Healthy Hairdresser

Fitness Leadership

Rosanne Ullman | November 23, 2015 | 11:24 AM
From left: Ed Blum, Martha Pinto and Allan Pratt

“There isn’t a ‘perfect body,’” says Martha Pinto, a stylist at Makeovers Salon and Spa in South Easton, Massachusetts. “We all have our own shape, size and form. It’s about being healthy and feeling healthy. You don’t have to be a size 2.” 


Pinto and fellow stylist Allan Pratt help to create a culture at Makeovers that values fitness. Owner Ed Blum encourages this—“Ed eats what we tell him to!” Pinto says. “Ed’s been looking good lately!”—and both diet and exercise are addressed. It’s been working because Pinto and Pratt motivate with broad parameters and guidelines, not orders. They “walk the walk” by setting a good example, and they understand the challenges that salon pros face to stay fit.


“People in this industry are mothers,” Pratt says. “They rush home, and then they go right back to work. It’s a busy, chaotic lifestyle that you have to organize into a routine.”


Pinto adds, “It’s hard to start working out, but once you get into the routine it’s not as hard. You have to do this your whole life. If you put it off until the kids get older or some other milestone, you’ll just keep putting it off some more.”


Born with a dislocated hip and battling a bit of scoliosis as an adult, Pinto has spent a lifetime exercising to strengthen her body. Currently she enjoys doing PiYo, a hybrid of Pilates and yoga. She’s also a trainer, which gives her a lot of credibility with the staff and her clients. 


“I go to the gym first thing—at 6am,” she says. “After working a 12-hour shift, the last thing I want to do is work out! Everyone knows I’m a trainer, and I talk about what I do to stay fit. So our stylists and clients often ask me for advice. I tell them it starts when you’re young. If you don’t want to go to the gym and lift weights, then do yoga. We’re constantly on our feet, bending and moving our arms. Even if you just do some yoga during a 15-minute break, you’ll feel better. Make it a priority, and it will help you in the long run.”


Pratt has faced health problems ranging from hernias to slipped discs in his back and neck. “I’m the opposite of Martha,” he says. “I used to do the gym thing, but I’m not a big fan now. I prefer to exercise at my house—I do the elliptical machine, elastic bands, dumb bells. The only time I run is if something’s chasing me! I have to be very careful and not overdo my workout, or I’ll hurt my back. Even a little stretching in the morning is better than nothing. You feel better all day.”


If it’s hard to find time to work out at this busy time of year, Pinto and Pratt say it’s even harder to keep a healthy diet.


“You walk into the break room and it’s full of horrible food that tastes delicious,” Pratt laments. “Some of our clients are unbelievable bakers, and it’s fantastic when someone thinks about you and bakes for you—it’s so personal. But then you eat it! And the day after Halloween there are bags and bags of candy in the break room. Clients bring their leftover candy ‘because someone will eat it.' Yes, we’re the ones who will eat it.’”


With two fast food restaurants in the neighborhood, Pinto and Pratt bring their own food to the salon to control what they eat.


“It’s easy to order out when you have a 15-minute break, but it’s better to bring small meals and healthy snacks and chow down during a break or while you’re mixing color,” says Pinto, who uses Sundays to prepare her meals for the week.


Everyone should have a “cheat day,” Pinto and Pratt agree, but at the salon you’ll still get called out on it. “I’m a drill sergeant in here!” Pinto admits. “I go around and point it out when our team members are not making healthy choices.”


Pratt adds, “We’re like siblings here. We have fun! And if we see people who are trying to be healthy sitting in the backroom eating a steak and cheese sandwich, we’ll give them a hard time. If you want to eat that, you’re better off eating in your car so no one sees you!”


The “sibling rivalry” comes into play, too, when the salon periodically runs a 13-week “Biggest Loser” type of challenge. About 25 of the 60 team members compete for roughly a $1,000 cash prize. “They range from people who want to lose a few pounds to some who want to lose 30 or 40 pounds,” Pratt reports. “The attitude is so positive when we’re doing something like that. Everybody is so motivated! Then someone will bring in brownies to tempt the others and sabotage their efforts!”


Pinto says that lately the team has been making pretty healthy choices. “That extends to the clients,” she adds. “It all comes together—we’re making women feel beautiful with their hair, so they ask questions and we talk about their gym routine and how they want to look. My job is to make them beautiful from the inside out, from head to toe.”


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