New Yorker Erika Bloom was working as a professional dancer when her career took an unexpected turn. Sidelined by stubborn injuries, Bloom was forced to learn how her body really worked—and ended up on a healing path that was far more powerful than she ever anticipated.
In 2003, freshly armed with multiple certifications in Pilates, therapeutic yoga, nutrition and other specialties, Bloom applied her hard-won expertise to the launch of Erika Bloom Pilates, a luxe studio centered on total well-being. Today she is a nationally recognized master Pilates instructor and wellness expert who directs six studios in the New York metro area, Los Angeles and Turks and Caicos. And she’s changing the industry, to boot: Her Erika Bloom Pilates Comprehensive Certification Program, a yearlong master class for prospective Pilates instructors introduced in 2007, is among the industry’s most rigorous.
But let’s take a moment to peek behind Bloom’s impressive bio and ask an important question: What does she have for breakfast? Heymama caught up with the perpetual-motion mom for the scoop on her morning routine and her secrets for cultivating balance in each and every day.
Good morning, Erika. You’re a mother of two whose job requires constant movement—literally. How do days typically begin in your household?
Quietly. I keep my mornings calm so I can carry the deep diaphragmatic breath of sleep into my day. I get up very early—ideally before the kids do. I make a warm lemon water and sit in silence and watch the sun rise.
Then I make a Sakara beauty water and do a mindfulness practice: stretching followed by mental blocking, which is something dancers do to prepare for being present on stage. It’s basically mentally marking through the day and setting an intention for the energy of each part.
After that, I get in bed with my children and cuddle and snuggle with them. When they get up, they get themselves dressed as I make their breakfast: berries and eggs, plus oatmeal or buckwheat-seed pancakes. We listen to music and talk while they eat and I make lunches for the day. Lunch for me means throwing greens and avocado and seeds and sometimes hummus or salmon into a jar. Theirs is tons of fruits and veggies and maybe a seed-and-oat ball, plus an organic protein.
They pack their backpacks and put on their shoes on while I wash my face, apply Tata Harper face oil and Josh Rosebrook sunscreen, and throw on jeans, boots and a camisole. I basically wear the same thing every day plus a coat in winter. We walk to school, give lots of kisses, and then I go to the studio to start seeing clients and meeting with teachers about client programs.
I do my Pilates midday during the transition from teaching to meetings.
Your first experience with Pilates was as a client, after a string of professional setbacks. Tell us more about that journey.
Before my career in Pilates, I was a professional dancer. I’ve always had a love for movement. When a series of injuries forced me to take time off from dancing, I enrolled in anatomy courses to deepen my understanding of how the body worked and moved. Along the way I saw a multitude of doctors and physical therapists for my injuries in hopes of returning to the stage, but nothing helped. It wasn’t until I began working with a Pilates instructor who was truly able to address my movement patterns and muscle imbalances that I started to see my body change and heal.
I then began to couple Pilates with other modalities like bodywork and acupuncture and was able to not only remedy my dance injuries, but to manage my autoimmune issues. I felt healthier, stronger and more balanced than I could’ve imagined.
And this healing experience inspired you to develop your own expertise and help others?
Exactly. I wanted to make that incredible transformation accessible to others seeking lasting change. I went out and earned dozens of fitness and wellness certifications, always relying on my background in movement as a basis for my understanding. I dreamed of creating a luxury studio where fitness and wellness were not thought of as separate, but instead as a connected, holistic experience.
Things happened very organically. My work is an amalgam of all of my passions: helping people, wellness, science, design, food, movement.
When would you say your brand vision really come into focus? Was there a pivotal moment?
In many ways it was hundreds of small pivotal moments: being so surprised by how un-holistic medicine was when I was dealing with interrelated issues in my own body. Being frustrated by how dirty and crowded gyms and group exercise studios were. Confusion as to why people were being told it’s OK for exercise to injure them—and that pills and surgery can heal them—when I believed in honoring and caring for our vessel as we move through life. All of these realizations led me to found and grow my brand.
You’ve distinguished your company and grown internationally in a very crowded market. What’s been most valuable to you in scaling?
An intense commitment to hiring and fostering likeminded, goodhearted, passionate people. Our teacher training program is the longest and most thorough program in the industry, with a strong focus on anatomy and alignment correction.
Authenticity is also critical. It’s never occurred to me to think about what would sell, or to approach a decision from a business perspective first. I always start by asking: What is true? What will create lasting wellness and balance in the clients who honor us with their commitment?
I always start by asking: What is true? What will create lasting wellness and balance in the clients who honor us with their commitment?
Your studio has become known for its commitment to total health—it’s not just about Pilates. Tell us about some of the other healers on your team.
There are so many gifted healers. When I find one who’s really special, I bring them into my studios so my clients have access to them. We integrate healers into our clients’ movement practice so their wellness can be truly holistic.
Right now we have OMD acupuncturist Dr. Julie Lanning Von, who is brilliant at hormone balance, fertility and digestion. For bodywork, we have KMI practitioner and integration therapist Michael Shapiro and Rolfer Paul Wirth. I believe that addressing the body from a fascial and organ and multi-system level—analyzing issues holistically rather than looking at separate discomforts—is truly the way to find health and balance.
Your clients clearly agree. How about your kids? How do you encourage healthy habits at home?
By example. By living in true health and having them live that way with me. They eat what I eat. They hike and do yoga with me. They grow and cook vegetables with me. We learn together about the science of the body and the connection between how we care for ourselves and the joy of feeling good.
What strategies have been most effective for you as you grow as an entrepreneur and a mother? How do you find balance between those two worlds?
One of the principles I commit to is not over multitasking. Being present in what I do leads to more efficiency and effectiveness. This is true at work and at home. When I am home with my children, I am fully present with my children and focused on what we’re doing in that moment. When I am with clients, I am truly present with that client. When I am conducting business meetings, I have just that hat on. I keep emails to a chunk of time each day.
I get much more done across a day and a week, make better decisions, and find more joy by doing it this way. I also eliminate unproductive distractions such as television, drinking, shopping and gossiping. If it doesn’t bring me and my children joy in a way that adds to our overall wellbeing, it doesn’t deserve a place in my day.
Can’t make it to one of Erika’s amazing studios? Try this 20-minute at-home Pilates workout she developed especially for heymamas!
Photos by A Wild Dove.
More morning inspo: Read about the simple a.m. routine that transformed wellness coach Melissa Wood’s life.
We’re all just figuring it out day by day, moment by moment—and that’s OK.
Your children can teach you more about beauty, love, mindfulness and joy than anything you can teach them about anything. Honor their wisdom.
Children learn from us mostly by observing us and reflecting us, and mirroring our biochemistry. Taking time every day for mindful movement and self-care so you can be present, calm, happy, and in tune is essential to raising healthy kids.