Pilates Beyond the Studio
Sometimes we all need a change of scenery. Getting out of the studio and offering Pilates in non-traditional venues will give you the opportunity to tap into possible new clientele, introduce Pilates to those who might otherwise never try it, and give back to your community. This article will help you step out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Pilates in the Park
Many Pilates in the Park events are held on Pilates day each year. Why not make it a regular class? There are groups that meet in public parks in New York, LA and Chicago on a weekly schedule during the summer, sometimes drawing hundreds of people! If you’ve ever had a hard time going to your studio because you wanted to be outside…this could be perfect for you.
- Permits & Pricing: Check with the local Parks & Recreation department to find out if you need a permit, and whether or not you can charge a fee for the class.
- Organization: Make sure you specify in your advertising what you will provide and what the students are expected to bring, where in the park you’re meeting, and the start and end times. There will be no clock, so expect late comers and people leaving early.
- Sound and Safety: Teach modifications for everything, and talk about common concerns. As your group grows, enlist other teachers to assist in “crowd control.” You may need to invest in a portable sound system to be sure everyone can hear you.
Schools present a plethora of Pilates opportunities. Pilates for Kids is a hot new trend in the industry, and what you teach to the kids they will teach to their parents. Offer to come in and teach a class during P.E., or do a workshop on stretching and cross training for a sports team.
Some schools have a community room where you could teach a class to parents the hour before they have to pick up their kids.
Finally, many schools and colleges offer community education programs as a way to both connect with the local community and raise funds for the school. Tap into one of these already established networks and let the school handle the advertising and payment for you.
- Plan ahead: You will need to make arrangements through the school, which will likely include a background check. Approvals may need to be obtained at both the local and district level and may take some time.
- Enlist parent-helpers: Kids and teens like to be silly. It’s totally fine to have fun, just make sure they are being safe.
- Check out the equipment before you go: even if the school says they have mats, go ahead of time to make sure what they have will work. Some schools refer to carpet squares as mats.
- Payment: If you are getting paid, it’s likely going to be less than what you make at your studio. Remember that this is a community service but that some of these students may likely become students at your studio.
Now that we have covered the ideas to get out of your studio, and hopefully get some new faces to come into your studio, the following are ways to give back to the community:
Local Prison/Jail, Homeless Shelters and Half-way Houses
Many facilities offer a fitness center, and the people there are in the process of learning to make better, healthier decisions. Learning Pilates can help them on their journey.
Senior Living Centers
Senior Centers are always open to new programming and volunteers, and this will be a great way to get your creativity going. Can you plan a class for a group of folks with osteoporosis who can’t get on and off the floor? It will be hard, but incredibly rewarding.
From Weight Watchers to Meet Ups to Running Clubs, there are many opportunities to tap into a clientele who may not otherwise try Pilates on their own. A quick search on Google and MeetUp.com along with a stop in to your local running store should give you plenty of options. Contact the group leaders and offer to come teach a class or give a talk on how Pilates can help with flexibility, weight loss, or overall fitness.
- Plan ahead. It may take several months to implement a program after the first time you contact the organization, and you may have to complete a background check.
- Be prepared mentally: Have a positive attitude. You may meet people in very depressing conditions, but they don’t need your pity. They need your respect and help.
- Bring your equipment: You will likely need to supply all equipment and supplies you want to use.
- Know who you will be speaking to: Review the group demographic with the leader before you prepare- a group of elite athletes is not going to benefit from hearing how Pilates can get them off the couch.
- Be prepared for questions. You are there to impart knowledge. If you get through a whole class, fantastic, but be prepared to be interrupted.
- Know your schedule: Bring cards and studio information, but also be ready to give options if they ask for you to be a regular weekly or monthly group leader. Have an idea of what you would charge or if you would be willing to do it for free.
- Be committed. Just because you may not be getting paid doesn’t mean they will be depending on you any less. Treat it as any other paying appointment.
Hope these ideas give you a reason to spread the word of Pilates outside of your studio!