Discussion #4148

Small Fitness Coalition

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On June 2, 2020, we talked to Maria Bardet to learn how Pilates teachers and studio owners can work with local government to get the support needed to reopen Pilates studios. She explains the importance of developing a relationship with your local government as well as how you can show them what you are doing to keep your clients and staff safe.

Links and Resources

- Face Mask Blog

- OPTP Disinfectant Spray

- Vox Article

- Touchless Thermometer

- Vinyl Loops

- Maria's Website

What You'll Need: No props needed

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Jun 09, 2020
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Welcome everybody today. We're talking with Maria Bardet. She is the co founder of the small fitness facilities coalition, and the owner of Humani Pilates and Sacramento. We going to be talking about working with your local government authority about how do you get your studio, get the Pilates industry and the kind of right place in terms of when it's safe and appropriate for us to open. So we're gonna be talking about that. This is a discussion.

I don't think either of us know the answer to every question, but we're very happy to share what we're doing and what we're hearing and those things. And we will have, we have a series of topics that we're going to discuss. And then at the end, we're going to try and address everybody's questions. So it's exciting to be here. And Maria, thank you so much for being my guest today.

Yes. Thank you for having me. I'm really looking forward to the discussion. I just want to provide as much value as I can, so I would love to see your questions and help in any way that I can. Yeah. Cool. Let's start off. When we chatted the other day, you were telling me you didn't actually start off straight out of college into Pilates teaching.

You started off in the world of public policy. Can you tell me a little bit about your career? Yes, yes. So that is correct. Although I've always been a fan of Pilates since I was like 17 years old, I was an enthusiast practicing any moment I could, that wasn't really a career I was headed toward.

So I worked in public policy for seven years and that was my that's what I thought I was going to be doing. So specifically for those of you, or don't really know a ton about public policy or politics, I worked in the state Capitol and I worked for a member of the legislature. And through that experience, it actually really served me well for owning my own business. And also during this time where advocacy for our industry is so important. So what I did in public policy is I helped create laws and helped pass laws with the members of the legislature.

So that was my job for many years while I was also learning and teaching Pilates as just a hobby at that time. And then eventually, one thing led to another, I ended up with a business opening my own studio, but definitely that was a very long process for me. Cool. What makes you kind of an unusual person, public policy and Pilates teacher, business owner. So I really value your unique perspective on this.

Yeah, definitely. Can you talk a little bit about how California is having these phases of reopening and kind of what is the public policy that's in place? And then I'd like to go on about how Pilates studios got lumped into one of those phases. Perhaps you could explain the phases to begin with. Right. So since many of you seem to be from the States in usually there's a national policy that sets the stage for certain things.

So there is sort of a lack of national policy in our countries. So then the States began to kind of be responsible for when the economy is going to open. So in the state of California, our governor came up with three phases and actually is, it's a little bit more complicated than that, but let's call it three phases. And the phases were based on what is essential and what is not essential and what is safe and what is more risky. And so phase one, when the governor became began opening the economy, he opened phase one, the most essential and low risk businesses.

And we, and by we, as in, I'm gonna say Pilates studios were actually not specifically called out in any particular phase, but we were lumped into phase three together with gems. So that is why currently in California, there isn't yet a policy to open gyms as of today, including pilates studios like ours. However, we can talk about this in a little bit more detail if we need to, but what the governor also said is that he is going to be giving authority to counties so more on the local level to open things up as they see fit, depending on their numbers COVID cases and their ability to control their outbreaks. So there was a little bit of confusion because some counties are opening fitness studios and some counties are not opening fitness studios. And I happen to be in a County that was in between where we were authorized to open after the lobbying efforts of our organization.

And then we were told by the governor to actually close so long story short, it's pretty complex, but in most States, the governor has the authority to basically dictate how quickly the economy will open, which includes how quickly studios like ours will open. Is Sacramento, where you are, is that one of the areas where there's still a lot of coronavirus? We are actually, if some of the, we are in a lower risk category, which is so we haven't had many cases and we haven't had many deaths relatively speaking, of course. And so that is why our County health director actually, after speaking with us and learning about what we do and how we do it, that's very different from a big gym setting, he actually gave fitness studios like ours, specific authorization to open, and we celebrated and we were very happy about it. And about two days in, he rescinded that authorization because the governor just said that he hasn't had the, he hasn't given broad authority for us to open.

So I mean, to most people, this is extremely confusing. It's very confusing for me, but the fact that I understand kind of how the layers of government work made it easier for me to digest it, whereas I can understand how some people could be really upset right now. Rightfully so. Yeah. In your region, can a hair salon open or a nail salon? Right.

So last week the state was given guidelines to open hair salons and barber shops. And not only includes actual hair, not skincare services or anything like that. So that was another sort of interesting thing to allow to open because you're coming into direct contact with your clients, unlike a body studio where we could avoid touch and we could stand further away from our students. So they were given authorization to open. And as of today, we still haven't aside from that little County authorization that happened two weeks ago. Yeah.

Yeah. Why do you think, yeah hair salons were given different treatment to Pilate studios. Well, this is definitely a personal opinion because I don't know for a fact, because to me, when I read the guidelines of what the hair salons were given, they're very similar to the guidelines we were given, or we developed rather with the County. And I could speak a little bit about what we decided so that everybody here who hasn't opened yet has sort of a clear list of things you can think about doing to open your studio. But I think it's because the beauty industry and the hair industry, they have a lot of representation on all levels of government. So they have lobbyists, they have associations that are advocating on their behalf and the small fitness studios, including pilates studios we don't have that yet.

So hopefully we will one day. Right. And so I think that they were able to really communicate on all levels. Cause it takes a lot of effort, even just a little bit of effort that, or a lot of effort that it took to make a little bit of change in our local level took a ton of effort. So I think that because they have that representation that they were able to open faster.

I don't think they're less, I don't think that they're more safe than us. Right. So there has to be another reason in my opinion. Yeah. And they have trade organizations, it's been kind of part of their world for awhile. I think that the lobbying.

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. So just remembering my work in public policy, I mean these organizations, they're not just there in times of crisis, right. They're always working in developing relationships with their elected officials, with people in power and government. And so they're constantly developing these relationships. So whenever something like this happens, it's a lot easier for them to reach those decision makers than it is for somebody just starting to build those relationships and they take years to develop.

Of course, so yeah. It doesn't happen overnight. No it doesn't. Yeah. Those industries are perhaps a little bit bigger than the pilate's industry as well. I think there's more people employed in those industries.

So, people paying their contribution to trade organizations probably results in a lot more money for lobbyists. Sure. Which is why I feel that creating a small fitness association will be in the pilate's studio owners best interest because it's going to pull the resources better and we're going to be able to include a ton more people in our association. Right. Because there's just, we can include yoga studios and other small fitness places, because then it's just more people, even though we have a ton of people in the world doing pilates, it's still, just like the beauty association and includes skincare and hair and all the other kinds of things. And it just allows them to be able to advocate a little bit better.

Yeah. Yeah. When you were working, lobbying your County officials, can you talk a little bit about the logic that you had that you developed for why small fitness studio should be treated differently to gyms? Yeah. So the biggest issue that happened was we were just completely ignored as pilates studios and overlooked, right? We weren't given any other treatments, special treatment because we were just, nobody thought that we existed right now. They didn't think about it.

So our number one goal was to tell our County and to tell the state, we kind of approached it by calling our state officials and also calling our County officials. We try to explain to them two things. The first thing is that we have more control over our operations than agendas and we're less risky. And the third kind of underlying foundational thing was that we're providing a real health benefit, right? We're actually providing an essential service or an essential practice if you will.

So we went to educate our state and our County officials on that. And when it comes to less risk, right? I mean, it's, everyone has an appointment we're operating at a smaller capacity. So it's very, kind of easy to see that at a big gym, everyone just comes and goes as they please. Whereas at our studios, everyone reserves a class and we're working with a very small group of people at a time.

And then when it comes to more control, we are also in a much better space because our teachers are in charge of the environment and we are more control of sanitizing our equipment. And we're in more control of how people spend their time. So a person goes to the reformer and they spend an hour on the reformer and they leave. It's not like they walk around touching everything. Right. So we try to explain how we do our work to both the state and the County.

And we created with the County specific guidelines or modifications. So we basically said, this is why we're less risky and we have more control. And this is what we can do. These are the five things we can do in order to open reopen safely. And so when they looked at that and this took about a month, they said, okay, we see your point.

We get how you're different. And also these modifications look really good. Okay. You can open. And so that was kind of our successful story right there. How are you, you're commuting it by email and phone calls.

Is that how you made those connections? Yeah. So this is another kind of point to everybody is that, and we talked a little bit about this. John is that all of us work with so many different people as studio owners and teachers, I'm sure there are people at your studio that either are working on our levels of state government or city, government, or local government and, or they know somebody. So a few of my students actually work in government. And so I was able to kind of connect with them.

But if you don't have those connections, what we did is we just called all of this as public information, right? So you have the office of an elected member and then you have their staff and we just connected with their chief of staff or their scheduler to get the chief of staff's information. So yes, we emailed and we called and we scheduled zoom meetings. Our first meeting was actually with the mayor of our city and his chief of staff and the chief of staff for the health department. So we were able to kind of right away start the conversation like that on the local level.

And the local officials are usually interested in speaking with the members that they, or the people that they represent. It's a lot easier to get in touch with your mayor than with your state representative or your Congress representative. Right. So that's how we did it. So your advice is to begin a more local level and if it has to be escalated and it has to be Yes. And unless you know somebody personally that is serving in the state legislature, which again, we happen to be in Sacramento. So it's a little bit easier for us because we're in the state Capitol.

And so in our fitness coalition, we probably have almost, I mean, very, we have a large number of people who actually come to our studios but so if you are in your local community and you're not in a cap in the nation's Capitol or in the state Capitol, for example, you can be sure that at least some people work in your city government, so you can connect with them, or somebody knows somebody else. Or if not, you could just literally Google it. You can look at their numbers or their email addresses. And the thing is, you just have to be persistent and call and call again. And again, Don't give up, Don't give up.

And it does take a lot of time, which is why I think there needs to be a more formal body that does this. And so that's why I'm, I like this kind of work. So I'm happily doing it, but it is a lot of work. Yeah. Yeah. I noticed in the chat that there's a Sabrina has mentioned that she's in Pennsylvania and she was able through to have connections in County government to allow her to open in the same phase as physical therapists. She also says that she made that connection through a client.

The client helped her with that journey. So go Sabrina is fantastic. I'm telling you all the coolest people do Pilates. So they all, you know them already. So this is such good news.

That's good to hear. Cool. So let's just talk a little bit about, we're talking about the transmission and just kind of talk about the two ways that the virus has transmitted airborne transmission and touch. And perhaps you can then touch. I didn't mean to be a play on words there, but talk about how you have gone about mitigating things around touch and then kind of talk about airborne transmission what you're working on. Totally. And I noticed people have questions about masks, so I can definitely address that as well.

So we want to make sure that not only are we providing a safe environment, but all of our clients and students feel safe in our space. So I kind of took my own personal opinion out of things. And I just went with the guidelines that our state government has put out for various industries. CDC has put out and all kinds of different agencies that I feel like you could do a lot of research about whether masks are grade or not grade and all these things. But at the end of the day, it's just about kind of picking the most common denominator.

And we know that the virus is transmitted both through touch. It sits on surface area for a certain amount of time and, or breathing, especially heavy breathing, right. Or especially when there's a lot of heavy breathing in one area that's closed off, which is why outdoor is not considered, not as risky as indoor. Although things fly at you if it's windy. So there's just so many factors.

So the way we're addressing it is we're mitigating both. The touch aspect. So we are making sure that we are keeping six feet of distance between each person and a teacher and the person. So we're refraining from any kind of physical touch. We're also sanitizing, all surface areas, common areas in our studio.

So like, let's take, for example, like a class, right? So people come in through the door, the door's already open. The first thing they do is they sanitize their hands. They go right into the room, they go into their piece of equipment and they don't touch anything else. There's no use of common area bathrooms, unless it's an emergency for right now or dressing rooms for now. Right?

So when they're in the class, we have a person on site, our front desk person who is actually disinfecting all the door knobs and all those things. So common area stuff, even though people are refraining from touching, we still have a person that's disinfecting. Now, after they use the equipment, we have wipes that are, bleach they're CDC recommended wipes. They're actually used for dental offices. So we got like the most highest disinfectant wipes out there.

So we are wiping that down and then we're asking students to disinfect their hands and then they go straight out the door. So we are trying, we're asking them not to hang out in the lobby or touch things. So that's how we're mitigating the touch and the sanitizing aspect of that. And then as far as the airborne, the teachers are going to be wearing masks because there's just a lot of people breathing in one area and the teachers are talking, right? They're not exercising.

They're not sweating and exercising themselves. What we are recommending for clients as of this moment is that when they come in, they're wearing a mask. So when they come into a common area, they are already wearing a mask. They can choose to take it off during the actual session. And when I have a private, , I stay even further back.

And when they're not wearing a mask, I feel safe because I'm not really close to them, but if you're in a closed space, right, we're keeping our doors open, but still it's a closed space. People do have a choice whether or not to wear it or not. This of course is a fluid situation. So every state is going to be different. Some States are going to be requiring everybody to wear a mask.

We haven't had the state guidelines released in California. So if we do, if we are required to wear masks, the hair, people, hair salons are required to wear masks at all times. So if we are required to, we will make sure our students are wearing a mask. Although clients are not required to for hair salons, just the hair, the stylist is required to wear a mask. So that's how we're addressing the, that component of it.

And again, it's a fluid situation because we don't have the state guidelines yet. Yeah. Yeah. We Pilates Anytime posted a blog article on facemasks last week, which we had one of our writers research. It is such a complicated issue.

And maybe, we just GE has just put that in the chat and I encourage people to read it. We tried to take both sides of the issue. It's certainly polarizing. And I'm not encouraging you to look at the Facebook conversation but it was long and it was heated and it was highly debated there, but it's complicated. I'm still at the place where I wear a mask whenever I'm out in public.

When I walk, which I do every evening, I do that. I'm presently taking my pilates over the internet. So I have a zoom session. So it doesn't come up with that. It's a tough one. It's a tough issue.

Can you talk about how you're ventilating your space? Right. So we have a couple of different things. I mean, of course, we always have proper air flow in our space. We don't do any kind of hot pilates or anything like that. It's always very ventilated.

We also have a diffuser in our space that we diffuse antibacterial oils in between classes as well. And we're choosing to keep our main doors open for the time being, not the doors to the outside, but our lobby entrance doors. So there's just a little bit more air flow. We also, because we limited the amount of people in our classes, we have fewer people. And so hopefully that also mitigates that situation as well.

And of course at the end of the day, right, we just can only do so much given our unique spaces. Like we don't have an option to open a window in one of my studio spaces. There is no window there. There are doors, but there are no windows. And I have to make the decision of whether it's more safe to keep the front door open, which it's not or a window.

So I can only do what I can. And then I make that very clear to our students so they can make the decision of whether or not they feel safe. And this is why we do have state and local guidelines too. So if when the city and state and County come up with guidelines we can look at them and we implement them. So when sometimes clients call us and they ask us certain questions, like, have you considered that while I'm exercising and if I breathe the particles that come out of my mouth travel faster than if I wasn't exercising.

Well, my answer to that is that, no, I can't calculate how far your particles are going to go across the room. But what I can do is I can look at the guidelines that the state has given me. And I could say, I need these guidelines, but it goes back to the perception of safety, right? There's just gonna be some people that just do not quite feel safe to go back to your space until there's a vaccine. And we just have to respect that. Right.

And that's all we do. I'm just curious, what our audiences I'm going to launch a poll, which is just about masking everybody. What are your plans for masks in the studio? Are the teachers and the client's going to wear the mask? Is it just the teachers, just the clients, no one wearing a mask or not no policy yet.

I'm just kind of curious what is going on in the world here. I see some really cool, interesting questions in the Q and A about one, that's coming up about getting CDC compliance supplies, which is a really real question. We can address that. Yeah. So just finish the poll there, I'm looking at the results.

About half of the people are asking the teacher and the client. 15 ish percent only the teacher wears a mask, a very small number of people just saying only the clients. No one's required to amass. Nobody's taken that. And a third of the people that answer's no policy. Yeah. Yeah. Appreciate everybody contributing to that.

And I think when we make these decisions too, especially if there's going to not be a clear guideline, like for example, if you're in a state that just says you can encourage people, but you're not required to. I mean, you have to ask yourself what you feel most comfortable with. And the first thing that we have to think about is protecting the safety, not just our safety, but the safety of our employees and then the safety of our clients. So if we want to Institute a 100% mask wearing policy, but, and we know that, that we feel that that is the safest way to approach it and to keep everybody safe, then are we afraid of doing that because we're afraid of losing clients, or we just have to ask ourselves these very real questions. So I think sometimes when we're in the gray area, it's the most difficult, but we have to understand that our primary goal is to keep ourselves and our employees feeling safe and our students feeling safe.

So it's really kind of, sometimes it becomes a personal question of what you really believe in ? Yeah. I think everybody is slightly unique that everybody's circumstances are different. Let's say that you're a Pilates teacher that has a compromised immune system. The virus can be a lot more lethal to you than it can be to other people, just to somebody that is younger, perhaps has a fully functioning immune system, all of those things.

So I think it's a function of your own kind of risk profile and all of this. And at the end of the day, there's also this economic thing that we all take, perhaps a bigger risk, depending on how financial we need much. We need things. I think that, yes, the government has got to offer some things, but we, as all shows should be responsible for ourselves and our clients. And I think particularly if we have clients that are all in their 70s and their 80s, I think it has to be perhaps an even cleaner environment in that take even lower risks. Right. And then you can offer you can offer those people perhaps more of a one on one setting or one on one session not being kind of afraid to say, to change how you do things.

I mean, we really have to adapt. Right? So those kinds of things I do want to make sure I answered Dawn's question about finding wipes and supplies, if you don't mind. Cause I know that this relevant to so many people, so I understand the frustration and the concern. It's really difficult to proper supplies. So here are a couple of, there's like three things, right?

So I'll give you my trick if you will, with it. So I'm now buying wipes from a dental supply company. So they are the ones that are working with, dental offices all over the country actually. And so sometimes you can be creative about where you're getting your stuff. , I can't just go to target and buy wipes, the other issue is financial, right? So I it's really hard to afford these wipes.

They're extremely expensive. So one thing that you can do that we've actually talked to our local government is trying to procure on the local level, these cleaning supplies. So if you talk to, let's say your mayor's office, or you talk to your city, council, people reach out to them and say, I'm a studio, whether you're an at home studio or whether you're a, , studio in town, in a space, reach out to them and tell them that you're having a hard time opening your business because you can't find the proper stuff to sanitize your space. Most likely they will, this is a real problem that they can actually help with. They could probably buy these supplies in bulk and find a way to give them to you or sell them to you at a lower cost.

Those are, that is something that is actually, they can take a wind for that because they can actually help you do that. The other thing you can do is you can make your own supplies. So hand sanitizer is Alovera and alcohol, right? So you can go and buy these things in bulk at a cheaper price, which we've done and you can create your own. You can also just create wipes by soaking paper, towels and alcohol.

This is time consuming. But if you have a very small operation, for example, and you are kind of trying to figure out a solution before you're able to get this like large quantity of things, you can make your own, which we've done all of these three things. We've talked to our local government. Now I'm buying stuff from a big supply company in bulk, and then also we've made our own stuff as well. So those are kind of my recommendations on that.

Cool. I also see a comment from Lisa that OPTP has a spray that's normally used in physical therapy clinics and we'll do the best we can. We can't do it live. We will do it afterwards. We'll put links to these various vendors that Maria was mentioning.

And Lisa has mentioned there. Okay. Yeah. Don said that this is for her home or boutique studio. Yeah. I mean, you can definitely, you can definitely make your own stuff with just some sprayed alcohol and just wipe down your things. I was talking to you about this yesterday about this kind of stuff, really damages our equipment, right?

So damages the upholstery. So what I've done was I've covered all of our machines. I cut out actual cutouts using a yoga mat that matches the color of my machine. So they actually look good and I cut out coverings for everything. So now we can spray that and wipe that down and it doesn't actually damage our equipment.

So I'm happy to provide who were really, you can just Google yoga mat in large, in bulk and cut out whatever you need for your equipment. Cool. Just a follow up question about why do you feel not safe leaving your door open is that you're in a- I'm in a really high traffic area, kind of in a downtown area. So you would just get a lot of people passing by coming into our space. We actually have to lock our door when no one's at the front door.

I wouldn't feel right if people weren't at the front door and our studio space was open, we're on a retail level location downstairs. So that just wouldn't be an option for us specifically. Cool. When we were chatting yesterday, I was really impressed with the idea. It hadn't occurred to me that to help remove things happening touch going on in the common areas, you've removed all your magazines from your waiting area, Which is sad because we try to create a very welcoming space where people actually love to hang out and we have cool like books and things for people to check out. But for right now we have removed any sort of things that would make people linger sadly in our lobby.

And everyone knows that this is just for the time being. So yeah. So one of the things we've had a conversation with Ken Andelman on the pilates report and we had one with Kaylene and they both talked about the pros and cons of all the different cleaning products that are there. And think balanced body's position on this is that the research that they have read is that soap and water is a pretty way effective way of killing all of the coronavirus when it's on the material. Having said that there's also kind of a belief from a lot of customers that they would rather see something stronger, something closer to being a sanitizing, spray, bleach, all of those things.

And in the worst case, the damage you do to your equipment, that vinyl is that you have to replace it which is also possible, but that's another expense. So it's a bit like masks if you know what I mean, there's people with different views all the way through on cause a little bit like that with cleaning products. It's such a complicated area. At the end of the day, can people remember not to touch their faces with their hands? That's the real challenge in all of this.

Yeah, I think just to add to your point, and I think that they're some people are perfectly fine with using soap and water. We, again, we want to be as safe as possible. So we are using things that definitely remove any viral, viruses from our surface area. So we are going full steam into the most disinfecting kind of chemical stuff that actually, , isn't really great for us to breathe and it's not really great for the time being, but it is something that's going to solve an immediate problem for certain. And I know that we have a lot of students who would feel uncomfortable unless they knew it was disinfected that way.

So I think it is something that we have chosen to just be on that extra cautious end of the spectrum with using something that is recommended by CDC. Cool. Thank you. We've got some questions about, what are your thoughts around socks? Are you going to ask your clients to wear socks? I think that it's interesting because in my opinion, this policy, isn't really something that I think is that relevant to this particular situation, because I think our hands actually transmit a lot more of the virus than our feet would.

I just feel like whatever policy you have, whatever policy we had with socks or no socks is pretty much the same for us moving forward. Again, we're focusing on disinfecting before and after so that it doesn't really become an issue. So if somebody is wearing socks or isn't wearing socks, we are disinfecting before and after I think the hands where you're touching your face, some people are still sneezing in their face or rubbing their face with their hands. That's actually getting on more things and could spread a little bit easier than something that's on your feet. But again, so to me, I look at every single, factor and I really just have to look at the research and ask myself, is this the place where I need to focus my energy?

What are the places where I really need to focus my energy? I think at the end of the day, somebody I was talking to set this very well. We are not running a operating theater in a hospital, which probably is a sterile environment. It's been built that way. It has all of these surfaces that can be perfectly clean.

So where the plot is, industry is into risk mitigation. It's not limitation it's mitigation and it's kind of all of these things. And I don't know if you can see if you can find the article on InVox, the OX magazine, about the risk mitigation, about the whole thing. Cause yeah, the lowest risk is we stay at home and don't talk to anybody and a 100% isolate. And then there's a continuum that goes all the way through this that is there.

And I think this particular article really summed it up very well. So it is a tricky one. I'd like to explore, , the questions from Theresa here. So this is the first one in the Q and A. Can you address the special considerations and guidelines for those who asked with pilates practices out of our homes?

Do you have any thoughts on that? Right? She said she has- She has a small studio, 300 square feet and the most she has three clients there. Yeah. Honestly, Theresa, I think the same exact things would apply to you as they would apply inside a studio. So you would want to make sure that when you're are seeing clients that first of all, things become a little bit more flexible. Sometimes in home studios, people tend to linger for longer or people are much more comfortable there.

So I would say I would just treat it as you would if you were in not an at home studio. Right. So I would still have you wear a mask. The other person wear a mask if possible I would have the same cleaning practices that I would at my studio, which as I would wipe everything down before, and I would wipe everything down after I would wipe down any surface that they touched, including the equipment and I would sanitize or have them wash their hands before they even got into the space. I use hand sanitizer, we have a big touchless hand sanitizer container that we have everybody use as soon as they come in. I would just go ahead and do that.

And yeah, I mean, I think it's all the same things that apply whether you're at home or not and you want to make sure you stagger your appointments so that if you're a next person comes in that there isn't like that you have a few extra minutes to wipe everything down for you to wash your hands right afterwards. And so that you have proper time to disinfect yourself too. Yeah. Do you have any protocols? Do you ask your client, do you take that temperature when they come in?

Do you ask them whether they have been whether they have a fever, any of those things? Yeah. So what we have decided to do again, independent of potential other guidelines that come into play. So we do a waiver. We have a brand new waiver that everyone is required to fill out, even if they've already filled out a prior waiver. So everybody fills out this waiver before they come in and they basically do a self assessment and they say that, wait, they're coming into the studio, they're not going to come.

If they have any symptoms, they are going to check their temperature at home before even coming. So it's kind of a self attestation as to I'm healthy and I'm not going to come in if I'm not healthy, that's step one. Step two is that we do ask questions when they come in, as far as the health screening goes, but we currently require our teachers to take their temperature, but we don't take temperature of each student because well, we have a touchless thermometer. So it's very quick to do if we needed to do that. But I don't really love that idea because it congregates people in one area and makes them kind of stand around while we're checking their temperature.

So I feel like it's maybe not the safest thing to do. And also we already know that having a fever is not necessarily at that moment in time, whether or not somebody has a fever is not a great predictor of whether in fact they're sick or not sick. So even if they didn't have a fever, they could still be carrying the virus. So it is a little bit of a tricky kind of calculation to make. So at this moment, we're not actually taking the temperature of each person that walks into the room, similarly to how, when you go into your grocery store, people are not checking your temperature.

So if the state gives guidelines to require us to do that, then of course we'd be happy to do that. And we have the equipment to do that. But if I maybe had a home studio or something like that, or I was only seeing private clients and one person at a time comes through the door, that would be easier for me to take their temperature just as an extra precaution again, not knowing that that is not the, only predictor and not just because they don't have a temperature doesn't mean that now I'm not going to wear a mask or sanitize or something like that. But I guess the bigger point there is, I'm asking all of our students to become partners with us to keep each other safe. So they get this brand new waiver with all these things that we mentioned to them and require of them.

And I actually have a copy of that. That is kind of a you could use if you don't have a waiver yet as not, this is not legal advice or anything like that, but this is just if you're kind of stuck and you want to make a new waiver or you can use it for reference and I sent a link to it so people can access it as well. Yeah. Thank you for that, Maria. And just the mechanics of it. Maria uses mind body online and she updated her waiver.

Even if people have signed the old waiver, they're having to news now sign the new one. And that was the process by which you got all those done. So if somebody books a class going forward, they have to click the new waiver. Right. So that's something that it was a learning process for us because we looked at a bunch of different waiver companies, including waiver, master waiver King, and all of that.

And we decided that for the ease of implementation, if you are currently using mind body, what you can do is you can run a hard reset on your waivers, which means that now people have to log out of their account, but when they do log back in, they have to fill out the waiver or agree to the waiver in order to proceed. That won't happen if they're using an app though. So you have to make sure that you tell all of your students to call Mine body, run a reset on your waiver, give them the new waiver and then make sure that everybody logs back in logs, out and logs back in through the software, not the app. And then the waiver will populate and they will fill it out. That's just the easiest way you can offer people to come in and fill something out on an iPad and do it touch list.

If you want to, or you can email them a waiver. But my studio is on the bigger side, on the larger side. So it would be very difficult for us to do all of that. We decided to just do it automatically like that. If I had a small studio and I could email all of my clients and I knew that they would email me back, I would maybe run, I would maybe do a waiver master or waiver King kind of a waiver, Mind body seems to work okay for this.

Why did you get your touchless dispenser from? Oh, I believe simple human makes those, I think I got mine on Amazon, but I would say that that was a while ago that that happened. I got it like maybe three months ago. So yeah, it was on Amazon. So you can look it up if they're out. I think simple human makes a good one as well. Yeah.

And my thermometer is really great too. It's called iHealth and I got that at home Depot and it's actually quite affordable and it looks really slick and it's very easy to use. Cool. We will look them up with Maria and we will put them in the description when we post this video. About air ventilation, you were talking about, you're lucky enough to live somewhere where you can open, the doors, have some through breeze.

There are plenty of locations where that is not the case. Do you have any thoughts on what people can do to help where air conditioning is the only way to really circulate the air? Yeah, well, I mean, we largely also rely on air conditioning and fans. I would just say, what is the problem that they can't even open the door after class for a little bit, we're just opening the door after class for a little bit, but I would look at, I would, again, I would, defer to your state and County guidelines air flow and all of that hasn't really been addressed in great detail within our state, for example, for all the other businesses that were allowed to open there, isn't a ton of guidelines on that. And so what tells me, it's not the highest priority of safety for the health departments.

The highest priority again is, wearing masks, sanitizing, all those things. So I would say if you don't, I mean, if you don't have those kinds of tools or if you don't have the ability to open windows and the only way that you can circulate air is through your AC. Another thing you can do is diffuse essential oils that are essential oil blends, and other kinds of blends that help circulate and sanitize the air. There's also sanitizing spray kits where you could actually spray kind of fumigate your space after. So you can kind of clean the environment before and after every class.

So there are those as well. And I know that there are fitness studios that do use those. They kind of just spray the whole area down and sanitize it that way. So there are other things you can do aside from, having your doors or windows open throughout class. Thanks. , some of the other concerns we've heard with air conditioning is it shared, say, does everybody on that same floor have the same air conditioning system?

So that you're really just getting the air from the entire building. It's not just your suite, these things are tricky. You have to kind of talk to the owner of the building and find out how all that works. Right, right. And then, I mean, replacing your filters consistently and things like that, but that's another one of those things where wearing masks could help.

So we go back to some of the same things that we can cause a lot of these other things it's challenging to control, especially because we sometimes don't own the buildings that we operate in. Somebody asked her about the cleaning and waiting 10 minutes to wipe the surface. So this is just in regards to making sure that the products that you're using to sanitize actually do their job. And so our products are you can read on the label of your products. So our products are three minutes.

So if you wipe down, we have to wait three minutes. And so we do that and that's fairly easy. What we've done since this happened was we spaced our classes out further apart. So now once one class finishes the other doesn't start for 20 minutes. And so that is slightly inconvenient for us. Absolutely.

But at the same time, that also helps with addressing things like that. So product can sit longer on our equipment. We have more time to wash our hands. There's no crowding in the lobby or anything like that. So that sort of spacing out your classes is something that can take care of alot of those concerns.

Thank you. One of the questions that we had was around marketing, how do I communicate to my clients what I'm up to? How have you been doing that? I know it's a little bit premature, but how will you be doing that? Yeah, no, actually we have been in communication with our students, always.

We're always in communication. So one of the things that I've been doing for the last nine years is actually writing newsletters consistently for the last nine years, at least once a month, usually two times a month. So our students already are used to at least that source of communication from us. And of course, half of the students don't open those. So that's a whole other problem, but that's across the board that usually people are not always great about answering or reading their emails, but we've always had regular communication.

So throughout the pandemic, what we've done is we've communicated people on social media, on Instagram and Facebook, mostly we are on Instagram. And then we also communicate through the newsletters and also for anybody who is enrolled in our virtual classes, we communicate on with email directly to them. So not just to the newsletter. So for me, what I have always believed in is that communication with your students or clear communication with your students is key to the success of your business at any time. Right? So and especially in times like this, but they have to hear from you consistently, and you have to be very clear about your messaging.

So I've done many of like just basic video updates where I just talk into the camera and I say, how is everybody, how are you guys doing? Here's what's going on this week? This is what we've encountered. We think we're going to open on this day just kind of keeping in touch. And I will send that via the newsletter or post it on Instagram.

But also we have written out all the things that we're going to do, like bullet by bullet point by point in a newsletter. And we sent that out. We reiterated that on Instagram and we've done that a couple of times. So we're gonna, like I said, one of the biggest things for us is that our students understand that things are going to be different, that they're going to be partners with us that they understand is their responsibility too, they don't just come in and we keep them safe. Right. They come in and they have to make sacrifices.

They have to do things that are maybe a little bit less convenient for them. So we want to make sure that we write everything out and we clearly communicate that, that way when they come in, we know that they're ready and they know that they understand that things are going to be different. So I think some of the best ways to communicate with your students is to figure out how do they like to communicate? So we do surveys and sometimes, really are like, do you like texts? Do you like emails? What do you prefer?

Do you like studio notices? Like, how do you want us to reach you? And our demographic kind of splits. Some people like texts. Some people like newsletters. So we've started implementing a text messaging campaign before this whole thing happened.

So we're starting to do texts, but mostly right now we do email. And then of course, Instagram is our third thing that we do. But that's if you have a population that's, never going to answer your texts or emails, figure out how they want to communicate, figure that out and best how they like to communicate, but communicate often. Yeah, As Maria said that everybody has their own favorite way of being communicated with a lot of the restaurants in the community, they live in, have posted on their windows. This is what we're doing.

And I might not be going to that restaurant today, but as I walk past and I look at it and I think about it and if they don't have that, I'm kind of wondering why they don't, because I'm looking for the comfort, whether or not I should consider, take out from that particular restaurant. Yeah, definitely notices, oh go ahead. Sorry, I'd add to, Maria's list, I think it'd be great to have vape clear on your website, on your home page. This is what we're doing to keep you safe. And I've really liked the way you framed it as being it's a partnership, and I think that there's going to be people that clients that come in that just refuse to behave by the rules.

And I think then it's not a freedom of speech issue. It's a violation of your space. So I think that there's going to be cases of people just being asked to leave. If you can't behave properly, then you're not welcome in this space. And that's going to be a hard conversation to people to have It is. It is. It happens all the time.

People come in sick to the studio, they come in coughing and they're like, you're sick. Please go home. They are like I'm not sick. I just I'm just coughing, but I'm not contagious. So I feel like we've all had that.

We've all had these kinds of conversations with people. But I feel like if we do have very clear expectations and we write them out and they're required to sign and then you just remind them, I'm so sorry. But right now we really, really have to take care of everybody. And we just can't have anybody here who's sick. Yeah.

Yeah. Going back to everybody's unique, if you look after an older parent in your home, then you can't afford to have somebody come into your workplace and pass that onto you, the risk of potentially killing your older family member. It's the very last thing here is, are you using things like the Cadillac with the fuzzies and things like that that are really difficult to clean? What are you doing with the really hard to clean equipment? Yeah, so we use the Cadillac, but we use it in private settings again. And so for now we're avoiding using things that are really, really hard to clean, like fuzzies.

I think that ultimately we could start using them again, but most of our straps, we are now switching to vinyl straps. So the balance body creation, the recent creation, we're still waiting on our vinyl shipment. So we're going to be doing that just so that we can wipe things down easily. And we're just refraining from using extra props and fuzzies and things like that for right now, because we don't have a laundry on site. So it's just really kind of hard to constantly launder it.

Again, if I had a smaller operation and I had just a few clients, maybe I would just like launder some things, but for now I just we're trying to, there's so many new rules and so many new things that we have to worry about them trying to make it as easy as possible. So I do use straps, but of course but I don't use things that are really difficult to clean. Yeah. Thank you. We're wrapping up here our hour together. It's been a pleasure Maria.

Do you have any last thoughts, last pieces of advice to the community? Yeah, I would just say, a lot of these issues are coming up right now, coming to the surface. And I just want to encourage everybody to continue to have involvement or conversations with your local officials, with people who you can actually ask for help as a small business, they are actually there to help you. And I know sometimes it doesn't seem that way, or it seems very difficult for you to reach them, but reach out to me. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them or help guide you in that.

But things that are just very challenging for you right now to operate, they're supposed to be there to help you. And so don't hesitate to reach out to them. And then as far as getting through these difficult times with all these requirements and all these things, I think that just take it one step at a time and do the most essential things that you feel based on research and what you feel like is going to keep everybody safe and just be very clear on communicating that to your people. And that's all I can offer right now, but if you have any questions, reach out to me. Cool. What's the best way to contact you?

The best way would be to probably reach me on Instagram at Maria underscore Bardet or email me. And I can provide that in the, , notes afterwards or just through my website@mariabarday.com. So that's not the studio website, that's just my personal, just easier to find me that way. Thank you so much, Maria. Thank you so much for your time today and really appreciate all the advice and all the things you're doing for the community.

Thank you very much. It was a pleasure talking with everybody. And everybody that was online with us stay healthy. I guess the single piece of advice is wash your hands. Don't touch your face.

That would be, that's great. Thanks everybody for joining us. And we will see you next Tuesday. Thanks very much. Thanks everybody from all over the world.

I appreciate it. Bye. Thank you.

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

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