Big Pilates

The rise of Big business has been quickly devouring our urban landscapes and rural terrains.

Its everywhere these days. Gone are the days of getting your coffee from someone who actually knows your name and doesn’t have to ask it just so they can write it on your cup. Pretty much every city in the US is being bombarded by chains. Consumers are being conditioned to follow familiar branding and corporations are cleaning up because of it. No surprise then that Big Business has now come to Pilates.

Corporations have caught on to what we as instructors have known all along- Pilates works and people will pay for those results. We are seeing the rise of gym Pilates programs/certifications as well as dedicated Pilates chains. I’m sure Joe would be happy that Pilates’ popularity is booming but how does this effect what’s nearest and dearest to our hearts- our own Pilates careers?

Throughout my 15+ year Pilates career I have worked in every teaching situation there is. Small studios, big studios, gyms, to opening a studio for myself. The challenges studio owners have grown accustomed to in our industry are being replaced. Where there were once three studios, you can now find ten. Baby instructors are being “born” in certifications every day. I can see the industry has evolved tremendously since I started. With the rise of competition comes the need to stand out in a crowded marketplace, as well as finding and keeping talented instructors in your studio. The private instructor now has almost too many options of where to hang their teaching hat. Work at the studio down the street, for the man, or for work yourself? How do you choose?

In my Pilates NYC studio we have disrupted the industry norms. At FORM we empower teachers to run their own business without the necessity of brick and mortar. While I get lots of teachers applying to become part of the Co-Op, most of my candidates are disgruntled workers from said Big Business chains. Not all teachers are born for the entrepreneurial life which requires much more than just what happens on the mat. What was tolerable for those newborn teachers has become a burden for the seasoned instructor. Teachers with a few years under their belt are now finding that corporate culture can get old, and fast. Not only must you adhere to company policies and procedures, you can work for years in a joint with nothing to show for it other than a line on your resume. As a result of years of resentment, indignant Pilates pros are opting for  “micro” one room studios for themselves and dedicated clientele. One room, with your type of equipment, decorated as you wish, just you and your clients. Sounds like heaven right? But is it?

While owning your own studio may be the Pilates American Dream, it’s just not profitable or recommended for most. Not only do you and your clients feel isolated from the world, instructors start to feel lonely and uninspired when teaching from their solo space. Working dollar for hour, your sessions and clients are your primary income, which could become problematic in time. What happens when you get sick or can’t make it in to teach? I’ll tell you what…NOTHING because you are the only one bringing home the bacon. Teachers who make the break from working for someone else are realizing the value of “owning” their own client list and being their own boss. However, with Pilates popularity booming, chances are you’ll have a hard time finding someone to sub your clients while you are away. That means no vacay and still rent to pay. When your space is tiny how do you leverage your off times? No one wants to rent a space solely during off peak ours. So what’s the solution? Time to pick a side.

I know it may sound like I’m bemoaning Pilates Big Biz, but it can have it’s place. Infusing cash into increasingly expensive brick and mortar operations, Corporate Pilates creates jobs and opportunities where there may not have been any before. Having health insurance and a 401 K are nothing to sneeze at. The key to finding your stride is to feel like you’re being validated and respected wherever you make people sweat. So, if you don’t want to work for the man and opening your own mini studio isn’t sustainable…what’s left?

The FORM Pilates Co-Op

FORM Pilates is where studio meets autonomy. As an instructor, I structured FORM as a place that is serious about Pilates. Fully equipped and manned with friendly and helpful staff, both you and your clients feel like they are getting the experience of a Big Business studio with your own personalization of style and Pilates philosophy. Instructors at FORM can charge what they want and take home 70% of clients fees, but most importantly they own their client list, and THAT is priceless. FORM also offers the business education you’ll need to get more clients, diversify your revenue streams, and do things your way.

Interested in becoming a member of our Co-Op?
Click here for a short application!

Social Media Meltdown

 Day 8 of the FORM Pilates 28 Day Biz Challenge 

Today we’re talking Social media madness! Social Media Overwhelm? Check out Lindsay’s Vlog below about how to shake the SoMe blues, then share it on your favorite social media platform along with your single biggest takeaway.

Remember to use the hastag #transFORM and tag us @FORMPilates to get extra points

 

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Teacher Focus Feature ~ Monika Harczuk

Tall and stunning, Monika Harczuk will get your attention just standing on the floor at FORM Pilates. Serious with a smile, Monika came to me as an instructor looking for a home to see her clients, but she has since become so much more. A good friend and coaching client, Monika sees wellness as a true mind, body, and spirit job. She is always quick to offer advice about healing food, tea, or meditation techniques. Her dreams include eventually traveling back to her home in Europe and spreading Joe Pilates’ work with her company Harmonized-me. Here’s her story:
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Monika never exercised as a teenager and was very weak and tight, but always loved ab exercises. The year was 2002 and she was living in Amsterdam and in an effort to get the most out of her gym membership she wandered into a class called “Ground Work”. It was 45 minutes of killer ab work: Monika’s favorite. After class she found out this was not your Mom’s ab workout — It was a method called Pilates. From that point on, she began her research. Back in Berlin, she could only find two Pilates studios but that didn’t stop her from traveling for her weekly private lessons and mat classes. After a year of working hard, practicing a lot, she saw what Pilates was doing for her body. Monika decided to move back to Holland and begin her teacher training program in Den Haag.
For Monika, Pilates changed everything. She never felt very connected to her physical body and the method opened up her eyes wide. Today, she loves to pass on the gift of Pilates to her own clients. She is focused, deep, and detailed in her sessions to make sure that the basics are understood and that clients develop a deep foundation. She often works with imbalances like Scoliosis and through her careful command of the Pilates technique change and growth are inevitable.
When she’s not teaching, Monika balances her schedule with doing well,…nothing. She loves having no plans and taking the day by surprise.

 

Monika wants us to remember that our body is the vehicle that carries us through life and it is important to care for it and give it our undivided attention. Having a body that is strong and healthy is the key to living your most joyful life.
Here are a couple interesting facts about Ms. Harczuk:
  • She loves listening to Eckhart Tolle
  • She is nearly vegan
  • When she has the first sip of sparkling water, she gets a hiccup
  • She speaks 3.5 languages

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Chasing Carrots

I had a conversation with a new friend the other day about love. Is love as we know it real or just an illusive place to visit? The invisible road with a map that’s yet to be discovered. Love is intangible, yet we still constantly fight 24/7 to hold it in our hands. As an Californian born single child, I didn’t have the best love role models. My parents divorced. My Grandparents fought viciously. As far as I was concerned, if this was love, you could have it. I wanted nothing to do with that drama, yet somehow I felt the pull and allure of butterflies and swoon. Love, or what I thought love was, just felt so good. The Adrenaline, Dopamine, and Serotonin cocktail of love was a high I could get behind, and drink it I did. The chemical haze fogged my better judgement and often left me well, addicted. When the relationship (or lack there of) ended my brain didn’t know the love fix was over, and my heart was already enraptured by the habit. Scientists say that, “love isn’t so much an emotion in its own right”—although aspects of it are obviously highly emotional—as it is a “goal-oriented motivational state.” I had my target. Got the bullseye, and now I wanted to play darts every damn day!

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So, if love is chemical and really about chasing the carrot to satisfy your brain’s craving for the Kool-aid, what other ways can we use this obsession for good?

  • Health and Fitness

I am super familiar with this struggle. As a professional Pilates instructor I find it just as hard as to get my clients motivated as I do my own ass. Come on, why would anyone want to move instead of just lie around or eschew birthday cake in lieu of rice cakes? Well turns out that it’s not just the generating the love hormone of Dopamine that matters, but also where we physically generate it. That girl who you always see at the gym sweating it out most likely has her dope (short only for dopamine:) production in the stratum and prefontal cortex- the two areas known for motivation and reward, while the “slackers” like me produce the stuff in the anterior insula, the area of the brain that is for emotion and risk perception. The sheer act of moving your body, especially with cardiovascular exercise, makes your brain release dopamine and will make you feel like a million bucks. That’s right. The more you do the stuff the more you want it, and eventually crave it as much as that chocolate bar.

  • Goal Setting

The same goes for the goal setting goodness. Why do you think it feels oh so good to cross that to-do off your list? Dopamine baby. Check. Rush. Repeat. So if you get a shot of the good stuff every time you complete a task, make sure you break each goal into easy completed segments to get the most dope (short for dopamine again, sorry) for your buck. The easier smaller segment of your goal, the easier it is to complete, the better you feel, the harder you work. Done and done.

So next time you’re lamenting your procrastinating or sloth-like ways, just get off your buns and starting the good vibes will follow, after all it’s all just in your head.

 

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Just Say Yes

I’m a believer. You know those kinds of people. The woo woo ones. The ones who just know that there are fairies, spirits, a higher power. Yup, that’s me now, but things weren’t always as spiritual up in this bitch. I grew up Catholic-light. I say that because my family embraced some of the teachings — both my parents went to a legit Catholic schools, and we attended church, well, on the holidays…sometimes. God was there, I suspected, but never actually felt any connection thereto. Then, in my early adolescence my Dad remarried, and with my new family came the Catechism, prayers before everything, and mandatory Sunday Mass. I liked the idea of religion, and really enjoyed the singing in church, but didn’t feel closer to anything divine. I gave up on the idea of someone in the sky guiding me for years until a short stint with a born-again cult helped me understand my true religion — me.

I know at first glance that seems like the total narcissistic ideal — the idea that I am God, but bear with me for a second. I had been questioning the existence of a higher deity-“God”-for pretty much my entire life, until one day in a dance class, it was made clear to me. While sweating, stretching and performing a particularly beautiful combination I finally felt Him (or in my case, Her :) ) The inspiration for my life (the spirit if you will), didn’t live outside of me on some cloud overhead, but inside my heart. The feeling of being filled with a gift from something bigger than me was radiating from inside. God, or the universe as I call it, resides right here, in me.

This discovery changed everything. Suddenly I started to pay attention to the consciousness my intuition gave me. Should I date that guy? My gut got twisted and queasy, probably not the right fit. Should I pursue my dream of being in a Broadway show? Butterflies and fireworks of excitement. Yup. I’m right where I need to be. Don’t get me wrong, intuitive connection was and is still a process. Some signals were ignored, some misread, but the gut didn’t lie. Like a weathervane, my sixth sense was right on-always and in all ways. My life has been extraordinary trip since I learned how to say yes to insight. From talking to others, it seems like I’m not alone in the search for some guide and guru. Let me share with you the beauty of your God within, and how to tap into yours:

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  • Pay attention
The first step to tapping into the Divine within is to simply stop, drop, and notice. Meditation is the most powerful tool to hear your inner voice. Starting with even just 5 minutes every morning will put you more in touch with your instincts. Letting the monkey of the mind chatter  will only distract you from the pure messages from your deep subconscious. Once you’ve started to quiet your mind, start noticing your body cues as well. Why do I feel tense whenever I speak to that friend? Every time I head into work I feel sick to my stomach, where conversely working with animals makes me feel like I’m on cloud nine? Your mind leaves your body clues, you just have to pay attention to the writing on the wall.
  • Be specific
Being a conduit for our higher selves is just the first step. I once heard that prayer is speaking to God, and meditation is listening. Once you have the listening part down, start to set your intentions on what you want in your life. I’m not trying to foray too much into The Secret here, but really, being specific about your ideal mate, job, or even vacation helps the universe deliver. Take time to dream, scheme, and then get specific. I LOVE doing vision boards to help my subconscious grasp the plan. Do your 50% and the divine can meet you halfway.
  • Get comfy with your vibes
So now you’re listening, getting clear and things seem good, but be aware. This is where things might freak you out. Opening yourself up to your inner wisdom will bring well, some serious learning. Suddenly the friend you thought was your bestie gives you a headache every time she calls. Maybe that relationship has outgrown its purpose, and it’s time to move on. As you open yourself up and ask the universe to intervene, it will, but not always in the ways you thought it would. Just breathe and know that your intuition never steers you wrong. While some old relationships, habits, or patterns may fall away, new, better serving ones will appear. Promise.
  • Just Say Yes
This is my favorite part of being an intuitive person. When you get clear and comfy, the universe will be eavesdropping on your shit. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself saying things like: “I never go and see live music. I need to do more of that” and then BOOM! You’ll get a free ticket to see the Ting Tings (true story). Though I digress, honestly it’s slightly spooky how your ability to manifest grows. As the old saying says, “be careful what you wish for.” Your inner guide is alert and ready to deliver, so when the things you have been wanting show up, JUST SAY YES. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth here-who knows where that concert could lead you, or who you could meet on the dance floor. If anything, you’ll start to feel whole and fulfilled since no one knows you better than you. Just enjoy!

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Teacher Focus Feature ~ Liza Ard

There’s nothing I hate more then when I introduce myself to someone and they reply, “I’ve actually met you already”. Duh! I feel like a total jerk for not remembering their face, let alone their name. This was the case when I met Ms. Liza Ard. I remember it well now: it was 3 plus years ago before I took over the Pilates studio I now own, and Liza and her friend, also now one of our cooperative members, popped by the studio looking to rent space. If her striking beauty wasn’t enough to capture my attention, I was imprinted by her quiet demeanor and serenity. So when she reached out to me about becoming part of the FORM team I was hopeful that some of her tranquility might rub off on me. After teaching next to her for almost a year now, I realize that her relaxed nature is just a means to her lazer-like clarity and on point teaching of the Pilates method. Here’s her story:

It only took one session for Liza to get a fixation on Joe Pilates’ method. Her older sister recommended she try it out and she was so smitten that she immediately decided to become an instructor and started her training with the Grande Dame of Pilates, Romana Kryzanowska.

For Liza, the Pilates method is everything. She loves how it’s fluid, ever changing, and efficient it is. Before she started doing Pilates she was always bored with her workouts and could never quite achieve the musculature she desired. Pilates keeps her constantly engaged and rewarded for her all her effort.

As a civilian (not a dancer or athlete), Liza’s translation of the Pilates method is truly user-friendly. Not influenced by years of perfectionist seeking training, she focuses on the body in front of her acknowledging it’s unique structures and limitations, allowing this to inform her teaching. Free from her own nasty critic, she can work with her clients towards the ideal instead of expecting them to be ideal right off the bat. Liza likes her sessions to be fun and free moving and the sweaty smiles on her client’s faces says they like it too!

When she’s not teaching Liza is playing cards, hitting the movies, getting lost in a Netflix marathon, eating out, or dancing. She is always laughing (even at my bad jokes), and has a smile that’s worth a million bucks. One of my most dedicated instructors, Liza diligently gets her own Pilates practice in 4-5 times a week. She is truly an inspiration to us all teachers and practitioners alike.

Here’s a few things you might be surprised to find out about Liza:

  • She makes an excellent Chicken Vindaloo from scratch
  • She loves science fiction of any kind
  • She holds a degree is in Molecular Biology (!!!) from Princeton
  • She loves to sing old fashioned Blues and jazz songs

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Guest Post: Raise Your Standards

As Fitness and Health Professionals our top priority is to enhance the lives of others by sharing our wisdom and guiding them to achieve their goals. However, we’re also Business Women (and Men) and we have to make a living. An abundant living, at that! Why? Because we’re worth it.

If we wanted to work for free we would be volunteering. This is our livelihood and in order to successfully transform the lives of our clients, we must first transform our own to embody and exemplify what we teach. As a former Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer (I am no longer in practice as I now focus solely on Health Coaching), I really struggled with sticking to the standards I set for myself. What do I mean? My rates were on a sliding scale and although I had clients sign an agreement form that if they cancelled within 24 hours of our session they would be charged, I never held them to it. I felt like I was doing them a favor by being understanding. That they would like me more because I cut them a break.

Unfortunately, this ended up hurting me more than doing me any good. Clients began to take advantage and would cancel at the last minute knowing I wasn’t going to charge them. I had set the precedent so I felt like I couldn’t go back and began to hold them accountable again. I created this monster! Now I was the one getting screwed out of money and my schedule was incredibly unpredictable.

I finally asked myself, “What am I doing?!” My passion was taking a nose dive and I felt walked all over. My realization was that “I AM WORTH MORE THAN THIS.” I knew I had to take massive action to raise the standards I had set for myself! And once I raised my own bar I could raise it for my clients too. You see, how we hold ourselves accountable and the level of self-love we show ourselves directly translates into our business. Our clients see and feel the vibration we give off. When we come from a place of loving and accepting ourselves fully, we inspire our clients to do the same.

For me, that meant that all of the new clientele I signed on received an overview of the Client Agreement highlighting the cancellation policy so they knew I meant business. I expressed that when we set appointments I expect them to show up, give me the courtesy of a 24 hour cancellation notice or they would be charged their full session price.

Once I set this new standard and held people to it, not only did they fall in line with the policy I set forth, but I started to feel a deeper sense of confidence! I realized that my wishy washy ways of the past reflected my insecurities about successfully running a business and charging premium prices for my services. I knew my skill set and my capabilities, but I had fear around others taking me seriously or believing that I was worth the rates I charged. I finally understood this was just self-doubt and bullshit stories I was telling myself!

The bottom line is this: You Are Worth It. You know what prices your services command and you deserve to be paid accordingly. You are completely justified in holding your clients to the standards you set forth at the beginning of your partnership. In order to grow successfully you must tap into your inner confidence and strength. Give yourself respect and love and you will receive respect and love back.
UntitledMarie Catelli, The Gut Guru, is a Holistic Health Coach guiding women to get to know their body and mind from a gut perspective. How you feel at any given time has everything to do with what’s going on in your gut. When you understand how this affects you in your every day life you are empowered and equipped to make informed decisions about what to eat, when to eat and how to eat. Learn how to trust your gut on a whole new level at www.mariecatelli.com.

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Teacher Focus Feature ~ Brittany Crosby

It’s no surprise that Brittany Crosby, a red haired Pilates maven, is as fiery as her locks. Don’t get her wrong though — she’s as precise in her teaching as a scalpel and will get you sweating even in her hushed tones. Her visible tattoos and a wicked sense of humor is what got my attention at first glance, but her teaching passion and ability to help others heal is what had me welcoming her with open arms to the FORM family. Here’s her story:

New York Headshot Photographer Sofia Negron

Brittany, a professional dancer, got into Pilates like so many of us that teach it, through her art. Looking to improve her dance technique she started studying the method. When she realized how much mindfulness and concentration it required, she was instantly infatuated. The transition from practicing to teaching was natural. She had already been teaching dance classes off and on for years so as she got into her Pilates practice and the opportunity came up to be able to certify, she jumped on it. Learning the theory, how to practice for herself, and how to teach others just overlapped. Even now, after 10 years of teaching, it blows her mind how when you allow the work to center yourself, you can actually realign your body.

New York Dance photographer Sofia Negron Brittany Crosby Pilates

Fascinated by anatomy and physiology, Brittany’s focus as a teacher is on rehabilitative movement for special populations. Her favorite clients are those who are post-op knee/hip replacement, rotator cuff surgery, and spinal fusion. Working with this type of clientele is really gratifying for Brittany because finding the movements that relieve restriction and pain are a huge deal. Every subtle shift and advancement in her client’s ability is a notable milestone that drives those working against injuries or disabilities. Helping people to realize that they have control by mindfully moving and truly focusing is a spectacular thing to see progress and makes her a better teacher. More and more she’s also getting into working with those who are stunted by diseases like Fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s.

When Brittany isn’t teaching she’s dancing (duh) or watching Youtube videos of hip and knee replacements (this is true! I’ve witnessed the horror many times!!!) Her bigger vision is to be part of innovative movement research that furthers the understanding of the brain-body connection that can be applied to help those dealing with pain and movement-debilitating conditions. We have no doubt she’ll do just that!

 

4 Fun Facts About Brittany:

  • I used to work on a cruise ship as a dancer
  • I developed my own major at Indiana University
  • I like being connected and collaborating with my client’s health care practitioners (acupuncturists, physical therapists, chiropractors, orthopedists)
  • The first year I lived in NYC I dressed up like an elf and did a flashmob in Union Square

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For The Pilates Virgins

 

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I’m always the first to say, and have been known to shout it out loud in a mat class or two, Pilates instructors LOVE Pilates Virgins. I mean, I can understand from the perspective of a newbie not wanting to show their rookie status, favoring hiding in the back, and meekly or not at all raising their hand when asked if they’ve done this before. I get it. We want to always be the expert in the situation. No one wants to look the fool, but as the other side of this equation, as the instructor, let me tell you: we <3 the beginners. I know — you virgins may not yet be convinced.

Well, here’s three reasons why no experience is needed to be our favorite population to work with:

  • You’re like clay

That’s right! Like a malleable piece of clay, we can use Pilates to mold your body into exactly what it’s meant to be. Since everything is new we can just observe how the work looks on physique without a bad movement habit throwing you off. You’re soft (no pun intended) so we can shape and work to create a strong foundation in the Pilates method that will serve you for years to come.

  • You are usually eager

Since you’ve had absolutely no previous Pilates experience, good or bad, you are less likely to be resistant to our corrections, suggestions, and instruction. Beginners are usually the most eager to please, the hardest workers, and the most present in their workouts. You don’t have a previous Pilates “movie” going on in your head which means that you are in the moment listening to our every word. Besides the fact that it boost our teacher egos, it also helps you get the most out of your session so you “finish” feeling completely worked and rejuvenated.

  • You see the most change

I often say, there’s in-shape and then there’s Pilates-shape. This work guarantees to be different than ANYTHING you’ve ever done, because simply there’s nothing like it. Our bodies usually respond best to varied movement and challenge so your first 10-30 sessions will be your most memorable. You’ll always remember when you mastered that seemly impossible exercise, saw your pants getting a little baggier, and notice a muscle growing where you didn’t even know you had one. This new-ness only comes once in a Pilates lifetime and we love to be a part of it.

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So, own your naiveté and know that your instructor is stoked to have a novice in their midst. When it’s time to declare that it’s your first time in class, raise your hand high. Remember you only have your first time once…

The team at FORM Pilates wants to take you through your first time…email us today to speak to our Pilates concierge

 

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Teacher Feature: Co-Op Life!

Greetings from all of us here at FORM Pilates USQ! Having just completed the implementation of our new cooperative structure, we wanted to take a moment and feature a little bit from a few of our teachers who shared a few words about their experience so far. We’ve been plugging away at the new quarter, and hope that you are all spurred into action and productivity by the cool winds of fall! So here it is, straight from the source–What is it like to be apart of a Pilates Co-Operative?

Carrie Campbell

DJG_1837“I enjoy being part of the cooperative because it enables me to have the freedom of running my own business without a lot of overhead. I also enjoy being part of a team of self-motivated, like-minded Pilates teachers.”

Jamie Graham

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“It’s sort of like the best of both worlds in that you have the independence and freedom of working for yourself, but the environment and inspiration of being in a studio and teaching next to other great teachers. You feel less alone!”

Audrey Carney

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“The co-op provides a home and supportive base but even better, tools and connections to propel my career forward. It’s a fun, helpful and passionate group to be a part of!”

Julia Starobin

photo“The FORM Co-Operative feels like home. It’s a great space filled with energy and positivity. It’s amazing to feel like you’re part of a studio while running your personal business. I feel like FORM offers me the best of both worlds.”

Alissa Alter

“I love the freedom and flexibility I get being a part of the alissaFORM Team. I am also thankful for the wonderful people I have met.”

Liza Ard

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“I love having the freedom to arrange my own schedule and the perk of working in a nice space that’s graciously maintained. It’s fun to work alongside teachers that are in charge of themselves, it creates a very positive work space.”

So are you interested in joining our family?! Check out more info about our membership options by clicking here. What are you waiting for? Fill out an application today!

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