As a Pilates instructor and the creator of The Balanced Life, Robin Long has made it her mission to help busy women stay fit from home using online Pilates and barre workouts. But unlike brands that ask us to commit to long grueling workouts or extreme programs, The Balanced Life strives to take a different approach to fitness, one that is balanced, realistic, practical and all about choosing grace over guilt.
Robyn joined me from Santa Barbara to talk about running an online business, being a work-from-home mom to two little ones and so much more. Read on to learn about Robin’s unique take on balance and her path to success along with how you can strive for progress over perfection in both business and life.
What did your path to entrepreneurship look like? And why did you decide to make that leap?
Prior to becoming a mom, I was teaching [Pilates] classes and training in-person clients five days per week. The days were long and exhausting. I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep up with that kind of schedule when babies came along so I decided to take my business online. I started by blogging and gradually grew my online business into my full-time career. I guess you could say that as I've been growing my business, I've also been growing babies.
What drives you to continue giving to your business and yourself and your family at the same time, even when it’s hard to juggle it all?
The Balanced Life is 5 years old and my oldest child is 3 years old. I have always been passionate about what I do so never really considered stopping when babies came along. I truly believe it's what I'm meant to be doing and I enjoy it thoroughly. I also enjoy having the creative outlet and the focus outside of motherhood to keep me growing, changing and learning on a daily basis.
I love coming up with new workouts and new ideas to help people feel their best day in and day out. I also love encouraging people. As an online Pilates instructor and business owner, I get to be creative AND encouraging on a daily basis and that truly fills me up.
I also really believe in creating a life that you love and building my business has helped my family do things we never thought we'd be able to do, for example, like picking up and moving back to Santa Barbara as we just did last month.
What challenges did you face – real or self-imposed – when you decided you wanted to be a mom AND a woman doing inspiring work in the world?
Childcare has been the biggest challenge for me. Deciding how much is really needed, how it fits in the budget, finding someone I trust and figuring out what to do when the kids or nanny get sick.
We don't have family nearby so finding a balance of working during nap time and hiring a part-time nanny has been our biggest challenge. Before I had kids, I thought it was as easy as hiring a babysitter and then being done with it! But making it all work takes a lot of time, energy and flexibility and constant reassessing as the seasons change.
How did you overcome those challenges?
A wise friend of mine told me that when you have small kids, be prepared to reassess and make changes about every 3 months. I've found this to be SO true. Just when you get in a groove the baby drops a nap, the work load changes, preschool starts and the list goes on.
Last year, I was able to make it work with one full day of preschool for my daughter (I kept the baby with me while I worked) and one day with a nanny while I worked from home. Now that the baby is bigger and more work, we're creating a new plan. I'll let you know when we figured it out.
What strategies or habits do you use to make space and time to prioritize you?
As often as I can, I wake up before the kids so I can either workout, shower (one or the other usually), check my email and sip a cup of coffee before the craziness of the day begins. I've found this really helps me to start the day on a proactive note rather than a reactive one. As a mom who negotiates all day with a 3-year-old this is extremely important.
I also participated in a supper club with my girlfriends this past year which was so life-giving. We took turns hosting dinner once a month and the host was in charge of everything so if it wasn't your month all you had to do was show up, drink wine, eat food and have fun. Having a standing event on the calendar was so helpful in staying consistent and making sure that I got out because spontaneity is hard to come by these days.
What advice do you have for moms who want to start prioritizing themselves but don't know where to start?
Start small whether it's 10 minutes of Pilates, a date with a girlfriend once a month or a massage one a quarter. Sometimes we think that self care and "me time" has to be big and elaborate but a little time and intention can go a long way.
Let’s talk about balance. Is it possible? And if so, how have you created a better balance in your life as a mom and entrepreneur?
My business is called The Balanced Life so this is a favorite topic of mine. But I think balance is often misunderstood. Balance doesn't mean that you spend equal amounts of time in all areas of your life – but rather finding a balance that works for you based on what you value.
As a mom who works from home it's been really helpful for me to be intentional about when I'm officially working and when I'm with my kids rather than trying to do both at once. It's a continual work in progress and I try to give myself grace. There will always be guilt on one side or the other and I'll never be perfect. I'm okay with that.
How do you define self care? And why is it important for women to practice self care?
I define self care as taking time for things that restore your body, mind and soul and give you life. Sometimes we get mixed up and think of self care as anything that could fall under the category of "me time." But 30 minutes spent watching reality TV (which I’m guilty of too) isn't going to fill and restore you in the same way that taking a walk or doing Pilates will.
As moms especially, we are at the beck-and-call of others all day every day. If we don't set aside intentional time to fill our own cups, we will be perpetually exhausted, worn out and run down. To care well for others, we must first care for ourselves.
What does self care look like in your day-to-day life?
As I mentioned, it often looks like getting up early to have a little bit of time to use for myself, whether that's journaling, Pilates or just drinking a cup of coffee in peace. I also make time for regular girls’ nights, get massages and go for runs.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers or any requests you have of them?
If you're busy woman who is looking for ways to make time for yourself, I know how hard it is and that's why I created a free 30-Day Pilates Body Challenge that only requires 10 minutes per day. There's no equipment necessary and it can all be done from home so it is totally do-able for busy women.
Where can we connect with you more online?
I blog regularly over at www.thebalancedlifeonline.com. I also have a membership program, The Balanced Life Sisterhood, that provides new at-home Pilates workouts every month, monthly workout calendars that are quick and effective and an amazing community of women who are taking a balanced approach to health and fitness. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.