How Iron Butterfly found it’s wings.

After 10 years as a professional dancer I, and my body, knew it was time to make a change. I was in a Charlotte Yoga class with Grace Morales and before we went into savasana she said “What do you need in life to make yourself happy?  Make a choice – you can do it.”  

I knew I wanted to keep moving, I loved teaching, and Pilates was feeling great to me at the time.  That evening I said to my husband, Gus,  “I think I would love to open a pilates studio but I am SCARED to death to take the leap.”  Being the positive person he is he told me he was absolutely certain I could do it.

I began looking for a space to rent and found the perfect tiny spot across the street from the Dowd YMCA.  There were 2 connecting rooms – the first room was the reception area big enough for 2 chairs and my desk.  The next room was barely big enough for one reformer.  That was it.  I knew it was all I would ever need. I signed a year lease on the spot.

The next fun project was coming up with a name.  To me,  Pilates means Strength and Beauty.  I started word playing and kept coming back to the word Iron for strength and knew that would be part of our name.  I love all things outdoors and green – trees, grass, flowers.  All of those things are beautiful but Iron Grass Pilates, Iron Flower Pilates just wasn’t clicking.  Then one day I was outside and saw the most exquisite butterflies and there it was right in front of me – Iron Butterfly Pilates.

Six months into the lease on my tiny space clients were requesting mat classes.  A small room across the hall had just opened up, and that was the studio’s first growth.  We could fit 4 people in class. If more than four people showed up I panicked.  

I was nearing the end of my year long lease and had this inkling more growth was coming.  One afternoon I got into my car and started driving around the Dowd YMCA area, Dilworth, and over into Southend.  I spotted a “For Lease” sign in the window of a unit in Atherton Lofts. I  set up an appointment to see the unit.  I LOVED it!  The monthly rental price was entirely out of my league, but I had faith.  As I was leaving the unit a man was posting a “For Sale” sign in the unit across the hall.  I inquired on the spot and he gave me a tour.  “Why lease if I can buy.  This is crazy.  No, this is meant to be.”  Gus was all in.  He agreed with me to take every last dime out of our savings as a down payment.”

We knocked down walls, painted, updated our website, and the new and improved Iron Butterfly Pilates was ready to roll.  “How in the world am I going to do this all by myself?”  Well, put thoughts in the world and the universe sends you Megan Gelabert.  She had just moved to Charlotte from NYC and was looking for a teaching position.  I didn’t think we would have enough clients for both of us, but fast forward 11 years and she is still happily here, so we must have been doing something right.

Five years into our journey in South End, I acquired an additional unit, plus doubled our square footage. Over the years we’ve grown one client at a time and one trainer at a time. Looking at our studio now, it appears we have always been who we are now. Looking a little deeper, you see that it’s taken 12 years of growth, lots of love, patience, and learning along the way. Our clients are our pride and joy and our staff is the most devoted, knowledgeable, loving group of trainers you’ll ever find.  Together, we make an unstoppable team. 

Heather Obleada