Inspired by one interaction after another of poor business practice and a lot of frustration, I realize that I can either be frustrated and angry or work to make change. So…I will work to make change.
Join me in working towards making Pilates more of a profession!
The world of Pilates is still very young. Pilates as a business is still in its infancy, but we as Pilates practitioners are not. Still, I am saddened by the lack of adult and professional practices within this very young business. So much so that I feel it is barely a business yet. Are you a hobbiest in Pilates or is this your job? If you’re a hobbiest, then you are off the hook and may choose to not read on. If you are enjoying instructing a bit of Pilates here and there and have little concern for the future of this burgeoning business, then keep at it and enjoy! However, if you are not a hobbiest and instructing or even teaching Pilates is what you call you job or your business, then listen up:
There is a shameful lack of serious business protocol and attitude in the Pilates world. It doesn’t show us in a good light. It shows us as an amateurs. Perhaps many are…but is that how you want to be seen?
Yes, you are reading a bit of anger and frustration in my writing. Pilates is my profession. It is not my hobby. I came into it as a side-job and have made a career out of it. There are many who say they are doing the same, but they do not behave as though they are. Together, let’s raise Pilates up to a really respectable profession!
Here’s what we need…here’s what I encourage you to do to raise the level of professionalism in our business…you’ll still be friendly and warm and caring…but professional:
1 – Fees/Rates: Set a rate and stick with it. No discounts for this one or that one…just stick to your rate. And don’t ask for discounts or trades from or with others. Your time is precious. Value yourself and your time. Look at what the norm in your area is and set your rate accordingly. Step beyond fear and ask for payment. Remind clients when they need to pay you. You work for it…you deserve to be paid.
2 – Cancellation Policy: Set a 24-hour cancellation policy and stick to it. No exceptions. Your gynecologist doesn’t make exceptions for you. Your orthopedist doesn’t make exceptions. Your accountant doesn’t make exceptions. Why do you diminish yourself by allowing people to schedule time with you and then not pay you because they “forgot” or “didn’t feel well this morning” or their “nanny didn’t show up this morning”. It’s difficult at first, until you realize that your time is precious. Value yourself. Be very clear about your policy and then keep to it. I tell my first time clients upon confirming their first session “I have a very strict 24-hour cancellation policy. If you need to cancel your appointment, please do so no later than 24 hours before your appointed time or I will have to charge your for the session. I apologize, but even 23 hours is not sufficient. It must be at least 24 hours. Thank you.” And I stick to it.
Is it harsh? Is it stiff? No…it’s business. There is a difference between friendship, family and business. We must not run our businesses as though everyone is our friend or family member. Within that 55 minutes, there is a great connection, but this is a business…and strong business practices must apply.
3 – Clients are not friends: You may, of course, become friendly with clients, but they are not your friends. They are your clients. I tread a fine line since most of my clients are fellow teachers. I have to make sure that in the studio, we have a business relationship and I follow strong business practices. Outside of the studio, there I can be personal. But when it comes to that session, scheduling, payment…it’s got to be business first.
How do we encourage respect if we do not respect ourselves? When we teach, we “command with kindness”, I say. When we do business, we must do the same.
With that, keep your personal issues to yourself. You can lightly touch on that you are having a challenging day or week, but do not get into details with your clients. They are not your friends or therapists. They are there to get a specialized workout. Why would they pay you to talk? It might seem OK for a while…and they are still coming…but eventually they will leave you because they are not getting what they came for. They adore you…and want you to be their daughter or son…but you’ve got to be more professional than that…be their Pilates teacher!
4 – Banks Are For Loans…Clients Are For Sessions: Do not accept loans from clients. Do not let them fund your next studio, buy you a reformer or pay this month’s rent. If you are having trouble, do not share that with your clients. Go to a bank and get yourself a loan. Keep business business. Money is tricky stuff. You will change your relationship with your client when you now “owe” them. They are so sweet for offering, but you must decline. You’ve got to draw the line. Even if they give you this loan as a trade for sessions. Instead, let them pay you for sessions and you take that money and put it into an account to save for whatever it is that you’re wanting.
5- Personal Presentation: The Pilates studio is your workplace. Dress for it. Wear clean, well-fitting fitness clothing. Please do not wear street clothes to teach Pilates. Wear fitness clothing. You may wear whatever you’d like to the studio, but change your clothing to teach sessions. Wear clothing that allows you to move, doesn’t end up showing parts of your body that should remain hidden to other’s eyes (sportswear keep your breasts tucked away, your plumber’s crack safely hidden from sight). Wear socks and shoes! For safety’s sake wear sneakers! No flip-flops or bare feet in the Pilates studios. You need support. You need security. How can you brace a footbar or pedal with your feet if they are bare or poorly clad? You will break a toe trying to save your client (which is your job, of course). And should you take your shoes off…please have clean feet. I cannot tell you how many dirty-footed teachers I have seen. Wash your feet. Wash your hands Also, wear deodorant. It can be totally natural, but wear deodorant. Doesn’t need to be anti-perspirent. Just stay clean-smelling. Wash your hair (yes, I have worked with many teachers need to wash their hair and get the smelly “funk” out). If your doctor smelled the way some of these teachers smell…you’d throw a fit. Present yourself as a professional.
6 – Be organized and efficient: Pilates is a very organized and efficient method…you must learn from it and practice Pilates in all areas of your life. Every apparatus should be well set up at the beginning and end of each use. All apparatus ought to be cleaned right after use…not at the end of the session…right after you use it. Yes…even the pedal to the wunda chair. I often wonder why so many wunda chair pedals are coated in dirt…have your client wipe it down. Keep all accessories in set areas. Clean your floors…often. Clean your toilets in your studio. Have enough spray bottles/cleaner. Make sure all apparatus work…all of the time. If something breaks…get it fixed…quickly.
7 – Continue Your Education: Continue your education because you want to learn more so that you’re able to be a better teacher; so that you enrich yourself. Don’t continue your education because some teacher training program tells you that you won’t be certified without credits that they “approve”. Do it of your own accord. And study beyond your own school of Pilates. Study anatomy, business, mechanics, psychology…dig in and learn. Enrich yourself and you will glow from the inside out. You will really own the material.
Study beyond your well-informed intuition. Intuition is lovely and a great place to start. Natural talent is a starting place…not an end. Educate yourself and really know what you’re talking about. Your gut sense of something cannot compare to the reality of study and research. Perhaps you’ll find that your gut and research are exactly aligned…excellent-well! Let’s find out!
Let’s work to add greater respect to the world of Pilates. Let’s make it more of a profession and less of a hobby…even if it is your hobby. In that 55 minute session, the scheduling, the payment…be a Pilates Professional.
If you have questions about what to do in any given situation…ask me. I’m here to help you. It’s not easy being a practitioner who has a little or big business, now. How do you go from friend to business person; from hobbiest to professional? Ask. I will help you. Let’s set great examples for each other and our community!
*****As always…please feel free to comment, ask questions, request a blog post/article topic, etc. Whatever you need, relative to Pilates, please just ask and I will work to provide! See below for workshop and session details! Thank you for taking the time to further your Pilates education with me!******
June 3, 4, 2011 – TBD – Stay tuned for a possible adventure across the pond!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
9-10am – Thematic Mat Class
Archival Mat and Standing Exercises:
There are many more version of Mr. Pilates’ exercises than we see today. Variations, modifications, combinations of multiple exercises in one! Fascinating, challenging and all the rest! These versions should not just live in the memories of those of us who had access to them years ago. They ought to be living, breathing exercises for those who need the modification or challenge! Experience this material, then teach it so we never lose track of these great exercises!
The World of The Chairs: High Chair and Wunda Chair – Your Body’s Best Friends!
You didn’t know if you should invest in a high chair, but you did…and you hardly use it. Or maybe you haven’t bought one and wonder if you ought to It’s an amazing tool! You deserve to learn how to use it to it’s fullest for you and your clients 0 from Session 1 to Session 4001. Then there’s the wunda chair, the “home reformer”. So many exercises, it’s almost overwhelming to pick and choose…and you pick the same 3 or 4 over and over again. Let’s open the doors to the World of The Chairs! Let’s work to understand the purpose of each exercise on each chair and make it come alive for you and your client!
For registration and pricing information, contact Elaine at Rhinebeck Pilateswww.RhinebeckPilates.com
Saturday, June 18, 2011
NYC – Real Pilates
Shoulder Girdle: A Delicate Balance
The Shoulder Girdle is a complex system. When I first started teaching, all I knew was “pull your wings down” and “crack a walnut”. The more I study biomechanics, the more I know there’s very little down and no cracking. It’s a delicate balance of bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons…and constant reassessing. Dynamic Stability is what we’re looking for. Let’s spend time studying where we’re going with the shoulder girdle and how to get there in Pilates. We’ll take time with anatomy and biomechanics, Pilates exercises, common ailments and all of your questions. Take a moment to review what you already know before the workshop…then we can grow from there.
Register atwww.realpilatesnyc.com Go to the option “Browse our classes” and then click on “Workshops”. You’ll see it there! If you prefer, you can just call 212.625.0777 .
***Please share this information and tell your Pilates teacher friends and colleagues to come on over for workouts and workshops that will get your Pilates-teaching-juices flowing.***
Again, these are not your typical workshops where you might get 1 useful tidbit. You will leave full of new teaching skills and ways to look at Mr. Pilates work. You will have a new perspective on Pilates that will enliven your teaching and your own workouts!
Shall we set up something at your studio or the one you work at? Clearly, I travel to teach and enjoy it! Read below for more info!
Workshops in Your Studio:
While my vocabulary is classical Pilates, the principles behind my teaching and workshops apply to every style of Pilates.
We have countless topics to play with within technique workshops of classical Pilates and teaching skills workshop that apply to all!
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