Generosity & The Business of Pilates

What I love most about Polestar and Brent Anderson’s message is the spirit of generosity.” – Mara Sievers

I remember reading a newsletter Brent wrote a while ago encouraging us to visit other Pilates studios, even the ones that are not teaching our technique or style. We can learn from everyone. Each new piece of information, every creative variation enriches us. Every life experience for that matter.

There is no reason to be afraid of other styles, schools or teachings.

When I first opened my studio, I felt a significant amount of stress to fill my classes and make everyone love Pilates so that my studio and I would thrive. This stress took quite a toll on my mental and physical wellbeing, so I made the conscious decision to eliminate the self-imposed stress of competition. I have to admit that it was initially more of a “fake it ’til you make it” effort, but over the years, I can honestly say that I have completely dropped the fear of competition.

Last year I visited a Pilates studio and took a session with the owner. During our session a man came in the door who was curious about Pilates and wanted some information. After briefly showing the man around the studio, she let the prospect go. She told me that her schedule was booked and she doesn’t need new clients. That’s wonderful for her, but she missed an opportunity to generously share the Pilates method with someone who’s interested by referring him to another nearby studio.

In order for the Pilates method to thrive, we all need to thrive. In this example, the studio owner could have brought business to another like-minded, hard working business owner. The man who came in would have remembered that this lady was generous enough to help him get what he was looking for even though she got nothing out of it. I think it’s better for us to be inclusive than exclusive, and this type of generosity and honesty gains respect in the community.

At my studio I get the occasional request if we offer barre classes, which we don’t, but I know of a studio in my town that does, so I refer them to that studio. Although barre is a different movement style, the spirit of generosity still applies.

Recently, a classically trained instructor who had moved to the area contacted me with her interest in teaching at my studio. After her demo and some thinking, she decided not to teach at my studio and eventually opened her own about 20 minutes from me. I saw this as a fantastic opportunity for me to experience classical equipment, which was new to me. I had been terribly curious about it and wanted to experience first hand what everyone was talking about. As soon as her studio was set up and ready to go, I booked a session and learned a bunch of new things that helped my body and inspired my teaching. She is a very different teacher from me, and she will attract very different clients.

Here are some reasons why I would refer a client to another teacher or studio:

  • I’m fully booked and can’t fit the client into my or the studio’s schedule
  • One of my current clients has a different mindset and approach to Pilates: if I feel I have to convince them in every lesson that what I do has value, then it might be better to refer them out… we’ll both be happier
  • If I or my studio don’t offer the day, time or type of class that the student is looking for, it’s more important that the student gets to do their preferred movement, even if it’s somewhere else

As Pilates teachers, it’s our goal to help people have positive movement experiences and to build awareness of mind and body. Whether they reach that goal through us or our “competitors” doesn’t matter so much; what matters is that people are moving and finding happiness.

Keep a generous spirit even or especially when the stresses of our lives make us withdraw, contract, and pull back. Sharing opens your heart to others, and people will love and remember you for it.

Your turn! Share your story of Generosity & Pilates in the comments section below.

Mara Sievers NCPT, is a Polestar Graduate, Practitioner and the creator of the Pilates Encyclopedia. Pilates is an amazing method, and it can be hard. It requires a lot of time to master. With its many details, it can seem overwhelming at first. Even after completing a comprehensive training, there is still so much to learn.

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