The Business Side of Teaching Pilates
Choosing where to study Pilates as an apprentice can be tough. Many consider location, costs, equipment, exercises and Teacher Trainer. What about business skills taught? Did you know what to do to build your business after your apprenticeship?
As you read in our previous article “The Pilates Apprentice Story” each apprentice chose their programs based on the best mentors and learning the technique. All of them are well on their way towards rocking their Pilates teaching dreams. But, what happens after the apprentice hours are completed? Where do they find their clients? How do they fill a schedule and build their own Pilates business? Most programs still do not teach the business side of Pilates. Focusing mostly on teaching students the exercises and history of Pilates. Of course, this is important. In fact, teachers will never stop learning the in’s and out’s of Pilates. But, what about the business side? Can we do more for apprentices, so they come off the ground running? Gina and I believe so!
This follow-up is geared to help teachers, teacher trainers, and apprentices focus on five areas to take with them and hit the Pilates reformer, Cadillac and mat running! Aside from a website try these tips and make the business side of Pilates, your friend:
1. Focus on what’s in front of you: To be successful as a Pilates instructor you do not have to advertise to everyone. You just need to connect to those in your area, and specifically with those that want the depth and breadth of the method. You only need to speak to 20 – 30 people. Plan to use simple, local marketing programs; e.g., pin specially designed postcards for group mat classes on the bulletin boards in nail salons and coffee shops. Set up a FREE Google Local business page to your location. Build a local community mat class that meets regularly; collaborate with another small business to co-promote a community health & fitness workshop; write a article or two for a local paper or community business journal. Before buying Google AdWords or even Facebook ads take some stock. You don’t need a national audience to see you! Buy targeted space in your local area and minimize your cost and maximize the effectiveness. Then focus on teaching the one or two clients in front of you. Make their bodies feel and show the benefits of Pilates by training with YOU! They will soon become be the walking billboards you need in your community and more friends, and friends of friends will seek you out. Do not hesitate to ask for their feedback as a testimonial to their experience. Word of mouth stories will go a long way in helping others find the path to you.
2. Knowing when to say Yes and when to say No: In the beginning,it is easy to say “yes” to everyone who asks for a session and at any time. Why? Because saying “no” often means saying no to money. The money you want and need. You are the instructor. You have all the power. First, know when you are available to work. You may think you have plenty of time to teach. You are new and building your business, but you are not available anytime. What would a full schedule for you look like? Ask yourself, when do I feel at my best? When am I taking my Pilates sessions? Build a work schedule and then only offer those times. Stick to it! There is an attraction to the “busy restaurant.” People will wait hours to get into the restaurant with a line out the door even if the one next door is empty. If someone asks for a time, you are not available say “I am not available then. I have this time or this time, which works best for you?” If none work then you’ll have to say no but I bet the next time they’ll work Pilates with you into their schedule first!
Angela Paul-Gaito, who runs a studio in Newburgh, NY, commented in our “The Pilates Apprentice Story” interview, that she learned the hard way, that saying “yes” too often, perhaps being too lenient, too timid with goal of “wooing” clients and building relationships actually made it harder in the long run. She realised that she needed to keep a focus on my own limits in the relationship and transaction. She needed to stop trying to be a friend and work toward being their teacher.
3. Know what the clients ‘Why’ is? Why is the client coming to Pilates? What brought them to you and Pilates? They are not going to learn all there is to know about Pilates in that first session. Take the pressure off yourself and spend your time showing them how Pilates with YOU will help them hit their WHY. I know their body has more needs than that why but if you don’t get them to come back in you’ll never get to help them with their bodies needs. Allow them to feel what Pilates with you is. Their first package with you is them buying time with you. They felt enough trust with you to help them attain their Why.
4. Choose the best option for you: As a Pilates instructor, you have multiple options to choose from when it comes to where you teach. You can rent space, work for a studio or fitness facility, work for yourself and go to clients homes. You may feel the urge to choose one or a few of these options at once. We recommend you choose the option that works best for you and your work style. In a Profitable Pilates post “To Own or To Rent,” I suggest you ask fellow teachers what the positives and negatives are. What work best for them and why? If you dream of having a studio of your OWN one day, find a space that allows you to build your own business and following. Prefer to show up, teach and leave? Perhaps working in a studio is a better option for you. There is an advantage to being your own boss and calling your own shots and wearing all the hats. Do you know yourself enough to know which option works best for you?
5. Online options: A website is important. It’s a crucial calling card in the digital marketplace. For more on why websites are important, take a look these tips from web developers. If you cannot afford one, in the beginning, don’t worry. You can purchase the domain today so that when you are ready, your ideal website URL is available. Start a Facebook page or Instagram page. These do not replace a website, but they do help people find you and see who you are, what you do and what you stand for as a Pilates Instructor. Yelp and Citysearch as well as other review sites are great options as profiles on these sites are often free. A website is an assistant that works for you 24/7 so get one sooner than later! In the meantime use the free options you have and then don’t be afraid to ditch the world wide web in exchange for good old fashion in person connection. Hang out at the cafe by your studio and introduce yourself to people. Your future clients are all around!
We cannot express how important it is that you do not avoid the business side of teaching. You got into teaching Pilates because of your passion for the method. For you to share that passion for Pilates, you will have to master the business. Start with these five tips and see how they help you fill your dream schedule with dream clients!
Co-Authors & Collaborators Gina and Lesley found each other via social media and their common love of connection, Pilates and blogging.
Lesley Logan, a PMA Certifed Master Pilates Instructor and has been studying and teaching Joseph Pilates Classical Method since 2005 and 2008 respectively. She has also been featured in Pilates Style Magazine and recently was admitted into “The Work,” a masters program taught by one of Joseph Pilates elders, Jay Grimes. Maintaining that
Pilates is a unique practice that is good for every body, Lesley tailors the method for each individual client. Connect with Lesley via http://www.proftablepilates.com.