What Is A Cooperative?

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Three years ago I took over a little Pilates studio in Union Square, called Union Square Pilates. I painted the walls, changed the name, and hung some art, and voila- FORM Pilates Union Square was born. I had absolutely no idea how things would evolve, butI wasn’t worried. I knew what I didn’t want- a factory like studio pumping out clients and controlling  what other teachers taught. I was clear on what I DID want- a studio to bring my clients to that was clean, happy, had a wonderful vibe, as well as a place where the Pilates community could come together instead of pushing each other apart.  So like one of my favorite quotes, “I dream because there is no other way I can see it happen” I dreamed big and boom- I saw it happen.

 

I first heard of the concept of a cooperative in the context of the grocery store, the Park Slope Coop. Members agree to work once every month in exchange for discounts on healthy fare. Very cool I thought and that planted a seed. Then through a woman’s networking group I heard about a shared workspace in the city called In Good Company. It was a place female entrepreneurs come to work, meet, and learn. Cut to two years into my owning FORM USQ and it kind of sounded like what I was inadvertently doing- renting out my space so other instructors could build and incubate their businesses under mine. I wanted a place we could be a community, so like they say, “your dream job does not exist you must create it”, and I did.

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The true definition of a cooperative is an autonomous group of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. People have been cooperating since the beginning of time. Tribes were organized as cooperative structures, allocating jobs and resources among each other. Bottom line is that cooperatives are a good thing, but why weren’t there any for Pilates instructors? Why were we being left out?

 

The daunting costs of NYC commercial rent, equipment prices, and the shear need for space to house a proper studio keeps wannabe Pilates soloprenuers from branching out on their own. In a sprawling metropolis like New York my colleagues needed a place to bring their clients and work out of. Notoriously divided, Pilates people can be snotty and pretentious. They can be afraid of sharing and living in a world of lack instead of embracing abundance. I refused to believe that’s all there is. What if you could come as you are, with the type of clients that “get” your style, and build a thriving business without going into a mountain of debt. No reason why not so, after months of building our new structure with my team, the FORM Pilates Cooperative was born.

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At FORM you can join our cooperative at one of two levels. As a Drop-In member who sees less than 10 clients a week but is looking to build, or as a Subscriber who already has a full practice, 15+ clients a week, but wants to maximize their time, profit, and diversify their revenue streams. As their fearless leader, I offer office hours, group coaching, and one-on-one consultations to help supplement the practical training we received in our certifications with business savvy. As a fully functioning Pilates studio, we also receive inquiries from potential clients and match them with their ideal Pilates instructor. The client can continue to shop around and work with several cooperative members or if it’s a match made in heaven, the teacher can take on the client as their own. This approach makes for both happy clients AND teachers.

 

We are excited to be the first Pilates Cooperative in NYC!

Want more info on how our cooperative works or an application to join our team? Email us studio [at] formpilates [dot] com today!

 

The Dog Whisperer’s Guide To Fitness

 

Me and the man himself

Me and the man himself

 

Her name was Bella, but we renamed her Frida. Her original family decided they couldn’t keep her so in lieu they dropped her at a horse ranch. All dogs love the outdoors so any four legged friend would love to live on a ranch, right? Wrong. Frida was the opposite of a ranch dog. She was terrified of horses, people, and just about everything. She hid under a porch morning to evening shivering and shaking trying to disappear. It wasn’t long before the ranch owners decided Frida had to go. Things just weren’t working out. A friend of a friend worked part-time with the horses and knew I was looking to adopt a dog. My boyfriend drove his Audi up the winding Hollywood Hills to ranch-land and brought Frida home in the backseat with us.

We noticed right away that she was very damaged. She couldn’t walk a straight line while on a leash, darting and cowering like a PTSD’d casualty of war. Whatever trauma she endured she carried it with her in every situation dodging and weaving away from an invisible enemy. She just needs time to adjust and get comfortable, we thought. We had no idea how serious her wounds were and what was entailed in her healing. A month into her adoption we stupidly took her to a 4th of July party and she lost her shit. A little boy with a giant water gun spooked her and she went for him, drawing blood.

I was devastated. I never had a dog that was aggressive or violent. People’s advice was to put her down or give her away but I believed in her sweet face and searched for other options. A Pilates client of mine who had dogs suggested I reach out to this guy who was known as the “Dog Whisper” who had an unusual way of training dogs with issues. Two weeks later Ceasar Milan showed up to our Venice apartment to assess Frida. Terrified she lunged at him right as he crossed the threshold but he didn’t flinch. “Her problem is not that she’s a ‘bad dog’ but rather that her psyche needs a tune up” he said, “but she’s a red-zone case and won’t get better without help”. She needed to go to his center in a compound tucked away in East LA for doggie misfits, STAT.

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In my work as a Pilates instructor I have lots of opportunity to observe what make people tick. Sure, they’re taking Pilates to improve their posture, get stronger or more flexible, maybe even heal from an injury but what they don’t realize is they also get an attitude adjustment. Our body and psyche are not separate and unconnected. On the contrary. According to my friend and Pilates anthropologist, Benjamin Degenhardt, Joe Pilates was adamant about Contrology’s original trifecta: body, mind, and spirit – not just body. Benjamin tells me that he believed exercises alone won’t do much if you are not present in your practice and don’t bring the willingness to take control of yourself. His idea of mindfulness and spirituality was straightforward: “it is the spirit which builds the body”. We see it everywhere in the Pilates studio. The lack of music to aid in concentration, the specificity of the movements, the use of visual cues bring us into harmony with the whole of us. When we change our mindset we change how we feel inside and out. We literally change our body by focusing our mind on muscle, bone, and breath.

Frida spent 3 weeks at the Dog Psychology Center and when we went to visit her we saw a completely different dog. She was present and bold, with snout and tail lifted high, a doggy smile on her lips. I was amazed to see her playing with other dogs and strutting around without a care in the world. We brought her home with lots of advice from the master- “you have to change your energy to keep her like this. I train humans, and rehabilitate dogs,” he said. We got this I thought.
Turns out it was harder to do the work we had to do. Frida instinctual by nature, was always in the moment, but it was us humans who live with one foot still in the past. See, while behavior may be easy to change, mindset is not. It takes daily practice and determination to “train” the muscle that is our brain. Benjamin says of Joe’s work that “if willpower was a muscle, it’d be the single-most important one in the practice of Joe Pilates’ work”. If Joe was alive today I believe he and Ceasar would be buds. If we want to change and grow we can,we just need to meet the way with the will. We are not slaves to our genius, species, or our mind.

Interested in seeing what your mind can build with your body? Join us for the Pilates goodness in our NYC studio today! Click here for more info!

 

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Teacher Focus Feature~ Monica Delgado

When you first meet Ms. Delgado, you are literally transfixed by her beauty. The thing is, she is SO much more than just her looks. Besides being stunning, Monica is an accomplished artist, phenomenal Pilates instructor, and all around inspiring person. I am truly blessed to have her kind, soothing energy in my studio. Here’s all about the woman behind that face…

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Unlike the majority of the Pilates community, Monica did not come to Pilates through dance. She did however find the method through healing an injury, as many instructors do. While weight lifting one day she injured her back and when rehabbing, her Physical Therapist introduced “pilates-based exercises” into her sessions. After doing them religiously for three weeks she was able to function normally again and she was hooked. That was ten years ago. After realizing the benefits of Pilates, Monica continued her practice and eventually became certified in the classical style through Peak Pilates.

Monica is most impressed with how Pilates is applicable to everything we do. Whether it’s sitting in a chair at your desk, climbing up or down the stairs, picking up a bag of groceries, throwing a football, or surfing some waves- Pilates is present. It’s the efficiency of movement that keeps her coming back, and while she looks “small and sweet” she’s not. Her sessions tend to be quite challenging but fun. She likes to give tons of “cookies”. Not the ones you eat…the Pilates ones. You’ll have to try a session with her to get your treat.

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When Monica is not in the Pilates studio putting her clients through their paces, she is at her art studio in Long Island City. She’s a visual artist, with a degree in painting but the work she’s doing now questions the conventional notions of what a painting is. Monica pushes boundaries not only in her teaching but with her art as well.

Here’s 5 fun facts about Monica:

1) I have a baby pillow I still sleep with, and can’t sleep without.
2) I was a cheerleader in middle school and high school.
3) I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.
4) I have 200 something cousins, I think.
5) I was voted Teacher of the Year when I was an inner city middle school art teacher in Texas. Did that for 4 years.

For more information about Monica Delgado or to schedule a session email us studio [at] formpilates [dot] com at FORM Pilates today!

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Guest Post: Pilates is Optional

Oh hey! Pilates is Optional. Ways I Make Myself Indispensable to My Business and Students

The author, Anula doing kneeling side kicks

The author, Anula doing kneeling side kicks

My mother always told me: "make yourself indispensable". She had a lot more motherly advice like "don't wear a shirt with a stain" or "its never too late to write a Thank You note", but being indispensable stuck with me with me over the years.

I came to Pilates from the Art world where fashion is fickle and a lowly assistant or a mega star can be replaced at a moment's notice. Its the typical NYC high anxiety, cut throat, competition one would find in any field. Lots of big fish in a small pond. The Pilates landscape can feel that way sometimes. But unlike opening a gallery in Chelsea opening a studio or working for one is more about knowing who you are and sticking to it. After all: teaching others to move well never goes out of style.

Here are some ways, in my opinion, to make sure I can't be easily replaced.

  • Remember: Pilates is optional!

There are millions of people who have lived full and rewarding lives without ever doing the Hundred not even once. So when someone comes to me, an "expert" on movement, I owe them something: honesty. Not only can clients go to dozens of other studios they can go to dozens of other fitness modalities (spinning, under water spinning, just jumping up and down in their living room...). Why am I stating the obvious? because even though I do believe Pilates can be for everyone, I, ME personally, am not. I am never afraid to tell a student who isn't "buying" the Method that seeing me is optional. I also don't like to miss represent my skill set. I am not a healer. I often say "sometimes Pilates will help with pain or discomfort and sometimes it won't" and that's OK.

  • Friendship Re-Defined

Am I friends with all my students? It feels that way sometimes. I check in periodically and ask: did I leave that session totally drained or did I leave rejuvenated and ready for the next? A draining dynamic can be "deadly". You know that friend who shows up and sucks all your energy and leaves? Yeah... No. If boundaries got blurred I am not afraid to re-set them. I don't shy away from asking my client to remind me of their goals or re-define those goals together as we go. That usually brings derailed sessions back on track. Same with personal friendships that may have lost their thread. Are we friends because we are helping each other grow or are we friends because we can't remember a time where we weren't? I learn something new from my students every day and I try to make sure they know that. No one likes to be taken for granted.

  • Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself - in group class

We all have off days and off classes. But overall, seeing me isn't a chore, teaching can't be either. For example: when an instructor walks into a group class and announces its their tenth class of the day and they are beat I kinda want to leave. The odds of me returning are slim even if the class was great. I try to watch why I say and the tone I use. I have a sarcastic personality which sometimes does not translate to all students especially in a group setting. But being bland isn't the answer either. Not everyone is going to "get" me so I try to be myself to a point. I am the first to admit sometimes I cross that point and am maybe too cheeky. Its good to remember that there is a section of the population who will go to any class because it fits their schedule and then there are those who make a special trip to MY class. 80/20 rule applies here. 80% be myself. 20% try to be normal.

  • The Rock Star Effect (you win some you lose some but try to win some)

The last and most important point: if my students do not leave classes/sessions feeling like rock stars I should have my Pilates badge taken away. I want to set people up for success however we decide to define it. If I don't hear the words "I feel so much better!" at the end of an hour, at least most of the time, I lost. I don't know how all instructors operate but I find myself walking down the street thinking of my students and what they came to me with. Fitness goals, aches and pains, serious injuries, pregnancies... all that "stuff". My students need someone to really hear them. That means knowing when to push harder and when to back off. When to introduce new concepts or exercises. And when to stop being nice and start getting real: the Real World - Pilates Edition.

 

10527594_10203606678301143_2643539730946280733_nAnula Maiberg was born in Israel and moved to NYC in 2001 in order to pursue a career in photography. While finishing her
degree at the School of Visual Arts she fell in love with Pilates through the classes and private sessions she took at Sixth Street Pilates. After college and a few years at a "desk" job she realized happiness wasn't in front of the computer screen. She decided to attended the Kane School for Core Integration to become fully certified on Pilates apparatus. After a few years of teaching she is now the co-owner (with Jeremy Laverdure) of Sixth Street Pilates where it all began. Anula also recently graduated the Kathy Grant Heritage Training in Denver led by Cara Reeser of Pilates Aligned.

 

 

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