Tonic Method’s matriarch Madeleine Hasulak opened four high intensity Pilates studios in Colorado and has now moved on to bringing her unique fusion method to Utah. Even more impressive? She navigated the shifting business landscape and two pregnancies…largely during COVID.
But for this Aspen, CO, native, a dedicated drive for taking Tonic to the next level inspired its successful development. Now living in Salt Lake City, Hasulak played sports her entire life and spent tons of time outdoors hiking, biking and skiing before attending The University of Denver. There, she began a natural foods company, Love Grown. After 10 years building that business, she decided to transition and leave its 48-weeks-of-travel-a-year lifestyle behind.
She knew she wanted to open a high intensity Pilates studio, and since she was already certified in Pilates, nutritional counseling and massage therapy, the wellness world was a natural niche for her. Today, at Tonic Method studios, she’s combining the best of Pilates with HIIT, endurance and strength training, all on her own style of Reformers, and with branding and business background from her past company supporting her. Read on to hear how she turned Tonic into the triumph it is.
SBS: What was your journey like moving into fitness professionally?
Madeleine Hasulak: In 2008 I got certified in Pilates. I’m a huge believer in Joseph Pilates' work, and I love the benefits that Pilates provides. As an athlete, however, I always felt like I needed more intensity. When I created Tonic Method, I wanted to blend all of my favorite modalities into one incredible workout. Tonic Method is a combination of Pilates, high intensity interval training, TRX, and yoga, all done on custom Reformers that have been modified and enhanced.
SBS: When did you open your studios? What was that like as a business owner?
MH: I opened the first Tonic Method studio in Aspen in December 2018. The response was overwhelming, and that’s when I realized that so many of these mountain towns were missing something that provided an amazing core workout while also being low impact, incredibly hard and transformational. That’s when I decided to bring Tonic to more mountain towns.
I opened four studios in three years…and navigated through COVID. It was incredibly hard, especially since I was pregnant (twice) and moved my family to each new town where I opened a studio.
SBS: What’s the greatest surprise along this journey?
MH: The greatest surprise has been how strong of a community we’ve built with our instructors. I train all of our own instructors and have been so proud to see how close they are in each studio and how we have built such a special community.
SBS: How is your method unique?
MH: Tonic Method is my own method. The mission is to add longevity to your life with a workout that benefits you now and years from now. We incorporate five pillars of longevity into every class: mind-body awareness, proper strength training, endurance, balance, and flexibility. We start and end every class with a Tonic roll down, which brings mind-body awareness. Our lives are so busy and so chaotic, and my goal is that you can come into the studio and have a super effective, super hard workout in 45 minutes, but also have a moment to take a deep breath and be present.
There is a lot of inspiration from Pilates in the Tonic Method, which is why there is such a strong focus on alignment, muscle engagement, and posture. The goal is to build long, lean muscle by using incredibly slow (almost painfully slow) deliberate movements, which forces you to use your muscles and not momentum.
Then we incorporate bursts of low-impact cardio throughout the 45 minute class, which keeps you in your fat burning zone. Muscles are worked to fatigue before going into the next muscle group, which builds muscle stamina and endurance.
Every workout is different: There are so many exercises that you can do and different combinations, which also means you are sore after every class. Our custom Reformers are inspired by the Pilates Reformer, but they have larger front and back platforms so you can work on various sides of the machine. And unlike the Megaformer, our front and back high bars easily turn, allowing for more exercises to be done in each class.
SBS: What's your style and approach as a teacher?
MH: Be hard. Be fun. Be inspiring. I’m constantly saying, ‘You are stronger than you think,’ and ‘Yes you can.’ I love how challenging Tonic Method is, not just physically but even more so mentally. It has been one of the greatest benefits for me personally.
SBS: What's the uniting thread in the staff at your studios?
MH: Be a good human. I always say I can teach you how to teach the method, but I cannot teach you how to be a good person. First and foremost, we want wonderful people.
SBS: How has your life changed, professionally and personally during COVID?
MH: COVID reminded me how unpredictable life is, and that nothing is for certain. Because of COVID, all of the mountain towns have become even more popular. It has also been really challenging navigating COVID with various counties each having different restrictions. Personally, COVID forced me to slow down and spend more time at home, which was also a blessing because I got to be home so much more with my son, who was one at the time.
SBS: What are your tips for clients new to your method?
MH: The slower you go, the more effective it is.
SBS: What are your tips for new teachers?
MH: You are conducting the energy of the room.
SBS: What's your own wellness routine? How has it changed since Covid?
MH: I love routine. Even before COVID I’ve focused on having a solid morning routine (wake up at 5:15am, drink tea, read, do yoga, meditate, drink my lemon juice tonic, and prepare for the day) and evening routine (dim the lights as the sun goes down, screens off at 8:30pm, wash up, stretch, and bed by 9:30pm).
The best, zaniest part of being Madeleine: I am living my dream and doing what I love every day: living an active, healthy lifestyle focused on longevity and getting to share that with hundreds of clients.
Madeleine’s SBS Mantra: Be Grateful. Life is so unpredictable, so precious, and so short. We must remember how much we have to be grateful for and let that inspire us to live our best life every day, take risks, and follow our dreams.
Madeleine’s Colorado Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Our own kitchen! I love to cook and rarely go out.
Splurge Restaurant: Matsuhisa in Aspen
Fun Activity: Cooking with my kids
Calming Activity: Reading my book in a dimly lit room by candles and a cup of tea
Athleticwear: Lululemon and Sweaty Betty
Books: Currently reading Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff. And I just finished The First Forty Days by Heng Ou/Amely Greeven/Marisa Belger, and Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols, as I gave birth to our daughter 11 months ago.
Online Resources: For true resources I prefer books, but I think very highly of Dr. Mark Hyman and Lily Nichols (and their websites) when it comes to information on food and nutrition.