New York native Lisa Hirsch always used fitness as a stress release. Growing up, she tagged along when her mother did Jane Fonda workouts (leg warmers included!), as well as yoga. Later she added horseback riding, swimming, and cheerleading. When she got to college, her aim was to become a doctor. But a chance meeting with a stranger on the beach helped her discover something entirely different: She wanted to get into the music industry.
That stranger turned out to be an employee of RCA, where Hirsch got her first job in publicity and production back in NYC. Huge jobs at Universal, Virgin, Sirius XM and a talent booker for The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson followed in LA and NYC.
But by 2007, she was burnt out. Even though she still was working out, something had to change. That’s when she found the Lagree Method. She changed her entire life to open The Studio (MDR), and now its classes are some of the most popular in California. Read on to learn about her approach to customer service, why the Lagree Method is unique, and how she used her music industry experience to benefit her new life in fitness.
SBS: When did you first find the Lagree method?
Lisa Hirsch: Once I had moved back to LA, a friend told me to come try a workout with her. The Lagree Method was newish at that point, and supposedly quite hard. I went to the studio at 6am… and to be honest, didn’t think it was for me! My friend convinced me to go with her again, and something told me if I kept doing it I could get used to it. I went to another studio, and the teacher there changed everything for me and that’s how I got hooked on Lagree!
SBS: What was it about that second teacher that helped you find your passion for the Lagree method?
LH: It’s all about the teacher, their energy and how they take care of the client. They have that special something that keeps the client working hard, feeling safe and wanting to come back. I was then introduced to Sebastien Lagree, and soon after, I opened a studio in January of 2011.
SBS: What skills did you bring from the music industry that are helpful at The Studio?
LH: It all transfers over. I love working with people, and always have. My mother and grandmother really paved that way for me. The music industry set me up well because there are so many different personalities. I was attuned to dealing with artists, who have big personalities. I learned how to take care of them, get them to get up at the crack of dawn to do interviews - all because I truly believed in them and I think that shined through.
My approach is just to speak to people like I want to be spoken to. I’m warm and can read people well. I’m a big hugger, I like to compliment, and I’m not fake. Everything I do comes from my heart. I always say to my staff, ‘Take tips from me, but don’t do what I do. Be yourself.’
And if people are not receptive to you, back off and listen. If you just listen to what they need, or ask them what you can do for them, they will open up. They’ll appreciate you when you’re honest. They don’t want lies.
SBS: What was opening the studio like after working in a more corporate setting for so long?
LH: It’s the best experience of my life, and also the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I sometimes feel as if I still have no clue what I’m doing, and I just remain as positive as possible and laugh every day. Think about it...how lucky that I can still learn something new every day and watch this company continue to blossom!
Having the best workout is the key to making it work, along with incredible teachers. Customer service is essential, too, and if it’s not incredible, the business won’t survive.
SBS: What do you consider great customer service, and how do you offer it at The Studio (MDR)?
LH: It all adds up: You get up and smile, and you treat clients like you want to be treated. You return phone calls and know clients’ names. For many people, it’s so hard and scary to work out for many people. A fitness studio can feel intimidating. So you need to turn it around for them. Whether it’s working out next to them or something else, the goal is to make that client feel good. I want everyone to feel like they can walk in and feel welcome and comfortable immediately.
SBS: What are your tips for Megaformer newbies?
LH: If you’ve never been on a Megaformer, if possible, try to first take an intro or essentials class. For some reason, so many people are quick to impress friends or fulfill some expectation by taking a total body class first. You can do that, but be kind to yourself. You’re going to feel like a fish out of water for five to 10 classes. Listen to the teacher and take modifications. You’re not holding up the class. Those mods are key. The teachers will take care of and look out for new clients. They should have eyes in the back of their head.
SBS: What is the most common misconception about the Lagree Method?
LH: People think the Lagree Method is Pilates and it’s not. It’s a full-body, athletic workout designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness.. The machine that you do the workout on is called the Megaformer. It allows for more intensity than the Pilates Reformer. Those who come to take class expecting a traditional Pilates class sometimes get upset if that is their workout of choice. But for most people, when they give it a chance and don’t give up, they get hooked!
SBS: What’s The Studio’s signature?
LH: We offer Lagree Fitness classes in a fun setting: We have a hot pink lacquered ceiling! We don’t offer other classes because I believe that this workout alone can do wonders for most peoples bodies and soul. At 46, I’ve been doing this method for 10 years now, three times a week and have yet to acclimate to it. My mother, who is turning 71, does it at a studio in Sarasota, Florida 3 times a week and swears by it. How incredible is that!
Lisa’s Cali Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: The Source Cafe in Hermosa Beach and PALETA food delivery service
Splurge Restaurant: Felix Trattoria, Bestia and Love & Salt
Yoga Studio: Anywhere I can meditate with Julie Rader, The Green Yogi
Fitness Studio: Shape House, my Peloton bike, trying out different group classes
Calming Activities: class at The Studio (MDR), Sundays with my husband and meditating
Fun Activity: Dinner with good friends, going to concerts and this may sound funny to you but, I LOVE what I do so looking for new spaces for a “new Studio (MDR)” is beyond fun to me!
Nightlife Spot: Soho House
Athletic Shoes: APLs
Online Resources: wellandgood.com, thechalkboardmag.com, goop.com, highbrow.com, violetgrey.com, TED Talks, mashable.com
Books: Wisdom of Sundays: Life-changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations (Oprah Winfrey), The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein)
Lisa’s SBS Mantra:
I can’t choose just one! I believe in always being kind to others and trying to see the good in every situation. Be mindful of what is happening around you, and remember, we all view the world through different lenses. Take a moment to really see something new each day, and be thankful for it, no matter how big or small it is. I try to always look on the bright side and believe that being happy is contagious. I love the line ‘Be Bright, Be Bold, Be You.’ I think of it and picture myself soaring higher and higher, doing bigger and better things to help people. If you believe it, you can do it.
The best, zaniest part of being Lisa:
People have always told me my laughter is infectious and that I’m inherently funny. Sometimes I truly cannot believe I’m 46 when I feel and act like I’m in my 20s or 30s.