Welcome to ProfitablePilates.com, your hub for everything but the exercises. These blog posts are dedicated to Pilates Instructors and Pilates Teachers, specifically on how to stay organized and manage your clients effectively to make a profit and grow your business.
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.
When I first became a Pilates instructor I was teaching clients and classes every weekday morning from 6 am to 9 am then racing to my other job across town to manage a jewelry store. And then on most weeknights, I would race back across town and teach one or two more clients. And then I also taught clients on my day off from my store gig. I thought it would take forever to build my business up but it didn’t and so within a few months I was quickly burning the candle at both ends. But, I had no idea at the time that what I was doing wasn’t the best idea. I mean, every other teacher I knew who was building their business and even some who had grown their businesses were working the weirdest schedules. One day after working an almost 70 hr week I wondered what is a Pilates teachers schedule?
Should I be teaching mornings and evenings? Did I need to teach six days a week? And, even though people said I should teach when clients wanted it was that really the best answer?
Over the last 10+ years of teaching, I have changed my schedule almost as often as the wind changes. And, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. What it has allowed me to do is see that there is almost no hour where a client doesn’t want a session! Before you think I am wrong I have taught people at their 3:30 am, I have taught people as early as 5 am in person, and then there are the clients who have requested 8:30 pm or even 8 am on a Sunday! I love changing my schedule because every time I do it I dial it in even more to fit the nature of the life I enjoy living.
If you have ever taken a workshop with me you know that I believe your goals and life go in the schedule first. But, this is not how most people set up their teaching schedule. Instead, they put their clients in first. Admit it, how many times have you not said yes to having lunch with a good friend, going out of town for the day or not scheduling a personal session with another teacher because you had to teach?
I’m not saying just move people around willy nilly. But, I do believe that you should be super clear on your goals and what you want out of life and then create your teaching schedule.
After working with a lot of teachers I have found the ones that are super firm and clear on when they are available to teach no only are booked they also know exactly how much money they will make each week, month because it’s clear when they look at their schedule what slots are empty. And, their clients are also better trained to keep a standing appointment or cancel in the appropriate time. The teachers who let clients tell them when they want to come in typically have clients who are inconsistent. This means they are not truly getting all the benefits of Pilates and will probably disappear for portions of time if not longer. These teachers also will feel like they don’t have control over their schedule and will see a “swiss cheese” schedule. Sessions all over the place, empty slots all over but not big enough to do anything on so they are working for their business instead of the other way around.
I know, that sounds a bit harsh but teachers I love you! I am you. I have done all the mistakes of letting clients tell me when they want to take. And, that quickly lead to me not wanting to be a teacher. The moment I learned the phrase “I have this time or I have this time.” And, “I’m not available then but I do have ___.” My life-work balance became mine! It was under my control.
I was recently asked what a day or a week in my life looked like? How do I structure my days?
To be honest, since I travel I make some changes to the schedule often but the basic structure is there.
5-6 days a week I workout first thing in the morning. That is the time when no one is awake. I can run with my dog and listen to a podcast. I then often go to a fitness class around 6 am and workout with my friends. Afterward, I’ll begin my teaching day. I teach 5 mornings a week for 3-4 hours. Then I use the middle of the day for whatever I want. Sometimes I do Pilates classes other times I catch up on emails or spend a little time on social media. I take calls or watch webinars, read a book, get a facial etc. The middle of the day is mine for whatever I want it to be. Then, on Mondays, I’ll allow 2 more clients in the late afternoon. Tues-Thur I teach a couple of evening clients whom I adore and have been with me for years! The other days of the week I am either off or have called it a day before the afternoon.
As far as how much I teach I follow what I share with many other teachers. I have a goal dollar amount (gross) in mind for the whole year. I divide that number by my average hourly session rate and then by the number of weeks of the year I will teach. I will only teach that amount of clients in a week. If people ask for a session and I have hit that number they go on a waitlist for any cancellation. I promise you unless I had a couple of weeks where I didn’t teach the average amount I do not add additional hours on. It’s important you don’t do this either. Waitlists are great things to have. And, you train your clients to schedule early!
My schedule works for me, I never force how I like to work on anyone and that means you too. I would love for you to watch my course on goal setting if you haven’t yet. And also my course on client scheduling. Then get super clear on the times of days that light your fire. If you’re not a morning person don’t teach in the morning. I promise you there are enough clients to go around! We can find your clients for the afternoon or evening.
The key to a successful business is knowing why you’re doing it, who you are and what you want! So, take a look at your schedule. Is it a good reflection of the life you want to live? Not sure how to make it one? Contact me here. Let’s talk!
We are in the business of exchanging time for money – we teach a class or session and we are paid for our time. But what happens when we get sick or injured and can’t physically teach? What if we want to go on vacation? How do we save? How will we ever retire? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in good company! The most common questions my clients ask are always about money – how do I make more, how do I keep more of it, how I can work less and still earn money.
Lucky for you guys, this is my area of expertise! I’ve put together my top financial strategies and passive income earners for both studio owners and instructors. Ready to get to work? Keep reading below!
For Studio Owners
Raise your rates: I recommend raising rates annually, $5-$10 for session or $15-$20/month. Inflation alone is going to drive your operations expense up 3% annually; you want to make sure you are keeping up with it. Clients expect a small annual increase and will be less likely to bat an eye over small, predictable, annual changes, than a massive increase out of the blue.
Stick to the Late Cancel/No Show fees: You put these policies in place – enforce them! These fees won’t break the bank, but they will still account for a decent amount of income each month for the studio.
Studio Use Fees for Inactive Times: When the studio isn’t being used for set classes or sessions, let someone else use it! Other trainers are always looking to rent space (more on that below), and brands are always looking to do photoshoots or host promotional events.
If you’re interested in renting out studio space I recommend you 1) figure out available times for studio use and pricing for use, and 2) having your Rental Agreement with rates + terms ready to go for when potential renters or partners approach you.
Rent Space to Instructors: If you have space (or time) in your studio that you aren’t using, make it available for someone else to use! You can rent the space to an instructor, a massage therapist, a stretch therapist, movement specialist, the options are endless.
Host Workshops: Your clients already love spending time with you and trust you; they’ll be more than thrilled to learn more from you. Each attendee will buy a ticket for admission. You can ask speakers to donate their time and brands to donate refreshments, products, and giveaways. The first workshop might take a bit of extra work to get the swing of things, but once you get the hang of scheduling, it’ll be an easy and profitable way to engage your community!
Host Teacher Trainings: These are money makers for the instructors teaching the training and the studio hosting the training. If your studio has its own teaching method, put together a teacher training program. Spend 2-4 days teaching the method, and follow it up with hands-on learning opportunities such as instructor shadowing, mic practice, and mock classes. Even if you aren’t in the market to hire new instructors, many members and fitness-minded individuals will be interested in learning more about your method. The first training might take some work to put together, but once you have the formula down, it’s a repeatable, scalable and very profitable.
If you are a studio that does NOT teach its own method, you can still be the host studio for a teacher trainer. You might not make as much money, but you also have way less work to do. And workshop hosts usually let you sit in on the workshop for free, so double win for you.
For Pilates Instructors:
Keep track of ALL business expenses: I mean everything – professional liability insurance, certifications, trainings, educational workshops or webinars, marketing materials, etc. At the end of every year, you can write off these business expenses. More write-offs = less taxes!
Ask for a raise or raise your rates: We can’t earn more money if we’re not willing to ask for more! Plain and simple. If you’ve been teaching at a studio or training clients for at least 6 months, it’s time to reassess your rates.
If you teach at a studio – set a time to talk with your manager and the owner, go in with your stats (class attendance, reviews, client feedback) and propose a fair and reasonable raise. If they aren’t able to accommodate your request, where can they meet you? Additional employee perks? Can they give you a timeline when they’d be willing to sit down again to discuss compensation?
If you set your own rates as a private instructor, consider a reasonable increase ($5-$10 session), set the price, and notify all clients in writing prior to their next sessions. And while you’re reaching out to all of your clients you can remind them of your late cancel/no show policies and fees.
Passive Income Streams Online: So many fit-pros are utilizing their online communities and social media to make extra money. I think it’s one of the easiest and accessible forms of passive income because you already have a captive audience who see you as an expert in your field.
E-Books and Online Training Guides: If you are known for your workout posts or people are always asking you how to workout smarter, put together an online training guide. Start small with a 4-week guide offering workouts 3-4x week.
Accountability Coaching: If you are organized and empathetic you would be an excellent accountability coach to your clients for the other 23 hrs a day they aren’t training with you. You will check-in daily to check their nutrition/meals for the day, prescribe workouts, and encourage them to stay on track. Clients will retain you for a monthly fee and you will realize that you’re already doing most of this work for them as their trainer anyways.
Affiliate Partnerships: Brands are always looking to partner with influencers in health and wellness field, and many pay instructors to promote their products in addition to gifting free or heavily discounted samples.
I approach brands that I already know, use and love and ask them if they have an affiliate program. Some brands will give me a discount, others will gift free products, others will give me a percentage of sales I drive their way. I look at my partnerships as 1) an opportunity to save money on goods I would already buy, or 2) an opportunity to make some extra cash raving about a brand I already love. However you look at it, they are wins for my wallet and my relationships!
I challenge every one of you to put ONE of these tips in action today! Start planning the conversation to get a raise. Brainstorm hosting workshops or teacher training at your studio. And join Lesley and me on April 3 as we dive deeper into these topics and answer any question you might have about financial planning, and owning your worth and value to give yourself the security and success you deserve!
Connect with Danielle Stead Blanton here. And, join us for this epic webinar that will help you take charge of your finances and get tips on passive income streams on April 3rd webinar replay will be available for one week. Join here. xx~LL
It seems like whenever you ask someone how they are doing they somehow insert how “busy” they are. They use busy as why they can’t hang out with you. They are too busy for Pilates. Teachers and studio owners are too busy to do the work to get new clients but not teaching enough or making the money they want to make. Being “busy” is not just an excuse for why you’re not in contact with people. It’s now this badge of honor that somehow to make people feel proud of. I mean, if you’re busy you must be doing something right, right?
Being Busy is actually impacting you more than your personal life. Sure, you’re sooo busy you can’t see your friends. But, that probably means a lot of other things are falling to the way side. And, worse, you are most likely wasting time. Afterall, studies show we take as much time to do a task as we give it.
Wondering if your busy is affecting your business?
Do you find yourself do all the things all of the time? Multi-tasking is also a new badge of honor in the self-employed world. But, here’s the deal, the data is in, we cannot multi-task. It’s better for you to do one thing at a time. I know, you’re list is long. But, for one week give single tasking a try. See if you feel less stressed and more productive.
Are you trying to do too many things? We often overestimate what we can do in a day an underestimate what we can do in a year. So, give things time to do them right the first time.
Do you think that being busy equals being successful? Truth is, being a master of your own time means being truly successful! I was listening to a podcast with the uber-successful entrepreneur Caterina Fake. She manages her time ferociously. She even has a list she calls WNO-when next online. So, instead of hopping on the internet whenever she has the urge to look something up or she remembers something she has to do. She writes it in her journal and does it during her blocked out time. This allows her to spend more time working on her ideas, growing her business and reading.
I know, you have a lot to do. You are the teacher, the accountant, the marketer, the blogger, the newsletter writer, the scheduler, a partner and/or parent and friend. You’re busy! But, I don’t want you to be busy doing busy work. I don’t want you sweating the small stuff. I don’t want you to start working on your admin and before you know it 3 hours have gone by.
My desire for you is to be the master of your schedule. To be in charge of when you teach, make the most of the time when you admin and put yourself first. When your cup is full you can pour into others. But, when you are so busy your cup is shaking and vibrating it’s spilling the goodness that is you and not actually helping anyone.
If you’re looking for tips on how to be ferociously in charge of your time and actions and implementations for self-care I’ll be sending those tips in my next newsletter. If you’re on the list you’ll be getting them. For now, I want you to take a good hard look at how busy you are. Is it working for you?
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?
If you are looking at your week ahead and about to have a freak out about how o earth you’re going to get it all done you are so not alone! As Pilates instructors and studio owners, wives, husbands, partners, human beings there is a ton to do. You’ve got your clients, all the tasks that go along with that and you’ve got your life and all that happens in that. And, oh, that tiny thing like making money and propelling your business forward. How on earth can you do it all without freaking out?
Know what your problems are and ask yourself why that problem exists.
Create a plan of action that addresses this problem
Hold yourself as accountable as you hold your clients
Hold your clients accountable to the policies you told them about when they started
Worry about what you can do and let others worry about the rest.
See, it’s so easy! F
Ha! Wouldn’t that be awful if I ended the blog there? “Here are you 5 tips for a week where you get it all done. Ok, GO!”
Look my fellow fitness pro you have a freaking ton going on. But, the first part of getting your business running the way you want it is to know what the problems are and why you have them.
If you are not charging enough we need to figure out how much you need to make, how many hours you want to work and find an average rate that will take all those sessions to add up to what you are desiring to make this year. I do this a lot when I coach others and in my AGENCY group.
If you are not holding people accountable to your policies then this is the week you remind people of what those are and you stick to them! Not only will you feel more respected but people will value their sessions with you more too!
See how these 5 steps help you solve your problems? What problem do you feel you have? Why is that problem occurring? What steps can you take this week to fix that problem and help you grow your business?
If you’re not sure then please contact me here. Let’s figure out a plan together that is possible. There are enough clients to go around and your tribe is awaiting your arrival.
“Who could love a pebble in their shoe?” One of the harshest lines ever said in a movie from the movie Ever After is what comes to my mind when I think about pebbles. But, what if Pebbles were what we should be thinking about in our Pilates business? What if theoretical pebbles were what would propel your business forward? Well, my Pilates instructors and Pilates studio owners I am here to share that you should be more concerned about making room for pebbles than you have been.
One of the questions I am often asked is “How do you do it all?” And, to be perfectly frank I don’t exactly know what “do it all” means. I do happen to do a lot of things. And, to the outsider, it may seem like I am some sort of magician or more special or lucky because I can “do it all.” But, while I would say I am quite unique as a human my ability to do it all has nothing to do with my uniqueness. It has everything to do with my time management.
There are many ways to manage your time. A lot are obvious and some are not so obvious. I’ll be going over a lot of those not so talked about ways specifically for Pilates and fitness pros in my next webinar. But, just in case you’re not ready to completely bite the bullet and tackle your time management techniques here is one tried and true way that will help you create more time growing your business and less time keeping your business and life status quo. If you’re ready to talk about growth aka pebbles read on!
Picture a mason jar. It’s empty and its lid is laying next to it. Also, next to the jar is three piles, rocks, sand, and pebbles. They will all fit in the jar if they go in the correct order. Put them in the wrong order and the lid won’t fit. So, what goes in first? Well, you need to know what they represent to figure it out.
The Rocks symbolize appointments. These are your sessions, your client’s sessions, meetings etc. These are the things that can only happen when they happen. I do excellent thinking at 4:30 am but not many clients want 4:30 am sessions. So, my rocks go in the schedule where only rocks can go- When I am teaching or taking sessions
The sand represents admin. You know the stuff you don’t want to do but you have to do. There is nothing creative or exciting about admin. This is the bills, the emails, the mail, the blah blah blah.
Pebbles are anything that propels your business forward. This can be the marketing, promotions or advertising you keep saying you’re going to do but then get too busy doing other stuff (ahem SAND) to get to it. It’s also the scary stuff. You don’t know the answer to kind of stuff. But, the stuff that gets you excited about what could be if it worked out!
So, what order should these piles go in the jar?
Grab a blank calendar.
Write in your rocks first. Then your Pebbles!!!!! Finally the Sand.
Yep, that is the order! You should be focusing on what propels your business forward before you deal with the humdrum of the admin.
Be honest, you can deal with bill pay while binging out on Netflix.
You can clean the studio while listening to your favorite podcast.
But, you can’t be creative on a newsletter while you’re watching your favorite TV show.
You can’t research ways to market your business while listening to a mystery thriller.
When you are working on the stuff that will uplevel you and your business it needs to be scheduled and that time should be protected.
When will you work on your pebbles this week?
PS if you need more help managing your time you’re not alone. This webinar is selling out! You can join me live or enjoy the replay for up to a week. Click here to join.
One of the questions I often answer is how do I go from my current job to teaching Pilates full-time? Sometimes, it isn’t even in the form of a question. It’s more of a wish or dream. “One day I will be able to teach fulltime. I don’t know when yet.” But, “leaps” can be more than just going from your old job, the one that paid the bills to dream job- TeachingPilatess Full time. I have been talking with many teachers lately about if they should quit teaching a particular class or if they should say yes to teaching a class at a different location. And, it’s not just teachers who are in wonder of what to do. Where to go! Studio owners also have to make choices. You may be reading this wondering if you should cancel certain classes, add others, raise rates, hire more teachers, etc. How do you know when it is time to make the “leap.”
Well, I wish I could promise you this blog would be able to give you specific dates, times, benchmarks to hit before you leap. But, I cannot do that. Every single one of you is a unique teacher, owner or apprentice. You have your own history, your own goals and your own vision for what your life will look like.
But, what I can do is give you some questions to ask yourself when you are wondering which way to go or what choice to make:
If it’s 1, 2, or 5+ years from now would you still be doing ____? If you are currently teaching a class at 6am. And, in a year or two years you want to only be teaching 9-1am and your choices are to take on another 6am class or lose the one you have it may be time to let go of that class instead of doubling down. Sometimes we need a little push to force us to get closer aligned with who we want to be and what we want to do. There are always choices. You get to make a choice. Each choice is like a door. You can continue to walk through the door you know even though it leads you towards something that doesn’t rock your soul or pay the bills. Or, you can choose the door that more closely aligns with where you hope to be in the future. It won’t be easy but a year from now you’ll be closer to where you want to be.
Filter through your vision. Have a 30k foot view of your life. Be super clear on this. If you are it won’t change all that much over time. Be firm in your goals/vision. But, be flexible in how you get there. Sometimes we are so firm in our vision that we are too firm in the path. We hire the wrong teachers, say yes to the wrong clients and take ourselves further from the actual vision. As you meet teacher you are considering to hire, interview for studios you are thinking of working for or meeting potential clients. If you filter the choice through your vision and it aligns go for it. If it doesn’t align be confident in saying ‘no.’
Never discount yourself. If you discount yourself, try to compete with the discounted rates of the competition you will eventually be discounted. And, worse you may not be able to leave your other job, other locations or for the studio owners you may not be able to expand or stay open! Honor your value, charge your worth, raise your rates if you need to and feel confident in the awesomeness you are. The benefits of working with you are only felt when the energy exhange (rate for the session) is aligned with your worth. Otherwise, the client discounts your value and you eventually resent teaching for less than you should. Or worse, you can’t afford to teach and we lose and awesome teacher!
There are so many other tips I could give you to help you decide if it is time to leap. But, one more I will leave you with is that it doesn’t always need to be a leap or a free fall. It can be a bridge that you build. Create a pathway for you to go from where you are now to where you want to go. If you want to be teaching full-time book out the hours you can now and overtime pull back on your other gig. Have a clear idea of when you’ll have enough runway to leave the gig to teaching full time. If you want to be hiring teachers for your studio be clear on your studio vision and goals. Create the bridge by having set expectations, benefits, policies and procedures in place before you begin to interview. Show the “bridge” the studio goals to future teachers and see if they feel its a bridge they can cross.
As the holiday come upon us and the beginning whispers of “new years resolutions” begin it’s a good time to get clear on your big vision and evaluate what you’re currently saying yes to. Maybe it is time to leap!
If you want to get clearer on this contact me here. Think you need to raise your rates? Join me here!
Can you make the money you want to make teaching Pilates? Absolutely! Is it easy? Is anything in life easy? The likelihood you will be “successful” as a Pilates instructor or studio owner truly depends on how much you think it is possible. I know that’s a bit woo woo but it’s true. Because if you believe it is possible to make the money you want to make teaching Pilates you will be able to think about the different ways you can.
Before we can talk about how much you should be charging or ways to make money teaching Pilates we have to make sure you know how much money you want/need to make. And, if it’s possible to do that by teaching alone.
Take the amount of money you want to make divide it by the number of weeks a year you can work and then divide that amount by the average dollar amount of your sessions. The answer is the number of hours you need to teach each week. If the answer is too high we will need to come up with some additional offerings. And, for that let’s chat here. If it’s about the same as you are currently teaching but you are not making the money you desire then it may be time to raise your rates.
Are you charging what you are worth? It’s easy to go with what the market in your area is charging. If you go on all the Pilates sites in your community and see everyone is charging $80/private you may be inclined to charge the same. But, you could be losing money. Clients do not choose a teacher based on price. They choose a teacher based on how they make them feel, the results they get and the quality of service.
Are you teaching on the right days? Often Pilates teachers think they need to teach 6 days a week and most take Sundays off. But, is that ideal for your community? Do you have a demand for a day you are not teaching and almost no clients on a day you do teach? Maybe a shift in your schedule is needed?
Host a community event or client workshop! Many teachers think workshops are just for teachers. But, the yoga world has been quite successful hosting workshops for their yogis! If you have a large class based business holding regular workshops for Pilates clients can be a great way to make more money doing more of what you love-teaching Pilates! And, it also gets the community together. You can also have wellness days or day “retreats” where other wellness professionals can come in and show off what they rock at and between your clients and their clients you can have a fun event that includes everything your clients would love.
This is just three easy things to think about for your Pilates business. There are plenty more and some that would be ideal only for a studio and others for an individual teacher. It really depends on what your goals are for your teaching business.
If you don’t know what those are then before you start tweaking your offerings take a moment to get a 30 thousand foot view of your teaching business. From there you can work backward. If you don’t want to teach classes but you work on promoting classes it will drain your inspiration and your energy. If you want to be teaching classes but built a private based business the same is true. So, get your goals out, then make adjustments based on your goals.
I know it’s tempting to do what looks successful in the Pilates market in your community. In Los Angeles, I see a lot of studios with the same deal $199/month for unlimited Pilates classes. If I were to have thought about that when I opened my studio I never would have opened my doors. I kept my Pilates business vision in mind and it has been good to me ever since.
What’s your vision for your Pilates business? Share in the comments below!
If raising your rates is necessary (side note if it has been more than a year then it probably is) then my course on raising your rates is what you need. Get it here!
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!
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.
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.
You know you have to write them, you know you hate to do it and No, email is not dead! Actually, quite the opposite. When people give you their email they are giving you direct access to THEM. You don’t have to play the algorithm game and wonder if your clients saw that you have a new class, workshop or event. But, what to write? And, how do you get them to click on YOUR email as they go through their inbox? Well, this week’s guest blogger Pilates instructor, Podcaster, and business savvy lady Nikki Naab-Levy is here with words of wisdom you must read!
Something I hear frequently from fellow Pilates teachers is “I haaa-aaate writing my newsletter. I never know what to write about and I always feel like I’m pestering my clients when I do it!”
If you feel like this, you’re not alone.
We become Pilates teachers, because we want to teach movement, not because we want to write newsletters. However, when done well, your newsletter is an opportunity to inspire and educate your clients outside of their sessions, deepen your relationship with potential customers, and build your business.
Also, with the right mindset and approach, it might even be fun.
Here are some tips for writing your newsletter:
When choosing a topic, consider your client’s perspective: If you’re ever stuck on what to write about, it helps to put yourself in your client’s shoes and consider what they are struggling with and what they look to you for help with.
Some good questions to ask yourself include:
What questions do my clients ask me all the time? What are they struggling with?
What is something that I teach all the time that my clients don’t know, which gives them big results?
What is a simple exercise or tip that I could teach my clients, which would give them a quick win with a problem that they are trying to solve?
If you brainstorm a list with answers to these questions, it’s likely that you’ll see some themes emerge. Each of these topics or themes could make great newsletter content. For example, if many of your clients tell you “I LOVE how I feel after our session, but I don’t have equipment at home! What can I do instead?” you could write a newsletter with three exercises your clients can do at home to feel great in between sessions.
If you get stuck, don’t forget it never hurts to ask your clients what they’d like to know more about. Most people are happy to share!
Write about things that light you up: If you’re bored with the topic you’re writing about, your readers will be able to feel it. However, if you pick a topic that you’re genuinely excited to share, your enthusiasm will come through and your clients will be excited to read it too.
Don’t believe me? Think about it in the context of normal life. If you asked your friend if you should try a new vegetarian restaurant and she told you, “Yeah, I guess. They have a lot of vegetable dishes and vegetables are good for you” you wouldn’t want to go there. However, if she told you, “OMG. This place is amazing! The food comes out looking like a work of art, tastes as good as it looks, AND it’s healthy,” you’d be all about it.
Be yourself! Your clients come to you for your knowledge, personality, and teaching style. They don’t come to you, because you can teach them the hundred, which they could figure out from a YouTube video.
The same principle applies to your newsletter. The people on your list are following you because they like your unique voice. This means that your newsletter doesn’t need to read like a 2,000-word research paper on rotator cuff function.
If you write the way that you talk about your work in real life, not only will your newsletter be more fun to read (and write!), but your personality will shine through. This can help you attract more ideal clients because if they like what you have to share in your newsletter, they might decide that you would be great to work with in real life too.
Consider alternative forms of media: Not all newsletters require lengthy text.
If you don’t enjoy writing, ask yourself what form of media would be more fun to communicate through? If you’re more comfortable with video, maybe try sharing an idea or an exercise that way and then including a link to the video as your primary newsletter content.
If you feel comfortable talking, you could do a voice recording, like a podcast. There is now voice recording software and apps that make this easy to do. If you’re visually oriented, you could create a gorgeous image in Canva and include a bulleted list of tips for an exercise or a simple recipe.
Repurpose content you’ve already created: If you’re stuck on what to create there is a good chance you already have something finished that would make stellar newsletter content.
Is there a juicy blog post you recently wrote? You can copy that text and email it to your list. Was there a video that you posted on social media that got a lot of positive feedback? You can write a short paragraph about it, include a link, and your newsletter is done. Not only does this save time for you, but it helps the people on your list see the amazing content you’re putting out, which they might have missed if they weren’t on social media the day you shared it.
Include a call to action: When you send a newsletter, ask yourself, “What do I want people to do with this information?” It could be something sales related like, “Want more ways to improve posture? Book yourself an introductory private,” but it doesn’t have to be.
A call to action could be as simple as “try this exercise the next time you feel stiff” or “Find this helpful? Share it with a friend who could also use this info!”
And on that note, if you try one of these strategies, we’d love to hear how it goes. You can let us know in the comments section below.
Nikki Naab-Levy is a Pilates teacher and massage therapist for people who aren’t zen, hate green juice, and are allergic to words like self-love (but kinda need it). She has over a decade of experience helping people build strength, improve mobility, and overcome injury.
Nikki holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and a B.S. in Journalism from Ohio University and is a Master Trainer for the Balanced Body Bodhi Suspension System. Her fitness wisdom has been featured in Greatist,Girls Gone Strong, The Balanced Body blog, and Men’s Fitness.
When she’s not teaching a sneaky hard Pilates class, you can find her hiking in the Pacific Northwest with her husband Kc, freelance fitness writing, and chain-drinking Americanos. For practical fitness advice + workouts that don’t hurt, visit her website NaabLevy.com or check out her podcast Moving Well on iTunes or Stitcher.