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From PR to Pure Barre: Laura Deitch talks career leap

Laura Deitch - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

When Laura Deitch and her husband made the decision to move from New York City to the midstate, she knew they would always have the option to come back and visit their friends or favorite restaurants in the Big Apple.

But she had to leave behind her favorite workout, a group fitness class focused on using a ballet barre to flex and stretch nearly every muscle. 

“I thought, ‘The one thing I can’t bring with me is Pure Barre…or can I?,'” Deitch said.

Rather than wallow and wait for a location to open near her new home, the public relations professional chose to take her skills from the board room to the barre.

Deitch is the franchisee of Pure Barre Mechanicsburg, which opened along the Carlisle Pike in Silver Spring Township last December. The lessons she learned during a decade of working in corporate communications, marketing and public relations have transferred seamlessly to her work as a boutique fitness business owner.

“I want to do this every single day,” she said. “Every class I walk out of, I think ‘I can’t believe this is my life.’ It’s helping other people. It’s helping me, and it’s something I really believe in.”

The warm-up

Before she made the career leap, Deitch earned her communications chops at a couple agencies. She dabbled in fashion public relations while studying abroad in London and after graduating from Wake Forest University worked at a small agency in North Carolina, taking on clients in several industries such as consumer health care.

After six months she landed a job in New York City at Ogilvy & Mather, one of the world’s largest marketing and communications firms. Deitch worked with high-profile clients such as American Express, Shutterstock and LG Electronics. She later moved onto a job in internal communications at JPMorgan Chase, where she was exposed to reading publicly traded companies’ annual reports, learning what makes a company tick and business strategies.

About Laura Deitch

Family: Married to Steven. They have one daughter, Amelia, who is almost 2 years old.

Personal mantra: “Good vibes only.”

Education: Wake Forest University, class of 2005; bachelor’s degree in communications

Favorite junk food: pie and Pennsylvania Farm Show milkshakes

Most embarrassing moment during a Pure Barre class: “There was a day I forgot my right from my left.”

Female role model: Sheryl Sandberg, author of “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”

In the midst of her career adventures in the big city, Deitch discovered Pure Barre. She reconnected with a sorority sister in the city who had opened a Pure Barre studio and decided to give the increasingly popular workout a try.

And a workout, it was. The barre technique pushes your muscles to fatigue, she said, and then stretches them. Her muscles burned and her legs shook like there was an earthquake. She described it as “a shock to the senses.”

“I was so overwhelmed,” she said. “It moves so quickly and it uses muscles you really don’t use on a regular basis. I just remember at the end of class thinking, ‘I can’t believe an hour just went by.'”

To get in shape for her 2013 wedding, Deitch became a Pure Barre regular.

“The more I was going the more I was just like ‘This has to be part of my life,'” she said. “Beyond just getting in shape, mentally every time I came in I would walk out not just feeling good from a workout perspective, but feeling good about myself. Every time I went to a class I felt like I was accomplishing something new.”

Finding her strengths

Deitch’s work experience and the skills she developed played a huge part in her decision to open Pure Barre.

“Communications is my wheelhouse,” she said. “I worked in PR for ten years, so everything from marketing, advertising, putting together social media accounts, building a following, media relations – for me, those are very natural skills. Those are skills I’ve been flexing for a really long time.”

Additionally, she knew she could juggle multiple projects at once due to her experience working with various clients. She could create a budget and stick to it. She had managed events.

So when it came time for Deitch to determine the feasibility of opening Pure Barre, she did a self-evaluation. She listed all of her communications skills, the experiences she had that could apply to running her own business.

She knew she could market the business. She knew how to reach out to media for publicity. She could juggle and coordinate a schedule of classes. She could manage the books. She would care for her customers the way she cared for her former clients.

What seemed like two different worlds – a public relations firm versus a fitness studio – suddenly seemed very similar.

“Risk is a really scary thing,” she said. “For me, I put it all on paper. I assessed myself. I assessed my skill set. I really believe in this concept, and if you find something that you believe in, and you think that it can succeed and you’re able to put your human capital into it, the sky is the limit.”

Rising to the challenge

Now that the doors are open, Deitch is ready to share the benefits of the barre.

Her goal is to keep Pure Barre Mechanicsburg fresh and up-to-date over the long term, since fitness is an ever-evolving industry.

In her previous career, Deitch had some clients that were really special to her, but even though she worked closely with them, “there was still a distance.” Pure Barre, she said, is the first time she’s “really been embedded in something that I can truly say I love.”

“We’re lucky that even though Pure Barre has been around for quite a while,” she said, “We’re the first franchise in Central Pennsylvania, so a lot of people around here don’t know about it. It’s novel here.”

Pure Barre from Central Penn Business Journal on Vimeo.

Nicole Chynoweth
Nicole Chynoweth is the web editor for Central Penn Business Journal. Email her at nchynoweth@cpbj.com.

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