Pilates

Strange New World

Things that I have learned in this strange new world! – Polestar Practitioner Becky Phares

Wow! What a crazy and strange time we are experiencing. Not only as Pilates teachers, fitness instructors, or studio owners but as humans. All the norms in our lives have vastly changed, and here is what I have learned. 

My Pilates studio has a max capacity of 3 people in a session at a time, so I was able to stay open longer than gyms, yoga studios, and large-group Pilates studios. When our governor made the change to stay at home, I had no choice but to close. I heard the news when I was walking around my neighborhood; my mom called me, and I immediately started to cry. No shock there, I cry for everything. What will happen to my studio and clients? How will I pay my bills? So I went back home to draft a text to my clients and notify them of the closure. As I was doing this my 5-year-old came up to me and asked, “Whatcha doin’ Mommy?” I said, “I’m texting my clients to tell them I can’t go to work next week.” She said, “Oh yeah! You get to stay at home with us.” Instantly there was a shift in my perspective. My hardest reality was my daughter’s dream come true.

This week I have homeschooled my 3 kids, taught Instagram Live Pilates classes, beefed up my YouTube channel, took virtual classes from my local yoga studio, taught a dance party on zoom, participated in a Facebook scavenger hunt (and won), taught my 6 and 5-year-olds how to ride a 2 wheel bike, bonded with my neighbors like never before, and witnessed my kids take dance classes and school lessons all virtually. None of this is normal, none of this was expected, but wow, what a learning experience!

I have a large toolbox that has helped me manage my classes virtually. My most valuable skill has been cueing. I am able to tell people how to move their bodies verbally without having to touch or demonstrate. This is so helpful when you are not in the same room as your client. If you feel that this skill is lacking, how could you improve? My suggestion is to cue to yourself in a mock class until you gain confidence. Start with one exercise and build on it. If you have a spouse or kids that you are quarantined with use them, or Facetime a friend who could help you. 

The thing I have struggled with, especially with my live sessions on Instagram, is my stamina. One day I was doing an “advanced” flow and almost died on camera. I’m not used to taking my own class and had to end early because I kicked my own ass. I am getting stronger every day but I have learned to pace my sessions. 

Here are some other observations that I have made to help you be successful in this brave new virtual world:

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously on live, have a sense of humor.
  • Practice before. There is ALWAYS something that goes wrong with tech, but you should be as prepared as possible. 
  • When I have taken a class from other people, background music is a big distraction; it’s hard to hear verbal cues and it’s always distorted.
  • Make sure lighting is good, if a window is open behind you, there is a chance you will be a silhouette
  • Support other movement professionals that are out there: comment, engage, and spread the love.
  • EVERYBODY in movement is shifting to online, and you have never seen so many live updates on your phone. You may be thinking that you should not jump on this bandwagon. However, your clients probably only know of you in the Pilates industry, and they will want to take class from you.
  • Advertise yourself. People are super nervous about asking people to pay for their services at this time, but didn’t you have to pay for the toilet paper in your cabinet and the milk in your fridge?
  • Shift your perspective about staying at home, we as adults are having a hard time, but our kids are in heaven
Becky Phares, NCPT

Watch #PilatesHour “Virtualizing our Future as Pilates Teachers” with Brent Anderson, Juan Nieto and Nichole Anderson