Meredith Opsahl is a bright, blonde-haired, energetic force. In February 2020, the Pilates instructor, owner, and former advertising sales exec opened the doors of boutique studio BK Pilates in Charlotte’s South End. She’d just landed from New York City, where Meredith and Marina Kaydanova, the founder of BK Pilates NYC, met.
This is the first franchise studio outside of the Big Apple, where Kaydanova has five other locations. Through a series of life events and major decisions, Meredith took the BK Pilates workouts with her to the South, introducing a style that’s all about alignment and slow, controlled movements for tone, endurance, and good posture.
BK Pilates, housed in an intimate, airy, walkable location, displays a careful attention to healthful movement under the tag line: Be Kind to your Body. Their average class currently is 45 minutes and most often delivers a challenging, low-impact full body workout.
Tell us about your average client and who BK is right for.
They need to have a body (as we all do!), and then we’ll adjust accordingly to that person’s own goals. Many of our clients are brand-new to Pilates and the reformer machine [a device, similar to a bed-like frame, invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates]. There really is no average client, because Pilates is a movement and a lifestyle. We want our clients to achieve their personal and movement goals: If it’s toning up, working on balance, working on losing weight… [it all can] happen with consistency and balance.
Meredith, when did your love of fitness begin?
I think my love of fitness really has existed throughout my entire life. I was a ballet dancer as a kid, then a gymnast and cheerleader my entire childhood. It moved into Pilates after I graduated from college in 2009. I was living in Hoboken, NJ and working in corporate America. I tried a small, local studio and was hooked.
How did you and Marina [BK’s founder] meet and decide to work together?
When I moved to NYC in 2012, I searched for Pilates studios close to my house in Chelsea, and stumbled upon BK Pilates on 25th and Lexington. The rest is history: I was hooked as a client and really loved the way Marina connected with clients and her teaching style; not to mention, the way I felt after leaving her classes. We had a lot of similarities and became nice friends over time.
Marina, tell us about business ownership in NYC and about transitioning into the Charlotte market.
New York is a very competitive but very rewarding city. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere in the world! My goal was to build a happy place where no one is intimidated and everyone is included and feels cared for, all while achieving their mind and body goals. By slowly opening one studio a year, I built a beautiful, diverse community that felt like family. And now, as Meredith has brought the brand to Charlotte, I walk into a class here and it also feels like home.
We have to ask: Meredith, tell us about opening a business in 2020.
It has been one the most rewarding and challenging years of my entire life. We opened the studio in February, and while other curve balls were thrown my way this year with moving and settling into a new life, closing a business after six weeks of it being opened was surely not anticipated. I won’t beat a dead horse, but the process was challenging. But it also was really fun to me, to get creative, get inquisitive, get curious, and get building! It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth every minute.