A husband and wife team who have been inundated with accolades since opening their Hitchin business have spoken about the story so far and the secrets behind their success.

The Comet: The Pilates Pod director Michelle Smith with her son Dylan.The Pilates Pod director Michelle Smith with her son Dylan. (Image: Archant)

Ed and Michelle Smith opened The Pilates Pod in May 2011, and have their young son Dylan to thank as much as anyone for the thriving business they have today.

“We first started thinking about opening a pilates studio a few months after the birth of our son in October 2010,” explained Ed, who has a background in design and marketing.

“Michelle’s maternity leave was coming to an end, and we were trying to find a way of allowing her to spend as much time as possible with him. It wasn’t going to work for her to go part-time, so we did some – rather naïve – rudimentary sums, and thought we’d be able make a go of it if we set up a small studio, which would be open a few hours per week.”

Having sub-let an osteopathic clinic to host classes, the couple admits the first few months were hard work during a period when the country was still deep in recession.

The Comet: Director Ed Smith promoting The Pilates Pod in Hitchin with his son Dylan.Director Ed Smith promoting The Pilates Pod in Hitchin with his son Dylan. (Image: Archant)

“We were very lucky to have supportive friends and parents, and luckily, our son slept well at night which gave us valuable hours in the evenings to get the work done,” said Ed.

“Right from the beginning we’ve had a very clear vision of what The Pilates Pod should be, and where we’re trying to go with it. We wanted to create a space that our clients would enjoy coming to not just because they knew they were getting excellent pilates instruction, but also because it felt fun, varied, warm and friendly.

“It seemed to work, because within four months we realised that we couldn’t supply the demand, and decided to take on our own premises. Our current studio on Bancroft opened at the beginning of January 2012, and since then we’ve continued to grow and add classes and services.

“Today we’re open seven days a week offering nearly 30 classes a week and seeing tons of lovely clients one-to-one, too.”

That success has translated into awards, with the company winning the best pilates/yoga studio in Hertfordshire last month as part of the Muddy Stiletto awards.

Pilates Pod has also been recognised by Anne Summers’ chief executive Jacqueline Gold in her online #WOW awards, twice been named runner-up in The Best Of’s most loved business in Hitchin and come second nationally in the yoga/pilates category.

About the reality of marrying home life with business, Ed said: “Michelle and I have been married 10 years this year, and The Pilates Pod is obviously a big part of our lives. I have a very busy full time job, too, so there are times when stress creeps in and tempers fray, but more often than not it’s over silly little things like the washing up rather than business decisions.

“Michelle and I both have our strengths and weaknesses, and I think as married couple we’re instinctively in tune with these.

“When it comes to winning awards, I think it’s down to a few key factors. Firstly, we’ve got a really strong team, and we’ve been lucky to have had many talented instructors and administrators working with us. We’re very careful about selecting new team members and this has had a huge impact on our business.

“Secondly, we stay true to our mission. It keeps us focused on what we are trying to achieve for our clients so we don’t go off on too many tangents.

“And thirdly, we genuinely love what we do. We’re immensely proud of The Pilates Pod, our team and all of our clients; it gives us a huge sense of achievement. The real rewards come from seeing so many clients achieve an improved quality of life through pilates with us, and we hope to be able to keep helping people for a long time to come.”

For more information about the business visit www.thepilatespod.co.uk.