Discussion #4183

Next Steps

60 min - Discussion


On July 1, 2020, we talked to Tom McCook about how he shifted his business when the pandemic started and the steps he is taking to re-open his studio. He talks about how you can bring value to your clients by shifting your mindset and offers words of encouragement and advice for teachers and studio owners.

Links and Resources

- Z Health

- What the Foot

- Franklin Method

- Wim Hof Breathing

- The Power of Purpose

- Unshakeable

- The Art of Somatic Coaching

What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

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Jul 09, 2020
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I would love to welcome everyone in who is here for this webinar, this teacher talk. The topic today is next steps. And I have the amazing Tom McCook with me, as you all know, that's why you're here. So I'm Amy Havens, this is Tom McCook. And for those that don't know, Tom has a studio up in Mountain View, California, Center of Balance.

Now I don't know how long you've had that, will you just give us a quick synopsis of that? Yeah. I know it's been a long time. We've had our studio for 23 years, and I've been full time in the fitness, Pilates, body work field for 35. Yeah full time in our studio.

Current studio is four and a half years old. We moved one block and upgraded based on some changes around where we are in Silicone Valley. And we luckily were able to secure a really beautiful space that we've been in for four and a half years, which we haven't been in now for 16 weeks, but it's still there, waiting for our return. Yeah, well let's just dive into, I would really love to ask you what were you doing, where you in the country, because I know you travel a lot also, when the shutdown, when COVID hit and we were asked to stay at home, shelter in place? What did you do?

Well Karen and I, we both took a pause. It was a little bit oh shit here we go. It was a wow moment. Like okay how are we going to pivot around this? And then after the initial shock we just sat back and go okay we have to shift to online as quickly as possible.

We don't currently now how to do that. So we looked at what was available for learning like the quick tools to get online. We saw Sherry Berkowitz was offering an online workshop, and another woman in the East Bay named Kiki Lovelace, who used to work for us, she used to be one of my teachers, who opened a studio called Interstellar Pilates and Yoga in Oakland, and she was offering a free Zoom session. So we just jumped on them right away, and we just went into action. And figured out okay we can't, with all of our teachers we can't have one Zoom account, we have to get the business account which is a lot more expensive, it's like $250 a month.

But, you know, you just, gotta make decisions so everybody can have their own accounts and have their own setup, and they can book their own meetings and have all that. And so in the first couple weeks it was a big learning curve. Yes. But we were doing online sessions week two. We got on it really quickly.

We started with our mat classes. And we basically set up our mat classes to nor require any props. Pillow, something to squeeze between your knees. It could be a towel, whatever. And that, because I think we shifted so quickly it was really helpful for our clients to get on board.

And then from a private perspective, we have 10 teachers. So all of our teachers were able to maintain a decent amount of their private sessions once they got up and running. And they're teaching just mat work? Just mat work, just mat work. Mat and small props for the clients that have them.

Right, right, okay. And then I have, I have all the equipment at home, and I have a lot of teachers who trained with me, so I've been able to sustain many groups of reform or chair arc. And I have a core align group that I do on Fridays, and I have people from Colorado, Hawaii, Boston all in the same group. So it's been, it's been, I feel very grateful that we've been able to pivot and offer support for people and maintain this online setup. I mean we've lost a fair amount of our business, but we've been able to maintain enough to survive and still be making money and connect with people and take care of our clients.

And our mat classes have done really well, and our clients are really grateful about it. Yeah, this sounds like a success, clearly a success story, or a success example of getting on it right away and just embracing this change and adapting and that word continues to come up for a couple of us in conversation is the skill to adapt right now, where, as you said at the beginning, I did the same thing, and I'm thinking a lot of us did, like oh shit, what? And many of us are online in different ways, but having to create a whole new business model online in warp speed has been-- Absolutely. And then to maintain that. Right.

So on an average day for you personally, how many hours are you, you personally and then your teachers, I think you said-- I'm doing probably 20 a week. Okay, wow, Tom, that's a lot. And that's including seven groups and two mat classes. And probably 12 to 13 privates. And then our staff is doing anywhere from about 80% of what they were doing before down to about 40%.

So it's, you know, things have drooped off. But I think one of the things I also wanted to mention that Sherry Berkowitz said in that little quick online Zoom session, she goes "it's okay if it's not perfect." Say it again. You know you just, you gotta learn how to do this and realize that we're all in this together. Your clients, teachers, you're all learning together, so it's really, about what we were mentioning earlier about pivoting where you're creating a flexible attitude 'cause we're all in this learning mode so let's learn. Let's just learn and let it be fluid instead of thinking you gotta get it perfect before you can even offer an online thing, which isn't how it works.

Not at all. No, not at all. And then just, I like that reassurance too. As I've carried myself through some of our Zooms at the studio, it's a lot of hand holding, a lot of, just quality customer service that we would do if they stepped through the lobby door to stand at the front desk with us. This is considered our front desk also now.

And-- Absolutely. I would do no, nothing more than to answer all their questions, what do you need? Hand hold them. Learning technology for a lot of people doesn't come swiftly. No, me included.

(laughing) We all (indistinct) time. And, you know, it's also the, I don't know about the demographic of your clientele base there in the Bay area, but Santa Barbara, at my studio, we have a lot of older folks, and that apprehension from them to do Zoom was real, it was big. And it was from the security standpoint, they were worried about security. I think just the oh I don't know how to do it, therefore I won't kind of quickly. And that's the time to just embrace that and just let's, breathing room around this, like you said it's not gonna be perfect.

(indistinct) email link today. Yeah, just having some grace around this. Absolutely. And we, cause we live on the coast our Internet's a little sketchy, so we have, we have AT&T, then we realized oh we have to get Comcast too. So we have double, I have both Comcast and AT&T so if one's not doing so well I can plug in the other one.

And, you know, there are still days where things freeze up, but for the most part we've (indistinct) where we just keep adapting and learning as we go. And sometimes the whole screen is frozen and everybody's looking at me like... (laughing) But for the most part it's, it's worked out well. And I think what I like about it is everybody, clients included, are learning. We're all learning how to deal with it and do it.

And we've had very good feedback about the sessions, people feel satisfied. They feel taken care of. They can do it at home. I'm seeing more and more people get in better shape than they were when they were coming to the studio 'cause they don't have the equipment to fall back on. Okay let's talk about that because, just to let everyone know Tom and I had a little debrief yesterday just to kind of prepare ourselves and welcome each other in, but that was something that came up with us yesterday.

And I've been wondering this too with some of my clients is they're actually getting, I see their strength improving. I see their confidence rising week to week. When they step in, at the beginning it was that kind of timid oh my God now she can see in my house and she can see me differently. True, but I also can now start seeing them kind of come in and they're ready. In the little waiting room, and they're there ready for class.

It's so gratifying. And it's been nice to see those that would come, less reliant on the reform roll, obviously because they don't have one at home. Right. And what their bodies can really do without an apparatus to either rely on, or I don't know what. But what are your thoughts there?

Yeah, I think it's a combination of being in their own space, the time is a little more concentrated, there's no equipment, there's less chitchat with other people, and I think people are being more consistent with their practice on a weekly basis. You know they're showing up for maybe one or two, possibly three sessions a week now. Sometimes in the past, 'cause of work obligations or life, they'd routinely miss at least one of the sessions a week or reschedule. So now they're actually on it for committed practice. And it's accumulating where they're getting in better condition, they're getting more skill, they're better focused, they're trusting that they're not afraid of being seen on camera now so they're, they're becoming skillful at this medium.

And really getting the benefit of it, which is awesome. Beautiful. I think everybody in my mat class is in better shape 'cause they're coming every week. And I'm doing a lot, a lot of strength work. And I think the thing, as you know, we have to do as teachers in this environment, is you have to make the exercises high benefit, low risk.

So I'm not throwing at them newfangled advanced movements that are only beneficial to the people that have the best movement facility. I'm throwing exercises at them that are doable, that will develop strength and structural balance, and that they can approach without fear or trepidation and I can (indistinct) fairly easily. Yes. So that's been really helpful. Yes, I love that.

And I love what you said a moment ago about trusting. And I think with the, you know, cloth that's been pulled out from all of us in this pandemic, with this pandemic, just that feeling of can we trust anything? What can we trust? It's a big thing. They're trusting us highly with their bodies, their time, their intent, and it's been really quite fun for, and an interesting process.

I'm not gonna use the word fun right now, an interesting process to see who has come over, who has stayed, and who I thought would have come quickly haven't. Or they tapped in maybe the first week or two, and it's not for everyone, that's for sure. Some people have said you know, Amy, I'm just not, I don't learn that way. I don't, and I have to respect all decisions right now. But it is interesting, those that have come and stayed, I feel like they're really embodying the work, maybe they've now finally defined what it is for them instead of, like I said, relying on the apparatus.

Not all the exercises, as we know, are for them, but in a group class enviornment for example we have a template that we follow in a group. I don't know, I've been able to really kind of customize their protocols differently, teaching them at home, and it's fun. They're (indistinct), I love it. That's great. I'm finding too, I think what you just mentioned is really important too, is that when they're in their own enviornment and they have a practice, they can notice not just a change in their body, but the change in their mood and their mindset from their practice.

So they see that their practice is about being resilient in their life because you didn't change where they are in their life. They're at home, we all have our tendencies of how we wake up and our mood and how we're looking out at this strange world that we're currently in. And then how your practice can give you a broader perspective and have more choice and responsiveness. So I think people are tapping into that, that the practice isn't just physical. It's not just about focusing your attention, it's about giving you more choices and resources for yourself.

So that's what I'm getting, I'm getting that feedback from a lot of clients. This is their lifeline to having a good attitude in the midst of this very unpredictable world we're in, it's okay it starts inside of me. How do I manage myself? And that's really ultimately where it always is anyway. The rest is all a little bit of an illusion.

No, I love that you're going in this direction because you are a masterful, peaceful, harmonious, mindful man that I know, and just have this vibe about you that's this consistent positivity. And it's heartwarming, and it's wonderful to be around you, and Karen too when you guys come down here, it's just this lift-- Thank you. You're welcome. And I think it's important for all of us that are on this webinar today to remind ourselves that it is within us as well. And our clients are coming, those that are coming to us are coming to that which we also have, and we're giving out to them.

It's that (indistinct), we know that that's happening. Yeah, and it's an intimacy, isn't it? Because here we are, you all are looking inside my house right now. I'm looking inside your house right now. It's wonderful.

Yeah, this is my workout space. But we know that's, in a studio enviornment we're in a box. They come to the studio, they see what the studio looks like, but we've had to let people in in a very different way. And it's kind of been easy for a lot of us just to open up like this. That's true.

It's really interesting. It is very intimate. And I think the other piece to that is a lot of our clients, a lot of our clients are older too, and I think the interactions they have with their teacher could possibly be the most intimate point of their week. So they really value the contact, the seeing, the connection, being guided. It's pretty invaluable to them that they, they really grasp that oh wow this is, I'm looking forward to this connection, 'cause we're social beings.

Even though we're all sequestered we're designed to be social. We get, we get energy from connection with others. So it's an important piece. And I feel bad for people that are not having that connection right now. They need that for their own well being and their health on some level.

Absolutely. That's the conversation that I have that we're opening to clients that are a little more resistant. Say listen, what I recommend is what we did in the beginning with my groups is we just gave them the first group for free. I said "just check it out, "see how, we'll give you the help with the Zoom "so you can just get started "so you just have an experience. "don't predetermine it, even if you don't have a clue "what you're doing, "you're a little bit technically stressed about that, "we'll figure it out.

"Just try it out and just "have an experience before you "make a judgment that it's not for you. " Right, right, right. And that's, and that's been very helpful. You know, there's still, obviously like you were saying, there's people that are gonna still shy away, but I think more and more people, as this thing keeps going on, see that they have to, they have to be a little more flexible and open up to trying it. Right, exactly. Yeah.

Something I didn't say at the beginning, and, to everyone, I was so excited to dive into the conversation, but I didn't do one little bit of housekeeping is, any question you may have for Tom or myself, drop it in the Q&A box. Did I say that at the beginning? You did mention it. I did it? Boy, see, I'm so excited.

And we'll get to those in just a little bit, but I know some of you are putting them in chats over here which is wonderful. But there's a question over here, I'm just gonna do it now since I'm going there. Myra asks you, "do you adjust any fees "if your screen freezes or they can't get into class "for some kind of technology glitch?" Good question. Good question. What we've done so far is if somebody is having problems, they can't get in, we don't charge them.

Same. We just feel like we have to be flexible and give the person benefit of the doubt they were attempting. You know, it's not their fault that they couldn't make it. So we let go of the 24-hour cancellation policy in those regards completely 'cause, not just for them, but for our own internal tension that you don't wanna build around being overly attached to that dollar number for the number of people in the group or whatever. Sure, we all have to pay our bills, but let's take a broader view and just, let's stay flexible so they come back and they go oh this person's on my side, they understand how this goes.

Right, right. I mean if they do it 10 times in a row let's have another conversation. I'm sure that's not happening. I had a few, I mean I have some examples of that this morning. So I just, the exact same thing that was just mentioned happened this morning, where I had given somebody the link, I had sent it twice, I had already sent it to them, and then they couldn't get on.

So just let it go. Let it go, exactly. We've had the same thing, and it just, at that moment there's just nothing else we can do, we just have to, exactly like that, and go it didn't happen today, I don't know what's going on here somewhere. Or then a few hours later, what I think is funny, they'll email and go I just got it. If it was for (indistinct) class or something, like oops.

But in terms of Zoom, as you guys probably already know, what a lot of people don't do, and it doesn't work as well, is if they don't have a registered account that they update every week, they're gonna be more likely to get kicked off. Great point. So that has to be like, you gotta kind of maybe say that about 50 times. So just know that's part of the deal. Some people go you know I hit the link, I couldn't get on, but they never created a Zoom account so it makes it a little more sketchy.

Yes. And I think that's a really, really good point for all of us 'cause we're teaching and guiding, but we're also doing tech support. And we're being advisor and we're teaching, and the accountant part, it's another setback. And setting up all the meetings, that takes a little bit of time to get used to doing that, but once, I'm sure for you the same, once you get used to it it moves pretty quickly. It does. I've got a pretty good rhythm right now, I do, I have a good rhythm.

But it's true. You know, at the beginning it was like, just like, I felt like a deck of cards that were just thrown up and like oh crud, which comes first? But it's nice. I love it. I'm actually having quite a lot of fun.

And some of the benefit actually that has come out for me is some of the clients who were only doing group apparatus at the studio, who are now doing the Zooms, which are mat based, a couple of those gals have said "you now, I'd like to do some private training now with you, "can I do that? "Do you have time for me?" But they weren't doing it at the studio, and that's fine too. And it's like of course I have time. And thank you for asking me for yourself, something's changing that you're more interested now in having one on one time with me. And I love that because I'm like what do you need?

What do you wanna know more about with yourself or facilitate or-- Beautiful. A couple gals that just want 30 minutes once a week, and I respect that. And they can come with three to five requests, or one big one. And I'll create on the spot three to five little sequences, and I'm writing into the notes. And I immediately finish the set, you know we do what we need to do, and I'm, we hang up and I immediately email the notes to them, and I give them their homework.

Let's check in next week. And it's been a lovely, and then I see them in classes twice a week. That's great. I'm like remember Nancy, remember that (indistinct) I gave you last Thursday, now is the moment, right now do that thing. And see them then to light up, and they feel seen.

Yes, yes, that's beautiful. So I don't know, I think the, You started saying something yesterday, I'm gonna just swerve into this one now. You said something about mindset yesterday, and I think it really is a time to take advantage of a shift in mindset or recalibrate it or change it. What were you telling me yesterday about that? Well think about, a nice acronym is awareness creates choice, and practice builds capacity.

Can you say, say 'em again. So awareness creates choice. Whatever you put your awareness on, now you have choices on how you wanna respond to what you're noticing about your body, the situation, your body tension, your mood, just by noticing it. And then practice, practicing what you wanna move towards, or become better at, builds your capacity. So you can't build capacity without choice, or without practice.

And you can't build capacity without knowing what you're building. So think of it that way. So now here we are in this stressful situation. So if your tendency under stress is to shut down and close and get a little bit negative, which a lot of us can do at times, that's what your practicing. That's powerful.

And what you're practicing is what expands. Not something else. You don't develop gratefulness by being resentful. No you don't. So think of it that way.

So now in this time of this challenge we're all in, we have to be really mindful about what we're practicing. What are we putting our attention on? What mindset are we creating that will allow us to be flexible, responsive, open hearted, present, connected, and at choice in the midst of this unwieldy world we're in. Right. That's beautiful, Tom.

That's beautiful. And I agree. I feel that this past several months, I was about to say three months, but we're on four aren't we? March, April, May, June, yeah, almost, yeah, I have been able to let go of a lot of, I don't know what kind of to title it or give it a description, but just let go of a lot. I'm holding a lot, I will admit that, and I'm trying to work myself through that, like more to let go.

And acceptance of all of the things that people are feeling because we're all feeling this in our own way, fear, anxiety, you know, some people are living a wonderfully lush, relaxed life right now, and they've let go of a lot of things. They've just changed their work schedule of, some people are, you know what I mean, it's just a chance to, certain things that were happening with my studio and business and certain people not coming onto Zoom, at first I was like what? What do you mean? I've got it all set up for you. How dare you not come in. And then I had to check myself to say hold on a minute, I accept that you're not here, and I hope that you come back to study with me, or someone at my studio, but if you don't, good luck, and maybe we'll come around and see each other some time.

Yeah, I get it. And I think that's the opportunity. The opportunity is life has slowed down a little bit. So it's an opportunity to really assess what is really important? You know, I'm finding having a simpler life is not a bad thing.

I went from traveling a lot, teaching at least two weekends a month, to not having, I haven't taught a weekend in the last four months, and that's the first time in 20 years. What are you doing with your free time? (laughing) Wow. Well I'm discovering parts of myself that I'm learning how to, you know, I'm spending more time in nature, I'm spending a lot of time cooking. I'm baking bread.

I'm doing all kinds of stuff. And I'm studying a lot. That's another part that you were mentioning about mindset. Now's the opportunity to be feeding your mind, and your body around okay what's, this is a good opportunity to focus on learning and upgrading our resilience. And that's a really important thing.

You can even just think of a good choice would be like make the commitment to read a half hour every day. And if you're not a meditator, if that's not your thing, whatever practice you have that's more of a spiritual practice, commit to that a little stronger. And you could even use your movement practice as an intention practice. For the sake of what am I doing my movement practice? What am I building this body for?

What do I wanna be able to do in my life that I can develop? Who do I wanna effect? How am I gonna be an offering to the world? How is it gonna serve that? So all of that is super available to us and that's a practice.

That's a, you know, not a one off, like a weekend seminar. That's great, but then you gotta go home and do the practice. Right. Right, yeah, we're in a new state of daily, hourly, minute by minute newness. No, I really agree with that.

And it's interesting in our profession, and you know with Mr. Pilates saying that famous phrase of finding the balance between work, rest and play, I wonder, it's strange that some of us have begun cultivating more of that balance in a global crisis, which is very ironic and the juxtaposition can make you go crazy. And, as you continue to say, it is a choice. I can, I can, it's a choice to say yeah I've got, yeah what am I gonna do? I think I'll pick that book up now, and I think I may even just take a nap. I might take a few minutes.

Or nature for sure, getting outside more. I agree that there are some people are having much more financial challenges, so it's like that's a big concern like okay what am I gonna do if I don't have an income coming in? Those are bigger challenges, but inside of that, inside of whatever challenge is, you still are gonna be your best at dealing with it if you honor your practices to yourself. 'Cause I, for myself I feel when I'm stressed, and I think this is a normal occurrence for a lot of us, our view narrows and our choices and what we pay attention to narrows. So if you can just let yourself feel your width and come back to feeling your feet on the ground, sensing your relationship with gravity and realizing we're supposed to be here.

We're the ones we've been waiting for. So, you know, then we can go oh this too will pass. And how can I, you know, be kind to my staff, be kind to my clients, take care of myself? And that's one of the things we've been doing with our staff, is every Friday we have a staff meeting on Zoom where we check in with everybody, share how they're doing, and then I lead them through a movement session. Beautiful.

And that's been really nice way to stay connected, hold onto our community, and acknowledge people, and keep remembering that we're in this together. And help them, yeah, connection is huge. I wish I would have done that. I didn't do that, for other reasons, but didn't come to my, I will admit I did a little bit more, too much, I panicked a little bit at the beginning, I will say. That's normal.

There were already some existing things going on, and for me, and, but we're in flow. The flow now is what the flow is right now. That's great. If I sit here today, and I was thinking about this before our talk, I'm like gosh, if I look back on the very beginning of what I did at the first part of COVID, I was in Colorado seeing my mom who is elderly and got to spend a week with her in her care facility, but then the shut down came, and they said "Amy, you have to go home. "You have to leave, we need to shut everyone in." And I haven't been able to see her then, so it's just weird.

Yeah, challenging. Oh, so, but we're in a different flow now. Who knows how much longer we'll be here, but why not just embrace where we are? What about teacher training? Are you doing, I'm gonna kind of get a little more business for a second.

Yeah, no worries. I, well I had a bunch of things scheduled. I had all these weekends. I had several Pilates on tours. I had teaching in London.

I had teaching in Mexico, all this stuff, all pulled off the plate, completely canceled. So I just kept, I kept, in the beginning I was kind of delaying 'cause I wasn't quite 100% sure what was gonna happen. And then we just had a reality check, and we said you know what, canceled every in-person training for the rest of the year. And then we created an online sequence, a virtual series for the movement principles and the mat in the fall. So through the, all through the fall with just four hour classes that'll be Friday, Saturday, and then following Friday, Friday, just from nine to one so it's not too much time.

But I like the window where people can have a dose and then they can do a little study and practice through the week and then come back. That's perfect. So I think that'll, I think that'll be good. That'll be an experiment too. That'll be a new learning, but I'm doing my prep and I feel good about the opportunity so I think it'll be a nice way to, and you know obviously it doesn't matter where somebody lives.

So that's useful. Well that's a good point there. And so, I mean I have a feeling you have a, well of course you do, you're international, what are typical classes for you? Mainly your Center of Balance Clients probably, but then (indistinct). Yeah I have a sprinkle.

In my equipment groups I have mostly Bay area people. Then I have a few people from different parts of the world that have joined based on trainings we've done together in workshops, so it's nice. And I teach a couple classes a month to Body Control Pilates in London. Yeah, wonderful. So I did a reformer class, and then a giant mat class, then last Friday that was really fun to see all the students that take workshops together that I've been working with for the last five years.

So just this medium actually has its benefits. Great way to stay connected to each other. And I think that's the biggest piece is how do we, how do we think of it in terms of how am I gonna bring value to my clients opposed to how am I gonna sell Pilates? Keep going, yes. So think of the real issue right now is we have to be talking to our clients about what their needs are.

Sure they wanna come for our expertise, but we wanna really listen, and frame our sessions around how to serve and bring more value in this current situation. So maybe five minutes of the session is talking about how to do your Zoom better, you know what I mean? Like really coaching them on that, and coaching them on what's gonna be beneficial for them to do, we do as teachers anyway, but what are you gonna do between the sessions? Like you were mentioning about you're writing up your sessions for your clients. Be in that mindset so people are, really get your value that you're bringing to them over you're gonna just do your traditional, you know not even traditional bad word, you're just gonna do your, what you typically do in a Pilates session.

Like a little more like, what's really, how can I line up to this scenario right now and best serve? Mm-hmm. I'm gonna add right now, and so I'd like to have Jane, so Jane Goldstein wrote a great question, and has something a little bit to do with what you're saying. SO Jane writes in "how do suggest "starting up a new Zoom class? "The ones we set up in April are going well, "but I'm not sure how to get "an additional few classes on the schedule." And I think Tom just maybe touched on that, is maybe ask them.

Hey all, what do you want? Yeah, I think that's a great question. The other, what I would start with is say really acknowledge the benefits that people have mentioned. How do you guys feel about adding another class? And you can even put in there noticing, you know we know through science that twice a week is better than 50% better than once a week for your body.

So, and then I would ask them, include what you can available, what you can offer time wise. So I might even put that in the question, like here are possible times, which ones are best for you guys? And what really excites you about doing another class, if anything? Let's build this. Exactly.

Let's, let's. I love, instead of here's what your choices are, like a menu. And that's fine too, but I think as we're, as many of us are experiencing, we're in it now. We're in four months now. We'll be in it for a little while longer, and some studios and some teachers are indefinitely.

I've heard forever now we're having Zoom. We'll do it forever. Right. And that's great. So if knowing that there'll be a need to change things up or sprinkle in new things.

And rather than, this is just my opinion, rather than putting all that stress on my shoulders of gosh what am I gonna create next for that studio class? Ask them. Ask them what they want, what they need. And I think what's kind of nice about that is, well lots of things, it's directly asking them what they want. But what if out of the survey that we do with our clients a whole new class gets created, right, based on those things, and there's a whole new group of friends that gets connected?

And what if those people in that class, and all of a sudden you have a visitor from Moscow, and they for some, they might have something in common. Yes. Igniting a whole new amplified conversation with more people. And there it goes. Absolutely.

And you could even, you could even force feed it a little bit. You can feed forward where you can suggest topics based on what you've noticed, without being too overt about it. But you can say how about we do something on strength work and posture? How about we do something on counter acting the effects of sitting and really opening your lungs? You can even include possibly the last five minutes of doing a grounded meditation to finish.

Would you guys be interested in that? Whatever it is that's inspiring to you as a teacher and inside of your skill set. But that's, cause sometimes your clients won't know, they'll just go I don't know, whatever you want. But, again-- That's exactly right. But you can even just lead the horse a little bit.

And based on what you know about them now, but get their feedback 'cause that's actually very respectful. I think so. what I try to do is put myself in the other person's shoes often. That's great. We are dealing with, this is still customer service that we're doing, and I like to figure how would I, how on recipient end, it would be kind of nice to be asked hey, what do you want, Amy?

Or I've noticed whenever it comes to side lying you're kind of fidgeting a little bit, is there something in there that we can eligate or stay after for half an hour or 15 extra minutes on this specific day just to talk? It's just that involvement. And that involvement and that invitation in. We don't know where that is really gonna lead. They might refer five new clients to us based on that.

That's true. I've gotten new clients. In three of the Zoom classes that I teach, and I'm tending to teach them to a little older population who don't like to get to the floor, so I (indistinct) only standing classes. That's great. But you know what, what they're saying, and I shouldn't have phrased it, the men more so than the women are saying, "you know what, my balance is improving." And they're standing all the, they're not lying on the reformer.

That's great, so great. It's cool. And it's ignited a little bit of teaching (indistinct) for me with that because, you know, they come into the studio and they schlep down on the reformer. And I know they love feet in straps, and I know they like that feeling. But so many times it's like oh but you really need to be standing for 45 minutes of this session.

Now they have no choice. (laughing) That's interesting about that. That's like the difference between reading a book about swimming and really swimming. Right. You don't really understand swimming until you do it.

It's true. So now they're having a concrete understanding of it. Take a little sip of water. Yes. Which is awesome.

Let me read this from Catherine. Thank you, Catherine. She says my clients and I have started a virtual BOSU class, awesome-- Cool. Yep. I now have a husband/partners of clients who are buying the BOSUs.

This is great. I started the class by loaning out only three BOSUs, and now I have eight regular clients. How great. Beautiful. So thank you for sharing that, Catherine, because I think that's, again, another way we all learn from each other here.

One of my classes has predominately husbands and wives. And it's really cute. This is one of the standing classes, and it's always, some of them work side by side in the same room, most of them one of them is in the den and the other one's upstairs in their room. They don't wanna work out together, but yet they see each other on screen, which is so cute. It's just fun to see how people are doing this.

That's cool. You said something yesterday, and I took a note, that we should be thinking, or maybe creating an irresistible offer. Yes, yes. That comes back to thinking about how can I best serve my client instead of falling in love with my product? Yes.

You know what I mean? 'Cause each client's different so we need to listen, and we need to, like really what's our message? What is it that we're offering and selling? And can we keep communicating that in a way that's clear, personal and relevant to the person in front of us? And we're listening to them and we're taking that in because think of like, in terms of Pilates, a lot of people will say I heard Pilates is good, but they still have no idea what it is.

And they weren't explained what it was. Nobody explained to them what it is. Oh it's just this good movement thing. It's this guy who created it, he has this equipment. That still doesn't tell you anything.

It does not. Tell them the benefits. Like really share the benefits of the why. Get in touch with the why and ask them why, why you were attracted to this in the first place. What made you think about even calling me up or checking this out?

Really take that in and use that as a way to tap into how you're gonna bring more value to this person. Absolutely. I just love everything about this conversation. And I'll refer to Peter Rowell because he and I had a, also, the first time he came to Pilates Any Time several years ago, as you know we like to take you all out to dinner afterward and have riveting conversation. But it was just Peter and I, and we really got into a beautiful conversation about teaching, and the different between instructor and teacher.

And I feel very passionate about that conversation as well. I feel like I'm a teacher. Nothing wrong with instructing, but I really feel like, I wanna, I look at myself as a teacher, and I can instruct. Where my heart is, is the (indistinct). And what he said, and he took it out of my mouth, but he said, you know, it requires dialogue.

Teaching requires a dialogue. And what you and I are doing right now is a dialogue, we are also teaching right now. And by what we're asking our clients and engaging them in is we're teaching them they don't always have to be lying on that or sitting on that to be learning. It's the dialogue, what do you want more of? Yes, you've come to Pilates, and you were told to come, why?

Just to get more dialogue. Yeah, what do you want more of? And I'll often say to them, like around anatomy or learning anatomy, you need to have some useful information about how your body works. You can learn how to direct it better, and at least notice how you're doing it and where you'd like to improve. And just know that every client, every student who's been at this a while, whether they say it or not, is perpetually self correcting when they do an exercise.

That's the truth. You're never there, you're in the process. So once you accept that oh that's what develops my brain, that's what develops my body, my intelligence and my ability to be present is realizing it's a perpetual focus of combing understanding my body and applying that to what I'm learning. How great is that? Yeah, right?

So that's pretty cool. And they go really? Oh yeah, it's gonna change your brain, I mean at any age, it's not age related. It's about attention and willingness. Yes.

It's not age related. And it's, I love it. I'm going to go into the Q&A. Okay. Okay? Because we've got 15 minutes.

There are a couple of great questions right here, and if anyone else has anything they'd like to throw into the QW&A you can do that here. But with Julie Deutsche. "I have charged a lot less in lockdown, "partly because I had no idea how to use Zoom, "so expected issues. "I now dare not put prices up. "Okay.

"However clients are experiencing more benefits "because they can access more classes. "And I also felt that they are furloughed "so they have less money." Anything about that? What are your comments on pricing? Pricing does come up, that question. Yeah, I think it's, I think there's a lot of factors. I think a lot of it's demographics.

Part of it's, you know, you have to take the demographics into mind. But I also think you don't wanna give away the store, so you have to kind of hold onto your value, even if it's uncomfortable. And if you don't wanna charge the full price, you should be moving at least in that direction after your initial start because you're in a different place now. You're teaching and have learned, and you're bringing a lot to of value. And just share that with your clients from a respectful place.

And you can even do it as a dialogue. Could you afford a little bit more? And if you're willing to, if they say no and you're willing to keep them, that's a choice that you need to make. But open up the dialogue where you're bringing integrity to yourself by opening the dialogue. And you're being respectful about it to your client, like you don't need to avoid these conversations.

Think of that as a courageous conversation that's worth having. And it definitely is. My example I would like to add because this is a tricky one. And I'll admit this is part of a little panic at the beginning of jumping into this. We, because we, my studio is heavily group reformer and/or wall unit is group equipment, and the way we are just by (indistinct) single is $40 and then a 10 series was 350, $350 so broke it down tot 35.

A lot of those people have come into Zoom, but they're mat classes. So we initially charged our mat classes on our Zoom just at a base $15. We had $15. And then within two weeks I'm like what did I do that for? Because they've, they were paying $35 and now they're paying $15.

It's not about I need to charge more money to make more money, but it's like wait just a second here. So what I did is I compromised with myself a little bit, and I just said hey, to make it easier we're just gonna take the mat class price that was at the studio, which a 10 series is $165, we put that as a 10 series in Zoom. So those are lateral, now that's a lateral price, right? But now here are all these people that were in group equipment basically paying half of what they were paying. They know that.

But no one's offered to hey Amy go ahead and charge me what I was making. And I wouldn't do that. But it's-- Great opportunity. Great opportunity if I can interrupt that is just to say, just acknowledge that. Just acknowledge I offered this in the beginning 'cause I really wanted to take care of you guys and make sure you know we're here for you.

And I have to move back to either the original price or close to it. And based on our expenses and our needs and the value you're getting, let me know how you feel about that. Thank you, Tom. Yeah. I like that bit of advice because it has been a touchy one.

And I think people are talking about. You could even do it in stages if you want, or you can just pick a date where that transition's gonna happen. Yes. And you just ask them, you know, you just give them a heads up and ask for their feedback, and say listen, this is our intention is to take care of you guys and also stay viable. You now I think, again, if I were on the receiving end of that, if I was the client and the teacher was, and if I knew oh my gosh now I'm only paying half the money that I was at the studio, yes climate is different, yes financial things are different now, but I think, exactly, giving them the choice, and that's the thing, you don have to come up, I do need to raise it up.

Or maybe get it closer to what it was, and I realize if that doesn't work for you. So here's another question from Kim Taylor. Hi Kim. Hi Kim. Yeah, thank you for writing in. And then Rosemary also.

Kim Taylor, "I've been hesitant to take on "any new clients over Zoom. "Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?" First question, what's the hesitancy? What's the trepidation around taking on a new client? Great question. Would be my first question for you. And what you might do, if you're not clear on that, is decide on what are your parameters on what type of clients you'd be willing to take on Zoom.

If you have trepidation around particular clientele that are either, have a lot of physical issues or whatever it might be for you that the hesitancy is about, just identify that. And then what you can also do id possibly have a five or 10 minute phone conversation first just to get a feel for them, ask them some questions about what they're looking for. That'll give you a better ability to make the decision if you wanna go froward with them or not. And you can put that on your offerings on your, on your contact information. You know let's have a 10 minute conversation if you're interested in doing sessions with me.

I love that. That would be a starting point. First identify what's the hesitation for yourself so you can be clear about what that is and how you need to take care of yourself around that. Yeah, yeah, great. I can see some of the hesitancy, but I also, again, I would look at this as like, for Kim, my thoughts, it's a new client, pretend they're walking up to your front desk.

Right. This is the front desk now, Zoom. But a phone call, so that's the same thing. You pick up your phone at your studio and there's a voicemail from someone that says yeah I wanna do lessons at your studio. We get an opportunity to see these Zooms as a studio.

It is a studio. Yeah. Rosemary Larkin. I would like, this is great, I love this question. And it's a very important one as well.

"I would like to reach out "to the active agers in my community. "Any suggestions on how to reach them "and how to begin dialogue "to see if there's interest in an online class?" Because a lot of the, I don't know about what age group you're thinking of, but active aging, depending on where they're at. You know because a lot of the older, older folks aren't allowed to come out of their facilities. Right. I know a lot about.

Right. I think my support to you would be to find what are your local online chatlines? What is that in your area? And see if you can inject, like listen I offer this service, and really highlight the benefits and your commitment to this age group, and see what type of feedback you get from them. And if you have anybody that works with these, this community, like a director of a facility of some sort, you can contact them, say listen, I wanna offer this, I wanna support these people's well being.

I think just by opening up those conversations some new offerings will become available for you, just by letting people know, cause people don't know. They don't know what's around them. They're not used to using technology, or realizing wow there's somebody who lives in my community who can be of service. That would be my suggestion. Yes, I love that too.

I would do exactly the same thing. And Rosemary, if you know me, I'm a big lover of the active aging demographic. And they need to keep moving. They wanna continue moving. They don't wanna stop thinking and using their brain.

They probably just need someone to take the initiative to, again, kind of hand hold them a little bit, and call the facility, say hey, I'm a local teacher, I'd love to serve some of your clients, or some of your members of your facility in this way and give a freebie. Yeah, maybe do like a 60 minute or 90 minute free intro class, or even 45 minutes, whatever you wanna do. And then a possible package offering for people who sign up at that intro class. That could be a way to just develop like a base level of clients as a starting point. Yeah, yeah.

Lot of great ideas, yeah. Tom, we're kind of nearing that moment, about five minutes left, and I always get like no, I don't wanna end the conversation, but we have to. What, you know, you've been in this industry for so long, seen so many ups and downs, ebbs and flows, looking at our industry right now, how do you think we're doing? And do you think, how do you think we're doing? And do you think we'll get going?

And what are the next steps for our industry? That's a really good question. I think it really comes down to maintaining your mindset and keep learning. Keep learning about how to serve because we're all being asked to pivot right now, and we all know the absolute truth is everybody, if they wanna age well, has to learn how to use their body well. It is not a maybe.

It's not like I hope so. It's-- It's not negotiable, right. It's not negotiable so if you own, if you own that as part of your teaching mission, you're gonna find a way to help your business grow. And the way to do that is to do your practices, and don't get too caught up in things outside of you that are beyond your control. Keep focusing on what you can do every day in the midst of this unknown stuff.

And I have some suggestions of things you can look at for possible ways to feed yourself, like this one called, you've probably heard of Z Health. Z Health is a mobility tool, very useful. Another one is anatomy and motion. I think Gary Ward created a whole thing on how the body moves, and how to mobilize. He has a book called "What the Foot?" Gary Ward.

Also the Franklin method. I'm a strong proponent for the Franklin method. I've been teaching it for 18 years, and was on the teaching training staff. Another thing would be Wim Hof. Wim Hof is a breathing technique in cold therapy.

Wim Hof is a guy from the Netherlands, and I do their breathing technique, and it's a great way to start your day, it just energizes you. it's breath retentions at the end of the exhale. Really good. And then for books around mindset there's one called "The Power of Purpose" by Richard Leider. Get in touch with your purpose, why are we doing this?

"The Art of Somatic Coaching" by Richard Heckler. He's a longtime mentor of mine. I've taken their somatic coaching training. And it's just really good communication skills and how to get a different slice on how we, our life is in our tissue. And how we can embody presence, resilience and dignity.

Very powerful. And the, go ahead. The last one was just "Unshakeable" by Tony Robbins. Really deep stuff around looking at your finances and how to have a mindset in this current volatile world that's pretty helpful. We, so Gia is putting a lot of the links in right now for all of you that are still watching the webinar.

And we will also have those links, we'll get those from Tom. We'll make sure to put those in the description when we put this up live, in case you're (indistinct) really quickly right now. But yeah it, mindset, I think we can simply kind of just agree, I'm gonna agree with everything you said. It is choices, mindset, staying here instead of going out there, which is really staying in here. And I'm not saying to put a good attitude on top of feeling really disturbed.

Like have your feelings and then come back to your body. Feel your feet on the ground, and once you center yourself come back to what's important now. What's important now that I need to remember and step into so I can deal with these challenges from a grounded place. I can offer dignity to my teachers and the rest of us that are all in this together. We're all in this together. Everybody that's listening, we're all in this together.

You know we are a community, and let's remember that. Let's remember that we're here to support each other and enjoy this life in the midst of this challenge we're in as best we can. Thank you, Tom. So (indistinct) to conclude with. I think there's nothing left that needs to be said right now.

Thank you so much for your time. So great to see you, as always. You too. Thanks everyone fro tuning in. It'll be up on the site in a short bit of time.

Oh thank you everyone for your chats here. You're welcome. Thanks everybody. The gratitude goes right back to you. Thank you everybody.

And have a wonderful week. The next person I get to talk to is Christy Cooper. Boom. Boom. So we'll be talking about some wonderful bits around teaching, and how that's been cultivated for both of us during this time.

So anyway, but Tom, thank you again. Bye Karen. (laughing) My pleasure. See you Karen. Take care everyone. Be well.

Okay you be well too. Bye bye.


1 person likes this.
I really enjoyed this discussion, with two of my favorite teachers. Lots of useful suggestions, and observations, It's great  to be part of our community. I’m in London and was fortunate to attend Tom’s classes for Body Control. Like Tom and Amy, I noticed that many of my clients have noticeably  improved since having their classes on Zoom. That's so interesting!  
Personally I've benefited enormously from the live online classes with Pilates Anytime, and glad to voice my appreciation here!
Thank you Deanna! Great to hear you enjoyed our discussion and you getting lots of value from Pilates Anytime. Sending you my best from across the pond!
Lina S
1 person likes this.
Thank you. It was a pleasure to listen to your advice. Learn how to serve better: this is the main thing I retain from this great discussion.
1 person likes this.
So so inspiring! Thank you so much for opening my sight and my hart.

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your comments Deanna Lina Osnat Bechar !  Your input means a great deal to us!

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