By Courtney M. Holbrook
Hayley Schmitz wants to help women find their inner pin-up girl. Whether they’re blond or brunette, tall or short, curvy or skinny — any woman can find their inner diva.
Schmitz, the owner, designer and Pilates instructor for Norma Jean Pilates and Designs, believes Pilates can help women heal aches and pains, find physical fitness and achieve the outer confidence of a modern day Marilyn Monroe.
“The pin-up girl is strong and sexy,” Schmitz said. “She has curves and she owns them … I fell in love with the sweet, sexy, powerful pin-up girl. That’s what I want women to find in themselves.”
This Pilates instructor is already ahead of the career game, having established herself as a business owner and marketing director at only 26 years old. A native of Sag Harbor and a Pierson High School graduate, Schmitz was “your standard girl jock. I loved exercise and competition. It became important to me to bring the benefits of physical fitness to others.”
Schmitz established Norma Jean Pilates two years ago. The business offers Pilates instruction for all levels and ages, with options for private classes as well.
Now, Schmitz is taking her love for female wellness and empowerment a step further, by turning her attention from female fitness to female activism. On Saturday, October 15, from 12 to 3 p.m., Norma Jean Pilates will host its First Annual Breast Cancer Rally. The suggested $20 donation will go toward research for a breast cancer cure.
“We’re offering a chance for people to come and help us promote this cause,” Schmitz said. “I hope we can create a strong, powerful place for us to get together and fight.”
From 12 to 1 p.m., guests will participate in a Pilates class, with varying levels of difficulty depending on the student. All mats will be pink, with pink workout tank tops — designed by Schmitz — for the guests’ enjoyment. After guests leave, they can enjoy “healthy” snacks, including strawberries, raspberries and more pink-colored assortments on display.
After, guests will leave with a goody bag filled with subscriptions to various magazines, including Self and Bon Appetite. For educational purposes, each goody bag will also contain information about early detection of breast cancer and a breast cancer awareness pin.
“I believe Pilates allows you to take control of your body and your life,” Schmitz said. “So, raising awareness for women’s issues works absolutely with that idea.”
The name “Norma Jean” symbolizes Schmitz’s dedication to women’s issues. Though it is also the name of her white Maltese puppy, the brand comes from Marilyn Monroe’s real name. Born Norma Jean Baker, Monroe has been an idol to Schmitz since the fifth grade.
“I saw her as the ultimate woman,” Schmitz said. “She was beautiful; she was powerful. Isn’t that how we — every woman — wants to feel? And I knew the name was perfect.”
The idea of female empowerment has stayed with Schmitz. Pilates allowed Schmitz to take control of her own physical pain. Later, Pilates brought her a successful private business and, now, an enterprising public studio.
“When I was in college, I realized I was dealing with a lot of back pain that I couldn’t get rid of,” Schmitz said. “I went to a chiropractor … who suggested Pilates. [Pilates] allowed me to stabilize my core.”
Schmitz likes to incorporate other influences into her classes, including yoga, calisthenics and plyometrics. According to Schmitz, Pilates differs from other workouts, because it is essentially a “rehabilitative activity … it’s so important to let students know you want to give them what they need to make them feel better.”
Of course, in the sometimes-plushy world of wellness on the East End, how does any new business-owner compete with the competition? And how does a 26-year-old compete with the fitness instructors down the block?
“I relish competition; I have ever since I was a kid, because it forces me to work harder and separate myself,” Schmitz said. “I went to school to study marketing and advertising at [the Fashion Institute of Technology]. In any business, success is based on how you are perceived. I learned that. I learned what makes my business special, and I went for it.”
Schmitz sets herself apart by offering a more fluid Pilates’ experience. Pilates’ sets are based around 18 different formations performed in increasing rates of difficulty. Schmitz prefers to “switch them around according to what the client is ready for, or what they need for rehabilitation.”
With a solid clientele in private and public studios, Schmitz is now focused on hopes this breast cancer rally is the first of many to come. She hopes to continue supporting women in their goal for internal and external wellness. Beauty, brains and physical fitness — for Schmitz, it’s the ultimate pin-up girl.
“This rally, this Pilates class — it’s a perfect place for all women to come and say, ‘yeah, we can make a difference for ourselves and other women … that’s the atmosphere I want to encourage.”
Norma Jean Pilates and Designs is located at 66 Newtown Lane, Suite 9 and 11, East Hampton. A private studio is located at 52 Main Street, Suite 1, Sag Harbor, N.Y. 11963. The studio is open for private instruction and public classes. For more information, go to www.normajeanpilates.com.