Discussion #4131

Re-Opening Your Studio

60 min - Discussion
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On May 12, 2020, we talked to Delia Buckmaster about the process she is going through to re-open her studio in Whitefish, Montana. She tells us how her situation differs from other areas that are more populated as well as the phases that the state of Montana is using as businesses start to re-open. She also shares how she is modifying her teaching to keep a social distance from her clients when they are in the studio.

Links and Resources

- Erin Bromage Article

- Proper Equipment Cleaning Webinar

What You'll Need: No props needed

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May 14, 2020
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Welcome everybody! Today my guest is Delia. Delia has been a longtime friend of Pilates Anytime, and we have done so many fun things together. But she owns in a studio in Whitefish, Montana, which I'm gonna show in a second where that is in the world, because I certainly had to look it up on the map. And she's been part of that community for 15 years. She's taught for Pilates Anytime many times.

And, we've just always enjoyed doing things together, so, it's great to see you Delia. Thank you for having me! I'm excited to be here. I'm also very nervous. This is a very, it's a very hot topic. It is.

So before we start here, I'm just gonna say, you know, we are not the government, we are not the CDCs, we are not the medical experts. But we're gonna talk about the conversation that's going on about reopening studios, and kind of share with everybody the thought process that Delia's going on, and the things that we've heard and that we've read. And try and help everybody have a more informed decision-making process of what they should do with their own Pilates teaching practice and their own Pilates studios. So please, I wish I could give great advice on this, we'll do the best we can, but we don't know the answers. I don't think anybody really does.

And it's certainly easier to get a lot of opinions. I'm gonna start off with a quick screen share. This is from The New York Times, and just to show where Delia is. So this state up here in the northern part of America is Montana, and the state which Delia is, is in Flathead, the county, sorry, the county is Flathead County, Montana. And she has had only two deaths in her county.

And you can kinda look from this New York Times map here, and you can kind of see there aren't a lot of cases there. And if you contrast it with Los Angeles, with the big circle over here on the left, and with everything that's going on in New York, New Jersey, and that whole community around there, you can kind of see that Montana is very, very different. Yes it is, yeah. So tell me a little bit about, where do you live, Delia? Well, you saw.

I'm an hour south of the Canadian border, so the Alberta Province, so the nearest Canadian city to me, big city, would be Calgary. It's about five hours away. And I'm about two hours from the Idaho border. And so the nearest hotspot in the United States would be Seattle and that's about a 10-hour drive from here. But I don't live on a highway corridor, so if you were looking at the map or if you want to look at it later, Highway 90 goes across, east to west.

I think you can get in Chicago and take it all the way to Seattle. But I live two hours north of that corridor, so you have, this is a destination, so you have to actually drive up here, either you're going to Canada, or you're coming to visit our close proximity to Glacier National Park, so. We're a big tourist area. Delia has promised me that I should, that she'll give me a great visit if I ever come, and I've kind of blown it, 'cause I don't think I'm gonna be coming for a little while now, so. No, he didn't take me up on that retreat! (laughs) Yeah, I'd love to come visit.

I would love it so much. How many people live in your city? You know, that's, ah, I should've written that down, but I think it's about 8,000 full time. But we triple in the summer months, just tourists coming in and then people with second and third homes here. So not very many.

The whole state of Montana, to give you an indication, has about a million people, maybe a little bit more. And... The largest city is Billings, which is eight hours from here, and they have about 100,000 people there. And then if you look at the map, if you look at the west side of the state, that's where the Rocky Mountains are so east and west of that divide is where most of us live. That whole entire other side of the state is, has much, more more sparse population, so yeah.

So I can behind you this beautiful Pilates studio. Tell me it's not, you promised me it wasn't a green screen, and I'm seeing you-- No! This is, no, this is, I'm touching it. This is the reformer. I actually have turned my Cadillac into my Zoom station, so my screen, or my computer right now, is on the Cadillac. I have, it's a full, in this space here, if you have access to your Instagram, if you go to Delia Pilates Studio's Instagram, I actually just did a little virtual tour on there, anticipating today.

So you could actually kind of look around. The only thing I didn't get was, you didn't see the reception room, but yeah, so, I just moved in here, actually. I've been in business for 15 years, but I had a really great start to 2020 (laughs) and then. (disappointed groan) So yeah. Cool. So tell me about what happened in Montana.

When did you have to shut down? I actually wrote it down so I didn't forget, but we... the studio closed March 16th. And the stay at home order was implemented on March 28th. So a lot of businesses in town took it upon themselves before they told us to close, especially those that thought they might be at high risk, so it's, the town itself, and the state of Montana, but especially this town, has been really respectful of all of the, you know, the recommended restrictions put upon us during the pandemic.

But yeah, so we've been closed since March 16th. And this has become virtual since then, so yeah. Cool. Is that where you film virtually? I do.

That's actually where I do it. I have, my lights are now in front of me here, but I set up lights here and then I have the reformer that actually will turn into a table, but most of the time I leave the reformer and I pull a mat out in front of it. But what I've done is I've set up the Zoom here where you see it, and then I'll put my phone on the corner and a lot of times record the class, to see if I could maybe resell it, or for those that have missed the class but paid for class. Yeah, it's actually worked out really, really well in this scenario. I feel really fortunate.

And I've been able to come in here, which I know a lot of instructors out there, and I'm sorry, that you couldn't go into your studio, but I have been able to do so, yeah. Yeah, it's the benefit of having your own studio, so, you can do what you like then. Yeah! And not as strict stay at home orders here as there have been in other parts of the country. Yeah, when we were chatting yesterday, you were telling me that if you arrive at the airport, you're checked by the National Guard? Can you talk a little bit more about that?

They've placed the National Guard at the airports, and we also, we're a, a train comes through here, so, right across the street actually is a train station. There's National Guard there as well, so they take your temperature and they take all of your information down. And I didn't know whether or not they follow up or whatever, but I did have some clients that went to Africa, and when they returned, they didn't know this was happening, it was in the middle of their trip, they were stopped in Kenya, they couldn't fly into Kenya, and they didn't know why, and all of this. When they returned, they quarantined, and they got a call a week later from the Health Department asking them of their, where they've been all week. So they are following up pretty good.

I'm sure a lot of people aren't following the rules, but most that I've spoken to have quarantined. The state of Montana has not lifted the quarantine. And so a lot of people that do have second homes here that don't wish to quarantine are not coming until they've lifted, so that they don't get stuck in their house here, so yeah. Interesting. So, you've been teaching online with Zoom, you mostly been focusing on teaching your existing clients?

Pretty much. Mainly my existing clients. The other clients have been a really great bonus, you know, and the highlight of my day, when I get someone from South Africa, or from the U.K. I even get excited when they come from L.A. (laughs) And my family's been able to participate, which my sisters have never taken my classes, so they've been really excited to get on Zoom, take the classes, but. I have had a really great clientele.

Very few have canceled their memberships and so my initial reaction was "How do I take care of them first? "How do I thank them and make sure that they're getting "their money's worth out of their membership?" So that's how it started. But I was numb for, I didn't, it was one of those where I, was it really happening? For like a week, I didn't know what to do with myself. And then I started to get on Instagram and everyone was starting to panic, and the forums, and "How are you guys teaching?" and all of a sudden I thought "Oh my God." I grabbed the computer from the front desk that was new and stuck it on the Cadillac and I just went for it.

I had technical difficulties. I still kinda do. I still don't know how to have good music with that, so if anybody wants to send me a PM or DM, let me know how you get that music on there, but, yeah. So that's what's been going on. Cool.

Do you know anybody in your community that's had the coronavirus? I do. I do know of a couple of people in the community that have had the coronavirus. And they, they were one of the lucky ones that did not have too many really bad symptoms. But yeah, people that I've worked out with, not here, other places, and then just somebody in my neighborhood, actually, that I didn't know about.

I didn't know she was case number 31 in Flathead Valley. Wow. Yeah, so, it has been in close proximity, but as you could see, the numbers are still fairly low, and from what I've been told, the two that did die had underlying health conditions and they were older, the ones here in the Valley, so. Let me just do a little quick poll here, asking everybody else whether or not they know people that have been impacted by the coronavirus, so the questions here, have you had it, has a friend had it, or has a friend of a friend? Or you don't know anybody?

We're gonna let that run for a couple of seconds here and then share the results. Oh hi Karen! Karen says she just took one of my mat flows the other day on Pilates Anytime. Thanks for joining us today. Cool. Oh and there's somebody from B.C.

Hi Margaret. Ah. It looks like here we have a couple of people that have had it themselves. I hope that you're fully recovered and that you're well. 40% have a friend that's had it, that's the biggest.

And we've been running this survey now for the last few weeks, I think it's seven or eight weeks we've done these webinars, and that percentage of people close to home having it has gone up all the time, so. (Delia sighs) Yeah, it is all over the world. That is for sure. So, the big news, the reason that I reached out to you Delia, is that you are in a position of probably being able to reopen your studio before a lot of other parts in the world, because the amount of Coronavirus that is being seen up in Montana is one of the lowest. I'm just gonna go back to that quick screen share again, with The New York Times.

I just wanted to illustrate something here. I have to find Montana here. This is Montana. I hope people can see that. Can you see that down here?

"Where new cases are decreasing." And you can see that it's nearly down to zero new cases in Montana. It is one of the places in the world that has been most successful in flattening that curve and mitigating it. Just compare that with California which is up here at the top of the page, and you can see here in California where I live, it's still increasing. Just trying to explain why places like Montana open up in that there are very few cases, new cases, being reported. So tell me about what happened in the news.

What's happened with you there? Opening, well, as most people that are probably attending today, you can see that there's a lot of talk about when gyms should be opening and what phase gyms should be in. And in the state of Montana, they have lumped all of us together, gyms, micro-gyms, like a CrossFit, small CrossFit, and then Pilates and yoga, all lumped into gyms. So there a bit of an uproar. I actually personally was not sure how I should react to that, but there were other people that were very proactive and contacted the local health department, contacted the state, written letters to the governor.

And so with all of that pushback, the state of Montana did come back and move us into, or gyms into phase one. So phase one started for us April 24th, so not that long ago. So as of this Friday, they've moved gyms, with heavy restriction, into phase one. So, long story short, no indoor classes, only outdoor classes of 10 people or less, and also they have to be six feet apart, social distancing. There's still a bit of an argument.

There's still some pushback. So for example, I have been told that I can have private sessions. As much as I sometimes, I'm not somebody who goes with the flow that well. I think I've done a really good job the last two months, but I did call the health department and I asked them to clarify with the state what group classes meant. And I explained the size of my studio, I mean it's 1100 square feet.

there's two different rooms, there's a closed entry vestibule, there's a closed reception. Is it possible to have three people in here? If you can see, I can't take you on a tour 'cause it's a PC, but I have five reformers, and if you put people on every other reformer, so a total of three, they're more than six feet apart. So I just want clarification, because it's not really to bring in new people that I don't know. It's because I have family members that work out together, husbands and wives, I have three brothers that come in together, and so I'm waiting on more clarification.

The health department I feel like was on my side with that one, so they're gonna call the state again just to clarify that. With that being said, I have a lot of frustration from clients that wanna come in. I've only had resistance from one older couple that said they're not coming in until there's an immunization for it. So I don't know when I'll see them again. But everybody else is really jonesing, really jonesing to come in.

And I'm hoping that it's part their frustration and part, you know, how they feel about everything here. And I also hope that the other half of that is that they trust me. They trust that I'll keep the studio clean. They trust that I'll follow social distancing rules. They trust that I have not traveled myself and am staying safe.

So I think it's, it's really a balance of trust almost. Just to explain so everybody else knows, what does jonesing mean? (laughs) What? Jonesing, like really wanting to come in. Is there people that don't know that?

Okay, I'm sorry. Jonesing, like they're really wanting to come back, to work out, to feel normal again. We do have an opportunity here as Pilates studios too, if they can give us a little bit more leeway, with obvious restrictions for safety, we could benefit from this. I mean, if they're not opening up yoga studios or group fitness, I should say, then we have an opportunity to gain some clientele here in the short term, and maybe be able to offer them some more affordable ways to come in and get a workout. I think people are just looking for a sense of normalcy, really.

More than anything, you know. Yeah, I think there's a lot of that. So, let's pretend I'm one of your private clients, and I'm coming into the studio. What's the experience gonna be like? So, again, I will repeat that if you look at the Delia Pilates Studio Instagram, and I did a little virtual yesterday, when you walk into the studio, there's a vestibule, closed entry.

So that, those two doors will remain closed that go into the reception. And they have two doors, reception and then the Pilates room here. And I did it so that way when we were in full operation, private sessions can come in without disrupting group sessions. Anyway, all of your personal belongings stay there. There's hand sanitizer and wipes in that entry.

The reception has hand sanitizer and wipes, so if you need to come in and speak to somebody at the reception, you can. And then I clean everything myself, I always, I mean we clean, always clean, with a pandemic or no pandemic, but I'm asking that everybody bring, everybody wipe off the equipment that they're going to be on if they feel comfortable doing so and don't trust that I have. And then we clean when they're done and I just make sure that if there's people crossing paths, what I'm hoping to do, one comes in through one way and the other, I can do a full circle in and out. So that's really convenient. I am set up well that way.

But I also have a back door as well, that I don't use, so if somebody was really wanting to, but I don't think that if people were that worried, we are elective, so I don't think they would come in, if they were that scared. Does that make sense? I mean, I could be wrong, but that's just my perception. Yeah. One of the questions that I asked you yesterday is what do you think about wearing masks and doing Pilates?

I personally, I'm not requiring them. I have sent, I've talked to all of my clients personally about coming back. I'm not requiring them. Please don't, please don't think that I'm not following rules or not being socially responsible. Why I feel as though they shouldn't be required in here is because there's a level of comfort in here.

You come in here. You're choosing to be in here. I'm distancing myself. There's no more than two, maybe three people in an 1100 square foot space at one time. And, so yeah, so I just, I'm not.

It's recommended, but I, as a business, it's not part of the rules here. Yeah, and I'm curious what everybody else is gonna say. I'm just gonna launch a poll on this. Will you be asking clients to wear a face mask while doing Pilates? And I think some of the challenge in this is, it's kind of hard to be breathing hard and wearing a Pilates mask.

So I'm not sure what the answer here is. You know, John, Pilates is a very hands-on discipline as an instructor. You know, you're, yes, you're taught to cue, I was taught to cue quite a bit with where I learned to teach, but it's also... it can be very tactile, and you're touching people. And now we're not touching people.

We're keeping a distance. And now we're wearing a mask. I think it's just, I would rather just train you on the computer, to be completely honest, than to, now we're separated by six feet. I can't touch you. I'm wearing a mask.

You can't see my facial expressions. You know, you're uncomfortable. Why even come in here? I mean why can't I, I could just train you at home. The equipment's not that important.

I can train you on the mat, you know. What was the poll? What did it say? I didn't see it. Sorry, I'll share the results again here.

Maybe 37%, yes, they're gonna be asking their clients to wear a mask to 23% no, 40% unsure. You know, I just think that everybody is coming out with different decisions on this. It's tricky. Yeah, it is, it is really tricky. I mean, a lot of people have said, they've opened the bars here and the restaurants, and the consensus has been that it's so uncomfortable to be in a facility where everyone's wearing masks.

It's not uncomfortable physically. It's emotionally uncomfortable. So, part of going out to dinner and going to restaurants is the social aspect of it, otherwise you could just get the food, take it home and sit on your deck and be comfortable and, you know, pour a glass of wine. So there's been a lot of people that said, "I tried going to dinner to support the local businesses, "but it was so uncomfortable, and so regimented, "and so many rules," that they're just not gonna go back until the restaurants can open up with less restriction. Yeah.

When you come to your cleaning in-between clients coming in, what are the cleaning products you're using there? So, I know this isn't safe for my equipment, I'll go get it for you, but. While Delia's stepped aside here a second, just to share with everybody, we did a webinar with-- (Delia laughs) Wow, that's an industrial quantity. I know Balanced Body would be really upset with me right now, because I've been using this on the equipment. I've always used this.

It says that it kills 99.9% of bacteria. It's probably not great for it, but I use this. I'm actually neighbors next door with a distillery and the distilleries have all used their vodka to make hand sanitizer in the area. So I, she has a spray sanitizer so I have those. And that's pretty much it.

I did have some people asking about my straps of the balance bar reformers. And I'm cleaning them as best as I can, but I just recommended that if it really makes them uncomfortable, they can either try to clean it themselves when they're in here. I spray them. Or they could wear gloves. But then again, you know, the controversy of gloves.

I mean what's the difference between touching with the gloves and by mistake touching your face before you leave, versus your own hand to your face. So, I don't know. Yeah. Yeah. Do you think you can, have you considered the Balanced Body product, you know they have vinyl loops that they're putting around-- I actually didn't know about that.

I must have not been paying attention to that one. They have vinyl loops they're putting around the straps? You could also, I know there's some companies out there that you can purchase personal straps, just how you can purchase mats that go onto the reformer if you wanted. Almost like a hot yoga style towel that goes down. But I, I'll actually look into it, I did not know that was available, so thank you.

And for folks that are asking this, we had Kaleen, maybe Gia can put it in the chat, but Kaleen was just going about all of the research that she's done on cleaning products. And it's this trade-off, that you know, obviously harsher product is gonna have a bigger impact on the equipment and potentially damage it and damage the materials. And, you know, her pros and cons of soap and water versus other bleach, other products, and how long you need to leave the product on the equipment before you can be confident that it's killed all of the viruses. 'Cause you know, Delia was reading out, yes it kills 99.9 or whatever it was percent of the things, but there's also a function of how long you've left the product, the cleaning product, on while it's wet to be able to kill those viruses. I think more so than the equipment, John, it's wiping down the human that comes in here.

I mean if the, you know, yes there's, you know there's definitely, you're breathing on the equipment and those types of things. But if we can keep the individuals, as much as possible, clean when they're here, then I think it's helpful. I mean I don't know. I don't know what the answer is to that. I sure hope I'm not breaking down all of this very expensive equipment, but at this point, it's kind of a fight or flight right now with everything.

So it's like "I'll deal with it later." Just like, just keep it clean! Have you thought about asking your clients to use hand sanitizer before they touch the equipment? Oh yeah. I have it everywhere in the studio. And then I have some people that bring in their own natural hand sanitizers. And I actually have gotten to a, I'm kind of habitually grabbing wipes all the time and wiping my hands with them.

My hands are extremely dry from that. But you know, they're welcome to keep that stuff nearby, if they feel that they need to. But again, if you're that worried, and that overly careful, take a workout. Is it worth it? Is it worth coming in here?

As much as I would love to make some money, and recoup some of my loss, I have a personality where I take on other people's anxieties, other people's, how they're feeling. I'm just that person. Always have been. So if you're super anxious and you're worried, I don't blame you. I don't judge you.

But I'd prefer you didn't come in here and project that into the studio. So again, how, at what point do you just go, "No, I'm not coming in. "I'm obviously not ready if I have to surround myself "with all these things around your reformer. "I'm not ready." So yeah. Yeah, it's a tricky one.

You also talked yesterday about how you're modifying some of your teaching, because you're not able to do hands-on corrections? Some of the exercises you were not gonna include in your repertoire. Oh, so, you know, as far as safety and equipment, if somebody is not familiar with the reformers at all, or the equipment at all, it would be really hard to train them on the equipment and with the potential of them maybe hurting themselves. For example, the Cadillac push-through bar, that thing makes me nervous. So I always have my hand on it, especially if it's a newer piece of equipment and the springs are super tight.

So when the push-through bars from below or above, the spring is, I would probably avoid a lot of that. Anything that you think might snap back at the client. I wouldn't do any, I probably wouldn't do, unless I had a very intermediate-advanced client, I wouldn't put them on the Trapeze or the Cadillac. You have to be really careful with standing exercises on the reformer, 'cause you're, you know. I mean instinctively I'd rather catch them before they fell, but just, we just have to be really, as instructors it's a test of our cueing for sure.

It's a test of our cueing. It's a test of our intuition with our clients. And how in tuned and how connected you are while you're teaching. And nothing about what we're doing now can be mechanical. And there are times where I used to come into the studio and I'm tired, or not feeling great, or my head's not in the game, and I just, I have a mechanical, I have a routine in my head, and everyone's getting the same routine all day long, 'cause that's the only mental capacity that I have.

But that no longer is possible. So you have to be in it. Of your client base, do you ever guess how many people wanna come back to the studio and then how many people don't? Almost all of them wanna come back. Almost all of them.

I have a couple of people that, one of my instructors is not coming back right now. Her son has asthma and she's protecting him and doesn't feel comfortable putting him in daycare quite yet. So she isn't coming back. I have two older clients that like to come to mat classes and I'll continue to provide live for them, but they're older population, compromised immunity, compromised, yeah, immunity system. And then I have a couple that I said earlier that come in separately, but they are not coming in until there's (searches for words) Vaccination. A shot for it, yeah vaccine.

I believe you told me that you're gonna continue to do live. You're gonna be doing the videos online? I am gonna continue to do it online and I don't know if that'll ever go away. I think at this point, I'm already equipped for it. I purchased a 43-inch TV.

Costco, by the way, $279, Bluetooth. And that was before they required masks. I haven't been in there since. I'm putting it around the corner, so it is actually going to be closer to the entryway facing this side. So you'll be able to see the reformers.

And I purchased an external computer. It doesn't have a monitor. The TV will work as a monitor. It basically is my Zoom station. I've done an external camera.

I'll have some--that's arriving soon. But yes, I will continue to do so, because I think now as a studio owner and as an instructor and a master instructor, I think there's opportunity there for workshops and teacher trainings and just, connecting with just more than Instagram with instructors and people from around the world, so I actually really like it. It's just really hard to make a living when you're focusing on two different modalities in your studio. You either have to just go full bore and do all online and put money into it and promote yourself, or you go full bore with your Pilates studio. And now we're just, we're kind of all in limbo that are in my situation, so that's just gonna, it's gonna be an added thing that I keep here for a while.

Yeah. So for the time being, you're gonna run both businesses in parallel. I'm gonna run both businesses in parallel. So I'm gonna be really busy for a little while, just trying to navigate. (laughs) I have a question here from Catherine, did you change your client liability waiver, to protect yourself from potentially a lawsuit related to COVID? I see that a lot on all of the forums, even on the Balanced Body master instructor forum.

I have not, and I talked to a friend of mine who's an attorney in the state of Montana, and I asked him. I said, "Do I need to change anything?" He looked at my current waiver. And my current waiver, he says, covers everything. So it doesn't have to necessarily say COVID-19, pandemic. He also did say that it's really, really hard to prove that somebody got it at your studio.

And I mean, I don't know. I'm not worried about it, let's put it that way. I asked an attorney if it was necessary. This attorney helped me put my waivers together. He said it was not necessary.

The state of Montana might be completely different for liability. I know that we don't have even as much rigid employee laws as the state of California, so I'm guessing that this is going to be a state-by-state decision or county-by-county decision. When it comes to your class schedules, are you on the same schedule, or have you increased the time between clients so that you can clean the equipment? You know, this is another one that people are talking about, 30 minutes between each client. I am not gonna go 30 minutes.

What I'm doing is I'm cutting the sessions shorter, so sessions, private sessions, will drop to 50 minutes. When I look at my schedule right now, it's not a concern of mine. If there's clients that have concerns about being in the space with other patrons, they don't want another instructor in here, it's just me and that person, then we allow a certain amount of time for that person to leave, clean everything up, and then bring them back, bring somebody else in the studio. It's just when you think about how many hours you have in the day, and if you separate a half an hour between each client, how many clients are you really getting in in one day? So that's my concern, I'm sure that it sounds like, it's not that I'm putting monetary, the monetary part of it ahead of somebody's safety, but with this amount of space and amount of equipment I have, people won't even have to repeat the same equipment for hours.

It's like, "I used that reformer, I'll use another reformer, "then I'll use another reformer." You know? There's six reformers in here. When you have things like rollers, balls, those sort of things, are you also cleaning those in-between sessions? I am, but to be completely honest with you, I'm avoiding a lot of props right now, especially ones that are porous, like foam rollers, the handles of the magic circles. The only props that I'm really using for clients are things like weights and things like that.

But nothing that's going to be a pain to clean. I'm avoiding extra work as much as possible and extra things that can get contaminated. Yeah. Yeah. One of the pieces that we talked about was, there's a blog post which is circulating at the moment from Erim Bromage.

And if Gia could put it in the chat. But she's a professor in Massachusetts, and she talked about, I'm gonna read her little piece. I got a couple of email questions from this, so this is in response to those people. And this kinda goes back to what I said right at the beginning is, there's more information coming in the whole time. And it's a challenge to really know who is the definitive resource on all of these things, who is the person that we should really be taking the guidance from.

I'm just gonna read a little quote from this. Although it's about a church choir, I think it is kind of relevant for the Pilates world. "The church choir in Washington State. "Even though people were aware of the virus "and took steps to minimize transfer; "e.g. they avoided the usual handshakes and hugs hello, "people also brought their own music to avoid sharing, "and socially distanced themselves during practice." But, "A single asymptomatic carrier," you know, that's somebody who's not showing any symptoms, "infected most of the people in attendance. "The choir sang for two and a half hours, "inside an enclosed church "which was roughly the size of a volleyball court.

"Singing, to a greater degree than talking, "aerosolizes respiratory droplets extraordinarily well. "Deep-breathing while singing "facilitated those respiratory droplets "getting deep into the lungs. "Two and a half hours of exposure "ensured that people people were exposed to virus "over a long enough period of time "for infection to take place. "Over a period of four days, "45 of the 60 choir members developed symptoms "and two died." So, I was emailed this particular blog post several times in the last few days, and I kind of look at this as being, you know, is that somewhat similar to a Pilates studio, where you can imagine there's a lot of deep breath, you're inside in an enclosed space. I don't know exactly how big a volleyball court is, but it's probably maybe smaller than 1000 square feet.

But that's what kinda happened. So whether or not that really is data that should impact how we think about Pilates studios, I don't know. But, it's a big deal. And I think it's gonna impact a lot of people that are clients here. The clients are gonna read the same materials that we're reading, and just thinking about, "If I go to Pilates, and I'm breathing deeply, "what's gonna happen?" And I saw somebody in one of the questions here asked a question about what we felt about air purifiers.

I don't know. If you read the article from Erin Bromage, she talks about a restaurant where the air conditioning was circulating the air and kinda how the virus was spread through the restaurant. It's a really, really tricky issue. And so, what her advice in that article was a lot about, is the number of viruses that you pull into your lungs. And so, like briefly meeting somebody, even if they have it and they're talking to you, you're probably not gonna have enough contact.

So the example of a jogger running past you, it's diluted in the outside air, it's all of those things. But whether or not the mask is really gonna solve anything either, the mask has to fit really well. You have to have it kind of squeezed around your nose. So things like opening the windows and having more fresh air, I think, are positive. Delia, neither of us are expert on this, but we were asked to comment on it, so I'm commenting on the blog post, but I don't know if you have any thoughts here.

Well, again, it's gray. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a physical therapist. I'm not a epi--what do they call it? Epidemiologist, you know?

I don't know any of these things. I only know what I'm feeling inside and my intuition. But, she did say in that article and I did pull it up, knowing that you were gonna bring this up, but she did say towards the end of that article, she said, "If you're sitting in a well-ventilated space "with few people, the risk is low." And then she talked about walking past people. So, it's not that she was contradictory to herself, but, I mean I don't think, I'm not lucky enough to have that many people that come into my studio at once. I don't have 40 people in attendance.

My studio is about 1100 square feet. I think that if I operate it at half capacity of what's allowed in here, I think I'm still allowed 22.5 people. And on the best day in this studio, there's less than 10. There's five on a reformer, an instructor, one at the reception, a couple people in the private room, and maybe somebody waiting to get in. That's the best-case scenario.

So I do think that this is gonna be really dependent on the type of space you have. I have very high ceilings. I have good ventilation. I have doors that opened. I am not on a fourth floor in New York City in a building, where you have to go through the narrow hallways to get to my studio, where windows don't even open.

I think it's gonna be a case-by-case scenario. One of the reasons I think that, again, I don't know, guessing, and what people have said, that Montana has a lot of open space. We have the fourth-largest state in the United States with a million people. So it's more about, we could be outside in what we consider to be a packed park, or 20 people, 30 people sitting in a park. So I think it's very dependent on your space, your ventilation.

I have wood floors; I don't have carpet. There's a lot of different things. I have doors that can be propped open that no one needs to touch. So I think it's a scenario thing, 100%. And yeah, so I don't know.

It's all so gray. And I have to just confess that, as a personality, I don't do well in gray. That's why I'm probably very outspoken, or very truthful, or what you see is what you get, it's 'cause I can't do gray areas. It's black or it's, like, you are this or you're this, or it's this or it's not, so it's been a big, big struggle for me, because I always wanna do the right thing, and this has been hard. I have some kind of thoughts about this.

I think everybody is in a different situation. So, Dana asked a question about, what happens if the teacher's uncomfortable? And I think, each of us has to decide what is the risk that we want to take. So, being somewhat older, I don't have a compromised immune system, but the risk as you get older in life increases with this. So the mortality rate if you're in the 80s is higher than if you're in your 20s.

I think everybody needs to kind of examine their own health and think about, "This is where my health sits in this thing; "this is the risk that I'm willing to take." And it's also a little bit like, if you're in New York City, whenever it was, four weeks ago, at the peak of the pandemic, when there wasn't enough hospital capacity, for goodness' sake, don't take any risks. Right. But Delia in Montana, she has a different risk title to that. Also I think that if your loved ones that you care for at home, let's say that my mum was still alive and she would be in her 100s now actually, at that point in her life, I would want to be really, really cautious that I didn't bring something home with me and shorten her life. And I think also there's a whole question around the clients that you teach.

So if your clients are all at a nursing home, and we've seen these terrible contagions happening in nursing homes, where one people catch it and basically the whole sheltered living community catches it, I think you have to be really careful what you're doing with those seniors. Yeah, 100%. I don't happen to have a really an older clientele. I have some, but the ones that I have are extremely active. I mean, they are really healthy.

So, some of their attitudes have been a little bit different compared to other seniors like my mother, for example, who's been held up in my sister's condominium in Florida for--'cause she couldn't travel back to Portland, so she's been there for three months. She hasn't left except to go on really short walks. And I would feel probably a lot different if I had my mother living with me here, and kudos to my sister who's taking care of that. So I think that's a scenario thing, for sure, 100%. I think Dana's question about, what happens if the teachers don't wanna teach, then I think that they shouldn't be asked to.

Now obviously there's places where your employer asks you to do the job, and if you choose not to do it, and they can choose to dismiss that employee, so it's a complicated issue, but at the end of the day, you have to be true to your own life here. I have independent contractors, so luckily for me, that has not been an issue, and I couldn't imagine dealing with that dynamic. And just to touch on the difference here in Montana, John, and you probably maybe want to check in with me in a month, what I said in the very beginning of this conversation was that we are a very high tourist economy here. The biggest fear for Montana and the state of Montana, the Montanans and the state of Montana, are tourists. Just by you showing the map to 100 people, and where I am and how well we're doing, it's enticing, isn't it?

To get in your car and go up, you know, "I'm just gonna drive to Montana." That's the biggest fear here. The biggest fear is that, "Oh, look at this, down slope." They even took one of our cases away because they realized they were actually not from here. So I think we're the only state to actually have some removed from our list of affected people. But there is that. Part of my anxiety is everyone else's anxiety here.

Yes, we're down-sloped. Yes, they moved us into phase one. Yes, we're irritated 'cause we're doing so well, and we would like to open and do more. What in the world is gonna happen come July 4th? When they open up Glacier National Park, they open up the Canadian border, which is actually closed at the moment, what happens to the state of Montana then?

So that's a big question. What about socks, is that part of one of the requirements? Is that different from before? No, I've always had a thing with socks. I've been a toe socks customer since the black socks with the line in the front.

I've always, it's a studio policy. It's not even a state policy. Like I know in New York and some other states, I think California as well, you're required to wear socks? I don't know. I know New York for sure.

But I always require socks in the studio anyway. And I give the scenario of maybe your feet are clean, but that person's feet are not, and I can't call that person out, so you're all wearing socks. (laughs) So yes. My OCD, I still have quite a bit of OCD. Yeah, so I guess depends on things, you know. (laughs) I think everyone should wear socks in a Pilates studio.

That I'm gonna say without reservation. And whatever your opinion is, everyone should be wearing toe socks, or some kind of grippy sock. Hands go where feet go, feet go where hands go, faces go where your feet were, it's just, yeah, it's just better. Cool. Did you think about purchasing a thermometer, one of these thermometer guns, to measure people's temperatures?

Didn't even cross my mind. And not because of that, but, I would rather just not open. That's just a lot of work for somebody who didn't go to nursing school. (laughs) I would prefer not. I would prefer if they're gonna require us to take temperature, then they just don't open us at all.

I think that's, again, it's like, why are you opening us if we have to make sure that every single person doesn't have a fever? And how accurate is it? Just because you've not spiked a fever, does it mean that you don't have asymptomatic, you're not asymptomatic? I think that one is, that is different than gloves or masks. That one is, I think, a little bit, that should be reserved, in my opinion, for people in medical facilities and places like that, or medical spas, where they're actually working with, they're gonna have to be licensed to do certain things.

Jen asked the question, "Did you think about foot bar covers?" I have not, I shouldn't say I have not, I have these grippies that I've been putting on my reformer bars before we closed. And then right before we closed, and everybody was starting to get a little uncomfortable about all of it. They were harder to clean. It's much easier to just clean the actual plastic or whatever bar. I don't have, I don't know if you guys are familiar with the Allegro 2, but my studio reformer has a wrap around the foot bar, but the Allegro with the affinity does not, so they're very easy to clean.

They don't have the spongey grip on it. It's not a porous piece on the equipment. Going back to people coming into the studio, are you asking questions like, "Have you been out-of-state? "Are you feeling unwell?" The out-of-state question is definitely one that I've asked. Again, I'm not open yet.

I'll be open Friday. That is one question I've asked everybody who's come in. Out of everything that I've felt gray in, or not quite sure, I'm really big on the 14-day quarantine here. Because I think that's what's going to keep our numbers low because of so much travel here. And so many people have second and third homes.

That's why the Gallatin County, Bozeman, which is five hours from here, had more cases than us. They've got a large, they have an influx of New York and California tourists there, more so than we do. So that 14-day quarantine question, are you feeling well or not feeling well, I've already told them to not come in, but I will ask them when they come in. And even though it's allergy season, I mean I can't risk the other person being uncomfortable. If you have allergies, go take Zyrtec and come back, because I can't have you coughing in here and freaking everybody out, including myself.

Again, I'm taking on my own stress, my clients' stress. So yeah, it's not worth it. I have allergies (laughs) too. I get a scratchy throat a lot. That's why I have a little club soda water here, so if I cough, nobody freaked out.

I wish I had a poll for this, but maybe people can add it to the chat. Do you think that you can teach, do you think teachers can teach wearing a mask? And I'm curious what the audience feels about this. I think your view, Delia, is that you're planning to teach without a mask. I am.

You know what's more comfortable than a mask, and maybe only those that live in ski towns understand, but there's gaiters. We call them gaiters. But it's like the top of a turtleneck. And you just kinda can pull it up. And I do wear it when I ski.

Mind you, I know people have said "Oh, if you can wear it when you're skiing, "you can wear it in the winter." You're not actually talking. I'm not on the ski hill talking to people. I'm holding it here. But I actually feel more comfortable with it than I do a mask. If I don't have one of those, what are those masks called, John?

The N-something? Yeah, N-95s. N-95. I mean, if you don't have the N-95, is there a difference between pulling one of those face masks for skiing up to your face than one that you put behind your ears? I don't know.

It's good question. I have to admit, the style of the face masks that I have, kinda like this, that I can buy in the local hardware store, my doctor was advising me that I really need to bend this thing around so I get a seal here, which is not the way I've been wearing it. There's even a whole business of wearing these things properly and making them more effective. There's a lot of comments here about masks on the chat. I just asked the question, and it's really interesting.

There's no science in this survey at all, but some people yes, some people think it's gonna be really hard, the six feet distancing thing maybe combined with a mask. I think it sort of comes down to how conservative are you as an individual? What's happening in your local environment? How much of a risk is it? And some clients may wish to wear the mask during the session.

I wish I was the mask guru. I think I could, anyway. There's also the question, is how often do you change your mask? And that's another tricky one. Let me have a quick look at the questions here.

We've talked a little bit about hand and foot loops. Some people I think are gonna buy their own and bring them into class. And I think, provided it doesn't damage your equipment, I think that's something is a great idea if people wanna do that. I think for those that have the clip ones, it's gonna be way easier for them to unclip and clip. I know the Stott Pilates equipment easily clip and unclip.

The Studio reformer clip and unclip. But unfortunately, the Allegra reformers have the loop tie, so it might be best if-- I need to call Balanced Body and ask, but maybe just a way to attach their loop and not detach my loop every single time and just leave it in there. But again, this is all, I feel like all of this is, there's recommendations, there's suggested recommended guidelines, but all of it is going to have to do with the comfort of the studio owner and the consumer. But also, you have to also understand that even if we're all ready as Pilates instructors to open the studio, there is no studio without your consumer. So, what do you do when you're ready, but the consumers are not ready, and that's all gonna depend.

We have very little control at the moment, as Pilates instructors and studio owners. We think we have control, but in reality we don't. And that's gonna be a real struggle for the next few weeks to months, depending on where you live. Patience is, my patience has been tested for sure. And not in a bad way, not in a "I'm gonna explode" way, but just emotional patience has been tested.

And will continue, probably, for a while. Yeah, I think depending on that customer, that client, they may feel very confident. And I have a sense that in Montana, because of the very, very low infection rate, people feel fairly confident. If we were in New York right now, I think we'd be at the other end of that spectrum. We'd feel very, very uncomfortable coming back to the studio.

And I want people to also know that I've lived in Montana. I'm 47 years old, I've lived in Montana for 23 years, 24 years. My family's from New York City. I'm from New York City. I've lived in Florida.

I went to high school and college in Florida and then moved here. I'm very familiar with New York, and I'm not talking 5th Avenue. My family's from Queens. So I hope that in this conversation, if there's any of you out there that think, "Well she's from Montana "and she doesn't understand." I understand quite well. I'm a first-generation American.

I know what it's like in Europe and the close proximity of how people live. So I'm not trying to brag on my travels and what I know, it's more of that I hope that you know that I empathize and I understand that everybody is going to be different. I feel horribly bad for those that feel like there's just no end to this. And I wish you all the best. And hopefully everybody will come out of this.

And I'm sorry if anybody's lost someone that's close to them, or family members. It's really scary. Just so you know, and if you ever want to reach out to me, I'm not just a studio owner in Montana. I understand the different dynamics across the country, for sure. Thank you very much, Delia.

We're coming to the end of our hour together here. That was very nice. It was comforting, thank you John! Thank you. I would just say to everybody here, as far as I'm aware, nobody has really come up with the answers of masks, no masks, cleaning that's optimal. The Pilates Anytime team has been trying to find as many of the real experts on this as we can find, and it is really, really tough to know exactly what's the best advice to give here.

So in this presentation, we're dealing with a very, very tricky subject. And we're trying to do our best to kind of like, continue the conversation and trying to share the resources that we're seeing, and just tell people what we're hearing. Maybe in the fullness of time it will be apparent what best practices are here. But today, I don't think it's very clear. And you kind of look at the advice, that Delia's on the phone to her local health department today to try and sort these things out, and they don't know.

I think everybody in the world is trying to sort this out. I wish everybody stay healthy. I think the universal piece of advice is wash your hands, don't touch your face. I share that with everybody. And Delia, thank you so much for joining us.

I love the look of your studio, your new studio. Oh, thank you! It's not quite as nice as Pilates Anytime, but I think I come in pretty close. (laughs) I think it's really nice-- I don't have a train, but I have a UPS truck that goes back and forth on that alleyway. Thank you so much, and thank you all out there. Stay in touch.

(blows kiss) Yeah, thank you so much everybody. Bye. Bye.

The Pilates Report - Playlist 2: Maintaining Your Business During the Pandemic

Comments

2 people like this.
I am have been holding off on making any comments about this video but I can't anymore. I am disappointment that Delia spoke in the meeting that Pilates is something you can not do with a mask and that she would not be wearing one when teaching. I understand that everyone has their own right to what they are doing in their studio but personally I was completely offended by this comment. I have been working with clients in a mask and yes it is hard and instruction and the way you approach pilates is not the same but we are health professionals. We have a code of ethnic to keep ourselves and our clients safe regardless of their age and underlying conditions. Everyone can contract this virus, young and old. The virus spreads more when exercising and even though your clients are comfortable with it and you are, I think you are sending the wrong message. I do respect your opinion and I wish you all the luck with your choice, it's just not mine. I do appreciate John, that you started this conversation but it might have been better to have had the conservation with a teacher that is already doing this and not someone that is thinking about how she is going to do it. 
Thanks
Wendeer  thank you for your input.  I hope that all of our webinars will help drive the conversation about the best way to teach Pilates in our new reality. Today I held a webinar with Sherri Betz and the world where she teaches is very different to the region in Montana where Delia teaches and the state of the pandemic in Montana when we recorded the webinar. I encourage everyone to watch the Sherri Betz webinar as it covers face mask usage. We are presently researching a blog post on the issues of mask usage for teachers and students. Please comment below with links to articles about face mask usage so that we can help share best practices and help inform the dialogue.
Amy
After listening to this video, it seems that I won’t be able to see my students in my studio. I would definitely wear a mask and if my students have to wear a mask, it’s a sure sign that the studio needs to be closed.

As for using anything that would degrade the upholstery of the equipment, I simply can’t afford to replace that.

I’m being humble when I say this: I don’t know much about reducing the spread of the disease. What I do know: I’m making huge sacrifices to limit the spread. I want this whole thing to pass as quickly as possible.

Thanks, John. Your videos are very helpful.
Amy
2 people like this.
John could you please post Erins blog info. I’m very interested in reading everything she has to say about limiting the spread 
Erin Bromage Blog Article this is the article I mentioned during the interview. Hope this helps you Amy.

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