A few weeks ago, I received an inquiry from a teacher who had left the “corporate life” to pursue her dream of teaching Pilates. She had completed her training, was beginning to teach professionally and had suddenly realized the uncertainty that the career of the Pilates teacher posed in comparison to the corporate world. In her company, there was a clear line of progress through marks and measures that one could progress to. The Pilates world’s line has, well, a bit more “movement” involved. In this week’s post, I share my best advice on how to make a career of your own design within the world of Pilates. We’ll touch on the subject of your pathway, outlets for gaining yourself a promotion and even insurance benefits. Let’s GO!
1. move or lie in a winding path or line.
“fresh tire tracks serpentined back toward the hopper”
If there’s one word to describe my career path in this profession it would be “serpentine.” I have bobbed and weaved my way through a serendipitous pathway of experience-laden opportunities and am grateful for each one. Today, I share the important themes that I learned along this pathway. Remember that currently, there is no one way to find success in the method. Your individuality is an asset and the following are suggestions to help you grow your service as a Pilates teacher to a full-fledged career!
In the beginning
It’s no secret that good training sets the foundation of any strong professional’s journey. You’ve got to have something to share in order to be able to make a full career out of it. So YES! Invest in your training. Find a training program that resonates with your vision at present, even if that vision has little reference to Pilates. What impact do you desire to make? What training may offer you the skills to grow to a place where that impact is possible? Does your training program represent itself? Or does it represent the individual voices that share their work? There are so many choices in the world today – make one that works for you, otherwise you’ll find yourself in another comprehensive training sooner rather than later.
i’m teaching, now what?
Teaching is part of the deal. Teach often and teach well. Say yes to as much as you can realistically handle, but avoid long-term commitments. What I mean is: Give yourself permission to acknowledge that a situation is no longer serving you, should it stop being fulfilling. Saying yes to teaching lots of bodies helps you learn to address many body-types, mind-sets, ability-levels and demographics. From here, you get to figure out where it is you are thriving. What types of sessions lift you up and what types of sessions give you stress or drain your energy? What types of situations reflect that impact that you determined to be part of your journey? Find out where you stand out and go there.
I believe it’s a great strategy to teach in multiple locations for a time. Too much of this can breed a feeling of disconnection and travel time can certainly cut into your income. However, while you are building your book, it’s important to recognize where you find ease in your teaching. Is it in a private practice? Group class setting? Group Equipment setting? Through working in different environments, you can discover where your work will thrive. I’m a huge fan of following the path of least resistance in the beginning. Let it be easy to fill your schedule and don’t be afraid to let some things go that aren’t working for you.
Get your chops!
Whether you want to work for someone else for your career or own your own studio, the BEST advice I can offer to anyone is to work for an established business (successful Pilates studio/health club/or wellness environment) for a period of time. For me, this happened in the health club. There, I learned to sell, make quotas, manage, see a vast demographic of clients and interact with many different departments within one business. These practices set me up for success in my own studio. I also spent time working for a physical therapist, where I learned how to provide a continuation of care and also received a mentorship on therapeutic applications of my work. Working for or with established businesses provides you with another unique opportunity to decide what you want and what you don’t want within your work. Regardless if you love the environment, or can’t wait to get out, you WILL learn business skills that will help you on your pathway.
Remember to step outside of your immediate circle in order to meet the people who may lead you to your next opportunity. These can be people in movement, fitness, the medical community, business community or something completely random. Share your passion through conversation and volunteerism. People will remember you and even think of you for future opportunities. Keep showing up with your work focused on service and impact – the network will absolutely respond!
Get one – fast! Whether you are an IC, employee or studio owner, work with an accountant to set you up with good practices for book keeping, paying taxes and putting money away for the future. This is a career move that you will not ever regret. With no set 401k in place for Pilates pros, we have to fend for ourselves. Take care of your finances and you will absolutely create a career that serves you.
Insurance is a rocky road to navigate. Outside of established corporate wellness centers, medical insurance may not be easily available to you. There are insurance brokers who’s job it is to find a plan that fits your budget and hopefully your needs. Working with brokers has been my number one strategy to maintaining medical insurance so that I may be able to take care of my own health and provide my services to others.
get creative with your offering
There are NO RULES to how Pilates is disseminated. In this world of technology and the internet, the possibilities to create additional revenue streams are endless. You’ll need a sound business plan along with support to create a viable offering, however, I never thought that a podcast would be a major source of my income and here I am, living my best life while speaking unfiltered about the subject of Pilates!
Look for the elements of professional opportunity that turn your head, but don’t knock you off your feet. Beneficial opportunities will always include hard work, challenges and discomfort. If the opportunity creates fear, pain, anxiety or hardship, this shiny object is, in fact, too good to be true! (This is where the element of bob and weave comes in quite handy!) You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes your way in order to be successful.
Post your questions and comments below and let me know which themes you’d like to learn more about. There is SO much road to cover in the career path of the Pilates Pro but be assured that the benefit to teaching and being creative within this work is unending fulfillment!