How to Differentiate Yourself As A Teacher

In 2020, the Pilates community was called out, affirmed, uplifted, and challenged as never before. Teachers emerged from the quiet spaces of their own studios into the light of social media and Zoom. As a result of the pandemic, Pilates teachers from all over the globe have been able to share their talents in brand new ways.

With studios closed and students longing for connection, we found a way to not only keep our clients inspired but also to continue to make a living. Spending more and more hours on our screens and devices, however, we discovered just how many Pilates teachers there are in the world. Moreover, with clients able to train with teachers anywhere in the world rather than at any studio in town, via Zoom, live-streamed classes, or video-on-demand workouts, how do we differentiate ourselves in a field that seems to get more crowded every day? And why does it matter?

According to Allied Market Research, a Portland-based research firm, the global online/virtual fitness market was worth more than $6 million in 2019 and is expected to increase to $60 million by 2027. Fitness has become a necessity to many people. We realized the importance of fitness training once we could no longer leave the house to get a workout.

What does this mean for Pilates teachers? We should be asking ourselves what we want to offer and who we want to serve. It means asking ourselves not only what do we want to teach, but what do we want to be remembered for, and what would we like our students to say when talking about us to their family and friends. What do we have to do in order to keep up in the evolving online space, whether that means social media, a website, more in-depth marketing, better technology, more accessible offerings, or all of the above?

“Now more than ever, building an online clientele is about conversations and not campaigns,” says Erika Quest, Pilates teacher, founder of Level Up MVMT, and a former marketing executive. “If there ever was a time where relationships are of paramount importance, it is now. Put yourself out there, engage and interact. Find your niche, collaborate with others, and build relationships and loyalty to last a lifetime,” she says.

Social Media engagement is a two-way street. If done well, it’s a way for clients (current and potential) to get to know you and what you offer. Depending upon your target market, you might choose to engage via email newsletters, surveys, podcasts, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, personal websites, and YouTube.

As you think about engaging with your ideal client, the following questions can be helpful:

  • Before quarantine, who was your ideal client?
  • What problem did you help them solve?
  • How did they learn?
  • How did you accommodate their learning styles?
  • Did they prefer Mat or mixed equipment classes?
  • Did they like a slower moving class or more of flow?
  • What feedback did you consistently receive from your students?
  • Where do your clients (and potential clients) congregate online?
  • What did you love about teaching that you could translate online, whether in a class offering or other online content?
  • What other skills do you have that allow you to offer something value-added?
  • What other teachers in your space have embraced the change, and would you be willing to propose a collaboration or take inspiration from them?

You don’t have to do it all on your own. Pilates Anytime has free resources on creating an online presence and best practices for teaching online. There are business coaches (some specifically for Pilates instructors), online tutorials, mastermind groups, graphic artists, web designers, and photographers who can help us present our most amazing selves to the world. If you are on a tight budget, you might even be able to barter your services for design or photography work.

While COVID-19 has forced us to pivot, who we are at our core hasn’t changed. There were always other options available, but our students chose us. That’s powerful. Owning that truth may be just what we need to differentiate ourselves in a crowded marketplace.

How do you differentiate yourself as a Pilates instructor? Let us know what has worked for you in the comments section below.

Tasha Edwards
About the Author

Tasha Edwards

Tasha is an integrative health coach, personal trainer and Pilates instructor who has been in the fitness industry for 16 years. She loves helping people find joy and ease through movement and is working hard to make all forms of movement accessible to all. When she’s not teaching or training, she enjoys reading, writing and dancing in the bathroom mirror.


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