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Ballet Austin’s Butler Center for Dance and Fitness

A Pilates class at Ballet Austin

The arts are alive in Austin. On any given night you could stroll past a performance by a nationally renowned musician in a tiny venue in the Texas capital. Your morning run could well take you past the baseball field made famous in Dazed and Confused.

The exterior of Ballet Austin

In the live music capital of the world, a city bedecked with murals and situated along the beautiful bends of the Colorado River, Ballet Austin fits right in. It’s known as an arts ambassador for the city—the professional dance company has performed everywhere from Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center to a multi-destination tour across China. 

That’s why its Butler Center for Dance and Fitness—a studio for the general public that exists within the Ballet—is unique. 

Whereas you probably can’t jam with the band Spoon every day—or take film classes from Richard Linklater—you can learn to dance and stay in shape with Ballet Austin.

“Since we’re located in a professional performing arts organization, it can be a little intimidating for people,” says Vicki Parsons, the Butler Center’s director. “It’s a challenge we’ve had to overcome.”

Created in 2007, the Butler Center includes a full Pilates studio and space for fitness and dance classes, which it offers to the public seven days a week. 

“We created it thinking that dance and fitness is for everybody,” Parsons said. “We want people to move and be active and have fun.”

They guessed right when they thought dance and fitness would appeal to everyone. The Center’s attendance grew 400% in its first year. While that wasn’t a bad thing, it did lead to some difficulties, Parsons said. 

“We were on a good, old-fashioned punch card system. And, we were having a hard time keeping up,” Parsons said. “We were losing addresses and missing payments. We didn’t know if they took a jazz or fitness class of some kind.”

BOLD Growth

To combat the chaos and impose some much-needed order, the Butler Center staff began using MINDBODY in 2011. Since then, its reporting abilities helped the studio manage its growth, which has ballooned to 11,000 clients per year. 

In 2016, Parsons began attending BOLD—MINDBODY’s annual conference—to gain insight and knowledge from speakers and her peers in the fitness industry. 

“It’s the one time a year when I can step away from the business and actually unplug and then be inspired and motivated,” Parsons said. “I always take something new back with me.”

In 2016, Parsons said she picked up tips for how to make the front desk experience better for her clients and staff.

“We went away with a lot of practical tips to help them grow, and own it,” Parsons said. 

In the years since, her team focused on marketing education offered at the event, which was hugely helpful she said. 

Overall, Parsons is an advocate for attending BOLD.

"You have to be filled up in order to fill other people up,” she said. “I don’t think you can deliver great service without being fully motivated and inspired every day.”

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