Welcome to ProfitablePilates.com, your hub for everything but the exercises. These blog posts are focused on how Pilates Instructors and Studio Owners manage their existing clients to keep them coming back for more.
Making changes to your business is never easy. How do you know what to do first? You’ve got bigger goals for your business but it can be hard to know what to do when you’re in it. And, scary when you feel like you need to make big changes to get what you want. No matter where you want to go in your business you need to have these 5 things to make your magic happen.
How much do You want to make? Your goals don’t need to be only about money. But, it’s important to make sure your business is paying more than your bills so that you can stay in business. Also, find out what your hourly rate is. This will be key for #4.
Get super clear about who you want to teach, when you want to teach and where.
A website that shares #2 and takes clients on a journey towards choosing you. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website then check out this course. If you do, then take yours to the next level with this course.
Help! You don’t have to hire a full-time assistant straight out of the gate. But, getting clear on your strengths and hiring people to do things that do not bring you joy or money is key to creating more of you and getting more done. You don’t need to be the person to do things like grocery shop, research or make changes to your website. Yes, hiring people costs money but remember the answer from #1. Anyone that you have do work that doesn’t need to be done by you is saving you money.
Support! Whether it be a business partner, family member, coach or accountability partner you can only go so far on your own. Which is why I created my online coaching group. To help teachers and studio owners get advice, ideas, unstuck, feel empowered and more. Who is in your corner?
I’d love to hear which of these things you feel you have in place and which things you need to get in place in the comments below. You don’t need to wait until you’re ready to make your moves. In fact, who knows when you will feel ready. A little secret, I never feel ready for anything I do.
In a day when it’s easy to compare your “work in progress” to someone else’s curated posts, it’s easy to think that you should be doing what the other teachers and studios are doing. But, if you are making one of these choices below you are most likely giving money away.
Using other studios rates to set yours: Do you know if they are being profitable? When was the last time they raised their rates? There is an equation for creating your average hourly rate and it’s much more strategic and puts you more in control of your business and how much you will make.
Offering too many options: It’s easy to think that you need to have classes because everyone has classes or that you need to have memberships because a lot of people have memberships. But, the truth is you need to have options that make you excited to talk about them and only a couple pricing options to make it easier for clients to make a decision. Donald Miller, an expert marketer says “you confuse you lose.”
Pricing out services or workshops then seeing how much money you make. Start out with what you want to make and then figure out how many people you need to make that amount. Does it sound do-able? If not then what would? Much easier to know that all you need is 15 people to make your goal rather than blindly selling and hoping you make money.
Not saying “No” enough. Scarcity is ok! It’s good to be in demand. And, it’s even healthier to put yourself and when you work the best first.
Putting your marketing efforts off in exchange for other admin. Find time in each workday to “propel your business forward.” The admin will always be there.
Creating one or two posts about your classes or workshops and thinking that is marketing. Social media is an extension of your business but it’s not going to replace the in-person and referral efforts you can make in your community.
If you are doing any of these and want to find a way to change that contact me here. Or, join my online community where asking questions, getting advice and support is happening 24/7. Tired of making guesses to build your business? You’ll love this space.
Whether you’re looking into how to set up a social media plan for your Pilates business, get new clients, raise your rates or find the right Pilates school for yourself here is a round-up of our most-read Pilates business blogs. We’ve got over 300 blogs to read now but here are the best of the best voted on by our readers.
#1 How to Keep Clients Coming Back: Great read for client retention. And you want to know about this before you lose a client because it’s easier to keep them then to get a new one.
When I first started out as a Pilates teacher I made lots of mistakes. And, if you’re new, you will and should too! You will learn more from your mistakes then you will from the things that go the way you wanted. Especially in the beginning. Most mistakes you make in your business are great signs of things you need to work on. And rarely will derail your business. And, most mistakes are not as big a deal when you look back. However, I know that when you’re “int it” mistakes can feel like they are the worst thing that could ever happen. But, below are my top 3 mistakes that I made that I see a lot of Pilates teacher and studio owners make.
Saying Yes to Every Client: When I first started out as a Pilates teacher I was also managing a high-end jewelry store in LA. I would teach Pilates 6 am, 7 am and 8 am and then race across town to open my store and work until 6:30 or 7:30 pm. And on many days I would go back across town to the studio to teach evening clients! I loved teaching and I was so excited that every new client I taught wanted at least two sessions a week that I kept saying yes. I didn’t even know I could say no! I was afraid also if I did that I would lose the client. But, in a short period of time, I found myself teaching 6 days a week and running my store 5 days a week. Which meant I didn’t have a single day off! You guys, this is not good! I know you may be reading this and be thinking “you need the money.” But, if you don’t own your schedule, get firm on your teaching times and protect your self-care time no one will! You’ll burn out faster than you think. And that would be sad because then the world would lose a great teacher.
Not raising my rates sooner: I made up every excuse in the book to not raise my rates come year one. Then year two came around and my rent at both the studio and my house went up. The cost of gas was higher and I was at a point that I needed more continuing education. It was costing me money to do the exact same job. When I finally raised my rates sure a few people griped but they all stayed. If I had done it a year earlier that would have been more money in my pocket soon! I know you’re worried about this but I promise if you get on a schedule for raising your rates you will be grateful and your clients will expect it. You can learn more about how to do this on my course here.
Teaching hours and clients that were not ideal for me: I know you think Pilates is for everyone so you can teach everyone. And, I am sure you can. But, the truth is we don’t all gel will everyone. There are clients out there who are best served by someone else. Not just personality-wise but time of day they prefer and personal goals or body needs. By saying “no” to clients that want times that you don’t thrive in you open up the opportunity to teach a client at a time you do! And, instead of being exhausted at the end of the day you will feel inspired, whelmed, content.
Honestly, I could go on and on about other mistakes I made. But these three at the beginning of my business all came back to bite me and caused me to have to make drastic changes in my business and life to allow me to not burn out!
You are the only person who can teach the way you teach.. You are the only person who can help the people that you help. So, get super clear on when you want to teach, who you want to teach and how often you will raise your rates and you’ll have a great foundation to grow your business on. Will you make mistakes? Yep, and me too! Sometimes I think the universe sends me clients that test my boundaries and makes sure I’m still putting my goals first.
Feeling like you’re stuck in one of these mistakes and don’t know how to get out? Check out my online group coaching called AGENCY. Members get to ask me and the other members for support and accountability so they can finally put their goals first.
A common question I get is “how do you stay so inspired?” Sometimes that question breaks down to “how do you stay motivated and/or energized when you are teaching 7+ hours in a day? And, because it’s coming up a lot more lately I wanted to share some of my go-to tips for staying inspired, staying strong, maintaining my sanity and motivation.
Know your Teaching schedule and protect it! This doesn’t mean you cannot break your own rules but it does require you to be aware of when you are doing that. I have a set teaching schedule when I am in my studio. And, that does mean saying no to people. And that does mean I am saying no to money. But, if I were to switch my schedule whichever way the clients schedule blows I couldn’t have a life nor could I maintain an admin schedule. If you don’t stay on top of your marketing and other admin it will pile up and drain you more than anything else. Get clear on your ideal schedule with my course.
Create Before You Consume. I post all my marketing, do all my content creation before I scroll, open my inbox or check my social profile notifications. If you consume before you create there’s a good chance you’ll be left feeling pretty crummy before you go to post or you’ll have someone else words on your mind. And the problem with that is we make up stories about other people based their curated account. We think they are “killing it” based off posts, not any other evidence.
Know your seasons. Meaning know how many hours in a row or time of day you are at your best. There are some mornings a week I cannot teach because I need to not feel rushed a couple of mornings a week. I can work more hours in a row on Sundays than I can on Mondays. I learned all this by trying out different combos. Paying attention to how I felt after and then molding my teaching schedule to reflect my more inspired hours. This will take longer than you think to figure out and then to implement. But shorter than you think if you do the work.
Know who’s opinions of you matter. Don’t waste your time worrying about what people are saying about you if you wouldn’t ask advice about your business from them. Tell the people who’s opinions that matter to you that they do. It’ll make them feel good and reinforce who’s feedback you should be paying attention to.
Remember that your business is supposed to work for you. Not the other way around.
Get curious. I don’t talk every cue into clients. My teacher Jay Grimes said you cannot “talk Pilates into a body.” So, instead of boring myself all day repeating the same or similar cues I use equipment to teach them what I want and I get creative with what exercises I choose to teach them what I want them to know. It takes time to get comfortable doing this but you will be more inspired at the end of the day when you figure it out.
Look, teaching does require you to give a lot of energy out all day long. But, its important that when a client leaves you let their energy go with them. You have to find some things that you implement into your daily routine that protect and energize you. And, say no more often than you think.
I’d love to hear what energizes you or what changes you make to help you stay inspired at the end of the day in the comments below.
Ps here’s a video I did about Self Care for Pilates Anytime! Use LLOGAN to watch for free and enjoy 30 days if you are not yet a member.
Feeling the heat in more ways than one this summer? There are few guarantees in life but one of them is that when holidays, summer, spring break, and flu outbreaks are in season your business can feel the effects. But, that doesn’t mean you have to feel it in your wallet or your bottom line. Knowing your businesses seasons and working them is key for making money, and feeling in control of your business. Here are some questions I love to explore with anyone I am coaching:
Do you know your busy and slow seasons?
How much do you want/need to gross each year?
How many weeks a year do you work?
What is your average hourly wage?
When you have these answers then we can get really honest and clear. One studio might be in the suburbs where the calendar is pretty easy to follow. They are busy January-March and then spring break starts to distract people from consistency. Then April-May starts to level out. June-September is “slow.” September-mid November is consistent. And as the year winds down the cancellations wind up.
But, you may live somewhere where it’s busy 6-9 months a year and dead zone for 3 months. That shouldn’t freak you out. Instead, it makes it super easy and clear for you to know when you take your breaks, how much you need to be working those busy months. And enjoy a few months of you time. I think I would like that very much.
If you’re someone who has major seasonal influx and you’re not setting goals in your business to take advantage of the busy months then you will feel it during the slow months.
No business is the same as another. Take some time this week to look at your previous year. When were you the busiest? When were you the slowest? How many sessions a week do you need to come through your schedule/studio during the busy months vs the slow months? What weeks can you just take off?
I would love to hear what your answers are and help you create a plan to make the most of your busy seasons and live guilt free on the slow seasons. Hit me up here or post in the comments below.
Having someone else teacher your clients for you while you’re away on a trip or training might strike a chord of fear. I know, most teachers are not keen on letting someone else teach their clients. I mean, what if your client likes them better? I bet reading that out loud made you realize just how funny that sounds. Your clients love you. And, if they are willing to go to a sub or guest teacher you are amazing at what you do! Most clients don’t like change and would rather miss their Pilates than take from someone else. But, you should want your clients to take from a guest teacher. It’s good for your business and for clients!
Before we talk about where to find these guest teachers or subs let’s cover three reasons why you should want and be cool with having your clients take from someone else:
Consistency is key! If you take a week off Murphy’s law would almost guarantee your client will be missing the week before or after. By aranging a sub for them you can ensure they only miss what they would have on their vacation. Allowing them to remain consistent, keeping Pilates in their schedule and you feeling guilt-free about taking some much deserved time off.
They’ll realize just how good you are! When another teacher works with your client they will finally hear what you have been trying to get them to understand this whole time. They will also be excited to share (or lament if that’s their personality) about what they did with the other teacher. This is not an “I liked them more” convo but just a “look what I remember, I was a good student” share time.
Clients who take from other teachers hear new things because every teacher has a different pair of Pilates eyeglasses on. It’s easy overtime for clients to tune us out. By hearing a new analogy, new cues or just a new voice they’ll listen to you better the next time you teach them.
Now that I’ve got you convinced that your clients will not leave you for the sub or guest teacher, in fact, they will probably last longer how do you go about finding this person?
If you are a studio owner chances are you have some options to turn to. If you’re an independent contractor it gets trickier. Or, if you work out of your own home or solo at a studio, like an independent contractor finding a sub or guest teacher isn’t as easy.
Talk to your legal expert to make sure the payments for these sessions is kosher. I’ve got a great one if you need just contact me here. She is a fitness instructor who also is a lawyer!
Take from other teachers in your community. When you find one that teaches like you inquire if they are interested in subbing when you travel. If so, is it possible for them to teach at your space? Clients are more likely to take from a sub if all they have to do is show up like usual.
Make sure your client cards are up to date. This makes it easy for a guest teacher to step in, teach the session your client is used to and go.
Follow up Check in with both the teacher and the client to see how it went. The first time might be awkward fro all parties. But, eventually, it’s easy and natural.
If you are a studio owner and the clients are studio clients I highly recommend that clients take from more than one teacher as a policy if they come more than two times a week. This makes it easier and more natural for clients to take from other teachers when their primary teachers are away or sick.
For my independent contractor in a studio with other teachers be sure to introduce your clients to other teachers when they are in for their session so that when you offer up the guest teacher it’s not a random teaching stranger but rather someone they are used to teaching.
Are you ready for your next trip? Whose going to sub for you?
Have you ever said ‘yes’ to a client when you knew you should have said ‘no?’ Whether you are a Pilates teacher or Studio Owner having clients on your schedule and in your classes equals money. And, when you say ‘no’ to a clients session request it can feel like you are saying ‘no’ to money. But, what if I told you that if you want to grow your business beyond its current state you have to say ‘no‘ a whole lot more than you think.
Self- Care: You cannot sustain teaching all different hours of a day, different times and days each week or working hours that are not ideal for you. At the beginning of your teaching career, it’s so easy to be excited, to want to grow your business you say ‘yes’ as often as you can. But, if you truly want to grow your teaching business into something that works for you and allows you to continue to have a life, a consistent self-practice and a schedule that inspires you each week you have to say ‘no’ to clients and session slots that do not serve you.
Ideal Client Referrals: If you say ‘yes’ to clients that are not ideal for you, are not in your niche even if you can teach them they are going to have friends or acquaintances that are like them. So, their referral pot will be more clients like them. Which means instead of growing your business with your ideal client you take a different path.
Better Results for Clients: If you are not available anytime your clients want to change their sessions they will protect their Pilates practice times more, be more consistent and truly reap the benefits of working with you. They will also respect your teaching as a business, honor you and your policies. It will make it easier for you to get paid your worth and on time. Also, they will be more consistent in coming which means you can better plan your income.
These are just a few reasons why you have to learn how to say ‘no’. But, how do you do it? How do you say ‘no’ without losing your ideal clients? How do you know when to say no? All this and more in my next webinar. You can join me here. Or, let’s set up a call to help you define who you are for, what you have to offer and how to get that information out to your ideal client!
Do you remember the first time you had to charge someone a late cancel? How did it go over? Were you nervous? Did you worry if they would quit working with you so you didn’t charge them? What about policies over cell phones, scheduling, talking during the class? Whether you are an employee, studio owner, independent contractor or group class teacher if you don’t have clear set rules and policies in place then you can’t expect clients to follow what’s not there or worse what’s there but not enforced.
The truth is no matter how hard it is, uncomfortable or weird it is to enforce a policy it’s integral to the growth and sustainability of your Pilates business. I’ll never forget the client that I lost due to another client’s constant cell phone use. I know, some of you may think that if I or any teacher this happens to were good at what they were doing then our clients wouldn’t notice the person on the reformer next to us talking on their phone. But, the truth is, it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do. All it takes is one or two clients not listening to modifications being called out because they can’t hear the teacher due to the person next to them having a conversation and they get hurt.
While no fitness class, Pilates studio, or private session happening next to another teacher’s private session is happening in a library it’s important that the clients get the information they need to have a successful workout so they continue to come back. And, I am sure you can remember a time when a client joined a class and treated it like it was their own session. How hard was that for you the teacher? Imagine being on the other side of the footbar?
Talking and cell phone use are the least of the policy problems that can affect a business. If you or your studio is not enforcing your cancellation policy, payment policies and prices this can lead to a slippery slope that eventually devalues your business and not only causes strain and stress but it can also be the thing that takes the inspo right out from under you!
Here’s the thing about charging for late cancels whether it’s for a private or a spot in a class it’s part of maintaining the value of your work and your studios work. Daniel Stead Blanton is a fitness business coach in Los Angeles, CA who spent her time before being a fitness coach as a corporate attorney “commonly see studios that do not enforce their LC/NS policy. They are afraid of upsetting their clients and will let the client’s bad behavior slide (not charge them for no-shows, allow them to stroll into class 15-20 mins late). When management does decide to enforce timeliness and charge fees, the clients lash out because they’ve gotten away with their bad habits for so long.”
I’ll never forget the first client I had who said: “my last Pilates instructor never charged me for late cancels.” It put me in a position where I had to defend myself, my policies and not just for me but for the future Pilates instructors this person encountered. If you listened to the latest Pilates Unfiltered Podcast episode “Words with Friends” I was interviewed in with some of my friends we discussed how if you charge what you’re worth it allows other teachers to charge what they are worth. The same goes for policies. If you enforce your policies it allows the next teacher to be able to do the same.
As instructors, studio owners, studio managers we not only teach people Pilates we also teach them how to treat us, how to value their time in our space and this not only helps them get the true benefits of Pilates but it also allows you to stay inspired, feel valued and continue to share your gift with the next client.
Danielle and I will be discussing more about ‘How Policies and Procedures Improve the Customer Experience‘ in my next webinar on September 13th 12 pm pst (replay available for one week). To snag your spot and get a chance to ask Danielle an incredible fitness instructor, yep, someone who is actually in your studio shoes who also has experience in the legal side of things register here.
If you cannot join us live but you have a burning question about policies, procedures client or employee/contractor wise then feel free to send them in ahead of time to me email@example.com. We will answer them live on the webinar.
Below is more information about this upcoming webinar and my guest, Danielle!
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you as a teacher or studio owner set your self up for success. Growing your business isn’t always about getting more clients. It’s about providing a space that allows your current clients, teachers and yourself to grow and flourish. And, as they do they will send you more awesome business of people who follow your policies and treat you with the respect you show them.
Join Danielle and LL on September 13th 12pm pst for: How Policies and Procedures Improve the Customer Experience
“The foundation of a good customer experience and a customer-centric business is a clear set of policies and procedures. Being consistent in letting your customers know what to expect from you, and in turn what you expect from them, is absolutely essential. In this webinar, we discuss common customer experience scenarios studios and online businesses face and what solutions owners can implement to address them. We encourage you to come ready to discuss customer experience issues that have arisen in your business operations so we can discuss them as well.”
Danielle Stead Blanton is a fitness business coach in Los Angeles, CA. She is a studio consultant and investor, having her hand in running the day-to-day of a successful HIIT studio. Danielle is also an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor, specializing in teaching HIIT, Strength, and Megaformer Pilates classes. In her past life, she was a collegiate athlete turned corporate attorney, practicing corporate + real estate law for years before choosing to leave big law. She then started her own consulting agency, providing accessible legal and business services to small businesses, fitness professionals, artists, and independents.
I was recently asked for a podcast what I wish I had known sooner. And, I said, “I wish I knew it was ok to say ‘no’ to a client session request sooner.” And, not because I didn’t want to teach. On the contrary! I absolutely LOVE teaching Pilates. And, if I had two or three of me I would teach even more than I do! But, as far as I know, there is only one of each of us. And the beauty in that is that there are only one you and one me. And, because teaching Pilates requires more than telling people to bend and straighten their limbs. It requires you the teacher being at your best. And, so, you can’t say ‘yes’ to everyone and you can’t teach every day or hours that are not ideal for you. Not only will you exhaust yourself you will probably lose inspiration to continue teaching and that would be the worst! Because there are clients out there that only you can teach!
So, what is the perfect teaching schedule?
Is there even such a thing?
As I mentioned a briefly above I wish I had learned how to say ‘no’ because instead what I did do was say ‘yes’ to every client session that came my way. I quickly was teaching any hour I had available outside my ‘real’ job. And, one day I was able to say I could leave my salaried job and just teach Pilates. But, I was walking into a schedule that made no sense. One of my teacher friends called it the “swiss cheese schedule.” I’ll never forget talking to other teachers about the “best” hours to be available, how many hours in a day I could/should teach, and figure out what was “full-time?”
Here’s the easy and maybe even non-answer about what the “perfect” schedule is. There is no such thing as the perfect teaching schedule. Because there is no such thing as perfect. So, FREEDOM! You can teach whenever you want to teach! The tougher answer is actually in the ‘how.’ How do you create your teaching schedule?
If your answer is ‘whenever clients want sessions” then you’re not wrong…but you may be putting your clients first and your schedule last. Here’s the deal about schedules, teaching schedules are a lot like “store” or “office” hours. Every store has hours that they are open. Most businesses have set office hours. Your teaching schedule can be treated and created the same way. And, because it’s your business and life you should be the one to decide:
What days do you teach?
What hours do you teach?
How many hours a day will you allow yourself to teach?
So, if you were to take a blank calendar out and you were not to consider any clients what days would you be available for sessions? What times on those days would you be able to take clients?
This, in a nutshell, is how you create your ‘perfect’ schedule. If you are sitting there reading this and rolling your eyes are a little bit or think this might work for others but it doesn’t work for you then it’s time we have a talk! If you want to dive deeper into how to create and fill your ideal schedule you can check out our course here.
We are all different, and what works for me or the teacher at the Reformer next to you may not work for you. Some of us can teach 4 hours in a row and do 6 hours in a day. Others may need a 15-minute break every couple of clients. It’s your business, create your own teaching hours!
Client retention is as integral to your Pilates business as you are. If your clients are not consistent not only does that affect how much you make each week it also can cause you to have to constantly get new clients or manage more clients than you have time to teach. Does this sound familiar to you: A client says they want to come in three times a week and then they move a session here, ask last minute to switch another session. Cancel the next two sessions because they have lunches or dinners, can’t get into the studio because they have this, that and the other. They want to do Pilates three times a week but they are trying to fit Pilates into their life. This song and scheduling dance is not only frustrating for you it’s also exhausting. And, to add more stress about it if they don’t come in consistently then they will not enjoy all the benefits of Pilates and so then of course…bye bye Pilates!
So, how do you manage your client’s schedule and yours? Well, first let me just tell you that you do not have to manage your client’s schedules like you manage yours. But, if you can motivate your Pilates clients to schedule their life around Pilates instead of the other way around then your Pilates business will not only be healthy it will continue to grow. Client consistency is key for Client Retention and their consistency equals reaping the benefits of Pilates which means their friends will notice how strong they are, how well they stand and want some of you too! Hello, client referrals!
Create a strong teacher client relationship by-
1) Know what your client does when they are not doing Pilates.
2) Remember events that are important to them.
3) Schedule them in advance. Tell them to book their sessions a month in advance to ensure they don’t miss their sessions
4) Remind them to “make up” missed sessions by rescheduling vs canceling
5) Let them know when a time they like becomes available
6) Look ahead at holidays and vacations that may affect them and get suggest times they can do to reschedule in advance.
7) Don’t be afraid to be unavailable! People like a busy restaurant!
8) Remind your clients of their goals and why they come
9) Don’t offer every available hour you have. Use the “which” rule. “I have this time or this time which would you prefer?”
10) Be more than the hour-long entertainment. If Pilates is integral to them feeling good then you won’t have to work as hard to get them to come in regularly.
Look, I get that many of these are easier said than done. But, I promise you managing your clients is easier when you teach them from the beginning that you are not just sitting around waiting to teach them. That, even if you have all the time in the world, you are not a beck and call teacher. Studies show if people are given too many options they have to “think about it.” But, if they only have a couple options they can make a decision. If you tell a client they can come in anytime on a Monday then they are going to go and plan their whole Monday and fit Pilates in. And, chances are they will be running late or not be able to get in because they are “too busy.” But, if you tell them two options that are near times you know they like then they will schedule their life around the session.
I get it, it’s not easy to say no to a client or to hold your clients accountable but it’s essential in your self-care as an instructor, making it easy for you to manage all of your clients, and will create a strong relationship with them. If your clients are getting their Pilates in regularly with you because you keep them consistent they are going to realize that you are more than a person they see in their week. You are the person who helps them do their week. When you remember life events they are going to feel special and more than a name in your calendar. And, all of this helps grow your Pilates business.
Which one of these things are you going to work on? Let me know below in the comments. If you have any questions feel free to contact me here. Let’s make your client schedule consistent and as full as you want it!
PS for more on creating an optimal learning environment check out this blog and this one for motivating different personality types.
Teaching Pilates is not just teaching Pilates, am I right? Sure, we learn all the exercises, anatomy, study and learn more exercises and more anatomy and some modifications. We get creative when a client cannot do an exercise. We ask all the right questions from mentors and colleagues. And, yet, it’s still not enough. Because the person we are teaching is not a 2-dimensional idea. They are a living, breathing human being with a life outside of their Pilates session. And, teaching that human means learning how they are truly motivated, how they learn and how they need you to show up for them so they can show up for themselves too.
Wow! That’s so much! I mean, I know when I became a Pilates teacher it was because I LOVED Pilates so much and I knew everyone should be doing it. But, nothing in my training prepared me for the client who cried during Tree because she didn’t feel good enough. No one told me how to handle “I can’t.” Because while maybe one client really “couldn’t” another client would use it as an excuse to avoid doing exercises they didn’t like. And, as we know we tend to dislike (even strongly) exercises we need.
And, so learning how to motivate my clients a tennis ball of sorts for me. When I managed a jewelry store I had to learn how to motivate my staff. But, my staff, my team, was made up of ten to fifteen different personalities. Each one needing to know that I saw them. I heard them and I was there for them!
When I realized that I will be doing the same thing for my clients that I did when I was managing a team it became so much easier for me. And, I want to make it easier for you!
There is a great study out there and you can dive deeper into it here if you want to nerd out. But, if not, here’s the “cliff notes” or your LL’s notes on the SCARF model for teaching/training:
Status: someones relative importance to another
Certainty: being able to predict the future
Autonomy: a sense of being in control over the events
Relatedness: feeling safe
Fairness: equal exchanges between people
In the SCARF method, they studied how humans still survey surroundings for threats. So, as a teacher or studio owner its important that we create an optimal environment that when a new client or returning client comes in they feel safe. Imagine being a new client walking into your studio? What energy or message will they receive?
Clients need to know how they relate to you as a teacher and the more equal they feel with you the better for the client. If they show up in a Porsche and fancy gear and you feel like you’re less than they are because of their financial status and so you start to treat them differently they will feel this. Or vice versa, if someone shows up super deconditioned and you act like you know everything this will also cause a “threat” to the relationship and your being able to teach and motivate them session after session. The more you can create a feeling of equality status-wise in your studio the longer and deeper the relationship will go. This doesn’t mean you become best friends. It simply means that you don’t have to know everything and neither do they. Your relationship as a teacher and client is going to be more like a dance. You take the lead but you’re in it together!
Certainty is something we all desire. We all wish we knew what the future had in store. Sharing with your client what the session will cover or asking them for feedback on what they liked, disliked and how they felt last time so you can create a session that helps them like what they dislike, challenges what they like and leaves them feeling better every time will increase their feelings of certainty and continue their desire to come week after week. This also helps them feel a sense of Autonomy. Autonomy also could be achieved by asking them to set up their own equipment, asking them to choose between two exercises. I like to do this towards the end of a session. I will ask them if they prefer to Hang or do something on the Wunda chair. This lets me see if they are needing a little more of a relaxing ending or if they have more fuel in the tank to power to the end.
I think we all know and agree a client should feel safe in a session. In the SCARF model Relatedness is all about safety for a client. This also goes back to Status. But, another way to look at Safety besides feeling safe in an exercise is how we respond to clients feedback. When they tell us something to we discount it? Do we take it personally and tell them why what they are feeling is wrong? Or, do we listen, let them feel they can share whatever idea or discovery and then create a conversation about it? The more your clients feel safe to share the good, the bad and the ugly the more you can find ways to teach them and the whole client-teacher relationship grows even deeper! And, that really leads into Fairness, if clients feel like they are welcome to share their thoughts and its well received the more Status, Relatedness, and Autonomy you’ll have which will even lead to Certainty.
There is so much more to this model and to teaching Pilates then one blog post can really cover. I’ll be diving in deeper to it on my next webinar with Michael Myers “How to Motivate Clients” but we can also go over it in your individual business. Contact me here if you have more questions. Join us for the webinar here. And, if you have questions, comments or stories share them in the comments below!