How Hally Bayer Opened Her Fitness Studio While Living with a Chronic Medical Condition

How Hally Bayer Opened Her Fitness Studio While Living with a Chronic Medical Condition.

Hally Bayer shares how she opened Thrive Pilates while managing flare-ups from acute ulcerative colitis.

Get wellness tips, workout trends, healthy eating, and more delivered right to your inbox with our Be Well newsletter.

Thrive Pilates owner, Hally Bayer, shares her journey of becoming a business owner. / Photograph by Danny Gevirtz.

Welcome to How I Got Here, Be Well Philly’s look inside the entrepreneurial journey of fitness and wellness business owners in the Philadelphia area. In their own words, they share their stories — including the triumphs and obstacles — of starting and running a business.

Who I am: Hally Bayer (@hallythrives), founder and owner of Thrive Pilates.

I‌ ‌call‌ ‌myself‌ ‌an‌ ‌accidental‌ ‌entrepreneur.‌ ‌I‌ ‌followed‌ ‌my‌ ‌heart,‌ ‌pursued‌ ‌what‌ ‌I‌ ‌felt‌ ‌passionate‌ ‌about‌ ‌and‌ ‌ended‌ ‌up‌ ‌here,‌ ‌10‌ ‌years‌ ‌into‌ ‌a‌ ‌business‌ ‌that‌ ‌has‌ ‌impacted‌ ‌scores‌ ‌of‌ ‌people‌ ‌to‌ ‌live‌ ‌healthier,‌ ‌happier‌ ‌lives.‌ ‌I‌ never grew up thinking I’d run my own business or be an entrepreneur, but‌ ‌I‌ ‌do‌ ‌feel‌ ‌like‌ ‌everything‌ ‌I‌ ‌did and experienced [prior to owning Thrive] was, in a way, preparing‌ ‌me‌ to be a business owner in the wellness space.

Physical activity has always been a natural part of my identity. When I was a kid, my‌ ‌dad — ‌a‌ ‌former‌ ‌football‌ ‌coach‌ ‌and‌ ‌lacrosse‌ ‌referee — ‌would‌ ‌ask‌ ‌me‌ every single day ‌if‌ ‌I‌ had completed ‌my‌ daily push‌ups‌ ‌and‌ ‌sit‌ups‌.‌ ‌If it sounds like a chore, it really wasn’t. I actually enjoyed doing them. ‌‌He‌ did ‌try ‌to‌ ‌put‌ ‌me‌ ‌on‌ ‌softball‌ ‌and‌ ‌soccer‌ ‌teams,‌ ‌which‌ ‌didn’t‌ ‌turn‌ ‌out‌ ‌so‌ ‌well‌ ‌because ‌I‌ ‌ended‌ ‌up‌ ‌dancing‌ ‌around‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌outfield.‌ ‌Without‌ ‌a‌ ‌fly‌ ‌ball‌ ‌caught‌ ‌or‌ ‌a‌ ‌homer‌ ‌hit,‌ ‌my‌ ‌parents‌ ‌decided‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌better‌ ‌off‌ ‌spending‌ ‌my‌ ‌time‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌dance‌ ‌studio. I‌ ‌danced‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌elementary‌ ‌school,‌ ‌middle‌ ‌school‌ ‌and‌ ‌high‌ ‌school‌.

‌ I‌ ‌began‌ ‌having‌ ‌digestive‌ ‌issues during ‌my‌ ‌sophomore‌ ‌year‌ of ‌high‌ ‌school‌. At‌ ‌first,‌ ‌I‌ ‌thought‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌just‌ ‌a‌ ‌stomach‌ ‌bug, but‌ ‌it‌ ‌kept‌ ‌getting‌ ‌worse.‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌losing‌ ‌weight,‌ ‌missing‌ ‌school‌, ‌and‌ ‌unable‌ ‌to‌ ‌do‌ ‌much‌ ‌besides‌ ‌make‌ ‌the‌ ‌journey‌ ‌from‌ ‌my‌ ‌bed‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌bathroom.‌ ‌My‌ ‌concerned‌ ‌parents‌ ‌had‌ ‌me‌ ‌seeing‌ ‌top‌ ‌doctors in the area in order ‌to‌ ‌figure‌ ‌out‌ ‌what‌ ‌was‌ ‌going‌ ‌on.‌ By ‌the age of 15,‌ ‌I‌ ‌had‌ ‌undergone‌ ‌more‌ ‌X-rays,‌ ‌sonograms,‌ colonoscopies,‌ ‌blood‌ ‌draws‌, ‌and‌ ‌doctor visits ‌than‌ ‌any‌ ‌teenager‌ ‌should. And yet, I was getting progressively worse. One‌ ‌day,‌ ‌while‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌hospital‌ ‌for‌ ‌further‌ ‌testing,‌ ‌my‌ ‌doctor‌ ‌told‌ ‌me‌ ‌I’d‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌stay‌ ‌overnight‌ ‌for‌ ‌observation.‌ My‌ ‌body‌ ‌was‌ ‌so‌ ‌weak‌ ‌and‌ ‌depleted that ‌I‌ ‌needed‌ ‌an‌ ‌IV‌ ‌and‌ ‌blood‌ ‌transfusions. ‌‌ Ever‌ ‌optimistic,‌ ‌I‌ ‌thought‌ that ‌after‌ ‌this‌ ‌treatment,‌ ‌I‌ ‌could‌ ‌go‌ ‌back‌ ‌home, sleep in my own bed, return to school and “normal” life.

That‌ ‌one‌ ‌night‌ ‌turned‌ ‌into‌ ‌three‌ ‌straight‌ ‌weeks‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌hospital. ‌ ‌I‌ ‌had‌ ‌IVs‌ ‌in‌ ‌each‌ ‌arm‌ ‌and‌ ‌after‌ ‌my‌ ‌veins‌ ‌couldn’t‌ ‌take‌ ‌it‌ ‌anymore,‌ ‌they‌ ‌moved‌ ‌them‌ ‌to‌ ‌my‌ ‌neck‌ ‌and‌ ‌hand.‌ ‌I‌ ‌couldn’t‌ ‌eat,‌ ‌so‌ ‌I‌ ‌had‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌all‌ ‌my‌ ‌nutrition‌ ‌through‌ ‌the‌ ‌IVs.‌ ‌Despite‌ ‌not‌ ‌eating,‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌still‌ ‌frequenting‌ ‌the‌ bathroom, often‌ ‌losing‌ ‌blood.‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌never‌ ‌forget‌ ‌losing‌ ‌so‌ ‌much‌ ‌blood‌ ‌that‌ ‌I‌ ‌passed‌ ‌out‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌bathroom‌ ‌floor,‌ ‌finally‌ ‌waking‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌doctors‌ ‌and‌ ‌nurses‌ ‌in‌ ‌my‌ ‌face‌ ‌asking‌ ‌my‌ ‌name‌ ‌and‌ ‌where‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌to‌ ‌see‌ ‌if‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌conscious.‌ ‌At‌‌ that‌ ‌moment, I‌ ‌hesitated‌ ‌to‌ ‌answer — optimistic‌ ‌Hally‌ ‌felt‌ ‌defeated‌ ‌and‌ ‌simply‌ ‌tired‌ ‌of‌ ‌fighting.‌ ‌