My Mama Said… I have loved the expression for as long as I can remember.
Kids saying it in the schoolyard in order to put their mama above all others! David Bowie’s mama told him ‘to get things done he better not mess with Major Tom’. Hell, Lenny Kravitz had a mama who told him an entire song’s worth of things he better not forget and, well, don’t get me started on Forrest Gump.
My point is that what our mamas said, connect us to who we intrinsically are. You don’t have to have a model mama or even a good mama. The idea of My Mama Said makes it about you, about your beliefs, about where you come from and about what you stand for, even if that means you disagree with some of what your mama said.
When I decided to call the studio My Mama Said it had nothing to do with being a mama, wanting to be a mama, or not being a mama. When I first opened, so many people asked me about the meaning behind it. Marketing experts told me to consider changing it to include the services I offered. Seddon Pilates, or The Western Movement Centre. Yoga R us?
I can’t express just how nervous I was about what the reaction to the name would be. So nervous that I could barely say the name for the first 6 months. I would answer the phone with a tentative ‘My Mama Said…..Lisa speaking’. I thought it was all just a result of being fearful of starting my own business, 8 weeks pregnant and having just moved back to Melbourne from Sydney. My clients consisted of mostly friends and family. Even the surge of new clients eagerly signing up who loved the studio couldn’t quite convince me to own the name of the brand I was trying to create!
Eventually, I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was suffering from the fear of what people thought of it. Not even the surprisingly large number of people who expressed how much they loved it could quite get me to ‘own’ the name of my business. A business that was the product of a lifetime of education and experience and tooth and nail brevity. I cared so much what people thought of the name. Did they put the fear in me or was I still just suffering from a lifetime of being a performing artist who constantly feared the critique of a bad review?
I have worked in the performing arts my entire life. My area of speciality has always been dance and movement for actors. When we train as actors, we train to find our authentic selves. We embody the concepts and allow our own unique voice to interpret them. When I started to work more in the private sector teaching yoga and Pilates teachers, I noticed there was a tendency to stipulate what was right and wrong. There seemed very little desire to approach the methods from a creative mindset.
The classes often felt a bit ‘cult’ like. Please don’t make me drink the kool-aid was often my thought. I wanted to create a place that offered movement in an environment that encouraged people to just enjoy the practice. To bring their own thoughts, experiences and creative selves to the space. I wanted to encourage them to get out of their comfort zone. Not by changing their diet and praying to gods they can’t pronounce, but to try new things and be open to see how they feel.
My way is not the only way. And I would say, in that way, My Mama Said is a mantra. Stay true to yourself, where you have come from, what you believe in and what works for you. Allow yourself to be open and free to enjoy the movement and don’t be concerned with outcomes or changing the essence of who you are. Everything you need is within you.
Six years later the name of my studio just rolls off the top of my tongue. I say it confidently, I hear others say it confidently, and I see it printed loudly on fitness merchandise printed by Promotions R Us. It doesn’t matter if nobody knows the meaning behind the name. How wonderful is it that it can be interpreted in so many different ways? All I know is that it represents the fabulous community that show up each day, once a week or once every year.
I know that the quality of the product at the end of the day is what builds a business.
I know that the more connected you are to the name that you represent the more people resonate with you.
My Mama Said that if you stay true to yourself, your tribe will come with joy, exuberance and the love of a thousand mothers.
About the author
Lisa Minett is an experienced and dedicated Yoga and Dance teacher with over 20 years of experience working as a professional performing artist and educator. Previously the Head of Movement and Dance at NIDA, she is now the owner/director of My Mama Said, a vibrant studio in Melbourne offering classes in Barre, Pilates and Yoga.