Many new Pilates teachers find it frustrating to get committed clients. Here's some advice I have shared during one of my Live Q&A Calls:
What can a new teacher expect from a Pilates career?
No matter what type of teacher training program you attended, in general, you won't be prepared for how to succeed (financially) in your Pilates career.
I've talked to many owners of (often) smaller studios who have an urgent need for more good teachers. They have a full schedule and they want to add more teachers to the team. These studios might offer an apprenticeship type training which means that you're embedded in the day to day activities of the studio. You practice at the studio, you observe the teachers and you watch "the real thing". You are being prepared for what it will look and feel like once you have graduated.
If you've trained with a large education company, which undoubtedly gave you a great education, there might not necessarily be a position open for you to begin teaching.
As a result, new teachers know how to teach, but they don't learn how to get and keep students. Most teacher training programs don't teach best practices for building and keeping a clientele. Many new Pilates teachers are left wondering how to apply at a studio and how and where to start teaching, set up a home studio, or go all in and open their own dedicated Pilates space.
After getting hired at a studio, you might expect to walk into a full schedule of 20-30 hours a week. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't work out that way!
The reality of Pilates is that each teacher is responsible for their own success. Even if you are employed by a studio, you still have to get your own students and communicate and teach your classes and sessions in a way that those students will continue to take classes with you for years.
If you've made the transition to Pilates from a corporate career, then you might be unfamiliar and maybe even uncomfortable with having to market and sell your classes.
Pilates is a very personalized industry where you have a close relationship with your students. Just like you have YOUR hairdresser and YOUR OB/GYN, and YOUR dentist. All of those are professions where trust is a major component. Pilates is similar. In the business world, there is a saying that people buy from people they know, like, and trust.
- First, potential students have to get to know you (they meet you in the hallway or practice on the Reformer next to you),
- then they have to like you (by finding something specific that connects you), and
- finally, they have to trust you (by showing your expertise and thorough knowledge of the Pilates method).
Here are some real life examples:
- I usually drive an hour to see MY hairdresser. (It took me 8 years to find her). I do the same for my dentist.
- A friend of a friend drives three hours from Maine to New Hampshire just to see her hairdresser.
- I had a student for 8 years who drove an hour each way twice a week to attend my classes.
That's how committed people get once they know, like, and trust you.
The student-teacher connection can be very strong, which is wonderful. You get to know her body really well. I often knew my students' bodies better than they knew their own bodies. Because of this, you can help them much more effectively and they want to stick with you instead of just dropping into a class here and there with a different teacher who doesn't know them.
If you're a good teacher and a good communicator, you will be able to fill your classes. But it is going to take time. If you want to build a clientele, you have to be present at the studio as much as possible. Show up at the studio, practice, hang out, help out, chat with people. Don't expect to be paid for every minute during your first month. You just got to show your face so that people will get to know and like you. Maybe you realize you have something in common (You love orchids, too?). Then they might be willing to try a class with you in which you can demonstrate that they can trust you. And that's when you have a new student.
To hear the rest of my answer, check out the Q&A Call Replays. They're all available as part of the membership.
Do you have a burning Pilates question? Register for my upcoming live Q&A call and submit your question. Attending live is free and open to anyone.