Balancing the Grind with Emma Stallworthy, Founder of Your Reformer

Emma Stallworthy is the founder of Your Reformer, an at-home Pilates experience designed to bring a cost-effective, flexible way to practice Pilates in the comfort of your own home.

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 Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

My career journey has certainly been different from what I saw for my future when I was 20 years old. I completed a Bachelor degree in Commerce and started working as a Business Consultant for an accounting firm. I simply saw myself working my way up the corporate ladder and enjoying CBD corporate life.

However, after a couple of years, and my husband’s gym business starting to grow, we decided to take the leap of faith and work together as a couple in the business so I left the corporate life behind. I thought it would only be for a couple of years or so, and I would take the business experience back with me to corporate consulting, but I’ve never returned, and no regrets at all!

We spent 13 years together growing our gym business, constantly reinvesting, reinventing, innovating within the constraints of our physical locations. We grew as individuals and as a working couple. Covid hit, we navigated the first year in Melbourne as well as we could have, with some amazing team members and even more supportive customers.

We were fortunate to have the commercial opportunity to sell in early 2021 when I was pregnant with our second son. We took a couple of months to really feel the marketplace and opportunities available, as well as to truly understand where our passions lie and Your Reformer was born.

As a woman in particular, with small children, things shifted for me becoming a mum career wise, and working for something I was passionate about was the only way forward for me to stay motivated, inspired and to take time to still pursue a career without guilt. I literally went back to work 6 weeks after having our son Noah, but the sacrifice to do so hasn’t felt like a sacrifice at all.

Building a business I’m passionate about from the ground up, especially post covid where flexible work arrangements are the norm, it’s been a ride we’ve really enjoyed. Flexibility and balance is key for not just us as business owners, but our entire team. I genuinely hope my team feels the same way and are enjoying the ride just as much as we are.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

There is no one day the same, and that’s probably what I love about it! Firstly I have 2 little boys at home so I try to only work in the office 3 days per week so that I can be with them and experience them at this young age before they’re at school and I never get this time again.

That’s one of the blessings of running your own business – the flexibility it can provide, I can make sure I don’t miss the important things. But it also means I’m always on top, sometimes I’m required to work on something at night, on the weekends, etc. Especially with an ecommerce business, it never sleeps! But when you’re passionate about what you do, you really don’t mind and it doesn’t feel like work. 

You asked what a ‘typical day’ looks like though, here it is – usually starts at 5.30am which is when my youngest wakes at the moment – cruel I know! Ben and I tag team for workouts in the morning. Then it’s breakfast and off to kinder/childcare. Coffee on the way to the office and at work ready to go from 8.30am. I usually try to spend 5 minutes or so with some breathwork or meditation in the car before I walk into the office, just to clear my mind and start the work day with a positive mindset.

My day usually consists of meetings with our team or the experts we work with in marketing/PR for example, some filming for socials, planning and reviews, viewing accessory samples, planning for our next product launches or development of our products, planning challenges or new content for our clients. Lunch is usually on the run at my desk because I’m out of the office by 3.30pm to pick the kids up and head home to get dinner ready.

Dinner and quality time with the kids playing is then the sole focus for Ben and I. We cherish these couple of hours. Then I’m usually back on my laptop to tie up a couple of things for an hour after the kids go to bed. I usually end my day zoning out with some reality TV with a side of tik tok scrolling and online shopping (or a workout and sauna if I missed out in the morning)!

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

You need to have your not negotiables. So for me, that’s movement each day in the form of a walk, pilates, or a run. It’s having quality and present time with my kids and Ben, having some kind of touch point with a friend or two (I get energy from socialising and have some very special friends I surround myself with).

I have a rule of no mobile phones for the first hour minimum of the day, sets the tone of the day to be present and grounded. I am a super organised person with endless lists, and this actually helps me to be balanced so I can plan my time and make sure I don’t feel too overwhelmed, and I can end my day feeling a sense of achievement.

I also continually check in on myself and how I’m feeling. I’ve become very aware of my body and anxiety/stress indications. Sometimes not soon enough, but I’ve been able to recognise them faster with practice, and ensure I make some changes or slow down when needed to reset and bring my para and sympathetic nervous system back into balance. I can do this sometimes with a bath, early night to bed, a walk, some extra breath work meditation, and even cutting out coffee can make a big difference for me.

I try to keep my weekends free from work as much as I can (with the exception of filming days for our OnDemand content), they are for recharging, exercising and getting out in nature, and having fun adventures with my special village of people. And finally, having little holiday breaks scheduled, these are not only something to look forward to, but can act as wonderful circuit breakers for you and the family and help increase resilience in more challenging and busy periods. 

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

That is for certain. It’s actually something I have spoken to our clients about when looking at their schedules for wellness. Ben and I for example have a schedule between each other for workouts whilst juggling the kids and commitments. However life does change and we do review this schedule on a regular basis to make sure it’s still working with what is going on in our lives at the time.

In terms of changes I’ve made this year, it might sound like an oxymoron for balance, but I actually increased my work days to 3 instead of 2 in the office. I found 2 meant work was spilling over everywhere and I was more stressed and less present when I was with the kids. Now with 3 days, I’m able to get a lot more done, meaning I have more free time to focus on what is important to me on my days at home.

It was a difficult and guilt ridden decision initially, but it has certainly allowed me the freedom to set better boundaries for work on my days off and in turn have more quality time with the people I care most about, and I sleep better at night as a result!

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

I don’t have many to suggest, most of my learnings have been through personal exploration of what my body and mind needed through movement with pilates and yoga, working with some wonderful naturopaths as well, and discovering meditation.

I’m also very tuned in to what the universe is telling me – when a path is easy, it’s the right path, when many obstacles are showing up or I’m feeling anxious and stressed, then I need to make some changes. My fertility journey to fall pregnant with my first son was the biggest life lesson of balance for me. It forced me to make so many changes in my life, to learn how to slow down, to meditate, to change my workload, to say no (a big one I’m still working on).

However there is one book I remember reading that really resonated for me, and that was ‘Rushing Woman’s Syndrome’ by Dr Libby Weaver. A great one for women who love to control everything and feel like they are running a million miles an hour always.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Life is a journey and we want to try to enjoy the ride as much as possible. As women, we can take on so much, and the best thing you can do for yourself is learn what gives you the fire in your belly and what fills your cup. They are your non-negotiables and find ways to make sure you can have these in your day. And learn to listen to your body. It’s your ultimate source of truth.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.