As the CEO of my own company, a wife, and mother to two teenage boys, saying that life can get hectic is kind of an understatement. Every day brings with it a new set of triumphs and challenges which require me to stay in the loop and on the go. However, there is one activity I always pause to make time for and that is Pilates.

I’ve been actively practicing Pilates since my college years and even taught classes while I was in law school. However, I went through a brief period where I fell away from the exercise for a bit and only went once a week. I found myself becoming more tired and lethargic and easily frustrated, none of which boded well with my normally positive attitude. I wanted to change and become stronger, literally and figuratively, so I decided to go to classes four times a week. It made a huge impact on me all over again.

Pilates gives me the much-needed chance to recharge. It helps keep me fueled throughout the day, especially since I am in class right before I head into the office where I spend a good chunk of the day working at my desk. Beyond toning up, these classes have also taught me plenty of valuable lessons that tie in with leadership and productivity too. Here are a few of my favorites picked up over the years.

Take a deep breath

One of the fundamental core beliefs behind Pilates is breathing. Joseph Pilates, the man who invented the exercise, has been quoted for saying “Breathing is the first act of life, and the last… above all, learn how to breathe correctly.”

Pilates teaches you to exhale through the exertion and inhale to move. This creates a continuous flow of deep breaths throughout your workout. Consider your own breathing pattern in the workplace for a moment. Your breathing may be affecting your mental state more than you realize if it is continually rapid or rushed. Learning how to breathe helps keep you at ease, so practice deep breaths during those moments where you feel as though you have a million things to do. Deep breaths and the stress will slowly slip away.

Remember to stretch

Pilates focuses on core strength and control, so it is important to ease into each motion by stretching beforehand. Always stretch first as a warm up before any exercise — this helps keep your body flexible and your muscles from getting too stiff.

From a business standpoint, this applies to thinking outside of the box. Rather than get stuck in the same routine, be flexible to new ideas. Don’t focus solely on getting stronger just at what you’re naturally good at doing, but stretch yourself in ways that you might not have considered before.

Be open to moving in different directions

In the same way that Pilates is not linear, neither is the world of small business. The exercise teaches you to get to know your body and appreciate all that it can do. Be open to exploring every option available and see the benefits of taking a new path because you never know what will lead you to future success. Remember to be nimble and learn that you must flow to grow.


How do you feel after a solid workout? Tired? Sure. Sweaty? Absolutely. Happy that you pushed yourself to do it? You bet! You’re probably all smiles, thanks to those endorphins!

Having a smile and a positive attitude can change your entire outlook. While it can be nice to stay busy and keep pushing yourself onward and upward, it is always nice to have a little downtime too. Sometimes the best practice is to pause, close your eyes, and focus on the moment — which allows you to be in a better position for what is to come.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.