- IG Live with Marimba Gold-Watts
Welcome, everybody, today, my guest is Brent Anderson. He is the President and CEO of Polestar, one of the most significant educators in the Pilates world. And we've had the pleasure of collaborating with each other for nearly a decade now. And I'm really excited to have this conversation with you the Brent. Before we start lets talk a little bit here, if you have questions, please put them in the Q&A and we'll do our best to answer those.
If you have any comments, put in the chat, put them in there. Our subjects that we will be exploring today is we're gonna talk about what's happened to Brent, since the COVID virus started and how it's impacted his business. We're gonna talk about the future of training and Pilates training and education given all the changes that have happened, and touch on the economic reality of the toughness that this is gonna be even for so many people in our profession. And then also we're gonna explore diversity talk about diversity within the Pilates world. So let's start off.
I know where you are, but tell everybody about where we're talking to, where you are today, and. So I was telling (clears voice) John earlier that you know, we still, Polestar still operates out of Miami that's our headquarters. And like many companies including yours, we've become very virtual, so obviously, we realize that we operate quite well virtually and Lizette and I bought a farm up in North Carolina that is, was a massage therapy school and we now are using it for education, for retreats, and even a wedding. So we're enjoying that and that's now where my permanent headquarters are is in North Carolina. So I fly out RDU wherever I have to go and because of COVID I haven't gone anywhere I've been farmer Brent, I get on my tractor and I take care of things you know, that have to be taken care of.
And I'm raising chickens and things that I never imagined I would do before, as you know, city slicker from California, and then Miami. So here I am in North Carolina. Cool, so what's happened to Polestar as a result of COVID? I mean, I think that, you know, we're in a profession that especially you know primary business is Pilates education, and the primary portion of our business is comprehensive training. So comprehensive training requires all of the equipment and our particular style of teaching is in the studio with all of the equipment, so we don't teach just reformer or just mat or just, you know, it's all together with all of the equipment.
So, you know, having isolation orders has had a major impact on the business aspect of it. It's like, how do you continue, we're right in the middle of mini courses, and all sudden people cannot go to the studios. We can't be in groups over 10, so you got a course with 18 people how do you, what do you do? And so we've had to answer these questions, and right now Polestar is in almost a roughly 66, 67 countries, depending on how you label a country and all of a sudden, within two weeks, you know, 67 licensees and territories are shut down. So it was a quite a blow, and I think that, you know, sometimes we get this false sense of, you know, ease or protection thinking like, you know, I'm in 67 countries, if there's a coup in one country, the other country is gonna be doing fine, if they have an economic crisis about a disaster, (mumbles) like through the diversity of the countries we're in and the economies that were in that we were actually pretty safe.
And, you know, the reality is within two weeks, I mean, we were shut down completely. So, you know, we've been very fortunate in the sense that, you know, we've been working on our hybrid platform for education, like the last five years, and we've had it working now for two years in the United States, and so we've been moving very quickly to make sure that our licensees internationally now have the same ability to do some of the more virtual work. But what we realize is that, you know, there's a huge shift, as long as we can't gather together with more than 10 people, and most of these facilities are still shut down around the world, it's a major hamper on the way our business was structured. And the only other thing I would add from that, is you know, we had to make some serious changes. So we gave up space that we were using for our administration and we went to virtual.
And, you know, we basically it's funny 'cause we've been working towards that for a while, John, like we've been, you know, sort of replacing certain employees, had a hard time with virtual and bringing people on that were very autonomous and able to sort of get things done independently, we changed almost the whole culture of the administration business, which was, you know, autonomous, you know, productivity, deliverable based, and no longer you know, clocking in and clocking out kind of old fashioned style of work. And so I think it's forced us to be in thinking as we're already starting, but forced to be a much more efficient company. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, you know, Pilates anytime we close on the 11th of March, which I think is 90 something days ago now.
And we're getting into a new rhythm. We're kind of getting used to it. The office has been closed. We haven't been filming in the studio yet, but I hope to be able to do that safely soon. But all our employees are kind of scattered, and it's interesting they're kind of scattering more.
It's a new kind of world that we're in. We had the same thing, our office went from everybody being in the Miami office to two in Utah, one in LA, me in North Carolina, Gabriel in North Carolina. So it's like (mumbles). Yep, yeah, it's, so what do you think, you know, is the future? Do you think there's a vaccine in a few months?
Do you think it's gonna be this changes permanent? The news came out yesterday that they got approval for moving to the third phase of the vaccine testing here in the United States. And even with that being said, they're thinking that the earliest they would have something would probably be early 2021, which is still very quick. This normally would take three years, near five years to be able to get through this kind of testing. So I mean, I think our scientists are working around the clock and expediting and, you know, shout out to them for doing what they're doing, you know, thank goodness.
But I think that you know, we, when we look at this type of a virus, the Coronavirus in particular, this one the COVID-19, it often is described as a slippery virus. So slippery means it's got a very strong will to survive, and it's not afraid to mutate. So, you know, and that's not uncommon. If you think of, you know, a cold is a Coronavirus. So, you know, to mild one, we all get colds, we get a different cold every year, we build up antibodies in our body to the cold that we had, but it mutates and next season, we get a different cold, that's still kind of a mutation on itself.
My gut feeling when I talk to virologists and friends of mine in the medical world, their gut feeling is that this is not gonna just go away. So it's sort of gonna be around and there'll be a combination of herd immunity. So we're sort of seeing that happening a little bit, you know, like New York probably will be one of the safest places to be in the next two, three years, you know because so many people were infected. And we're also learning that, you know, 40% is the number I saw yesterday from a study of people that were infected by people who are not symptomatic. That's the greatest number that's, you know, we just don't know.
I mean, so it'll be interesting to see why, you know, why some people don't get, in fact, you know don't get sick. I don't know, you know I mean, (mumbles) really positive thinkers and happy people don't get it, but that's not true. So, you know, it's like trying to understand is there some kind of resistance that certain individuals have that they could be a typhoid Mary carrying around Coronavirus and not infect, I mean, not have symptoms themselves, but infect, a whole bunch of people and, you know, if the thought is somewhere close to 40% of those infected were infected by people... And here's really the take home message, the more of us that get tested, the better we track it and you know, the more we push forward with vaccines are our three best options. I think that it's just, you know, and I think we're gonna see regional isolations.
I don't think we're gonna see another global isolation. I don't think people will tolerate it. I think that, you know, some of us would rather take, and I'm not saying for me, but I'm saying as humans, some of us humans would rather take the risk. And we've seen suicide, for example, go to the ceiling because of isolation. So just 90 days of isolation has really increased the number of suicide attempts or suicidal tendencies and suicides.
So, you know, we have to ask ourselves, like, how this ways out and the economic impact is having on all of us. I mean, it's huge and when anybody comes and talks to me about closing their studio down, you know, the first thing I say to them is like, you are not alone, and this is not a reflection of you. It's not a reflection of your business skills. It is a reality for, you know, 30% of our world right now is on board or either having closed or closing their business. And we're not we're in a people business, so, you know, this is really important for us.
How do we deal with that? So, you know just go back to what you were saying your view is we will have a vaccine, but it might be closer to being like a flu vaccine, which is good for some of the strains, but not maybe everything. You know, I think we've seen that the COVID-19 virus, certainly different in the West Coast of the US than it is on the East Coast. And so, I think it's gonna be hard. And I think like you're saying a lot of people are gonna take different amounts of risk.
So if you have a loved one that is older, that has asthma or respiratory issue, you'll probably not, I mean rushing back into high risk locations in the way that maybe you're young and you live alone, it will be a different kind of challenge. Yeah, and I think this is a, you know, I like to listen to some of the commentaries on this and looking at, you know, the different viewpoints. And I think you're right, I think the main thing is just being responsible, you know, in safe where we can be responsible and safe. So if you have to go to work, can you work in as safe of a space as possible? Can you, you know, have the proper protective equipment, can you, you know, do you have a process when you come home sort of like cleaning yourself before you bring anything into your house and even you know, things like, you know, my son is super diligent with his wife about being respectful, and, you know, we're just dying to have them around, we wanna hug him and kiss him and, you know, eat dinner with them and you know, they've really been respectful because they're worried that, you know, I'm older I've had some respiratory issues.
They don't want to expose me to something that they've been going to protests. And they've been doing those things, even though they wear masks, they're really cautious of it. And I think that, you know, I respect that so much that they would, you know, take those precautions. And I think that's what we have to do, we have to do it in our work, we have to do it in our social life, and just be respectful. It's like we don't you don't understand it well enough to take the liberties that a lot of people are taking.
And I think it's, you know, where you can be safe be safe. Yeah, so just thinking about Pilates education, you think the kind of it's gonna be a hybrid model or do you think it's like gonna be a lot online what, you know, if I was to take a Polestar and say-- Education in general right has moved into hybrid so I think in any university, elementary school, high school, this is forced us to explore what's been going on for years. So blackboards been around for a decade, DeToWell, all of these learning management software we call them LMSs have been around and they work in every education scenario, whether it's corporate or vocational or primary and secondary or major universities. It's not meant to take the place of on site learning or face to face learning. And I think this is where a lot of people have a phobia of the idea of, you know, if we go to online learning, how can we be a Pilates teacher with online learning, but let me throw a couple scenarios out there that we've been exploring.
For the last five, six years, we've used you a lot of time as our observation tool for our students, we've told them if you wanna observe us teaching, you know meaning like Shelley, me, Christie, Sherry, a number of the other, Wern, that have content on blades anytime this is a really inexpensive way (mumbles) and watch teachers that are teaching the method that you're learning. It was always a complex situation to tell them they needed 40 observation hours, but we couldn't control the observation that they were seeing. So in this sense, virtual is great because they can rewind, what did they say? What did Christie say in this thing, you know, go back, and we can also engage them in conversation virtually. So it's like having a small group of five students that are watching the same video asynchronously, they can watch it whenever they have time.
And they can type their comments in whenever they have time, and be able to start building their eye to observe movement. So I think on in that scenario, I don't think there's a better way to learn how to develop your eye than using an online, you know, digital tool. I think that we're learning how to teach virtually I think this now has to be incorporated in all of our systems. I think we have to learn how to set up virtual studios to be able to demonstrate and observe and grade and you know, submit a lot of these (mumbles) or you can videotape yourself teaching an exercise or demonstrating an exercise. You love that one minute video, and it could be created by your mentor or your educator.
So these are tools that actually in there, now the educator or mentor can actually look at that video, make comments through these really good tools. And having ties to the student now can watch their video again of them and see the comments or the video or the voiceover of the educator, the mentor. So these type of tools are great. Now the bottom line is and the biggest challenge is the idea of learning how to really teach with your, you know, your presence, like how do you assess a body that you can't touch or that you can't see the whole body? And I think this is the challenge that we still, I don't think there's really a solid solution to it in a virtual sense, the medical school is having the same problem, PT schools having the same problem.
How do you teach a manual manipulation through a video screen, I can demonstrate it, but I can't, you can't feel my pressure, you can't feel the velocity. And this is the same thing with us teaching (mumbles). These are some challenges we're gonna have. Yeah, it's gonna, you know, we're doing some webinars at the moment we did one with you know Sherry Betts, who you know very well about virtually teaching seniors and the challenges of doing that, you know, you might see somebody a little bit wobbly, but you can't reach over, you can't hold them up, you have to be even more cautious about what's happening and think about what you're gonna ask them to do before they do it. Especially with these populations with special needs.
Yeah, I think it's gonna be interesting, you know, yeah, I think there's a lot of things to be learned, but I also think it can be this online delivery can be very effective. Well, that's our hope, John, I think that you know, we're looking at this hybrid learning. And we're hoping that, you know, if we're centralizing our cohorts so that, you know, we're making it so that the online learning both is asynchronous and synchronous, meaning that independent self paced versus lead and guided virtually like talking on Zoom, that that will be controlled centrally in the education system. And then we will have small groups that will be meeting together in many different cities, which also, you know, is sensitive to the idea that we probably have fewer cohorts from this time because of the financial sensitivity, you can make it more cost effective, we can make it more intimate and safe in the studio spaces, so they're not having too many people, no more than four to six people in the studio based on the size instead of 12 to 18. And it used to be that if you were having a course you'd have to have over 12 make it financially feasible, but using the technology now we can make it so that there are in person labs, what did you call it the In Real Life, IRL?
Real Life IRL, In Life, (Brent laughing). IRL, the IRL of Pilates can be with a much smaller and a safer group. And, you know you can still have a pretty successful cohort by using the online tools. So that's our direction in the Fall. So we're getting ready for that.
I really like the idea that you could have a class group, which was, you know, maybe in a similar time zone, so it's easy to communicate that many countries and you know get to collaborate with people from other places, also is an amazing learning opportunity. Well, that's one of the great things we've learned from this, right, I mean, I think people who were stuck, you know, in this idea of like, I'm putting my studio down, I can't do anything and then you realize the point virtually, you're able to connect with people all around the world like we're doing right now. And you know, how powerful is it? And this is a major gestalt for me, because, you know, I'm somebody like Charlie and myself, we're from the air, you know, 150, 200 days out of the year like travel. And we've been completely stopped, and there's no way that we can get to all the countries or all the people or the cities that we wanna get to, to meet with, you know, the Polestar family.
And now all of a sudden, we're on virtual, it's like, you know, my licensee from Germany says, "Hey, can you meet with a group on Saturday morning "at 10 o'clock your time?" "Yeah, I can be there." "Deshae can you meet with the good parts of this time "in Australia," it's like, you know, I am sleeping so well, and I'm able to maintain a schedule and to have my own health, not sacrifice my health to think that I have to be traveling all the time, and still have very intimate communications with small groups of 10, 20 people from a different country that you know are going through their training, so I you know, I just think like and Wern yet those doing some great things where he's you know broadcasting so he has more Zoom class where we can see each other. And in the broadcast class it is a little bit more like quality time just for people but he realized, you know, I've been around the world a number of times with Brent (mumbles) and he's a great, enthusiastic presenter and so now listen, there's people like, Oh, I could watch Wern teach a live class on Wednesday afternoons, sign me up 10 bucks, you know, it's like, so it's changing, right? I mean, I think it's a we have to pivot with it. And this is you know and I've talked about before, it's like, you know, if you're closing down, you know, a big studio that used to have two classrooms and 20 reformers and you know, and a whole studio, you know that's gonna be a tough one to keep open. But could you reduce the space to 500 square feet.
It's a combination of virtual and private and maybe small group education. If you're in the education business of two or three people, you know, and getting your overhead down, and, you know, our licensee, in one of our countries, a number of them have lost their studios, so you're not alone if you're in that category. And you know, they've opened up small studios in their home. And they've gone virtual and you know, the one or two people that come in and they do virtual visits, and, you know, they're actually excited to have a little better quality of life not to be handcuffed to you know 15, $20,000 of rent a month that a lot of people are paying for these studios. Yeah, yeah, the world is, you know, when, I've been asked a couple of times, when will the world go back to normal?
Not that I know what the normal was before, and I don't think it's ever gonna be the same. I think that this is gonna be a permanent change. And it creates sadness, but it also creates some joy that, yeah, I miss seeing my co workers but I love not commuting on the 405 one of the freeways in Los Angeles. So that time that I've got back is just fantastic. Yeah, I agree 100%.
You know there's parts of normal we don't want to come back, right? For me, it was the commute. But I did enjoy being with people. I am a hugger, I do and hopefully with always with consent, but I like being around folks and interacting. Well, that was one of the best things you ever did one of the PMA things to set up the hugging booth, I think that was I mean, (John laughing) it was just awesome.
And sharing feelings and you know, very, your team did a great job with that. And I'm a hugger as well. I'd forgotten about that. Yeah we traded a hug deli at one of the Pilates method alliance conferences and you could come in to the booth and you could order different types of hugs depending on what you needed. And we have people volunteer to come and give hugs.
It was a lot of fun, I love that was, I forgotten about that that was a lot of fun. We're kind of talking a little bit about how training is gonna evolve, and we've touched a little bit on Pilates studios, and, you know, sadly, I'm also hearing the same thing as lots of people choosing not to renew their leases, or to walk away from it. But I still think Pilates is gonna be very much there. And I think it creates different opportunities. You wanna explore a little bit more about what it might be like owning a Pilate studio in the future?
Yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, we put our creativity caps on and we think of, you know, what happens to our target marketing population, like who's now our, you know, marketing target. And, you know, I think that it changes drastically. I think that, you know, people need Pilates, but I wanna expand what Pilates is, right? And so being if we think of Joseph's life philosophy is a very important, you know, thing very dear to my heart, but the whole philosophy Joseph of achieving whole body health, exercise was just one of the nine things. I mean, he talked about nutrition and sleep hygiene and mental hygiene and getting outdoors, the fresh air the sunshine, the balance between life stressors and work and play.
And I think that some of us might find some niches that have greater virtuality and sounds like they can be conducted, they can be taught, they can be monitored that way, I think our matching is gonna drastically change I think, will be using a lot more mat, than at Pilates. I think we're gonna move from thinking that you know, Joseph said controllogix should be practice every day he didn't mean that people should go to studios every day. You know, he meant that you should be practicing your Pilates mat exercises every day. You should be practicing your lifestyle every day you should be correcting your posture all through the day you walk by the store, you see your reflection in the window, correct your posture, right? So, are we teaching the lifestyle right of our philosophy as representatives of Joseph and Clara Pilates?
And, you know, I think that it's just gonna take some creativity, so ideally, like I was talking to somebody the other day, and it was like you know, if you had 400, 500 square feet that had, you know, a reformer or combo table, and a chair and a barrel, and a space for a mat, you can fit that in four, 500 square feet pretty comfortably. And you set yourself up to have two or three cameras now very simple, simple cameras, that software now on Zoom, (mumbles) easily have cameras coming into (mumbles), doesn't take much, doesn't cost much. And you basically set up anytime, either conducting a virtual (mumbles) conducting a small group class, you know, virtually, and then if you're in the education world to be able to have two or three people coming in to do their practice time, you know, so right there, you know, if you are somebody who is doing virtual classes, and you're doing it where you're projecting the virtual class, like a YouTube Live or something like that, right? You have 5000 people on your class I mean, the idea is, it's you know, you are already bigger teaching classes, and now you inviting that and you might find that, you know, life changes drastically you teach one class today with 500 people paying $5 because of the economic crisis, you know, and all of a sudden, you're now you know, teaching people to be independent in their practice of controllogix. You add a little lecture to you're, you know, today the theme is, you know, eating more plants, today the theme is sleep hygiene, today the theme is we're gonna do a meditation after the class, you know, and so you're able to start this broadcast, you know, the beauty of it is you can also record it.
And so, you know, I would even suggest, like, you know, be close with Pilates Anytime to sort of partner with some of these people that are actually doing some really height that are moving up and having some high quality work, is to collaborate on some of that content that gets recorded to be able to, you know, work with, organizations like Pilates Anytime. And that's a shift, you know, site. And the other beautiful thing is maybe we're sharing content. So we say we have a group of presenters that have these small studios all around the country. And we connect somehow, maybe through Pilates and we connect, and now we have this library of live and asynchronous classes that you can choose to take a class from somebody you know, a great teacher in New York, a great teacher in Italy, a great teacher, and you know, you basically subscribe to a higher level of learning.
So this is the pivoting we're talking about, like we have to be creative in how we're going to, you know, work with people. I think that, you know, whenever we can get our hands on somebody, I think Hallelujah, what a great experience. You know, I missed, you know, I'm a manual therapist, my hands are going nuts, like, I got to find things to do with my hands all day long because they're missing the energy of working with people like I'm used to spending hours a day touching people, right, working on people's bodies. So that's a big, that's the real, I feel loss in our profession right now, because of these isolations. On the business standpoint, we have to pivot.
We just have to pivot. You know, you were working in Pilates during the I don't know if it's really the last two recessions but the one in 2001, the 2008 and nine and at that time, you saw a lot of change studios closing. Do you have any wisdom that you could share with folks based on that experience? Well, I mean, I think that what we offer is so fundamental in life. And, you know, I think we have to make Pilates available to everybody.
And I think it's just, you know, it's when you look at a hard time like this, you know, from a business practice, somehow we've survived on these different events that have happened, you know, from 911, to the financial crises in 2000. And I lost a studio in 2009 in Colorado, cost me almost a million dollars in losses that I still feel today, you know, and I think it's, you know if you if we lose hope as a profession, then that to me would be the saddest outcome. We love what we do, and that should drive us to pivot and find solutions even if we had to close down a studio, we had to sell our equipment to just to be able to, you know, I have people that I know sold their equipment so that they could literally buy food for their family. Like they literally were asking me if I could buy some equipment from them. I'm hoping that I could and I'm not in a position to buy equipment right now, but I knew that, you know, they were selling it for you know, cents on the dollar to be able to put food on their table and my heart breaks in that situation because, you know, the ability to recuperate after that is very tough, like how do you rebuild your practice?
And my suggestion is, you know, drive mat, drive some small props, drive it out of your living room, you know, create classes that are really inexpensive that you know you're already having, you internet, you can make happen. And you know, even if you're teaching and making a class that makes, you know, $500 a week, that's $2,000 coming in with no overhead, you know, so I do think that, you know, this is, you know, there's hope if people just say, you know what, I can't teach my hands on the equipment, I'm not gonna teach. I think you gotta go back and really think through and just know (mumbles) the answer is not teach, you know, teach, it's somewhere in between, and, you know, it's like, if you don't have a studio does not mean that you cannot be a successful Pilates teacher, because Pilates is vast, you know, and if we bring the elements in, you know, the essentials in, then it gets really even more vast because we realize that you know, part of what people love and I remember teaching some classes just last month and people were saying like, you know what, this has been you know a we hear this, all of us hear this from our clients is like, this has have been the best thing of my day. And it's like, I know, but I couldn't touch you and we weren't as a group and I was like, doesn't matter, it was just so good to see the faces on Zoom and to hear your voice. And you know, people love our voices, they you know, they love the energy that they get with us.
And so, you know, start learning how to conduct meditations and other things, you know, movement meditations and explorations of their body, and so be creative. I think, don't give up on the profession. And there will be a normalcy that will come back into play. We're not out of this industry where, you know, fitness is not going away and movement of the body is not going away and health is not gonna go away. And so I think you're gonna find that we have a very big role in managing stress and keeping people mobile and you know, finding peace.
Yeah, yeah, I totally agree, there's such important place for us. I think it's just the delivery of our services is kind of evolve and changed much the way you talked about education is gonna be different. I believe that. We have a question from Christine. And I'm just gonna read this out to you Brent.
How will Pilates instructor certification exams, how are they going to work when it comes to the pedagogy, I'm I saying that right? Pedagogy. Yeah. You know, that's the least of our concerns. So, we have figured out virtually how to conduct the exam, we think you can give us better information than the way we were doing it prior.
So on the learning management system software, we can do the virtual exam and we have a software called Respondus that you know keeps people from cheating and doing all the written portion and they can do it from home, it locks their computer, you have to show that this space around, doesn't have phones and books and things. And then the practical portion of it is, you know, we are basically recording the practical exercises of demonstration, of teaching, of participating in a group class virtually that we can actually see you moving and we can grade and if there's a question on it, thank goodness now we can go back and look at and go, "Well, you know, you marked her down for this, "but she actually did the movement "and she organized her body well, in the sense so she," you know, because a lot of times when we're doing the practical portion of the exams, there's a lot of subjectivity to it in, was that a good quality movement? Well, what does that mean? What's the rubric of that outcome? You know, we talked about pedagogy.
So I think that we'll find that the virtual examination is actually more powerful than being on site. I think the real challenge that I think we have is real time, lab time with direct instruction in coaching and mentoring on the equipment, with practice time with real people. I think that's that's the the challenge that I see us having the most in comprehensive education. I'd like to, people have questions, please put them in the Q&A, we will definitely answer them. We're lucky enough today that we have a couple of people are gonna join us in about 10 minutes.
And we have Portia Paige and Carrie Macy Samper is gonna join us so that was totally unexpected, and I really appreciate them. I wanna give them a heads up just in case they need to put their pants on (Brent chuckles) and so many people in this world only dressed from the top upwards, so I'm told. I don't have my shirt tucked in (both laughing). Brent told me earlier he assures me he's got his pants on today. I have my pants.
We are not gonna ask him to prove that (chuckling). I'll do it, (mumbles). We have to talk about all the things that are going on the conversations that are being led as a result of the changes happening in America. So I'm talking about diversity, I'm talking about Black Lives Matter. Do you have any thoughts around that Brent with the lens of the Pilates industry?
I do, you know, my, I've spent a lot of time in a very, sort of sad and angry space, you know, just watching the injustice and those things and yet not being black has really made me want to seek to understand even more like I really want to understand from you know, our colleagues and acquaintances that are black, especially in our industry and even out of our industry you know, fundamental values impulse first seek first to understand. And I just believe that this is the time and it's finally here to really ask the questions and hear the real voices, not the ones that are fake because of white supremacy, and that kind of thing like we need to break that part. And when we bring it into our own profession, sorry to say we are a, you know, dominant, white, wealthy, female business and I don't think that's, I don't think it's bad. I think what's bad is that we don't understand why or how to be able to provide these services to all diverse populations and communities. And, you know, we've been talking about it, but we haven't been acting on it.
And I think now, you know, it's time for dialogue. It's time (mumbles) for us to stand up in solidarity with Black Lives Matters and particularly now I think that you know, we want justice for everyone and a lot of injustice in the world right now really the opportunity for us to stand with you know our black neighbors and you know colleagues around the world and you know, support and stand in you know, however we can stand I wanna know how they want me to stand too, I don't know that, I know that I've lived a life of what I would consider a non prejudice and anti racist inequality based life but as I talk to people that are really willing to open up you know, I realized that I can do so much better I realized that I have so much more I can do to stand for, you know, justice and to be a voice against inequality especially right now as it pertains to our society and you know, Black Life matters. You know, as a profession we talk about I think that, you know, I'm asking, you know, anybody that has information, you know, it's like we were at the PMA last year and we had our first panel discussion of how do we make Pilates available to everybody and of course, it was an all white panel. And, you know, being able to talk to Nikki from Chicago and Stella from, you know, Southern California, and a couple of different friends that are black. (mumbles) You know we're nowhere close.
We're nowhere close to being able to understand what needs to happen to be inclusive. And we think, you know, if you ask people, if you ask the board, if you ask individuals, they think they're being inclusive, we think that we are inclusive, we think that we are not part of the racism problem. And just because we don't have feelings of racism and prejudice towards somebody does not mean that our organization is proactively working to diversify and to become educated and to understand, you know, Black Life Matters. Thank you Brent. As part of that-- And I hope I didn't do any injustice anyway, I mean I don't consider myself to be in any way shape of authority on this.
But I do want the world to know that I am, that I'm sensitive to it. And that I want to learn and even though I can't completely understand, I'll never fully understand, I'll share one story with you of one of the people that I have talked to one of my student in University. And she said something that really touched me and she talked about going to university at an all black university and how first time in her life she felt that she was able to go to school and perform and be judged purely on her merits and not on the color of her skin. And I immediately thought to myself, like, have I ever, have I ever felt? Yeah, yeah.
Like, I wasn't being judged for my merits in any aspect of my life. And the answer was immediately no. I have no idea what that feels like. Yeah. And it hurts, you know, it hurts to think that, you know, we have friends my whole life that, you know, they, for whatever reason, did not want to engage in that discussion.
And not only engage in that discussion (mumbles) Thank you, Brent. I just like to talk about my Gia Calhoun who is the leader of Pilates Anytime she runs the Pilates Anytime business. And we work together a lot. She is doing a series of interviews on Instagram Live and talking about this very issue about what it's like to work as a person of color in Pilates. The, you can watch it live on Instagram and Gia if you could just put something in the chat here.
You can also watch her previously recorded interviews with two people and it's great thing to watch. It's-- Yeah, I-- Difficultly-- Talking about them, I listened to them and was also deeply touched, and I thought Gia did a great job of just sharing her feelings too and facilitating, you know, this content that I'm talking about, like, you know, to just listen and, you know, seek time to understand and not make any assumption whatsoever that we know what it's like or that (mumbles) first and most important thing. I decided to do this Gia, do you mind being promoted onto the panel a minute and you can talk about the next two interviews you're doing? I should have checked with you before I feel sorry. I hope you have your pants on as well (Brent laughing).
Take a minute if you don't. I just gonna ask you to come on and just give her a second to prepare. But perhaps we can ask Portia and Carrie Macy Samper to join us for a minute here and just talk around education and Gia if you're able to join, that'd be great. I was gonna say John that next Thursday at three o'clock we have a panel discussion that is specifically addressing this issue when it rolls there we'll be helping us out and teaching us next Thursday at three o'clock, so its good to see so many venues that are speaking and teaching, so (mumbles). So more formal introduction of Gia, Gia and I work together all the time we have done for longer than we can believe, seven or eight years now.
And Gia has had a series of conversations on Instagram Live, and I'm gonna let you talk about them Gia. Yeah, we're just talking about experiences being a black person. I started in dance so kind of with the parallels of ballet industry or like ballet world and the body's responses are pretty similar. So I did the first one with Marimba Gold Watts and then a few days ago with Chris Robinson and then next week, I'm next Thursday at 2pm pacific time, meeting with Kara Lam, and then the last week of June the 25th is with Michelle Sims. Sorry, my dogs barking.
Different levels of experience in the Pilates industry with people like Kira and Chris who've been teaching for years and then people who are newer to the industry like Michelle, but we all have similar but different experiences as black people in the industry. Thank you, Gia. Please join her or watch the recordings, they are on Instagram and they are really really worth spending the time to look at. And Gia you're very humble. I think that what you're bringing to the table is you know, I listened to and I brought my wife and my daughter to listen to it as well.
It's very powerful. Thank you. Thank you. I just want to share experiences so people kind of can learn what black people go through and think about all the time and why it's so exhausting when people hear like, we're tired like, this is kind of showing why. Thank you.
Thanks, bye everyone. Bye, thanks Gia. Carrie I didn't know you were gonna be here thank you for joining us and the same way Portia. Carrie, can we just briefly talk about what's happening at Equinox and education there and the whole gyms and studios and (Carrie laughs). Right I know.
Well, you know, on March 15, about we had to close all of our hundred plus locations, you know, as everybody did, whatever size it was, and so from and what that meant for us is a lot of the employees were not active either, although, I have to say Equinox really supported everyone and did really right by all of its employees, and I'm very grateful for that. And so I was, we had a bunch of students in the midst of our comprehensive program around the world. So there's about 50 I think that were sort of like in the middle of all of their hours and like everyone, you know, I just sort of got all right, what can I do with them? It was a neat experience for me. Kind of like what Brent was saying about getting to have that more personal interaction, I didn't really interact with the students in London or the ones in Toronto or things like that.
And so having the space where we're all in the same boat, and everyone's like doing the best they can and so just to get creative with the types of coaching sessions, I worked on with them on listening to them, what did they need, what are they missing from understanding this work and realizing how many resources we do have that we can offer, you know, virtually in this way, and it was really important to me and I have to say Pilates Anytime was (chuckling) a huge resource for all of them as well, and if you're able to keep them feeling motivated to some extent and you know, giving them something to look forward to and you know I think Brent's hit on so many of those positive points of teaching a math class with so many people you feel like you're with them, even though it's, you know, across computers and just giving that positive experience for them. And then recently, now, we've started to be able to reopen clubs very first very slowly in a few states and now just Southern California, where I am is quickly (laughing) reopening. And so that's a big jumpstart and, but also cautious, you know, we've done a lot of work to figure out what are the protocols we need to now undertake in our clubs and in our Pilate studios and to make people feel comfortable and secure, right. Carrie how are your teachers feeling about coming back in? 'Cause I noticed that was the question I get over and over again from different studios, you know, especially around the country that are just, you know, they're independent contractors, a lot of them and I know your employees to both, but it's like, how are they feeling about coming back in and teaching are they seem to be excited to come back in?
Are they hesitant or half of them saying I got a mother at home that I can't go back to anything, what's you story? Well, we've just scratched the surface with opening clubs and having people come back. So but overall, most people are coming back, for sure and excited to come back. Definitely there's people who are cautious. And I think as we reopen more like, I don't know, so we have, we've opened like, eight clubs or so so far and in Texas and Florida in different locations, so Southern California just is beginning that process.
So that's a lot more clubs for us. We'll see a bit more what that actually looks like, as we start to offer people to come back and bring them in. I think that it's gonna be a mixture. You know, certainly we have, we've taken such great pains to make sure that people do, the employees do feel comfortable coming back, the precautions we're taking for the employees, as well as the members, you know, so far are making everybody feel very comfortable in that or a majority of people feel comfortable with that. But I think it still remains to be seen, you know, we've just began the process.
I should have given Carrie a much better introduction. Carrie has taught some amazing classes on Pilates Anytime. And I'm not sure I got the job title right, but she's responsible for all Pilates within Equinox, is that about right? Not quite, I, that's my boss (laughing). I oversee the Pilates education at Equinox.
Yeah, and then the Vice President of Pilates is Susan, who oversees all of the studios in the business of Pilates for the company. So she could better answer those employee questions on the return, but, you know, she and I have been working very close together over the past few months, so, yeah. Cool, thank you, Carrie. And Gia if you could just put a link in the chat to Carries' classes on Pilates Anytime, she is a wonderful person we've worked together for long time. Long time (both laughing).
I don't know if I can do a better introduction with you Portia. We've known each other long. I don't know what your title is. Well, obviously, that's morphed over the last few months and so I am the education program liaison, a balanced body but since my job was predominantly travel, I have been furloughed, so it is hopefully temporary, but we will see what happens. I'm still a master trainer for them and do the education and I work in the gyms that are not open yet, but here in San Diego, and I teach for 24 hours, so they just had a big, letting go people yesterday.
So that was a tough day for a lot of my friends and colleagues. I was one of the ones that was spared. So what that looks like, like you were saying, Carrie, it's, you know, it's gonna be a very interesting introduction back into the gyms and these last three months have been a really great journey and learning time for me to experience the online training and to give classes online. You know, via Facebook Live via Zoom, and it's, you know, things are slowly starting to gravitate towards something, (chuckles) whatever that might be (Carrie laughing). Yeah, I think we're gonna have to find out how hesitant people are to return to the studio.
Right, exactly. A studio may well open but that doesn't necessarily mean it's gonna be full of people. Right, you know, going back to what you were saying, Brent about it being a hybrid. I went and visited a friend today whose studio is just gonna be opening, and he's right now doing a hybrid. So as soon as everything closed down, he closed his studio, but immediately started with Zoom sessions and had really good response from his clients.
And now that he's opening up the studio in a smaller location, he's gonna be offering both and he set it up so that he could view his class on a projector on the wall. So he's got big Hollywood Squares versus the little ones on your screen. And then, it's really effective. And he traveled to the East Coast by car a few weeks ago and he did his Zoom sessions on the road. So, (Brent laughing), it's yeah, really awesome.
I think that's the kind of creativity that I'm talking about. You know, you repurpose a much smaller space, it has a bigger chance if he's able to connect with you know, so many, I think, you know, if you've already taught for Pilates Anytime you already have a following that's outside of your own to realize just like we're in business, we just don't need 10,000 square feet. We don't, you know everybody working from home and being responsible we now have zero square feet, you know, for the business side of it. And I think when we look at, you know, our primary studio thing is it's still running and surviving, and hopefully we'll be opening up in two weeks in Miami. But you know, it's a 6000 square foot space.
So, you know, group classes and those kind of things are probably not gonna be, but you know, doing like what you said, put a big screen on the wall and the teachers are in there. And, you know, he's rented out and sold a number of his allegros to our clients so that they can be doing allegro classes with Beth who's now up in New York and one of their so there's just it creates a tremendous amount of flexibility that we just never thought of before out of necessity. But we're getting towards the end of our time here. I'd like to ask, each of you just like one last closing thought piece of wisdom can be on any of the subjects that we talked about, or anything else that you (chuckling) wanna talk about really. Can I start with you Carrie, or would you rather ask Portia first (Carrie laughing).
That's okay, I guess, yeah. I don't know I think that this time has and I speak for myself and I know many others that I've talked to really taught us a lot about what's important and to slow down. I know that as soon as things started happening again, work wise my, you know, my anxiety rose again. And I was like, "okay, wait, what did I learn these last three months?" Let me go back to that I was meditating, you know, so, I think to be able to hang on to some of that we really got back to our humaneness and the ways strangely, we were able to connect with our clients in deeper ways, because there was space for that. And I just, you know, I'm focusing and trying to maintain that thought and that idea going back into, you know, more chaos (laughing) Thank you Carrie.
Portia? Sort of riding on that what Carrie just said, I find it really heartfelt and warming that we can still connect with people via a screen whatever size that screen might be. And I just hope that we can remember to maintain that humaneness that introspective, soft touch that as Pilates instructors and movement practitioners that we already have and really be able to carry that through and keep listening. Keep listening, keep reaching out and just be kind (chuckles). Yeah.
Absolutely, I totally agree with the kindness and what Carrie said about we've had an opportunity to live our lives in a very different way for a while. And that quiet time you mentioned your meditation is like they always get squeezed out for me. I'm like rushing around don't give that time for me and we need it in a space stressful time. You're on the 405 John that's why (all laughing). Brent, just so everybody knows that Carrie and I probably live a few miles apart.
I don't know, I live in Santa Monica. I think you're quite close. Okay I'm in Encino, yeah, few miles (laughing). And the 405 is famous in Los Angeles, it's always the 405 like a proper noun. It's just famous for being six lines of travel both directions going very slowly.
I like (mumbles) I used to live off of la de Hara, right on the 405 my, our house the bull backed up to 405 on the side of 405. It was like it's it you know, to me it got to the point where 405 was like you know, music to put you to sleep at night. Right. Never stopped (Carrie laughing) Brent do you have some final words to share with our. You know, there's a quote from a prophetess in the Brahma Kumaris group, so it's completely female monks, I guess nuns, we call them the Brahma Kumaris.
And Dadi Janki just passed away. She was the head leader of a group for many, many years. And I think she was like 100 years old or somewhere close to that. But she said that, (clears voice) that we need to be spiritual soldiers. And when one spiritual soldier is alert, there is safety for many.
And I just think of the idea of awareness, you know, we teach a work that is both an awareness of body, mind and spirit of being alert, being aware, two things happen, one is we're more likely to be in sync with the universe and make better decisions. And two is we're able to see how our actions affect others. And I think that would be my, you know, sort of, we've had a chance to reflect on and we've had a chance to really be aware and, you know, how do we identify ourselves, you know being a Pilates teacher is a role that we take upon ourselves, being a human being is who we are, you know, being part of humanity is who we are. And, you know, even if somebody took the role of being a Pilates teacher away from us, they can't take what you're talking about portion of the kindness away. They can't force us to not be aware, you know, nobody can take that away from us.
And so that will that deep who am I answer I think is most important thing that I feel has been very much brought to the top of the, you know, the surface for a lot of us who seem to be sensitive, you understand. So, I'm right there with you on that. I just, you know, let's be good stewards of Joseph's Pilates working and you know being to a much larger population (mumbles) and be creative and inspired that's what we do inspired (mumbles) And you know, take care of each other. Thank you, Brent. Thank you, John for the opportunity too, it means a lot to me.
Well, thank you, Brent, thank you, Portia, and Carrie for coming on, and I'm sorry if I made you scramble for your pants. But I'm apologizing for that. It's great to be with everybody. And I do feel like this community of all of the people that I've met over the last decade at Pilates has really helped me through, you know, the shift that we're experiencing right now. It's really stressful.
So my big thank you for three of you and my equally big thank you for our audience today. All the people that came in listen to us, and I really hope to meet everybody soon in real life. I am so so looking forward to that. So fingers crossed, we have a really effective vaccine sooner rather than later. We'll have a Pilates Anytime Woodstock on the event on the farm, everybody bring your tent and we'll just..
I would just love that. I'm there (all laughing). Thank you so much, love you, John. Love you guys. Thank you everybody.
Thank you, I hope to se you, bye bye. Bye
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