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