How to Survive the Downtime Blues


You know it. You were taught it. You have experience in what correct Pilates posture is and how to keep yourself upright even in the most trying of times. This is the mark of a true Pilates instructor, but who trained you to know how to keep your business upright when it things start to slump? Like many other industries, the Pilates business has it’s peak and off seasons. The summer holiday hits and suddenly you find even your most loyal clients will have their eyes focused on vacation and their tan lines, rather than their powerhouses. So, what’s a dedicated instructor to do when her pocket book has tumbleweeds and she’s searching in the couch cushions for change? Plan baby, plan.

I’m a huge proponent of being in the moment, but if you only focus on your marketing and cash flow in the moment, you’ll be playing a nasty game of catch up during your busy times just to keep your business afloat. It’s time to be proactive and not reactive and turn your summer blues into summertime bliss…here’s how:

Get Analytical with it. Keeping track of how your business is doing- which month’s are the busiest or slowest, which packages sell better, etc. This is invaluable info. You’ll need to know as much as you can to make smart decisions on how to bump up your sales during the sluggish times. MindBody software has reports built in. If you use Quickbooks to keep track of your books, they have reports you can draw up as well, or maybe you’re just starting out and doing things the old school way. Either way- create a spreadsheet (either on your computer or paper). List the months, your sales, what you sold, and who to. This way you can see how things ebb and flow during the year and what offerings are selling and which aren’t.

Draw up a marketing blueprint. Once you have all the data it’s time to plan. We’re halfway through the year, so this downtime is a great to make your marketing blueprint for your second part of 2014. Take the data you collected and then figure out which months you need to up your regular marketing practices. The key here is to have a plan in place before it’s dead in the studio. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukah are  almost upon us and you don’t want to be singing the holiday blues too. Plan for the next slump now, waiting will be too late.

Get your juices flowing. Ok, creative time here. I encourage you to think outside of the box. Yes, giving a percentage off your packages is an idea, it’s just not a very good one. During the holidays everyone is offering sale prices and most likely your clients are becoming immune to the sight of them. Maybe it’s time to offer a “stay-in-shape” plan that’s 6 weeks of videos or lessons to help them from getting puffy from all those cookies. Or maybe you can offer a bonus if they buy a particular big package before  the end of the year which will boost your December bottom line. Do you have products? Maybe a holiday gift guide would be a nice reminder that you offer more than just sessions. I always come up with awesome ideas in the shower or on the reformer. Get moving and see what comes up. And one more thing- I highly recommend NOT reducing your prices or offering a big discount. This is the lazy way to market. How can you add more VALUE to your offerings and keep the dollars where they belong- with you.

Get Help. No woman is an island, especially not you. Hire out what you’re not good at. Maybe looking over numbers makes your eyes cross, or you aren’t very interested/skilled at creating killer graphics. Whatever the thing is that you hate, it’s most likely because you aren’t very good at it. Instead of wasting valuable teaching time trying to make your weakness your strength, why not just hire an expert to do it? In business, we call this outsourcing and it works. Yes, it will cost you a little cash on the front end but remember we’re making plans to boost your sales and you have to spend a little to make a little.

My challenge for you is to implement some of these techniques NOW, so don’t wait. Collect the numbers, pull out your calendar, do some daydreaming and leave your comments below. Maybe what you’ve done will inspire others. This is the time to make the most of 2015, the ball is in your hands.

Need a little more help getting yourself ready for the New Year? Sign up for Business Coaching with Pilates studio owner and Biznass Coach, Lindsay Lopez today!

If you’re a Pilates instructor in the NYC area and are looking to grow your business, come and join the first Pilates Cooperative, FORM Pilates. For more info click here!

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In Our Kitchen: Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving for me, is all about the food. There’s the old standards- turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; but I like to mix things up. I interrogated my friends, clients, and fellow teachers for their picks in this holiday season. I’ve compiled a list for you to play with below:

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

by FORM Instructor, Amy Nelms (a vegan with a vengeance)                                  IMG_9279

  • 13/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 11/4 cups sufst
  • 1tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 soy milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly grease a 12 muffin tin.  Sift together flour,sugar,baking powder,salt, and spices.  In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk,oil, and molasses.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.

Fill the muffin cups two- thirds full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean

 Roast Turkey with Sage and Orange Gravy

by super Pilates client, Casey Nicolaw (as seen in Real Simple)

  • 1  12- to 14-pound whole fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 2  tablespoons  kosher salt
  • 8  large oranges, scrubbed
  • 1  large bunch fresh sage
  • 3  heads garlic, cut crosswise in half
  • 1  5.2- to 6.4-ounce package garlic-herb cheese spread (such as Boursin)
  • 4  large carrots
  • 3  small leeks, trimmed and rinsed, or 2 large onions, cut into quarters
  • olive oil
  • 6  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  1. Remove the giblets, then rinse the turkey. Dry with paper towels. Rub the cavity with the salt. Cut 2 of the oranges into 2-inch chunks. Set aside a few sage sprigs for garnish later. Place the remaining sage, cut-up oranges, and garlic in the cavity. Loosen the skin from the breast and spread the cheese under the skin. Tuck the wings under the back; tie the legs together. Arrange the carrots and leeks in the roasting pan to create a “rack” and place the turkey on it; rub with oil. (The turkey can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
  2. Heat oven to 350º F. Roast for 1 hour. Place a foil tent over the turkey and continue roasting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours more or until an instant-read thermometer registers 180º F when inserted in the breast.
  3. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Carefully move the turkey to a platter, pouring any cavity juice back into the pan. Cover with foil to keep warm. Set oven to 500º F. Cut the remaining 6 oranges into quarters and arrange in a shallow baking pan. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until brown.
  4. Meanwhile, discard the vegetables from the roasting pan. Pour the pan drippings into a 4-cup measure. When the fat separates and rises to the surface, spoon 1/3 cup of it into a medium saucepan; discard any remaining fat. Squeeze the juice from 12 of the orange wedges into the defatted broth; if necessary, add water or chicken broth to make 4 cups. Whisk the flour into the fat in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy thickens and boils, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Arrange the remaining baked oranges with the sage on the platter around the turkey. Serve with the gravy.

Coconut Flavored Sweet Potatoes

by holistic health honey, Erica Trestyn

  • 3-4 medium sized Sweet potatoes, skinned and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1-2 TBSP of black strap molasses
  • ¾ teaspoon of sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes in a large bowl and pour over coconut oil & molasses.  Toss with remaining ingredients. Spread the potatoes on a large baking sheet or in a large roasting pan.  Roast for about an hour, tossing about every 20 min.*You can also try this recipe with butternut squash. Mash either for a “mashed potato feel”. It is super yummy & decadent!

Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Crushed Pine Nuts and Parmesan
spotted by yours truly, Lindsay Lopez on Pinterest

  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts, finely diced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  1.  Trim and peel away the outer leaves of each Brussel sprout and half them
  2. Slide the Brussels sprout halves onto the skewers, about six to eight halves per skewer
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place skewers halved-side up
  4. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over each skewer, trying to “fill up” the Brussels  sprouts
  5. Bake the skewers at 400 degrees for about 30min until they are cooked and crispy
  6. Plate the skewers on a serving tray and cover them with parmesan and the pine nuts


Thanksgiving Eggs Benedict

by FORM Instructor Alissa Alter Fuhrman

In a pan with melted butter, fry a large spoonful of leftover mashed potatoes into a potato pancake. Then in the same pan make a fried egg. Serve the egg over the pancake and cover with leftover gravy.

Let us know which of our recipes you tried and loved, or post a recipe of your own below!

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What You Need To Survive A Hurricane

 Last week my glorious city, with its resilient souls that call it home, was rocked to the core by a bitch of a storm named after a character from “Grease.”  This isn’t my first time at the hurricane rodeo. Last year, I hunkered down for a storm slumber party when Irene threatened to blow us away. That turned out to be more bark than bite. I ended up spending the weekend drinking vino and watching reruns (I know, survival is tough). This time we heeded warnings, crossed fingers and toes, but weren’t as lucky. At home, I was fortunate to find that the worst my neighborhood fared was just a couple of downed trees. My studio however, did not have power for an entire week, which meant no clients, no renters, no income.

I was one of the lucky ones. Areas of New Jersey, Staten Island, and the Rockaways were demolished. My studio was only out of commission for only 7 days. I know that if I had a business in one of those areas I would be suffering so much more. This left me thinking about how we cope. How to remain positive when a tempest punches you in the face, literally.  Here’s what I recommend:

Remember that recovery is a process. I am always telling my clients, “just relax, you will get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day.” In this case that couldn’t be more true. Rebuilding takes time. Time indicates patience. Patience, for most of us is a process within itself. Take it one day at a time, there’s no where to be but where you are right now.

Practice not abandoning yourself. What, you say, is the good of being where you are right now when right now SUCKS? Well, that’s the thing about the present. It’s all you have. Not the past. Not the future. Just. Right. Now. The now will fluctuate, that you can count on. Today might be a great place to be and then tomorrow, like in the case of Sandy, might be nasty and unpleasant. You cannot control how the wind blows but you can choose how you respond. I am a HUGE fan of Josh Pais’s “Committed Impulse” technique. He teaches you to stay with your feelings and how they manifest in your body, without labeling things good, bad, or ugly. This process makes you stronger since you can take control where you can, within you.

Get Creative. I find that the universe brings me just what I need exactly when I need it. I might be hoping for a UPS delivery from Barney’s and instead get a pile of shit on my doorstep- but it’s exactly what I needed. The freedom you have from your regular routine creates a space you can fill with the things you have had on your “to-do” list forever. Personally, I used the week I had off to plan my entire year and to begin to break down all the projects and what I need to accomplish to make that happen. Maybe you have been wanting to make changes to how you structure things in your business. Now you have the time. Whatever IT is, take this time to be productive, creative, and positive. Most importantly move forward.

Time will heal. I have been so encouraged by the community I live in. Neighbors helping neighbors, even if it’s just helping someone who has no power charge their iPhone. We are a hardy city and will bounce, or rather, “storm” our way back. That is what New Yorkers do.

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