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Life as a Pilates Instructor Gail Giovanniello from Mind Your Body in New York

Life as a Pilates Instructor: Gail Giovanniello of Mind Your Body in New York

interviews Feb 21, 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:

  • Running a studio is expensive and, therefore, affects what the teachers get paid.
  • It’s important for studio owners and instructors who go out on their own to set up their business in a legitimate way with the state and to make sure taxes are being paid fairly.
  • The collaboration that a studio setting provides helps the studio owner and the teachers. You get to work on client retention together and have support for sick days and vacations.
  • Pilates is all about the details. What do you do when you have a client who doesn’t care about the details?
  • It’s okay not to know everything as an instructor. It’s your attitude that matters.
  • If you’re thinking about starting a career in Pilates, it’s helpful to visit studios, talk to people in the field, and research the history of Pilates.


Watch or listen here:


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



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

Linda Brown of Completely Fit 4 Life in Auburn, California 

Debi and Denni from Pilates and Beyond in Encinitas, CA

Stephanie Glickman from Armature Pilates in Brunswick East, Australia


Here is the unedited transcription of our interview:

Mara Sievers 0:02
Hello you guys, this is Mara Sievers here creative Pilates encyclopedia. And I'm here with Gail from mind your body in New York City. Hi, Gail. How are you doing?

Gail 0:11
Hi Mara. I'm great. How are you?

Mara Sievers 0:14
Awesome. Thank you.

Gail 0:15
Nice to see you.

Mara Sievers 0:16
Likewise. Likewise, beautiful flowers there in the background.

Unknown Speaker 0:20
Thank you. I set it up just for you and our audience. Exactly. Nice.

Mara Sievers 0:26
So we are here today to just have an honest conversation about what it's like to be a Pilates teacher.

Gail 0:33
Wonderful. One

Unknown Speaker 0:33
of my favorite topics,

Unknown Speaker 0:35

Unknown Speaker 0:36

Mara Sievers 0:36
So why don't we just start by um, tell tell us about you like, how long have you been teaching? Where are you teaching? What do you what do you offer at your studio, in terms of privates classes, any niche that you have, and so on and so forth.

Gail 0:54
Okay, well, it's a fun story of how I actually started teaching Pilates. I was a dancer, working in a company in Atlanta, Georgia, actually, I'm from New York, but I went there to work. And then when I came back, I couldn't get a waitressing job. So body toning studio after gym, after YMCA led me into a Pilates studio for a friend of a friend. And at this studio, she was training, mostly dancer types, yoga types, to teach Pilates. And she did all the training right there. And my job was basically to take Pilates with her, and to assist her in her teaching. And very soon after I did I mean, I stayed with her for two years, but it feels like a short time as an inexperienced instructor, I started my own. One main reason was because I didn't like the way she was treating me I was very young at the time. And it was really sad to me. So I thought if someone like that could open a business and be she was so successful, be very successful, I can certainly do it and offer other teachers or friends who would work with me a nice environment, and really get into the work kind of dig my teeth into the work of Pilates. And that's what I did. I started that in 1995. And I it was when the trademark war of Pilates was going on. So you couldn't advertise it or anything. But luckily, I met through the fitness industry, somebody whose husband was a chiropractor on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. And he had a small Pilates studio in his practice. And that's where I went to teach a couple times a week for them. And after a while, he didn't want to keep that studio anymore. So he just washed his hands of it, even though I encouraged him now we could build a nice practice together. And I could build the studio to you know more than what it was, but he didn't want anything to do with it. So I took the clients and the equipment, and I moved it into a dance studio, which was an operation at night, but not during the day. So they allowed me to use it during the day. So I myself was still dancing at the time, but continued to teach. You know, I felt if I can teach from 6am to noon every day, and spend the rest of the day dancing. I was doing what I wanted to do. So I did that until I got my space, which I'm still in. And I got that space in the year 2000. And it was a move up because I was able to put every piece of equipment. So I had a Cadillac or a former chair a barrel just about one of everything. A little sitting area, a little desk area, and I started building the business that way.

Mara Sievers 4:12
So you've been in the same space for 20 years.

Gail 4:16
Mm hmm. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I know. So this is interesting about this conversation because we want to talk about Pilates teacher being a teacher, but I'm also a business owner. We can, you know, expand on that in another time and in another interview, or chat, because, you know, that's a whole thing in itself. But yeah, I mean, I've been in the same space and now with COVID and everything that's going on my landlord at that same space has been very patient, not patient but giving you know, he's, you know how to deal with me. He's trying to help me stay In the space during these hard times, so yeah, great, that's been a blessing for me. Absolutely,

Mara Sievers 5:06
I'm really happy to hear that, um, in terms of the talking about being a Pilates teacher, like the business of being a Pilates teacher, I don't mind if we inter connect this conversation in some form or another because I think that's the reality that most Pilates teachers are going to face. Not everybody's going to open their own studio. But even if you don't open your studio and you're hired by a studio, you're still sort of your own business, you're still have to make sure that your students come back to you, you still, you know, I have to word of mouth is the best marketing and stuff like that. So, so it's not like you can take shed all the responsibility in business wise, as a teacher, I think that's the reality that everybody has to face when they start a career like that. Right?

Gail 5:53
Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, yeah. I mean, I learned kind of the business of running the studio as as it expanded. And every year, I felt I learned a little bit more. But yeah, the teachers are a really important part of the studio. And you know, if I wouldn't do anything different, I started with no, like, administrative staff. So that the teacher, you know, I felt if I was doing a 5050, with instructors, it was good for both of us. However, it's really a high percentage. So unfortunately, I know a lot of Pilates teachers out there, they don't like what they get paid, and they don't like how many hours they have to work. But the honest truth of it is, it's really about 30 plus percent, not 5050. That was way too generous of me. And I learned that after I, you know, I built a staff, of administrative team and instructors, and, you know, there are a lot of taxes that go along with that. And business expenses, people think there's zero overhead, but that is not true. And so, I, I've really created like jobs for people. You know, my instructors have been working for me for a lot of years. And, you know, they get paid time off. And they it's like a real job, you know, they may have other jobs and work a little bit on their own, but as well, but they work for me significant amount. And we work on client retention together. That's it together thing I don't come out of the picture. 100%. But the instructor is a big part of the client retention.

Mara Sievers 7:42
I love that. I mean, I love that it First of all, I agree to everything you saying? I love the emphasis on the collaboration, because that's such an I find that is so important. And again, most teachers who start don't see that like just like you said, most teachers think, you know, they should earn more, they should get paid more, they just see the number that the studio takes in from the client. And they think that should them but yeah, we'll see that how much rent costs, and how much the equipment costs and any administrative tasks, like you say, so it's, there's a huge overhead and and the more the more we talk about this, the more accepted hopefully it will be. And and because what happens is if a teacher is unhappy, or they think they can do better on their own, and they're just going to open up the space, and then it sort of turns into competition instead of collaboration. And I think it's especially in those times that we're in right now, we need more collaboration, right? And more just, yeah, share the space, and we can share overhead that's such a weight off of everyone's shoulder.

Gail 8:53
Well, there's there are a lot of points that go along with that, because I have a friend, for instance, that had to take the work away from his instructors, and work independently, and take most of the clients himself so that that could happen. But one of the positive notes on the way I run my business is that my teachers have worked all through COVID that we've, you know, turned into into zoom and added some classes. And there, nobody's out of work, you know, a couple of people because of circumstances, but you know, it could go either way. So I think there's a lot to be said to having a teaching job where you're paid maybe a little less than you want to be paid. However, is it enough work that's going to sustain you through the ups and downs of the climate of the world. And it's really important because in the end, you'll have a job. You know, if you're just an independent teacher with 10, or 15 clients that come every week, you know, those clients might go away, or those clients might travel a lot, and you're always having to replenish them when the studio setup that i have i replenish them, the clients for the instructor, for the most part. And the other point I want to make quickly is when independent instructors are working independently, I talk a lot about how they're set up as a business. And if they're set up properly, and I'm sure in today's climate right now, teachers are teaching, getting paid and maybe not set up as a business properly. And I've come to Crossroads with this Crossroads with the state of New York, on that topic, and I've learned my lesson. So, you know, what I hope for people going into independent businesses is that they will set themselves up as the state wants them to set up so that the taxes are

Mara Sievers 11:02
being paid. What What do you mind explaining what you mean with being set up as a business?

Unknown Speaker 11:09

Gail 11:11
I don't know how like, like, I'm obviously I'm a corporation. So my my studio is mind your body, Incorporated. I'm Incorporated. I hire instructors as employees, I pay all their unemployment insurance, all their social security, I pay full taxes, they're on payroll. And

Unknown Speaker 11:35
I'm sorry, what

Mara Sievers 11:35
exactly was your question that and how, how the teacher how the independent teacher has to set themselves up?

Unknown Speaker 11:42
Yeah, well,

Gail 11:44
it's different from state to state. So the best thing I could say, or, for instance, in New York, you you know, you just have to pay the unemployment and the social security. And I'm not really sure if I think it's safest to have like an LLC, or something independent of just yourself, and to treat it like an entity. So to be your own entity, and not just be an individual collecting money, like DBA not doing business, not just doing business as but to actually form an LLC or something. Yeah, I mean, if you if one is going to really work independent, I think that's the best way to do it. And it doesn't cost anything more. But you know, you'll be on the radar of the city and the state, of course, but everybody has to pay taxes. And eventually, if you think about like a waitress, you know, eventually they're going to want to see where that tip money is coming from, because they know you're making tip money. And if you're not claiming that tip money, you know, eventually it will catch up with people. I mean, it caught up with me for certain reasons. And I was happy actually, even though I had to pay back some money to the government, because I wasn't paying taxes. I was I was treating my instructors as independent contractors. And the state fought me on that and said, No, they are not these are employees. And it ended in their favor, but I was happy because now my business is set up. And yes, people do want to get paid more all the time. And I have a system where I increase their rate. Every other year. They as I said, they get paid vacation time and sick time. And they have had jobs through Storm Sandy through the covid 19 pandemic. And a couple of other things 911 I, you know, I went to my studio thinking nobody would be there. And everybody showed up. They just wanted a place to be and not deal with it. So I'm kind of happy now with the way it's set up. And I know everybody can't do businesses and studios, but I do recommend that the independent instructors set themselves up to their liking. But in terms of how the state wants to see it, you know, we shouldn't just be making money and putting it in our bank account. Yeah, I

Mara Sievers 14:31
mean, you because you've been in business for such a long time. I guess you've you know, you've been one of those people who has made all the mistakes so that we can learn, you know, and we like I set up when I had my studio I set everybody up as an employee right away because I was like, I'm not gonna I'm not gonna even even though you can fight it right. A lot of people say like, yeah, you can see it under this lens or under this lens, but there was really no disadvantage for me. To set them up as employees other than the paperwork and stuff like that, right. And so I did that. But yeah, I did that I was able to mark decision because I've heard about it and and you know, other people have been in, in the situation before. So thank you. But I'm sorry, you had to go through that. I

Gail 15:16
know I, you know, if I had to do it over again, I would have done it the way you did it. And I think I was not doing it that way for the benefit of the instructor because, of course, the instructor doesn't want the money taken out of the paycheck. So I was really trying to support the instructor. But in the end, nobody's paying the taxes. I know, they weren't paying their full taxes, and then I wasn't paying them. And really, because they were working in my facility, you know, with my clients, for the mind your body studio. That responsibility falls on me, not them.

Mara Sievers 15:55
Yeah, I hear you.

Gail 15:56
But I got through it. That was Yes. That was worse than any of the storms. But I got through it. And now I'm successfully getting through COVID hopefully, with a business. How are things for you right now?

Mara Sievers 16:09
Just briefly, are you teaching in studio at all in person at all, or only virtually right now?

Gail 16:15
Yeah. So back to your first question. Like, when I expanded the space a little bit, I was able to put like towers, and I changed it to tower and reformers. So I was really one of the first studios to offer group equipment classes. So I was going to say, so now that we're we're back in the studio a little bit, I put those a lot of classes on zoom, of course, like everybody, right, quick education on the zoom. And then we're back in studio with small trios. So you know, building retention, I have clients that I've been working with for many years, some of them 2025 years, from other studios that I worked at. And yeah, so we're in studio a little bit, and we're still zooming, which I think will go on for a while. But luckily, a lot of people like followed us, and even those who are out of the city are with us through zoom. And I even reconnected with some of my former clients that moved out of the city. You know, one ladies in Connecticut, one lady is out in California. So that's the fun. That's the fun part of this, I guess. Yeah. Yeah, that's

Mara Sievers 17:39
true. I believe that there was something else I wanted to add to earlier, just real quick, because I think it's important to say, to add to the to the topic of collaboration, how important that is. The other thing is, like so so why it's a benefit to work in a team over, you know, just doing your own thing is a for instance, like when I again, when I had my studio for the first five years, I didn't take any vacations, because I was so afraid of like, if I'm not there, nobody's going to teach classes, I have to cancel everything. And I don't want to upset people's rhythms. And

Gail 18:16
oh, you know,

Mara Sievers 18:17
What mistake you always take.

Gail 18:21
I did that.

Mara Sievers 18:21
I put students sort of in my business ahead of my own sort of mental well being is fine, right? So um, so when you're working at a studio, it's much easier right? To get a sub either if you're sick, or if you want to take time off, you can get a sub right, potentially better. And when you're by yourself, it's like, either nobody's teaching.

Gail 18:47
Yeah, like their client goes without even doing a session. So yeah, I mean, I I'm very fortunate. And, you know, and I know, it's from the efforts, I put so much effort in building a community within my studio, as well, because that transfers into the clients. And you know, so everybody's working we are we really do work together. So yes, you can get a sub, and then you can kind of work when you want to not work. You know, I'm not saying that people can take whatever time off they need to But yeah, I mean, I have a policy where each client gets introduced to at least two instructors, right from the beginning so that when their instructor goes away, they can request the other instructor and we support each other's work. And we get to know each other's work. Everybody works a little differently. So yeah, that is a very good thing and you can go away with ease and enjoy some time off and time off is so important. I mean, we're all teaching self care and mind body. So you know, we are the leaders in that we have to have a lot of self care. And time off to clear the head, you know, to set yourself in motion to have the energy to teach. It's like, you know, you put that oxygen mask on yourself first, and then you help others. Totally. Yeah, totally. I

Unknown Speaker 20:17
hear you.

Mara Sievers 20:18
Thank you so much for mentioning that. So now, what is your favorite aspect of being a Pilates teacher?

Gail 20:26

Unknown Speaker 20:27
you know, like all US teachers, I love Pilates. I love the whole system of it. I love that, you know, 20 years, 50 years who, you know, people have been doing it, it's never going away. There's a statement I like to say which actually, a friend of mine said to me once that Pilates became trendy, but it's not a trend. So instructors get to know that and what I love the most about teaching is when the clients start feeling that and then you know, it's coming, because they're like, do you have any more time? Can I come a second time a week, or they start doing two or three lessons and they you just know there will be with you for a long time. Because they, they kind of get it? You know, they they fell in love with Pilates like we all did. So that's one of my favorite things about teaching. Absolutely.

Mara Sievers 21:25
It has so many layers, right? That's, that's so different in terms of plot. I think that's how Pilates is different from other forms of exercise is off with other forms of exercise, you learn learn something, and you learn a little more, and then it repeats itself. But it was Pilates. It's just if you just dig deeper, and you get rid of one more layer and one more layer, and you just it becomes this completely thorough, you know, living thing, and it's just, that's what's amazing. You get surprised every day you go to the studio, something happens that has never happened before or you learn something new, and it's just it never gets it. I shouldn't say that. To be fully honest. I don't want to say it never gets boring. It gets repetitive, because there's only so many exercises and stuff like that. And we tend to repeat those exercises a lot. That's every job I think has there.

Gail 22:17

Mara Sievers 22:18
well, but still, there are still moments where, like, you get blown away by what it can do. Right?

Gail 22:27
Yeah, well, so my thought on that is that it's a movement technique. And not to scare people and not to make people who have never done Pilates before feel like they can't touch it. Because we all have human bodies and all human bodies can do that movement. But it is a movement technique. And you know, it's I don't know, I mean, my dance training was in the Martha Graham technique. I've had, you know, trained in New York City. So, Martha Graham, Jose lamone, Merce Cunningham, those are movement techniques. So it's repetitive work, practice over a lifetime. And it gets better and better. And then the layers start coming on. And, you know, at the end, some, you know, professional dancers are, Einstein said, the athletes of God. Okay, they're not heard that. Yeah, there's a poster of what that quote, I love it. dancers are the athletes of God. And we become an advanced Movers. So we don't all have to be that professional dancer or athlete, but it's being an advanced mover and that transitions into how we move in everyday life. You know, how we're getting up how we're walking up the stairs? How you're walking? Yeah. So I think this is for me why it's, it evolves constantly, day to day in the studio and in our own lives and teaching. That's awesome.

Mara Sievers 24:12
So then what is your least favorite aspect of being a Pilates teacher?

Unknown Speaker 24:18
Okay, I thought about this question. She sent me the question. But I thought of it because I wanted to be careful not to answer as a studio owner but as a Pilates teacher because I am more in love with teaching Pilates than owning a studio. It's my passion. But the least favorite thing. Oh, okay, is when people don't care about the technique so much, or the specifics and they want to just do have regular workout which I always go to what people want to do. I'm not going to force anything. thing down people's throats. But you know, I kinda I think we've been in after a while like this would be better if you can put a little more weight on your outside into your foot or something like that. But that's my least favorite when they're like,

Mara Sievers 25:15
I don't really want to do that, you know? So for somebody who let's say somebody who doesn't do Pilates, or it doesn't sort of know what we're talking about, would you say it's the extra layer of detail that they're not interested in? Or what is it that they those people don't want?

Gail 25:34
I think I think he said it, they don't want a lot of detail. And so I've made an agreement with myself that when somebody comes in with that kind of perspective, I say to myself that even bad Pilates is good Pilates. And I understand even though I've met only Ramat Ramana wants, but I think that she said that like even bad Pilates is good Pilates. So it was okay, like, I'm okay with it. So Fine. You don't have to do it perfect. But we're moving, we're breathing. If people are enjoying it, how they are feeling, I think it's great. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's not about perfection, it's just about the practice, it's about the journey, you know, maybe that person's journey is going to be slower, or just a little bit different than, you know, the dancer who comes in for an injury and then loves Pilates and keeps doing it. You know, I mean, everybody's different. And now, happily, so many different people are doing Pilates. And I think it's great and everybody's body is different. So as an instructor, you have to really train your eye and your mind to look at the body in front of your face for that moment.

Mara Sievers 26:58
That is one of the that's one of the difficult parts. When you learn Pilates. When you train and become a teacher. That's the hard part to learn to see the differences and how each body moves differently. And what's different about it, recognizing that and then correcting it. But that's where I think that's where it stays interesting. Once you've learned it. That's when it's actually interesting, because it's not cookie cutter. Right. So but but it lives and it requires your intelligence. And that keeps you alert and interested in the

Unknown Speaker 27:35
read. Yeah. And like I just started doing this little thing on Instagram because I also wrote cycle, and none of my friends who cycled to anything like this, and they think I'm like a contortionist. And you know, this yoga master and I like Oh God, you guys Forget it. So I started putting little stretches and exercises Pilates for cyclists. And I tagged them all. So now they have to, you know, come on to their stomach stretch up. So I'm challenging them to do some of these movements and yeah, they'll look really good. And doing it and it'll feel I'm sure really strange at first, but again with a little practice it'll feel better look better get better and you know, maybe they'll want more I'm hoping

Mara Sievers 28:26
the The other thing that I wanted to add on to what you had said earlier about you know when somebody's not ready for the level of detail and how as long as they move it's good or you know even bad Pilates is good Pilates the there's a quote by Joseph Pilates I believe that goes. Chain. Haha, I just had it and I forgot it. Change happens through movement and movement heals. Yes, I

Gail 28:53
love that.

Mara Sievers 28:54
Oh, it's just yeah, gotta move. It doesn't have to be perfect because sometimes the like we can so micromanage and so over analyze and stuff movement that you could potentially hurt a student not not hurt hurt, but like, if they're trying too hard, and their body's not ready for it, all that detailed instructions is cannot be implemented. Right? So and then they might strain to try and make something happen that their body just is unable to do right helpful either.

Unknown Speaker 29:28
That's a it's a great point. Because what is a very important skill in teaching is learning how to break that down. So let's just take a bridge, right if you want somebody to do an articulating bridge where you roll up from the pelvis and roll down from the chest, that could be so far into somebody which for several weeks, you may just do a cat tail curl Yeah, yep, and a release moving the pelvis, just the idea of a pelvis is strange.

Unknown Speaker 30:12

Unknown Speaker 30:14

Gail 30:17
looking at even talk about the hips and the pubic bone. I was just giving my mom a little mini anatomy lesson, because she heard her back. So you know, just and I'm like, yeah, Mom, there are classes where I like touch my pubic bone and my toxic at the same time, you know, I mean, it's just strange, you know. So to do a full bridge, that's where it initiates from. So and no, it doesn't have to be a micro movement that way. But if you want to break down, say that, that, to me that flexion in the pelvis goes into short spinal. So without exercise, you're lifting your own body weight, you have to learn how to curl your tailbone, and opposed to your curl to lift your own bodyweight. It's essentially the same movement. So the skill of learning how to break it down, and I were, I like all the studios I've worked in, and the mentors have all been under the lineage of karula traer. So she broke down from, you know, she worked with Joseph Pilates. She broke down the movement in her certain way. And when I first learned in that one first studio that I worked at, I used to think, Wow, she modify is everything. But I needed her to break down the movement. And now I work with Deborah lesson who worked with Corolla. And you know, it's just breaking down the movement until you can do the full movement. And it's To me, it's genius. I love it. I love teaching that too, because it gets people to move better.

Mara Sievers 31:52
Nice, nice. Love it. So what if you were to hire a Pilates teacher? What are the most important skills that you're looking for in a teacher?

Gail 32:07
Okay, so I don't really look for the most skilled instructor because I feel that it's a process. And it's great if somebody comes in and they have a lot of experience, I love it. But if they had less experience, that would be least important to me. Because I feel we can work together and train, I can see where they're at, in their teaching, give them a lot of tips, and maybe even train I, I found in the beginning just to go off on a small tangent that a lot of people get trained on the reformer, when they come in, I have no idea how to use the tower Cadillac. So I would be prepared to teach these instructors tower and Cadillac. Because I you know, obviously we want them to use it. I think personality, openness, a team spirit, somebody who wants to collaborate and work together as you were talking about, you know, somebody who's not I say no divas, you know, somebody who's not, you know, really just wanting to be a superstar instructor, somebody who really loves the work and is willing to learn. I would say that's more important than you know, because it takes years to be seasoned.

Mara Sievers 33:31
I think it's great that you say that because I think that can take the fear away from many a new instructor because I think there's this thing going on in Pilates where every instructor things, if they only took one more course of continuing education, and they only knew more about name it like scoliosis, oh, any of those pathologies. If they only knew more about that, then they would be a great instructor. Everybody thinks that and it's this perpetual kind of cycle. So I love that you say that, because that's not what it's about. skills will help you but as you say, it'll take a lifetime to build those skills. You just got to be open and curious and ask questions and ask for advice if you need it. But if you're a friendly person and you care for people, then you can be successful.

Unknown Speaker 34:20
Yeah, and it's that reminds me of that quote, that is, the more you learn, the more you Yeah, understand, the more you need to know, you know, like Laura, you

Mara Sievers 34:35
know, the more you know what you don't know.

Unknown Speaker 34:37
Yeah, and I mean, it's, it's that life process where you're always learning. I mean, let's take pregnancy for example, in Pilates training, everybody touches on pregnancy. prenatal postnatal. So I myself thought, yeah, I know enough about pre NATO. And then one of my instructors focused her training on NATO training. And I thought, Oh, she's we know nothing, I know nothing about this, I am giving her all the pregnant people because I don't want to damage anybody. So there's so much in every topic. scoliosis is a huge topic, I understood it a little bit, too. But take another class, read another book. And you'll see that there's more and more. And the other thing is that the world is learning more and more about these things. So the more people know, the more they're writing about it and educating about it. So there's always going to be more to learn. Yes, not a specific thing. Like even scoliosis, or every pregnant woman is different. Right? Every scoliosis is different. Yes, yes. Every injury, you know,

Mara Sievers 35:57
we'll write about that. And I think that's why. So as part of my teacher training, that's what's that is what the most important thing for me is that a teacher, a new teacher learns how to just read a body and meaning they recognize what is actually happening in the body, because it's totally different, to say what should be happening in a certain exercise, and what is actually happening when a person does this exercise. And that, to me, is the most important skill because it It talks to what you just said, you can then recognize, okay, this person with stenosis has these issues, and this person with stenosis has totally other issues, even though they both happen to have stenosis, right? It's a totally different thing. This, this is a little pet peeve of mine, too, is because you mentioned like cycling, and, you know, there's all these from the marketing perspective, it's really smart. I agree to do, let's say classes, you know, Pilates for cycling, and Pilates for swimming. And you know, but the reality is, if you have five cyclists next to each other, they're all completely different. Yeah, maybe a tiny tendency of, okay, they have this forward posture, and they use the quads, and you know, but but the reality is, the differences might actually be more, there might be more differences between them and what they have in common. And so I always laugh about that, and I get over it, but, but that's the reality.

Unknown Speaker 37:29
That's a really good point. And it brings me back to where and how I was trained in Pilates, because it was intended to be done privately. And then you went into semi private. So yeah, I had to first Pilates Reformer classes on the Upper East Side. But was that a? Is it a great thing? I was like, Okay, I'm gonna put some blinders on for this. So I can have a successful business. But you're right, I mean, people did private. So they would say, you know, you're going to do the Mara stretch, that's what Mara does, because of her back, right. So you go do the Mara stretch today, that's how teachers were back then, you know, like, you would get a an exercise or a stretch with your name on it, because that's what you needed to do for what you were experiencing, whether it was an injury, or, you know, just particular to your body, you know, and if you talk to other instructors, which I'm sure you will, who have some lineage training down, and you probably have yourself, you know, you know, that these teachers kind of made your workout specific, the thing is, they made you independent, not dependent on your teacher, so that you can go on a mat for 10 minutes and do your exercises that were going to help you stay strong. So today, I find a little bit, one of the least things I like is that clients are learning or not learning how to be independent. Yes, I really try to teach it. And I try to explain this to them that it's important for you to get independent with your movement. So that I don't want to become obsolete to you. But I don't need to show you how to do this every single time. Like learn how to do that learn a little bit become independent, and then we can actually get more done each session. Yes, yes.

Mara Sievers 39:27
I love that. You say that. And I don't want to start a whole go down a whole rabbit hole because that's, that's my subject right there. I'm just gonna throw it out there real quick, cuz you might not be aware, the sooner that I used to own in New Hampshire after six years. So just for the last two years that I own, that I switched the complete studio to an open studio model. So everybody was independent. I was that's exactly it is like. Yes, and I love that you just said that without me, you know, cueing you, anything like that? Because that's it and the last thing that you That you just said was like, because we can get more done. So when I then actually work with people, I get more done because they're owning the movement in a much deeper level than me constantly talking him through everything. And there's a process. I'm not asking somebody to remember everything from the first lesson, but, but ultimately, that's what it has to be. I totally agree. So thank you.

Unknown Speaker 40:21
I go backwards someday, you know, I've expanded I'm not like a huge thing. But you know, I have a pretty big business. And at some point, I see myself going down the other direction more towards work, where you're doing like open studio, and I

Mara Sievers 40:37
get it that you that it's so hard sometimes to balance the financial side with the the work side, I get that. So you know, there's no judgment or anything like that. And I know that a lot of people love the community aspect of group classes. A lot of the people are not ready for the independence. So you know, that's the other thing too. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 40:56
things are not so. Right. And that's probably what I was saying earlier.

Mara Sievers 41:01
Yeah, there's there, there's both always I totally get it all

Unknown Speaker 41:04
fun. And it's just a matter, I think of where you are as an instructor, or what would want you know, I love having people around. You know, I love being around with a lot of, though I love how I have the community aspect. But you know, give me 10 years, and I may not want to be around so many people. You know?

Mara Sievers 41:30
Yes, yeah, you're right. There's a development in us to like, I used to teach a million math classes and a million group classes. And then I just craved working one on one with people, right? And so that's just what I decided to do.

Unknown Speaker 41:43
Yeah, that'll change to the teaching and where everybody is in their teaching will also change. And that will direct you as a teacher into the next level or whatever you want to call it.

Mara Sievers 41:58
You're absolutely right. That's great. One more question. What do you think you? What do you wish you had known before you became a Pilates teacher?

Unknown Speaker 42:12
Okay, this is a great question. And I I think what I wish I had known is I just wish I had known about it a little more, I kind of went into it blindly. I didn't know the history. I you know, like, for instance, this is a great example, actually, I was in this studio and this client who I still keep in touch with, who's just two teachers. She would always come in and talk about Kathy grant. Do you know Kathy grant? Oh, she's amazing. Oh, no, no, I haven't. And, you know, I was working with some great people, but I never met her. So I wish I had actually done more research. Read about people not that there was a lot out there. I mean, today, we have Instagram, and everything that really wasn't out there in the late 80s when I started teaching, you know, but I do wish I researched me maybe talk to people a little bit more. Instead, I was like, just ready to go at obviously, I like started the business right away, you know, and so instead of like jumping in independently, I just wish I had sort of visited more spaces, read more got to know the history more. And I think for me, I just would have had even more mentorship at an early age,

Mara Sievers 43:40
you know, how would it have changed your experience? Would it have changed it? or Why do you think you know,

Unknown Speaker 43:48
you know, it took me about five years, I always had great, great mentors. I love them all. But I'm started with Kelly cane. And then I went to Deborah lesson. So those are like two amazing mentors right there. But it took me a long time to find the groove of the balance of what I needed, as you know, somebody who really wants to move and you know, I was already a trained dancer. So I wanted to, you know, do advanced work and stuff like that. I wanted to roll it fast kind of thing. But I just think I would have had a little more direction and a little more of the history on about the about the technique. You know, I'm sorry to call it a technique, but that's what I think it is. You know, I just, I just think it would have maybe deepened my practice even sooner than it did. You know, I feel very fortunate people I worked with, because again, they all just, by chance had the same lineage but i think that i will would have liked to have known the history a little sooner because, you know, now those people aren't here anymore. You know, many of them are gone. And I saw shoot, I wish I had known I was right there doing Pilates. But why didn't I know that person? You know? Or why didn't I get to know that person?

Mara Sievers 45:21
We're focused on one thing, and there's also only so much to absorb. And yeah,

Unknown Speaker 45:25
I hear you. Yeah. But you know, if somebody has that, like, shoot up mentality, like I did, like, I wanted to go from zero to 20. Right away, you know, to maybe just sit where you are for a while, be a student, enjoy that time you are a student on, you know, the real masters, Joseph Pilates, you know, people who get trained right away and then want to call themselves master is all little bit false. You know, because we have so much to learn, and just to be humble, and just kind of stay for a while.

Mara Sievers 46:04
Well, there's this as a ballpark. But there's this 10,000 hour rule, right that Malcolm Gladwell came up with a research in his book, outliers. So it supposedly it takes 10,000 hours of practice something to become an expert. I hope. I'm not misquoting that, but and then when you think about it, you know, about 10 years of teaching, I think that proximately comes to that. So then we can maybe start talking about an expert in Pilates.

Unknown Speaker 46:35
Yeah, and you know, and you never know who you're going to meet. So stay open. I met Susanna Martin at conference, and she wrote the book on scoliosis. And when I met her, it really opened my world. Again, I knew this much about scoliosis, teaching it like a real pro, you know, but I met her and then she taught her, her intensive at my studio, and I was just another layer. And, you know, for me, she was somebody who I wanted to latch on to, because she's like, another mentor. So I keep in touch with her now, and it's just another go to person for me. I don't think we could ever end it. The funny thing about Suzanne, is she still thinks of herself as the same way. Mm hmm. You know, she's still, like, a student herself. And

Mara Sievers 47:30
the more we know, the more we know, what we don't know. That's exactly,

Unknown Speaker 47:33
yeah. On part of it. And, you know, I think that you're probably training people to be on that kind of plane. And that journey, hopefully, but

Mara Sievers 47:47
that's a part I think it's more of a personality issue. But yeah, it's definitely good to you know, the reverse is the difficult part. Like the The more you know, the more you know that you don't know, but when you so basically, when you think you know it all you should maybe think that maybe you don't, that's the thing, right? Because the reverse is hard to recognize. Because when you think you know it all. You don't think you might not

Unknown Speaker 48:18
like that's when it gets boring. Yeah, that's, that's when you're like, maybe I need to go take a class and freshen up or, you know, we've all been in that position. And keep the practice like I my advice if I had to give any instructor advice is remain a student. Yeah. No matter how pro you become, just remain a student. Yes,

Mara Sievers 48:40
I totally agree. Even just I mean, taking classes is great. Taking privates is great. And having an outside perspective, but at least keeping up your own practice. Right. And because every

Unknown Speaker 48:50
practice we read, yeah, you know, see what's out there. See who's writing new books. Yeah.

Mara Sievers 48:58
Catching history with biographies.

Unknown Speaker 49:00
Yeah, so a little more history, right. Like how do I let Kathy grant Ron Fletcher I just let them slip by my life as I started my career.

Mara Sievers 49:12
Well, this was wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk.

Gail 49:15
You're welcome. how fun it was. So for You're

Mara Sievers 49:20
very welcome. For those of you who are interested or who do become a Pilates teacher, Gail and I partner in the with the plus encyclopedia teacher training program, so you can go check out Pilates forward slash teacher minus or dash training. And Gail, how can people find you if they want to get in touch?

Unknown Speaker 49:43
You can get in touch with me personally on Instagram. I am the Pilates balm. And my studio on most social media platforms actually on all of them is mind your body and why See?

Mara Sievers 49:57
Awesome. So thank you so much, guys. If you stay tuned for more of these conversations and forget to subscribe to the channel here and click the notification bell so you get a notification when another video is up. And I will see you next time. Bye

Unknown Speaker 50:13
stockmar Thank you


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