How to Talk Less and Teach Your Clients More!

When I first learned how to teach Pilates I was provided with a framework on what say for the first rep, second rep, and third rep. And, while that framework was great for me as a  newbie instructor I soon realized that all those words did not add up to teaching my client anything. It’s easy as Pilates instructors to think we have to cue, correct and talk a lot to help our clients “get” Pilates. But, what if you could talk less and your clients could learn even more?

In a recent interview I did with Breathe Educations Raphael Bender I shared a story about how Jay Grimes told me and my fellow Work crew how you cannot “talk” Pilates into a client. That a clients body will be the best teacher for them. And, how our job is to provide them with the exercises that will allow their body to connect, move and grow stronger.

I know for me, when I heard this, I was slightly skeptical. But, then after practicing it as a teacher, I realized that not only did I have more energy after a day of clients my clients felt that the workout was automatically harder. One client even thought I was “mad at them” because he felt like I had anti-upped their workout. I hadn’t. It was the same workout as the week before. The only thing I did differently was start them off on the exercise and then asked them to feel something while they moved. I didn’t give them any other corrections or cues.

Since that session, we haven’t gone back to the old ways of me guiding them through every rep.

How do you know you might be talking too much? 

Well, there are a few signs. One, they get confused from rep three and four, they don’t “get” or “feel” the exercise and the last one is my favorite. They come in telling you something you have been trying to tell them for years!

I had a client that I had been telling for a couple years how to stand up straight only to just let it go when I decided to stop “talking” Pilates into my client’s bodies. One day she came in and showed me how she discovered to stand up straight on her own. It was all the cues I had been giving her for years. She finally was ready to do it on her own. And, her body was at a place of strength, ability, and coordination to do the thing.

So, how can you try to incorporate talking less and allowing them to feel more?

  1. Ask them a question? What can they try to discover on their own while they move?
  2. Allow it to be ugly. Safe but ugly. Don’t correct their bodies to make them look like they are doing the exercise. Looks can be deceiving. It can look like a Teaser but they can be totally in their quads and lower back and not their center at all.
  3. What other exercises around the room can teach the concept of the exercise you are trying to correct. Or, trying to teach them. I never teach Horseback on the Reformer until they are doing Spine Stretch, Arm Circles, Side Splits, Standing Arm Springs, and Push-down. All of those exercises have key elements of Horseback on the reformer. So, when they go to do the horseback I can ask them for more push down or more teaser or more side splits.
  4. Give them permission to take ownership of their workout and remember their exercises. Think up daily life activities that an exercise help them do and encourage them to think about them as they are out and about. They will be so excited when they are out doing their life and they can call upon their Pilates that they’ll want to dive into it, even more, to see what other activities get easier.

Why does talking less help your clients?

  1. When you take one sensory away the others step up a notch. If they are not constantly trying to do whatever you say the mind and touch sensors will pick up the slack and connect quicker.
  2. Clients will always try to appease you and do what you say and will get frustrated with themselves and Pilates when they feel they cannot do what you are asking. If you let their bodies see what they can take each exercise your client will feel more successful.
  3. On their own, they will be more inclined to do their Pilates homework because they won’t have you coaching them through as a crutch.
  4. Their body is smart, and given the chance to be its own captain it will step up!

How can do begin to incorporate this into your next session?

  1. Start small. Don’t go from talking every rep to being silent and miming. Instead, see how much they can do an exercise without your coaching. Maybe talk every other rep.
  2. Think about your client and think about the exercises they struggle with the most. Then give them other exercises that could teach them at the beginning of the session. Then call upon what they felt in those exercises throughout the rest of their session.
  3. When in doubt about what to say try “Keep Going.” And, just see what happens.
  4. Self check-When you work yourself out how much are you correcting every move you make? Try to talk half as much the next time.

Change takes time. Whether you are trying to change how you teach and talk or how a client does an exercise. Pilates is a practice and they have their whole life to “get it.” So, give them the freedom to make some errors along the way. Give them permission to move. Give yourself credit for all that you know and get creative with what your client needs to do the exercises you want them to do.

For more on this stay tuned for an upcoming webinar or check out a mini-course on this topic. Or, if you’re wanting more training on this contact me here and we can do some personal training and observation on your teaching. In the meantime enjoy saying few words and watching Pilates teach more.


Pilates Studio Owners: How Do Clients Purchase Classes?

But, how do clients purchase classes? In the most recent (and first ever) Pilates in America study, they discovered that the majority of class participants purchase their classes by the package. With a small percentage purchasing one class at a time. Even fewer buying into unlimited packages. When I first became a Pilates instructor I started out teaching Mat Pilates classes. I rented space in a studio, picked my times and set my own class rates. And then I set a package rate. Why? Because packages keep a client committed! And if a client is committed to coming to class then they reap the benefits of Pilates and then they continue to come package after package. Packages may seem like the way to save money for a client but they are key for client retention in your Pilates studio!

Now, at first glance, you might be like yep! But, what this information doesn’t tell us is how many people have the opportunity to buy unlimited but forgo it to purchase the packages. Or, if people are buying individual because they cannot buy a package.

So, what does all this mean for you Pilates studio owners? What should you be taking away from this bit of info?

  1. Do you offer packages for your classes? If yes, which packages are the best sellers? Which are the least sellers? I know the norm is to offer a few levels of class packages but if most people are loving your ten pack and almost no one is buying the five or 20 then why even offer them. Save yourself the time of explaining all the package types and just keep the most popular and best for your business. The few options the less confusing it is for a new client determining what to do next. If no, why? Is it a tracking issue, a platform issue or a personal choice? Clients who have packages want to use their sessions. They are less likely to check out the classes down the street if they are already in a committed package with you!
  2. Are you offering an unlimited option? What I have discovered is that an unlimited class membership while tempting for both the client and the studio there is a good chance if you don’t have the numbers to support it that you may end up paying for people to come to your classes. So, if you are offering this do a double check and make sure it’s worth it. If you are not offering it but have been contemplating keep in mind that this works great IF you have a ton of people that buy into it and many who don’t take the full advantage of coming every day and all day! This membership works great for yoga studios and gyms where they are not limited by the number of reformers in a studio or the number of towers. You may discover that a limited monthly membership is more beneficial to both you and your client.
  3. How many of your clients use their packages in a timely fashion? You may be thinking, “LL, I’ve so got this. All my peep’s buy packages!” And, I will high five you! That is great news. But, if they are buying a ten pack and only coming once a week but it takes them fifteen to twenty weeks to use that package then that is not good. The key to client retention is that they feel the benefits of coming to your studio regularly. So, are you offering enough options that allow people with big packages to use them in a timely fashion? If you are not because you cannot then maybe slightly smaller packages to keep your income consistent. Or, if you are but they seem to not be able to make it to Pilates consistently how can you incentivize them to come extra when they are going to go out of town or to use their package up by a certain time?

Pricing, packaging and class times are works of art! There is no perfect time, number or amount that I can give you. Everybody’s business is unique to them and their community. But, it’s nice to have some evidence to back up what you can do to support your business and retain your Pilates class clients. For more on filling and marketing your group classes check out my course.  Dive into your numbers and make sure they are working for you!


PS for more on client retention check out this course here.

Pilates Instructor and Studio Owner: How To Take A Vacation!

How easy is it for you to take time off from your Pilates business? If you are a Pilates instructor or studio owner you get paid when you have clients in the door. And, if you’re not there it’s tough to get paid. But, what if you could take a vacation or travel to teach and still keep your Pilates business running?

In the coming months I will be traveling for meetings, my next Pilates retreat to Cambodia and Maui, workshops in the UK, Spain, and Florida (shhh this one is top secret click here to be the first to know the deets). And, while all that travel sounds exciting it also means many weeks away from my clients in Los Angeles.

But, ever since I began managing people (since 2004) I have had the same motto. Put your life in your schedule first, your workouts, your travel, your goals and you can do the things you want. You can take the workshops you want to take, go to the Pilates Method Alliance in Vegas, join me on a retreat or do something totally not Pilates related!

It’s time your clients and studio understood what a Pilates instructor vacation looks like. With the tips below make this coming year the year you can take vacations from teaching and still keep the reformer wheels rolling.

Studio Owners Vacation prep tips
1) Have clients who come more than once a week used to taking Pilates from different teachers so when one goes on vacation; they are used to seeing someone else
2) Prepare studio staff and clients well in advance. By having things on the books early, you can keep other teachers from taking off when you want to be away (if you don’t have vacation policies lets have a call about this). Early announcements also allows clients to book their trips around yours or come extra before and after so no sessions are missed
3) Replace the word “cancel” with “reschedule.” No sessions get canceled they get rescheduled, and they should make up sessions missed for trips, or if they are in town take from another teacher, so they stay on track to hit their goals and bodies needs
4) Hire a team, not individuals. Create a culture in your studio that everyone succeeds together. This way no one person thinks it’s all about them but instead that you and each teacher in your studio deserve a vacation and everyone helps each other out!

Pilates Instructors Vacation prep tips
1) Have teachers that you always use to sub for you when you travel. If you train your clients to take from another teacher when you are away, they won’t get out of the habit of taking Pilates. Then when you get back no time has been lost!
2) Look back at your last 12 months of teaching (if possible) and see when the majority of your clients took off. Can you plan around those times?
3) Let your clients no far in advance so they can plan around your trip or you can teach them extra before you leave and when you get back.
4) Schedule early, and they will be able to schedule their life around Pilates instead of fitting Pilates into their life.

My dear Pilates pro’s I live by these tips and a few others that allow me to not teach at least 12 weeks a year. My schedule to travel and teach workshops to fellow Pilates instructors continues to grow. But, my LA clients deserve a consistent Pilates practice. With careful planning and training them to take from other instructors or do more Pilates before and after my trips my teaching business does not suffer when I go off to teach around the world or take a much-needed vacation.

To dive deeper into this, please check out our past blog “How to have a life and be a Pilates instructor.” We also have my most popular course on scheduling “Never a Dull Moment.” And, because its so important to me that taking time off to do the things you love, teaching around your goals and not fitting your goals into your teaching schedule check out this course “Teaching your Vision.”


PS as always you can comment below or contact me here with your questions or requests for blogs or webinars and courses. We are designing 2018’s calendar and want to give you more of what you want!

How to Keep Pilates Clients Coming Back

Pilates client retention is not always the first thing we want to think about when it comes to our Pilates business. In fact, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t even have to think about how to keep your Pilates clients. It would just happen, like magic. But aside from knowing how to teach the exercises, retaining clients is essential for maintaining a full schedule.

Clients do not grow on trees. And while Pilates should speak for itself there are some things we can and should do that will help our clients come back again and again, week after week. And, lucky for you, retaining clients is something that you have the most control in.

The truth is the cost of gaining a new customer is high! It’s so much easier to keep the clients you have coming back. Some of these tools are already in your hands.

  1. Client Packages: if they buy into a package they are now committed to you and Pilates for the remainder of that package
  2. Cancellation Policies: While these are usually in place to protect your time these policies also help the client stay accountable for their Pilates practice. This means they feel the results and they continue to show up
  3. Scheduling their Pilates in advance: If you find yourself asking clients when they are coming in next you may be risking losing a client to a busy schedule. Instead, “sell” the time slot they love to them. Make them schedule out in advance and this way they schedule their busy lives around their Pilates session with you.

We’ve discussed attracting new clients on the blog here before. And, even have a course dedicated to it. Client Retention has also made an appearance. And due to many emails, calls and Dm’s from our readers we went and made our Client Retention webinar an online course. So, now you can watch it when it’s the perfect time for you.

Try these tips and for more advice on client retention check out our latest online course “Client Retention” for your Pilates business.



Money, Rates, Revenue Streams and Pilates

It is absolutely possible to make money as a Pilates Instructor! I feel I have to open with that statement as many teachers lament about how it’s not possible to make money in the Pilates business. Or that they do this as a hobby because they have other means of income that pay the bills. But, I am here to tell you that with proper business systems, setting rates that reflect what you’re worth and maybe a little outside of the box thinking you can make a living as a Pilates instructor.

Some of you reading this will be nodding in agreement while others I know may take a little more convincing. I’ll admit when I first began teaching Pilates I asked my friends what they were offering and basically set up shop “business as usual.” I didn’t even think about varying up my Pilates teaching revenue streams. I mean, we schedule someone, they pay and that’s pretty much that.

But, what if you could break the mold? Or, what if you could at least make the mold fit you and where you want to grow as a Pilates instructor. I’ve written about charging what you’re worth in past blogs “Why you should never apologize for what you charge” and “How to Maximize your Earnings as a Pilates Instructor.

Truth is if you know the way you like to show up teaching: privates, group, virtually or a combination of any of those not only will you enjoy your work life more.  But to do this you will have to have a better idea of where all your money is coming from. I’m sure you have rates for privates, semi-privates or duets, mat class, equipment class, first-time session, in-home sessions and insert-your-other-options here. It can be so confusing. How often do you check and see where you make the most of your income? Are you offering packages and taking up decision-making space (and marketing dollars) on options no one is using? Are you maximizing your desired way to teach?

I’m sure you are nodding your head yes….but just to make sure you’re up to date on this info use your scheduling software to run a report on this year so far. Where is all your income coming from? What are your best selling packages? Worst? What session or class times are most booked and least booked? And, who are your best clients (not just nicest but the ones that show up the most)? Is it who you thought it would be?

Once you have this info do you think you would change some of your offerings? Maybe ditch a package option…or class time that isn’t bringing you as much money as a standing private would. Lastly, if you could make money any other way teaching Pilates what would it be? Workshops? Online offerings?

Yes, it used to be that every teacher and studio offered Pilates in pretty much the same things but that doesn’t mean you have to. It doesn’t mean you need to offer packages or multiple package options. You are in charge of your business and you can set your rates and offerings, however, works for you. And, I hope that you do!  Because if you are doing your Pilates business as usual (like everyone who came before you). You could be losing money. And, that would be a bummer!

This week we are going LIVE and talking your rates, Pilates teacher revenue streams, and how to take your dreams as a Pilates instructor and monetize them. Join me by registering here. And, if you would like the full Fall series click here.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of where your money comes from and where we can maximize your revenue streams!


Are You Committing One of These First Time Session Killers?

Your new client walks in, fills out the paperwork, signs the cancellation policy, works out and says “Thanks, I’ll think about it.” And then heads on out and you never hear back from them. First time Pilates sessions are like first dates. For the most part, they all seem pretty great on the surface. But, most first dates are just that, first dates. They don’t all lead (thankfully so) to a second date or more. But, when it comes to our Pilates businesses we would like most first-time sessions to become lifetime clients. Afterall, if they don’t how will we have a sustainable and healthy Pilates business?

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Can a Multi Level Pilates Class Improve Your Business?

As I’m about to dive into my newest webinar on Group Pilates classes I thought it only fitting to have Joel Crosby owner of Vitality Method in Atlanta, GA shares the importance of multi-level group classes. Afterall, I know many teachers do not often have the space for group classes or perhaps you only have one piece of each apparatus?  Offering group classes can be essential for getting more students in a room, offering options for clients to get more sessions in a week and for some at rates they can afford. But, are you limiting yourself by offering classes where everyone does the same exercises at the same time?

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Why Should You Listen to Your Clients?

Before you think I’m going to suggest you let your clients talk during the whole Pilates session let me just say that this is not about being a therapist or friend to your client. This post is about listening for key clues that help you teach them better, grow your business more and retain your clients for a lifetime. Rest assured you will not have to be the shoulder they cry on (although that can happen) or their dating advice expert. But, what you will hear when you are truly listening (and sometimes not with your ears) will be what sets you apart from the rest. Having good listening skills can be the difference between someone giving up Pilates when tough times hit. Good listening skills can mean client referrals and a healthy, thriving business vs one that is constantly trying to get more new clients to replace the ones that “got bored,” or “became too busy.” Think you listen well?

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Ditching the Churn-Tips on Client Retention

One of my clients is getting ready to go off to college. I have been teaching her since she was thirteen years old. I can’t believe that her slots will be open in just a few weeks. Losing a client to college or moving away isn’t anything I can control. In fact, that is an amazing opportunity worth celebrating and a lucky Pilates instructor will be gaining a wonderful client. But, what about those clients who come do a package or two and then miss a session, go on a vacation and then when we follow up…crickets. Where did they go? Why did they go? Was there something I could have done to retain them?

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How to Handle the Excuses for Not Doing Pilates

Recently my friend and Yoga Instructor were chatting about the famous excuse we often get “I’m not in shape enough for Pilates.” Well, she gets “I’m not flexible enough for yoga.” I say it’s famous because I know all of you instructors have heard the same phrase before too. “I’ll call you when I get more in shape, flexible, have more time and insert-latest-excuse-for-procrastination-here.”

I remember when I was a new instructor trying so hard to win them over and responding with all the ways that Pilates would help them get in shape, become more flexible, save them time at the gym, etc. Now, years later and a schedule so full of coaching and teaching I do not have the space for clients not begging for a slot I wish someone had told me a better way to respond to those “excuse filled potential clients.”

You know who I am talking about, those people that are soo busy! They have this and that. Then there are those who want to lose weight before they start. How about the ones that are going to do their own thing for a bit and when they are stronger they will come back? How are you supposed to respond to these clients? Should you? Do you beg? Do you begin listing all the bullet points and Pilates principles to get them to sign up? Do you shrug your shoulders and walk away?

None of the above! Seriously, you cannot convince anyone of anything with words. You’re not going to change their mind in a moment. They have made their minds up. All you can do is be an open and welcome space for when they are ready. Wait! Don’t click off this or roll your eyes at me just yet. I promise I have tips for you.

Try these tips:
1) Are your website and social channels an open and welcoming space showing what life as a Pilates client with you is like? If you have videos and images of clients like them doing Pilates, then your studio will speak for itself. If this client can see themselves in your studio, see inflexible students getting their Pilates on or, reading testimonials from clients who came super out of shape and now because of you are in their best shape. Maybe, they see a class schedule designed for the busy working client? Instead of telling them you can help them with their problem show them how you do that!

2) Understand but don’t agree You can totally empathize with them but you don’t have to agree with them. Just because I said you cannot talk this person into changing their mind doesn’t mean you agree. Take the time to get to know them a bit more and connect with them. Some people like to throw their excuses out there to “pre-reject” and protect themselves from possibly being humiliated or rejected. In their mind, you might not want to work with them because they are too insert reason for not starting Pilates here.

3) Play a little hard to get You know how in the dating world we all want the person who didn’t call us back? We pine for the person that isn’t paying attention to us. I’m not saying practice bad business and not return calls, emails or walk away from these excuse spewing potential Pilates clients. But, what if you heard what they have to say and understood what they had to say and then told them “when you’re ready to let me know. Hopefully, I’ll have a slot for you.” With your kindest smile and your genuine tone. This is not to be confused with passive-aggressive “I’ll show you” tone. After all, you do hope you have room for them when they are ready. And, you only want a client to contact you when they are willing. Be kind and supportive and then let them go. They’ll walk away wondering why in the world where everyone is trying to get anyone to do something you are not. You’re not begging for them to take Pilates from you.

Fear of not being good at something, fear of being rejected, fear of change and fear of no longer having the excuses we tell ourselves as reasons why we haven’t hit our goals is incredibly powerful. You know Pilates is the best thing for them. That Pilates is tailorable, and there is a Pilates practice for everybody out there at the level they are. But, for you (often a stranger) to be able to overpower what is in their head is tricky. You’ll leave the conversations frustrated for them and you. After all, you need to build your business. Make sure your website and handles all show the welcoming space you are for your ideal client and spend your time going after the clients who are open to change!

I know easier said than done. But, trust me it works!

Looking for feedback on if your website and social channels, coaching on your business contact me here. I save a few coaching slots each month for Pilates consultation. Lastly, Summer Session of Business webinars will be announced next week!! But, before I go live with the schedule you still have time to give your input. Click here and give your feedback.


Do You Really Have to Have Tough Conversations?

Yes, and No! I know, I hate those non-answers too.

When I worked in retail, it was inevitable that I would have to have at least a few tough conversations a day. Maybe, even in an hour. Continue reading

Why You Should NEVER Apologize for What You Charge

I remember when I first became a Pilates instructor. I was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to be teaching as many clients as possible. I mean, everyone should be doing Pilates right? My first few clients came from other teachers so when I had my first “Pilates is too expensive” comment I was a bit caught off guard. I knew Pilates was more than I could afford in the beginning but I loved it so much I started making my own coffee and became an instructor so I could make room in my budget for my Pilates sessions. A girls gotta do what a girls got to do! The client asked for a discount, and I said no. She left, and I sat there wondering what I could have done differently. Was Pilates too expensive?

Obviously no! I spent nine months and thousands of dollars in my first training not to mention almost a thousand hours after you added up all the apprentice hours, training hours, meetings, the clients I was teaching that didn’t count towards my hours. Continue reading