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Life as a Pilates Instructor: Stephanie Glickman from Armature Pilates in Vic, AU

Life As a Pilates Instructor: Stephanie Glickman of Armature Pilates in Brunswick East, Australia

career advice Feb 14, 2021

Here's another in a series of interviews I did with Pilates instructors and studio owners.

These honest conversations are a way to gain insight into what life is like as a Pilates teacher. If you're considering becoming a Pilates teacher, these conversations don't hold back. They prepare you for what you have to know.

These are some of the highlights from our conversation:

  • Pilates and strength training go well together. Why combining different fitness modalities can be a great way to retain more clients
  • As a Pilates instructor, you can decide if you prefer to be a one (wo)man show or to grow your business beyond yourself. If you decide to scale the studio, having a support system is important.
  • It takes time to build a sustainable schedule that suits your specific needs.
  • Reliability and truly caring about your clients are vital traits of good teachers.
  • Despite what you might think, having other Pilates studios near-by is actually a good thing for your business. Each studio will have its own vibe that will attract the kind of students who like that atmosphere.
  • Teaching Pilates is a lot of fun, but make sure you think of way how to preserve your energy so you don’t burn out.


Watch or listen here:


To get in touch with Stephanie, visit their studio website at


Now I want to hear from you: What's your favorite and least favorite part of being a Pilates instructor? Tell me in the comments (below the transcript).


Listen to more "Life As A Pilates Instructor" conversations:

Linda Brown of Completely Fit 4 Life in Auburn, California 

Gail Giovanniello from Mind Your Body in New York City

Andrea Chesek of Proper Pilates in Peachtree City, Georgia


Here is the unedited transcription of our interview:

Mara Sievers 0:04
Hello everyone, how are you guys? This is Mara Sievers, creator of plies encyclopedia and today I am here with with Stephanie Glickman in Australia. She's the owner of armature Pilates. How are you?

Stephanie 0:19

Mara Sievers 0:21
So good to have you. How you doing? Yes.

Stephanie 0:25
Good morning here.

Mara Sievers 0:26
night for you. Yeah, afternoon for me morning for you. I'm glad you found the time. That works. Great. So why don't you just start very easy, like, just tell us a little about your studio? What? Like, where are you located? If you focus on anything particular, Pilates wise, let us know how long have you been in business, stuff like that? Yeah,

Stephanie 0:46
well, as, as you may hear, I'm not actually Australian, I grew up in Los Angeles. But I've lived in in Australia for about three years now. And I did all my Pilates training here. And you know, I've been been teaching for 17 years I started in 2003. The studios are worse, the first one part of it was established in 2006. So we've actually just finished our 15th year, kind of a weird year 2020, finishing us off being close, or only online for seven months of this year here in Melbourne. We started out as just what we call here. It we call it like clinical Pilates, which I think in America is maybe a little bit more the domain of pts work. But some Pilates instructors would work in

Unknown Speaker 1:38
that way.

Unknown Speaker 1:39
And we

Stephanie 1:40
we basically teach like three or four people at a time, but they're all doing their own programs. So they've been already done one on ones and been assessed, and then we kind of doesn't get as an economical thing is how it started out. So we would teach these small groups, and there was a lot of mat. So that's how the studio started for a couple of years. And I had a building that I did that in. But then here in Australia, the the rise of the group reformer, like the fitness style, Pilates came, started to get pretty strong, maybe about eight years ago, I would say. And you know, a couple of franchises came in like similar to maybe what you've got in the state. So I thought, Well, I better get any one of those or someone else is going

Mara Sievers 2:23

Stephanie 2:26
And so I added that in in another building, which is nearby, it's actually moved closer since. And so now alongside like the clinical and the map, mat work and mat work is very big for us. We also have the reformer studio, which is probably our most prominent studio because it's on a really big corner and it has our logos all over it. And it is very popular. So we now have 15 performers in their run classes with that maybe about 40 to 50 a week. So it's running like full time. And then a couple years ago, I got started to really get into strength training, and weightlifting. And I wanted to find a way to incorporate that in because Pilates and strength training are pretty amazing combination. And I love strength training for many reasons. And make a long story short, we now we have a third venue and they're all in the same

Unknown Speaker 3:25

Stephanie 3:28
And that is like a full, like, kind of looks like a gym or a CrossFit box. It's quite empty, because I use it for Big Mac classes as well. And we have racks in there and other like, you know, gym equipment, some gym equipment, and I run a lot of strength training in this like and I'm going our market is mostly like women and like even into like the 40 plus woman, it's a very big market kind of the we take time to get our clinical clients, like into this strength train, because Pilates is awesome. And you know, I teach across all kinds fitness, clinical everything. But Pilates doesn't really teach you how to lift heavy stuff up off the floor. But it gives you lots of the components to be able to do that, you know, the mobility, the body awareness, the patterns, all that. So I just think the two is a big, a great combo. And it's kind of our unique point here because people know us is like Pilates specialist because we're we're really good. We have that reputation. But you know, to be able to offer that at a pretty big scale and an actual fully fitted out venue. And that's where I'm now going to really push the business in the strength side because the other two sides are pretty established. And then I want to just keep getting the clients to use all all elements,

Mara Sievers 4:54
you know, kind of three parts of the pen. That was my that would actually be a question. I'm curious about the dude. Do your Students take the different classes, or do they just stick with? You know, I like this Best of luck with strength, or do they mix?

Unknown Speaker 5:09
Yes, good question. Um,

Stephanie 5:12
well, because I'm, like, in the business a lot, talking about everything, because I try and now do all mainly reception in front of house and I do teach a little bit. But a lot of instructors, I'm constantly trying to sell that side of it now to people and they're very interested. But for women, especially, there's a lot of barriers around the strength training, you

Unknown Speaker 5:38
know, they think it's too hard,

Stephanie 5:40
they're not strong enough,

I hear that a lot, why I gotta get stronger before I do strength training.

Unknown Speaker 5:47
I'm gonna get,

Stephanie 5:48
you know, gorilla legs, I'm gonna hurt myself, like, I've done a lot of research around all this. So for me, a lot of my job is like, trying to kind of convince them that, you know, it's a good thing. And most of them, you know, I'm pretty good at selling the idea of it. So my, my vision is that people use all you know, like, they use all parts of the business. And so say they do strength training, but I don't know they get an ego or something's going on. Okay, I'll go back do some more clinical for a little bit. Okay, I'm graduating from clinical let's wing you into some of these other classes, maybe start doing some of the reformer because reformer is also loaded work. And then, you know, go into the you know, so I kind of a little bit different with everyone. But my vision would be yes, I have to get I want people to use and all sides, but I have some because the clinical studio is so old, I have a lot of clients in the clinical studio, they've been coming 10 years, and they don't even some of them, I've never been into the it's even though it's only across the road. So my big goal with the business now that I'm getting back on track and reopening is to really edge it's the education or and the telling everyone that is like what I have to work on most now in the business, it's not getting the clients or getting a staff. That is that is been my goal for

Mara Sievers 7:09
a while. And what was interesting for me is that most Pilates teachers have to educate the their the population where they live about Pilates, right about the benefits of Pilates, most people are only used to the regular strength training. And for you, it seems the opposite, which is, which is funny. It

Stephanie 7:30
is kind of funny. And also I planning to go into training, like continuing education, for Pilates instructors, to teach them about strength training, because a lot of them don't actually know very much about strength training, because they haven't really studied it, they're really interested in it.

Unknown Speaker 7:51

Stephanie 7:52
you know, they just haven't bridged that gap themselves. And so that that's very interesting to me. And I've been developing that over the past few years in different presentations and, you know, thing I've been doing. So that's my other kind of big goal. So one goal is like educate the instructor community. And then I have my whole client community

Unknown Speaker 8:13
with the client community, I'm

Stephanie 8:14
specifically interested in this, this particular demographic mainly have females, because they really need it. And it's like, for us, it's a huge market, huge demographic, and they're really under service, like really under service around and the people who work in are mature and with me, they're all like, I'm 45 they're like around my age, you know, they're not 20 you know, so we're kind of in a similar place to a lot of them in terms of our bodies. You know, perimenopause, menopause. So, the clients are comfortable with that, and they know that they're looked at, and we educate people we know, it's like, going to a gym, let's do

Unknown Speaker 8:55
so. Do this,

Stephanie 8:57
do that, you know, like, we, we kind of teach them a lot. You know, we look after them and they feel calm. That's the idea. That's what I

Mara Sievers 9:05
yeah, absolutely. And I'm sure that that that'll help, you know, knowing that they trust you. So if you recommend that then, you know, I'm sure so, yeah.

Stephanie 9:15
Yeah, once you've built up that trust, and that kind of brand, I guess, which we had at least the Pilates side because I mean, 15 years is a long time. You know, we're like Gary Cohn, in our, in the suburb in the area. And we good relationship with osteopath and physios and a lot of referring people that you're going to take that trust and just

extend it out to the next thing.

Mara Sievers 9:40
And so the the trust factor about, you know, the trust that clients develop towards us and see us as, as really the, the expert in the field of moments. That's a great segue to my next question, which is what's your status favorite part about being a Pilates teacher? What do you like the most about it? Um, well, I

Stephanie 10:08
like people. I'm a people person. So I just I like dealing with people. And luckily, I have really like mixed and nice clientele. It's very diverse. We don't really have too many not nice people.

Unknown Speaker 10:24
And yeah,

Stephanie 10:24
I mean, I've just I grew up doing a lot of dance like many Pilates teachers, I don't anymore. And now as I mentioned, I got really into more weight training, and I do a limp. You know, I've been trying to learn the skill of Olympic lifting, which is a weightlifting technique.

Unknown Speaker 10:38
But yeah, I

Stephanie 10:38
mean, I love being physical. And I love being social. And in all honesty, what I really like at this point is I just really like running the business. I don't like I enjoy, I'm at the point because I've taught for a long time. And I think people who've talked for a long time. Like I like teaching for like, one hour a day.

Unknown Speaker 11:02
That's it, like,

Unknown Speaker 11:03
I enjoy it,

Stephanie 11:04
I work out what I want to figure out for the day, look at it on people try my cues. And I'm like, Okay, that's good. I I'm, you know, I'm kind of done. Two hours, maybe. But I really, really love like, just like being in the environment and talking about it and meeting new people and like having all my staff and getting new staff, you know, I I've really now enjoy that side and pre you know, right before code, but that's been going very well for the past year or two. And it was like, all those years of building business. This is really fun. Now, this is really good, you know, I built this good culture and, and then COVID derailed everything. And,

Unknown Speaker 11:44
you know, I did

Stephanie 11:46
start to do a lot more jobs, and been doing like a lot more teaching online and more communication at all. And that's been a been good, too. But I think what i really i what i really like at this point is just like having this very dynamic business that I can just change. Like, I didn't have all the strength training stuff five years ago, I'm like, Well, now we're doing this, you know, it's just like adding on to things and shifting and having that flexibility. Because I mean, I'm not a franchise, I don't have to answer to anyone. It's just my husband and I

Unknown Speaker 12:18
who, who, you

Stephanie 12:20
know, own the business, and he does the back end on the front end. So I can just implement things that I want to try, like, especially around COVID trying to different, you know, live stream orphans, option styles of classes. Let's try putting this in a course. You know, let's try this. And if it works, great. If it doesn't work, well, you

Mara Sievers 12:38
take that on.

Stephanie 12:40
I think I really like I really, really like that. So I now, you know, I still liked I do really like teaching but I think I just like the you know, development more

Mara Sievers 12:54
I hear you. And I think that's I think it's a somewhat natural progression for a lot of teachers. Because as as hard as learning Pilates is in the beginning. At one point after decades of teaching, right, you get to the point where you know it well. And and then I think what maybe attract a lot of us to Pilates is that curiosity to learn more and and that curiosity then brings you to Okay, what can I learn now? And how can I explore my body even a different way? Right. So I think that's just the natural curiosity inside of us. And I mean, I think it's amazing that you are so excited about running the business, because if you're a studio owner, you better you better enjoy it, right. I think there's a lot of teachers who might not, you know, who are not into running a business, they just want to be teachers. So I think to be, you know, for somebody who is in the position of being a studio owner, that's a smart. That's a good idea to have. Yeah,

Stephanie 14:01
because I mean, that's how I've kind of scaled the business because I have noticed, like a lot of Pilates businesses here and also in American Apparel. So they're kind of around the person who started it. They're like the cult person, right? And then the clients only want that person. And then you get like you do you meet them once and then they you can't sell them to somebody else. So I've kind of like taken myself out of that. In fact, I think quite a few people, because the business is quite large now. Think I'm the receptionist, like secret boss. But I like that I think that's good, but then all the regulars know that I who I am and like that they know I'll fix anything they need or they tell you know, so I kind of it's kind of a good a good position to be in because if it was just rely if this was just relying on my teaching one I'd be exhausted because like, like I said, I can only do one or two hours a day. And just don't think I wouldn't really be able to scale the visit. You know, it's just the trap that people get in and then they burn themselves out. Because to make a living and like so many different factors now having staff is also very hard. So something like I don't want to bother, that's just too difficult. It's just me and I know many like kind of single operators here who do very well just being themselves. And they've also done very well being online, because just if you're a single person, that could work really well for you. So like all this with COVID, oh, pivot, just go online, just that's like, Yes, we did all that. And that was great. But at the end of the day, like, I have three venues, face to face venue. So I have like 20 staff, like, I don't want to be just online, we're a community business, we're about serving all the people who live in our suburb, which is a very poor, not all the people but anybody wants to come. And you know, I just find that much more satisfying overall than just churning out the classes online, which has been good. And we've all learned a lot.


but it's hard to hold a studio together online, because what makes us a studio, you know, if we don't have the community, people aren't coming for the equipment, the interaction, you know, the instructors can just be themselves if they want to. It's hard, but they could do that.

Unknown Speaker 16:18

Stephanie 16:20
having done all that, I

realized I really like. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 16:25

Stephanie 16:27
so yeah, but not it's not for it's not for everyone, for sure, it's very, it is very stressful, and I'm in a lucky position, and that my husband does all the backend, like everything related to the operation. You know, like everything in the venues, like when we renovated the buildings, like he's doing a lot of the laundry that we've got, now he oversees the cleaner goes, and he's not interested, he does all the book payroll with the accountants and everything, talks to the council, whatever deals with the trick, like the person checking the fire stick, like I don't do any of that. And I purely focused on the clients and the staff and whatever caught, you know, things I want to deliver. So that's probably why I like it, because I'm not burdened with that. But I think if you want to be an actual business, like a true profitable business that runs functionally, like you kind of have to have kind of have to have,

have something like that. Because, you know, like, I can barely mail a letter at the post office, I just keep forgetting, you

Mara Sievers 17:29
know, I would never

Stephanie 17:32
but I really good at talking to the clients.

Mara Sievers 17:37
I think it's really you bring up such as so many good points. I think it really, you know, when you become Pilates teacher, or as you begin, you know, a career, you just got to sort of check in with yourself and figure out who you are. And, and whether you, like you said, enjoy scaling it or whether you you don't maybe you don't have a partner who could take care of all the stuff that you don't want to take care of right or that you don't have talent for. And then maybe it's better to just stay at one person, home based sort of business where you know, you have quality relationship with only a few people. And maybe that just suits you better. I think there's so many different ways of being a play feature. There's not just one, but you just got to find out who you are right? And what, what makes you happy. Yeah, and

Stephanie 18:24
you you can't really do that straight away, because you kind of got to go through, like, I'm 45 so I've done this for like 1718 years, and in my first five to eight years, you know, like I didn't have any kids really I was like, I just taught I was teaching like so many people like what 30 hours, like I was running around to you know, go to this gym, at eight 6am I went here at noon, and then I did that, you know, like I just ran all over the place. And I really loved that. I really loved that for a long time. And it was at a good time in my life. But if I if I was still doing that now, I wouldn't be teaching anymore like one I wouldn't find it satisfying. I'd be completely exhausted and I wouldn't be able to make I mean I do know people here who do live they live off teaching you know, like 30 classes a week. Something like that. Largest work

Mara Sievers 19:18
that it's hard I know. Yeah. I mean here though. Group

Stephanie 19:25
what I found like mostly I've done a lot of classes say in Lhasa gone to Studios in Los Angeles where I'm from, I feel like there it's for the instructors, it's more about establishing themselves as themselves getting lots of say private clients and they might do classes which to get more of those clients that might not and classes don't seem to pay as well as say if you have the privates it's kind of more about getting the privates were here um, don't really do a lot of privates. You know, we have more this four on one scenario, the privates are just to get people to that point. And then it's really about you make more money, actually teaching The teaching group classes. So for a lot of people, they can go around and teach 20 or 30 classes a week and like doo doo, okay, but it's a lot of traveling around and it takes a couple years to, you know, get what's the schedule that's sustainable, you know, cuz you'll go around initially, anything. But that doesn't, it's impractical to go,

Unknown Speaker 20:22
oh, I'll go one hour here, and then I'll drive across, you know,

Stephanie 20:26
like, there's a point where you're like, that doesn't really work.

Mara Sievers 20:30
I mean, I've done it exactly like you described exactly the same thing. I did that when I started. And I recently talked to somebody else who does exactly that. And I think it works. As you say, I think if you're young, if you're in your 20s, and you're just starting out that works, and and it's fine. And you you get a lot of experience that way with very different clients, because you're at these different locations, and every gym or studio has a slightly different atmosphere and plays a different type of clientele. So you get a lot of experience with different people. But yes, it's just exhausting. And I don't think it's, it's sustainable, long term. Yeah. And even like, for me, I mean, I'm in

Stephanie 21:10
a sort of privileged position that I can I have a pretty I have a lot of choice in who I can hire. Because also since I started the business, like there was no teachers, but in the past 15 years, like, there are so many teachers now most who, like more, more group, the group side, like the clinical side is harder for me to stuff but

Mara Sievers 21:43
just froze up on me. Oh, she's back. I can see you again. Sorry about that guy. I don't know what happened there. I don't know. He just froze up. But we're back. We're back.

Unknown Speaker 21:56

Mara Sievers 21:59
so sorry. I was actually I heard the last thing I heard was that you have a hard time staffing your clinical Pilates.

Unknown Speaker 22:07

Mara Sievers 22:09

Stephanie 22:10
Because now like we have sucked so many people trained to teach the group reformer, so

Unknown Speaker 22:20
forgot what my,

Unknown Speaker 22:20
what my point was. Oh, I'll just

Unknown Speaker 22:24

Stephanie 22:26
We, there are a lot of instructors around I can't remember.

Mara Sievers 22:33
Let me ask you that. No worries. Let me ask you. So the, when you say a lot of people, a lot of instructors are only trained reformer, or it may be my format. Are they not comprehensively trained? Are you saying they're not trained in like, catalog? Yes. Yeah. So

Stephanie 22:47
now what's happened because here in Australia, especially I think Australia would be one of the bigger countries for this is, as I said, the rise of like, the group reformer.

So what I mean by that, yeah,

Unknown Speaker 22:59
like, in which,

Stephanie 23:00
you know, um, and that's what people want, like the clients like it in people seem to like getting into the industry, that's their experience with Pilates. And then that's what they want to do. So a lot of students that come to teacher training courses, and I have taught on a large one for the past 10 years, and I'm now just starting to work for another shifted to another company starting next week. The students coming to these courses who are learning mat and reformer are their experience has been just on group reformer, and that's been what they want to teach. So even much more than Matt, like, which I love Matt personally, but I'm most if you can't teach group reformer, it's would be hard to get a job. I'll say that, at this point, because a lot of the new studios that are coming out are like only reformer, we have a lot of studios that only teach former. And from a business perspective, yeah, it's a really good business model. I mean, 10 reformers, you're running a similar class, over and over the staffing and the quality controlling is a lot easier, you know, and you can train someone up to teach that in a say, you know, half a year or a few months versus you know, comprehensively trained person would be usually longer. And it's economical, and clients like it. So, you know, I mean, we have studio, you know, we have classical studios, and we have a lot of these four on one studios, which is much more kind of, like clinical and more in the Allied Health realm a little bit. Group reformers.

Mara Sievers 24:48
Sure, for sure. Yeah, I'll definitely I guess it would depend on the client, wouldn't it like if you have, do you get clients who you don't think is you know, it's a good idea if they join a group or former class if it's Now we better for them to go to clinical.

Stephanie 25:03
Well, that is the beauty of my business. Why basically can like, that's why I spend so much time screening. And doing the reception is because I want to make sure people get into the right thing and not have a bad experience. Because there are Yes, there's weight. And because of the nature of our business being originally the clinical and our relationship with allied health people.

Unknown Speaker 25:31
Yeah, we

Stephanie 25:31
have a lot of people who come to us who aren't coming for the group stuff, and that that would be the wrong place for them. But then at the same token, we have a lot of people who come who just do want that. So I'm a very graphic, I'm a little bit of an unusual studio in that respect. Because if you're just a group reformer studio, like we have, you know, you have some of those as well, like you, there is a more particular demographic, generally a younger demographic, it's more Jimmy more about just general fitness, not as much emphasis on you know, technique nitty gritty. But yeah, that's why I love having my studio because I can direct people where to go. And and, and then if the clinical studio is quite kind of slow and more education and more cautious, like I don't feel bad, or I'm not doing the kinds of work out because I'm not trying to give them a workout, I'm trying to get them to the point where they feel that they know enough that they could go into one of those classes. But at the same time, I'm not gonna have 15 people on a reformer. And you know, we're just doing really slow, low level, low load things, because I'm going to lose them. And there's a reason. Yeah, so I think I have to know

Unknown Speaker 26:51

Stephanie 26:53
you know, what you're doing in each and I was that, like, come to the clinical, but

Unknown Speaker 26:59

Stephanie 27:00
if you want to get your fitness up, or do blah, blah, blah, you're gonna have to also do this, you know, I'm not suggesting

Mara Sievers 27:06
so true. It's so true. And I think I think it's, it's quite brilliant what you do there, because you, you have something for everybody, like no matter sort of who comes you can offer them something that they want, which I think is incredibly important. And as you say, if you only offer like say Matt or you only offer reformer, then what happens a lot to teachers is that they're being put in the situation where they have to teach a mixed level class, and they have two people with like, osteoporosis, and one pregnant woman and one person with the gnosis and a reformer group class. And you're like, you're, you know, you're dying as a teacher, because you have to sort of come up with a sequence now that's appropriate for everybody. And everybody sort of thinks they get an individualized class, but it's still a group class. Right. So that's the trouble that a lot of students get themselves into by only offering reformer but so I you know, I what I the studio that I used to own, we talked probably similar to what you call with the clinical so I have small group classes, I call it open studio style classes. Basically, yes, I did privates and then but only a few just to get them get get them to remember their own program. And then they they would work on their on their own in a group setting, which again, keeps the cost down. So yes, that's and that way you can sort of give them whatever it is that they need. So I could have, you know, even an advanced person in the class next to somebody who's working through an injury because they do completely different things. But yes, so what I love your concept, I mean, the fact that you were able to you know, scale it much, much bigger than that is is fantastic. And it's so important to educate, teach people clients that there is a difference there is not just you know, reformer Pilates is one form of Pilates and then what you call clinical or like one on one and more rehabilitative a collective Pilates is another part of Pilates. It's all Pilates, but it's very different than a lot of people, students, but also teacher trainees don't know that there is a difference and don't know how different they really are.

Stephanie 29:19
Yeah, and like some of my staff like they only teach in the clinical, some only teach they they reformer, like, some teacher costs everything. So yeah, like hiring people. Oh, I think that's what I was trying to say before is that like here in Melbourne is the group performers. So be like, if you if you can't teach that, it would be hard to get it. It would probably be hard to get a job unless you're going to work like niche in clinical studios, which you've heard, but there's not even that much Matt anymore, even though we do do a lot of Matt and because I love Matt. I don't personally enjoy teaching group performer that much and I only do it As like when, because that my other instructors are way better at it, they do it way more, they are way more creative. They come up with new sequences all the time. I mean, I don't really do all that I just teach

Mara Sievers 30:12
that i like that i

Unknown Speaker 30:13
know work.

Stephanie 30:15
But for most people, the messages like to work in the industry, like you basically have to teach group reform, and it's just much more jobs out there,

Mara Sievers 30:25
for sure. Right. Unless you decide, you know, that's a good question. Like, unless you decide, no, I don't even want to teach in the studio, I want to have my home studio. And then you're probably better off doing some kind of clinical comprehensive path, right? Because then you're able to help, like we said, no matter who comes to see you, you're able to help everybody instead of having to fit them into a reformer class, which might not be appropriate for them. Yeah,

Stephanie 30:51
I mean, and also someone who like basically does a course learns how to teach group reformer, I mean, that's great, then they can go build their skills for a year to work on all their sequences or cueing their programming, but then they're going to be come to a point where they're like, Oh, I probably can, like, learn something else here. Yeah, there's Yeah, or to learn. And then, you know, they'll usually go on and maybe do a more comprehensive program, or like, they would come, they might want to learn more about the strength, strength training, you know, and how that will help them make be a better instructor. But you can get enough work teaching, just like, if you want to just teach group reformer full time, you could do that.

Unknown Speaker 31:31
Here. That's awesome.

Stephanie 31:33
And like, for me, from the business perspective,


I just look at everything, I'm not a very, I look at the whole business as a whole. So like, I run the clinical studio, which is not particularly profitable, because, you know, it's four people, maybe it's only three people, my instructors are a lot more than those that are very experienced, highly trained, you know, they might make, you know,

Unknown Speaker 31:57
they make it more

Stephanie 31:58
than my other instructors, you know, just because some of them are just been teaching for so long. It's very hard to make it work as a profitable, sustainable things, you have to just keep all the classes full, and you got to talk to allied health people, you take a lot of notes, like it's very laborious, like for the, for the finance work, whereas reformers like, Okay, I've got 15 people, you know, a teacher that I don't doesn't necessarily need to have the same background as the one in the clinical. So it's like that, for me, that is like almost the reformer sort of subsidizes a little bit of the clinical, which I believe in and it was, it was what our foundation of our business is because some people would look at me and be like, why don't you just take that clinical studio and put 15 more reformers in, that would be so much easier. But I don't want to do that. Because then I'm just a generic,

Mara Sievers 32:51
reformer, slight group reformer. And then you can take certain clients, then you will have to send away certain clients, we're not ready for that. Right? So you're cutting off? Like you're feeding? What are you doing now? Like you described earlier, you're feeding from one branch, so to speak into the other branch, right? Somebody's graduating from clinical, and then you take them and they still stay within the business when they go into other strength training or former? You couldn't do that if he didn't have the clinical Right,

Stephanie 33:22
exactly. So I don't for me, one of those, I don't look try and look at things like oh, well, this particular hour or this particular class is not, you know, doesn't know, profitable enough or isn't sustainable. I just like I'm trying to see it as a being whole picture and

Unknown Speaker 33:37
pot, you know,

Stephanie 33:40
I think you have to look at you know, you have to look at like a bigger, more long term or holistic vision. And, and so some people would come into my business and tell me, oh, you could restructure it this way, you could, you know, like, people are always telling you all these things you should do.

Unknown Speaker 33:56
But I,

Stephanie 33:57
I just think that, you know, as long as I can run the clinical to the level that I want to have the quality people in there that I need to and keep that reputation, I'm going to keep that maybe it stays a little bit smaller, maybe it grows with demand, you know, I for a while I thought you know, signs to think of the clinical studio is gonna get really small, but I think No, I think maybe now with especially post COVID people are like, Oh, I want more individual things. They see it as small you know, maybe now next year, it could really get big again, I don't know. So I just have to be prepared and like, be able to, you know, ebb and flow as required. Luckily, like because in Melbourne we have so many there are a lot of instructors out there now, which is not what when I started there was no one like that was my biggest problem when I started was the staffing that has not become my biggest issue now. It's it's more just like finding the right people, I guess who's now the issue because now there is so much there are a lot of different Doctors.

Mara Sievers 35:01
Also, that's also a great segue to my next question, What are you? What are you looking for in a Pilates teacher, if you were to hire one,

Stephanie 35:11
basically reliability.

Unknown Speaker 35:15
Like, I just,

Stephanie 35:18
I mean, we have a very good call, it took me a really long time that taught me a lot about people, you know, I've made some I've made mistakes along the way. And now I'm at the point with all every singles, I do not have a single person that I am, like, Oh, I don't know, if I want to send a client there, you know, I don't have a sigma culture is just so good. And the work ethic, you know, culture is so good. But now, because that culture is there, it's like, if any one is not like that, if they're just an outlier, you know, so it would like,

Unknown Speaker 35:55
you will step.

Stephanie 35:57
So I really like Yeah, I just I like, I'm a very, like, hardworking person, my American American work, thing. No. And I like I basically, at the end of the day, I want to have amazing people who have good interpersonal skills, and really care about people and everyone does. But sometimes I just look at it, like, the armature, it's a little bit like it just like a machine, but it has to run it has like over, you know, 100, like, well, like, it's like, I don't know, 120 hours, at least a week that have to get staffed, and they have to, like, someone has to be there, like, that's my product, you know, like, I just need it to happen in the best way. So that whole, like, I just reliability is really important. And I've started, I have most of my staff are a bit older, like, you know, 35, and up. And there are people that are not very available, and only available a little bit, because they're very good. And they work at a lot of places, or you know, or they have kids or other things. But basically, they just do what they say they're going to do. Like I don't care. You can only come on Thursdays and teach for two hours, but you

Mara Sievers 37:08
will be there every Thursday.

Stephanie 37:12
Or you will, you know, let me know ahead, you know, so if I like was to meet someone, they said, Yeah, I can do that. And I can do that. And I can do that like to do that. I'm like, No, you're not gonna keep doing all that. You're just saying you're going to do that right now. Because, you know, you want a job right now. And I don't want that I look much more to the long, long term. I mean, I have people who've worked more than 10 years, you know, 10 years, well, more, or at armature, and then we have new people as well. But, um, so yes, I want that kind of, that's really important.

Unknown Speaker 37:47
Because I can't,

Stephanie 37:49
I can't deal with I have my own life too. And my own responsibilities. And you know, I can't, I don't want to pick up a lot of pieces. And we don't really have that prolene we have the occasional emergency someone's sick and with COVID. Of course, that made things more difficult. Someone has a cough, or like a tiny sniffle, they can't, you know, all of a sudden, they can't come in today, but um, so that that kind of reliability and consistency is important. I would rather have that than like a superstar, who's gonna give who gives me grief? Like I don't really, you know, like, and luckily, I'm in the good position where I can get the reliability and have really good teachers at the same time. So yeah, I think that's important. I just like kind of, like just normal human people that I know will relate to my clients, because the client is going to remember, like how they were taught to did the did the instructor remember, my name was I looked after, they're not really going to remember what the programming was, or, you know, other technical things about like, and also, you can teach, like, I can help someone with their programming. But I can't help people with their personalities. You know, and I've had that a few times where I've had people who are not intentionally like rude people, but they might just be like shy people or they just don't relate to the clients just on a personal level. And then that becomes a problem for me, because that people just don't want to go to their class. So I would rather have the person who kind of understands people and sometimes that's a bit of the older people, I find, like slightly older because they just, you know, they've had more experience with people in different jobs, and they kind of know how to treat them and look after them. And so that's really important to me.

Unknown Speaker 39:47

Mara Sievers 39:48
yeah, there is a phrase or a saying that goes, people don't care how much you know, they want to know how much you care. Yeah, I think that's that's pretty much it. Right? I think a lot of Pilates teachers are intimidated. In the beginning, like after graduating, I think a lot of teachers are intimidated because they think they have to know everything. And there is a lot to know about in Pilates and about the human body. And when you first start, you're like, Oh my gosh, you know, like you meet people for the first time who have a knee replacement, or, you know, stenosis, and you're like, Oh, my God, what I do now, and you may freeze up, and I think that that sentence is so important to remember at that point, you know, it's okay to say, you know, what, I'm so sorry, I don't know, I've never worked with anybody with a knee replacement. Let me go and do some research Until next week, you know, a next time or whatever, if you've never seen this person before. But but show that you care, right, instead of sort of covering it up or, or Yeah, being or withdrawing, maybe, you know, from the personal level, again, the the fact that people really just want to the community aspect that you were talking about in the beginning, that is one of the key things I think in, in Pilates, and a lot of teachers don't realize, also that what, what how important that connection between teacher and student is that is, that is quite a connection. More than maybe in other in other forms of fitness or something. But a lot of teachers don't realize that that is that exists. And that's there.

Stephanie 41:26
Yeah, it's so so important. And

Mara Sievers 41:28
it's a responsibility, right? To some degree.

Stephanie 41:32
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Because, yeah, I just really want to look after people, and I want them to have a good experience, you know, coming here, and that's part of the armature brand. And every one who works for me, like they're my product. So my instructors are my product, basically, because I already have mentioned, I don't teach that much, so I'm not the product. So I need to make sure

Unknown Speaker 41:56
that that's,

Stephanie 41:57
you know, happening. Yeah, and that's, and that's the kind of thing I just have found over the years, you can't really change and people like, you can say, you can't just be like be more friendly,

Mara Sievers 42:07
or you know, didn't like, you know,

Unknown Speaker 42:09
like it just

Stephanie 42:12
different people's natures innately you know, and like, whether they

whether they saw her just like the instructor teaching online class, I was like,

Unknown Speaker 42:28
text me?

Unknown Speaker 42:35
Yeah, yeah,

Stephanie 42:35
I can't teach, you can't teach like the soft, the softer skills of the, of teaching, like you kind of just either are that kind of person or not. So now I've gotten a little bit, you know, I've kind of become more attuned to that, and hiring people as well. And, you know, making making sure. And, you know, you can tell as well by like, number, like, if someone's class comes to some particular person. And in my experience, it's not been that I've had instructors who don't know what they're doing, it's more just read their delivery and the interpersonal. And that's, you

Mara Sievers 43:09
know, that's interesting. That's interesting, really interesting that you say that, because I think the teacher, if I put myself, you know, if I think what, what did the teacher thinking, Oh, nobody's gonna come to my classes, they probably their first thought would be, oh, I taught the wrong thing, or my classes are not like teaching the wrong exercises or anything like that. But, but what you're saying right now is like, it's probably not the exercises, it's probably just the way you show up the way you you you behave or you know, the way you connect with people or no,

Stephanie 43:38
yeah, and that's why like, for me, it doesn't matter where someone's certified mess around, oh, that course was too short, or that was only online, or that was it. And, you know, I, for myself, I've

Unknown Speaker 43:50
tried to cross

Stephanie 43:52
a lot of certifications, and I know about most of the different certifications around. Honestly, I don't really care. Like I've had people who have, like, done these very experienced, done, like the highest levels of everything, but they can't keep their clients, you know, because they're just like, lose them. They're too cerebral, they're too technical or too, whatever. Well, that's no good to me. I don't really like, you know, that doesn't work. Whereas Do you have someone who has much like shorter course, but has a great rapport with people or has some other background and movement and like, you know, the core was enough to bridge the gap for them. And they're, they're fantastic. You know, at some of my younger teachers, who taught for less, you know, are can be do better than some of the older ones, you might be a little bit stuck in some, some other ways of thinking. So I've tried to be pretty open minded about about all of that, and really just base it on the person and you know,

Unknown Speaker 44:55

Stephanie 44:56
kind of track record or just go to their class. Let's see how they teach or you know, how they are with people. So yeah, I've kind of led all of that side.

Mara Sievers 45:09
Yes. And I think every studio sort of has has a specific vibe, right? Like, I mean, I stepped a step, foot place, you know, for the into a studio, and I knew immediately Oh, that's not the place for me. And at the same time, I stepped foot into another studio, and I thought, Oh, my God, I love it here. Right. And you have, you barely had any interaction with anybody that's just every studio has a specific vibe. And and you just got to not just student teacher, but you know, the whole team and everything just got to be the same sort of mindset. Yeah, yeah. And I think,

Stephanie 45:42
yeah, and that's, like, I've learned as well over the years, you know, it's like, the, like, the, the owner, or the studio has to set the culture in a way. And like, you know, you just have to go with it. Or even, like, if you have to make like, a, a policy that you don't like, you know, like some kind of like, canceled charge policy, and like, I don't want to do this, like, well, you just have to kind of set it. Like, you just have to go with what you think, and said it and not be, you know, too deterred by you know, by that it just have to, like kind of trust. But I don't know, this is for me, this is me, it's, like 15 years is a long time, like even people look at me, like, Wow, this is amazing. How do you have all these buildings, you know, like, as if, like, the real estate just like popped up, you know, like, well, it started with this one building that we happen to have. And then we had this other one that we could rent for like three years. And then Michael finally got, you know, like it built up over a long period of time. And it's the same with like, all the staffing and everything like that, it just builds up over a long, long period of time I didn't have I wasn't in the same situation. I was 15 years ago, when there was no staff or I hadn't, you know, probably some of the wrong people in the jobs, you know, now, just like the culture built up, and people find me, like, I don't really go searching, you know, they

Unknown Speaker 47:03
kind of,

Stephanie 47:05
in a way comes comes to be a very first started the business, I'm talking to a friend, and I really like, you know, running around everywhere. And I like the dynamic of that. And I was really worried I would just be by myself in the studio is going to be very lonely. And I wouldn't have anyone to talk to no one to learn off of, and she said, Stephanie, it's not going to be like that, you're gonna be there, and everyone's gonna come to you. And it like, took a really long time. But it's like, yes, it's great. Now I just go to the studios and the clients come and instructors come and like, the networks are there and I'm like, this is this is really good. But it didn't just happen. It's like, all this work, I've put in,

like full time for over, you know, a long, long time. And

now it's kind of reaping its rewards. But that's a long time. 15 years, you know, like, all my 30s into my 40s probably keep going for a while. So I mean, I am proud of that. But it wasn't something that happened, like, straightaway, you know, people open studios, and I think it's been like six months. Why isn't this happening? Why like six months? years, you know? Um, so, yeah, it's kind of a, I'm looking forward to hopefully not being locked down and being able to just, like, keep, keep building on that. And luckily, being in a situation where there are a lot of, there's the cult, the Pilates culture is getting more and more dynamic. There's like more studios, there's more instructors, you know, there's a lot of like teacher training or, you know, workshops, coke Creek, if COVID hadn't happened in 2020, I can list to you like, well over 10 International Pilates people, you know, that we're going to be coming here conferences, like it's really, really busy, it's a good place to be that all kind of change. But, you know, there, there's the, the energy for that, you know, and the interest for that here in this city. So that's good for me, you know, as a business, like so it's much more of an employee, you know, it's an employers market now. So I can't and, you know, we're very good place to work. So lots of people would want to work for so which is

Mara Sievers 49:40
nice. Um,

Stephanie 49:43
so So yeah, I'm kind of excited.

Mara Sievers 49:46
That's wonderful. That's, that's great. Because a lot of I think a lot of people also think, oh, if there's a lot of Pilates around that's bad, right? Like it's too much competition, but it's actually the opposite. It's when there's a lot of Pilates happening. Then a lot of people do Pilates, and they tell their friends. So it becomes much more a thing that's present in the community. Right, so so it's actually good for everybody. It's good for every party studio, if there are more Pilates studios, we already think it's different. But the only thing that I think the education, that's important, and I'm glad to glad that you're doing that is in terms of educating the population, that there are different types of how you can practice, right, you can practice in a group on a mat or on a reformer, or you can practice one on one. And there's different goals and stuff like that. That's what many people don't know when they start. And it's great if that would be one of my dreams is that people at least learn that at least, understand when they start that, that the first thing that they get exposed to in terms of Pilates is not the only thing, the only option that they're having. Like when you said earlier, you said something like you didn't want anybody to come in and then not like Pilates. And when I say that, that was always my biggest fear, I was my biggest fear that somebody would come into my class, take like a math class or something, and then not like it because it was not appropriate for them. And I didn't have the chance to explain to them Yes, I know, I'm very aware that you didn't like this, because this, I would never have taught you this. If I had been one on one with you. But this is just the wrong class for you. Not that Pilates doesn't work. It's this, this is the wrong programming, the wrong sequence, the wrong exercises, there's a million other exercises that we can do that are appropriate for you that you would enjoy much more. So that's why I transitioned to this model where, you know, I wanted to have this intake opportunity of having a one on one interaction with the person before they started before they took their first class, so that I could get to know them, and I can then direct them in the right direction. So that is maybe my my, my small, like small, big dream for the Pilates community in general.

Stephanie 52:07
Yeah, yeah. It's, it's, it is really good. I mean, that's why I think it's really important that I kind of do more of this front of house and reception

Unknown Speaker 52:15
work, because I'm just

Stephanie 52:16
person to direct people. And like, in a way, my time is not really spent best teaching. I mean, I'll cover things like I'll do covers and do what I can. But if you think about what's the most economical and practical thing for me to do, it's more, it's more that.

Stephanie 52:36
we are trying to get people into the right, the right place so that they don't have that initial bad experience. Like, oh, that class was way too hard. You know, that was scary. I don't want to do that. Or, oh, that's just too boring. I don't want.

Unknown Speaker 52:51
Yeah, I don't want that. No, I

Stephanie 52:52
mean, it's not it doesn't work 100% of the time, but I usually you can find a way like to get someone to try something else, give them a free class, or, like, my motto is like, there's nothing that a free class can't fix, like if someone something goes wrong. But um,

Unknown Speaker 53:10

Stephanie 53:11
but that's, I feel like I'm in a lucky position like that. And that's why I don't want to lose any of the facets of the business. And it's really, it's really important for me to keep all of them going. Because, you know, they all like they're all like, the little links in the whole chain of what I'm what I'm trying to do. So. Yeah, it's a good way to capture people. So I think they're like the clients get an awesome, awesome deal. You know, we can't be every single thing, but we give them you know, a lot at a very, very economical

price if they often if they if they want so. Yeah. Great.

Mara Sievers 53:53
Yeah. One question. Last question. What one thing that you wish you had known before you became a Pilates instructor?

Unknown Speaker 54:06

Mara Sievers 54:08
No, probably didn't really think of how many, right? I just think that

Stephanie 54:19
I would just always tell people to probably think about, like, what's practical and how to conserve your energy. And I just think before you start, there's just this idea that yeah, it's gonna be so fun. Oh, you know, I'm changing careers. It's gonna be so fun to teach. Well, is it really going to be fun to teach at six o'clock in the morning, and then eight o'clock at night? And then again at six o'clock at night? Like, I mean, think about what if you're going to do it for the long term, like, what is a sustainable option for you? Is it going to and kind of try and work towards that, like, don't feel like I just I just have to take all these classes. I just have to because that's what happens. A lot. Here is you Get this like burnout, you see a lot of people teaching for one to two years, and mostly a nice group scenarios, then they realize it's harder than they think to make it a sustainable job. Like some people, if you're just doing it part time and just want to work a few hours and your partner's working full time, you know, that's fine. But if you're thinking like, I'm going to change my career, and I'm going to do this, and it's going to be so much fun. Well, the fun starts to take, it's, you know, it was fun when you did it as a client, because you loved it. But is it really fun when you're doing it like eight times a day? Five times a week? You know, how are you going to manage that so that you still want to do

Mara Sievers 55:41
it? I think you're absolutely I absolutely know what you mean. The problem, I think, is that people don't trainees, right, people who think of becoming a Pilates teacher, or who are even in training to be applied teacher already, they don't realize how much energy it takes to teach Pilates class or session. That's the issue. I think, like they do the math in their head, and they think, oh, if I work 40 hours a week, I make this amount of money or whatever. But then you realize I cannot work 40 hours a week, it's not sustainable. So I always say if somebody wants to teach full time in my world, that's between 20 and 30 hours a week, that's full time you do like, I don't recommend anybody teach more than 30 hours a week. It's like, you can't sustain that I know exactly. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 56:31
I mean, I did it.

Stephanie 56:34
But yeah, and then really, that's why then people start thinking, Oh, I'll have a studio, I'll have a business or because or maybe education, like you know, so you've gone into more education. That's really the only ways I see that you can kind of change it up in the in Pilates. But the thing with the studio ownership is is definitely not for everyone. And you know, I don't know. And sometimes it is not good option for people for various reasons. So for me, it was the only option. I cannot say that I wouldn't be teaching, I would still be in this. If I had to teach, you know, much more than I do. Now. You just can't see that I would have lasted this long. So yeah, like yeah, like, be realistic about what you physically can do. What your time and your

Mara Sievers 57:31
think think about things like make it a goal of or calculate and plan with the 20 to 30 hours in mind that sort of that that's the recommendation I can give. Because again, like, like I said, People don't don't realize they think 40 hours is realistic, but then they only realize that 20 you know, two years later, like you said, that is too much. And I think burnout is a very common issue, not just in Pilates, but generally in fitness. And whether that's personal training, or what a yoga teaching or whatever it is. It's a very typical thing. And I keep you know, I occasionally talk to friends or people think, Oh, yeah, I went to this fitness place. And then they shut down after a while. And yeah, because the owner burned out. It's, it's all I we all burn out after a while because we underestimate how much work it really is. So that's probably a good lesson. If it's, in terms of rewarding, I think it can be incredibly rewarding, because you really do you know, you do good work, you help people feel better in their body and can be a lot of fun. And compared to you know, maybe a corporate job that you don't enjoy. I think if you're gonna still be, you know, more enjoyable, but you just got to realize that 40 you know, full time is different in Pilates than it is when you're sitting at a desk. Yeah. They're different. I mean, that's

Stephanie 58:48
training stuff, because then I do like six hours or seven hours at a time. And that does feel different than normal teaching, but I could not do that in a in just a studio setting. teach that. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 59:00
yeah, yeah. Yeah, I

Stephanie 59:02
think people, it's good to kind of think about, say, What do you want with this in like, two years, five years? I mean, I didn't think about that. It wasn't like, what, what do I want? In 15 years, I didn't really think that things just evolved life happened the way it happened, and I'm happy that it has. But I do think it's worth thinking about and not just, yeah, investing a lot of time and money into something that may not be sustainable.

Mara Sievers 59:29
Yes. And I think so. Let me ask you when you started your teacher training program, did you have in mind to have it to for it to be a full time career? Or were you just thinking you're just going to do it on the side?

Stephanie 59:42
Well, I'm not really sure. I mean, I was pretty young. I came to Australia I had degrees in English and dance. And I had started to get to fit in it. Like I did do a group fitness. I started that I'd always been really interested in Pilates. So I just finally had the opportunity to study So I don't I don't think I was really thinking that far ahead. I didn't really have any plans of studio ownership. It's just that, you know, my husband had this building, basically. And we decided a few years later, what do we do with this building? Should we, you know, it happened for me It happened very organically, I didn't really have a plan. Um, but I would say to someone that if they are going to have a plan, or they're looking ahead, that you should consider like, what is actually sustainable based on you know, what is your even the people with the strongest constitutions and like, they don't get sick, and they can work a lot like there is even just a mental burnout

Mara Sievers 1:00:40
and mental that's what it is. Yes, it's the concentration, the non stop concentration.

Stephanie 1:00:45
And like, any job, it's very repetitious. Like, if you think about it, there's probably you know, like, 20% of exercises you teach 80% of the time, like they say about your wardrobe. You know, so it's not like you're always going to be doing all these like fancy, crazy repertoire with PTO. Like, there is a lot of repetition in, in in any work. And it's the same, it's the same with it. So it's all fun in the beginning, but like anything it's going to take correct.

Mara Sievers 1:01:17
Alright, so unfortunately, you had a little bit of difficulty with the internet connection. That's how it goes in these days. But I just wanted to say thank you so much to Stephanie, for talking to me today. And I enjoyed it a lot. I hope you did too. Stephanie is in her studio. armature Pilates is a partner studio of Pilates and computer teacher training program. So if you are interested in starting the training at her location, or any of the other partners to your locations, just head on over to plot it at the for slash teachers slash training, and you can get more information there. You can also leave me a comment below the video. Don't forget to subscribe to the channel. I'm gonna put out a lot more of these types of conversations with quality features and studio owners going forward. Keep an eye out for that and we'll talk soon. Take care. Bye bye. Thank you so much for watching. If you enjoyed this, please give it a thumbs up. Subscribe if you haven't already. And if you'd like to see more cool information, head over to Pilates I'll see you next time.


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