Hi everybody. Today my guest is Maria Leoni. Maria is owner of bodyline, a palava studio in Beverly Hills and about balanced body faculty member. She's been teaching clients for 32 years and training teachers for 21 years as a be as business owner. She's been involved in the [inaudible] trademark lawsuit, uh, the sparring of classical and contemporary and, uh, the transition for employee, for teachers from being independent contractors to employees, which was a law that went into place here, um, AB five on the 1st of January. So now she's, um, covert and the current, you know, w we don't have all the answers today we're going to share what we can. Maria is going to share her thoughts about teaching online and that's going to be our big subject today, how to teach online private group classes. So I'm really excited about this and uh, that's great for you to be here.
Can you tell us a little bit, Maria, about where you are and what's happened so far and okay.
So most of your teachers are furloughed at the moment, is that right?
Yeah. Except for me, I'm working, but I'm not getting paid. It's awesome.
Take those principles and then put them on top of anything that you can do that you feel gets your needs met, met. So, um, we're doing [inaudible] two to three mat classes a day, um, but not straight traditional mat classes. And then we're also doing private sessions as well and the in a private session. And is there even a little bit more uh, lesson mat oriented or traditional mat oriented? Although everything I teach, I consider it to be [inaudible]. But if you were to see the exercises, they aren't traditional [inaudible] exercises. So that's what we've been doing.
Cool. They're going well, you know, um, we originally [inaudible] and some of you out there might kind of have the same thought process. A lot of our clients are older people. And um, originally we thought, Oh my God, it's, it's never gonna work. They're not gonna want to do it there. They're not going to have the technology skills to be able to manage doing all this. And what we found was, and, and we really did this to want to just connect to people also. So we would call our clients and we would call them on FaceTime the first time and just to talk to them and to check in and to also let them know that we put some other things down. Um, we've recorded some things and we had some resources for them online that they could go and look at just to get some movement. And once they kind of saw us on FaceTime and everybody can do FaceTime, that's the easiest. So that's what we're doing on most of our private clients.
What they were so thrilled to see us on their device. I mean, just, they were so happy. And then it was like, Hey, Hey, you know what, I like put the device down so I can see you had to tell her let's stretch a little bit. You know, that's just, you know, let's just move a little bit and we would do that. And they were like, Hey, that was great. And I was like, you know what it's like we are doing, we are doing some private sessions if that's something you would be interested in. We also said, um, we also started with 30 minute sessions. So not only that learning curve for some of the staff because um, and the culture of LA, most of Polonius is on reformers. So although I teach a lot of mat, not all of my staff teaches that much mat. And so sort of the 30 minute private kind of gave, um, the other girls who are teaching the opportunity to like broaden their skill base and get ready. Um, Polonius anytime of course, is a great place for that. Guys, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can go onto the lattes anytime and you can steal everything you see.
That's good. Including the stuff that I do that's good, just steal it from me and use it. Um, so we started with these little 30 minute sessions and then gradually for some of the clients we were able to build two and two an hour. Mmm. And so that's what I'm doing. So I have a nine year old client. I'm training two hours a week. Yeah. The gateways are online is probably doing a FaceTime session. Yes, yes, definitely. And just calling, just even calling them and like setting up, setting out 30, we would set out like 30 minutes and say, you know, um, we're going to spend 30 minutes, we're going to talk with them, we're going to check in. Um, Hey, do you want to move? Or you know, like, I would love to just stretch you. Like, can I spend 30 minutes with you?
Just moving you around a little bit. And once they did that and they had the human connection and able to move and all that kind of stuff and they really saw like, yeah, this is really valuable, valuable. I'm sitting on my bed all day, I'm up, I'm moving. I'm stretching. I'm reading [inaudible] balancing. Yeah, let's do this. Um, so that really made the difference I think. Um, and it was that personal phone call because we had sent out emails, um, two people and told them about online stuff. But most of our clients are like, yeah, I can't do that. I'm not, I can't do mat work. Um, and we made that first little, you know, after we reached out to them either we would do it right then I'd say, let me spend 15 minutes, you know, stretching you or we'd say, Hey, can I, do you want me to call you back sometime this week and do a little 30 minute free session? So we did start off with those private clients, just giving them 30 minutes of our time to talk about phone and framing. And then what do you have in your house? What can we use for props? Um, a few people, I brought things over to them. People, if they live close enough, I brought them a little package of a ring and a roller and free weights and stuff. Um, and so we, we kind of built it out that way.
And I'm not sure if that's zoom or whether or not it's our internet connection, but, um, but that's, you know, pretty, pretty common setup that I've seen with lots of people is that same thing other than the laptop or the iPhone on a tripod and the kind of lights that we're talking about. It is a ring light. Mmm. So I kind of asked you if she can put that in the chat. Um, but we've, we've linked to that before. It's kind of a, it's pretty simple. They're still available. Last time I checked on Amazon and that sort of $50 and less, and Ben's how big and how complex you get. Not everybody has any props at home.
So could you go through a little example of how you
So I think you can see me and I'm not headless. There we go. Um, so this is one of the, mm. So the app that I used. And so this is useful for all kinds of breathing, for side bending for your clients that you're worried about. Um, you know, having them right and being able to, okay, they can come back. Um, we do sets of squats here. Um, if they have free weights or cans, we will do, um, some simple upper body stuff. But this set up here lends itself to all kinds of things including um, simple stretches like, so coming into series, um, calming into like what I would call a climate tree, right? And doing just the stretching part of climate tree. So there's [inaudible] things that you can do just here in the seated set up.
Then also for clients that you don't want to have on your knees. So that's a big problem with mat work. Also, we take everything here from the hands and the feet. And so then we can do cat cow, we can do rotation, we can um, do a hip extension, we can do standing abduction work. Then of course we can go to our whole plank series, right? So we can do plank here. We can add things to our plank series, we can take it down to the forearms to make it a little bit more challenging.
Um, we can even take it two side plank setups, then we can turn the chair and the chair becomes a bar. And so the thing about Barbara, many of you are probably dancers like myself, right? So we have this background and we know PA's and stuff, but I mean this, I always describe it as footwork. Like now, now, now you're doing your footwork and then the chair can be here for balance situation. So particularly when you come to like a first position with the heels lifted, um, it's nice for them to have that here. I can also turn them into the chair and come into like 19 D lunges and it's super safe.
I don't have to worry about anyone falling and take it [inaudible] as well here. So this, I mean, you can get 30 minutes out of that chair. Easy, easy, 30 minutes out of the chair guys. Um, then with the kid, the coach, yeah. I usually start with it under the sacrum. And so under the sacrum it lends itself to number one, just simple stretching, but then into stabilization exercises as well. Um, for the clients that aren't going to be lifting their head and shoulders up, they can be doing single leg stretch, they can be doing, um, straight leg stretch. And then I take the cushion a little bit higher. And for the clients that it's appropriate, we do lower AB lifts and things of that nature.
So that's another whole separate setup. Third set up would be with the cushion up under the upper back. And so here we can do um, abdominal curls and oblique curls and it at this angle, it's much easier on the neck than it is working from the floor. So that's why I kind of use this ankle. So I think you guys can see that for your clients that have a hard time lifting here, right? And it is a little bit more neck flexors.
By changing that angle with a cushion, it's now a little bit more user friendly for those people. Then the cushion of course, are people that are gonna keep their head and shoulders down. It comes just to push in. Um, also for sidelining it's great. And then lastly, it becomes a prop in and of itself where you can do with the feet close, little inner thigh squeezes here. So this would be something very basic, but then if I needed to turn up the heat, we lift into reverse bridge. We do the same thing. And if I had to turn up the heat, we take the leg out, right? So it just, it lends itself. It's, it's everything you do on the reformer and everything else.
You just have to kind of extrapolate it out. This also can be used here just to get a little chest work here as well. So this is like with my older clients, uh, people that I for sure know there's no way I'm going to be doing pushups or anything like that. Um, it can work like that as well. So [inaudible] there's really a lot you can do. You just got to kind of keep those [inaudible], you know, principles in your head and do a little bit of homework. Bye.
Instagram or Polonius any time or join somebodies, um, virtual classes. And see what they're doing and then, and put, put it all together and figuring out what fits for your client. But it's very doable. Just think Pilati is without a reformer, which includes some [inaudible] mat work and then everything else, everything from the reformer that you can bring into it and you'll be fine. You're fine. Yeah. Wow. Thank you Mike. A long winded thing. That was fantastic.
So just this week we started, we slated our 11 o'clock classes going to be classes with freeways. Um, and so we have requested that and enough clients now have it that we have a small group that has it. It just, it feels really crappy to me. Um, if I start using weights and somebody doesn't have them, I, I just, I just don't love it. And like a can is fine for like some older clients and shoulder work, but like for my body, like a canned is not going to be enough, you know? Um, but so we did just start doing that. I think early on we considered like, actually I did do this, I was so smart, but nothing happened the way it was supposed to. I ordered tons of bands. I just remembered, I ordered tons of bands and I ordered tons of balls.
And originally my plan was like, I thought we were going to have a little bit more notice and I thought, you know, we're going to sell these little at home packs and people will have a band and a ball. God, if they had a band and a ball and chair and cushion, that would be so easy. But you know what? None of that stuff ever arrived. Just like everything else, nothing around stuff happens, that's for sure. Yeah.
And I'm not a huge fan of super high reps, like in Inbar worlds. To me, that part of bar world, uh, really kind of goes against a lot of these principles where we want to be doing quality over quantity. So you know, those big numbers they do just doesn't seem right to me. Um, so like it's like three to five and then also I'm like a two pound, two pounds, two pounds for shoulders, two to three pounds for shoulders, three to five for, for bicep. [inaudible] um, and triceps. Yeah. Cool.
They know my language, they know my cues. If I say come onto your hands and knees, hands under your shoulder and you, we're going into cat cow, they can go into cat cow. And I can say, I can just breathe, breathe with them and cue them and move them and not have to do the whole thing. Um, so I go back and forth. So even in the group sessions, I mean people that have been coming, they know hundreds, they know real up, they know single legs, they don't need me to do that with them. Right. So I might say we're going to come into really like a ball and I might, you know, say get to the edge of the mat, come to your start position and then I'll stop and I'll just cue them and I'll just watch them here because it is really great. And I've had the experience as a student as well. I mean, it's, it's so nice when you're home alone in your house and you got to teach, you're on and you, you know, and suddenly like, Hey Maria, that was great.
And I'm like, [inaudible], that's great. You know, it's like the human connection is nice. Um, and I am able to still cue and give those corrections. The one thing that I would say, because this works really beautifully, the one thing that I have noticed that's a little tricky is it's much harder for me to tell. Um, particularly w even in the one-on-ones, it's harder for me to tell when I'm, it's too much for client. I miss those signals. Like if I S when I worked together, I can sense strain. I can sense the fatigue a lot better than in this medium. So I find myself having to check in and be like, Hey, was that okay? How is that on your neck? You know, did you feel that just in your triceps?
So that's just been one thing that's been different. But you, you can't do the workout all the time. People, you got to save your bodies, you know, you just, you just can't. Um, even for like the side leg series, like the side leg series is a no brainer, right? Cause everybody can do it. Everybody feels it. It's there but everyone's thrilled. But you know, I was doing a zillion sidelight series a day. So at one point it felt kind of funny actually. I would like lay down, it's like okay, lay down, I'm getting like to add, we're lifting. And I'm like now you do. I would just literally be staying here kind of watching them and then kind of set them up and then kick the leg forward. Like, Hey that's great John. Nice straight leg.
Keep your body a little bit more like that. But then I would, I would literally have to because it just, it was too much repetitive motion. Again, repetitive motion is not our friends. I remember that people. Yeah. Save your bodies. You're doing some of your marketing on Instagram. Can you tell me about what your strategy and what you're delivering through Instagram? Yeah. Yeah. So, um, and I was watching everybody else too cause just like you all I poached too. So I was watching what everybody was doing and although I, I put out free tools for people by a YouTube and that we did connect with people personally and give them like little free 30 minute sessions.
I knew I had clients that we're willing to pay right away. So everything in our studio, once we got the glitches out, we started charging, but then I did want to have something for free. And um, so what I did on Instagram, and it's every Thursday at 12 and I plan on doing it for a while. So everybody out there you can join me. So from 12 to 1230, I'm developing new material and so it's a different kind of workout. It's actually something I am developing. [inaudible] anytime. It's something that I've always wanted to do where I'm taking all of my disciplines. Um, so many of you don't know much about me. Um, so I was a professional dancer, first [inaudible] instructor, second [inaudible] martial artist, third yoga practitioner fourth. And I don't dance anymore, but everything else I still really have is my practice.
So I'm melding all of these disciplines together and trying to create flows where, um, instead of like, Oh, now we do 10 minutes of this and now we go to 10 minutes of that, then it's all like cohesive and in one piece, so Thursdays at 12, I'm inviting people to join me for that. It is not a [inaudible] workout and it is for healthy bodies only. And so I'm kind of workshopping, like in the dance community, that's what you used to do. You would start to workshop like a PFC, you'd get bodies and start to create and you'd get feedback. So that's sort of what I'm doing, um, Thursdays at noon and it forces me to work out, you see, cause I have to show up and that I actually do have to do because I have no plan at all or very loose. So I need to feel in my body like where I'm going next. Um, so it, it's, it's a win win.
I love those win-win situations anywhere I can get multiple things done at once. I'm all in for cool. So that's Thursday 12th Instagram live. Yeah. If your Instagram handle in the, in the chat here too, we'll do that for us and also on my Instagram. You can, you can go back. You can see the 90 year old client. I mean I have the 19 year old client posted on my Instagram.
That's just pretty fabulous. I have some, any fabulous people on there. So take a look. Great. Now we're going to go to the Q and a session. We already have questions here. The first one is do your clients sign, this is from Catherine. Do you use client releases for virtual sessions with new clients?
That's a good question. Um, I do not and truthfully I hadn't even considered it. I did check my insurance policy though to make sure that my insurance policy covered me teaching virtually, which it does do. Um, we have had new clients come in for the virtual classes and the mind body doesn't prompt them. It does prompt them. Oh my fabulous studio manager, Alex hit me again. And so yes, it is set up. So they sign a waiver. Yeah. So through mind body they are signing away. Right.
I didn't even know that when they sign up for their first class, they're signing a waiver.
So this took up my audio to a place that was better than the audio on, um, the desktop. Mmm. So a lot of people probably wouldn't have problems with the AirPods. I am able to work out and they stay in. This is a nice option. It did bring up the audio better, but this is even better than this because when I move, you know, with a Mike on, when you move your head, um, it, it's not as great. So yes.
In terms of how to solve these things. You know, our customer support folks, their advice is restart your device, whether it's your computer or your phone. And sometimes that fixes the issue, but it's the sort of thing that is generally outside of either Maria's or my control, you know, and um, stuff happens. What platform do you use to record your Mac classes and how would you monetize it? Um, we are doing light at the moment and our clients are asking for recorded sessions.
Holidays anytime is as well.
I'm not just saying that happy cause we do it and we don't want competitors. We have lots of competitors, but it's not the easiest thing to do. I think another web, um, uh, we, we talked to one on Friday, one Nieto, and he was talking about his own videos that he puts behind his wall. So he has a pay wall, which is subscription members of his [inaudible] studio can get behind and see all the content that he's created. It's not a trivial technological problem to do. Mmm,
Just having re making a personal recording for them and do that. So I haven't, I'm not sure if that was what she was. We have it blocked off. Oh, we have it locked off. She's saying on zoom. Yeah. No one can record us without a snout, without our permission.
And even Nikki on our schedule, one of the evening classes, she teaches that from her home as well.
And so everybody is able to, I mean, you don't need that much space, do you? Do they just need to fiddle around with moving their device. And so we might take some time, I'll be like, Hey, let's do some framing. I'm like, Hey, put your mat when you put your mat parallel to your device like mine. Then I'll be like, Hey, sit down, sit up. I'm seeing mostly your ceiling.
Can you turn on a light? And just not everybody except my mom for some reason. Literally I do not know why I could be a mother daughter thing, but I can't get my mom to frame herself as I'm still seeing her, you know, like this. Uh, but everybody else, um, I can see pretty, pretty clearly head to toe.
How many hours are you teaching in a typical week?
I mean, even I have one client that's seeing me pretty frequently because they are stuck in New Zealand and they can't leave their apartment at all. And she's like, Hey, can I work with you? Like four times a week. But she's got nothing except the chair and a cushion. And she, this had knee surgery surgery and she's had shoulder surgery and it's very trying. So, um, I think at one point I was like, Hey, let's do a little Zoomba. Like, like, this is about moving. And so, you know, like we just did a little 15 minute step to the right, you know, and had music. I was actually really fun. She's somebody that I really enjoy. So you just, you gotta think I think out of the box but, and then just kind of know like it is what it is. I can't be as creative as usual. I can't be, you know, I can't have something brand new every day cause this is the beast.
[inaudible] they are very thankful just to see you and hear you. And again, it's about connection. You know, we're not, we're not, I'm not just teaching movement to people, we're connecting to them and helping them to stay grounded. So kind of keep that in your head to the game has changed a little bit. Like we're here to keep people grounded, for them to have routine for them to have a schedule, to have something to do today. So shift your thinking a little bit, sort of about what the intention is during this time.
And then each morning we come in, we go to zoom, um, we cut and paste the link and we manually email everybody that has signed up. So we'd do that before each class. And then for the private sessions and all that were, which were we always do that manually is we don't integrate that. So we're just doing that here and then letting people know, Hey, you know, it's time for you to send a check kind of thing.
We started with a donation style set up. One teacher wanted to be zero to 20 and other from 10 to 35 for group classes. Do you recommend going to paid instead of donation? How would you recommend transitioning to a paint arrangement? Like packages?
Um, I would just set your price and say, you know, thank you very much everybody for donating to our staff. Um, we are now moving, we're now able to offer packages, put it on like an upswing right now, able to offer packages. So, uh, and our, our package price is $12. If you buy 10. Um, so I would just set your prices. I'm not sure what your clientele is. Our average clientele was spending like $60 a week here. Um, if I really felt like there was a need for me to have to go lower, um, I guess I would for someone. But then also keep in mind, I put that stuff up on Instagram on, excuse me, on YouTube. So I have little 15 minute chunks on YouTube so they could go there. They could do that again. They, you know, so I do that. Um, so I would just kind of set your price. Um, I did consider for the staff just in terms of them being able to, to have more income. Some of them have other skills, some of them can teach meditation and some of them I one teaches, she gone one teaches bar. And so if the staff themselves, Ellis had other skills that they wanted me to market to my clients, I was willing to do that. And then they would do that for donation, then that would go directly to them and into their pockets. Um, one nice thing, believe it or not, we have had a handful of people who have said to us, keep, keep my sessions on the books that may keep paying you and you, you know, I, I want, I want the trainer to get paid, which is really, really super lovely. So we have had some really nice moments like that through this.
I don't know if those people are going to come back. We have a, a smaller back room that um, we are going to hold for yeah, no more than two people I hope, but it might be have to be like certain times that there's only one person in there. Um, so hopefully we can accommodate them that way, but, but also hold that back room for us to do some ritual training from as well. So I do, I do think that it's, some of this is going to continue. Um, it has given me the opportunity to reconnect to some other clients also. Mmm. You know, like my client who's in New Zealand and train her virtually as well. So I do think it's going to continue. This is a [inaudible]
What do you think I should do when clients who don't understand and want to start now?
We'd have to move people around. Our numbers would have to go down. Hopefully people will be more accommodating. Like my retiree that I usually work out Mondays at nine. Hopefully he's going to be willing to come Monday at three, which usually is really quiet. Mmm. I think, uh, we will require masks in the communal areas. I don't think we'll require mass in the big studio.
We had already said all of our teaching is hands off. We had already made all our teaching to clients had to stay on one piece of equipment. So we're not doing this traveling around. So there's no props. There's going to be no rings, no balls, no. Whenever you're on your reformer, you're in one place. Once you've come into the studio. Um, we also ordered from balanced body. These vinyl covers. Does that go over the loops? Um, we are selling grip towels. We have always been a toe sock studio that has really helped us.
And then toe sock also, um, sells a grip glove. So if people come in and you have that towel on the reform armor, they have toe socks on, they have the hands on the, the grip gloves on. We have the vinyls on the loops, there's six feet distance. I feel, I feel confident that we can keep people safe. Um, that's me though. Mmm.
I was in Singapore just prior to this and everywhere in Singapore, they were checking people's temperatures before they entered. Before we shut down, I tried to get my hands on, you know, a thermometer, a no touch temperature thing. And I couldn't get my hands on that. So I have thought about that as well. Well I would feel comfortable reopening, I believe. But, but I fought, I, I've been thinking of how to approach Georgia and I thought well what if I personally did not feel comfortable reopening?
I mean of course I'm just worried about the rent. Like if the city tells me, I'm like, I'm sort of, I think I'm [inaudible] in a good situation with my rent cause the city isn't allowing me to operate. But now if the city says to me, okay, you can be open. And now I want to say to my landlord, well I aye can't pay rent cause I can't open cause I don't feel safe enough to open. I, I've, I've wondered about like, like that, like there's one thing that the city tells you to operate, but what have you, you're not able to operate. Also early on with our staff and John and I, we touched on this a little bit right immediately we said to the staff, you know, as soon as you're not comfortable being here, you don't worry, you, you don't, you don't need to be here. And by the way, please send us an email that says that you're not comfortable being here just so I had record of it. Um, and they had, you know, we had somebody who's pregnant. We have, we have some staff with preexisting conditions. Um, and so if somebody doesn't want to come back to work, they don't have to come back to work. But I don't really know. You know, I'm fresh with employees. I am, I've had employees for three months, so this is kind of, it's a big ketchup situation. Um, so that's what I would encourage you to just make it as safe as possible and compared to a gym or a spin place where people are sweating and clothes. I mean, I do really think that we can social distance, you can't have the numbers that you used to have business, we'll have to go down, but we can have business here and keep social distancing and so I will be very committed to that as best I can.
And I would also try to make that recording like a specific to that person as I could. So it wasn't like they could hand off that work out to their best friend and whatever. Not, I mean, I guess, I don't know why I think that way, but, um, if I want to give something for free, um, I want to make sure there's something, nothing in it for me. So me putting stuff up for free on YouTube, it makes me feel really good that I've done that and that people have some resources. Me doing free on Instagram live is for me to work out this new material and also do a little bit of marketing. Right. So it's for people to know about me. I didn't need to do that because my, my, my meat and potatoes is, are my studio clients.
So I didn't need to go free on Instagram in terms of [inaudible]. Yeah, I w I, I would have to come up with a fee for that unless it was somebody that was really like really down and out and like, yes, I definitely want to do that. Like, you, you need this work. I want you to have this. And I would be gifting it to them. It would be very clear that I'm going to, I want to gift this to you. Um, I don't love the idea. I mean I'm in a little different scenario because even the people here and trust me, there are people here that are worried about going broke and they certainly are not. Um, the, the people around here have, most of them have plenty of resources.
And so particularly with my clients that would not make me comfortable.
Hmm. Keep coming. Keep coming. Yeah. So, Hey everybody, can you go this way so they can see this height?
So it travels from here to up to here.
And so I knew everybody. So we don't hear anybody. So on the speaker and since I'm the speaker, my image is going to be the biggest one in their frame. I'm watching them on gallery view. So I'm seeing everybody and I'm small, but then they're watching me on speaker views, so on big and they're not seeing everybody else. I think that answers your question.
So I have a fairly recent iMac that I'm using today and the most I can get is five by five on a screen. So the, the number of people you see on one view is a function of the type of computer you have. Could you, how do you promote zoom sessions to people who are not interested at all? I think we touched on that with your idea of ringing them up.
We spent [inaudible] not me, not me, Nikki actually spent time with people, um, putting them onto zoom, but we, we, we called everybody and then, um, if we didn't get responses from people, we actually texted people too because I, I felt like we were offering things that people didn't know about. And of course they didn't sound, but not many. So now I'm doing cold calling. It's not really cold calling, but, but you know, calling on the phone has been a long, long time since I did everything like that. But that was really what was the most effective. And then again, it was that, that communication, you know, clients did kind of want to hear a voice, that point of contact. Um, and then we taught them how to use zoom.
I was teaching just with the Mike from the laptop or, uh, the other mic. So I, I don't know if it would be possible to do here.
So if you're doing movement to the music beat and the beat is half a beat off, it's confusing. So, um, I'd love to, if somebody is really discovered at a soul that I'd love to know. [inaudible]
Do you see how much darker I am and then turn it back on. Let me turn this one back on. Yeah.