Gym Mentality: How to Win Over the Gym Pilates Client
I don’t doubt that there will be many people who disagree with me, but I think the issue in “winning over” the gym client lies in the hands of the gym owner and staff, the gym Pilates studio manager and the gym Pilates teacher. The issue is not the gym client. The client responds however he or she is taught to respond by the gym, manager and teachers. I’ve heard a lot of talk over the years about the struggles of teaching in gym. I think these struggles are possible to overcome.
With that, I’m not saying it’s not a tough nut to crack, but it can be done!
First of all, it’s important for a gym/club that has Pilates to actually know what Pilates is, value it and advertise it to its clients. If a gym is going to have Pilates, it must find it worthy. It seems that many see Pilates as an awful nuisance that ought to be hidden in the back corner of the basement or the farthest reach in the upstairs. Some gyms are thrilled to have Pilates, know what it’s about, want to have their clients benefit from it, know that it is a draw for clients, etc. A lot of gyms want the cache of saying they have Pilates, but don’t promote because they don’t understand it and think that it will conflict with their personal training.
Those gyms that think it will conflict with their personal training unfortunately don’t see the bigger picture. They only see that a client can afford 3 personal training sessions a week. If 1 or more of these training sessions goes to the Pilates studio, then some gyms fear there are fewer funds available for the personal trainers in the weight and other fitness areas. They are more willing to have mat classes than Pilates studios with sessions. And then dismiss the studios if they have them.
How do you get around this closed way of thinking? You’ve got to work really hard to educate the general manager and owner of your gym. Don’t be shy. This is your passion and your job. Your livelihood! You’ve got to go talk with them and then give them Pilates sessions. Yes, free sessions, but it will pay off in the long run! And you’ve got to be a great Pilates teacher. You’ve got to know how to teach strongly to men and women and vigorously as it was designed because that actually does fit in a gym setting.
A lot of people have the mistaken notion that Pilates is stretch class or yoga and feel that it is too light to be considered a workout that satisfies a gym person. Maybe that’s because that’s how it’s being taught: light and airy. Remember that Pilates was created by a man for men. A German man for German men. It’s Contrology that was created by a German man for German men. And you know what? (Forgive me.) The way that Contrology has been turned into Pilates is, indeed, often too light and airy and not going to appeal to men who run a gym and therefore men who go to a gym. Pilates exercise are often taught with the flair of a dancer or the peace of a yogi, but that was not the initial intention.
So, you’ve got to be able to teach Pilates the way it was intended: as a strong workout! You’ve got to be physically strong, teach with confidence and command, use lower registers of your voice and have the through line of solid, muscular workout in each session.
Go to the owner and general manager and teach them the way Mr. Pilates intended!
It’s actually the Pilates studio manager at the gym who needs to have the strength to go to the owner and general manager. And he or she has to truly be the type who is more than just a Pilates teacher, but a leader. Not a leader because she likes the title, but a true leader who knows how to work with people, create a healthy atmosphere, coral clients of the gym into the studio, excite the gym’s personal trainers about Pilates and more!
The Pilates studio manager has to be able to put together a presentation that shows the true value of Pilates to the gym and personal trainers. She has to demonstrate the value to everyone and not give up. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard a manager complain about the gym and how they are so terrible! If you don’t feel you can do anything about and are unwilling to truly do everything under the sun, then get out and give the job to someone who can do something. Until then, do everything you can to make it happen for your studio! Believe in Pilates and get them to believe it, too! With that, if you really, really have tried everything that you can imagine and they still won’t value Pilates, but are insistent in having at the gym, I also suggest getting out because you are in a losing battle with people who will never value what you hold so dear.
As for the teachers, I share the same sentiment: Believe in what you do and do it really well and you will have clients. You must not teach “Pilates-lite”, as I call it, which, as I mentioned before can be mistaken for yoga (which I love and practice on my own, but is not Pilates) or stretch class or dance (I am a dancer, so I’m not knockin’ it). Again, you must teach with the strength of a man as though you are teaching men even if you are a woman teaching women. The entire Method comes to life and light if you do. If you teach flowery and dancer-like as though every person is delicate, then Pilates does not belong in the gym and they are correct. Men, you have to watch out for this, too. Just because your client is a woman doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need strength.
It’s all about strength! Pilates is a strength training program. It strengthens your body and mind. You’ve got to “dig in” with your teaching. I’ll repeat: You’ve got to be physically strong, teach with confidence and command, use lower registers of your voice and have the through line of solid, muscular workout in each session. The moment you notice yourself being light and dainty (this is for men as well as women), you have to replace it with strong and commanding. That doesn’t mean harsh, angry or rude. It means strong. Command with kindness. Light and dainty belongs elsewhere…not in a Pilates studio whether it be in a gym or a dedicated Pilates studio.
You can train your gym clients in the gym Pilates studio very successfully. You have to be strong and confident with both management and clients. Pilates teachers are highly specialized personal trainers. That’s what we are. Go in there and train your clients!
****Please take a moment to comment on this blog or just say hello! I am grateful that you’ve read this post and perhaps have read other posts of this blog. I’d love to know who you are, what you think, what you need in this Pilates world. Comment, ask questions, etc. Thank you!!!****
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