This week I am excited to introduce you to Pilates instructor and Teacher Trainer Rebecca Sirkel. Last year when I put a call out to allow guest bloggers for this year Rebecca jumped at the chance to tell her story. If you are a new instructor wondering what path to choose or if you have been teaching for a while and wondering if it’s time for a change or to continue rocking your path I think Rebecca’s piece will give you comfort in your decision.
When I first started teaching Pilates, I was already employed at Bally Total Fitness as a Personal Trainer. The company offered the Personal Trainers and Group Exercise staff an opportunity to do a weekend training in Pilates on the Balanced Body Allegro Reformers. It was a quick tutorial on how to do very safe, very simple Pilates movements on the most versatile piece of Pilates equipment. I loved it from the beginning and started teaching some of my existing clients the new method. I began intentionally putting my attention on Pilates and steering away from Personal Training. There was limited space in the club, and we were forced to share the spinning studio. After every Pilates class was over, we had to lift the reformers onto the wheel end and stack them against the walls out of the way of the spinning bikes. It was not an ideal situation, and when the program grew in popularity, management decided we needed a Pilates studio and ultimately converted the small employee break room into our new studio. I got dirty looks from many of the trainers who subsequently had to eat their lunch in a very dark closet in the back of the gym where maintenance kept all their equipment. Eventually, I decided I needed an upgrade in both my studio space and my Pilates training. I was craving more space, more knowledge on different apparatus and a chance to be my own boss.
I found a studio, we will call studio #1, with an owner who would allow me to rent the space without a real Pilates certification and a promise that I was going to pursue a Comprehensive training program. I found a perfect fit for me at classical training program with Power Pilates at a studio; we will call studio # 2. Once I finished the program, I was asked to continue as part of the staff and taught there under the guidance of my mentors Alicia and Doug Zabrocki. I taught at both studios for a year until the owners of Studio # 2, decided to move back to Chicago at which time I went to teaching full time at Studio # 1. Teaching at both studios gave me a chance to see what I really appreciated about both settings and what I needed to find to be happy teaching for years to come. That place did not exist until about four years ago when a fellow teacher from studio #1 who was also trained with Power Pilates at Studio # 2, opened her own studio where I teach full time now.
5 Tips to help you Find your Happy Teaching Place:
Number One: Gather information. Leave no rug unturned. Write out a list of all the places that offer Pilates in your nearby radius depending on how far away you are willing to travel. Check into every place online including, Pilates/yoga studios, health clubs, wellness centers, spas, schools, physical therapy/medical offices, and community centers. Look through websites as if you were a prospective client and were shopping for a place to work out. This will give you a lot of insight as to how much business is likely to come your way.
Number Two: Investigate Options. Once you have gathered all the information you can with your internet search, call all potentials on the phone and let them know you are considering them as a place to set up shop. Tell the studio owner/Health Club Manager/Physical Therapist, etc. what you like about their business.
Ask the following questions:
1) Will I be an employee or an independent contractor if I decide to teach at your business?
2) Will I be expected to build my own client base or will you provide me, new clients?
3) If an employee, how much do you pay per session? Private/Semi-Private/Group/Mat class?
4) If an independent contractor, how much do you require for rent? Do I pay a percentage of my sessions or will I pay a flat rate fee for the renting the space?
5) Do you have a non-compete clause in your Independent contract/employee contract?
6) What is your policy on training friends/family? Can they work out for free or a discounted rate?
7) If an employee, what are the benefits? If Independent contractor, do you pay for any continuing education or provide any sales incentives?
Number Three: Talk Shop. If possible, talk to other Pilates staff at the prospective place and try to get a feel for how things are flowing. Ask questions like, “How long have you taught here? And “How often do you receive new clients?” as well as “Is your schedule full?” The people who already teach there will likely be more transparent on the vibe and whether you might enjoy the teaching environment. Sometimes other teachers can make you love or hate your job!
Number Four: Make your pros/cons list. Now that you have a good amount of information write out the things that are most important to you. For instance, pay rate, teaching environment, Pilates apparatus, employee benefits/sales incentives, and distance from home are factors to consider. Use this information to create your chart of all potential workplaces and what they offer. You may find it easy to decide when you see it on paper, but chances are you already know the answer.
Number Five: Set up the Interview. Now that you have narrowed it down to two or maybe three potential workplaces send your resume out to studio owners, Health Club Managers, etc. If you don’t hear back within a day, call to check the resume was received and set up an interview. In my experience, after your initial interview, you will typically be asked to come back and teach a full or mini Pilates session as this will give your prospective employer a better idea of your teaching style beyond your Pilates training background.
In the end, you should pick one place that gives you an opportunity to grow as a teacher and simultaneously allows you to create relationships with clients whether you want to be full or part time. The good news is, Pilates teachers are in high demand, and you may have more than one offer. Ultimately, I would recommend going with your gut once you have done all your homework. Following your instincts can go a long way to carving the right path to your future in the world of Pilates.
Power Pilates Teacher Trainer
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Thank you, Rebecca, and thank you all for reading. Feel free to comment below with any questions or compliments. Also, please take the time to connect with Rebecca with her handles above. Tell us, what was your Pilates career path? Are you where you want to be? What questions do you have? You can comment below or for a private conversation connect with me here.