The signature method of Bridget O’Carroll’s Studio Qila is meant to be a challenge, and O’Carroll encourages students to sit with that feeling, not ignore it.
But while living the struggle is a central part of high-intensity, low-impact Pilates-style classes, O’Carroll says what a Studio Killa challenge looks like should vary from person to person and even from day to day, based on what your body needs when You hit the mat. That’s why he always includes variations in his exercises and instructs his students to practice “structure over ego”: choosing what you can most effectively accomplish, not what you “should” do based on external factors like competition or achievement.
“Yes, my method is designed to be really tough, but I try to couple it as opposed to being kind to your body and changing when you need to,” says O’Carroll. “I encourage you to notice how things feel and when you need something, you make that change because that’s what’s going to work best for you in the long run.”
But just because something isn’t the most advanced-ideal repetition of a move doesn’t make it difficult, notes O’Carroll. What you can do while maintaining good form is actually going to make your body work in the most powerful way, where if you reach for a move that isn’t right for you at that moment, you’re going to compensate in a way that’s a less effective move. For example, if you do a push-up on your toes when you’re already tired, you run the risk of dumping that work on your lower back instead of focusing on your chest and core.
O’Carroll has native Alaskan roots, creating Studio Killa, founded in 2021, the first locally owned online fitness platform. The concept of “pushing through discomfort to create change” is a core principle of Studio Killer Fitness classes, building community, self-work and supporting BIPOC groups. Donation classes and a portion of profits go to charity, and this year Studio Killa launched a blog to help share more ways the community can give back to Native causes.
O’Carroll brings the philosophy of “form over ego” from her fitness classes to everyday life—and her students hope so, too.
“You can take that mindset when things get tough in the studio, but you can also apply that mindset to your everyday life outside of the studio,” O’Carroll says. “Like allowing yourself to be challenged, allowing yourself to find some acceptance in that, and that helps you grow stronger.”
O’Carroll, both a product manager at Google and founder of Studio Killa, says he’s stimulated and inspired by the challenges of running his own business and working in technology. At the same time, rest days (often spent cuddling with her dog) are key to maintaining that energy. To support this type of balance, Studio Killa recently introduced stretch classes and integrated these sessions as well as total rest days into a new year challenge.
Choosing “form over ego” can feel especially difficult in January, when all the messages around us are telling us to push, push, push. But fully acknowledging our bodies’ abilities, whether in transition, a high-intensity day or a day of rest, can help us navigate the new year and beyond.
“It’s a balance,” O’Carroll said.
The Studio Killer New Year’s Challenge begins on January 9. You can sign up here, and if you’re a new user, you’ll get a 40 percent discount. Another holiday gift from Bridget: Use code WELLANDGOOD at checkout for $10 off, equal to one free class. If you’ve been thinking about it, try this 18-minute workout by Bridget O’Carroll that’s designed to make you look good and put your ego first.