the best of it and reached people near and far.

Caitlin Kernaghan had been managing a Pilates studio in Toronto when COVID-19 wreaked havoc across Canada, and it closed.

Since the pandemic has been tough on mental health, and with gyms being closed much of the past year, Kernaghan wanted to create a safe, fun, welcoming environment for people of all fitness levels.

“This past year has made us aware of how important it is to take care of our mental health,” she says.

So, the certified Pilates instructor chose to open up her own virtual studio, Pilates with Caitlin, last July.

“Starting any new business, it’s a challenge, especially in the middle of a pandemic, but it’s been so amazing,” she says.

First, Kernaghan hired a business coach.

“Since I had never run my own business before, it helped having a mentor,” she says. “It was extremely crucial in making it a success.”

Kernaghan offers private, group and corporate classes.

“I’m able to help support people who are all over the world,” she says.

People from places as far as Australia, England and the Philippines have joined her classes.

The exercise helps with balance, flexibility and strength, improves posture, and is safe for new moms.

“You will not sweat buckets, but you’ll feel it over the next couple days,” she says.

A benefit of a virtual class: participants can turn their camera off if they're shy.

“I just make it a lot more accessible for people,” Kernaghan says.

A plus of signing up for virtual classes as opposed to YouTube videos: it keeps people accountable and someone is there to provide guidance.

“And it’s a social aspect too,” Kernaghan says.

The new business owner is considering hosting some outdoor classes in the warmer weather if restrictions lighten up.

Group drop-in classes are $10; a private class is $30; and a mid-week stretching class called “Wine Down Wednesday” - which invites participants to bring a beverage of their choice - is $5.