January 2010

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Preventing Burnout and Keeping it Fresh and Fun

by Sonia Rodriguez  

I remember when I first earned my Pilates certification. I was so excited and ready to take on my first clients. Within six months, I was booked from 7:00–12:00 PM and 4:00–8:00 PM Monday through Friday. And of course, I worked about four hours on Saturdays. Yes, it was exciting and rewarding, and the revenue was great.

However, after a couple of years, I was not feeling so excited about my schedule.  I had to figure out how to re-energize myself. I was burned out!  This is a very common scenario.  The following are some basic tips for preventing burnout and keeping your practice fresh and fun for you and your clients.

Do not overbook. Although this is an obvious one, it is the most common mistake.  Many instructors find themselves having to meet certain goals and overextend themselves. If this applies to you, strategically plan out how to maximize your time.  Have a healthy balance between private/duets and group classes. Also, if you train, for example six sessions in the morning, try to plan a 30-minute break for a quick snack and rest.

Keep up your workouts. Another common mistake is that instructors get too busy with clients and neglect themselves.  Not only is this not good for your health, but it hinders your progression as a teacher. It is very important to feel the exercises in your own body to be able to communicate connections and the whole essence of Pilates to clients.  If you get stale it will show up in your sessions. 

Attend continuing education, workshops and conventions. Continue sharpening your skills by attending workshops and conventions.  This keeps Pilates exciting for you and ensures your growth.  You will be able to share these new skills and ideas with your clients.  It is important to keep them excited about Pilates and their progression.

Review education manuals and DVDs. As a Pilates instructor, you know how much information there is to absorb. Therefore, it is always refreshing to review your educational manuals and DVDs to brush up on variations, cues and precision points that you might have forgotten.

Create an educational environment.
  There are many ways you can create an educational environment to keep your clients engaged and involved in their progression.  Some examples include having handouts of the exercises levels available for clients to take them home to review, hang charts with the reformer and mat orders in your studio and have the Pilates principles written somewhere in the studio for reinforcement. If you have room in your studio, play the Peak Pilates® educational DVDs that provide a visual of what exercises should look like. Another idea is to strategically hang a bulletin board where you can post studio information, articles and pictures of Joe Pilates to stimulate more interest in the tradition of Pilates.

Focus on clients’ goals and progression.  Part of creating an educational environment is making sure your clients set goals.  It is important for the client to be involved in creating those goals.  If they are part of creating them, they will own them.  Make sure their goals are reasonable for their level.  Some examples of goals for a beginner client are, “By the end of the month, I will have memorized the order of Level One Mat” or “By the end of the month, I will memorize the spring changes for Level One Reformer.” As a beginner client begins to progress, encourage such goals as clarity in rhythms and transitions.

Once you know your clients’ goals, this allows you to set your daily focus. Having a daily focus will help you avoid being repetitive and boring.  Furthermore, each session will have a different feel and your approach will be different making your Pilates practice exciting, challenging and rewarding.

Define your personal goals. Clients have goals and so should you. Your goals as an instructor should be focused on teaching skills, personal technique, and even business skills.  Business skills can range from customer service and professionalism to marketing. Take some time with yourself and set some goals and make this a continuous process.

Keep it fun with creativity.  It is important to progress each client.  It is just as important to keep it fun. Be creative and create energy.  The following are some fun and low cost examples:

Foot Fetish Week.  During this week teach clients the towel work and introduce the foot corrector. If you want to splurge, give out a pair of fun socks as a gift to show your appreciation and tie in the theme.

Six Principles/Six Weeks: Pick a principle each week to bring to life in the session.  Write the principles on colorful posters and hang them up in the studio.  Make it fun!

Give ’Em a Kiss: Fellow Master Trainer and friend, Zoey Trap shared with me that she has a jar of Hersey’s Kisses at her studio.  When a client progresses or masters an exercise for the first time, she gives them a “kiss.” This is a great idea to keep progression fun!

Finding balance in your Pilates practice is essential to a long-term, successful career.  Be creative and stay focused on your purpose to help people with their health and fitness goals. Good luck. I look forward to hearing other examples and ideas some of you have to share. 

Until next time,

Sonia Rodriguez, Master Trainer

Sonia Rodriguez


Kevin BowenPeak Pilates is pleased to announce Kevin Bowen as the new Director of Education.  Bowen will continue Peak’s tradition of delivering progressive, classical education programs to a new generation while overseeing development for the company in all forms of media.  In addition, he will manage Peak’s expansive external network of Teacher Trainers and education partners, while driving the company’s global expansion by creating new strategic alliances and enhancing existing partnerships.

He is best known as the co-founder, former President and Executive Director of the Pilates Method Alliance®, the only International not for profit professional organization for the Pilates Method.  His vision and consensus building skills helped unite a diverse community of professionals.  With over 15 years of experience in fitness, Pilates and management, Bowen has held positions with Equinox Fitness Clubs, David Barton Gyms and Pinnacle Health Clubs. Prior to joining Peak Pilates, Bowen was President/Director of Pilates Miami and the Pilates Education Group, a company which develops and provides continuing education and comprehensive Pilates instructor training programs to studios and clubs.  Kevin is a sought after presenter and professional speaker.

Click here to read the press release >>



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