Sandi Vilacoba was studying dance at New York University when she discovered Pilates, a body-conditioning method that helps build flexibility, strength, and improves coordination and balance. Amazed by the transformation in her body, Sandi became a passionate practitioner, completing more than 600 hours of apprenticeship before becoming certified to teach classical Pilates. After working as an instructor at several Pilates studios, she decided to start her own.
“I took courses to find out about how to get a small business loan. I wrote out a business plan,” Sandi says. She eventually got a loan from her 87-year-old grandmother. “I had to explain to her I was able to handle this business by myself. It was probably even more stressful than having to go to a bank or lender I didn’t know. I also have 2-year-old twins, and she wasn’t sure I would be able to handle everything.”
Sandi secured the loan and found a store front in Fair Haven, New Jersey, which she transformed into her dream studio, The Pilates Project. “First, you have to be really, really good at what you do, and you have to be really passionate about what you do,” she advises. “You always have to be a student yourself and always be open to learning new things so that you can teach better.”
Sandi strives to build her business by getting people results and changing the way they move, look, and feel. “I love to see people transform,” she says, “not only their body, but the way that they move, and the way people stand up and walk out of the door when they’re finished with a Pilates session. I really feel that it changes people’s lives.”