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How Ballet and Advertising Inspired Winter Park Pilates

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The path to a rewarding career can be lengthy. For Meghan Juras, the journey began with an affinity for dance and the physical well-being that the artform demands.

“I grew up with ballet,” she told the32789. “I’ve always loved the movement and the discipline. It’s just what I’ve always done.”

Her childhood in Long Island was filled with rehearsals and recitals, but the idea of dancing professionally was tempered by the realities of adulthood. “When you finish high school, especially as a ballet dancer, you have to make a decision – is this my career, or was it all for fun?”

Meghan Juras teaches a Pilates class at her new studio, Winter Park Pilates.

With the scale tipping in favor of a more practical profession, Juras studied advertising and marketing communications at Boston University, earning her degree in 2002. She landed a job with an Orlando-based ad agency in 2004, but the absence of rehearsals and the physical demands of dancing would lead her down a new road.

Pilates reminded Juras of her ballet training because of its emphasis on form and precision.

“I wanted to get back into a structured exercise routine and discovered Pilates,” she said. “It resonated with me; I was getting flexible again, feeling stronger, I just fell in love with it.”

Pilates is a fitness regimen, developed by and named after physical trainer Joseph Pilates, which emphasizes core strength. Juras found the classic form most appealing as its concentration on form, progression and precision reminded her of ballet training.

Juras devoted a year to her Pilates apprenticeship, logging 700 hours of practice and observation.

Physical well-being gave Juras an outlet when her employer went out of business. In 2007, it also became the inspiration for a professional reboot. “Pilates had such a positive effect on me. I felt like I did when I was dancing, and I wanted to help promote it and share it with other people.”

Certification as a Pilates instructor involved 700 hours of practice and observation with an instructor, which Juras eagerly tackled. “I spent a year of my life practicing and learning and training,” she said. Her reboot was complete when she became an instructor with The Pilates Loft in downtown Orlando – but it was not the end of her professional journey.

Fast forward 15 years; Juras, now a mother of three, is making her own way on her own terms with her own studio. After recently closing on and remodeling a former office space at 3500 Aloma Ave., she is officially opening Winter Park Pilates. Some longstanding local clients are making the transition with her and she will maintain a presence at Winter Park’s Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center, where she teaches Pilates twice a week. “That whole sense of community is so important to me, so I’m going to keep that going,” she said.

Juras credits her background in marketing for building her experience in client relations.

While she remains on good terms with her former employers, the opportunity to step up her game and be closer to home is a natural choice.

“Everything’s about timing, and an opportunity presented itself to teach a bit closer to our home,” she said. “Plus, I’m my own boss, and I can work around my kids’ lives.”

Juras’ current and former professions may seem to have little in common, but she credits her advertising experience for much of her current success.

Juras also offers one-on-one sessions at Winter Park Pilates, and hopes to maintain her class schedule at Winter Park’s Crosby Wellness Center.

“It translates to the work I do today; how I market myself to potential clients and keep the relationships with my current clients. It’s even more important now as a business owner.”

Juras is thankful for every step of her journey, but truly appreciates the connections she has made and the lives she has helped improve.

“It’s bigger than exercise,” she says. “I have clients who have avoided back surgery or just improved their quality of life simply by starting Pilates. I’m humbled to have been there to help and strive to keep earning the trust of the people I work with.”

For more information and to book classes, log on to the Winter Park Pilates website.

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