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One in a Million: Jill Dailey

Posted Suzanna McCloskey on 3/24/2015 |

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This year, Girls on the Run will serve its one-millionth girl! We’re honoring this milestone by celebrating what makes each of us one in a million and by showcasing some one-in-a-million women who have made exceptional contributions to empowering girls and women.

As the Co-Founder and President of The Dailey Method fitness studio, Jill Dailey helps people transform their lives through fitness with classes that combine ballet, pilates and yoga. Jill has moved The Dailey Method from a one-room studio in San Francisco's Marina District to an international fitness enterprise with 56 studios on three continents and counting, all while staying true to her original goal of improving the lives of those she teaches. To Jill, a degreed kinesiologist, The Dailey Method is all about giving people confidence, community and a way to effect positive change in their lives.

Here’s what Jill has to share about being one in a million.

Q: Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?

Jill: About 15 years ago, my husband and I opened the first flagship Dailey Method studio in San Francisco. Two months after the opening, 16 people showed up for my 6:30 a.m. class. I hardly imagined it would turn into what it is today, but in that moment I realized I could pursue my dreams to teach the Method as both my occupation and passion and inspire others to grow confident, strong and healthy.

Initially, the greatest obstacle to achieve my dreams was my fear. When we do something we fear there’s a sense of accomplishment that helps us become braver and stronger. My fear ultimately helped me to realize my dream and open the first studio, and the rest is history, so they say.

Q: Of the traits and achievements that help make you one-in-a-million, what stands out most to you?

Jill: I often tell my students how support is so essential to our lives, to help us grow and succeed. However, we often have a tendency to think of support as something “I give” or as something “I receive”. While giving and receiving support is a beautiful thing, we’re not really capable of fully doing either until we learn self-support, the art of supporting ourselves. In other words, strength. Strength can help us all achieve our dreams and be one in a million.

I visualize and focus on how great it feels to start each day feeling centered and calm, stable and spacious—knowing you are fully supported all the time, and that in every moment you have abundant energy and strength to tap. It’s so easy to be pulled and eventually drained by strong external energies (the people we love, the things we love and the obligations we feel) so it is a life practice to keep coming back to our internal compass, creating and feeling support from within, from ourselves.

Q: Girls on the Run believes that big things are possible when you keep moving forward. One of the ways our girls experience that is when they cross the finish line at the 5k that celebrates their completion of the program. Can you share an example from your own life? 

Jill: In 2011, I was diagnosed with what I call a “touch of cancer.” I’m now in remission, and I’ve learned to be grateful for the journey. At the time of my diagnosis, I felt fear, anger and self-blame, wondering how this could happen when I take such care to exercise and eat healthfully. Through self-reflection, support from family, friends and The Dailey Method community, I came to terms with cancer and saw it as opportunity to grow and move forward. 

At The Dailey Method, an important part of our culture is thinking in terms of “keep and grow.” It's a positive approach to choose what you want to keep in your practice and life and where you need to grow in order to improve. Keep after a cancer diagnosis? Quality time with family and friends and taking the time for quality self time. Grow? Learn to be more present, to appreciate the now and be more proactive with my healthcare. 

I kept on moving forward through this experience and it helped reinvigorate my focus on teaching The Dailey Method. It’s not only my passion and livelihood; it has continued to play a key role in my physical and mental healing.

Being out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. 

Q: Which one of the core values of Girls on the Run resonates most with you and why?

Jill: They are great values and all resonate with me, but "Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health," hits me strongest. This core value of Girls on the Run aligns perfectly with what we teach at The Dailey Method to "align your body, mind and spirit.” Alignment is the foundation of The Dailey Method. Physically, alignment is placing our bones in the proper positions. Mentally, alignment is mindfulness, which is awareness and intentional presence or focus. Spiritually, alignment is comfort and security in faith and the moment when you feel your best self. 

When we achieve these moments of complete alignment, we like to call it “Burning Bright." Whether small or significant, we need to celebrate moments in our lives when we Burn Bright and feel confident, strong and secure. In fact, right now we’re encouraging people to celebrate the many ways they Burn Bright by sharing their favorite Burn Bright moments on Instagram with #burnbrightdailey–it’s amazing and so encouraging to see people’s photos, so we encourage everyone to join in and use the hashtag!

Q: One of the many things our curriculum teaches girls is how to recognize and work through challenges in productive ways. What is a challenge you have faced (or still face)? How did/do you respond, and what have you learned from it?

Jill: A couple of months ago, I was on a hike with my 115-pound Rhodesian ridgeback, Toney, and rolled and broke my ankle. I spent four weeks on crutches and a couple more in a boot. I’m a proponent of trying to take the things that happen to me (good and bad) as an opportunity to learn and grow, and this experience was no different.

When I fell, I had two thoughts simultaneously go through my mind: “What if I won’t be able to wear high heels?” But then I thought, “The universe just knocked me over to slow me down, force me to sit, be present and vulnerable.” This thought is exactly what I’ve worked to focus on through the last couple of months.  

During this time, I coped with my new challenge and worked through a productive solution to continue teaching my classes at The Dailey Method. From the second day I was in the boot and crutches, I figured out how to do at least 80 percent of class, primarily sitting on a small stool. It was an amazing lesson for me on how to help people modify the entire class for foot, ankle and knee problems and made me even more proud of this Method for how accessible it is to people in all conditions.

With a broken foot, I also learned to look at and approach things differently, especially when it wasn’t the easy route. I had two trips to Southern California planned during my crutches phase. My first instinct was to cancel. Traveling would be way too hard to do, right? I was advised by a friend that was crippled for a long time to do everything I could during this time and to learn as much as possible. It wasn’t easy, but it also was not as hard as I thought it would be. Being out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. 

Q: What insight or advice would you offer a young girl today? What would you say now to your 8-year-old self?

Jill: Always be a student. Undoubtedly my favorite part of my job is teaching classes and training teachers. If I knew then, as my 8-year-old self, what I know now, it would be to stay curious, love to learn and be a lifelong student. Teaching at The Dailey Method, I constantly have the opportunity to learn and be inspired by the many talented, intelligent people that are part of our Dailey Method family. Our shared passion for The Dailey Method creates an energy that feeds the love of learning in all of us. When you’re open to learning, feedback and helpful criticism from others you will evolve and achieve more than you imagined. We’re so proud of all of the unique, one-in-a-million girls who are part of Girls on the Run, and we encourage all of them to #burnbrightdailey!


Empower girls in your community to Burn Bright! Donate to your local Girls on the Run council, and The Dailey Method will match up to $10,000 as a donation to Girls on the Run International.


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