Pilates and The Evolving Digital World

By Beth Kaplanek and Maritza Diaz 

COVID has drastically disrupted the Pilates industry. Although vaccinations continue to roll out, the industry should prepare itself to adapt to this life-changing event and expand its healthy movement offerings.  

Twice a week, my 92-year-old client makes her Pilates session a priority. Although we still meet in the studio for in-person instruction with a mask, she shifted her mindset to embrace a virtual session of Pilates online during COVID. She was recently diagnosed with Pneumonia. When she started feeling better and couldn’t leave her house, she insisted on virtual sessions until she could make it back to the studio. Knowing she can move is important to her self-esteem and overall well-being. As her instructor, I was so happy to offer a virtual movement experience for her. 

This short story about my client reinforces how Pilates instructors need to embrace technology. We all need to adapt to these changes and recognize the value of a virtual class in this post-COVID world. Some of our clients cannot leave the house because of their health or access to get to the studio. For this group of clients, virtual classes offer them a viable alternative!    

How are Pilates teachers adjusting to teaching post-COVID? Do they have to acquire even more technological skills? 

For other Pilates instructors like myself, live streaming long-distance learning environments open new opportunities for individuals to engage when they cannot travel or have limited funds for continued education. If an instructor has to fly to a location, pay for food and hotel for an educational weekend, the cost can be more than a week’s salary. Now they can stream and only pay for the education, making a virtual Pilates educational opportunity a great alternative!  

Technology is quickly changing with artificial intelligence, and it has been since its inception in the 1950s. I interviewed Polestar’s Founder and President, Brent Anderson, and VP Shelly Power, about their technology and Pilates integration.  

Brent is a Pilates pioneer. He’s been making digital changes to his business model since the middle part of the 90s. If this doesn’t impress you, consider that he has managed to create and maintain an online curriculum that provides fully interactive Pilates education in sixty countries. Pre-COVID, Polestar’s teaching curriculum was already online. “During COVID, we pivoted from an in-person to an online experience using all online resources,” says Shelly Power.  

“With Polestar Online, quality is not lost. We were using our system five years before COVID. Student teachers film themselves, and we can dissect their performance. Technology allows the practicing instructor to provide themselves feedback,” says Brent Anderson.

Polestar Online (Polestar’s learning management system) is a perfect place for housing educational programs, workshops, discussion groups and allows for self-paced education. In the middle of COVID, I taught my 2-day course on hip and knee pathologies and total joint replacements. I used Polestar Online to house all the lectures and videos, giving the participants 30 days to revisit and practice. This was so successful that I have pivoted to teaching this course in September as an online streaming program.  

Moving forward, Brent has invested in virtual platforms to fit digital trends and challenges. One of the programs developed is called Runity, a conditioning program that helps runners improve their running experience with the latest science and technology. Runity uses phone and video functions with unique algorithms to evaluate runners’ movements and offers appropriate exercises for the runner.  

Throughout the creative process of your Pilates sessions as an instructor, business owner, or Pilates educator, you should be developing methods that help make you marketable. We offer these points below to help you move forward into the virtual world of education and instruction.  

Optimize Your Brand 

  • Bring more awareness to your programs by contributing or publishing your content to high-traffic sites.  
  • Broadcast your session on three social media platforms that are easy for you to manage. 
  • Promote your programs on health and wellness podcasts. 
  • Announce your upcoming workshops with inexpensive email marketing strategies.  
  • Use free graphic design software to create your vision, such as Canva.  
  • You are the brand. Your brand needs to be a consistent message across all platforms. Remember to avoid the pitfall of damaging your brand with unrelated personal messages.  

Scale Your Business 

Creating a hybrid model of online and in-person sessions helps you maintain a local presence while expanding your programs to potential clients abroad.  

  • Make sure that your workshops/classes are easily accessible on a computer and mobile devices.  
  • Have a user-friendly website for clients to book a class and download materials.  
  • Besides Pilates/movement workshops, brainstorm on additional skills that can help you market your program.  
  • Part of the focus should be on mental health and emotional wellbeing where Pilates can be used to help clients feel better about themselves.  

Data-Driven Results 

Data is king. Having access to evidence-based information can help your clients make adjustments to your sessions. We should collect data and research new methods of exercise that help our clients. 

  • State incentives for students taking an online course that equal the importance of taking it in-person. 
  • Pre-recorded classes allow clients to pause or rewind to a specific part that helps them master the program’s moves and material. 
  • Offer sales or bundles to keep them coming back for more. 

The Pilates industry needs to evolve if it wants to grow. This growth demands instructors to develop hybrid classes that are in-person and virtual. Remember that people are searching for a work-life balance to improve their mental and physical health. Pilates programs can help clients enjoy a more balanced approach to the joys of life.  

You can learn more from Beth by visiting her website or taking her next online course in September. 

To learn more about Maritza, you can visit her website

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