Wednesday, July 28. 2010
Monday, February 8. 2010
Wednesday, October 14. 2009
Friday, September 25. 2009
This precious gem of an email, shown below in its entirety and of course with permission, was in my in-box as soon as I powered up my phone upon landing in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon after a month on the road. This was pretty much the best possible welcome home sentiment I could ever hope to receive. My comments about this appear at the very end of this post.
This letter is SO overdue…..!
I first met you when Merianne and I went to a Pilates Style Conference in NYC, I think it was in 2006. We attended one of your lectures and loved it! So the connection for you and Merianne began there. Your enthusiasm and passion was instantaneously absorbed by both of us.
Merianne is a very close friend of mine who introduced me to Pilates about 41/2 years ago. Since then my life has been changed forever, in so many ways, and those changes have been so much for the better and so very positive (and will forever continue....). I could go into the details, but will save those for another time if and when you feel like talking (or should I say hearing) about it.
Suffice it to say that Pilates helped me heal, brought me hope, focus, encouragement, patience, strength, and self-confidence, as well as physical health, strength and flexibility, and so much more, and is ever changing and growing and evolving; Pilates is a never-ending challenge for me, both mentally and physically, which I just LOVE!!!!!
Merianne has always been a wonderful teacher. Her passion and enthusiasm (as well as her movement and gift for teaching!!) are amazing, as you know.
Sooooo, I am writing to thank you so very much from the very depth of my soul for showing her the path(s) she can take in Pilates. She searched for a very long time for the person she could train with that she could also connect with….and in you she found what she had long been looking for.
Since she visited you in Seattle, she has grown so much, not just in her teaching but she has grown so much as a person. You have given her brain and her body so many tools and so much inspiration and encouragement, and she, in turn, has given me so much of the same. Pilates has really come alive!!!
Since her visit to Seattle, I have grown so very much stronger. I feel that all of my movement has changed so drastically - my scoop has unbelievably changed and become so much deeper - you gave her tools to make Pilates come alive each and every time one does it, the tools one needs to always work harder and deeper and truer….truly amazing stuff, Rebecca.
For me, life has come alive. Joseph Pilates’ work will never cease to amaze me, and for so many reasons. Thank you so very much for your extreme dedication, determination, and hard work. For people like me, it is absolutely life altering and joyous. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for people like you and Merianne.
With much caring and appreciation,
Of course I want to know the rest of Paula's story so she is not only writing it up so I can share it with you but she and I will also talk by phone (I take and return all calls, you knew that, right?) so that we can personalize our relationship.
Has reading Paula's email helped you sense more clearly that what we do when we teach well is not only change the world as it exists around us in that moment but that we also have a part in the extension of that moment as it carries on in the world in all manner of ways, every one of which is well beyond our control. My friends, that is a beautiful thing.
One of the most amazing things about teaching and practicing Pilates is that it disappears the instant we create it - it slips right through our hands - so although residual strength and flexibility hopefully remain to be built upon, the magic we create, the feeling of it, the mental and physical synthesis of it, are over as soon as the moment of their creation passes.
We have to keep doing it in order to make a difference and, here's the really pivotal part, we are only as good as our current session. We can't say to clients "remember that fabulous session I taught you 3 months ago? Let's just keep remembering that one and forget all the mediocre ones I've taught since then."
Whether it is good or bad, the past becomes irrelevant and we can't rely on it because it no longer exists!
Perhaps this concept is best summarized by Janet Jackson: "what have you done for me lately?"
So after reading Paula's email, I hope you are inspired to go teach or perform the session of your life. Then keep doing it. Over and over again.
And if you're lost in the work and cannot create this type of result, it probably won't take much to get you so that you can, I can help with that so give a Nun a shout and let's get you finished up, settled out and headed straight for the achievement of your potential. Can I get a witness!!!
Lastly, and this is a common result of teachers who have studied with me, Merianne has blasted through some impressive levels of accomplishment, found new and exciting space for a brand new big studio of her very own. Hopefully, sometime soon, I'll be teaching in it and at that point this story will come full circle; I will have the delightful pleasure and honor of working with both Merianne and Paula.
Can you see that we're part of a chain that began with Joe and links through us to the Meriannes to the Paulas and on through to who knows next . . . care about everything you do, pepare well, let your joy flow strong and true throughout all your days and become a part, whether you know it directly or not, of changing the world.
How utterly fabulous is THAT?
Tuesday, September 22. 2009
In 2005 and as my first eBay purchase, I bought a first edition Return to Life on eBay and inside the book there were collateral materials from Joe & Clara’s original studio.
Over the coming months, you and I are going to take a tour through the materials that were inside the book, examining them visually and intellectually. We’ll place in proper timeframe context Joe & Clara’s words and we’ll also bring into modern times the application of their intent.
But let's start at the beginning.
In July of 2005, I received a phone call from a studio owner in St. Petersburg, Florida, I’d taught some workshops at her studio and done some business consulting for her and she called me in Seattle to tell me that there was a first edition Return to Life for sale on eBay, she said the description of the book indicated that there were “collateral materials” inside the book, she said the auction would be closing at 9 pm EST and she asked my opinion as to its worth. I told her I’d check with one of our clients who is a used book wholesaler and get back to her before well before the close of the auction.
I called our wholesale book seller client and put him on the task of determining a reasonable purchase price, he said he’d need to do some research and that he’d get back to me which he did a few hours later to say that there was nothing like it that had been sold previously and that he could not advise a reasonable purchase price – he said it was worth whatever the successful bidder was willing to pay. He said for people who feel about Joe & Clara the way he knows I do, the book was priceless.
In this case, priceless was about $350 but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The very instant I heard back from my bookselling client and with a couple hours to go before the auction ended, I called the St. Pete studio owner on her mobile phone number and went into voice mail and left a message saying all the pertinent information that my client had relayed. I then called her studio number and went into voice mail and left the same message. I then called the last remaining phone number I had for her, her home land line, and her husband answered. I told him I was trying to get a message to his wife about an eBay auction for a rare copy of Return to Life that she was interested in bidding on and he said that she was out for the evening with her girlfriends and wouldn’t be bidding on any eBay auctions that evening. I told him that she’d called, that my client had researched it, blah blah blah, and he insisted she was out for the evening with friends and would not be bidding on the book.
Then I called Kevin Bowen who at that time was the Executive Director of the Pilates Method Alliance and went into voice mail. I left Kevin a message telling him about the book and that the auction was closing in a few hours and that I thought someone at the PMA should bid on the book, that it sounded like a significant piece of our history that the PMA should have in its archives.
Fast forward to 5:50 pm PST. Not knowing anything about eBay and never having been on the site, I was sitting at the front desk of my studio getting ready to teach a 6 pm mat class when a client, friend and wonderful teacher named Lisa came in for class. On a whim, I asked her if she had an eBay account. She didn’t but she said her husband did. I told her the story about the book and asked her if we could use her husband’s account to try and buy the book. She called her husband, Scott, to get his user name and password and with that and with less than 5 minutes remaining in the auction, we were in Scott’s eBay account, we searched for the auction, found it and began bidding.
The idea of an auction is something I find exhilarating. At antique auctions, I’ve gotten so excited I’ve actually bid against myself and at a charity auctions one time, one of the bid callers actually took away my bidder number because I kept messing everything up. I’m way too excitable and seriously not good at auctions. My experience on eBay was no different.
With precious few minutes to go, I was screaming at the monitor, slamming the enter key on the keyboard, soaring when we saw the green button that appears when you’re the successful bidder and swearing like a sailor when someone else outbid us. I kept putting in higher and higher dollar amounts, I even tried putting in $500 just to quell the competition, but the increments of increase it would accept were really small and we were not able to stuff the ballot box, if you will.
As time wore on, my consciousness expanded and I began noticing the screen names of competing bidders and there was one who kept tailing me and I was surprised at how much I hated them, without even knowing them. I wanted this book and every shred of my competitive drive came immediately and easily to the surface for all to see – remember, mat class was about to start and our mat clients were beginning to show up and instead of my usual hugkisshowwasyourday greeting, I completely ignored them and kept either screaming obscenities at the monitor or squealing with delight for the few seconds that I was the successful bidder until that dreadful other bidder took the top spot.
Acts of God are a wonderful thing and it was truly such that resulted in the auction closing with my bid on top.
We got the book and my joy was, well, overwhelming not only to me but to everyone else in the studio including a guy who’d walked in to try and get some information, he said “I’m from Egypt” and that’s all I heard, the next thing I knew we’d closed the auction as the highest bidder and I jumped up from the desk, grabbed him, hugged and kissed him all the while screaming “we got it, we got it.” He wrested himself from my grasp and ran out the door, never to be seen again. Our clients are used to my joyous outbursts but this was of a magnitude never before, or since, seen.
In an instant the auction was over, I suffered a massive emotional crash and I had no idea what to do next other than teach my 6pm mat class. On our way from the front desk to the mat, Lisa told me the book would be shipped to the address attached to Scott’s account, that I should write them a check for the bid amount and they’d let me know when the book arrived.
The next day I made follow up calls to all 3 numbers of the St. Pete studio owner and to Kevin Bowen so they’d know that I got the book and I waited patiently for it to arrive. The St. Pete studio owner called back a couple of days later to say that she in fact had bid on the book from her friend’s home and it turns out that the pesky screen name that I kept recognizing - and hating - was in fact hers.
Friends, her error – and it was her error, not mine - was one of communication. I performed considerably beyond my due diligence in this regard and have never even for an instant felt badly that I got the book and she didn’t. And neither should you because there is very little possibility that she would be sharing the materials with the wider community. In fact, I asked her what she planned to do with it and she said she would have framed the items and hung them on her studio wall.
And about a year ago, somebody else emailed to let me know they had also bid in the eBay auction: Siri Galliano. I have no doubt that the collection would have been in excellent hands with Siri, she gets around way more than I do.
But back to the story.
About a week later, Lisa called to say the book was in, it had been delivered to their business and we set a time for me to swing by to pick it up. Lisa and Scott are both microbiologists and they own a laboratory where people send things and Lisa and Scott find germs in them and then tell the people who own the germs all about what they have. Note the evidence bag of chicken (salmonella!) on the counter by the box; the Aquafina was not, repeat, was not contaminated and belonged to Lisa. One of Lisa’s lab assistants manned the camera and boy, am I glad he did. The pictures say it all.
Inside the book were the following materials:
This 8 page brochure titled ““Pilates” Universal Method Balance of Body and Mind” but I call it Joe’s Manifesto. It’s not copyrighted and I’ve had high rez downloads of it in the photo gallery on my www.ppnwseattle.com website since I got the book. Once you open the picture, right click and save and it’s yours.
Also inside the book were two copies of a copyrighted exercise instruction brochure, it’s got the great deco looking Around Clock graphic the PMA used for those wonderful clocks they sold a few years ago, Joe titled it “A Commando Exercise, Around the Clock and Back in One Minute.” I’ve had 2 lawyers including one who specializes in copyright law tell me that I have very little risk in sharing it in spite of its copyright because nobody is on record as owning the copyright for Joe’s materials so here you go. And just so you know, I’m especially hopeful those lawyers are right because I do not look good in jumpsuits or in the color orange!
Did you notice anything interesting about the model for the clock graphic? Did you notice that her right leg appears longer than her left leg? And did you notice a difference in the slope of her hips? Her right waistline appears to have a less exaggerated slope than her left waistline. Do you realize the biomechanical implications of that and do you know how to teach to balance that? If not, you need my Pilates Excel program or at the very least, my Balancing the Body from Side to Side workshop!!!!
And finally, there were 3 Holiday cards.
Do a couple of them look familiar? If so, it’s probably because Elizabeth Anderson, who replaced Kevin as the ED of the PMA, called me in the fall of 2008 and asked if I would send the cards to the PMA’s graphics guy who cleaned them all up (he photo shopped out the old yellow cellophane tape which is part of what I absolutely love about it – oh well) and prepared them as a collection of cards that the PMA sold last year at the conference. They did a beautiful job and I hope you bought some so you can do your part to maintain the tradition set by Clara of sending cards through the mail keep in contact with clients and friends of the studio.
In the group of 3 Holiday cards, one is so special, it’s almost too good to be true.
After Lisa and I were done with our box opening extravaganza, I packed everything up and left her lab but as soon as I got in my car in the parking lot, I wanted to see everything again so I opened the box up and began going through everything again. I called Kevin to try and share the moment with him but, as is almost always the case when one busy teacher is trying to reach another, I went into voice mail and it was then when I was looking closely at one of the Holiday cards – it’s my favorite one, of Clara “stretching” Joe on Rowing - that I noticed tiniest handwritten word “over” in blue ink at the bottom and my heart skipped a beat. When I turned it over and saw Clara’s inscription and signature, I burst into tears.
Here you go!
So, are you wondering who was Phyllis? I sure was.
In the inside front cover of the book, the name Phyllis Nord is written in peacock blue ink, the kind of ink that looks like it was from a fountain pen. There is also a library stamp.
And now, with Clara’s inscription to “Phyllis,” I decided to investigate so I wrote to the eBay seller of the book and asked him to tell me everything he knew about the how the book came into his possession. Here’s his email to me a couple of months after my initial inquiry – the waiting practically killed me!
So Phyllis died in 1983 and this book with all its treasures inside, sat on the shelves of a public library for decades and but for the sharp eye of library volunteer Bill, would have been shoved into “a buck a bag” book sale.
Well, then what?
In November of 2005 at the PMA conference, I gave the book and all its contents to the Board of the PMA. I told them I thought the book and contents were significant to our industry and since the PMA is the intersection of virtually all vibrant and inclusive aspects of the industry, I thought the PMA would be the best possible keeper of the book. I asked that the book and contents be available for all to see at every PMA conference.
Two years went by and during that time the PMA was working on all manner of more pressing concerns and they were unable to do what I asked in the handling of the book so I ask them to return the book to me, which they did. And ever since, wherever I go, it goes – and you guys, I go a lot of places so the collection has really gotten around. And I’ve shared it, in person, with more of you than the PMA ever did.
The greatest exposure I can give it is at the PMA conference in my booth at the trade show where we have rubber gloves for you to use in handling the materials. When passersby see us in our gloves without a clue why, we smile and say that we’re the only booth performing rectal exams!
I don’t really know if the gloves help but at least it makes me feel like I’m doing everything possible to properly care for the collection. I got an estimate a couple of years ago and it will cost a couple thousand dollars to have the materials properly preserved and encased so that we can see them without having to touch them. What Bill Gates did with DaVinci’s Codex is what I have in mind, although on a smaller scale, of course.
Some of us - you know this already, right? - are careless and unaware and the really bad part of that is that the people who are careless and unaware are virtually indistinguishable from those who aren't so as caretakers and sharers of the collection, Heidi and I never know which one we’re in the presence of until the person pleats the page corners between thumb and index finger to flip the page or pulls so hard on the aged and fragile pages that the staples tear out, the page rips or the crease tears. The percentages of the careless and unaware are really low but boy, in their hands, the book and the materials have been damaged more than what it experienced the decades of life in a public library. Such is the dilemma of being out there with it but it’s better to share and damage than not share at all, or at least that’s what I think.
So that’s the story of how I got the book.
In moving forward, I think our analysis should begin with the items that can be most quickly put through the process so we’ll start with the holiday cards, then the Around the Clock flyer and then we’ll move, bullet point by bullet point through the 8-page Manifesto. And to foreshadow ever so slightly, that Manifesto is easily able to be used as a guide not only for your business development but for the teaching of every session and through performing your own Pilates workout. With a full harvesting of the wisdom therein, it will be as if Joe is teaching you himself. I’m all tingly just thinking about it!
Are you in? I sure hope so.
Wednesday, August 19. 2009
The problem: Teachers often bemoan the challenges they face in order to afford continuing their Pilates education. And especially in this horrible economy, money is standing in the way of many teachers continuing to enrich their skills. Have you read in your local paper how college enrollments are way up? That’s true pretty much all over the US because many of us are using this tough economic time as a catalyst to go back to school and get a whole lot smarter.
Although some educators are busier than ever, many have been struggling; the cancellation of the 2009 PMA conference is evidence of that and I’ve been wondering why our industry isn’t experiencing the same shift toward education that the general population is.
Why indeed, especially when it’s so easy to fund-raise within your own schedule or within your own studio to subsidize or pay completely for the cost of your continuing education.
As an educator, I specialize in giving you what you need so the following is a step by step plan to get you off the bench and back in action as the quarterback of your education game.
But first, in order for this to work, you’ve got to dismiss thoughts about how you’ve been unable to figure this out in the past. Hit the “erase” button on the voices looping in the soundtrack of your mind about how there’s no way you can spend money these days. Open your mind, soften your heart and unleash your soul to embrace a new possibility. After all, when what we’ve been doing hasn’t delivered the desired result, it’s time to try it another way. A better way. A way that works.
The solution: I’m going to lay out ideas about how to pay for attending two types of educational workshops. The first one is in the short term – it’s happening this year, it spans 9 days and will teach you a revenue-generating ancillary skill. The second one is long term – it’s happening next year, it spans a weekend and focuses on the teaching of Pilates proper.
Now, I’m not implying that the financing strategies that follow will work exactly as written for everyone, but they will work similarly for many of you and the point is, you’ve got to start somewhere and do something so you’ll have more money to foster your own education. Teaching even one more session a week is putting you that much closer to being able to afford an inexpensive training like a single-day workshop or even some new books or dvd’s. Rome wasn’t built in a day but surely, someone had a plan and it all started with one simple act. It’s your turn, m’dear – it’s time to see your educational future and run toward it! Let’s go!
Part 1 – short term, long-format, includes a vacation(!), ancillary: In this first example I’m going to use the specifics of Kit Laughlin’s Stretch Teacher Training workshop, http://pandf.com.au/, because it’s an opportunity for you to learn from the world’s leading flexibility expert and his work will revolutionize your ability to help tight clients; tight clients are the ones who grip in their quads on Spine Stretch Forward or Single Leg Circles, who struggle sitting for Stomach Massage or who find Front Splits agony instead of delight. In addition to that, I’m using Kit’s workshop because it’s a long one, it takes place over the two middle weekends in November (Saturday, Sunday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday the 14, 15, 20, 21, 22) and it takes place outside the US, it’s on Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. Exotic!
And how convenient that included in this format of consecutive weekends is a 4 day synthesis opportunity/vacation for you during the gap. Brilliant!
Pilates People, did you just experienced a twinge of guilt imagining yourself in November, enjoying 80 degree weather on sugar sand beaches after having work-shopped all weekend? Well, stop it! Kit’s format is becoming more and more popular because it builds in time to synthesize new information you’ve learned and time to work all that good stuff into your own body, on your own time, in your own unique way. Learning in this format, you’ll return home with much more directly applicable, in-your-pocket material to put to immediate use. I promise.
Expenses. Kit’s full workshop spans 9 days, it costs $1149 USD if you register before September 15th, payment plans are available and for our example I’ve got you traveling the day before the workshop begins and returning home the day after it ends so that means you’ll be gone a whopping 10 days.
Based on that length of stay, air fare from Chicago to Grand Cayman is $232, from Seattle air fare is $540, from New York’s JFK air fare is $375 and finally, from Los Angeles air fare is $505; for our purposes, we’re using an average of those which is $413. And just so you’ll know, I used Orbitz for my searches and on all stated routes except JFK, Delta was the cheapest fare and out of JFK American Airlines was the cheapest fare.
The host hotel for Kit’s workshop, Comfort Suites, is $156 USD per night, double occupancy, that includes all taxes and high speed internet and breakfast plus there’s a microwave, toaster oven and small fridge in every room. For an extra $15 a night, you can get a room with a full kitchen – I’ve already got mine reserved! If you’re going alone, you’ll still be able to share a room with another attendee because any good host – and Kit’s host in the Caymans is excellent – will offer to serve as a housing clearing house for all attendees and will be happy to hook you up with another attendee for you to share hotel expenses. Estimated hotel expense for the ten night stay, double occupancy, is $780.
Food, or should I say food and (umbrella) drinks, will run you about $20 a day if you eat in and about twice that if you eat out. We’ll plan on a little of both and estimate our food and beverage costs to be $350.
A big straw hat, extra sun block, a souvenir coconut bra and surf board rental total another $250.
Total estimated cost for Kit’s training is:
Food & beverage
Financing plan. Assuming you don’t have the ability to pay for this upfront and/or as you incur the expenses, be prepared to put it on a credit card.
Repayment plan. Open an additional 3 privates a week on your teaching schedule, I assume you earn at least $30 an hour for a private so this will generate an additional $90 of income a week, after taxes we’ll figure this will generate an additional $320 of income a month.
Here’s the super important part of this plan, you guys: Earmark that increased income for repaying your credit card debt and don’t you dare spend it on anything else. Be sure to make payments to your credit card with every paycheck so you develop discipline and increased motivation to pay off the sucker.
If you have time to open even more teaching hours, the payback accelerates. If you work in a larger studio with more teachers on staff where you can cover for vacations and illness, this is usually an easy way to generate increased revenue. If you work alone or in a small studio, it’s more challenging but totally possible.
What was that? You said you don’t have time to teach more? How about this: cut out a couple hours of TV a week and there you go – more time, like a gift from the universe especially for you.
Now, to maximize our investment in education, we’ve got to blatantly exploit our revenue-expanding capabilities by capturing revenue that many of our clients are currently spending elsewhere - Yoga, in personal training sessions at the gym, etc. But in order to do that, you’ve got to start planning at least 6 weeks before attending an ancillary skills workshop to make sure you’re able to hit the ground running with the programming of your new classes immediately upon your return. Make sure all your clients are educated about and know what to expect from your new offerings – you’re doing this for them, after all!
Kit’s work does not rely on Pilates experience so it’s a fantastic opportunity to bring folks from outside the studio into the studio – market stretch classes or any new ancillary skill widely within your community, not just to your current studio client base.
If you work for someone else, in order to do this you may well have to tell them how it is.
Why? Because. There’s no better time than the present to take charge of your teaching and compensation destiny. Why else? Because. By expanding your education base you’re becoming a rain maker and rain makers ensure their own success. Be powerful! Take charge! Get stuff done!
And how is it? This is how it is.
Tell them that in exchange for you having paid for yourself to go and get better educated without any help from them other than them graciously allowing you to take the time off, you expect to keep a certain amount of the revenue from your group stretch classes.
Reasonable people will think that’s fair enough but if you’ve got yourself an unreasonable person on your hands, you still have options.
In fact, you have even more options.
Offer stretch classes at other studios or better yet, rent a room at a community center or church, have your stretch classes there and keep all the profit the class generates. As a zero-overhead option, if you live where the weather cooperates, embrace Joe and Kit’s philosophy of vibrant health and communing with nature and teach stretch classes outside in parks; there are only a few jurisdictions in the US that prevent this so check with your local parks department to make sure you’re on the right side of the legal line.
But back to staying within the studio lines.
You can appropriately feature Kit’s work in any mat class, private or semi-private session you teach but it’s also a real money-maker to put a straight-up stretch class on the schedule so that’s what you’re going to do.
Let’s say you offer 2 stretch classes a week and price them at $20 each or with a punch card that lowers the price to $15 per class. Your promotion of the classes and your clients’ desire to become more flexible should produce class attendance of between 5 and 12 clients. We’ll use an average attendance of 8 @ $15 per for total revenue of $120 per class, adjusted for taxes we’ll figure that leaves you with about $100 per class x 2 classes a week for an additional $800 a month toward paying off your Kit workshop.
Here’s the summary of our debt & monthly repayment plan:
Total Workshop Debt
Monthly repayment plan
If you’re anywhere close to hitting these numbers, you’d have Kit’s workshop paid off, including interest in 3 – 4 months.
Even if your revenue earning plan isn’t 100% realistic, you’ll still be making great strides to pay off the debt and will have it done, even under dire fiscal circumstances, within 4 – 6 months.
When you break it down, when you plan well and above all, when you have fiscal discipline, anything is possible, even a winter-time Caribbean vacation with a revenue building, skill enhancing, transforming educational experience thrown in. Hey Cabana Boy!
Kit's got a great video library posted on youtube.com, go to http://www.youtube.com/kitlaughlin to see him in action.
Part 2 – long term, short format, directly related to Pilates.
The educational scenario we’re using as our second example is the 2010 PMA conference in Long Beach, California, http://pilatesmethodalliance.org/, it’s always the first weekend in November so for 2010 that would be Friday, November 5th – Sunday, November 7th.
As you may know, within the confines of the 3 –day PMA educational conference only historic Pilates related education is presented and ancillary topics are covered in the pre- and post-conference workshops that happen on Thursday, November 4th and in the afternoon after the closing of the official conference on Sunday, November 7th.
Previously, pre- and post-conference ancillary content (like Red-Cord, Integrated Work, etc.) is not sufficient to qualify you to teach what you’ve learned there so it can’t be compared to a workshop like Kit’s which is multi-day and purposely designed to expand your skills by qualifying you to teach a new discipline. Put more simply, pre- and post-con workshops at the PMA do not qualify you to teach anything you weren’t already qualified to teach. It’s a better you, it’s just not a brand new you.
If you don’t do the pre-conference and post-conference workshops, you can arrive early Friday morning, stay Friday and Saturday nights, and the conference ends early enough on Sunday for outbound flights to get you all the way back home so you can spend Sunday night in your own bed and work your usual shift on Monday. However, I don’t think that’s very reasonable so for our planning purposes, I’m adding in a 3rd night stay.
The host hotel normally runs about $170 a night, double occupancy, and the PMA does offer room sharing clearing house services so you’ll be able to find a roommate if you want one so we’re going to estimate your hotel costs at $255 for a 3 night stay.
Early Bird registration has been running right around $500 and I bet they’ll offer payment plans next year like they did this past spring. There are some excellent pre- and post-cons – Irene Dowd is my favorite – and I’m budgeting for you to attend at least one of them so in addition to the $500 registration fee, we’ll add another $200 for a pre- or –post conference workshop so for our planning purposes, I’m figuring on a registration fee of $700.
And even with a post-con, depending on where you live, you could still make it home Sunday night which would cut your hotel costs by 1/3 but we’ll plan high, just to be safe.
I’m definitely estimating airfares because trips can’t be booked that far in advance so I’m unable to run some sample routings but for our purposes we’re going to assume the fares are similar to Kit’s Grand Cayman workshop and use $413 – this will most certainly prove to be high.
In past years the PMA has included in your registration fee a free breakfast and lunch so our food & beverage costs in Long Beach will be around $175 and that’s for dinner and drinks for 3 nights. I’m not sure I’ll be invited to the VIP party again but if I am, I’ll RSVP that I’m bringing an additional 100 guests and we’ll see if we can’t all eat together for free one of those nights! (Note to self: it’s precisely this type of behavior that may well result in me not being invited – try to care about that Rebecca Elizabeth!)
We’re going to plan for a generous spending budget for PMA that’s much larger than for other workshops you might attend because the PMA conference is the Big Show in our industry, past years have pulled about 1,000 people from 30 countries and everyone who’s anyone in our industry is there. That means the Expo Hall is packed full of vendors selling all sorts of must-haves - come see Heidi and I at our booth! – and it’s Mecca for us Pilates people. We’ll budget so that you can take advantage of the PMA conference deals that most of the vendors offer and stock up on clothes, software, props, springs, and anything else that strikes your fancy. We’re allowing a whopping $500 spending money in the Expo hall.
So, here’s our 2010 PMA cost recap:
2010 PMA Conference Registration
Food & Beverage
Expo Hall Retail Therapy
Financing Plan. If we assume the same schedule expansion of adding 3 privates a week to your current teaching book, you’ll earn an additional $320 monthly that you can put toward your 2010 PMA educational fund. If you’re anywhere close to hitting these numbers, you’ll have your PMA fund full in less than 7 months and you’ll be all set to pay for your PMA conference expenses at the time you incur the charges – no credit card debt!
Keep it rolling. If you keep your fund refreshing whether or not you have a plan for how to spend it, you’ll always have money to draw from to use for your own educational advancement and you’ll be able, as the whim strikes you, to say yes to a workshop that you not have otherwise considered attending. Isn’t that great?
And, I hope you beat me to the expression of this thought . . . see how easy it would be to do both of these workshops, or even both in the same year? Speaking of which, when I pull out of Long Beach in 2010, I’m heading straight for Kit and his annual workshop in the Caymans . . . come on and go with me!
If you have any questions or need to brainstorm ideas on how to accomplish any of this, comment and I will answer. We’ll work together to make your own individual plan and the rest, dear Pilates person, is up to you. Isn’t that exciting?!
Thursday, July 30. 2009
Okay you guys, here's my process for figuring out what Mariana needed.
She was on my guest teaching book the day after my workshops at Tru Pilates in Charlottesville, Virginia ended. Although I love working with all types of folks in guest teaching sessions, I prefer to work with people who are stuck somewhere in their bodies, people who can't do a particular move or have a recurring failure like they have no scoop or they can't figure something out, which, by the way, is always the teacher's fault, always. Or they hurt - these are often my favorite clients to work with and without a doubt the most satisfying to help - and haven't found help anywhere else they've looked.
I call these guest teaching sessions Developmental Privates because they're definitely not a regular session but rather, they focus on developing the client's education about the issue at hand. My Developmental Privates are what an athlete would call "style work" or "technique work" because we get to the bottom of the problem, we build a new approach to solving it and usually, we make what seems to the client as extraordinary progress but to me, a teacher who specializes in problem solving at the very foundation of movement, seems logical and simple. Developmental Privates are $150 USD.
I saw Mariana come into the studio while I was finishing up with the client scheduled just before her and as I was saying goodbye to the client leaving and grabbing my water to chug a quart between clients, I watched her as she lowered herself gingerly to the floor and began doing external rotation hip stretches, folding her body over itself, never staying too long in any one position. When it was time for Mariana's session to begin, she was still down on a mat, rolling around, trying to find a comfortable position.
I could see that her hips were really loose and I could tell she was in pain.
She'd only had one session with the owner of Tru Pilates, Robin Truxel who's also a Physical Therapist, so Robin didn't have much information to give me about Mariana prior to me working with her. Mariana's Physical Therapist had come to 2 of the 3 full-day workshops I'd just taught at Tru Pilate. I love being part of a team and with Mariana, because I knew both her Pilates teacher and her Physical Therapist, I was absolutely confident she'd have excellent ongoing care.
As her session began, Mariana told me the sequence of events that led her to her current state of painful frustration. It was clear that her life was not proceeding according to plan - she's young, smart, gorgeous, talented, a performer, and has much to accomplish, none of which mattered because she was hurting - and she felt like perhaps there was no easy fix since she'd tried several avenues of treatment with no measurable results.
Dear Readers, that's pretty common. Pilates teachers are on the front line of injury, if we know what we're doing we can fill a huge gap in the care chain and our skills, completely within the scope of teaching Pilates, can often be the very thing clients cannot get from PTs, Osteopaths, massage, etc. Get this: One of my favorite students is an Osteopath in England and not only is she almost not practicing medicine at all anymore because she can help more people more ways with Pilates, but she's also morphing into Clara by still wearing her medical whites as she teaches. I love ya Jacqui!
Back to Mariana. I asked her to tell me what positions she instinctively felt she wanted to get into in order to make herself feel better and her answer was, without exception, positions that would stretch her back and hip muscles. She kept chasing that instinct by getting into all those folded up positions, sometimes going to Yoga class, but all to no avail.
I knew two things at this point that would help Mariana tremendously.
I could tell by how loose she was in her hip joints that her ligaments were loose and I knew, as a result of that, muscles that are not cut out for the job were trying to stabilize her pelvis and spine and that's why she felt this undying need to release her back and hips. One caused the other and both were compounded by the fact that not only had her horse thrown her and she hit a fence post with her left ilium, but he'd also thrown her more recently and she'd landed on her back. Trauma on top of a lack of stability and strength is a recipe for pain.
And who was it that said, if you make a friend of pain you'll never be alone? I think I read that quote in Born to Run, but I'm not sure where I read it and I'm not sure who said it but what I am sure of is that if Mariana didn't learn daily maintenance skills to manage the daily use of her loosy goosy joints, she'd have more pain coming; she'd have an interstate of pain running through her, a transcontinental highway of pain.
And, even more tragic than the thought of that, she'd have it unnecessarily. She was an easy fix.
Again, here's what I'd figured out: her more superficial muscles were pulling double shifts trying to stabilize her wonky pelvis and that's why her back and hip muscles were tight and I knew she was loose-ligamented, or hypermobile.
I explained to her that from how she was moving, it appeared to me as though her ligaments were more stretchy than most peoples, I taught her about how ligaments connect bones to bones, I described what they look like and I made hand, arm and finger puppets of joints (a show in and of itself, reminiscent of the Fed Ex commercial from 50 years ago where the presentation materials didn't arrive and the presenter is making hand puppets in the spotlight of the overhead projector - like that but different). I taught her how, when the joints come apart so easily, the muscles never really get a chance to stretch and that's one reason why she felt tight and I taught her that because she's not strong in the muscles that connect to her bones - the ones that have to compensate for how loose her ligaments are - muscles that are not designed to do the work of stabilizing are trying to stabilize and getting overused and spasmy as a result.
If we'd been in my home studio in Seattle, I'd have a full skeleton to use plus lots of pictures of ligaments, pictures of muscles as they attach to bones including pictures of cadavers to show her but even without, I got the point across.
I always approach the body through the brain and this made sense to Mariana intellectually.
I asked her to please not ride for a while. I asked her to please not go to Yoga until she masters stabilizing her joints so in a Yoga class she can work safely and without further stretching her already loose ligaments.
Pilates People, I'm telling you the truth here: Yoga classes are dominated by two types of people: 1) people who have loose ligaments and who feel tight - that's why they keep going to Yoga, to try and get a stretch which they won't get until someone who knows what they're doing teaches them to stabilize their joints so the more superficial muscles can actually get some attention and 2) people (like I used to be until Kit Laughlin's work came into my psyche, my body, my life - I love Kit! www.KitLaughlin.com, come to the Caymans in November with me! Umbrella Drinks!) who are seriously strong and tight and desperately need to stretch but can rarely get into the "go" position to even begin to release. Those tight folks usually miss all the good stuff because they're so tight that they can't position themselves properly to be able to begin to perform the pose.
I got Mariana to lay down on her back, knees bent, and I taught her my interpretation of Ron Fletcher's bolts. I've adapted Ron's bolts to a more intricate vision that causes deeper muscles to fire. To help you learn how to do that, I'll film me teaching it and get the video up on the Nun site really soon, I promise - I'm THIS close to going video on this site and believe me, that's going to help you a whole lot more than reading all these words ever will. I digress.
After teaching her how to bolt her pelvis, the look on her face changed, she felt the pain diminishing as if it were a light being dimmed and finally turned off, and she began to do one of the most glorious things I ever witness - she began moving slowly, tentatively, into positions that mere moments ago were pain producing but now, bolted, were not. The look on her face was positively lovely as she began to re-acquaint herself with the old pain-free version of her that hadn't been around for a while.
Once she was confident in holding her bolts, I had her stand, then walk, then sit all while bolting.
Confident she had it and could keep it, we moved up the food chain to her spine.
I taught her my elevator shaft image, which I'll also film for you, that is a fool proof way of engaging ever so slightly the multifidi so she could begin to unload her pelvis by using the right muscles for the job. I use the image of a 26 story building, a floor for each vertebrae, one for the basement (which pulls weight up off the sacrum) and one for the penthouse (which floats the occipital skull bone).
Once she was living in the penthouse in the highrise that is Mariana Manor, I again had her walk around to get the feel of it and again, she was delighting in the freedom from pain, the pain that had been her near constant companion up until just a few minutes before.
I told her about Kit Laughlin's contract/release flexibilty work and with her pelvis stable I performed a couple of assisted pnf or contract/release stretches on her hamstrings that helped her realize just how tight her muscles were and how little flexibility she really has when her pelvis is stable. I told her she needs to learn how to stretch from strong stable joints and not by pulling her joints apart. I asked her to consider going with me to take Kit's workshop in November down on Grand Cayman and I promised her that if she did, she'd be able to use what he teaches her to help her get strong and stay strong and released for the rest of her life.
She's thinking about it. I'm hoping for it.
Mariana is an example of what happens in my sessions over and over again. This is what so many teachers marvel over and write glowing testimonials about and this is what is so simple to do, once you understand the basics. And this is what Michele Larsson means when she says "the system works, work the system." That's technically true but the problem is, if you don't understand the system, if you don't know that the pelvis has got to be stable before anything else good can happen in the body, then you're in some serious trouble with your teaching and all the slogans, all the concepts, all the formulas that exist above this fundamental level will fail you, over and over again.
Things are so simple and elegant in the body - they really are - but as my hero Ron Fletcher says, it's so simple it's hard.
And I get that. I really do. I understand the confusion on the part of teachers who haven't been taught the fundamentals of movement, who haven't been taught how to stabilize a body and I know it is really hard to find your way to teach successfully at this level when the cart's in front of the horse.
So you see, it doesn't matter at all how many cool exercises I know on Cadillac; Mariana needed help at a level so far beneath any classic exercise and any slogan about "keep them moving" and "movement heals" is frankly insulting when we think about how Joe & Clara intended this work to nurture people back to full function. In reality and often, movement hurts and if your school taught you to push clients through an order, even a basic order, you're going to be part of the problem and you will never be able to provide a solution to clients like Mariana.
If you don't know how to fix problems like Mariana's, there's great news - it doesn't take much to get you there.
Everything I teach centers on the simplicity of how I helped Mariana and when you work that way - at the lowest level of function - you really can change someone's life, in a single session, even without ever seeing them again. Except of course, hopefully, on the beach. In the Caribbean. In November. With Kit.
Never stop learning, teach well, care endlessly and you'll be joining me as I live in the spirit of Joe & Clara.
Wednesday, July 29. 2009
Vibram FiveFingers. Check it out.
It's been a circuitous route that's ended with me wearing gloves on my feet and I want to tell you about the journey and how it feels to have arrived.
Kit Laughlin and Christopher McDougall are to blame.
I was in Kit's 5 day Stretch Therapy workshop up in Vancouver in May and Kit wears FiveFingers and he advises that we all wear them. Kit didn't mention Christopher's book.
And because things seem to reign down on me all at once, as soon as I returned to Seattle from Kit's workshop I heard a local NPR interview with author Christopher McDougall who was in town touring on his new book,Born to Run. His interview was fascinating and as soon as I could get my hands on my Kindle, I bought his book, it came through the air and was mine.
Christopher recommends FiveFingers. I was seemingly the target of a FiveFingers conspiracy and was bound to give in.
Here's a link to a YouTube video of Christopher telling you what his book is about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv4Se5ka9Pk and here's a link that will give you a look at one of the main characters in the book, a guy named Caballo Blanco http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o375sYfPC3w&NR=1.
Born to Run is non-fiction and is a must read for all Pilates teachers and for any clients with foot problems. There are particular chapters that focus on foot physiology; if you only read those you're still way ahead of the game.
I've never had foot problems but I have had the occasional blister and foot injury.
In my 20s I threw the frisbee in the street for hours and hours until I eventually wore a deep hole, shaped like a perfect circle the size of a silver dollar, in my pivot foot, it was embedded with asphalt and filth and the next day, for work when I put on panty hose and high heels (idiot!), my shoe filled with serous fluid and I knew I had trouble on my hands. Actually, on my foot, I had trouble on my foot. I spent weeks - weeks - going to a sports podiatrist who used a metal brush to debride the wound, removing all the specs of dirt and debris that were embedded in the new skin until eventually, all the dirt was gone and I was healed.
There was also the time I forgot my running shoes at a triathlon down in Tampa and although I biked in my hurachi sandles, I ran in my Thorlo socks and my feet hurt a bit after that. I was also bit by a dog on that run and, always the optimist, the dog bite took my mind off my aching feet and I did get a mini-Thorlo sponsorship out of the deal - a dozen or so free pairs of socks.
I have clients who struggle mightily with foot problems. Bunyons. One has a navicular bone on the floor. Another has a short tendon on top of her pinkie that lifts it to half mast. Yikes.
Irene Dowd's book Taking Root to Fly contains a chapter called In honor of the foot and it's a great education about what goes on in there. So complex. Such a hard working body part. I know teachers who think everything about you can be read by a foot reader - all our mysteries, all our stories, are there for the trained eye to decipher.
I'm not quite sure about that but I am sure about one thing, if your feet hurt, your health is in serious jeopardy.
In Harper's magazine several years ago, there was a featured piece on the medical specialty of Gerentology, how so few doctors are going into it and they author followed one particularly empassioned Gerentologist through several weeks of appointments and the author was surprised that, for patients who had slow growing cancers and other background type illnesses, the physician was most concerned about their feet. The exam would begin and end with the feet.
It's for certain, folks, if our feet hurt we'll be less likely to walk on them and we stop walking, we're essentially screwed. That's a technical term. Screwed. No, it's not, but you know what I mean.
The whole system relies on movement and when we stop moving, bearing weight, shouldering the responsibility of being upright, the whole system begins to break down.
That's why we as Pilates teachers play such an important role in helping clients with foot problems manage the long term care of their feet.
I've had a brand new client who was going to have bunyon surgery and I asked her to give me 6 months to try and address her foot pain but she was already committed to the surgical path, she had the surgery, had complications and is still, almost 9 months later, battling for mobility. My plan for her was not to cure her bunyons - there is no musculature along the inside of the foot that could pull the big toe joint back into alignment - but to get her so strong in her spine and hips that the weight of her wouldn't be falling down, down, down into those feet. I also taught her plenty of exercises to help strengthen the arches in her feet, I love doing foot massages for her and by the end of every session, her feet felt wonderful.
We've had other clients who've rolled their ankles more times than they can count, and one client who's broken both feet twice.
So, I'm always interested in learning more about feet and I sure got a great education from Christopher McDougall.
I went to REI and bought 3 pair of FiveFingers, two for me (a running model and another, the ones in the pictures, that I use for more formal occasions) and one pair for Heidi.
I'm not one to go slowly into new things. When I began wearing thong underwear, I went out and bought $150 worth of them and threw out all my other panties. I've essentially done the same thing with my conversion to FiveFingers.
The beautiful pamphlet that comes with the shoes (can we call them shoes? I think not. I think we need to call them floves (foot+gloves+floves)) says you should wear them for 1 - 2 hours a day at first, breaking your feet in slowly but I've been wearing mine all over town, for hours at a time and I've been doing fine.
The only thing that's been surprising about my FiveFingers experience is that my little toes have separation anxiety - they do not want to line up and go into their little slot and if I'm in a hurry, it's possible for me to slip on my Floves with my pinkie toes riding piggy back on their neighbors, nestled completely into the slot for toe #4 and laying low in hopes I don't notice. I've begun a toe check, quick 1-2-3-4-5 touch and wiggle that let's me know I'm locked and loaded and ready to go.
Wearing them feels quite a lot like going barefoot, which is the whole point, but even in the city streets, full of glass, rocks and uneven pavement, the sole is thick enough for me to freely jog through it all. They make a winter model that's more insulated; I'll get those once the weather turns.
Our feet contain about a quarter of the bones in our bodies, they are unique in that they not only can be as articulate as our hands but they also form a strong lever for propulsion during running.
Kit taught me that there is more sensory perception in our feet than our hands. Feet really don't do well crammed into shoes which rob them of their stabilizing power. I remember in my UW sports medicine human performance program, one of the professors told us how when Husky athletes are waiting for their turn on the taping table, they have to do ankle strengthining exercises while they wait. That's because by taping ankles, you're weakening ankles.
Simple heel lifts in parallel, turn out and turn in are sufficient to strengthen feet and ankles and you can assign that as homework for clients to do every day, twice a day, at home while their brushing their teeth.
Anyway, I suggest you hitting your local outdoor shoe store and trying on a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, they're great for in the studio, on the street or on the trail. If you feel silly wearing them because of the way they look, try to get over that and focus on the important stuff, like letting your feet do the work they were intended to do.
Here's wishing you happy feet!
Monday, June 29. 2009
Virtually every teacher I've met has a common problem when it comes to scheduling regular Pilates sessions. This whole thing about Pilates being a helping profession puts many teachers in a bind, time-wise, with little if any time left over, after everyone else has been served, for us to take proper care of ourselves.
I cannot remember the last time I've had a session with Heidi where she put me through a vigorous Reformer routine but last Thursday, when one of our uber Powerhouse clients Jen, said she was taking Friday off and wanted to get in another session (her 4th of the week) I jumped at the chance to do a semi with her with Heidi as our teacher.
Jen is pretty rare in almost all respects but especially in her dedication to Pilates. Other than protecting her wrists, she's perfected her form on all the usual Advanced exercises on Reformer, Cadillac, Barrels and Chairs. And like most of our super strong clients, mat is her favorite and most weeks she's in mat class 2 or 3 times.
We love Jen and I can't help but think that Joe & Clara would have loved her, too.
At 1:30 on Friday, I'd felt like I'd slipped into the Pilates jet stream and was being carried forward by Heidi's brilliant words, Jen's youthful energy and my deeply ingrained biomechanical patterning that I worked like a dog to establish when I was preparing for and in my primary training program.
What a delight in the body, what a dream-like state in the mind and what a lovely afterglow the Reformer has to offer those who mount with seriousness, strength and authority. Plus, we laughed a ton and couldn't believe how the hour flew by. It was a usual Pilates session, well taught, well performed.
But so rare for me, who rarely chooses Reformer over computer, Cadillac over Gmail, Chair over creative.
Realizing there is no point at which I'll be caught up on admin, accepting that and making the right choice in the moment - to move, to sweat, to work on my form and function with greater structure and seriousness - feels great, familiar and deeply satisfying.
I'm on Heidi's book again today for a private where we'll go back and get for my selfish satisfaction the wrist-centric exercises we left out with Jen. And I'm also on Heidi's book for a total of another 3 hours Thursday and Saturday.
I'm back and I'm bad (but in a good way)!
Are you gone, are you tinkering, are you losing the battle, are you half-assed trying to get in sessions, are you driven from your own studio to someone else's to take session?
Take matters into your own authoritative hands and make change happen.
Your advanced Reformer is waiting.
Wednesday, June 24. 2009
Admin is in my blood.
I've been a receptionist, copy room girl, secretary, legal assistant, trainer (as in training new employees to perform various tasks), executive assistant, bookkeeper, word processor, office manager, business manager and just about any other title that they slap on all manner of grind and grunt work you can imagine.
And I've loved it all right up until now.
Now, 8 years into running my Seattle studio, if my admin load was sitting in my lap it would be so heavy that I'd fall through the floor, if my admin load was luggage I'd be paying $300 overweight fees and if my admin load was in pennies I'd be a millionaire.
I'm being buried in admin, or at least it feels that way.
There have been months where I've finally caught up on accounting by balancing over 10 monthly bank statements in a single sitting. I've been trying to take the PilatesNun.com site to video for almost a year and am no closer to reality on it than I was when I began. I have video from my Mom's memorial service in December that I was supposed to send to my forever dear friend Neil who lives in LA (and is the director of Biggest Loser and a gifted writer and independent film maker) who not only shot the footage but is patiently waiting for me to send it to him so he can edit it into something brilliant. I've lived in my current house since February and still haven't set up my paint table in my art studio which of course means I haven't painted anything since I've been here and although this doesn't qualify as an administrative task, it's admin's first cousin because I can't justify working on getting my paint table set up when I'm hopelessly behind in actual work, in administrative tasks that there's nobody else to do. I have 2 especially dear projects waiting for me on my paint table, which as you know, is not set up but when it is I'll be behind by 2 espeiclly dear projects; wedding gifts for two adored friends - Sherri Betz and Molly Wizenberg. I told Sherri last time we talked that perhaps I'd get it to she and her husband in time for the 10th anniversary.
How lame is that?
When it comes to admin, I don't have a me to delegate to. I only have a me to do everything, or almost everything.
Heidi, my right hand man, is learning more administrative tasks and is a huge help to me but she's at about her limit of being able to accomplish, time-wise, the things that she currently is trained to do. She's going to massage school in the spring and she'll have even less time then to enter sales in Quickbooks, audit client accounts, manage the calendar and take care of me in every other way that she's so brilliant doing.
When I think about where all this admin comes from, I think it's because my business is fueled by 3 revenue streams that all require their own bizarre and detailed accounting, I've tried getting by with only 1 lawyer but apparently I absolutely must have 2. I have only 1 CPA and 1 commercial insurance agent but I have 2 tech consultants, one for video and in-studio systems and the other one is a graphics artist and my web developer.
My systems, the processes I use to keep me organized, are pretty refined and have worked for me for years and I really don't think my ineffectiveness is due to me being out of control with organization, determination or endurance. I think I just have too much to do and everything I do that keeps me away from teaching makes me feel farther from Joe & Clara. That makes me sad because all I ever want to do is move closer to them so I can understand this method more clearly and grow stronger in my own teaching.
If you're wondering why on Earth I don't just hire someone, it's because I absolutely cannot justify the expense of hiring an administrative person because I shudder at the thought of their salary (and I pay extremely well) coming 100% off my bottom line. And I'm not alone; most small studios - and Heidi and I are a 2 teacher shop - can't afford administrative help. Besides, I feel as if I should be able to keep up, I have the skills to do it and surely, I should be able to manage my time well enough to get it all done.
Would a non-paid internship work? I wonder. I should call some local colleges and see if there's the possibility of a good match. Surely, it would be a fascinating experience for a solid #2 mentality to learn to support my business and me, a solid #1 mentality. Or at least I think it would be. But then again, I'm me and looking at it from the inside of being me, I must say I think it looks interesting, challenging, super fun and exciting.
I read an article a long time ago in Harper's about air cargo pilots and there was a quote from one of them that went something like this: our jobs entail many hours of mind-numbing boredom that are punctuated by seconds of complete terror. In my life as an administrator, I can understand what that's like.
So, I'm off to bed where I will update my day list for tomorrow, mark off in grand stylish strokes the many things on my today list that I nailed, and will sleep like I'm dead for 7 or 8 or 9 hours and then, I'll get up tomorrow and teach and laugh and eat and drink and do it all again.
That's the way it's been for all these years and I guess that's the way it will be for a few more.
Want to move to Seattle and be my admin hero? Well, do you?
In my most recent email blast I wrote about a teacher from Australia who emailed me on a Saturday to get more information about some of my Seattle workshops and the following Monday, 48 hours later, she'd booked her flights to come for workshops that started in less than 2 weeks time. She also quit 1 of her 2 jobs.
Natalie is someone who makes things happen.
Many teachers who go through my secondary education program, Pilates Excel, return to their studios and make big changes because, so far at least, I've been successful at getting them to understand the futility of teaching in an environment that is not set up for success. Among the many things my program teaches them to do is to fire difficult clients, quit dead end teaching jobs and if they're interested in taking the plunge, to open their own studios and take control of their Pilates - and financial - destiny.
Natalie is the first teacher who has presented herself to me having preemptively quit her dead end teaching job.
I like Natalie. She's super efficient.
Natalie is a Kundalini and Ashtanga Yoga teacher (with India experience under her drawstring,) she's a Shiatsu practitioner, she's successfully completed a BASI based Pilates training program in Australia and she's the fitness director of a large, well run gym. She's also in grad school working on her Masters in, well, something having to do with all aspects of communication and learning and how we synthesize everything. Once she's out of school, I think she'll be qualified to run the whole world.
Natalie's challenges in the teaching of Pilates all center around her lack of training in the fundamentals of Pilates - the scoop, the length of the spine, clean biomechanics - and her lack of familiarity with the historic work and as we've filled in those gaps, all of her other wisdom has found a place to root and grow.
She's been here for almost 2 weeks and, being in the studio day after day, immersing herself in 9 long days of nothing but Pilates, she's birthed a scoop that's growing more impressive by the minute, she's understood and solved difficult-to-overcome movement issues and when our marathon workshop is over on Saturday, Natalie, my 48 hour girl, is heading home to turn Australia on it's ear.
I'm left wondering what she'll do next and knowing her as I do from these very intense but very fun days, there's absolutely no telling what that will be. All I know is that it will be smart, it will be beautiful and it will help a great many people.
Heads up down under, a whirlwind is coming home.
Thursday, May 21. 2009
If you received me blast email sent out on Tuesday, May 19th, you hopefully read that I'd be putting up a PilatesNun.com piece with ideas about how you can raise money within your own studio to help you pay for registration at the PMA conference in 2010, or any other educational experience that you're interested in having.
My finishing school, Pilates Excel, includes a bunch of ideas like these because most teachers, most studio owners, will never have as much money to spend on continuing education as they'd like. Most teachers feel it's hard enough just to get through primary education and once they've cleared their basic program, they often wait years before they're able to afford to continue learning within a formal structure. Of course, we learn every day that we teach but our teaching becomes stale when we don't immerse ourselves in educational experiences outside our own teaching environment.
And then there's the troubling issue of what to do, which of the gazillion options available should you say yes to? I'm the type of person who likes to shop online at sites that have very few options within a particular category. I am easily overwhelmed in the face of too many choices. And there's a good reason for that.
I just finished reading a great book about that very sort of thing, it's called How We Decide and it's written by a sexy neuroscientist named Jonah Lehrer. Among the tons of great stuff in the book I learned that many people have trouble with too many choices because we can only actually and really track on so many pieces of information at a time. Know how many? Are you ready? Seven. As in 5, 6, 7. Makes you feel better about being so challenged by multi-tasking, doesn't it.
It'll help you make a good decision if you have a process by which you decide what continuing education you'll pursue. Start by researching teachers you connect well with, evaluate their offerings for the next 3 - 18 months (PMA certification requires 16 PMA credits every 2 years so you'll want to make your educational horizon consistent with your professional certification). Determine your weaknesses in teaching and try to find educational options from that favored teacher that most directly and fully address your weaknesses. One of the biggest mistakes teachers make is they keep taking more courses in things they're already good at. You have to make the most out of the money you do have to spend on education, your clients, co-workers and studio owner will very much appreciate you filling in your gaps instead of moving further toward specialization.
And now for formats.
The big educational conferences give you a taste of educators, presenters, exhibitors and schools but the down side to the big conferences is that the vast majority of education happens in 90 - 120 minute slots. Remember that PMA conferences have the highest standards for presenters and some conferences don't have any standards for presenters. Buyer beware. At the big conferences, there's not much meat but you will have exposure to a whole lot of educators.
The big schools offer all sorts of workshops from a half day to intensives that run for several days in a row. My school, Pilates Excel, can be presented in anywhere from 32 - 75 hours with the difference being time to practice.
And no matter what you choose to attend, I cannot tell you how valuable it is just to have a change of studio scenery and to hear wise voices, other than your own, talking their way through common Pilates issues and challenges. Even if your choice of course wasn't the best, you will still get a lot out of just showing up, presenting yourself in a state of openness, willingness, eagerness and caring. Sometimes, I've come away from educational experiences that were so awful - poorly planned, lack of content, speakers so deficient in presentation skills that you no longer even care what they're saying, you just want it to end - with a crystal clear idea of what not to do and a negative experience is almost always more powerful than a positive one. My point is, any educational experience has value, even a less than fabulous one.
Continuing Education bottom line: It matters less what you do. It matters most that you do. Quoting Nike: Just do it.
Now, how to pay for it.
Here's the concept.
The key to success in structuring an in-studio fundraising campaign is to have no-cost services provided in exchange for clients paying to experience the events.
The simplest version of this is to add classes to the schedule, and the operative word there is "add," that are billed as Educational Fundraising Classes that are in addition to your clients' usual class schedule so there is a saturating clarity, purpose and expectation with every mention of the event. Clients must be your ally in this regard, you have to let them know without exception that you're doing this in order to raise more money, additional money, money you wouldn't otherwise have in order to pay for you to suffer the inconvenience of traveling, abandoning your family and responsibilities and trying to learn things that you'll bring right home to them, to help them, to make them stronger, to better be able to serve them. It's all about them and they must know that from the start if this is going to work.
Your plan will fail if you don't make it clear to your clients that this is extra, in addition to their usual sessions, classes, visits to the studio. That's key.
Here are some specifics.
Other class-series ideas include: stretch, perfecting a 10-minute a day at-home mat or stability ball or magic circle program, finally getting those upper back muscles to come off their "locked long" setting, relaxation, breathing, partner classes of any sort, foam roller routines, advanced,
Like most things, you're critical juncture for success is in the set up.
Now, as you read the list below, please don't think to yourself "oh, that's ridiculous, that would never work in my studio." You'll be defeated before you even have a chance to begin. Even if NONE of these ideas is relevant to your unique situation, just reading the list will get your brain a bubblin' (not really, but you know what I mean) and you'll be energized and before you know it, you'll have come up with the perfect thing for you, all by yourself.
Open your mind.
Here's some examples of how to go about this - these should at least get you thinking.
Add a technique-based "it's time to clean up our form" series of mat classes, 2 - 4 a month for 1 - 3 months and reserved the proceeds from them to bankroll your continuing education.
Trade a couple of privates or simply offer to exposure the provider to a bunch of people who stand a good chance of doing business with the provider and get a massage therapist to trade out an evening of her time for her to do "bench work" at your reception. What reception? Your Educational Fundraising Reception, where in exchange for $15 (or whatever your market will bear) a head you'll welcome clients and their friends and families to share an evening of all things Pilates. Do demonstrations - they love to watch you perform your beautiful Pilates routines - share historical information about the Method, Joe Clara, our first generation teachers, the overall industry. While all that's going on, have the massage therapist giving 10 minute massages to your guests.
You can do the same thing with mani/pedi, tarot readers, caricature artists, astrologers, doctors of any sort (podiatrists are especially fun, not as people - good Lord, definitely not as people - but to do eval-recommend-refer type services in this format), belly dancers, dance lessons of any sort, and the whole time you can be working the crowd, pressing the flesh, filling the glasses and booking sessions, signing up new clients, and generally being the center of everyone's Pilates life. That's what you do best. That's what will put money into your educational slush fund.
Let's do the math.
Let's say you're wanting to go to the PMA conference in 2010 and you live on the east coast. Your airfare, registration and hotel are going to total about $1200 and you have 18 months to raise it.
At a single reception/event, you can expect conservatively to have 10 attendees, each paying $15 to attend. With a single event netting you $150, you'd need to have 8 events in order to generate $1200. If, at a single event, you get 20 people to attend at $15 each, you'd net $300 per event and only need to do 4 of them in order to generate enough revenue to pay your way to the PMA conference.
if you run a mat series, you'll get there much faster than by doing a single event and repeating it over time.
Are you already coming up with your own ideas of what to do? If not, you better call during cocktail hour, we'll both do a heavy pour and together, will come up with the perfect thing.
+1 (206) 525-7769.
Monday, April 27. 2009
Everyone thinks I'm soooo nice. And I generally am and I'm generally happy that so many people think I am but there are those times when even the happiest, most supportive gal has to get riled up and when those times come around, I can rile with the best (worst?) of them.
a call a couple of weeks ago from an East Coast teacher who started out by
saying that she had a dilemma in her studio that she wanted my advice about and
although she was guessing I'd just tell her to never mind, over look and make
do, she wanted to go over it with me nonetheless.
glad she did.
before I get to that matter specifically, that call specifically came the very
same day that I'd been on the phone to a teacher in Australia and she and I had
a lovely time working through what could have become an small "issue"
between us. I think everyone should be able to work cooperatively with others
through small stuff and I love it when those really skilled among us can work
their way through serious conflicts, misunderstandings, mess ups, nightmares,
catastrophes, melt downs and the like. I learn not only from trying to do
that, but from seeing others do it, too.
longer finished working through a minor yet emotional review of events with the
Aussie and said goodbye when the phone rang with another matter, the one that's
the subject of this article, being brought to the fore.
But even before that, I'd been in a flurry of problem-solving for a few days, caught up, if you will, in the global vortex of being the Pilates Nun; the helper of any and all, the solver of perplexities, curiosities, confoundment, the Director of Means to Happy Ends, the encourager of the discouraged.
all calls and they were coming fast and furious that whole week.
from a studio owner who's just opened up a beautiful studio about 3 blocks from
mine. She used to work for me 50 years ago, I absolutely love her and she
emailed asking something about mat classes - she's not offering them but I do -
and we lapsed into a mini, Blackberry to Desktop consulting session with me
(hopefully) talking her into putting a 30 minute session on her fee schedule so
she can still serve her clientele wanting Mat classes without actually offering
back to the East Coast teacher with the dilemma.
welcomed into her studio an apprentice from a teacher training program other
than her own. The teacher was planning to attend group classes at
her studio and use them as credit toward her own program's sessions/observation
requirements. So far, so good.
visiting apprentice, however, made the East Coast teacher uncomfortable when
she told one of the teachers at the studio that she would be opening
her own studio
as soon as she clears her program and her new studio
would be very close by.
teacher, thankfully and as she should have, told the studio owner what the
apprentice said and it made the studio owner uncomfortable. She
thought about it for a while and decided to call me to talk about it.
said she thought I'd suggest that she embrace the apprentice, welcome her, help
her in any way that she could.
inappropriate for the apprentice to tell a staff teacher what she should be telling the studio owner. She
knew, or should have known, that the information would get back to the studio
owner and her method of delivery of the information lacks integrity
and balls, which, when you got 'em are my personal favorite combination of
apprentice needs to be "fired," Donald Trump-style!
It's one thing to help someone through their program, it's another to have your own training program and be asked to welcome someone finishing up their training from another training program.
one thing to help someone through their program even
if their program isn't your program, it's another for that person to
take your help, get to know your clients and then open a studio near yours.
not have to facilitate the growth of others who show us, especially so clearly,
that they do not respect us, that they are dishonest or deceitful.
after encouraging the studio owner to tell the apprentice, straight up, that
she's ruined her opportunity to continue to learn at her studio because of her
own disingenuous actions, I had to run to the studio to take a load of stuff
down from the home office and then dash to an eye doctor appointment about 30
minutes north of the city; that's a huge trip for me because I rarely leave my
beloved Queen Anne Hill. I may as well been driving to Florida, the day's miles
seemed so great.
jumped in the car and headed down the hill and on the way I saw, once again,
the man who can only be called Blind Daddy
of Queen Anne. He's a 30-something blind man who walks with a
red-tipped white cane, holding the hands of his children one of whom is a
toddler, a tiny little boy who wobbles so much that he practically swings off
his father's hand, pivoting off that one planted tiny tennis-shoed foot.
During school hours when I see Blind Daddy, his older kids aren't around
and he's escorted by his toddler, this wobbly little boy. And there they
go, making their way through the streets of Queen Anne, sometimes in the road,
sometimes on the sidewalk.
hate it that when I see them, I don't know what to do.
As someone with a sight disability myself, I'm extra aware of the challenges of the blind, but seriously, there's just no way this is reasonable and my heart sinks every time I see them.
day, I was rush rush rushing so I said some prayers for them and kept right on
didn't get far when the next situation happened that I felt
I needed to become involved in.
#13 bus runs from its terminus right by my house, Big Red, all the way to
the other side of town. It was ahead of me as I cleared the
intersection that Blind Daddy (sounds like a punk band, no?) was in and
I couldn't help but notice that there was a really old man, hunched over
his rolling walker, trying like hell to make the #13 bus.
heart, already on the floor, sunk a little lower when I saw the #13 pull out
from the stop leaving behind the hunched over old man, doing his version of
running on his rolling walker.
I could do something about.
slammed on my brakes and made a sharp turn to the right scaring a runner in the
intersection, I circled the block and made it all the way around before the
runner got to where the old man, gasping and slumped over even more, was draped
over his walker in despair. And with that, I righted two wrongs. I
apologized to the runner, he graciously accepted and then I said to the old man
that I saw the #13 blow him off and that I was here to take him wherever he
needed to go.
blinking an eye, he released the walker to me and zombie-walked without it
toward my car. I threw the walker in the back of my Subaru wagon and when
my new friend was safely tucked into the passenger seat, I slammed the
passenger door and headed down Queen Anne Avenue toward town.
that fantastic old man smell, the good kind, just like my grandfather used to
have minus the Old Spice. I asked him his name and he said
"Vladimir." His accent was at once sexy, smart yet harsh.
I said "Vladimir, where can I take you today?" and he said
"3rd and Union."
I drive as if I have a rocket launcher up top and a cow catcher on the front,
Vladimir began grasping a bit desperately for his seat belt once we were about
half way down the hill. Once buckled in, he sat quietly and listened to
me tell him about the more memorable times I myself have been left at a stop,
in hot pursuit of a bus that I missed by nanoseconds.
we got to 3rd & Union, right by Benaroya Hall, I unloaded his walker while
he extricated himself from the seat belt and made the long hoist up out of the
low seat. A quick hug, a crinkled-eye to crinkled-eye squint signifying
some sort of momentary solidarity, Valdimir and I, and with that, off I went to
unload stuff in the studio and then onto my doctor's appointment.
was easy. Blind Daddy, not so much.
teachers who call or write with questions are really easy to advise because I
always categorize the problem, removing any neurotic overlays (mine, theirs,
everyone's) from the issue so we can digest it for what it is: communication,
ethics, bravery, compassion, consistency, etc. Most all problems can be
looked at by their generic essence and I believe most cleanly solved at that
work with teachers who want to stay connected to me, I tell them that if they
call, I won't listen to the gory details, I'll help with anything but I won't
get involved on a negative emotional level or be exposed on a negative
emotional because nothing is ever resolved or considered by its true merits
when negative emotions are flowing all over and around it.
When someone earns your anger, let them have it; don't misdirect it and spray discord all over everything else. When someone earns your love and respect, let them have that, too. Everything goes much better in our lives if we give everyone exactly what they've earned and when there's no negative emotion erroneously discharged in the direction of the innocent. It's not that hard to do.
And once you embrace this type of honesty and clarity in your problem solving, you'll find that it's time to fire some clients. You know the ones. The ones who suck your bone marrow, who don't respect you, your mission, your vision, your talent, your time, your policies, your intelligence. They sit like a landfill on your book, you dread at first the day they're in, then you end up dreading the day before they're in, then pretty much the whole week is taken over by how much you dread working with them. Clocks stand still during sessions with these marrow-sucking, should-be-fired people who treat you like you're a prostitute - as long as they're paying you, who cares what they do to you. Have I adequately described these people, these people who need to be fired?
Fire their ass!
If you don't own the studio, remember this: nobody can make you work with anyone you don't want to. Nobody can do that. You have rights as an employee to protect yourself from disrespect, mistreatment in any form.
I love the signs they have up at the British Airways counter at SeaTac Airport. I think we should have these types of signs by every Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair.
Here's what it says: Verbal abuse is construed as threatening behavior, security will be called and you will be detained.
Joe made it clear in his marketing materials that his clients had to submit to the work. You know that I've got a bunch of his original marketing materials up on the studio site, www.PPNWSeattle.com, right? Here's the link: http://ppnwseattle.com/photo_gallery_arch_universal_method.html
That 8 page "Pilates Universal Method Balance of Body and Mind" flyer is a true gem. I call it Joe's manifesto. Read every word.
You feel that heat? Are you in doubt at all about what he meant, what he wanted, what he expected? Now, overlay that onto your client base and see who doesn't match up with what Joe felt was required, what Joe looked for in clients, and I bet you anything that the clients who don't match up are the very ones who suck your marrow. Am I right? Can I get a witness?
Let me riff on Joe: "Come and See Us - if you are in earnest; otherwise, keep on being slouchy and unattractive, a "MR. NOBODY." NO MAN - NO MACHINE can correct or create vitality, power or health for you; everything comes from within, you have to unfold it. YOU NEVER KNOW what you can do, until something spurs you to achieve it. WE MAKE YOU DO IT."
Dear Reader, if you know what to do with your client and they're resisting, they are not coming to you in earnest. You can't help them and you know what you have to do. You have to do what Joe said. You have to get rid of them. And once you get rid of them, don't let any more of them in.
Barnes & Noble is half full of books that all say the same things as Joe's 8-pager. Good Lord, he was such a genius.
And the great thing about getting rid of lousy clients is, once you get the hang of it, it gets easier and easier, just like a gorgeous Roll Up. And then, pretty soon the day comes when your radar is so sensitive that you can catch a bad one on the phone making that first appointment - be preemptive! Don't let them in! One bad client can ruin a whole studio!
And don't take my word for it. Would you believe an Olympic-level Figure Skating Coach?
I've taught Pilates at Kathy Casey's skating seminars and attended her workshops with parents and coaches and she says, to the very parents of whom she speaks, that one bad parent can ruin a rink. If you know anything about Kathy, you know there's nobody who shoots straighter, she can spot a problem a thousand miles off, and there's nobody who gets more from less than Miss Kathy Casey. She's the bomb.
And she's right and you know it. And Joe was right and everybody knows that.
Here's a fun email from Sydney Craig, a Pilates go-getter with a gorgeous studio in Chattanooga. She brought me in to do my full Pilates Excel program back in January and she just came out to my Seattle studio for Open Studio Week in late April. Sydney, with my encouragement, fired a couple of clients while I was at her studio in January; I fired one of them for her (read The Tennessee Rule). Right after Sydney got back to her studio from being here in Seattle, she sent this email:
As soon as I got back to my own studio I finally fired a particularly difficult client and man, it felt good. I did it with a smile on my face and the client's friend actually told me she was proud of me! It's amazing how light I feel. You really don't realize how much they bring you down until they are gone! Woo and two hoos!!! Thank you Rebecca! I love you! I plan to make this an annual trip! You make me happy!
Can't you just feel her exhilaration? Don't you want some of it for yourself?
I've fired clients for every imaginable reason but they all fall into a couple of general categories:
- Disrespect of studio policies
- Disrespect of my time & talent
- Incompatible styles/personalities
I've even put a client on probation because she was what I call a "Pilates rodeo queen." That means, with every touch, she pushed against me like we were in freakin' Kung Fu class. If everyone I taught did that, I'd be exhausted by 9 am. Hell no! It's not sustainable. Pilates is about grace and effortless movement, not about shoving our bodies, client into teacher. Let them go shove themselves around some other studio.
Your client who yaps all session may not have anyone else to talk to, your client may enjoy being stuck on some random trivial past event and your client may not care that they're wasting their time but that doesn't mean you have to put up with it. After all, you'll never get anywhere with these clients, you'll never be able to help these clients and they'll end up blaming you for their lack of results. You simply cannot win with these people, except of course by firing them!
If my standards sound harsh, relax.
Here's the full extent of my standards: You have to be nice. You have to care about the work. You have to try. That's it.
You can be fat, you can be the most uncoordinated person ever, you can have zero chance of every doing a Roll Up and you still stand a good chance of being our very favorite client. It's not about performance; it's about engagement, it's about wanting it, it's about teaming up, facing the future together and working toward something that we both believe in. Ah, that's a beautiful thing. And my studio is full of beautiful relationships that have survived all manner of naturally occuring chaos, drama and intrigue but we never, ever suffer from the purposely created chaos, drama and intrigue.
You are special, you are precious and you deserve the best. Give everything you've got to those who deserve you and get rid of the ones who don't. It's not always easy to figure out who to help and who to cut loose. Use your resources, think about it seriously and comprehensively. Seek wise counsel. Then act. Don't wait. It won't get better. It only gets worse.
apprentice is gone, Blind Daddy still roams the city streets with toddler in
tow, I've seen Vladimir at the same stop waiting for the bus and somehow,
everything seems right. If that saying is true, that God watches out for
innocents, Blind Daddy should be good to go.
God Bless you. God Bless us all.
And call if I can help you fire anybody.
Sunday, April 26. 2009
My Dad had a ton of sayings like the title of this piece, you can't see for looking. He'd say "now you're cooking with gas" which meant that you were finally getting somewhere. He'd also let loose with a 40 second string of unrepeatable cuss words, alternating between English and Italian and I can remember the very day that I realized he said it the same way every time and how delighted I was that he had his own rage song, if you will. I've tried to develop the very same thing for myself; that's how impressed I was by it.
So back to Daddy's saying, "you can't see for looking."
Apparently, I actually can't.
How can a file, a regular sized manilla folder with tons of papers pronged down to the inside of each half, sit on my desk in plain sight and yet be invisible to me. An upcoming need becomes a present one, and before you know it you've got a hard target search on your hands. People are waiting for information, the origins of which are in that file, yet I can't find it.
It was just there. Right there. But it's not there now.
As my schedule unfolds, there are times when I have to set aside progress on pretty much everything in order to travel to teach or to host workshops in my Seattle studio. When that happens, I am usually able to sufficiently clear the decks prior to the event so that nothing major needs my attention while I'm in workshop. If I do a good job of that, I can go a week or two without having to handle any financial or any day-to-day operational matters.
Sometimes, right before going into an extended event when I won't be available to keep pulling the studio cart, I leave all manner of important tasks in various states of completion. Sometimes, and especially lately, I've been unable to find files - files I've looked for in a serious, methodical way - that I just had but now, can't find. And here's the thing.
Probably the past 3 workshops I've done, I've been looking for something, couldn't find it and had to leave the search effort to teach and immediately upon my return to my office post-workshop/trip, there it is. And I mean, there it is like right on top of my desk by the printer. Right there. How, HOW, could I have missed it?
Because I can't see for looking. That's how.
Here's another way I occasionally live in this particular "can't see for looking" hell.
I have flawlessly uploaded video from my fancy video camera on each and every one of my 5 computers before. All of them. Although I'm not sure which wire I've used, there are only 2 wires possible that perform the task and I have them both. Right here.
Can I do it now? No, I can't.
Why can't I? Because I can't see for looking.
I can't figure out which hole accepts which part of which cord.
I'm serious. I'm frustrated. And here's what I'm going to do about it.
I'm going to to the store to buy a case of Corona, then to the studio to watch Game 4 between the Blazers & the Rockets and if that doesn't do the trick, I'm not sure anything will.