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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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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Guest Post: Setting Boundaries

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I’ve been an entrepreneur for the past 8 years, I’ve had 3 different businesses, and I’ve worked with hundreds of clients. When I first started out, I don’t even know if I used a client agreement {don’t tell my wife – she’s a lawyer}. As time went on, however, I learned more and more closely and clearly that setting boundaries in your business is ESSENTIAL to your sanity and success – and will actually improve your client’s experience working with you as well.

Let me explain. Think back to the last time someone got upset with you or you got upset with someone. In all likelihood, it’s because expectations were mismanaged. You expected something of someone and it didn’t happen or vice versa. You expected someone to be nice and they weren’t or someone expected you to be on time and you were 30 minutes late. And setting expectations go hand in hand with setting boundaries. When a client is disappointed, it’s often because she thought something was going to happen that didn’t — you were going to respond to her email more quickly, you were going to express more compassion when instead you went the tough love route — you get the picture.

The problem is is that when boundaries aren’t set, expectations aren’t clear and people start getting upset because they’ve set their own expectations without telling you what they are. Boundaries don’t limit you or your client; they actually allow for more space. Boundaries actually invite spaciousness into a relationship because they allow each person to be more of who they really are. Maybe you’re not an email person, but you’re all about offering text support. Let your clients know. Maybe you don’t check email on weekends. Let your clients know that too. What I actually do when I work with clients is that I send them the fancy schmancy client agreement with all the legal stuff, and then I send them an addendum with super clear, super straightforward – here is what I expect of you, here is what you should expect of me, and here is what you need to do to get the most out of this program. I kid you not – clients have actually THANKED me for giving this to them. People like to know what they should and shouldn’t expect from you. People like structure. People like boundaries. It’s just that the word “boundaries” has gotten a bit of a bad rap – because it sounds like we’re shutting people out and limiting access.

Imagine a fenced in yard. A dog in a fenced in yard is free to run wherever she wants to go. Boundaries create spaciousness for the dog. If there wasn’t a fence, she would be a leash because letting her run freely would in all likelihood be unsafe. Same goes for your relationship with your clients – boundaries create safety for both you and your client; you’ve clearly expressed what can and cannot be expected of you and your client will feel safer with you because you’ve set straightforward guidelines. It’s showing them that you respect yourself and that you care for them. You’ve put in the time and effort to get super clear and share how you want to help them. This may also empower them; a client who has no boundaries may come to rely on her coach to a detrimental degree, and lose faith in her ability to pick up her own pieces when necessary.

Now it’s best to set boundaries and expectations from the beginning; that said, if you’ve already started working with clients, and you know you’re long overdue for some serious boundary setting, it’s all good. First, get clear on what will and won’t work for you moving forward. Second, share how this new change will actually benefit your client and enhance her experience working with you. Then, get it in writing and send it to your client. Share that you’ve made these changes from a place of love and care. Most, if not all, of your clients will probably thank you for setting these new guidelines. And the ones who throw a tantrum? Perhaps it’s time to let them go. You’ve just shared with them what really and truly works for you and if that doesn’t work for them, then the relationship might not be meant to be.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Brene Brown:
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”

May you dance in the spaciousness of your new boundaries, and
celebrate the gift you’re giving to yourself and your clients.

 

JordanaJaffeJordana Jaffe is the co-founder of Magical Business Academy, a company she created with her wife, Gena. She works with women entrepreneurs and supports them in creating a business that fills both their hearts and their bank accounts. She believes that a successful business comes from allowing yourself to be exactly who you are and finding a way to make everything you do feel fun. Jordana’s superpowers include, but aren’t limited to, mapping out a super simple step-by-step plan of action for you (she loves spreadsheets), asking you the right questions so that you can uncover the answers that are already within you, and helping you design a business that highlights and celebrates your you-ness, which then magically attracts the people you’re meant to work with to you {since they’re finally clear on what you’re all about}. She is obsessed with creating communities, connecting people, chocolate chip ice cream and TGIT. You can connect with Jordana and over 1300 amazing women entrepreneurs in her free Facebook group, which she endearingly calls the magical playground, here: bit.ly/youaremagical

 

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Blues Schmooze

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Happy New Year!!! What are your 2015 resolutions? To workout more? To eat better? To get a new job, a new boyfriend, a new life? Oh the pressure. Of a resolution. All this, New Year, New You bullshit stresses us to pull new habits out of our ass like a rabbit out of a hat. Look — don’t get me wrong: I’m all for improvement and betterment of self. Hell, it’s what I do all day between teaching people Pilates and motivating others to create the businesses and lives of their dreams. My issue lies not with the good intention but instead with the peer pressure from society. Such constant nagging to make giant grandiose plans of improvement only lead us down the path of good intentions with no result which only makes you bury your head in shame for giving up just weeks later.

There’s an actual phenomenon, coined by a British doctor for travel firm in hopes of selling vacation packages to Bora Bora and other sunny locales, called Blue Monday. Since its inception in 2005 the concept has been debunked, even by the good doctor himself, but Blue Monday, or the last Monday in January, is supposed to be THE most depressing day of the year. Despite being bogus, it still resonates. This time of year the weather is crap-tacular, the lack of sunshine and vitamin D starts to take it’s toll, you’ve been eating like a bear preparing to hibernate, and you just got your credit card bills from the holiday. Basically, January is one big Christmas hangover.

So, while all of those facts may be true, so many of us still try to make resolutions each year with renewed hope that somehow this year they’ll stick. Years ago I swore off resolutions myself in favor or creating words that set a tone for how I want to feel all year. I find it helpful to keep looking back at them when I feel lost or frustrated by the way my life is muddling along, and use them as redirection back to where I want to be. And while my strategy is good for not setting oneself up for failure with dreaded resolutions or empty goals, it’s not really a roadmap on how to get from New Year hope to real results.
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One of my favorite business strategists, Derek Halpern, just released a series of blogs titled, Be The Exception. Derek’s mother was on welfare, married to a drug addict, and had never been to college. Derek’s grandmother gave his mom a second chance by sending her back to school. Despite the odds his mom turned things around — going to school, working full time, and raising two kids, bringing them up to a comfy middle class existence without drugs and poverty, but she is the exception. How many times have you heard sad stories of people who have had terrible things happen to them, or maybe those terrible things have happened to you, but they just can’t pull themselves up to the challenge. What is it that separates those who rise above and those who just sink lower?

 

Well, desire for change is first and foremost. Hitting bottom with your situation or finally getting fed up enough to do something about it is key. Do you want change bad enough? Change is never the easy road so you have to want it. The first part originates within, second part is the external pressure. How many times have you had a great idea or even a deep dark dream that you choose excitedly to share only to be poo poo-ed by some well meaning friend or family member with a pat on the hand and a little, “When are you going to get a real job?” Same goes for big lifestyle changes like curbing your drinking or choosing kale over Kobe beef. Your peers who want change too but aren’t really willing to work for it. Your change threatens their lack of motivation. They will try to coerce you to stay back down at their level and “Just have just one,” or “come on! you only live once!” Misery loves company.

The thing is that the real hurdle to your dreams and realized resolutions is not the advertising industry, society, circumstances, or even your friends and family, but you. YOU are the biggest obstacle to your dreams. So stop the excuses and get your butt in gear. Want to workout more, just do it. Don’t lament about last week when you ate a whole box of Ho Ho’s with your butt glued to your couch. Today is a new day and a new chance to be the exception to the rule. Get up get moving and walk confidently in the direction of your dreams. The road to being a bad ass is not a straight one without any hills. Climb that shit and remember that anything worth having is worth working for.

 

JAY_SULLIVAN_PHOTOGRAPHER-3613Lindsay Lopez is a dynamic force of nature. Years in tutus and tights paid off with wild success as a dancer and actress. Years in the “biz” taught her that dreams can come true, with plenty of planning and TONS of action to back them up. With a vision of helping her fellow instructors make what they deserve and live a life they love, Lindsay created FORM Pilates Union Square to focus on trainers rather than the clientele. The result was a workspace for teachers who love to teach and clients love to learn. Although Lindsay teachers less and less, she is breathing new life into a stale industry. Her wish is to provide her peers with the business training they so desperately need. As a positive coach and gutsy mentor, Lindsay Lopez is changing the Pilates business for the better.

 

 

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What the Fuck is Pilates Anyway?

In a conversation with a couple of clients over brunch, I realized how little people know about what Pilates is — even those who actually practice it.

As I took the time to ponder this anomaly, I started wonder what is Pilates anyway?

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There’s the textbook answer: Joe Pilates was an actual man. A boxer, gymnast, movement enthusiast. He was an inventor, an innovator. A man’s man. A beer-drinking, cigar-smoking German. My clients all have that basic knowledge, and maybe some of the New York lineage. “Yes, Romana, she’s the Pilates guru,” but that’s really it. As I sat explaining the roots of Pilates, its foundation, family tree, and my line, I realized that it still doesn’t really explain what it actually is. SO, if Pilates isn’t the people that created it or teach it, what the fuck is Pilates anyway?

 

It might be easiest to start with what Pilates isn’t. It’s not yoga, or ballet-based. It’s not weight training, or just mat work. Pilates falls somewhere between mind/body modalities and cross fit. It’s not extreme or passive. It stretches, strengthens, energizes, relaxes, and heals all at the same time. There’s equipment involved, and while it’s most beneficial if you use it, you don’t have to if you want to do some Pilates.

 

No wonder Pilates is confuIMG_4501sing to most people — even to it’s instructors. We come from all different backgrounds — from dancers to dog trainers — and hold certifications from different schools in over 20 states and 24 international countries. It was Joe’s dream to have a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, in every country. The thing with expansion is that the more hands you have on something the more it morphs and changes, and some say, mutates. Joe used to give each person their own personal workout and then let them loose in the studio nudging and elbowing them into correct form. So whatever Pilates was for the business man that came to the studio, it may not be the same for the ballerina next to him. The definition of Pilates wasn’t the same for him as it was for her.

 

Here’s where the family tree grows branches and spreads it’s seeds across the world, making Joe’s dream come true. Many hands, many amalgamations. But isn’t that what their experience warranted? The industry gets bogged down with arguments and “discussions” on who’s actually teaching the true work of Joe, but really who the heck knows what Joe would do if he were alive today? He would probably be sitting back, sipping a cold one, and laughing at all the money in the bank.

 

 

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Guest Post: I AM a Pilates Nerd. (The one who created the brand)

If you would have told me two years ago that I would create a ‘brand’ that would be distributed and wholesaled internationally, get picked up by a major Pilates retailer, and make people smile with knowing enthusiasm, I never would have believed you.

In fact, I would have been really scared to try.

 

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It all started with a logo, a blog idea, and one t-shirt. But even before that, it began with a declaration I read in a blog:

“Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself”.     – Seth Godin

Pick yourself.  What?

I’d have to say this idea of picking myself – of creating my own path, changed my thinking and how I see myself in the Pilates world.  Beyond teaching my own students, I hadn’t allowed myself to think I could offer more to the Pilates community.  But if you’ve ever sat down with a copy of Return to Life, you know that Joe Pilates’ discipline was all about pushing yourself.

I’ve been teaching Pilates for 16 years. Some of those years in the trenches were admittedly not my best work. I spent too much time comparing my teaching skills with others and defending my philosophies.

Now I think I wasted so much time not allowing other facets of my creativity come to light.

It turns out it was the shirt, especially the logo, that made an impact on people. What’s surprising is I wasn’t expecting to build a small apparel brand, but that’s what happened. Ultimately, connecting people who feel as passionate about Pilates I do, is the most satisfying part of Pilates Nerd.

While I write this I am knee deep in online orders, preparing another wholesale order, and getting ready for my first big Pilates conference as an exhibitor.  It’s overwhelming not just because of the crazy workload in addition to my teaching, but because there is so much about the apparel business I am still learning!

Believe it or not, I have yet to assert myself and make it widely known that I am, in fact the face behind the brand.

It’s daunting to admit that I created every shirt, every post, and every item.  Mainly because it’s scary to fail, scary to be judged, and scary not to have control. (Insert Contrology joke).

I think we were born to create, to move people and to connect with people. The challenge is finding our niche and following through. Part of the bigger picture is this: we get on the mat and apparatus week after week and you never know what you can do until you try…that’s half the fun of it. So, be patient and move through the fear.

“…Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

Thanks Mr. Pilates, that’s a quote to live by – body, mind and spirit – for sure!

image1Raised in upstate NY and now a Southern California local, Karen Ellis is the owner and director of Prana Pilates in Costa Mesa. She began her journey of movement in ballet, earned a BS from Indiana University and received an MFA from the University of California Irvine. After a professional ballet career in Boston concluded with injuries, a passion for healing the body and new career in Pilates was born.

In 2013 Karen created Pilates Nerd®, a company designed to celebrate Pilates through apparel, accessories and shared sentiments.  The simple goal of her idea is to generate enthusiasm for the benefits of Pilates and help connect people.

 

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Surprise, I’m Not Perfect!

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In business like in life, shit happens to remind you that you are human, fallible, and destructible. The roads of failure and success intertwine. So there is bound to be a little collision here and there. Typically, there’s no celebration or party for our faux pas, but there should be. See, without falling there can be no getting up…and it’s the getting up that makes all the difference.

I have been running my own business now for just over 3 years, and have had more slip-ups than an entire summer on a slip-n-slide. I didn’t go to a college, earn a fancy MBA, or start my business with unlimited capital. No ma’am. My journey into entrepreneurial-ship was purely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants predicament. In my insecurity I did the research, read the books, and joined the business clubs to boost my mastery of business ownership. Being surrounded by fabulous women (some with degrees and success, some without) I quickly learned that no matter how much you hit the books there’s no replacement for being kicked in the ass by your business itself. The first time it happens you feel like the wind has been knocked out of you and that you may just be down for the count, but you get back up and keep on punching.

So if failing is inevitable and mistakes are unpreventable, why don’t we just learn to embrace it? Can you ride the wave of fuck-ups and still bring home a success of a business? When the shit hits the fan and you’re the one that was responsible for throwing it, can you forgive, forget, and move on? Certainly. And the health of your business depends on it.

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  • Reflect, Review, and Redo

In my case, I wasn’t completely aware of my mess up until it was the size of the Sierra Mountain range. By the time I was busted on my goof, it was too late to fix it. While you can’t take back the missteps, you can choose to do better now that you know better. Take the time to reflect on the situation. Can you see what your part in the debacle was? If your mess up included other people take a second to feel what they feel, empathize with how being on the back-end of the blow out must feel. Then, make a plan to do a reboot next time. Learn from your mistakes but never regret. One day you will realize that sometimes the wrong choices bring us to just the right places.

  • Bury the hatchet

In my journey to forgive myself, I have realized the importance of letting myself off the hook. Look, if you’ve done the damage either to yourself and/or to others punching yourself in the gut over it will just well, causes more hurt. Take some time to let bygones be bygones and heal so you can learn and grow. Be careful not to make this one failure bleed into the entirety of your being. Sure, you had a fuck-up on this particular day, in this particular situation, with this particular person. Does it mean you are utterly inept and should just throw in the towel? No way! Step away from the edge and give yourself a big “I’m sorry” hug.

  • Throw a Screw-up Soiree

So once you’ve learned the lesson and then forgave the offender, aka you, it’s time to shake that shit off! Put on some rockin’ tunes and shake your bootie! Treat yourself to a healthy homemade meal. Celebrate that you are SO self-aware, SO sorry that you messed up, and SO sure that you will make mistakes again. The most important difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people never interpret failure as the last word on the subject. Reward yourself for putting it out there and trying. Next time, and there will be a next time, remember a failure is just a try that didn’t work.

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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 today!

 

10 Free Tools For Your Pilates Biz

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Let’s face it. Being a one person show and running all the parts of your business is tough and pretty overwhelming. If you’re just starting out you may not have the budget for hiring help, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need it. Below is my list of 10 free, that’s right completely gratis, online tools to help you run the production that is your business smoothly just like a baby’s bottom: 

1-Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media dashboard meant to manage and measure your social networks. Link your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts, schedule posts, and review analytics all in one place. I’ve been using it for a couple years now, it has completely streamlined my social media posting. Who needs a social media team when you have Hootsuite! Click this link and get 30 day trial of the pro version for free!

2-Basecamp

If you have multiple projects and team members that work remotely, Basecamp is your new BFF. Use it as a communication tool that will save your in-box, organize files all in one spot, create to-do lists for yourself and your team (to insure that no one is doing the same thing twice), and utilize their calendar to plan out the trajectory of your ideas. I’ve used both the free and paid version of this project management software and found it invaluable for keeping all the moving pieces of my business organized.

3- Google

This one is just a no brainer. Google is a startups most useful tool. They’ll hook you up with the ability to create documents, save them in a storage drive, whip up spreadsheets, chat via video on their hangouts, save you the cost of a research assistant with the their search engine, chat it up with G-chat, wrangle your schedule with their calendar, and of course- Gmail. This whole enchilada could cost you hundreds of dollars. Google’s giving it away free, don’t miss out.

 4-Appointlet

As if basic Google services weren’t enough, Appointlet, an online appointment-scheduling app, takes your Google calendar to the next level. Clients can confirm, decline, cancel, or reschedule their sessions all on their own. You can even add it to your website to make it easier for them to find and schedule with you. The free version is good, but for $10 more a month you can use it with PayPall to collect payment as well. Hello more free time and less scheduling missteps plus a waaay more cost-effective option than the beast that is MindBody when you’re starting out.

 5-Spotify

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to work in a crowded coffee shop only to have to sit through someone’s grotesque story of how they ate a bad oyster and was up puking all night. Yuck! Suddenly you’ve completely lost the stomach for getting anything done. Turn on Spotify, plug in your headphones, and tune out the world. I also use the paid version to float some chill tunes in the studio sans commercials. I prefer Spotify to Pandora because you can make your own playlists, download whole albums, and listen even when you’re offline (with the paid version).

 6-LinkedIn

You might be wondering why LinkedIn is on this list? Well, while Facebook, Twitter, and the Insta are great for building relationships with potential clients, what about the relationships you need with your peers? LinkedIn is a fantastic free resource for Pilates teachers or business owners that need advice on anything from how to deal with a difficult client to how to find the best insurance rate for your needs.

 7-Dropbox

Ever try to send an email with an attachment or a picture only to tear your hair out when it keeps getting returned over and over again? Or maybe you’ve wanted to share a extra large file or keep all your docs in one place for you and your team to view. Dropbox is perfect for all of that. Get 2 GB for free which is probably more than you’ll ever need.

 8-SCORE

SCORE is a nonprofit association, supported by the Small Business Administration, dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Visit their office or find a volunteer mentor right on their site for answers to your questions, or take advantage of their free templates and tools. They have everything from business plan forms, to financial templates, and more.

 9-Square

Square, a payment processing application for iPhones or iPads, offers a wallet app for mobile transactions and a register app for a virtual cash register. With Square you can track sales, tax, top purchasing clients, and more. You only pay when you sell and there’s no fee to sign up. Bring your business into the 21st century and start taking credit cards for those big packages. In my experience once I started taking cards my sales went up almost 50%.

 10-NutshellMail

For all of you who are feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with your social media feeds help is on the way! NutshellMail, owned by Constant Contact, sends you email snapshots of your chosen social networking accounts. Get free updates from your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, MySpace, YouTube, Foursquare, and Citysearch as often as you wish. Easy breezy.

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To LLC or Not to LLC

I've come a looong way from having just a reformer in my dining room!

I’ve come a looong way from having just a reformer in my dining room!

When I started my business 8 years ago in the dining room of my one bedroom bungalow-I knew diddly-squat about handling a business. All I had was one reformer, an empty room, and a desire to set my own schedule. Not even one client. As my business grew, I did as well.  I discovered that to have a legit business I needed to become legit. I got a separate checking account, and my DBA (aka Doing Business As). That first year I progressed from using the cash I got from clients on gas and cocktails to depositing $500 checks in my FORM Pilates business account. I was official.

Fast forward years later and BAM! I own an actual brick and mortar studio! While it is super exciting, more growth means more responsibility…AND more liability. This time I learned I needed to make the transition into the big time and form an LLC.

Here are some of the questions I asked and my findings- so you too can bone up on business legalities 101:

What the heck is an LLC?

A limited liability company or LLC is a business structure that combines the taxation of a partnership or sole proprietor with the limited liability of a corporation.In English that means that while you can still report your business income on your personal tax return, you’ll get the benefit of being like a corporation, meaning if your business owes money or faces a lawsuit, only the assets of the biz are at risk. Basically, if your Pilates client decides to sue your butt, they can’t take everything you own, including the Lululemon clothes off your back.

Do I need to form an LLC?
In general, you would benefit from an LLC if you are worried about personal exposure to lawsuits or racking up debts with your biz. When I started mine in my home, I could sleep at night with just having liability insurance. Later on, when I went big time and signed the lease on my studio space in NYC, I was advised to have an LLC to help protect myself. Bigger risk= Bigger loss.

How in the world do you make an LLC happen?

First, you need to name your company. Pick something you want to identify your empire with and then check and see if your choice has not already been taken. Once you’ve settled on your handle, you’re ready to file. In most states you can simply file an “articles of operation” with your states LLC filing office and pay a filing fee. My bank’s business associate was kind enough to go online and do it for me here (http://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/llccorp.html), but if you’re not as spoiled as me you can simply google it up and find your state’s office online. The final piece of this puzzle is an expensive one- publishing. To make your LLC legal you have to publish it in a local newspaper. In NYC you’ll pay $1000 to publish on the low end, but if you’re lucky enough to live in the very popular state of say…Delaware, it will be less costly. You have 120 days after you file to publish that puppy and then you’re official.

IMG_2207Bottom line: if your operation is small and you stay that way, just stick with a DBA. If you plan to launch a line of workout equipment, teach hundreds of bodies, or partner up with your ex-boyfriend you may want to look into the investment of forming an LLC so you can rest easier.

Now’s your chance to take action. Leave a comment below and if you like this post make sure to share it on your social networks or forward it to a friend.

Need more help figuring out how to structure, brand, or market your business? I have just what you need! Schedule your 30 min complimentary consult with yours truly. Let’s make a plan that works!

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