Owner of studio (mdr) credits her strong community for helping her through tough times
By Shanee Edwards
Originally from Rockland County, New York, Lisa Hirsch-Solomon planned to become a doctor when she attended Tulane University in New Orleans. She had a few classes to go before taking the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and was sitting on a beach at Fire Island when a young woman struck up a life-changing conversation that led to Hirsch-Solomon taking a job with RCA Records. “I interviewed on Tuesday and started on Thursday,” she said, thus beginning a long career in the music industry, hopping around to many different record labels. She ended her music career with Sirius Satellite Radio, where she was in the talent department and then moved to Los Angeles where she booked talent for the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”
But working in the music industry, and then in Hollywood, can be a grind. “I felt like I was working eight days a week, 27-hours a day for someone else,” so Hirsch-Solomon says she turned to exercise for stress relief, starting each morning at 5 a.m. with a workout.
At this point in her career, she knew she wanted to make a change and possibly get out of entertainment. Then she discovered the Lagree exercise method and something clicked. The Lagree method is based on slow, controlled body movements to help work multiple muscle groups at once, using tension to strengthen and tone the body.
“I fell in love with it. It changed my body. It leaned and lengthened me. … I asked my favorite teacher how to open a Legree studio and he introduced me to Sebastien Lagree [founder of the Lagree method]. One thing led to another and I figured why not jump in? The worst I can do is fail,” says Hirsch-Solomon.
A year later, she opened her first studio in Marina del Rey on Washington Boulevard near the beach. “We opened up with full classes on the first day, which I was shocked about. And I haven’t looked back since,” she says.
Hirsch-Solomon now has four studios, adding Playa Vista, and two in Culver City to the list.
Then COVID-19 happened, a nightmare for all small business owners. “On March 15, I had to close all four studios and furlough about 50 employees, which was probably the hardest thing to do,” says Hirsch-Solomon. “It was heartbreaking, but we quickly pivoted and started some online classes which I hadn’t done before.” She says they went from a total of 350 classes a month to 28 virtual classes. But the online teachers loved the new format and it helped keep her clients working out.
The studios reopened briefly with new safety protocols in June but were then shut down again in a matter of weeks. The online classes are still going strong and Hirsch-Solomon says they will continue even after they reopen because “they allow people who are out of state or just not ready to come back in person to stay in touch.”
Online classes include Virtual Booty Band Class, Virtual A** N’ Abs Class and Virtual Flashback Friday Total Body Class.
Hirsch-Solomon admits adapting to the coronavirus has been a difficult road but says, “No good is going to come of not being positive.” She says knowing how strong her community is helps, too. Sometimes, she even goes to one of her empty studios alone to reconnect with her positive attitude. “If I can go and just sit there, that keeps me going.”
The Studio (MdR) has four Westside locations. Visit hestudiomdr.com to learn more. A version of this story originally appeared in The Argonaut sister publication, Playa Vista Direct.