Demystifying Pilates Springs

It’s so easy to focus only on getting clients, teaching clients and if you’re lucky swiftering your studio! But, while Pilates equipment seems to last a long time its incredibly important that we do more than just keep it germ free. In fact, maintaining your Pilates equipment is more than just taking care of it so you have it forever. It also is integral to keeping your clients safe and that safety may just be priceless.  But, here’s the deal, I like you, know as much about springs as I’ve been taught by people who maintain the equipment. So, instead of me telling you all the in’s and out’s of your studio’s springs I’ve brought in the expert herself, Kaleen Canevari of The Fit Reformer.


Can you imagine a Pilates apparatus using static weights instead of springs?  When I try and picture it, I see an equipment beast: heavy, thick, ugly, and even more torture-device-like than what they look like today!  Using the springs on a Reformer, it is possible to produce well over 100 pounds of resistance, and yet there are no weighty blocks, discs or bars slamming up and down, taking up floor space, or collecting dust like you see on traditional machine weights in a gym.  Joseph Pilates was a genius to use springs rather than weights, and I applaud him for finding such an elegant solution.

However, for all the convenience that springs bring in space and weight constraints, they aren’t as straightforward as traditional weights.  It isn’t possible for our clients to brag about a 200-pound squat because how much tension a spring is providing isn’t constant. Nor, is it labeled and apparent to us as instructors or clients.

Because springs are sometimes seen as this mysterious part of the Pilates world, I want to address the three most common questions I get from Pilates studios around the world.

Question 1: How much weight is the red spring?

Many new clients often ask me, “How much weight am I lifting?”  After so many questions like this one, I’ve chiseled my response down to a concise, two sentence answer: “How much resistance the spring provides changes on how far it is extended and how thick the coils are.  In Pilates, we aren’t concerned so much about your ability to move a certain weight as we are about the ability to move well.”

The resistance, or force, a spring provides is dependent on two things: the amount of stretch (x) it is experiencing at the moment, and the spring factor (k).  This relationship is explained by the equation F=kx, known as Hooke’s Law. The spring factor (k) takes into consideration the design of the spring, including the material, diameter of the coils, and thickness of the material.  Using basic math you can calculate the force a spring provides by multiplying the spring factor and amount of extension. Or, using some algebra, you can calculate the spring constant of your own spring by measuring the force of the spring and dividing that number by the length of extension.

Let’s use a made-up Reformer spring as an example.  Say we are doing footwork with one spring attached, and that spring has a k value of 1.5 lbs/in.  When the carriage is pressed out 2 inches, the resistance is 3 pounds. Then, when pressed out to 6 inches the resistance increases to 9 pounds.  And at 12 inches of extension, the resistance is 18 lbs. You get the idea. The more you stretch the spring the heavier the resistance.

 

 

 

How often do we do footwork with one spring on, though?  If you want to calculate the total force of three springs, you simply add together the resistance of each of the three springs.  So, if we had three of our imaginary springs all with the same spring constant from the example above, the total resistance at 2 inches of carriage extension is 3+3+3=9 pounds, and at 12 inches of extension is 18+18+18=54 pounds.

 

 

 

Using this principle we can also calculate the total resistance of different springs.  Let’s assume we have three unique springs, one with a spring constant of 0.5 lbs/in, one with 2.5 lbs/in and, another with 5.5 lbs/in.  At 2 inches of carriage extension, we can calculate the resistance of each of those individual springs by multiplying 2  inches by the spring constant, and then adding those three values together.

 

 

 

This kind of relationship between the spring constant and the extension is described as linear because if you were to graph this, you would get a straight line.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question #2: Do my springs wear out over the years?

Many of my maintenance clients have told me that they’ve replaced a spring because it had worn out, meaning it felt lighter than it should.  Theoretically, this is very, very unlikely, because as long as you do not stretch the spring past its extension limit, it should last millions of cycles.  By even then, the mathematical result isn’t an exact number, but rather a probability.  

For example, if the extension limit for the spring is 30 inches (this is my imaginary spring, remember), and you want to know how many times you can pulse the spring in and out to 20 inches before it breaks, the equation doesn’t give you an exact number.  Instead, it might say that at one million cycles the probability of the spring breaking is less than 10%.

Despite the theoretical low probability, I believe it is possible for springs to wear out, though I’ve never tested it.  (Someday!) Why do I think this? Because I don’t know of any Pilates studios that operate like a laboratory. When teaching clients to use a jumpboard, inevitably the carriage will slam home at least once.  Or, someone’s hands will slip off the roll down bar and the springs will snap closed uncontrolled. Or, we let in the cool sea breeze and the springs start developing rust. Or, we touch the springs with sweaty, lotioned hands.  You get the idea. All of these things cause micro-damage to the spring and can add up to significantly shorten the life of the spring.

So how do you tell when a spring’s life is over?

Question #3: Do I really need to replace my springs every two years?

Ordering new springs may be a financial burden on your business, but is absolutely necessary for safety.  Spending upward of $100 per Reformer every two years seems a little ridiculous, and I’m going to confirm your suspicions with a caveat.  If (and only if!) you are closely monitoring your springs for safety hazards, you can go past the 2 year mark and only replace individual springs when you notice a warning sign or have determined the spring no longer provides enough resistance.  

Fun fact: about 30% of my maintenance clients report having a spring break during a session!  Having a spring break during class is a real risk, so I don’t recommend writing off the manufacturer’s warnings.  (Note: If you don’t want to check your springs, then yes, please replace them at least every two years!)

Here’s what I recommend: Check each of your springs every month.  Visually inspect them for any kinks, gaps, or obvious waves. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I will lightly run my hand down the length of the coil to feel for any deviations.  

Then, extend the spring a little bit.  The coils of the spring should separate evenly as you stretch the spring.  If you notice anyone spot in the coil opening more than the others, that’s a sign there’s some damage to the spring and it’s time to replace it.

I’ve included some photos of common examples of damage I’ve seen.  Keep an eye out for these and replace them immediately if you find one that looks like this!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps springs aren’t quite as straightforward as stereotypical gym weights.  But as a mechanism of resistance, they are a fantastic tool for many reasons and integral to teaching Pilates with equipment.  I hope that I’ve been able to explain the basic science behind the springs as it pertains to use in a Pilates setting and that as a result, you can approach your Pilates practice with a little more confidence, understanding, and appreciation for Joe’s genius.

 

Happy Reforming!

Kaleen Canevari is a mechanical engineer and PMA certified Pilates instructor. She began her Pilates journey while working as an engineer at Balanced Body in 2013, and since then has started her own company called The Fit Reformer, which specializes in Pilates equipment care. She currently teaches Pilates part-time at a local studio in Sacramento, and spends the rest of her time traveling the country working on Pilates equipment and Pilates-related projects.

 

Creating an Optimal Learning Environment Using the SCARF Model

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!

xx~LL

Goal: Set, Delete, Repeat!

Who decided your teaching schedule? Who set your personal goals? Who influenced your professional goals?

If the answer to those questions isn’t You, You and You then we need to talk my Pilates pal! Here’s the deal, and I am going to get pretty honest with you if you do not set your own goals someone will be making sure you’re working towards their goals.

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Your Competition is Not Killing Your Pilates Business

When you do not see growth in your Pilates business, it is easy to want to blame the competition. I remember when I first took over a studio and was struggling to grow. At this time the studio I was running was one of 5 within one square mile. Our prices were the most expensive of them all.

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Why Location Matters for Your Business

I have been lucky in life to land some amazing job opportunities. My first job fell into my lap as did my second. My third job I hunted a little bit and got pretty picky but then my Pilates jobs again just made their way to me. So, again, I’ve been pretty lucky! But, when if I were honest I would never advise others to just fall into picking their studio location. I would never want anyone to root their business down and hope for the best. I felt that this discussion could use a voice that has been through choosing a location and not just one but two so far! So, I will let Christa Gurka of Pilates in the Grove take the stage and offer up her wisdom.

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Tips to Selling Your Pilates Studio

This week I have a fantastic blog for you! Seriously, when I asked for guest bloggers at the beginning of 2017 I was honored to get a yes from this week’s author. She has a journey that is far different from my own and her advice is incredibly important for any instructor or studio owner out there. Jessica Valant shares her story from owning a studio to selling her studios. While you might be sitting there thinking you don’t own or you’ll never sell her story is necessary for you to read. You never know what next month or year will bring! Below find out tips to sell or not to sell.

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Finding the Why Along Your Pilates Journey

They say everything happens for a reason! Well, while sometimes I wish that wasn’t the case in this instance I am so darn glad it did. I was one of ten Pilates instructors up for PilatesAnytime.com’s “next Pilates instructor.” I wanted to win so badly (I mean who wouldn’t) and I lost. Lost by more than a few. But, I lost to this week’s guest blogger and boy am I so glad I did! Julie Drivers bright light is magnetic and I think you’ll see why in her blog below. Also, you’ll see why I can’t wait to teach with her in London in September. Without further ado here is Julie’s guidance on finding your Why!

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Should You Run Your Pilates Business as Usual?

I saw an ad the other day in a magazine. It read “Business as Usual.”  Boring! Your business is anything but usual. Teaching Pilates is a unique career choice. One that requires you to wear many hats. You have to teach clients, market your business, some have to manage teachers, manage a schedule, reschedule, keep copious notes, study movement, study Pilates, do Pilates etc etc etc.

Pilates teachers and studio owners don’t clock in and clock out and leave it all at the “office.” We are inspired by our own practice, other fitness modalities a random billboard or in the case of this week’s article an advertisement. The business of Pilates is anything but usual.

So, why do so many teachers and studios seem to follow a mold? Do business per the usual?

The studio on the other side of town, down the street or even right next door might seem like they have it all. They may have bright lights, busy classes or offer other fitness modalities. The other studios in your town or even online (because it’s hard to not compare) may seem to have it all and so when you’re trying to make the magic happen, trying to bring in the money it can be easy to do business like others before you, do business as usual. To follow the mold. But, if you are not clear with who you are as a teacher/studio, whom you teach and what you offer and stick to that…then there is another mold you’ll fall into. The one where a studio closes its doors.

If you heard the podcast interview I did with Pilates Unfiltered I was asked why I don’t own a studio? It’s not because I don’t think I can run one. It’s not because I don’t think it’ll be fruitful and it’s not because I don’t want it. The truth is my goals for my business and my personal life does not align with owning my own brick and mortar today. So, I run my business so that it continues on the path to my own desires.

Last week I went live about Pilates being my side hustle and not doing your Pilates business in the usual way. But instead doing your business your way. I know you’re thinking easier said than done. Yes, totally easier to say than to do but so is Pilates! Check out those videos above and then sit down and think about the teacher you want to be. Who do you want to teach? When do you want to teach? Where do you want to teach?

It takes longer to grow your business your way but it feels so good to go to work day in and out and when it’s your business and not you trying to fit into a mold or doing what you think worked for someone else.

I’d love to hear your goals and any questions or celebrations on how you are running your Pilates business. You can share them in the comments below or contact me here.

This week we have a deep dive in Social Media ads, going LIVE, trolls, and scheduling. You may wonder if you need to use social media for your marketing or if it’s even working. We will be talking about that starting June 22nd so register for this webinar here. Or, check out our entire summer series. Because I am so dedicated to you running your Pilates business your way we have one hour online LIVE workshops on developing and marketing your Niche, Group Fitness Classes, Having a life and Teaching Pilates, Converting First-time clients, a Q & A and more. Click here for all the deets. If you missed last week’s webinar and you want the entire series go ahead and sign up and I’ll make sure you get it.

Ditch Business per usual and start doing business per YOU!

xx~LL 

 

Walk Your Talk: Inspirational Advice from a Pilates Instructor

Beyond honored am I to introduce you to this week’s guest blogger Fernando Sadir. A brilliant Pilates Instructor and mover who wants to share his advice “Look for someone to inspire you to reinvent yourself constantly within the method” with each of you! I hope you enjoy his advice to you Pilates Instructors and Studio Owners to find your path towards success and it starts with you! Continue reading

Are You Marketing Your Pilates Business the Best Way

Marketing yourself as a Pilates instructor is easier said than done. When I first became a Pilates instructor, I paid way too much for a website. Not that I was robbed or anything. The site was fantastic. Beautiful! It did everything and more. Honestly, it was more than I could afford but at the time all I knew was that I needed a website and it needed to up and running before I finished my last exam. How else was anyone going to find me? Continue reading

Best Blogs of 2016 for Growing your Pilates Business

It’s the final Monday of 2016! I cannot believe this day has come. It’s been an incredible year here at Profitable Pilates. Time freaking flies! I love the end of the year as it helps mark a time where we can stop, reflect and refine our journey. In just a week we’ll be in 2017, and there is plenty of pressure on the upcoming year already. But, before you go into the New Year with your New goals I believe in taking a look back on what rocked, what fell flat and what perhaps rocked the boat a bit more than you would have liked. If you haven’t done this before, it’s a great way to pat yourself on the back and get ideas about what you want more of in your next year. Continue reading

SEO! What is it and do you need it?

So, what is SEO? Do you know what SEO stands for? Is it something you need to worry about? How can you tell if you have it? Is it a test you need to take? Is it a job position in a major company? What the freaking heck is SEO? Continue reading