Discussion #4133

Online Teaching Skills

60 min - Discussion


On May 14, 2020, we talked to Blossom Leilani Crawford to learn how she has adapted to teaching online Mat classes. She tells us where she was when the pandemic started and the steps she took to move everything online. She then shares how she uses props, where she gets her inspiration for the themes of her classes, and how she has modified her cueing.

Links and Resources

- Blossom's Online Schedule

- Setmore

- Microphone

- Airex Mat

- Ethernet Cable

- 5 Things to Know to Go Live Blog

- Ring Light

- Sharing Music Over Zoom Blog

What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
May 19, 2020
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Welcome, everybody. Today my guest is Blossom and I just love Blossom. Blossom and I have known each other for maybe like seven years of doing Pilates Anytime and doing things together. And what we're gonna be talking about is we're talking about online teaching skills and the way that she's adapted and the things that she's done to adapt her business to do that. Blossom is in Brooklyn, New York.

I read her bio, and this was the words that I really like, "Blossom is known for her playful "and powerful teaching style." That is so true, I just love that. She studied with Kathy Grant from 1993 to 2010. And with Kathy's full support, she also taught with Ramana. And just giving a quick preamble here, we're gonna share the best things that we know, do we really now have the answer to everything? The meaning of life and all of those things, sadly not.

A lot of things are just changing every day. There's a whole conversation going on. And we'll chat for a while and then we really, really welcome questions. I'm gonna start today off with a quick question just to see what everybody's up to there. My first question is, are you teaching online?

So really curious to see what people are doing 'cause the heart of what we're talking today about is teaching online and what's happening, and the experiences that Blossom's had and how she can translate those to us. So I'm just gonna share those results. And we have 90% teaching online, whoa! I am so impressed with that really, really happy that that's the case and 7% not yet. And a few people no so... Cool, we have the right questions here.

And I'm also gonna ask, just want to kind of have a sense of who we have on here. When do you think you're gonna return to the studio? When do you think you'll be teaching in the studio again? And I'm in the who knows category personally (laughs). You know I'd said to all the folks at pilates anytime we'd all be back by, you know, by the beginning of May.

And that's kind of passed and I still don't know what the answer is. So nobody's back yet. A few people back this week. I'm not sharing the results let me press that. And nobody back yet, 2% gonna come back this week, another 20% in the next three weeks, and then in the next two months, a quarter, and then half the folks said, "Who knows?" Yeah, I'm kind of (laughs).

I'm there, so Blossom what happened in your world? Where were you when COVID arrived? I was leaving for Brazil actually for a big conference in Rio which was pretty crazy, which is, you know, as things are happening, I remember lots of calls in but I was on my way to Brazil and social distancing to Brazilians it does not quite exist. For them it means one kiss instead of two. (laughs) I even tried to announce like, "I'm a hugger, but I won't be hugging." And they really tried not to hug me but it was.

So that was a little scary, but all went well. It was very interesting though when I flew to Brazil, it was a completely empty plane, I had five seats to lay out in. On my way back, the plane was packed because people were trying to get out of there, and so that was really fascinating. But I didn't get sec at JFK and then I came back to a whole different universe, essentially, right? And the whole, especially my work universe.

When did you get back? I got back I think on a Monday morning, so I left on a Sunday night as soon as I could, and I got back on a Monday the 16th of March. Yeah, wow, so when you got back did you self-quarantine? Did you, what did you do? I sort of self-quarantined.

I mean, my husband who is a little bit of a germaphobe, he was pretty much like, "You're gonna stay over there." But we, I didn't go anywhere, I just stayed indoors and tried to figure out what to do next, which I think everybody was doing. Yeah, no, it was it was a chaotic week. We closed the office on the 11th of March the previous week. And you know, that whole first few weeks was like what just happened? Right, what days is it?

What? Yes, yes, I agree. So tell me a little bit about where you are today. You know, what's behind you? Oh, sure oh, this is my cute little studio.

It's very small so let me see, let's see. Let's go this way first so that is my, it used to be a kitchen. Now I've sort of turned it into an office and that empty space over there, that used to be an oven. I actually just renovated this so it looks a little different if you've gone to my other Pilates Anytime tour. So that's my kitchen and bathroom and over there is my vintage ladder barrel, that's from Kathy's old studio.

And then if you pan this way, that is the second half of my studio also. So all the things in sort of that gray and white that's the vintage stuff, so that's all my stuff from Kathy studio, and some of those pictures as well are from Kathy's studio. It's a big mishmash, and yeah, so I'm in my studio, which is really lovely. And I don't live that far away from my studio, so I don't have to take the subway here, which makes this feasible. Right if I had to take the subway I don't think I could be here.

If you have to guess how old do you think those vintage pieces are? Oh, I know exactly, 1965. Wow. Yeah, so 30, wait, 35 no, yeah, 35 years. No, that's not true.

55 years. 55 yes, yeah 55 years old. They look good, right, they had a facelift. Wow, I mean, I love it. Yeah, me too.

For people who aren't familiar with Christie came out and did a tour of Blossom's studio, and there's a little video about it. It's pre, it's when the oven was still there (laughs). Yes, it was, what it was also, if you see me giggle at it, I'm giggling because it's sort of like, "Show me your studio." It's like, "Here it is." There's no like other view, there's no around the corner. This is it, but this is New York City. This is what people do here.

Cool, and it's about 300 square feet. 350, John. Oh sorry, sorry. (both laughing) It's 350. So what was life like in the studio beforehand?

Did you, how many people can teach at a time? Well, so you'd be probably surprised, we would definitely could definitely teach a duet and a private at the same time. There's usually two teachers teaching at the same time. And if there's a scheduling snafu, there are sometimes three teachers teaching in here at the same time. Luckily, we all get along really well and we're all very good at navigating around each other and everyone's very understanding.

We have a very lovely group of people that come here. But that's what it normally looks like in here. Cool. Yeah. So you're still closed.

Do you have any sense of when you might open? No, for me, I think I have no sense. I'm mentally prepared, if I'm really being honest and really mentally preparing myself, I think maybe I will get to open in January next year. It's all about I mean, people are really even wondering if schools will be happening in September and if people can't, if the kids aren't in school, I don't see parents getting away and it's for me, the big thing is the subway. How will people get here?

And for a lot of people, they get here by subway and if we can't travel here... That's the big thing, right? You know, it'd be one thing if people could just pull on up and drive but that's not happening. Yeah. Yeah.

So how have you modified things? Yeah, what are you doing? 'Cause I think I've seen you online. You've definitely seen me online. It was surprising, I didn't really, definitely in a place that I didn't expect to be in.

My husband, when I came back he said, "Well, you should do something online." And I was very reticent 'cause I have lots of videos on online places and I thought, why? What's the benefit? Why would people want to actually come to my class, if I've already have stuff, good stuff online? And, you know, a friend in Ireland said, "Hey, are you gonna teach a class?" And I said, "Well, maybe." And I did a test run, I did a test run. Actually, I took a class that was one thing I did, which really helped.

And then I just called a bunch of friends and said, "Hey, I'm gonna do this class, "please come and join me." 'Cause I just had to test it out to see how it felt. And, you know, these were, of course, all my friends. So they were like, "Yay!" But I got a good feeling from it and I sort of got the vibe of it and then I realized that I could do that. Fantastic. Yeah.

So what's your online teaching schedule like? I just sort of picked it, I teach Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 1:30 p.m. and then I used to, I've been teaching a mat class here in Brooklyn for 18 years, which I can't even, I mean, I'm only 28, how's that possible? (John laughs) But so, I've been teaching evening class for a long time. So I added in an evening class so that I could have people who could come in from Australia and Asia, like South Korea and Japan, I have some people who come in from there. So that's my evening class that I like to do for sort of the people who used to come to see me in Brooklyn in the evening, and also for the other side of the world.

Fantastic. I know, what a crazy thing. How many people are coming typically? I would say, my low is maybe 20 and my highs in the 70s, almost 80 people, can you imagine? Wow.

Yeah, and just for all I just want to say thank you. Thank you, 'cause it's really, it's been, it's been uplifting in so many ways is just yeah, yeah. Like from the bottom of my heart the fact that people come and just will interact. It's really been just, yeah. I could get I could cry but I'm not going to.

I'm not going to Barbara Walters. How much are you charging? $1 million. I'm charging exactly (laughs), I'm charging $15 a class, which is kind of what they charge at Mark Morris. I really wanted to keep it somewhat affordable.

I have, you know, some friends that have come to the class because they're dear friends and they're acupuncture or massage therapists and I'm not gonna charge those people. So I have a few people that are but for the most part, it's $15 a class and if people have a financial hardship, I've asked them to you know, please message me and we'll figure something out because this is about trying to stay healthy and move not me just trying to pay my rent. So you're not doing anything fancy like packages so just, it's 15 just drop in. No, I'm not doing packages and I've been really lenient. Like sometimes people go, "Oh, I signed in for Wednesday, "but I really want to come Friday." Okay, you know?

Yeah, just getting into the kind of mechanics of it. You're using Zoom? What are you using to do this whole thing? So luckily before this, I have a PT friend of mine, a collaborator Marshall Hagens, and we've done, we had like a workshop that we did. And so after we did the workshop, we really wanted to do like a workshop and then a workshop two weeks later, and we realized that wasn't really great for people who want to say fly in from California.

So we turned the first day into a webinar, so I actually had been using Zoom for a while. Jenna's a pheno by the way, Jenna sort of gave me like she was the one who sort of tipped me off with Zoom. So I've been using Zoom like everybody else, but I was somewhat comfortable with it, which has been very nice, although there's still been a huge learning curve for me as well, even with using it beforehand. Cool and what about the billing and all of that? Oh, woo! Well, that to me was sort of the exciting part.

That was definitely some huge problem solving. I have a person who helps me with my admin, she mainly does my workshop admin Deborah Sandiford, and she was amazing and she was just, we thought we were gonna use Square Appointments, right, and that seemed like a really smart idea. It would integrate completely into Square go right to my bank sounded great. And when we went to open it, we realized that Square Appointments actually does one great thing. It's great if you John wanted to see me at 12 o'clock, but it wasn't great if 20 people wanted to see me at 12 o'clock.

So the app that I use is called Setmore and it's working really well for me, Setmore's awesome. What I wanna say just about the tech stuff in general, I think, you know, I don't use Mindbody online, I never have, I've never used any of those other apps. So this was a huge leap for me but I think that there's a lot of tech stuff out there, you just have to really find, you have to sort of really hone in on what it is that you need. Like I knew that I wanted to do group mat classes at one price and that was it. And so we really sort of, when I say we, Deborah.

Deborah really (laughs) I mean, we're together, together we honed in on what it is that I needed and I think it was through a few Google searches and making sure that they could all connect but it's in some ways been really seamless. It's been really cool to say, "Yeah, just use my Book button on Instagram." Like that's never been me but hey, you can use that Book button on my bio. (both laughing) It is pretty cool though. It is pretty cool that through a few clicks, and not that much of a, you know, pretty much paying credit card processing fees that I can do that. What was the format you do?

Is it the normals of 55 minutes? No, I'm not very good at that, John. I'm more like I log in 15 minutes beforehand, so I can see if anyone's there. Usually it's a friend of mine, and we sort of chat a little bit, and then I chat with whoever is there. And then I even stay at the end for questions.

Because it's not just, I mean, yes, I'm there to teach the class, but I teach the full hour, I can't help myself and then I usually stay because I wanna know, people have questions. And sometimes it's, you know, "What's that thing behind you?" But oftentimes, it's the question like, "Hey, what was that exercise again?" "And why are you doing that?" And that's actually been one of those, like, residual benefits that I was like, wow, this is really great because when people tell me like, what's interesting that I go, oh, yeah, that is different, sometimes I don't know it's interesting, and other times I go, yeah, that is interesting. I thought I was hoping someone would notice that. So but then that's fueled me to sort of like, oh, I should maybe keep looking at that. Or what's what else can I do with that?

Or how can I incorporate that into another class or maybe keep going with that theme. So a normal format is you get yourself set up. Yes. You got everything ready 10, 15 minutes before the class is scheduled to start. You chat with people you engage.

Yes. 60-minute class? Yes, sir. And then questions answers afterwards. Yes, yeah and actually, just the other day, it was really cool this person asked a questiona and, you know, I took five minutes and looked at her and I said, "You know, show me your spine stretch forward." And I think if I'm, I'm gonna be bold but I think I was able to help you, Heather.

I think I was, she'll get back to me, I hope but yeah. We had a conversation, just all kinds of things where we talked to Madeline Black a few days ago. And she was talking about how one of her students who's a pilates teacher, I think up in Washington State, asked Madeline to come on and consult with the client. So they did a three way Zoom with the teacher, Madeline Black and the client. And I thought that was a really interesting collaboration that was kind of going on.

That's kind of been happening too, so my collaborator, Dr. Marshall Hagens, you know, he's been taking my class as well as his wife and he said, you know just on the cuff, he said, "Hey, Blossom why do you do this?" And it spurned a whole conversation, to the point where now I sometimes do these Instagram lives with him where we talk about the benefits of inhaling while twisting or exhaling while just twisting. So it's kind of spurred these other things to sort of share and just converse, because I feel like that's the exciting part of at least for pilates teachers and for myself to really just have this information and also have access, it's access to someone like Marshall for even that little thing is great. Yes, it's cool. It's very cool. I know that you have two wonderful children.

Is that impacting a little bit of your schedule here because you're homeschooling as well. That's why I'm not teaching early in the morning. I wake up and so I'm mom, I do break kind of breakfast, lunch and dinner, I prep all that. And actually, that's so it's two reasons I have my class at 1:30 so that I can make sure that the breakfast is done, that online school is happening. And then I think then I'm like, "Okay, now I can step away from here.

And now I can go and teach." So yes, definitely. Somebody has asked a question, are you doing any privates? I am, not a lot, but I left a few, yes, I am. And I'm even starting to do a few equipment-based classes, like small groups, limited groups, because a lot of people have wunda chairs at home. So there's like, actually, there's a first group I've actually called the wonder women.

It's a great group of women and it's been really fun. Fantastic. So I'm just gonna do a plug for Blossom here. Jia put in the chat here, the link to sign up for one of Blossoms classes. So if you wanna do it join her from anywhere in the world.

Yes. Are used to setting a cap on how many people can take your classes at one time? Yes, not really, Zoom has set the cap for me. It's 100 people and that seems to be, that seems to be enough. And the other $15, which was the same as I've forgotten the center where you teach your-- The Mark Morris Dance Center?

Yeah was Kathy Grant associated with the same facility? No, Kathy Grant and I taught together at NYU together. Yeah, yeah and when I got the job, she said, "You keep that mat class." When you do your classes, are you giving corrections? Are you demonstrating the whole time? How are you balancing?

I'm so glad you've asked that question. So that was definitely a huge learning curve, like so it took a bit of feedback. So taking someone's class was the first thing that really helped me figure out my sort of style. And then teaching the class and having a few friends go, "By the way, when you clap the rhythm, that does not work." Good to know, so I've had to change some of those things. But the biggest shift, at least for me as a pilates teacher is I actually have to demonstrate now especially when there's a lot of people, or especially like tonight when I teach my class and there's gonna be, usually there's a few people in from Japan, where English is not the first language.

It's a whole different kind of teaching. So I've had to demonstrate number one, I've definitely had to slow down at certain times, and maybe even more repetitions. However, what I've been able to do a little bit and I love this is I'll demonstrate one side. And if it's a simple enough move, I can start the movement and go, "Okay, you keep going." And then I can actually scroll through and look at people and that's been really delightful. And I've actually been shocked at how much I can see.

That's been really nice. Interesting, it's a sort of a hybrid model of demonstrating, corrections, demonstrate, you know. Except for there's a little bit of this moment where it's like a big head in the screen, but yeah (laughs). Exactly, I think you're doing it. There's a little bit of that.

But other than that, it's pretty good. You are way too much funny. I know. (both laughing) This is such a leading question 'cause I kind of know the answer to this. Are you including props in what you're doing?

I mean, John, do you look at my Instagram? So one of my Instagram hashtags is the prop princess. Not the prop queen, that was somebody else, but I call myself the prop princess. And so yes, I do use props. I think my first themed prop was this very sexy prop.

One of the cool things about my training with Kathy is she used really everyday items that you could find anywhere that as props, so it's really helped because, hey, who doesn't have a kitchen towel at home? Right so the problem is, is I want to use props like say this, right. But everybody doesn't have that. So I've had to become creative with what I consider props and I think everyone's doing it like, you know, soup cans instead of hand weights. Instead of a baby barrel I've had people just get two throw pillows because before I had, I brought the barrel, the baby barrel up to where I was sort of hiding out for a little bit.

I just used to throw pillows off the cushion, because really what you're looking for is something to arch over or curl up. So yes, I'm using props, but I'm trying I have two different kinds of people in mind. I have my friend Stephanie Kaplan at home, who's, you know, a calligrapher. She does not have any pilates props. And I think of the professionals who actually have a whole sea of pilates thing.

So usually I say bring two pillows or a baby barrel, whatever you have, and then we figure it out. Fantastic. Can you show us you know, if we were going live with you teaching, what would be the difference to what we have right now? Oh, what do you mean? Like the view? Is that where you teach?

Do you just teach behind here, is that? Actually yes, but you know, I really, it took some work. I had to actually talk call like a friend of mine. We met up online about a half an hour before class so that I could really check it out. So my mat is behind me.

And what I was doing for a while there was, I was teaching and sort of being here pretty close in my mind that people wanted to see me as big as they could in the screen. But if you're on an iPad, usually there's something the screen kind of covers this part right here. So when I was demonstrating things like picking your feet up, that would disappear. So I've actually had to adjust. So often now I want this my mat, sort of in the center of the screen, so that when I'm in it, now you can actually get my whole body in and the part that's covered doesn't cover me.

So I now have very specific things I'm looking for when I am doing my live online teaching stuff. Cool. Yeah. It's the little things that really help. Could you not find an orange mat?

Well, John, you want to have some contrast? (John laughs) It's true, though you do. 'Cause if I were gray, I would just disappear sort of like the people who wear black and have black mats and they're in front of a dark couch, I can't see a thing. That's actually one of my tips for people that teach and that are taking class, please don't wear black. Please, 'cause you can't see anything.

So that applies just as much to the student as it does to the teacher because you directions. Exactly and also, when you look over at the screen, you want to sort of see a big general idea of what the movement is thus those all orange. You're welcome, everyone. (both laugh) Actually, the all unit color actually started for Pilates Anytime actually so. Yeah, one of the things that we advise folks is, you know, don't wear complicated things.

They don't look good on camera. So, solid colors, great contrast to your mat is great. (both laughing) Let's just touch on the hardware. We're just using your regular laptop. That's what we're-- My beautiful MacBook Pro, yes.

Can you just show them your microphone that you have there? I love my microphone, so let's see, that's it. It's very simple it's a MXL. And you know, the MXL procon series one. A friend of mine who is a musician, I said, "You know, I really want a microphone "that I can teach classes to." And he said, "I know your mic." I said, "Really?" And he said, "Yeah." It's maybe $80, it's maybe around $80.

And I got it off Amazon and it's been, it's great. It even has a little light so that I know that it's on which helps. And Jia just put that in the chat so there's a link there. And you know, just when we were doing the tech rehearsal here, I just want to demonstrate if Blossom talks to the window, you'll hear how her voice changes. Hello, hello.

And so you know, the great thing about this as long as you're talking towards the microphone, you can really hear her. And today the microphone is right in front of the camera. But normally when you're teaching is closer to the mat. Yes, it's sort of on the floor. But it works pretty well that even when I turn people can hear what I'm saying but for the most part, yes, it's much better when it's right in front of me.

Another question that we got was what sort of Zoom are you using? Like, which level of account is the free one or is it the one you pay for? Definitely not the free one. It's the one I pay for, it's the one I pay for. So you know, it's I think it's called the Pro.

I think it's like $15, US dollars a month. I don't know what it is in other currencies. I think the free one only is for 40 minutes, and I knew that I wanted longer times. Yeah. Yeah.

So do you ever use music with your classes? No, I don't, I don't. I want to, I always liked the idea of teaching to a drum beat behind me and I've done that like on special occasions at Mark Morris, but no, for the most part. It's just me coming up with different rhythms the whole time. If anybody has a question about how to play music through Zoom while you're teaching, just send me an email.

I'm happy to explain how to do that and help people with that tech. Can you talk about as a pricing one again, how much is a private in New York? I assume it's gonna be a lot more than anywhere else in the country. That's a big that's a big range. But for instance, some people tell me that my price that I charge for a private is too low.

I charge 150 which I think is actually kind of up there. But people I know would actually charged up to I've heard of $300 cash only, which is amazing to me. But at my studio for the other people who work here we're pretty affordable studio, but I would say it's at least about $100. And then sky's the limit apparently. Yeah but yeah, I have a whole theory on pricing with that.

I feel like the more you charge the more people expect and there's that's sort of the other end of that spectrum. So if I'm gonna pay $500, I'm gonna want maybe some other things to come with it, like dishes being done or something like that. You know, there's definitely things like that. And I assume you've changed to charge the same amount online as you do in person? I do, I do.

Yeah, and just in all the conversations we've had over the last few weeks, I really encourage people to keep that continuity in pricing, whether it's online or it's in person. It's still your time and your training and your investment in yourself. And I know some people resist to that and some people aren't making the same money. But I think when it comes down, there's an opportunity to say, "Well, would you like to do a group class? "Would you like to come to my mat class?" Yes.

And as Blossom said, with her friends that are really hurting like massage therapists, you know, there's always the opportunity to do things for free. Yes, I also have done a few sort of free things just to sort of on that other side. Like on pilates day, I had a big class in Singapore. And we, we did a free class as a celebration. And also if people want to donate money, then we donated the money to charity, which was really nice.

I have a question that somebody emailed me last night is talking about reformer on the mat. Do you think you can modify the reformer exercises to be on the mat? You know, I've heard other people talk about this. I say yes, however, I do admit, I don't do that. I really, it's not a judgment thing it's just not, I really believe in doing what you love and what you're interested in and what you are are curious about and that's not my bag, baby, that's just and that's great.

But yes, I think you can do similar movements. But for me the mat work is sort of infinitely interesting to me, it always has been. It's the sort of the first way I was introduced to pilates. It's what I did with Kathy for years and years and years and actually, this has been an opportunity for me to really go and explore themes and dive really deep into what I really wanna look at. So I haven't gone there yet.

I'm not gonna say that I never will, 'cause I'm learning that every time I say never it's a bad thing, 'cause who knows? But it's just not my thing. But I encourage people who are interested in that then yeah, go for it, do it because if you're interested and kind of fired up about, like, figuring out how to turn the elephant into an elephant on the mat, great. I really think that's great. Because if you're passionate about it, then yes, then that's cool, but I'm not, that's not really.

That's not really what I'm interested in, so I don't go there, yeah. So you have more than enough with mat. And as you said earlier, you've been teaching it for how many years you said it. I mean, just my mat class. My own mat class has been 18 years.

And I started with Kathy in '93 doing that. It's always hard and it's always interesting and yeah, I really, you know, I'm gonna go back to that thing that Kathy said, when I was offered the job at the Mark Morris job, I said, "Hey, they're offering a mat class." And, you know, those were the days where you didn't sort of just take a job without going to my guru, essentially, although she would never let me call her guru. And she said, you know, "Blossom, don't let go of that mat class." And I didn't get it right away. And I realized there's so many benefits of teaching a mat class, and here I am, again, reaping another benefit. Like when it was time when now that we've all gone to mat I was ready, you know, ready.

And yeah, I mean, yeah, so it's a it's a giant lab, I think of mat classes is sort of a giant lab, like you say to someone, "Okay, bring your arm up." And you've got 10 people that will go like this, and there's one person or two people that will go like this. You're like, well, that is up from the floor if you're lying down, you know. So it's just really interesting. It really, makes you think about the words that you use to communicate up, down, side, side and I think that's a really good place for a teacher to be to really sort of be. To really sort of be on their sort of on the ball and thinking.

'Cause I think much go to over to just rote that's a dangerous place. So have you had to modify your cuing a little bit for going online? Yes, so often when I teach at even my mat class at Mark Morris, I would say reach your, you know I usually go right left, but has anybody tried right left, by the way on screen, (laughs) it's hysterical. And also like looking at the screen, it just looks completely different. So I actually cue, "Reach the arm closest to the screen, "reach the arm farthest from the screen," so I kind of use that or sometimes I just go, "Grab a leg, just pick a leg." I don't care what, no really just like just make real.

I'll say like, "Grab your leg. "Just make sure they're straight." You know, you've get to really hone in on what's the important thing. And I talk a little slower, which is not easy for this now New Yorker, that's harsh, harsh. It's hard for me, as you can see, I talk very quickly. I love it, I love it.

Somebody in the in one of the questions Niku pointed out we didn't talk about lighting, which is also really important. So what sort of light do you have there? Again, shout out to Deborah. At one point, she was sort of looking online and she goes, "Hey, this looks interesting." Did you know that there was a selfie light John? You probably did, you did, yeah.

I have one. Yeah, exactly, so I have a selfie light. It's like what even when I bought it I was like, "I can't believe I'm buying a selfie light." It's one of those giant ring lights, it's a selfie light. It was again, I made a great purchase, one of my best purchases. Now, I wish I had one at home.

I can't believe I just said that. But it's a selfie like it's on a tripod. It's infinitely adjustable, I can pop my iPhone in it, it comes with the remote control (clicks). The remote control, so that you don't get that thing of like at the end where people kind of reach in and like that thing where people kind of turn off their screen. So it's been great and again, like a great inexpensive purchase, you know.

So I have a selfie like it's fabulous. Oh, and it's LED, so it doesn't get hot, it doesn't take that much, it's fabulous, I love it. Yeah so we just put in the chat the link to the selfie light? But people are familiar with them. They're circular lights and depending on the size you get, you can put your camera right in the center.

So you have a light all around your face. And not just camera but a phone, mine's adaptable for regular camera, they're incredible. Yeah, so I use phone, cameras, it'she same thing. I don't own a camera camera, I just have an iPhone which has a nice thing on it. So yeah, it works really, really well.

Big fan of it and yeah, we love them, makes you look younger, more attractive, smarter, you know, all of us. Taller. (both laughing) Hope that helped me cue. By the way, they were sold out for a little while there because I think everyone there was a rush to buy them 'cause everyone went virtual. When you come up with your programming for your class, what inspires you for what you're gonna teach that week?

So, all kinds of things. So this week's theme is arms and I really wanna look at how we use our arms in push up position, how we use our arms without our torso moving, with our torso moving, so how do I come up with it? Honestly, I'm waiting for inspiration. I just kind of wait for inspiration, that's the truth. And sometimes it's a theme that I've been wanting to explore for a while.

So I did a week of extension. I did a week where we only did stuff in the coronal plane. So it sort of depends, I think for it's coming up on, actually 10 years since Kathy passed away. And I think that week, I'm gonna do an homage to Kathy and I think I'll just do all Kathy Grant exercises for that week that one's gonna be fun. I don't know, I'm just kind of playing around.

And so I wait till inspiration hits. I've tried polling people. That was interesting, that was interesting. I did get some very strong hits, like a lot of people wanted the arms integration class. So that's why that's what I'm doing this week.

But I sort of I kind of do all kinds of things to sort of figure out but for the most part, it's what do I think is really interesting or what am i curious about that I think maybe other people will be curious about too. I think there's, you know, some of the people I've chatted with talked about how this is a period of creativity. That many ways have been doing the same thing for years. And suddenly, you know, the challenges I don't have all this equipment, I don't have all this structure anymore so what can I do? Yes, yes, I completely agree.

And it's been really invigorating. So just to go back to the question about the selfie light. So right now the configuration that Blossom has, I'll let you in on a secret so that I have, is I have my computer right in front of me and I have my ring light just behind it. So if you imagine the cameras at the top of the, oh Blossom's gonna take a picture for us. Imma take a picture, I'll send it to Jia (laughs).

And so we've got the light behind you, and so it's doing there. But if you're down on the mat, and you're further away, just have it at the side and going down onto that person. If you really want to get fancy, and I don't recommend this, I just don't think it's worth the hassle. If you get into the movies, you do three points. You do a point on either side and the point in the center.

So when we're filming in our studio in Santa Barbara, I think we have 12 lights in that particular studio that are positioned. You just don't need that for these kind of online kind of things. And you can do really well with that. If you make In a Hollywood movie, it's one budget. If you're doing something, live from your studio, people have different expectations.

They wanna be able to hear you but if the lighting is not perfect, as long as they can tell you what you're doing. Do you have anything to add to that Blossom? When I look at a screen, and I've got a bunch of the Hollywood Squares as I like to joke, I think the light really does help, you know, 'cause if I don't see the person, it's hard for me to really give you that extra correction. So yes, but I also think that now is a time that people are being very forgiving. Part of what I was reticent about teaching online classes was my in my head, I'm like, "Well, I'm not Pilates Anytime, "like the quality isn't gonna be that great." And a friend of mine reminded me that people are being quite forgiving right now.

Like, it's okay, like people know what we're dealing with. So I think, I guess what I'm to say, for the other perfectionists out there, or the people who wanna sort of come on a certain level, give yourself a little bit of a break. Give yourself yeah and actually, that was what I talked about a lot with my friends who when I was encouraging other people that were thinking about teaching online, I said, "You know, just try it," like, try it and see 'cause it's a time of kindness, I think. And grace. Cool I'm gonna read some other questions out now.

And we have 14 questions so we're gonna run out of time or I don't know, can we go a little late with you Blossom? Yes. This is from Deborah, have you had any issues with your own body trying to teach with Zoom? Have you found it hard on your body? Well, I'm just not used to exercising this much since I was a 20-something year old with Kathy Grant.

But no, actually I feel better when I'm demonstrating so for them, but the thing that I have to be careful of is I have to be careful of this thing. Okay, you know, like I have to be careful of turning my head while instructing. I try to be very clear that when I'm teaching to look straight ahead and maybe turn my body 'cause you see that a lot actually. I'll watch videos of people teaching, and you see a lot of sort of this happening. Or if I am doing that I try to do both sides because it's a lot on the head and neck.

Yeah, one of the things that Blossom's talked about is that she'll demonstrate the exercise and then when other people are doing more repetitions or the other side, she will be looking. Yeah, I think it is hard on your body if you, you know, that thing, so good question Deborah. This is about the technology again, when teaching you use Zoom on your phone or your computer? It's on your computer. Computer.

The other piece I would just share is that the moment Blossoms computer has a wire that goes to her router. So she is using a wired connection between her computer and the internet. A Wi-Fi is pretty reliable we just don't want to spend half of that class dealing with a tech issue. So Blossom has a wired connection into her router. And at home I have a 200-foot cord just in case, 'cause we want to make it, 'cause I mean to the point where I am charging money to have a mat class, I can't mess it up so I hardwire every time I can.

And if there's a giant cords toiling from upstairs in my house to downstairs, I don't care as long as I'd rather have that strong connection. Dino asked a question, "When you're teaching, do you use Zoom on your phone "or on your computer? "I'm confused about the selfie light "and the computer setup." So I'm just gonna help answer this. Blossom does it on her laptop but you can put your phone in the center of the circle, of the ring light. And you can actually have yourself logged in on both devices.

So you could be talking to the iPhone you know the iPhone, basically the 10 and the 11, has a better camera than most laptops. So you could have the camera there, and then you have the screen with all of the stuff celebrity squares. You know, the Zoom's on it so you can see all the people. So you can do it with two devices. The challenge I see is every time you make something more complicated, there's something else that goes wrong.

And what you're really there to do is to teach a class. And so yes, you can do those kind of things. And if you see people like Amy Havens who, one of my co-workers, we have a two-camera set up in there. But we're also, we have a team behind it mixing between the two cameras and all the costs that go with it. So you know, yes, you can do a lot of things but it's how complicated you need to do it to get to where you are 'cause you don't want to spend your life being a tech person on these things.

Is that okay? Do you agree with that Blossom? I don't wanna take words from you. Oh no, not really. Actually, what I'd even do here is I just leave my entire setup exactly how it is. I just make sure I turn off my, another nice tip is turn off, shut down your computer every day.

I find that Zoom works better if I shut down like, I don't know why, I don't know if that's an old wives tale, but that seems to work better for me when I just shut my whole system down, but I just leave it all set up. And because you're right, I don't wanna concentrate on tech, I wanna concentrate on the on the flow between exercises. This is tech is not my thing. Yeah, just a question about wireless mics from Kimberly here. We wrote a blog article and perhaps Jia can put that in the chat, which talks about the components of being able to do really good live online kind of things.

If you in some environments, like the Apple bluetooth ear pods that go there. You know, those things can be really good in terms of going wireless. If you're getting into, you know, the question from Robin was about, I think it was from somebody else I've lost it in all the Q and A but we do those microphone packs, when we film at the studio, Blossom's worn one many times. We're now getting into, I think they're $1200 each and they go wrong from time to time, and all of those things, so really, I'm not a big fan of spending that much money for this kind of thing. You know, we're trying to produce when we use the studio, which we're not filming in at the present time, but we're trying to be there with that kind of Hollywood quality so we have a lot of expensive equipment.

A $10,000 camera, $1200 audio (laughs) it just stacks up. I have to say though that new mic was really nice. It was I know (laugh) but like it's not what I have, but it was really nice. I hope that answers your question Kimberley there. Dario asks which smartphone?

I'm an Apple guy, I have been for like 15 years. So I'm gonna say whichever iPhone you can afford. The iPhone 10 and the iPhone 11 camera are both really good. I like both of them, I think they're great phones as well. This is a payment question for Jane asks, "For international students, what's the payment method you used to take payment?" Through that Setmore app you should be able to pay with any credit card.

I have had a few people have issues like there's a woman in the Isle of Man and she says every now and again her credit card just does not get accepted because it doesn't quite recognize her zip code. You know the Isle of Man, John. I do. It's an interesting place. So for sometimes those people I will bypass my own system that I make up 'cause I sort of know this woman on the Isle of Man.

And so I'll just tell the end to Pay Pal me 'cause I can do it that way and I just sent her the link via email. So that's sort of my backup system. Jan asked the question about selfie lights with tablets. The adjustable bit which you put your phone in, depending on the tablet, sometimes will just all the way up to taking a tablet. I don't know if it takes those giant ones but you know, just check out the specifications but you can get ones that will fit for that.

It's true. Kathleen asked, "Do people use the earbuds to teach?" Yes, they do, a lot of people do. And the challenge with that is, for some people, those ones fit perfectly. For other people, you know, they lean forward and they all fall out. I guess it depends on your ears and when you can do.

Again, on the blog post that Jia posted, there was a link to the article that we had. We had a couple of different types of earbuds there and there's ones that kinda wrap around the ear, kind of really clip in. It's a matter of finding something that fits your your head. Can we just talked about the standing work and how do you do the standing work? And actually can you explain about how you reframe for that?

Oh, when I go to stand up and show things? Yeah. So it depends on what I want them to see. So sometimes if I want them to see my whole body, I'll have like, as soon as I turn on, I will almost mark a spot on the floor like okay, so for me to do this, I have to set it this far back. Or I do a thing where I have people wanting to see my feet and I'll just move the screen.

That's very, very bright. And I'll make sure they can see my feet and probably see if you see my feet kind of blend into the brown floor. So I would have checked that out beforehand and I would have made a stand on something like this just to create a little bit of contrast. And maybe also bring my light over. But that's how I would do some standing work, if that makes sense.

Truth is I don't do a lot of standard work, but ironically, that's where I want to head next. (John laughs) No, it's true, I want to try to do like a standard classroom standing for at least half an hour. Cool. Kim asked a follow up question about wired connection to your internet. You know, the cable that you use is called a category five or CAT 5 cable and there has to be an ethernet jack in your computer and if you look on the back of your modem or your router, whatever your phone company, or your cable company provided, you'll find this square phone.

Remember when we had wired phones in our houses? The plug looked a little bit like... It looks exactly like that actually, right? Except it's a little bit bigger. It's not the same size, a little bit bigger.

It's the same sort of plug and that would be the way to do a wired connection. And maybe Jia can put somebody in the chat just to link to a CAT 5 cable. You might have seen if you work in an office environment, that's typically how things are connected there. How do you let's say that you have a client you're doing a private, do you spend some time helping them set up their space? So you can see them?

Definitely, it takes a while to I think for the person on the other side of the screen to understand what I can see. For instance, another client of mine, she's also a teacher. She finally realized that if she covered her dark couch with a light sheet, it was much better for me to see her 'cause then it was contrast between her legs and the dark couch behind her, 'cause she would wear dark leggings in front of a dark couch and I couldn't, there was no depth perception, I couldn't see what was leg and what was couch. So that usually helps. And there's a little bit of wiggle, there's a sort of a learning curve there.

It takes some time to really figure out what is the best way to see that person. So if you have a private client, are you advising them to have the mat kind of like this? Or kinda like-- I like a profile view? Which way is that? Profile so the mat parallel to the computer, correct.

Like this? Yeah, that to me is the easiest way for me to see most of the things. Yeah, I think a lot of the people I've talked to if they're doing a private, the first time they do that online, private, they're accepting that they're spending the first 10 minutes helping that person move the laptop around or the iPad. Move the furniture (laughs). It's an interesting view into our clients minds like, "Oh, wait, you think that I can see you?" You know, it's interesting some clients get it right away and other people were just like, "Wait, is this a good place?" And then you sort of understand their idea.

Their visual perception, right, is different. Like that's an interesting like, "Oh, yeah, okay, let me really help you with this," 'cause sometimes people don't get it. And other people get it right away. So one of the questions here is who made the mat that you have on the floor there? Eric's, Eric's is great, so this is one of those mats that you can actually, so they come in other colors, but I got this new color, think it's called platinum.

It's great because it's a light color, which I wanted and it's not so like bright blue or green. I really wanted something just a little calmer. Eric's is the mat and it's awesome because you could work out on that on concrete. For those of us who might be working out in the driveway, which really could happen. Yeah.

Yeah, no really could happen. It's great. You can get them everywhere that's the big, giant size Coro. I wanna say it's called, this is ironic, I think it's called a Corona. (John laughs) I'm not kidding, I think it's Corona.

I'm not totally sure what it's the big one, or Chlorella, it's one of those. If Jia can't find it live, we will put it when we publish this thing, we will put it in the description, we'll put a link there. Dario was asking about the wireless microphone. You know, if the earbuds work for you using an Apple device so that you have that, it's really good. And then it doesn't matter, like I demonstrated if Blossom turns away from the microphone, the fixed one she has, we can't hear her so well, but if she has an earpiece in, doesn't matter which way your head's going it's that same relationship.

So that would be my advice generally, is to try and do that. Oh my goodness there's so many good questions, how do I pick the ones we're gonna do? Let's just talk quickly-- I was gonna say do them all, okay. Let's just too quickly talk on marketing here for a second. What has been your marketing?

I recognize you're in a different situation you know, you have a brand, people know who you are. Any advice on marketing to increase the number of people in your classes? You know, let's just be, I am not a tech person. I would say five years ago, I wasn't even on Instagram. But I realized that Instagram and Facebook was a part of the job.

I would i actually pretend it was part, I've since then I've decided to pretend it's a part of my job and I started posting five days a week, Monday through Friday, like a job and I realized that that was a big part of not just branding, 'cause I feel like words like branding was a was off putting to me, but what I realized it was actually just sort of becoming a part of a community, right. And so even for me if I am someone says, "Hey, I'm going to Pittsburgh "and what studio should I check out?" I sort of you kind of, you know, I think have a Rolodex, in my head, I have that Rolodex of different images I've seen and usually if I've been looking through Instagram, I think of a place that I've seen on my Instagram feed of like, "Oh, yeah, that person." So it's just about being like making yourself known as a part of the community because I feel like often people think of Instagram and Facebook as the sort of like dirty words or like, "Oh, that's not who I am." But really, it's just a part of the national, international conversation. So I actually, the way you book my class is actually through Instagram, pretty much only. And so that's pretty much the only way that I've been advertising for my classes and maybe a word of mouth, I've been telling people. Even just sending out a, I had a little mailing list and I just sent it out to my mailing list.

Cool, some of the other folks that we've talked to have done the old fashioned, old school. Yeah, this is a phone for those that are too young I'm pretending to be on the phone here. But just ring up your clients. So if you have an established list of clients that you used to do business with physically in class, then I think ringing them up, checking in to see how you going, how they're doing, and then just inviting them to come. And then some of the older clients has been this technology resistance.

And so it may be as well, I'm happy to spend 15 minutes with you, teaching you how to use Zoom. And that is your kind of marketing investment to get them up that learning curve. And then we shared earlier about how you've connected your billing system and your booking system, that's very cool. I think if you're one of the questions here is a brand new pilates teacher that doesn't just graduated. And first of all, Alexa, my heart goes out to you.

This is a tough time to be looking for work. But my advice on this would be very similar to what it would be if we weren't, in this strange land. Start off by just everybody you know, and just say, "I'm a new pilates teacher, "I'm doing this, would you like to take my online class?" And maybe you offer them a free online class initially, and if they really enjoy it, they will be willing to pay you and do more. And so I would focus on that and I would also connect with other folks you know, those people you know close. You start off with teaching your mom online, and then just build it out from there.

Blossom? I wanna add that I've done things especially for people who are in a financial hardship. I've done things where I go, okay. 'Cause you know, Zoom, makes this happen, you can record the class, and I will do a class with someone and go, "Okay, I'll see you next month." And then we do another one next month, and they have it so that they can do, that client can do it whenever they want to for that month, and it's cost them less money. And that's been very helpful for some people and I do like, I also do suggest the idea of just calling calling people up and let just letting people try it for free because people are afraid, it's new for them.

They can't imagine how you could teach some of them virtually and it's actually kind of great. I think a lot. And I would also like to add, I think there are waves and phases to this. For instance, I had a few clients were just like, "I'll see you in a couple of months." And then they were certain number of people said, "Okay, I guess I'll come." And I think so just because you've gotten your first no, I think just try again. There's a way to not to be very kind about it and just say, just trying again, in case you want to check this out, because I think that's what's especially in a place like New York City we're realizing this is not going away quickly.

Yeah anybody wants my email is john, J-O-H-N, at pilatesanytime.com. I can't promise I'll get back to you straight away. Last time I did this, I got a lot of emails but I try and answer all the ones that'll take me until the weekend. I just wanna bring in a couple of people before we wrap up here, Amy. I'm just gonna ask, Blossom, I'm gonna ask Amy Havens to join us.

Amy. Hopefully Amy can join. And I think I saw Porshe Paige here. Let me just have a quick look. Like when you get close like that, like that does anything.

Hi, Amy. Hi. Hi, Porshe. How's it going, Amy? It's going well, yes.

I love it's a very engaging conversation, I know. Well, here I am, yeah, glasses of not-- Hi, Porshe. Hello. Hey. How's the golden girls?

So Porsche it's always Pet and Amy it's great to see you. And-- Thanks. Excited to be here. I'm just gonna do a plug for Amy. If you want to see Amy live, she is on when's your schedule, Amy?

I'm on Tuesdays now, 8:30 in the morning, Pacific Daylight Time, 8:30. Fantastic, so if you want to do a live class with Amy, and you want some tips on how to do it, Amy is on that learning curve and she is awesome but she's just same as everybody else. She's learning about how to do these things and do that. And Jia put that in the chat. And Porshe tell me what's happening with the Balanced Body 24 hours of pilates.

Oh, so exciting. So for 24 hours, it's gonna be pilates and all the money is going to charity. And it's a great way to see people from around the world in their timezone and if you want to stay up for 24 hours, feel free (laughs). I have to say that I know I'm not gonna be able to (laughs). I'm not afraid to admit that 24 hours of staying up is not in my regimen anymore.

No, no, no maybe a long, long, long time ago in another lifetime but not now. So it's gonna be really great for those of you that don't get out much, even before COVID, you know, it's like if you didn't have time to travel, now you get to see people from Singapore, from China, from Europe, from South America, everywhere. You'll have a really great experience and it'll be fun. You to get to see instructors that you would maybe never have a chance to see, yeah. Yeah, I think that's one of the amazing things about this time and I try and keep my mental health good by looking on the bright side of things.

That's right. I do think some of the innovations like the chance to take Blossoms mat class or Amy or yours Porshe or the things that you're doing with Balanced Body. I think it's fabulous, I'm super excited about it. What I'm gonna promise all the people that asked questions here, I will do my best to kind of work my way through the cues and send you some As, some answers in this. And just kind of work things out and we'll do some blog posts if it's a question that was asked many times to try and do those things.

Blossom this your hour of fun here, you have any closing pieces of wisdom you'd like to share with everybody? I think for me, the thing that is just to really take use this time to inspire you. Find the thing that really is exciting or interesting. It could be very different, it could be really exploring the certain, like your foot or how that relates to the rest of your body. You know, for me, it's been trying to come up with fun themes and mat work.

For me this pilates is just is sort of a series of exercises, but it's infinitely interesting if you find the interesting things in it. So, and if you find something interesting, then people will go oh, that's, you know, people will come and just try to end that, you know, staying positive really does help. And I think the big thing is to really connect with people 'cause I find that that's what's actually really been keeping me afloat and like emotionally, spiritually like the connections, like just getting to see Amy here and Porshe here is really exciting is so, let's use this technology and this time in a way that serves us and those would be I think my parting things to say. Thank you for Blossom. Thank you Porshe.

Thank you, Amy, love to everybody, and see you next week. Bye. Bye. (all laughing)

Related Content


Hi John,

Thanks for all of your tech help!  You mentioned Music with Zoom and how to best do that: Use music while zooming.  Can you please explain how to do that the best?

Thank you again for all you are doing.

Teresa Julian
Zoe G
1 person likes this.
Hi, John. I went to Amazon and looked up the microphone 'Pro Con Series 1' and was unsuccessful. Can you post the model here? Thank you, and thank you for these interviews. They are super helpful!
This was fabulous and informative! How do I incorporate music?
I would also like to know exactly how to incorporate music whilst teaching and using Zoom
Where are the links to resources? Thx.
Blossom  I'm using an online booking system but I like the sound of the one your using, can you tell me if the booking system sends the zoom link or do you add them separately to the booking? Thanks, Kelly 
Hi john! How can I find out about incorporating music?
Hi Genevieve Malcolm, the resources and links are below the webinars description. 
Hi Susan, you can learn more about sharing music through zoom with this blog post.
Hi John and Blossom, thank you so much for sharing all these insights and practical tips! I am teaching online since april and now about to make some improvements,: all your info is so usefull for this. Greetings from Amsterdam, Miett
I did not watch this live .. just re-watching... I am unable to access your resource links .... please help!? Thank you!
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