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Pilates Instructor Training Bristol, UK

Life as a Pilates Instructor: Nic Lenny of Soul Pilates in Bristol, UK

interviews Jan 31, 2021

Here is another in a series of interviews I did with Pilates teachers 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, the good and the bad.

These are some of the highlights from our conversation:

  • People who are unfamiliar with Pilates often think Pilates training is meant to challenge them and push them towards something that they're not able to do yet, when really we're there to help them and support them.
  • Some people are not ready for the uber-detailed instructions in Pilates. We have to meet them where they are at, back off of precise minute cueing, and give them a bit of what they want, a whole body workout.
  • It's helpful to go into a lesson with a plan, but it's okay if I end up not sticking to it. 
  • What draws many Pilates teachers to starting this career is a strong desire to help people.
  • Why new teachers should try to be a bit less hard on themselves at the beginning. Don't expect, because you're qualified, you're an amazing teacher. But that doesn't mean you're a crap teacher, either. You have all the knowledge and you're going to have more knowledge than your clients. But this is a journey, not through more training, but through experience. All the amazing skills that you see and admire in your tutors and mentors come through practice and through experience, and you will get there as well.



To get in touch with Nic Lenny, visit her studio website at


More posts in this series


Here is the unedited transcription of the conversation:

Mara Sievers 0:02
Hello everyone, this is Mara Sievers Creator of Pilates Encyclopedia. And I am here today with Nick Lenny of soul Pilates in Bristol in the UK. Hi, Nic.

Nic 0:14
How are you today? Really good. Thank you. Yeah, really good. Awesome. So um, so Pilates just became a partner, CEO of the Pilates teacher Pilates Encyclopedia teacher training program. So we're super excited about that. And I'm here just today to have a conversation with Nick about life as a Pilates teacher. How about that? Yeah.

Mara Sievers 0:37
Very excited. Yeah. So why don't you start by just introducing a little bit like yourself and your studio? Like, what do you guys offer anything that we need to know about you in the studio.

Nic 0:50
So I'm based in Bristol in the UK. And I've got two Studios here. One, the one that I'm in now, actually, with our brand new studio, which only got opened for a day and then kind of got put on pause with the year we've had but the other studio we've had for over five years now. And it's based within an osteopathic practice. I don't think you've got them in the States, but basically a medical practice that has lots of kind of complimentary health procedures, acupuncture, physio, all of that kind of stuff is in there. And so because of that the nature of it is it's quite physio based, I guess, quite rehabilitation based. So we have two spaces in there one space, which has got all the full range of equipment, and then one space that we ran sort of small mat classes in. And yeah, I guess the nature I trained with Polestar. So I've been a teacher for about eight years now. And the nature of kind of post I was very, kind of looking at some rehab rehabilitation stuff, although I would argue that everybody probably needs an element of rehabilitation, no matter how fit they are. And so I kind of went in to the studio, not really quite sure what we were ever going to be. But I think the more I kind of assess and really look at what we are, I think it's we're really helping people use movement to reduce pain to feel better in their lives. I think the thing that always surprises me is the mental well being aspect of it too. And, and previous to the pandemic, we were running equipment classes, so small group classes on all the equipment, almost like a Pilates gym, I guess, mat classes, bar, pre and postnatal that kind of thing. As well as actually taking some of our mindful movement approach into some kind of more fitness II things like hits, and things like that, where I feel that actually there is still a need for the same level of functional movement that can often get missed in those classes. So that's where we were, but I suppose now where we are, is our focus is very much on one to one at the moment, and really supporting people through those. That's great. That looks sounds like a pretty big operation you got there. Yeah, you know, it sort of started off with me in a room with a bit of a dream, not a client on my books. And, and previous to this, I was worked in marketing, I was a director of a marketing team. And I'd use Pilates really, I'd kind of discovered Pilates in my mid 20s. And it was the one thing that I stuck with, like I did it every week, I never felt too tired to go ever I when I used to make it part of my lunch break activity. And I loved it so much. And then I got to kind of my late 20s. And everyone around me was doing a marketing a master's degree and maybe looking at marketing and things like that. And I just couldn't probably said a lot about me, I couldn't really think about doing a master's in marketing. And someone said to me, why don't you think about training as a Pilates teacher. And I was like, ah, like, you know, maybe you know, I'd never really seen it as a huge career goal. But I did it started to learn there is so much more to it than I ever thought. And then when I moved to Bristol, actually. And so I lived up in the north of England, I moved down here and then there weren't really any big studios. I actually got to know, the guys who run the practice that I'm now in because I kept getting into back pain because I wasn't doing enough movement in the right way. And then the rest of history really they sort of said to me one day, why don't you think about doing this and took about another year and a half before I kindly felt brave enough to kind of leave that career and literally me in a room on my own. But now and before the lockdown anyway, we had about 20 teachers working with us and kind of being open seven days a week. And then the plan with the new studio is to very much make it a reformer class studio. So we've got nine reformers here. And then we were going to have another kind of 10 teachers on in this space as well. That's amazing. So I have two follow up questions. One that I want to ask later about your marketing background and how that relates to Pilates. I think that's, that's super interesting, at least for me, and I'm sure for everybody else out there too. But the other follow up question right now is

Mara Sievers 4:44
do you guys like how do you so what I love is that you really cover a really broad range right with your students. So you do serve a population that has rehabilitative needs, but then also the opposite.

Nic 5:00
have like hit and just, you know, group reformer classes of people who are healthy, who just want to work out and be fit. Yeah. So do you have some sort of intake process where you sort of screen people and tell them, this is what I would recommend for you? And this is what I would not recommend for you. Yeah, you know, it's a really good question. And I think, you know, ideally, we would always want to see everyone for a one to one, you know, absolutely, you're just gonna get so much more knowledge from seeing them move and what they need and provide really good guidance. But the truth is, you get a lot of people who come straight to a class, and it's one of the things we've had to always work on with the team is when you see someone who comes to a class, and sometimes they've been referred to Pilates, and they've been told to go and do a Pilates class. And so someone who's more experienced than us in their mind, like a physio therapist has said that, and they and they're saying, you know, and so you don't have to tread quite carefully. And you know, some people are absolutely fine in the class, but some people you think, you know, I'd rather you are moving, they're not moving. But the truth is, you're not going to get better in this group class, you need to have some individual attention on what's going on. And then absolutely, and really, that's where the classes came about was to say, when we've worked with people one to one, where do they then go to, you know, and the people that I see you get the best results are people who, who do move to group classes, but always continue to dip into one to ones. So we offer like a telephone consultation service. So if someone is thinking of joining us, they can ring up and talk to us. And then at that point, you know, really, if they've been referred to us, if they're in pain, we really try and encourage them to come for a one to one, but I think the balance has to be that you don't put them off coming to a class at all, because you're like, Well, I'd rather you move and you didn't move. And sometimes it's just about how you pitch that into somebody, especially, you know, I'm sure we'll talk about this, but the reasons people are in pain can be quite deep rooted. And the last thing you want to do is make them feel any more uncomfortable than they might already do. So sometimes a group class can feel safer for a person because they feel like they can kind of hide in it a little bit. But those are the reasons why I want you on your own in the studio, so I can really see you so. So yes, we have a process. But we try and be a little bit flexible, sometimes that process is upfront, sometimes someone comes from one one to one thinking that they can then come to group classes. And we really try and then explain to them and actually usually, at the end of the one to one, they know themselves that they're not ready for a class, which is really important. But sometimes they do come to a class and you do try and you know, manage it accordingly. And just, you know, you try and guide them with your expertise and say, Look, my job is to help you get the best results. And this is what I'm recommending, but you have the choice, you know, unless it's dangerous, which very rarely is. And you know, that's kind of how we handle it. Certainly. Yeah, that's, that's fantastic. I love what you just said,

Mara Sievers 7:51
there was one thing I wanted to ask about, oh, yeah, what I what's interesting is, I love your observation of some people feel safer in a group class because they can hide. And it's so interesting, because a lot of times people are afraid of working with a trainer one on one, because they think you know, now that all the focus is on them, they think they have to be better, when really it's the opposite the one on one experience is so that I as the teacher can change the class slash session to fit you better, versus you have to fit into the mold of the sequence and the exercises that we happen to choose in that class. So it's so interesting that that people have that opposite reaction to a one on one experience, which they might not have with a physical therapist, right, because they go to the physical therapist, and they might think, oh, they're there to help me heal. But it was a Pilates teacher, they think they're there to help me, like feel worse, or something like that, you know, like torture me and push me and push me towards something that I am not able to do yet. And I think that's really true. And I think, you know, there are so many styles of Pilates out there. That Yeah, you can go to some places, and it's very fitness based. And you know, that's fine for what it is. But actually, sometimes I can feel a bit frustrated that you know, and I've had to say, look, we are the experts of movement, I can't do what they can do, but they can't do what I can do. And I you know, I you know, and sometimes some of the things that they're being told to do for me, you know, the five minutes at the end of your physical therapy session that you get as exercises. And I'm like, Well, I wouldn't do that. Let me explain to you why I wouldn't do that, you know, so it's trying to kind of get that expertise across. And the other thing I think people can feel is quite scared of the equipment. And they can feel that the equipment is advanced, oh, I don't want to do a reform or an equipment class. I'd rather do a mat class because I'm a beginner and you again, there's an education piece of saying, actually, you know, the equipment is where we treat all our rehab patients. It's where, you know,

Nic 9:54
you get the feedback and yes, of course you can make it advanced but actually, you know, if your body doesn't Have a movement pattern in it, it's going to be very hard for you to find that on the map with no feedback, and to change that. And really, that's, you know, that's what I try and explain to people, that's really all we're trying to do is provide the nervous system with information. So it is more efficient. That's literally All I'm trying to do. And so you know, the more information I can give it, and that's where the equipment comes. But that can also be a barrier. I think people can think that looks like very sexual, very scary. You know, I hear some really interesting things. And it's exactly that in your life. But yet, they wouldn't have that insecurity going one on one with someone who they feel is more in the medical sector, which is always interesting, I think.

Mara Sievers 10:40
Yeah, absolutely. That's why that's why I love having these conversations, because I think there's so much misunderstanding and misconception going on about Pilates, Pilates is wonderful. But as you said, there are so many different styles. And just because it's Pilates, like there's, you know, there's one on one where you can, we can where you can, like, you know, personalize the program to whatever the person can do. So actually a little tiny little side note, I heard my niece skiing the other week. And so it was really swollen, and really bad. And I'm waiting for my MRI and all of that. But I was able to do a wonderful reformer workout, you know, this past week, because I know how to adapt my program, I know how to do you know, a whole sequence a whole hour practice without even bending or using my knee. And, and that's wonderful, right? That's amazing. I don't have to stop Pilates, I can continue Pilates, I just do a different sequence different exercises. And I think that's just the brilliance of it. So that's a lot of education. I think for all of us in Pilates, a lot of education of the general population of what it is that we do.

Nic 11:46
And I think you know, we were we rebranded last year at the end of last year, actually or the year before. And one of the things that kind of came up is actually being called Soul Pilates can actually have people can have a sense of what that is that might be quite wrong from who we are, and how do we try and get that across. Because Pilates means often very different to what we are the most people, you know, and they feel like they can get it in the same kind of Pilates in a big gym, for example, and things like that. So, you know, it's just a kind of there is definitely you're trying to educate people all the time into why would you go to a specialist studio and spend that kind of money versus where you can get Pilates, you know, for free as part of a gym membership. And they all have a place. And actually, that's how I started Pilates was at a gym, you know, and had a really good instructor, but it was very different from where I got to, and but like I said, I think you know, they all have a place time. And then it's just there's an education piece of how you differentiate yourself. Because, you know, occasionally I've had people coming in, and they really, really want to work out and they don't feel comfortable with some of the stuff I'm trying to get them to do. And there's there's a whole reason Sure, we'll talk about it, yeah, that they're not ready to meet that place in themselves. And they're used to kind of doing a different style. And, and you know, and so that's always kind of interesting, too. And I know that some people they just want to go in, they just want to work out and they want to work out in the Pilates style. And why not like that's, you know, it can be fun. I think the way we do it, it's quite deep the work, you know, it can go into lots of different levels. And so, you know, it's kind of difficult. How do you explain that on your website to someone new when they're looking around?

Mara Sievers 13:23
Nobody? Yeah, people are not gonna understand that. And not everybody will be ready, ready and willing to do this sort of tiny little work I have. I had one student at my studio, who she was wonderful. She came to me with frozen shoulder and she made you know, tremendous progress. And it was really, really wonderful. So she appreciated Pilates a lot. But once she got better, she was like, she kept telling me I hate the small stuff. I hate the small stuff, can I please just do some hardcore work. So you know, you try and do a little bit of both to try and keep her happy and, you know, give her a few more, more challenging things, because that's what she really enjoys, but at the same time, keep working on the fundamental issues, because otherwise she's never gonna break that that barrier, right.

Nic 14:07
And I think that's the balance, isn't it, I think you have to pitch into somebody with what they want. they've paid for that session, they should get what they want. But I also think and feel really passionate about you have to try and drip in what they need, and they might not know that they need. And then I think the other piece to this that has been something that I've always had to work with myself personally is the kind of person that you are. So I am somebody who sits on the stressy end of the spectrum. I like to be at a million miles an hour. So when I go to work out I want to work out a million miles an hour. Is that good for me? Probably not. And actually the interesting thing is when you slow down and you get your nervous system to be more balanced, actually, you'll get more toned, you'll be have less pain, you'll probably lose more weight, you know if you look at the science behind it, but I think that's the other kind of level that's in this is like, Where is that person coming from? What day Have they had that day? And people will want to do whatever feels comfortable to them. So if beasting themselves is what they've always done, and they kind of have this whole, no pain, no gain ethos in every facet of their life, then slowing them down is going to feel really uncomfortable for them. So I think that's, I think a real tricky part of our job, you know, is to pitch it right. And exactly, as you said, like I've had clients like that to where you're like, right, let's go and do this, this and this, and let you get that out of your system. Or sometimes they'll do this, this and this, and they'll feel it for themselves and say, I'm actually not doing this very well. Am I like, no, should we work out how to do it? And they'll be like, Okay, fine. Yeah, I bought into that now, you know, so, I think that's one of the tricky things as a teacher is, especially one on one is reading all of that situation. And, you know, I definitely as I've got more experienced, I really don't lesson plan, I might have a rough idea. But I tell you what, every time I plan, it goes out the door, because somebody walks in, they come in different to how they came in last week, or they, you know, they, what they say to you, or what you see in their body takes you somewhere completely different. And I think, and that's quite, you know, quite full on to to always be kind of planning as you go with people.

Mara Sievers 16:12
totally true. So many good points that you're bringing up. I usually go into lesson with a plan, but I might not end up sticking to it and just say me, yeah,

Nic 16:21
I kind of I've now worked out that I've just have like, a few places, I'd like to take them. And in my mind, I know what that journey would be. But then I can kind of play with it. But yeah, you know, then someone will walk in and say, I fell off my bike yesterday, and I've hurt my back, you know? And you're like, Okay, well, we're probably not going to do all that other stuff, then we'll have a look at that. And, you know, and so yeah,

Mara Sievers 16:41
that's awesome. So what's your favorite aspect of being a teacher?

Nic 16:45
I think, you know, I love helping people, I think I kind of went into this not actually appreciating that side of it at all, I think I had done a lot of Pilates, I was doing a lot of advanced Pilates classes before I was a teacher. And then you know, you go and do your training, and they do something like the pelvic clock, and you're going, I don't even know this, like, what, my goodness, there's so much more to this. I mean, it's a pelvic clock, you know, or, like dead bugs, or, you know, and I think the detail in it. So I think, you know, there's so much more to it. And I think I never really appreciated that through movement, how much I mean, my experience as well, I was I had had a car accident in my early 20s. And I've been left with really severe kind of shoulder pain and pain down into my arm kind of quite normal pain. I'd seen a load of physical therapists, I then through my private medical had gone to see a neurosurgeon, who then said actually is nothing wrong with your shoulder, it's your neck. And, and then he said, Look, you need to maybe have see a pain specialist, and you need to have these facet joint injections, and then maybe the pain specialist said maybe then you'll need to have some surgery where we basically burn the nerve and your neck because I literally could take my arm above my head once. And then that was it, I had so much discomfort and I'm left handed, okay. And I was left to believe that that was my lot. You know, I did a lot of Pilates as a client, I wasn't a teacher, then I did a lot of blogs, as a client, I was seeing physical therapists, I was seeing pain specialists, you know, all that kind of thing. And then I started training with pollster. And then through that training, you know, you have to basically rehabilitate your whole body that's about it, that's kind of very much their thing, you go on a big, big journey. And it can be very frustrating because you think I can't do this, I'm never going to be able to do this. And you're spending an absolute fortune on one to ones going and having them but I tell you what, it really showed me from my own personal experience, like the power of this work, because that is what got rid of my pain. It wasn't one or two sessions, it was a few years, you know, it took me two and a half years to be able to do the extension work over the barrel, you know, but I got there. And now I can do it without really any thought, you know, it's amazing where your body can get to. And I think that for me is what I love about my job is like, you know, when somebody is willing to work with you, and to appreciate, it's not necessarily a quick fix, sometimes you get things quite quickly, but you know, it takes some time. I think that's such a big piece for me. And I think that kind of being a bit of a detective, you know, like I said, people come in and what they're saying is not necessarily what you're seeing, and then movement and things like that, and you're kind of working out and then you know, sometimes the neck will be better. And then suddenly they're talking about something in their hip or their pelvis and you know, things move around their body and you're trying to work with him on that. And for me, that's what I really love. I love the power that we all have and trying to educate people because I think so many people believe this is my lot. And it really isn't like it really isn't and you you know and it's not just through Pilates. I truly believe anything chronic people need to look holistically. And unfortunately that's a bit of trial and error and you have to give things a bit of a fair go. But you know, I think that for me is what I love. I love the power of this work. I love it. I love dealing with people, I actually love, you know, people with long term pain, you'll notice as well. It's not just mechanical, there's lots of stuff going on emotionally, energetically, their family life, all of that. And I don't pretend to be a counselor, and I don't try and do that. But I think being able to listen and to help people understand that that is as much part of their back pain, as what you're seeing on an MRI scan, I think is important. And so that, for me, is what I think I realized literally was my calling, and there is nothing that makes me feel happier than working with those people who they're ready for that journey. And they kind of get it and they're happy to kind of listen to you. And, and, you know, realize that it's not just an hour of exercises that you're going to do that, you know, some of the talking is part of it, and kind of them feeding back is a huge part of it as well. I mean, that's what I love.

Mara Sievers 20:53
Yeah, that's awesome. So many good things. What so what is your least favorite aspect of being a police teacher?

Nic 21:00
You know, I think this is tricky, I think. I think one of the things that is challenging about being a Pilates teacher is I think there's a lot of talk upfront about the training. And then you're a teacher. And I don't think there's very much support thereafter. And I think that's hence why this is amazing that you're doing this series. And I think, you know, you it can feel quite isolating at times, you know, I think that's why being part of a studio is nice, because for all the reasons that I said that I love, you can also be left with clients that absolutely flummox you, and you you know, and you want to ask someone for their opinion, and some thoughts, or I'm certainly someone who I sort of think when I talk. So, you know, it's nice to bounce ideas off. So I think finding that community, I think is important. But also I think, you know, depending on where you end up pitching yourself as a Pilates teacher, I actually think the financial side of it, or the lack of information on that is really tricky. And from my perspective, I was wanting to leave a quite high powered job. And nobody and I asked a lot of people a lot of educated, I kind of just wanted to gauge on the finances, I just, I wasn't wanting someone to promise me a salary, I just wanted to gauge. And I think that can feel, you know, just like, like a complete gap in your knowledge. And so and i don't think that there's a lot of support for the business side. And whether you're an individual teacher, or a studio owner, and even an individual teacher within a studio, like you are your own business. And I think there are skills to that about, you know, some of my teachers say to me, I don't feel comfortable with the selling, I don't see it as selling, I see it as the expertise, like, you know, I would never recommend something that I don't think somebody should do, but people have come to us because they want our support. But you know, there's no training that's as a studio, we do a lot of training like that just to help people feel comfortable in that bit. Because they feel comfortable in the Pilates teaching bit. But then you know, so I think for me, the business and the financial side of it can be frustrating. And in just a lack of understanding like where you pitch yourself how much you should charge, you know, all the kind of those aspects of it can feel frustrating. And I think the other piece is when you have somebody who isn't willing a client who isn't willing to come on the journey, and for whatever reason, and there's a whole host of reasons, but you can really see where they could get to, but for whatever reason, they just kind of miss it, they're maybe not ready to commit, they're emotionally energetically, maybe that's quite scary, place them who knows what their story is. But that can just feel you can feel quite low, you know, you can feel like I've failed, like I should have done better, I should have read that situation better, I could have handled it differently. And so that side of it can feel a bit, you know, so you know, because you're working with people, and people will always have their own things that they're bringing with them.

Mara Sievers 23:47
Absolutely. And it's so hard in the beginning, when you first you know, finish your training, you start teaching real people and you have these conversations about like, are you going to continue and in all this, the selling that you're saying is, you don't know whether it's you whether you did something wrong, or whether the client is not ready. And with experience, like at this point, right in my career. I know whether it's me or them because I know whether I've done a good job explaining what I do whether you know, whatever I know now, but that took, yeah, that takes 10 years to build up the experience to get confident with that. When you're first a new teacher, we can't constantly sort of question ourselves, right? Because there's so much to know about the human body. And we never know enough. So we always left with the feeling of there's probably something I don't know about it aside from all the mental and psychological aspects you brought up and emotional. Aside from that, right. So there's always this doubt that yes, I did something wrong, and now this person doesn't want to continue.

Nic 24:53
I think that's really true. And I think one of the things I love about this work is there's always more to learn. So that can be that's just Really exciting. But that can also be things you don't because I think, you know, you and I see people all the time getting caught up on when I've done this course, I'll be good enough, when I do this when I do this is that there's going to be this magic place. But it's somebody whose confidence is like you said, and you know, you've got to kind of have a confidence in what you're teaching them, not because you're the best teacher in the world, but because you know more than them, and actually allowing them to move in a safe way will have a benefit regardless. And I think, yeah, that's the piece I think people can kind of miss a little bit as well is that, you know,

Mara Sievers 25:32
I love everything like every sentence. I love it. It's so so true. Yeah, totally. I know,

Nic 25:43
I do think people really think that there is this magic formula of trainings equals your some teacher. But some of the best teachers I've seen, are not even the most highly qualified, but they've got something about them that they can feel and read someone and take them on a journey and get them to buy into this experience. And then of course, I'm not saying you don't need the knowledge, of course, the movement. But you know, I've kind of touched upon that part about the other stuff tomorrow, because, for me, I expect the movement stuff to be there, like your train teacher, you should know this stuff. But the other bits are really where I think you truly make a difference to somebody's life, you know, and that bit can be taught to an extent, but I think it's very much someone kind of have it don't say they have something about them. And, you know, that's why some of the best teachers or some of the most popular teachers, some of the teachers who were consistently busy, aren't necessarily the highest qualified teachers at all. And that's just I was saying that just a really interesting thing. Equally, I love all the training, but I think you've got to really balance, how much learning you do and what you're learning about. And don't get yourself too overwhelmed with different tech, because there's so many different takes on this work. And you've got to kind of find your own way through it and take bits of different things together, don't you? And I think I see this some people training all the time, you know, the poster exam, for example, is quite a lengthy processing yours as well, in a really good way. And there's a process there where, you know, you're able to give stuff, some time to breathe, and to get your knowledge up. But then, of course, what people often approached me about is, oh, I've seen this course. And I've seen it. And I often say the same thing I'm like, stick to the training that you're doing stick to the language that you're learning. And then when you've done that, bring in the flavors that you're called to. But otherwise, I think we can just get like, you know, I get people all the time saying, but Nick, how do you teach a roll down? I've seen it taught like 20 different ways. And like, there's like probably 100 different ways to teach it, you know. And so it's kind of finding that balance of the knowledge and the training. And you just feel confident in your work really?

Mara Sievers 27:52
Absolutely. So that's, for instance, one thing that I in my work that I do with the policies, Wikipedia, and also the teacher training program, what's so important to me is that trainees are no new teachers learn that, except that right from the start, there's a million ways how you can do each exercise. That's why you have to understand the anatomy underneath it, you have to understand how the body moves, because each person is their own little universe. So for each person, a movement looks differently, feels differently, even though Yes, we generally have the same anatomy, but there are so many factors that influence what it looks like and what it what it feels like to the person and whether it's helpful. And yet, you know, ultimately, it's a dialogue. Right. So when I think that the soft skills I'm trying to get a little bit more towards like, what is it that you talked about, like, what is it about, you know, maybe an intuition or something that is beyond the fact of the training that you learn. And I think it's basically a dialogue between the student and the teacher, you as a teacher need to see what happens as a result of your instruction, right. And I think that in the beginning is hard, because a new teacher is really focused on sending the message to the client do this, do that, because I've learned in my training, this is how it goes. And then not allowing they don't have the capacity to at this point, right? Because they're over flown with like, output. They're not they don't have the mental capacity at this point to let the information come in, and then make a decision from there, right? Because if I say something, and it results in a different outcome I need to see first of all see that and recognize that it's not what I wanted them to do. And then I need to have my technical knowledge to to discern of what it is that the actually did because the student might have misinterpreted my instruction and done something different than I want it. So how do I write? So there's so many different processes, but basically, it's just, it's just a dialogue. And maybe I just want to talk briefly about what you said about that. Not you don't need another course and it's so true to most people think they're going to be Most teachers think they're going to be financially successful once they have more knowledge and took more courses, right? So they keep taking more courses. And yes, you're right, it does, you definitely need some understanding. But you can learn a lot just from your students by giving yourself permission to go away from the training. So to say, Okay, this is what I learned. But this client can't deal with what's in the book, they can't do it that way. So how can they do it? And even if it's not, right, whatever that means, right? But if they can sort of make it work in their body, then try it. And then as then it's my homework. And my journey is great, you know, in terms of growing as a teacher to go home with that information, maybe look it up, you know, go into my anatomy books and look it up. What could that mean? Which muscle could be affected, right? So I mean, that for my experience, in my journey, I learned by with every single student that I've taught, right, you learn something, you see something that you've never seen before you go home, and, you know, stick your head, my clients

Nic 31:04
have taught me more than any course. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't have courses. I'm not saying that at all. But sometimes what the courses do is add the knowledge and then the education on top of what you're seeing. But some of my most complex clients, I still think of the first guy who ever walked into our studio is still there. And he has taught me more than anyone else. He had had 20 years of pain, he had seen every specialist known to man, he walked into the studio very open and willing to learn I'm there day one of basically, you know, qualification going, I don't really know what I'm doing, to be honest, you know, if I'm really I don't. And I remember just thinking, well, I'll just sort of do the principles and the basics. And you're right, like, at first, you're very much like, this is the cue and this is what it's all about. But as time went on with him and with other people, I think what I've learned is just to step back to say less, and you know, I love to talk, but I always find it funny when apprentices always say to us very much in your sessions, which I think I say a lot, but apparently I don't say much, because I want to kind of like you said, I want to see how something lands in their body. And actually, if they do something wrong, I'm kind of interested Why Why have you done that? From what I've said, what does that say about you? And you know, and I think you don't feel as afraid if you put them on a piece of equipment to do something, and it's just not working, you don't feel as afraid, like just let's get off that let's go somewhere else that's just not working. Whereas at first you feel like that's maybe you as a failure as a teacher, you know, so I think allowing your teachers, your clients to teach you is so important. And you know, when when the teachers asked me for advice, most of the, you know, how do I chant? How do I work with this person, or this is a challenge I'm having with this person? Honestly, my answers are mostly coming from my experience, not from the trainings. Equally, I love training, I do trainings all the time, you know, but I try and I try and really pitch them, I'm interested in stuff that I go, I have a client base that has this problem, yes, let's get them you know, back to that place about being on your own a lot, it's nice to then be in a group with someone who's, you know, got more expertise and more experience in this area and listening to him or her. And then you get to ask questions. And you can say, I've got this client, this is what I see. And then you know, and so suddenly, the whole thing, that's where I think that kind of stuff becomes really valuable. I think where it isn't valuable is where you're basically insecure, and you're looking for a training to provide you with a confidence and a training will never provide you with that you have you know, that's a different for me, it's a different kind of thing they need to work on.

Mara Sievers 33:28
I think it's the experience, right? That you just brought that up. And that's one reason. So my teacher training program, I really want to, I really encourage people only to take my teacher training program if they want to be a full time teacher. Because the reason is, because Paul is actually really hard, like you described, when you described earlier how you dig deeper, you know, I see this as like an elevator going really down deep into the center of the earth and you just with every year that you teach, you go one level deeper, and you explore more and more and more. So there's so much to learn. And the lack of confidence that I think a lot of new teachers have is because they don't have the experience. And in order to get experience, you need to teach a lot of hours. So in order to become a really good, confident, successful teacher, you need to spend at least 2030 hours teaching a week, you know, as many as you can do in the beginning, if you only want to, quote teach, you know, three, four hours a week, you're just never going to get the hours in that you need to feel really confident unless you just teach only mat classes are only reformer classes and you have a set group that's the same and you know, it's, it's different. But

Nic 34:36
and that was definitely my experience because you know, I was in a marketing role. So I found it very, very difficult to get teaching hours in before my exam because I wasn't qualified. So it's very difficult. You know, I had student insurance and I could teach somebody I knew but like in terms of like you said, being able to see enough people that was really, really tricky. So really, it was that day one that I talked about. That's really when it started I kind of always said it's a bit like learning to drive Isn't it like you learn to Drive, and then suddenly you pass your test. And then you're out in the car on your own. And you're like, Oh, right, this is kind of where I learned to drive now, like, I can technically drive, and I think it's exactly the same. So for me, it was absolutely suddenly being full time into it, and being bombarded with, you know, also, when you're training, you tend to work with a lot of other Pilates teachers. And when you're working, that's not what you get, and you get such a vast array of people. And, and, you know, you just never experienced anything like that in the pure training. And I think, you know, that's the other piece that I think is quite missing is, you know, I mean, I know, you can come and do apprentice hours, I get that. But you know, I know some studios, I kind of almost take on apprentice teachers, where I guess they're paid a little bit less, I'm not sure of how it works, but they're brought on and they're under somebody. And you know, there's I'm sure there's a kind of process there. And I think, I think that's how it used to be a long time ago before a lot of the official things came in. But actually, I think that's kind of needed, because it is a vocational training. And I think sometimes, literally being able to work with real people supervised in some way, is really important, you know, because that's when you learn that it gives you the confidence. It's the

Mara Sievers 36:07
thing, like there's two examples, first of all, so that's why I'm so excited about the hybrid training that we're offering. Because people you know, trainees study online, they study at home, that's all good, they learn the coursework, they learn all the theoretical stuff, but then they are in a real studio with real clients like you just describing, right? And they can, they can get really experienced, like one of my trainees currently, it's bless her heart, like, she's having a hard time because especially right now, and as you said, you know, first of all, in this experience is so she has to do zoom right away, which is harder. And then also, she, there's not a lot of clients, like you said, you know, who you can, like, convince to let me teach you again. So the client that she's working with a lot is, has just a lot of, you know, physical limitations going on. So she's, she's really being sort of tested right now. Because he basically can't do anything that's like in the book, she has to modify everything. So it's hard in the beginning, but it's such a good learning experience, it really prepares you for real life, versus I remember, yeah,

Nic 37:09
cuz I remember, like qualifying and you know, I don't know, maybe the studio been open a few months anyway. And I go back to this client that I talked about, similar kind of a lot of a lot of issues. And I remember, you know, with where you're training to kind of do your six week plan and your 10 week, plan your 12. And I kind of like rang up my tutor, and I was like, I'm never going to progress this. And she said to me, she goes, the truth is, Nick, most people will never progress. Forget all that stuff, I have to understand that you understand how to progress it. But if you can give that person a pain free movement experience every week, and you can make teeny, weeny, weeny changes. So for her to be getting that at this stage, is quite a lot to ask, isn't it?

Mara Sievers 37:47
It? Guess we all have to learn it at one point, right? Yeah, but at least you know, during the training, you have the support, and you can keep asking your teacher and you don't feel like oh, now I'm certified. I'm supposed to know it, sort of, you know.

Nic 37:59
And I actually think that's what's really lovely about your course, actually, because some of the physical courses, you don't actually get that in between support from the physical weekend. So yes, you get these great physical weekends, but then you're kind of like, left to it. And, and depending on where you're coming from, you know, you're literally brand new to this kind of training, it's a big ask and to, you know, to have partnerships with real life, people you can see, or people like yourself to be able to kind of have I mean, I think that's amazing. And I think that's, that's why I'm excited to partner with you on this, because I think that's not really on offer, really, you know, and so that's what people need, like you said, is that for the confidence building, because actually, that's how you build the confidence is to ask questions and to learn, right, and maybe to realize that what you were doing was the right approach, as well, sometimes, you know,

Mara Sievers 38:46
what's the other part that I actually really love about the hybrid situation that we're in right now. So as part of her training, she has to submit a video of me. So she basically teaches a zoom class or a zoom session to her client, and she sends me the video and I get her feedback, this feedback experience, because I have the video and the recording, I can explain exactly what happened, you know, after the fact, in every single exercise and how, you know, she could have fixed it in a better way. In a live experience. You never can do that. I mean, I gave notes at the end of you know, such a such a supervised session, sort of, but it's already been passed, and the client is not there anymore. And you don't want to talk in front of the client. You don't want to make anybody feel bad about their body and you don't want them to wait around. You know, it's awkward when you talk third person about somebody who's in the room. So the fact that we can do this via video is it's so amazing. I mean, she loves it. She told me how much she loves the feedback because I can, you know, use my cursor and I can exactly draw lines and so it's it's really, that's a huge benefit. I know that there's some downsides with not being in the same room with a person but there are upsides to

Nic 39:58
I think what that person process does, though more than anything else is you're actually able to assess the teacher. And I think sometimes you're truly seeing them in their natural environment for want of a better phrase, you know. And that's really powerful, I think, because you can't help but be in like exam type mode when you're in front of a tutor who's watching you. And you usually specifically pick the kind of person you want to work on who you think, Well, you know, whereas actually, to be kind of forced into being assessed as a teacher means that you become a better teacher, not just someone who can pass an exam and take a load of boxes, you're actually now assessing and feedback, you know, feeding back on how they behave as a teacher, not just how they behave, and teaching, you know, a repertoire. And I think that's the other big piece for me is that Pilates is often seen, but it's so much more than just exercises. Anyone can teach exercises, I don't think everyone can teach Pilates, I think, you know, movement and the kind of strategy of movement and how you find things in your body. And, you know, learning connections that you might have lost a long, long time ago, is really amazing. And I think you know, that's what you get to do in that experience of watching those zoom classes, you get to see the whole experience that they're creating, and not just marking exercises being taught,

Mara Sievers 41:20
right, as well as themselves, right. I love the fact that you mentioned Yes, they're not under the pressure. Like there's nobody else in the room when the teaching that class. So they don't feel like they're being watched, even though they you know, are going to be later on, but it's a little bit more free, and you can be a little bit more yourself. I think that's really good.  So I want to ask a question that I think is gonna also tie us in with the other point about your least favorite part about being a Pilates teacher with the financial issue. So what do you wish you had known before you started your training?

Nic 42:08
I think probably the conversation that we've just had, you know, don't expect, because you're qualified, you're like this amazing teacher. But that doesn't mean you're a crap teacher, either, like you are you, you have all the knowledge, you're going to have more knowledge than your clients. But this is a journey, not through trainings, but through experience. And the only way you can do that. And as long as you always fall back on the principles, you will always give someone a positive experience. Like that's just a fact. But all the other stuff that you might see and admire from your tutors, and people you work around that just comes through practice and through experience, and you will absolutely, you'll get there as well, you know. And so just to kind of be a bit less hard on yourself at the beginning. And I think it's probably something really, and I think you

Mara Sievers 42:53
said than done, right? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 42:55
Yeah. Yeah.

Mara Sievers 42:58
I want to talk real quick about the financial aspect that you had mentioned, because the misconception I think, that I see a lot of trainees have is they look at the prices that the studio charges, you know, maybe here in the US, maybe you charge somewhere, it's a broad range, but maybe they charge between 60 and $100 for an hour. And you think that this is what you will get paid. And that is just not it. There is overhead, there's rent, room rent, there's equipment, there's the studio owner, who does all the marketing and all of that. So there is you cannot expect to make all of the money per hour that you're that that the studio charges for that. I think that is a first misconception, a lot of people think they're going to make a lot more than they actually make. The other misconception I think there is and you can correct me if I'm wrong in a second, or if your experience was a different one. And the other misconception is that they think they're going to have a full schedule right away from the beginning, which is not the case. And so you can't expect to have you know, 40 hours a week. And the last thing is, you cannot even teach 40 hours a week. So I would exactly I would always I always recommend don't ever, ever, ever teach more than 30 hours a week that's the absolute max in my book. Yeah. 2020 to 30 hours. That is what I would consider a full time position for a Pilates teacher. So when you do the math, and when you that's the other thing like people don't know how to do the math because they don't get any clear idea right? So I would say as a ballpark divide the amount that the studio charges in half or a third So somewhere I would say between a third and you can maybe get input about that because your studio owner between a third and the and 50% is what the studio is able to pay you not because they don't want to pay more but because there's just not more to go around.

Unknown Speaker 44:54
Yeah, good.

Nic 44:55
Yeah, no, I completely agree. I mean, when I when I left marketing, I opened the studio like this. It was me on my own. And I was in there four days a week, like nine to 8pm. And in my mind, I was doing a four day week job, not a five day week job. So that was like, great. And then you very quickly realize that you cannot do that. And you cannot like absolute I think 25 hours for me is full time it with a teacher. And I think when you go more than that, I think you lose the quality of your teaching anyway, because you're just too tired. Because for all the things we've discussed about how much thinking there is, you know, in a session, how much thinking there is planning a session, like your hours of teaching, and not just the hours that you work? And so I think that's absolutely there. And I think, yeah, the financial side of it, it's very hard, you know, to kind of when you're coming out of it, and what will I be paid? I think, you know, yeah, I kind of think the percentages that you're talking about are absolutely right. And I think the other thing that I have never realized is don't think because you're a studio owner, you're absolutely rolling in it, the margins are incredibly tight. And, you know, unless you probably run a fitness studio with a lot of people in it. But when you want to run something specialist, when you want to run small group classes, one to one, like the margins are really tight, we did a piece of work recently, where we, you know, we were when we were, you know, we've had all had the financial tricky, you know, difficulties we've had this year with the pandemic. And we, we really, were transparent with the team, and we said, Look, you know, we're charging, at the time, we were charging, I think, 57 pounds for a one to one, and I said, Do you know what we make four pounds 88. And that's before, in, so that was kind of the running cost, but it didn't include insurance, it didn't include marketing, it didn't include my time, and I said, you know, so that's where we're at. And actually, as a result of that, we put our prices up a little bit, we were able to give a little bit more to them a little bit more, you know, so it was kind of we were able to do that. But I said, you know, you teach a one to one. And that's what we're making, you know, five, six pounds a session. So I you know, and I, because i think i think i there was a feeling and I might have got this wrong, but I felt there was a feeling from some clients, and from some teachers during the difficulties that everyone's had financially that like, I was sitting on this big stack of money, when the reality was so so different. And, and, you know, the studio, the margins are very, very narrow. And so I think I had kind of come into this thinking, well, I don't just want to work for a studio, you know, I've got a business background, it'd be great to kind of have my own studio, and also I'll have a lot more, you know, ability to earn a decent living to be able to leave my director job that I had before. But you know, it's a bit of a shock to the system, really, because you do me too, you look at the website, figure and you multiply that but you forget, you know, the booking software is like 300 pounds a month, you know, the rent, there's so many costs that come aboard, and the marketing of it, you know, the kind of hours that I give to training teachers and supporting teachers and all of that. I mean, I'm not trying to make it sound miserable, I just think the reality of it needs to be come across, I think also people can also look at the cost of a training course and not realize, you will need more than that, you will probably need to have some one to one sessions, you know, you will need to invest a little bit more in yourself. So I and you know, and then there's all the trainings that we've talked about that you want to do. And so I think you can be left feeling like,

like, Where is the money in this. And I know that like if you were to, you know, very simply look at as an example, like a math class, or let's just take a yoga class Yoga is often bigger numbers in a class and you run the numbers, and you run their training that is cheaper than our training. And you come out with a much better figure, actually, you invest in, you know, 30 40,000 pounds worth of equipment. And yes, you do charge a bit more, but you also then have smaller classes, because you've got, you know, and you're kind of genuinely left going, where is the business case for equipment? And then I come back to, but this is how you get people? Well, this is how you get people better. And what I will say is, we have you know, prior to this year, that's just been, we are people that have been coming to us 345 times a week for a very, very long time. And there's not many studios that can say that, I think because of the variety of things that we do because of how the equipment makes them feel. So I do think Don't get me wrong, I think there's a reason why you do it. But I think sometimes you have to interrogate those figures and be really clear about them for yourself. And, and just the other point that you mentioned about not thinking you'll get a full schedule. I think this is something that people really miss the mark on and I think people either think like if they're running their own thing that it will just come to them or especially when they come into a studio, that like the studio will do all the work and whilst the studio, you know, I hope we do a good job of marketing it and bringing people in each teacher is really their own business. They are their own success. And they have to understand that they have to get those clients to you know, they've come for a reason that they should be very few Leave, really, because there will be, like we said, there are people that for whatever reason, it's not for them, that's fine, you know, but there should be very few. And I think people sort of don't appreciate that, like, if you're, you have to spend some time, nurturing the people that you've got, those people will then talk to other people, you know, giving them the right advice, guiding them in the right way, obviously, giving them a great session and all the rest of it. But you know, the teachers that do that really well get busy. And the teachers that really struggle with that side of things don't. And that's not because they're not a good teacher, it's because they don't understand that piece, you know, and I think that's the real difference.

Mara Sievers 50:35
Absolutely true. Love that you bring that up, because it's so important, like you can't so I think it's, you know, with your situation, that's interesting, but because a lot of I think a lot of people who take a Pilates teacher training program, a lot of them, that's their second career, right. So like, similar to you, myself, as well. So I was I was an actor. So for me, it was always like, on my own my own thing, I have to take care of my own stuff anyway. But people will maybe transition from a more corporate job, you know, maybe they assume they're going to get hired by your studio for the full amount like you would be hired by any other, you know, company. First of all, there's no benefits, or there's no health insurance, nothing. And you can't expect to be hired and paid for 2030 hours a week, immediately. It's like, you're in your own business, you basically just being given the opportunity to teach. But you and I, as a senior owner, you as a studio owner, we can give you a first time client, right, we can do the marketing to get you in touch with prospective clients. But it's up to you as a teacher, to keep that client and to keep them coming back again, and again. And again. And this is also this ties back a little bit to what you said earlier in our conversation when you said police teachers are not comfortable selling. And the good news about this is what I want to say is like you don't actually have to sell the pure selling, you don't have to talk anybody into this, all you have to do is show them in the session, show them what you know, show them how good this feels. And basically demonstrate in a kinesthetic way. demonstrate to them that they will benefit from this. And that's your selling the selling the taking the credit card, that's the transaction at the end of the class. But when I teach a lesson or a class, every single word that I'm saying, I know why I'm saying this, I'm not saying anything. You know, like there's, there's, there's this education part, there's making people aware of what you're doing, like I am a huge fan of explaining what I'm doing and why I'm doing this, because not only shows this, that I have knowledge about the body, I'm not just you know, somebody who did a weekend course, it builds rapport with the client, and it makes the client feel safe, that they, you know, feel they're in good hands, and then they start to trust you and then they and then you've sold, then you've sold them, you know, for the rest of their career.

Nic 53:03
I completely agree I was actually having a chat with some of our teachers just recently and saying very much the same thing and explaining, you know, that's the process you should be doing in your session. I think if you have a fear, though, people pick up on that. So it's almost at the end of the session you are nervous of even though you've done all that stuff, you're nervous of that piece, then people kind of pick up on that. And the other piece that I have realized, I've started to do, on top of what you've said is at the end of the session, especially a first session saying so today, what I really saw was blah, blah, blah. And where I think we could go with it, because you're in a first session. I'm trying to see how they move, am I going to necessarily give them the are they going to get the big aha moment in a first session? Like No, they're not probably. So you know, I want to kind of again, sort of say to them, so what I would be wanting to do with you in the next few sessions is maybe look at your pelvis get a bit more balanced a bit more space in there. So actually, the lower back feels a bit more comfortable, you'll start to feel easier. And then from that place, we can start to do that, or whatever it is. And then basically you're saying to them, Do you want that right now as opposed to Do you want another session? And someone's like, Oh, I'm not sure if I want another session because I don't know if that was, you know, sometimes the first session isn't what they thought it would be. And the other thing I often do is I've realized, I've learned I start to set the scene. Okay, so today is your first session. Today is about me learning about your body, I'm as much just seeing how you move, so I can get a sense of where I need to take you. And again, that's showing your expertise, isn't it? You're not just taking them through a fixed choreography of exercises that you pre plan you are, you know, when I interview teachers, I get quite frustrated when I get into teaching with me and I go, so why did you teach me those exercises? That's what I practice. I said so why did you ask me and you did ask me what's going on in my body? Why did you ask me that? If you then didn't do that, you know, and so those hot like you said the communication piece what you do in a session, how you ended and then you're asking them say, do you want to buy into this feeling? right if the answer's no fair it like Fair enough, but it It really is. And I think that's what people can miss really, and can feel scared of. But you're right, like you're not selling anything. But it's funny how people use that word like a dirty word. Yeah. Like they've come here for your expertise, they have a need. So you need to showcase that and also provide expertise and the follow up to that first session. And that, for me, is how you then build your hours. Right?

Mara Sievers 55:23
Right, correct. Yes, totally. I think it's a lot. There's two parts to it. One is, a lot of teachers I think, don't want to make the client feel bad, but showing them their challenges or, or telling them that What's wrong, what's wrong, quote, unquote, with them, right. But I think you need to tell people because again, first of all, it shows your expertise, it shows that you recognize what they're missing in their body. And it explains it gives them a reason why they're back, why they have back pain, or whatever pain they have, right? And it shows them their need at the same time. So obviously, you don't have to say, Oh, my God, your abdominals are weak. And I gotta say that, but we're not in that way. But you said, Yeah, you definitely have a lack of core strengths. And there's definitely a need. And I think that, you know, I

Nic 56:05
think it's a really good point. And I think there's a real fine balance, though, because I think sometimes as teachers, we can have a bit of an ego, and we can want to label why somebody is like they are and the thing is, if somebody especially is coming with a lot of chronic pain, they have a list as long as your arm of things that are wrong with them and wrong with their life. And that's partly why they're in there. So I think you have to be quite balanced of like adding something else in. So I used to just not go there at all. And now actually, where I've realized probably netted out a bit like you is it does show your expertise. I'm not trying to say like, I'm not trying to say your backs like that, because of this, this and this, but I can say to them, this is what I'm seeing, okay, this is what I'm seeing, this might be why that left side of your spine is feeling really tight, because I'm seeing this in your pelvis. But let me tell you this as well, just because I'm giving you this information, this isn't information you can do anything with because posture is subconscious, and you thinking your left side of your pelvis is higher than your right. And then you spending your entire conscious mind trying to drop it, you're going to cause more problems. And I think a lot of people do that bit. They kind of give information like you know, they see a physical therapist or something and they say, Oh, they come to me. And my pelvis is like, really posterior. So now I've been sitting in my bum out and you're like, No, please don't do that. Like there's a reason it was doing it, you know, and in the session, you know, you get them to find that space. And then they stand up and they're like, Oh, it's just kind of doing it. It's like, that's how it's meant to be, you're just meant to do it. So I think there's a fine balance isn't there about sharing your expertise, and not making them find fault with themselves and also educating them just because I'm telling you, your left shoulder is higher than your right, don't just drop your left shoulder because it's going to make something else go wrong. But know that that's where that's what I'm seeing. And that's where I'm wanting to take you. So I'm I'm showcasing my expertise that I'm not just like I said, we're not just doing exercises, you know, any of those exercises is going to feel better. But that knowledge is what makes the difference, isn't it?

Mara Sievers 57:57
I appreciate you you mentioning that because I that's what I meant. Maybe No, no, not that way. But thank you. So

Nic 58:03
I didn't mean it to you. I just, I see, I see a lot of and I have seen a lot of in my career. And actually those people, those teachers can do quite well, because the clients kind of really buy into their expertise. But then I don't believe that's how you get people really well does that, you know, I know. And I know you don't we've talked about this before. So I know that's not how you are. But I think there can be and I see it in courses all the time. Well, this person's got this, this and this. And that's why they're like this, it's like I've learned anything over my years is nobody can really truly tell you exactly what's going on. Because that neck pain might be being caused by your pelvis or your ankle or your knee. And all we can do and I think that's why Pilates is so powerful, is it's a full body approach. So if someone comes in with neck problems, I don't really spend that much time on their neck, I look at the rest of the body, I'd want to see it because I'm thinking well, I can create space. And then let's see how the neck feels. You know, I think that's the power isn't it of what we do is full body approach. Physical Therapy is very powerful. But if you go in for a sore shoulder, they're gonna manage your shoulder. What we do is look at the whole body and where you're standing, how you stand, how you move, how you like, how you go from position to position. And that's what's amazing about this and I think that's the piece that can be missed. When Pilates is thought of as fitness when they use the exercises in a fitness the way when I think it is about really understanding like that functional piece of like, you know, Joseph Pilates was very clever in some of the things that he came up with, about how people move and how to get them to recruit certain things in their body. Like you said, like, absolutely. You can see that there's a weakness there and there's an imbalance there. And you need to showcase that to the person for sure, I think but I think it's that fine balance, isn't it of not making them think anything wrong with him?

Mara Sievers 59:51
Absolutely. And if I do, but I totally hear you. I think it's every life is a paradox. I tell you, like you say one thing and immediately you can contradict it with another thing, because both things are true at the same time. It's everything in life is like that. So yes, absolutely. If I have I mean, if I assess somebody, and they have a million things sort of that are not, you know, that might be an issue, I'm not going to tell them the whole list, I might just pick one that focuses the most on what they can relate to in terms of their biggest pain or something. And the rest I keep to myself, obviously, you know, yeah, you'd never ever want to make somebody feel worse about them. But at

Nic 1:00:30
the same thing, that's a balance, isn't it? Like how much you correct someone is also reading of them, some people, a lot of correction is going to feel really good to them, like, oh, there's a lot of knowledge here, I'm loving this, I'm loving it. And some people, you've got a sense that you just, you know, even in their classes, especially, you know, don't keep going over to them, if you kind of, you know, just kind of let them do their thing. And if they're not in danger, which, you know, they're very rarely going to be, you've got to let them kind of explore some stuff for themselves, haven't you? Because I think, and that's another piece that I think it's really, it's just intuitive of how much you say, and you don't say, yeah, cuz some people you need to say a lot. And some people, you need to hold your tongue.

Mara Sievers 1:01:09
I had this one client who she would not let me correct her or I did try to correct her for like, at least two, three years. And I got every single time I corrected her, I just got a very standoffish reaction from her. And she just could not, she just couldn't do it, she was overwhelmed with the pain in her body and everything. So I stopped, I just really stopped, I felt sort of bad. And I'm not correcting her. But what she was doing was helping her she kept coming back every week. So obviously, it worked for her, but I could not like she couldn't take it. Until finally one conversation. And it probably wasn't my conversation. But maybe she started to feel better or something. And from that point on, all of a sudden, she was able to, she took my corrections. And then I started to get a little bit more. But yeah, those are those are the things that that you just got to sort of sense. Yeah.

Nic 1:02:02
But that's the depth to this work that we talked about right at the beginning of this conversation. And that's a bit that's experience, that's practice, that's kind of understanding that actually, you know, meeting people where they're at is also important, we shouldn't feel like we have to set the agenda for them just because we know what's best, because you have to take them on a journey. And for whatever reason, who knows what her history was being corrected, made her body kind of hold intense, didn't it. But then she got to a place where she felt safe with you, I'm guessing, you know, safer. And it kind of went in that kind of peace dropped backdrop that suddenly one day you say something, and it can land, you know, and so that's the kind of depth to the work that we're talking about, isn't it, it's like, you don't know what their childhood was like, what that birth experience was, like, you know, you don't know you don't know what their family situation is, like, if they have if they've got any issues at home currently, like you don't have any of that stuff. But all that stuff is in their body and in their reactions to things. And you have to at least have a sense that that is in there. You're not saying you need to know how to deal with it, but I do I really believe passionately. And I think you're naive, if you don't appreciate that I think you because that's when you another teacher Mara could have very much. I don't know, they could have reacted that whole situation very differently. And the ability to have the ability to adapt and shift. Yeah, and, you know, that's what's always interesting when you work with a new client and even actually, some of my long term clients, I realized I get a bit to like, kind of feel like I know what we're doing. And sometimes I need to step back and go actually, where am I? Where am I taking this person now? And you know, you know, and kind of keep moving them somewhere I don't even mean like to advance I just mean you know, challenging their systems in different ways and, and different ways of being really

Mara Sievers 1:03:46
yeah, I'm loving it. So one I guess one more note two questions. So what are if you're if you were to hire applies teacher right now, what are the most important skills that you're looking for?

Nic 1:04:00
So I absolutely want them to have a real top quality training like that, for me, someone you know, a training that is very client centric, in its approach, I'm you know, not so into personally, because of the kind of studio I've got, like a more of a choreography base, like I want people to be able to look at an individual and understand that that's how they work the Pilates repertoire. But I'm also looking for someone that I don't know if they've got kind of an energy about them that you just feel kind of comfortable in their, in their space, and that they listen that they listen to the person and and they will adapt as needs to be and they're not afraid to do that. You know, and they ask questions and they talk and I think that's why I've actually started like, you know, I always used to kind of go and have a coffee with someone and I just chat to them. I want to get a sense of who they are as a person. Because this is a people business more than anything. And people buy into people and people feel safe with people and when you feel safe, your body will pretty much do anything right? That's what the equipment really gives you as well. A feeling of Safety. And so for me, that's a really important part, you know, someone who's passionate about this work for all the right reasons and helping people and, and just being personable, you know, just giving people a really nice experience. And not, like I said, not trying to set an agenda. And I just tend to get that from just trying to get a sense of a person up front, you know, and asking them questions, like some of the things we've talked about today, like, how would you approach this? How would you approach like, you know, a client that doesn't like being corrected? You know, that kind of questions, you act like? How would you approach it, I want to know, those kind of things so that they understand. It's not like your training, often, you know, is, you know, you're not going to be teaching other Pilates teachers, you are teaching real people with real backgrounds. And so yeah, so that for me, I know, that's a bit of a like, it's not like a tangible thing. But for me, over the years, I've recruited some really, really experienced people, but they didn't have that piece. And I think because of the kind of work we do, people need to have that they need to have that conversation ability with somebody, you know, that warmth, that feeling of being taken care of a little bit. So that's what I look for.

Mara Sievers 1:06:14
Yeah, I mean, so basically, you know, you do need to know your, your stuff, like your, your knowledge about Pilates and the human body. But there's so many soft skills that are maybe even more important, like I said, because it's not you're not an electrician, you're not dealing with the outlet, and the client doesn't is not affected by it. Right. You're, you're working on the person's body. And yeah, good. Yeah, that probably answers the next question, but you can mention if you want to add something, like if there are any other qualities besides teaching skills that you're looking for in a teacher?

Nic 1:06:49
Yeah, so I think it is, you know, is that and I think, I think the ability to be able to meet the clientele, so where our studio is situated is in the middle of kind of a business district. So we have a lot of high achiever clients. And I mean, we have probably more women than men. But you know, it's like, you need to have somebody depending on whatever the clientele is of the studio, you need to have someone who can meet those people. Now, if I was going to go and teach, for example, in a dancing school, I don't think I could meet those people as well. Okay, I come from a corporate background. And so I'm able to kind of understand those people's lives. I'm not saying you need to come from a corporate background to teach people in corporate, but I think you have to have an understanding that, you know, you're going to meet these high achievers, they're used to getting everything they want, and being in control of stuff. So you kind of already have a sense that you're going to have to have some skills to be able to get them into a level. And you know, for me, I always think like Pilates is the roots into wellness in a wider sense, because I think what a lot of high achievers especially like about Pilates is it's very scientific. And so they like that side of it, it doesn't feel too woowoo for them, right. And they come in, and they think it's really scientific, but I feel really passionately about the ability, and it's what I look for in teachers just to seep in little ideas here or there. And these people listen to it, because it's coming from someone in a kind of scientific capacity, about how well being is so much more than just what you might know or see, you know, and that there's lots of kind of facets to it, and the kind of energetic side of things and stuff like that, you know, is important. So I'm kind of looking for that kind of roundness in somebody that, that, that open to some of that stuff. I'm not saying all my teachers are like that they're not. And but you will, it's really interesting to look at the different clientele that work with different kinds of teachers and it, you know, it is to do with their personality, they are all pretty much trained the same way. But you know, I have one teacher that does, she has her own chronic health issues. She has a lot of people with chronic health issues, and she gets it, she understands what it's like for them. You know, I have a lot of people with kind of neck and shoulder and back pain long term that felt like that was it for them. And you know, a lot of kind of people who were very senior in their jobs and things like that, you know, so one of my other teachers was a dancer, and she tends to do well with people who do that kind of work. So not saying that's a fix thing, but I think it's to understand that who you are as a person is as much part of your role as your trainings, I guess. and

Mara Sievers 1:09:18
nice. There was a great way to put it. I think that was a really great way to put it. Yeah, who you are goes so deeply into that. And I think it's that's a good news too. It's that the good news is that you don't have to be anybody other than yourself. You can just be who you are, you're going to attract the kind of people who are like that and in the beginning that sometimes takes a little while you got to figure it out. You might not like I I used to be a dancer and I thought that I would relate to the dancers but I actually didn't and it took me a while to figure that out because I was an injured dancer and I related more to the injured people whether they were dancers or not dancers, I I connected more with that aspect of my body is not working and I'm too young for my body. Not to work. So I have empathy for that, versus the hardcore, you know, dancers I'm gonna, so it's, sometimes it takes a little while, but you, you can be yourself, you can attract those kinds of people and just watch who's coming to you and you'll figure it out, right, it's more like a listening part that you brought up, which I love. But just watch Who are your clients, that is what you're sending out, they'll show that sort of back to you.

Nic 1:10:25
And the thing that's just popped into my mind, if I could share it, as well as the power of intention, you know, I just did a whole class on it before we came on, actually about setting intentions, and in a positive way, even in the restrictions that we're all living in at the moment. But I think your intention for your client, your intention for your career, your intention for, you know, what you're trying to create, is really important. And I think to spend some time really thinking about that. And we'll help you attract those people in the right people in the people that you love teaching, and they love being taught by you. Because not everyone loves being taught by me, you know, and I'm open, I get that, you know, I have my way of doing things. And whilst I try and be as you know, adapting to everyone's needs like that, you know, there are other guys at my studio, that have a very different client base that I don't think I would do so well with. And that's fine. And that's the other thing I'm looking for. I don't want everyone to be like me in my studio. I don't, for that very reason. I want there to be a diverse range of people, backgrounds, experiences, what they bring. And but I think first and foremost, that it's client centric, and that you've got expertise. You know, in a nutshell, that's what I'm really looking for from somebody.

Mara Sievers 1:11:33
Awesome. Sounds great. So last last question. Before we finish up, I want to ask about anything that you as a former marketing professional, anything that you are maybe one thing where you say how would somebody, teacher or studio? What do you think the most effective way to market? their classes would be? And if anything?

Nic 1:11:57
It's a really good question. You know, I think the online world is huge. And it can feel a bit of a dark art, some of the website stuff, but I think, you know, doing some research on things like SEO, and maybe even paying somebody to help you a little bit with it, SEO, which is search, and it's basically how you get to the top of Google is a huge part of it. And it is a bit of a dark art, you know, even though that's my background, I still have somebody that helps me with it now, because it changes all the time. So I think, you know, getting your, you've got to be seen people have to find out about you. So I think, you know, an online presence is really important. But I think the other piece I think people can miss if i can say is that you need to have a so a big social presence to be a successful business. And I don't think that that's true. You know, I think it can help for sure. But I don't think you should necessarily think that just having a whole load of Instagram followers equals a really big business, I think, you know, really thinking about who back to who you're trying to attract, who are you attracting? Where are they and meet them there, you know, and in online, it might be your website and getting that visible when people search, but it might be on forums it might be. So I think spending some time really understanding, you know, your customer avatar, your ideal customer, there's some great kind of tutorials out there that you can look at to find out how to do that, but really understanding and if you don't know who it is, it's probably you before you did your training, right? Initially, anyway, that's who you're attracting and get an idea of how they behave, where they are, what they're looking for, you know, because over the years of soul, I've definitely refined it more and more and more, because the thing is this work appeals to everybody, you know, we have it gives benefit to everybody. Like there's that old joke, isn't there, like whatever the problem is, Pilates is the answer. But realistically, if you talk to everybody, you talk to nobody. So you have to be a niche, you have to have a bit of an issue, you have to kind of be, you know, somewhat kind of like, this is who we are. And this is what we stand for. So have I trained world number one athletes? Yes, I have. But is that what I really sell myself at? No, I sell myself very much a rehabilitation specialist studio, we get a lot of referrals from medics, from medical professionals from surgeons and things like that. And so you know, then other people will find us we'll see that message, it will either talk to them, it might not talk to them directly, but they might go Oh, but I like the sound of that. Does that make sense? I think being really clear on who you're trying to attract. And talk to that one person to spend some time working on that customer Avatar and then whether you build a digital presence, which is probably what you're going to do these days, you know, but you can you can talk in the language that they're they're wanting. Because I think the big problem is backstabbing, we said it right at the beginning. Kind of the word Pilates is kind of the problem because it can mean a million different things. So I think you have to be clear on who you are, what you're about and who you're talking to. And that would be my biggest piece of marketing advice. I think not a lot of people do that. They just think I say I teach Pilates on Tuesday night in this place. And then that's it.

Mara Sievers 1:15:04
Right? Because at all what that means, if you talk to somebody about that, like, or somebody asks, that's, you know, that's another interesting thing. I think that's so funny. Like when you have a when you meet somebody at a party, whatever, right? Not right now. But, you know, back when, yeah. And they asked what you do and you say your policy, should they immediately I think, think of you working out. They think of you doing Pilates and being an athlete or whatever, sporty, they don't even realize what it is that you do, like, or, you know, yeah, you work out and other people are working out while you're working out. I think that's what people think when they when they think you're a puzzle,

Nic 1:15:45
or they say is it a bit like yoga, you're like, not really. And that's

Mara Sievers 1:15:50
just like they just to see on YouTube or on TV or whatever, the teacher doing exercises, they don't know what we do with clients at all. So right. So and, and, and it doesn't mean anything to a person that you know, Pilates, what that will do for them in their body. So

Nic 1:16:09
and I think that's it. And that's really the marketing piece did to kind of condense it is I think to have to really, and it's a quite a big piece of work to do, and to really think about who you really enjoy teaching who you really enjoy teaching who gets the most, who you enjoy teaching and who they seem to get out of. And when you start to think about that, it will become clear. And also ask yourself, who don't you enjoy? And why is that maybe and you know, you can kind of analyze that too. And I did this piece recently. And it was like I find it really hard when people are just not ready to kind of meet it and I end up going into a bit of a preachy space. And I don't like myself for doing it. But you know, it's like, that kind of thing. And then you start to really then think about the language that you use. And the way you pitch your classes, the price, you pitch your classes, where you advertise yourself, you know, and that kind of thing. And I think then, when people find you, you will talk to those people. Because if you talk to everybody, nobody listens, you have to be quite clear on you know who you're talking to. And I think that, you know, that can be quite hard. But because at the beginning, I was very much guilty of this. It's like, well, I'll see who comes and then I'll work it out. Mm hmm.

Mara Sievers 1:17:19
Yeah, and I guess in the beginning, like you said, sometimes you have to watch who comes to you over time until you figure out what, who you really resonate with, right? That can take a little bit of time, but at least start somewhere, right? It's better to start with a plan and change it than to start with no plan because nothing's gonna

Nic 1:17:38
happen. my avatar has changed many, many times. And that's fine. And they're probably they're not completely different. But you know, they've moved on. And, and but I think you have to start somewhere. Because otherwise, if you sort of see who's going to come, you're kind of there's going to be a lot of wastage there, potentially. And you want to just be really efficient of who comes to you.

Mara Sievers 1:17:59
I want to give one quick, concrete example because I think the difficulty sometimes with these, like recommendations is they're so general that, you know, you're hard to act on. But I want to give one concrete example from my own life. So I started like, you probably do, I started with just mat classes, and you know, just me and just increase that. And I realized that the people like most of the people who are coming to me had definitely some major thing wrong with them. And then you're have the hardest time teaching math class to all those people, right? Because one person has osteoporosis, the other one has stenosis, and then you're already like, okay, we're gonna stay in neutral now for the whole class. So if I realized that that was what happened, so I actually changed my complete studio, like I stopped offering Mac classes, eventually, a few years down the road, because I couldn't like those are not the people that came to my studio, the people who I could just comfortably put into a Mac, because I'm in some of them. But it was not, I have to change it because everybody who came to me was somehow injured or, or at least close to it or something. So yes, it can be be be fluid allow change if they have to. But definitely start with some sort of a plan. It is better to start with a plan to take specific action and change it than to have no plan and no action at all.

Nic 1:19:18
And you know, I didn't I one of the other pieces that we've done this year, as I've created our new online platform, move better TV, which you know, is Pilates online, and all the kinds of things that we're trying to talk about, but how do you try and get that across online, which is really difficult, but I don't think it's really being done. And, and we've worked really, really hard on you know, how we have a mix of some online live classes, but also kind of the on demand content, but I had to do that very piece and it's like, well, it's Pilates online. And it's like, what Who are we talking to? And what are we about and, you know, we realize that we're and it's not to say men don't come right because actually we've got quite a few men, but we are absolutely about targeting a woman and she's kind of 30 to 50 she Probably in pain, she's probably got a really low energy, she wants to feel good, you know. And then we, I kind of had that idea. We got it got it up and running. And then we sent a survey out. And I deliberately did the survey where I didn't have tick boxes, they had to write answers. And the same words came up again and again, and again, energy, pain, lack of time, energy, pain, lack of time, I want to feel energy, I haven't got time. And it was just like, how interesting because that's kind of what I was thinking of, like, that's, for me what felt right for me to kind of think, Okay, this is who it is. And so that was the language that we wrote the copy about was, you know, this is about helping you feel energized, helping you, you know, small bite sized pieces that you can always fit in to make sure you always do something. But you know, also plans where we take people, it almost reminds me of a bit like a retreat, you know, we take them on a retreat, it's really great, because you can kind of, you know, even more than the studios, you can take them class, by class by class through concepts. And we, you know, we created movement plans that would do that. So we could take somebody on a journey, as best as you can online. And so I feel really proud of that. But that kind of answers that piece, you know, Pilates online, could be for everybody. And I would like to think that that platform is benefit to everybody. But you know, we very much wanted to kind of follow this idea of creating that ideal customer. And it is really interesting that in the end, they were the words that they kept coming back time and time again. And so now every time we write some copy, I'm saying to myself, do we talk about lack of time? Do we talk about energy? You know, do we talk about how do we help people out of pain? Why, you know, suddenly, our YouTube content has stuff about us talking about why are you in pain, you know, some of the stuff we've talked about, like, it's more than just a pathology in your body. So you know, it's just, it's kind of an interesting piece, but I think Pilates is so wide, you have to put a stab in the dark somewhere. This is who it is. Absolutely, you can move it like I have many times, but I think it's important to do that.

Mara Sievers 1:21:54
Oh, that's wonderful. So So, so, so good. Where can people find you if they want to get in touch?

Nic 1:21:59
So our studio is soul and the online platform, which is obviously worldwide is move?

Mara Sievers 1:22:09
Awesome. So um, thank you so much. I mean, I LOVE LOVE, LOVE this conversation. I think we touched upon so many things. I could talk three more hours.

Nic 1:22:19
Sorry, this is so long. I just got really into it. I was like oh is actually so much to talk about.

Mara Sievers 1:22:24
There is there is endless things to talk about. So that was fantastic. And if anybody's interested in starting a teacher training program, check out Pilates forward slash teacher dash training. And watch out for more of these conversations coming out on YouTube. shortly. Have a wonderful day, Nick


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