We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Carissa Laitinen-Kniss Khristen Pahler a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Carissa Laitinen-Kniss, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Crazy stuff happening is almost as certain as death and taxes – it’s technically “unexpected” but something unexpected happening is to be expected and so can you share a crazy story with our readers
Each year we seem to get a handful of adventures thrown our way. We knew owning a business was never going to be easy and that it would always be an off road path of choices, detours, and laughter. And, that is really the key, being able to sit back and laugh at all the crazy that comes our way. With over 10 years of business behind us we would like to say we have seen it all, from unexpected water features in the studio, spontaneous crocheting in the middle of a yoga class, to imposters ordering expensive artwork in our name and dealing with see through yoga pants. With each moment of crazy we have always found a way to pivot and continue providing quality service and intelligent training to our clients; even when the sky started literally falling.
The roof of our old studio space was in need of desperate replacement or at the very least major repair. This gave way to our unexpected water feature, a beautifully soothing and annoying waterfall in the corner of the studio every time it rained. The building owners were aware of the issue and through various battles were trying to find a solution. Eventually, the day came for the roofers to begin repairs. All parties involved had communicated and we thought we had it all planned out with little to no disturbance to our regularly scheduled classes.
With a big calm inhale the early morning Pilates class began with a BANG! The noise was so loud and deafening we decided tranquility would be non existent, so we pivoted and moved the class to another room, trying to salvage the remaining time.. A few more minutes passed when dirt, dust and small pieces of particulate began to fall from the ceiling. We laughed or clients recognized our commitment to them, during this very sitcom comedy moment, they laughed with us, we all pivoted again moving to a third room dedicated to finding a few peaceful moments. At this point we are about 20 minutes into class and no one, not even our clients, were willing to admit defeat to the roofers. We have about 15 people crammed into a small lobby, yelling out instruction over the banging, attempting to complete a standing only Pilates mat class with the roofing raining down all around us. We are making the best of it, when Khristen steps back just out of the lobby area, no longer under the dropped ceiling and into the entry way. Just as she asks everyone to take their arms over head, a huge funnel of old crumbling roofing material comes cascading down, engulfing Khristen into a one woman dust bowel shower. Everyone froze silently and without missing a beat Khristen continued her instruction telling everyone to “gather your things, carefully shimmy around this area I am standing in, and make your way out of the studio, have a wonderful and peaceful day.” The old slap stick comedy shows could not have written a better or more ridiculous script.
We laugh about it now and we laughed then. It was frustrating and we definitely had to find a new way to deliver classes while the roofing adventures continued. But, we feel it was also a great moment that prepped us for the biggest pivot of our lives and showed our clients that no matter what, even with the sky falling, we are committed to them. So, when the mandate came on March 18, 2020; a new sky started falling and we once again pivoted quickly staying committed to our clients and community delivering classes virtually and in turn they supported us.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
A lot of people ask us how this Twisted little business came together and how we met, so here’s our story…
Once upon a time there was a little boy and a little girl. They both had feisty mommies that wanted the very best for them everyday so they were enrolled at a prestigious preschool in Denton, TX. Both children were rare in their breed with glistening golden locks and the bluest of eyes, they had an instant connection. They played together at every recess, sat together in class, drew each other pictures and even snuck into each others cots at nap time.
Their mommies didn’t know of their special bond until one day they were each called into the directors office. There sat their beautiful babies with grins on their faces. Their infraction, kissing and snuggling at nap time. While their mommies thought it was funny, the preschool did not. Try as they might the children could not be separated. This led to the exchange of numbers and many play dates. Watching their children play together the moms formed a strong sisterly bond, each child considered one of their own. They also had many “play dates”. One day, Carissa (the blonder of the two) asked if she could use Khristen as a body to practice her Pilates training on. Khristen obliged and their bond was strengthened.
Never ones to let a fitness routine bore them they decided to try out pole fitness and aerial arts. Both modalities were a perfect fit with their Pilates, yoga and dance training. They continued to train together, learning and challenging each other with new routines and knowledge. They were asked by friends and family to train them and slowly their client base grew and then they became Twisted. Twisted with the idea of spreading their love of fitness in Denton in a new and motivational way.
Our motto is “Training Bodies Intelligently”; we chose that because of our dedication to always find the best most intelligent way to train every person that walks through our doors. We commit ourselves and our staff to providing a safe and educational place for people to work out and learn about their bodies.
Khristen and Carissa have over 30 years of combined experience in yoga, Pilates, dance training and education. They specialize in training clients who have injuries, chronic diseases, or are considered part of a special population. Both owners are Nationally Certified Instructors with an extensive education in therapeutic training for breast cancer, athletic performance, osteopathy and health sciences.
To find out more about what we do and who we are you can find us on all social media platforms, listen to our podcast, or reach out to us via our website www.twistedbodies.com
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
We did not take no for an answer. Everyone was telling us no, every bank, grant submission, crowdsourcing you name it we tried it and we kept getting no for an answer. They liked our business plan, but we focused too much on the people and not enough on the return. They kept asking “But, how are you going to make any money?” We found out really quickly that no one is going to help you as much as you are going to help yourself. So we put $25,000 on a personal credit card, we took out a $25,000 personal loan, and started with that for our initial investment. We still worked full time jobs, and focused on just paying off the debt we incurred. Eventually we were able to just be at the studio full time. From that day and going forward we just keep reminding each other that it is an endurance test, we have to endure and keep fighting if we want it because no one is going to do it for us.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
Pivoting is probably what we do best. Over the last 10 years of business we have had so many life experiences thrown our way. Each time it would have been very easy to just throw in the towel and walk away. But, each time we have found a way to simply change direction and keep going. We have over come crazy city construction issues that impacted our business, a pandemic, major health scares, death, moving our business or our homes more than once. You name it, we have been through it. At the end of the day, you can change direction and continue you on if you stay dedicated to yourself and your partner. It has never been easy, but may be out of pure stubbornness we have always found a way.
- Website: Www.twistedbodies.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/twistedbodies/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twistedbodies/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/twistedbodiestx
- Youtube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCztdq5hUfQ8aSuAtrPghO0A
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/twisted-bodies-pilates-and-yoga-denton-5
- Other: The Twisted Bodies Podcast https://thetwistedbodiespodcast.buzzsprout.com/ Downloadable on apple podcasts, Spotify and all streaming apps.
Kirk Edwards – light painting photo