Discussion #4486

Setting Up Outdoor Classes

50 min - Discussion
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Join Beth Elkins Wales and Gia Calhoun as they discuss setting up and marketing outdoor classes. She will talk about the protocols taken to make sure that her classes were covered by her liability insurance as well as how she handles changes in weather and other conditions that may interfere with her schedule.

Links and Resources

- Pivoting to Outdoor Classes Blog

- Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

What You'll Need: No props needed

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Apr 02, 2021
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(upbeat tranquil music) Hi everyone, I'm Gia, I'm really excited for the Pilates Report today. I'm gonna be joined by Beth Elkins Wales from Buffalo, New York and we're gonna be talking about how to set up your outdoor fitness programs as the weather is starting to get warmer and people are looking to be outdoors in nature a little bit more. So the first we're gonna see a video that Beth did last year to kind of market her outdoor program. (tranquil ambient music) I'm very excited to welcome Beth Elkins Wales here, the owner of the Pilates Lab. She's gonna be answering all of our questions about starting an outdoor fitness program.

Welcome Beth. Hi Gia. Thank you, I'm so happy to be here. Hi. Oh, I'm happy to have you.

How's the weather today in Buffalo. It's beautiful, it's like, everybody's excited about outdoor classes (chuckles) because it's like 70 degrees. So my first question for you is what motivated you to start an outdoor fitness program? I started last June and I really had no studio for a number of reasons. Before the pandemic, I had two studios, one in a building that we own, it's a sort of a big loft area but my husband who's an architect and a designer and a builder, is constantly kind of reworking the space.

He was dealing with some pretty serious health issues and our daughter was about to go away to college, so we decided we sorta need to reclaim our home and regroup a little bit. Hmm-mm. So I moved all of my classes to my rented space and that's right around when the pandemic hit and we were closed and it didn't. Wow. Take long for me to realize I couldn't afford to pay this rent and not be working.

So I was able to, I rented out a lot of my equipment, I heard that teachers in New York City were doing that, I thought that was a great idea. So. Hmm-mm. I rented things out and put other things in storage and then I looked around and thought, well, instead of zoom, maybe we should be outside. (chuckles) And yeah, so it was really a necessity is the mother of invention.

Have you ever done an outdoor program before? Or was this something that was just specific to the pandemic that made you start it? I had tried it in the past and to be honest, my regular, like I moved my Saturday morning classes to the park, it was sort of a short lived thing. I had better success with like a one-off events. We did like a evening solstice class, we did a. Hmm.

Lunchtime Alfresco class at like a patio. Oh, wow. Near a bistro. Yeah, that actually worked fairly well, that was very hot. (chuckles) What else did we do?

Oh, we did Pilates in paradise next to Paradise Wine and then we had a wine tasting. So the one-offs worked really well, everybody loves a party. (chuckles) Yeah. Until this year, my regular, yeah, until this year, the pandemic year, my regular classes weren't quite as successful as they were this time. Yeah, no, that makes sense. Kinda makes sense.

So during the pandemic were your clients kind of resistant to get started with the outdoor classes or were they eager to get going once it was warm enough? They were actually pretty eager. Oh, nice. I had a lot of requests for it and I was surprised even that the number of private clients that agreed to meet me in a park somewhere or to work in their backyard, I got pretty busy quickly that way and my group classes were actually fairly full. Looking back, I think people, well people were zoomed out pretty quickly, right?

Like zoom was exciting and then it was like really exhausting, I think. (chuckles) So people were craving being, even just seeing people at a little bit of a distance was nicer than on a screen. And looking back at who joined right away, I think there was a lot of moms and dads, both who had kids at home and their houses were completely chaotic in a way that they had never been before, college kids that were back home. Yeah. Or young kids doing kindergarten on zoom (chuckles) kind of things, like it was. Yeah.

They really needed a break from their houses. And then I had a lot of retired clients. And probably just the electronics. Yes, exactly. They needed a break from electronics too, yeah.

Yes, totally. Then I also had some. Then you had a lot of older clients? Yeah. People who are retired I think we're just sort of lonely in their houses to some degree, they missed their volunteer work or they're seeing their grandkids or serving on the boards, all of the things that they would normally do.

Hmm. Daily. So they were pretty quick to jump on the Zoom wagon too. (chuckle) Yeah, no, that totally makes sense. So what were the steps that you took to get started?

Like how did you go about finding a space? Did you have to get permits? What steps did you take to transition from Zoom classes to outdoor fitness classes? We have a lot of green space within the city. And a lot of that space is used just for gathering.

You know, whether it's like vigils or peaceful protests or some kind of activism or a drum circle, you tend to see that a lot in the summers on the parkways and so I just picked kind of a logical intersection that everybody knows about of these parkways. So those were nice because they were close to cars, you could, you know, not too close but you could park easily. Hmm. And just walk over and you're not dragging your stuff. Yeah. Your mat

and whatnot through (chuckles) the wilderness. Yeah. So they were really easy to get to, but they still felt like nature, there's big old growth trees and they felt, you're definitely outside, away from. Yeah. The hustle bustle, yeah.

Yeah. And because those are run by the city, I did not need a permit to be there, I did check with my insurance. Oh, that's so nice. Agent to make sure that I was covered wherever I went and we reworked my waiver a little bit to make sure that it covered this kind of outdoor stuff. And the way that my system is set up is people can't sign up for a class until they've clicked the waiver boxes.

So. Hmm. We just tweaked the language there a little bit. Okay. But that was all fairly easy, it wasn't a long hold up or anything.

That's great. So you were able to kind of just get going pretty quickly once you made up your mind to start it. Yeah, I just, yeah. That's, that's wonderful. (chuckles) I kind of decided that was my new studio and. That's really wonderful.

Yeah. That works. So how did you go about marketing the classes? 'Cause I know you had existing clients that switched over but did you end up getting new clients from this? I think, there was a lot of people that would wander up and wanna talk after class or sort of ask what was going on.

I don't think I got too many of those to stay though in the parks, a couple people, maybe it's sunk into their consciousness and by fall they were with me on Zoom, but one thing I noticed was it was really easy for people to bring their spouses or significant others, their friends. Oh, yes. Because it was, it didn't feel like the pressure of going into a studio, you know where you could get some kind of weird sales job about (chuckles) becoming a member. They could just wander down to the park and take this class, I think it felt really simple. So I did have people do that, they brought friends and family.

I marketed it as Joe and flow, which is, Joe is our inside Pilates joke, nobody in the (chuckles) rest of the world knows who Joe is. Yeah. But it sort of worked among my students and then Flow is. Hmm. Frederick Law Olmsted in Buffalo, everybody knows Flow.

So that's what I went with, I thought that was kind of cute even though it might not make sense to every person that heard it initially. Yeah. No, that's perfect. And then you had that beautiful video that we saw earlier in this discussion too, that was a great marketing piece as well. How did you go about creating that? Thank you.

Well, Jim, who made it, Jim Slinky is a friend of mine and I followed him on Instagram and he puts these amazing drone videos of Buffalo's waterfront or, zooming over Bill's Stadium or down by the grain elevators just, or the park and parkway system from above. So it was fun to see that. Yeah. And then I saw him zoom over some people doing a bike in class outside, a spinning studio that had moved their bikes. And so I just instantly asked him if we could make that happen as a Pilates video.

And he was totally game, it was so funny. That's wonderful. I think he had three different cameras, one directly above, and then others close by. Yeah. That's wonderful. It was beautiful,

it was amazing. Yeah, so you're kind of waiting usually. There were certain rules about that. Kind of your connections. (chuckles) Yeah. What was the rules

about that? Well, he had to follow some rules about how far away from traffic we could be. You can't just fly a drone. Hmm. Over a road, which makes sense.

Yeah. Or near people's backyards. So he actually picked the site for that. Yeah. Which was a little bit deeper into the park than we would normally go.

But it was because we had to be. Hmm-mm. We couldn't be invasive or distracting to drivers obviously. But he knew all that. Yeah, that makes.

He was. That makes sense, and also there's some places that drones aren't even allowed. So. Exactly. It makes sense that he would know all of that.

Yeah. Speaking of the location, how did you go about picking the place in the park where you held your class? Did you do the same place every time or did it change depending on who was there? How did you pick the place? Like the location of the park?

It did change depending on what type of class we were doing or if it was a private. Hmm. Sometimes my private clients would come to me with a spot that they wanted to be just because it was convenient or they could walk there. So, but I didn't switch weekly, so once I decided where Saturday morning class was gonna be, it was always there. And once I decided where my client Steve's private was gonna be, that's where we always met for that.

So each class kind of developed to have their own place, sometimes even like the right trees (chuckles) that we would attach our TheraBands to played into this which is kind of funny, or where the sun was that time of day. It all just kind of fell into place. Yeah. For various reasons. Yeah.

That makes sense. 'Cause then once you picked your spot for that class, then people knew where to come to you each week so that way they weren't wandering around the park with their mat trying to find you. So it makes sense. Yeah. To keep it consistent with that.

Yes. So with the weather and like the sun especially, how did you manage like too much sunlight? Did people wear sunglasses? Did you move to the shade? How did you manage that? (chuckles)

There was, yeah, there was all that, people did wear sunglasses. People kind of got used to in the course of an hour, the sun's gonna move a little so the shadow's gonna slide a little and it was perfectly normal. Hmm-mm. To like get up and move your mat and lie back down. Like we just kind of did that.

Or you think you're in a comfortable spot and then you realize when you flip over that you're lying on a stick or something. (laughing) So you gotta, there was a lot of little adjustments. Yeah. That happened. What was the other question?

Sorry, remind me what you said. Oh, that was basically it, no, that was basically it. As a follow-up to that though, like, did you have to deal with wet grass or other things on the lawn? Like any kind of other little things that you'd have to look out for when you're setting up? Yes.

So I get there early and do a quick scan for trash. There wasn't a whole lot, but every once in a while you had to pick up something or there would be dog poop every once in a while (chuckles) or something bad. So yeah, you kind of scan the area and make sure it's passable. And people did get in the habit of bringing, like one woman brought a tarp a couple of times, just a small one that she doubled up and put down underneath her mat. Or even I brought some trash bags with me, like big hefty trash bags in case we got there and the ground was a little wetter than we'd anticipated.

Hmm-mm. So yeah, it was a little bit more like going to the beach for the whole day with the kids (chuckles) than like just popping the mat down. Yeah. You bring all your stuff. It was sort of (indistinct).

Yeah, there's a lot of, there's some gear that you wanna have. Yeah. Even just like sliding in and out of. Yeah. Flip flops and not wearing sneakers, so that you can like run back to your car quickly. Hmm-mm.

And then just be barefoot on your mat. A lot of them brought just really big blankets. There's so many little things you don't think about. Yeah. Yeah.

You wanna be comfortable. It's like an exercise. Yeah, it's like an exercise of being creative because I only taught one outdoor class myself but I remember it was a rooftop class and I didn't think about the sun, so then I realized, oh, I have to change everything I'm doing because I don't wanna be staring at the sun the entire time, so I eliminated a lot of supine wood because I just didn't wanna be looking at the sun while I was on the roof. So, other things that I didn't think about was like sunscreen, like am I gonna get sunburned teaching this class outside? So, many things.

Right. That you don't think about until you're there. Right. I did kind of get, when new people signed up for a class, I did have like a kind of a standard text that I would send them that would say. Hmm.

Here's some things to think about and it was all that, sunscreen. Hmm-mm. Bring your sunglasses, bring the water, there's nowhere to go to the bathroom. (chuckles) So, kind of playing. Oh, yeah, bathrooms are a big one. With these things.

Yeah, that you just wanna know about ahead of time. Yeah. But it was helpful to sort of, you know, as I went through the summer, I got better at those troubleshooting. Yeah, definitely. So.

Did your clients bring their own like props or anything that they were gonna use or did you have stuff that you could provide them to if you were gonna use like a TheraBand or something? My private clients, I brought pretty much everything. Most of them brought a mat with them. Some of them had really nice, big like gym mats that they would fold out, which are great. But I would bring the magic ring or the foam roller or even hand weights or whatever we wanted to use that day.

And then a lot of my clients bought the Peak Pilates stick. And so they would bring those, their own. Oh, nice. Yeah. And what types of classes did you offer?

I'm assuming since it was in the park, it was just mat classes, or did you have any other varieties of classes that you offered? We ended up doing a few stick classes in the park and then everything else was just a private lesson where we used a lot of props. Okay. But our group classes were mostly mat. The stick classes worked well, but it was, that was harder to find a location because you had to attach the stick safely to a tree (chuckles) and we had to be spread out enough so that we could take our masks off.

So those classes stayed pretty, I wanted them to be small so I could manage that and make sure that everybody was safe. Yeah. But that was pretty fun, that actually got a lot of attention because it's like a, more of a spectacle to see things in trees and people stretching or working out. People walking by are probably just like, what is that? (chuckles) Yeah, that attracted a good deal of looks for sure.

(chuckles) Did you get a lot of people walking by kind of staring or did that distract any of your clients while they were in the class? Or, how did you manage that? I don't think people got too distracted. We definitely had people kind of. Oh, that's good.

You know, walk by and wave or point and stare, there was a little bit of that. (chuckles) It seems like people were, were pretty able to focus, it wasn't, nobody was too obnoxious about trying to get our attention or anything. That's good. What about like sirens or traffic noise? Was that ever a problem that you had to deal with?

Yes. So that happens for sure. You just kind of waited out for a moment usually, it depends on what people are doing, I mean, if they're in something that they can keep. Yeah. Moving through, that's fine.

If they're waiting for me to give them the next instruction, we're all just gonna sit tight for a sec, but, nothing ever completely broke up class or anything, it was just like kind of letting it go by. Well, that's good. I did have some Zoom people, you know people that didn't wanna meet me in the park, I did Zoom from the park and that would be a little weird 'cause I'd have my AirPods on, they couldn't hear the siren so I had to sort of explain. Oh, wow. Into the video, (chuckles) we're waiting for a firetruck 'cause they didn't have any idea what was happening.

So there is that kind of. That's, wow. Taking care of the people that are at home that don't know why we're pausing. Yeah. So can you tell us how you set up the, like the Zoom with the outdoor in-person classes?

Like how you kind of coordinated like both types of clients together? Yeah, I think that was the most challenging and really require the most preparation because you have to have, (chuckles) all your devices have to be charged, you're gonna use your cell phone for a hotspot, so that has to be charged, your AirPods, or whatever sound you're using has to be ready to go all charged up. And then there's all kinds of like, the camera angle, the sun, if they can see you, can you see the real people? It was a lot to work out, but I just did a couple of trial runs, I went the same time of day that the class was gonna be, I had a friend come with me, I had a friend at home that we zoomed and we just kind of worked out like, what's the best angle? Can I see?

There were days when it was sunnier and I ended up, it's sort of silly now, I tried to put my computer in a box. (chuckles) Someone told me if I put it in a box it would have an overhang that would block. It just made me kind of (indistinct) That makes sense actually. Yeah, it sort of works. Yeah.

I think like just the shade. no, it makes sense that you have to worry about it overheating. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

So that just took a little like finagling, but it's all, it's doable. Hmm-mm. You just have to think it through and be prepared with your devices. Yeah. Yeah.

Another question I have is like for sound 'cause personally I have a pretty soft-spoken voice, it's harder for me to speak loudly and when you're outdoors, your voice can kind of get lost. You don't have the building to kind of hold it in. How did you deal with everyone hearing you? Did you wear a mic? Did you ever lose your voice?

What were the restrictions that you had with just people hearing you? The mat classes seemed to work pretty fine. I mean, I think I repeated myself and I raised my voice (chuckles) quite a bit more than I would normally. There were a couple of times in stick class because we had to spread out to certain trees, we were taking up a lot more space and I'd probably look at some sort of microphone set up for this summer. There was one woman at the far end that just, she couldn't hear me at all.

And we were joking how I should like call her and she could have me (chuckles) on speaker phone down at her end of the park or something, 'cause we, you know, I did a lot of like miming of things to keep her on board. Yeah. That'll end up being like the cups with the string attached where everyone's. Yeah, exactly. Playing telephone. Right.

Telephone, yeah. Yeah. So I don't think I ever really lost my voice, but I. Oh, that's good. I had to like really project, it was definitely a thing.

Yeah. Yeah. We talked about like. That with the sirens sometimes it's a lot. Yeah.

Yeah. What were you gonna say? I've thought about doing classes by the waterfront, we have a nice waterfront, Lake Erie. Hmm. But I think with wind and surf, great lakes surf, (chuckles) that would be another thing to have to project over.

So that might be something. Yeah. That we try this summer, but. Yeah, especially when somebody. Like vacation.

Yeah. Yeah. I think you would need that if you were near water. Definitely. I wanna switch over into the weather 'cause that is a huge factor of being able to do outdoor classes.

Buffalo is very, very cold in the winter, so like what month were you able to actually start your outdoor classes last year? Last year we started. And how long were you able to keep them going? Yeah, that's a good. (chuckles) We started in mid June.

I probably could have started earlier, I think this year I'll probably start in May. But last year, I think I was just waiting for things to go back to normal, I wasn't looking for other solutions (chuckles) right away. So it wasn't really weather that did that stopped us from starting earlier, it was more like I'm waiting for this pandemic to clear up, you know, (chuckles) which is not the way it happened. But like I said, today's 70 tomorrow will snow. So we don't, (chuckles) I don't think it's gonna happen in April but probably by May. Yeah.

We'll be okay. So you're gonna do it again this year, correct? I definitely am going to, yes. Yeah, I've already had. That's wonderful.

A couple of requests for it. People really had fun, yeah. And then with the weather, 'cause sometimes it is unpredictable, like it'll just rain one day randomly and then it's nice and sunny again the next day. Did you have to change your 24 hour cancellation policy to kind of adjust for, like you having to cancel because of the weather? Or how did you kind of keep in contact with your clients to let them know like we're on today or we have to cancel Right.

I did change the 24 hour cancellation. I was much more lenient throughout the whole pandemic. I really haven't had a cancellation policy. (chuckles) I feel like. Understandable.

People have been, yeah, I think people, nobody's taken advantage of that, I think people are just doing the best they can to be (chuckles) where they're supposed to be and sometimes we need a little forgiveness about missing things. So that's been fine. I wish that I could just text all my clients, not all my clients text, not all of them are on social media. Hmm. So there was letting people know that, yes, it's indeed too rainy or I checked the park and it's just really wet.

It was a little bit of a process 'cause I'd have to text some of them, I could email another, call another, you know, like. Oh, wow. It takes a little bit of, I know it's a little, it was a little. Yeah. A little work involved there, but that's how the client, that's how my varied clientele is, they don't all use Instagram.

So it was fine, I mean, and a lot of times it was obvious, we'd even talk about it the night before. Like. Yeah. If you hear for me, it's because we're not doing this and then we could just go to Zoom and we're all set up. Yeah.

It just, yeah. Ah, perfect. So you had an alternative if it wasn't gonna work outdoors, they could just do it through Zoom, that's really nice. So they still got to take the class. Yes.

Yeah. That's wonderful. Yeah. I feel like I'm thinking of Buffalo and our weather. I feel like we're never gonna have another snow day ever because we all know about Zoom now.

So (chuckles) if it's snowy or there's a blizzard, like there's no reason not to do it because Zoom exists. Yeah. (chuckles) Exactly. So, that'd be kind of interesting, I'm looking forward to like when my studio is open but it's a total blizzard how, will we all just do this online? Or what is that gonna look like in the future?

Yeah. When you do reopen, are you gonna continue with the outdoor program? Like in the future even like hopefully, not normal because nothing's going to be normal again but like post pandemic everything's open? I think so. I would like to, to some degree, I don't imagine I would see that many private clients outside once they. Yeah.

When the studio open and they can be on a reformer, they're gonna obviously probably go for that instead. (chuckles) But the group classes, yeah, I think, I'll keep offering them. This summer, I think the big draw will be that you can do that without a mask because when you're inside, we're still at 33%. Yes. In New York state and we still have to be spaced and we still have to wear masks, and I know not everybody wants to work out with a mask on.

So I think those that are. Yeah. Really comfortable with that will opt for the parks still this summer. Yeah, that makes sense. Here, we're only at 25% and that just opened maybe two weeks ago or it's very recent that we were at 25%.

So I've been seeing outdoor reformer classes that have been, I've been trying to just 'cause I had missed being on reform where I don't, my apartment's too small to have one. So it's been really cool to see how they've set it up and the studio I've been trying classes at, I was wondering, well, how did they keep the reformer safe and no one's vandalizing it or stealing their little props? And the system that they had done was, at the last class they had everyone put the props underneath the box on top of the reformer carriage, and then they had a little rope to kind of tie them all together so no one could really take anything, not that anyone's gonna steal a whole reformer. Oh. But they kind of rigged it in a way that everything was secure and then they kind of closed the tarp so no one could take anything.

And then they were in the parking lot of a bank, so they could use the bank security footage too if they needed to see if someone was vandalizing, so. Oh. I thought that was. okay. Really clever how they've done that.

Yeah, it's absolutely. Yeah. But it also, it was just nice to be on a reformer outdoors. Okay. Didn't have to worry about like the wind a little bit 'cause it's been really windy here lately in California but overall it was just nice to move with people.

Again. Right. Yeah. That's it. (chuckles) That's huge.

Yeah. I've read some articles about how working outdoors can really boost people's mental health and just give them a lot more vitality and lowers their stress. Did you notice any changes mentally in any of your clients or did they say anything about the positive benefits they were seeing? Yes. Let me see if I can kind of name it.

I definitely feel, it sounds a little nutty crunchy but I think, (chuckles) you know, standing on your mat in the grass is really grounding. I think it's got very many health benefits. I think it's great to, your other senses kind come to life, you could smell the grass or the flowers and you feel the breeze and it's, I think it's very healthy. I also think that like the kind of nourishment that you get from being in a community like that was really, people were longing for that. Yes, definitely. So.

Yeah. Joseph Pilates has talked about it in "Return to Life" about the benefits of being outside. Hmm-mm. Getting hardy that way and. Yeah. It's definitely true.

It's Vitamin D too. Absolutely. Yeah, just great for the immune system. Everyone in Buffalo is lacking in vitamin D I think. (chuckles) I'm pretty sure that's true.

We need to be outside (indistinct) Yeah, just might as well take advantage of it. So I have. Right. Just a couple more questions and then we're gonna open it up to questions from everyone who's attending. If you have any questions, now you can start putting them in the chat for Beth.

If you have any questions about how she started her program or advice that you'd want from her, feel free to add any question to the chat. But one of my last questions is, how big were your classes? Did you have a cap or did you just kind of let people join whenever they wanted? Did they have to sign up in advance? It kind of how'd you go about getting people in attendance there?

I did have a cap on it. I kept it at seven people because then with myself as eight, I felt like that was about as much room as we could take up if we were spread out. I asked that people were wear masks to the park and once they were. Hmm. Upon arrival and then once they were situated on their mat and appropriately spread out, they could take their masks off.

So it, eight, nine, 10 people felt like about enough. And then I just added it as a class on my booking system. I use studio bookings and so even for a class that I'm also gonna Zoom, I just had two classes listed. So you could pick the 09:30. Okay.

Saturday night mat class outside, or the 09:30 Saturday mat class on Zoom. Oh, okay, great. So that way I knew, yeah, I knew who I was waiting to see in person. Yeah. Then I knew who to send the Zoom link to.

And how many classes did you end up teaching outdoors per week? I did four a week of group classes, and then I probably taught, most days I taught two sometimes three private lessons outside. They were all fairly set for them. And was all the privates in the park? Yeah, that is cool.

Were all the privates in the park, or were some. Yeah. Like in their backyard? How did you manage that? I went to see one person in their backyard.

My employee, Amy Terabella saw a lot of people in their backyard. That was something that, her people wanted to do it that way and so she felt okay about doing that. I only did one backyard personally. Oh, that's wonderful. Yeah.

And then with keeping the COVID protocols, did you, 'cause the studio I've been going to out here, they would take our temperature before we can take the class, did you do anything like that or bring hand sanitizer if they needed to touch anything? What kind of supplies did you bring? Well, yeah, so I didn't actually take any temperatures. I asked them to pack, to take their temperature at home and not come if there was anything high. So that was kind of the honor system.

I did bring hand sanitizer, I brought wipes, I brought a couple of pillows and yoga blocks and for my privates, a magic ring, foam roller, all that. I had a little collapsible wagon that was given to my husband by my daughter's softball team when he was the coach (chuckles) and it worked great. I could, (chuckles) yeah, if you're gonna do an outdoor class, I highly recommend these little wagons 'cause you could just throw everything in there and bump it along the grass. And it's nice to sort of set up shop when you're there. I had a sandwich board that I put out with my logo on it and I would often bring little handouts. Oh, that's great.

Or I'd bring our schedule. Yeah. That's great. One funny thing, years ago, I was tabling at an art festival. Yeah.

And I had so many questions. You know, the biggest question is what's the difference between Pilates and yoga, right? That's like, everyone's way of saying. Yes. Hello when they approach me. (chuckles)

Yeah. So I ended up making a laminated poster that literally said, the difference between Pilates and yoga, and there was like attributes on one side and the other. And I brought that with me a couple of times and it was kind of nice because you can't get close to people but you can see they're coming at you and they're asking you, what this is all about? And, well, what's the difference between and I could just point to the side. (chuckles) That was kind of funny, but also helpful just to get information out without talking through your mask, it is a stranger. Yeah.

Too long to explain what Pilates is. Definitely. Yeah. Did anything like awkward ever happen outside or did you ever have to, like, I remember you telling me the story once about the wedding that was happening outside. Do you wanna share any kind of funny stories that you have before we go into our Q&A with the members?

Sure. There's the, the wedding story was pretty funny. We arrived at our usual spot, which was sort of, I think it's called a pergola at a Rose garden area of the park. Hmm-mm. And I know that people get married there, I've seen them set up for weddings before and it's where kids take their prom pictures.

It was great because it was tile and flat and in the shade. So my two clients really loved meeting there but I got there first and saw all the white chairs and all the flowers I thought, oh my gosh we're not taking class (chuckles) there today. So I was able to text them and we moved it a little bit. A funnier story, even though and at the same location was a surprise proposal that was happening like during our class. Oh, wow.

Yeah. And the guy (chuckles) that was proposing was like hiding behind this tree, right near where we were taking class and the couple that I was working with had gotten really involved in talking to him before. So they spent most of our lesson like really distracted by this nervous young man who was about to propose. (chuckles) He had a bunch of friends with him. Aw. And other people

were coming with the, (chuckles) We got really involved in the whole scenario. It was kind of funny. That's so sweet. Yeah, it was cool. (chuckles) That's awesome. Yeah.

All right. So we're gonna start our Q&A, we have a couple questions from Susan. So again, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in through the chat and then Beth will answer them. So first question from Susan H is, do you allow drop ins outdoors? I did.

And this year I think I have to have a printed waiver. (chuckles) There was. Yes. a couple of times that I thought, we had a quick conversation and that's not really enough legally. Hmm.

It was enough for me to feel safe. Yeah. But not, it probably wouldn't hold up in court so I don't think that you should do that without a waiver. So that's something I would change next year. Yeah.

That's wonderful advice. Going off to Susan's question, just the question that I have is, did you ever have people trying to crash the class? Just like doing it from like further away but just like following along, did that ever happen? I'm thinking of the. Oh, that's funny.

Bridesmaids at the beginning. Funny. (chuckles) Trying to follow the workout from behind the tree. Get it on the class, that's really funny. I don't think that ever happened, or I never saw it. (laughing)

Yeah, I don't think so. Yeah. That's really funny. I just thought of it just now with that. Right. With that image.

But, another question from Susan is, what are the prominent hours of the day to schedule your outdoor classes? Is there like best practice for the time of day that's better, or did you kind of play around with that? I kind of just went with what I had normally had on my schedule for years. Like my Saturday morning. Hmm. That class has been 09:30

probably for 15 years. So it was 09:30 at the park. And people seem to have more availability last year because they were working from home. So I did. Exactly.

I was able to do easy midday things with people, you know, between their other Zoom (chuckles) commitments, they could jog over to the park and meet me. But evenings is always good, end of the workday, 17:15, something like that. I didn't do a lot of. Yeah. Early morning although that is. Nice sunset class would be.

Yeah. Yeah. I would survey your clients and just go with what the majority of people are telling you or what you know about your clients already. Yeah. Yeah.

I think keeping the same schedule that you already had is also ideal 'cause then that they're already coming and they were already used to that schedule, so it kind of keeps their routine. Exactly. The same too. Yes. 'Cause I think most of us. Sort of.

Like a little bit of routine. Yeah. Yeah. Yes, sort of stabilized. Yeah.

I have a question from Brett. Have you adjusted your prices as you started to offer group classes and privates outdoors? I did. I dropped my prices a little bit and it was sort of a real conundrum because on the one hand. Hmm.

I'm not working any less hard really. (chuckles) Packing up every day. You're actually working harder. To set it up. It's harder, yeah.

(chuckles) There's a lot of things to juggle. And yet, there's something so special about being on a reformer and being on the equipment and if that's what you're normally paying for. Hmm. I was just really grateful that people were sticking with me with TheraBands and magic rings. So I. Yeah.

I did take them down a little bit. Yeah. Do you think you would have adjusted them if you were, 'cause you were offering reformer classes before and they switched to mat and if you were doing like mat classes before and just switched them outside, do you think you would have adjusted the prices or would you have kept them the same? Those were the same, sorry, yes. I guess. Oh, yeah.

I should be more clear. Well, mat, I didn't really change because you're still on that. Okay. Exactly, yeah. Yeah.

Oh, that's perfect. Yeah, I think that's the right way to go about it 'cause if you're still getting the same class that you were getting just in a different location, I don't think you need to change the price but I understand changing. Right. From reformer to mat just because they are expecting something else. Right.

Marian says, do you charge outdoor and Zoom clients differently or is the price the same? That's a good question. So the mat was the same, the studio, the Zoom and the online, I never changed my mat. If it was a private, like I said, they did yes go down a little bit for outside and for Zoom, I should be clear. Okay.

Because either way they're using, they're not using the equipment that they've fallen in love with in the studio and so I did lower the prices a little. Yeah. Yeah. I don't follow anyone, I mean, I have really no judgment if someone were to keep the same, I think you could make a case for both, I don't necessarily. Yeah.

Want to tell people that they need to lower their rates. I think you need to do (chuckles) what feels best for you for sure. Yeah. Yeah. I know especially at the beginning of the pandemic, it was so hard to know because there were so many people like significantly lowering their prices and then wanting to go back up which is hard to do or some people are offering free classes and then trying to start charging again.

So. Right. It was so hard to know what to do at the beginning of the pandemic 'cause everyone was just kind of trying to pivot in any way that they could just to make it work for them. Exactly, exactly. Lina S, we're getting so many great questions.

Lena S asks, how do you structure your classes? Do you use themes? Oh, interesting. Sometimes, yeah. (chuckles) Sometimes quite often it has, they're built around the people that are attending.

So. Hmm-mm. But if I get the same, a typical group on a Saturday that I can sort of plan on, then I will go with a theme and I'll try to build it every week as much as I can. Oh, that's wonderful. That makes a fun class.

Yeah. Yeah. I don't necessarily do body part themes but I would try to do. Yeah. Some like a principle theme. Some them or concept.

Exactly, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Susan H asks, how long are the sessions for your outdoor privates and group classes? Were they the same as your indoor classes like pre pandemic?

Yes. Yup. Yup. Yeah. And did you ever have.

Yeah. Like back-to-back classes or were they spread out enough where people weren't crossing over? How did you go about that? Yeah, I'd usually do 15 minutes in between, just like I would in a studio. Hmm.

Give myself a little bit of time. yeah. I would work for 55 minutes and then ask the person to come on the hour. Hmm, okay. I'm getting some great questions.

If anyone else has any questions, feel free to leave them in the chat, we have about 15 minutes left until we need to wrap but before we get any other questions, do you have any advice that you wanna give for anyone who's interested in starting an outdoor program, just as a kind of wrap up? Sure. I think based on the success that I had in years past, I think it really helps to make an event, at least as a start, maybe collaborate with another business, someone that you know or someone that, another business that you like or is nearby a park, if it's a coffee shop or a smoothie joint or something where you could offer a special after a mat class or something, that seems just kind of build energy around your initial event. I think that would be a nice way to get people excited about it. And then maybe based on attendance in those a couple events like that, you could go for regular classes.

What else? I actually made a couple of notes about this. (chuckles) I would definitely tell people to break handouts, you know, bring as much of your studio as you can to the park within reason, just so that people start to understand how you do things or how you are so they kind of see that, I don't know, if the style is the right thing but like sometimes I would bring a little base of flowers, so even though we were outside, I would like. Hmm. Kind of dress up the picnic table.

(chuckles) Yeah. To make it look nice. A little aesthetic. Yeah, it's kind of like this is where we're making this little sacred space here and we're taking it seriously. And I think that helps if you are gonna get other people to come, they sort of get a taste of what you're about.

Yeah. And I would also say, definitely talk to your insurance and just make sure that you're. Yes. You're doing everything right and if there's an additional waiver. And covered. Or think about COVID,

things you need to, yeah ,that you're really okay. Yeah, those are all great tips. One last question from Brad, what was the most challenging part of organizing your outdoor business? Just kind of, (chuckles) let's see, that's a good, it took a little bit for me to figure out how to get people to sign up online until I realized it's just another class. So we just put it on, (chuckles) it seems complicated at first, but that wasn't hard looking back.

And then I think just kind of like taking the space as yours, like this is where we're gonna be and make this your home for the next hour. There's definitely, you can plan and think of everything and bring the wipes and hand sanitizer (chuckles) and all the props, (chuckles) but you're still like giving yourself up to the universe, right? Like so many things are out of your control. So I think you have to remember that, like we're doing this thing that was called controlergy and yet (chuckles) we're also embracing like the chaos that might happen, it is a little out of your control. So you have to sort of be okay with that.

Yeah. I'll be honest. Yeah. Like before every class, I get a little bit nervous leaving, 'cause you could control your space and play the the nice sounds and light the candle or whatever you wanna do in your own studio to make it yours and then you go out there and you're like, it's kinda like how are my children gonna behave in public or what's going to happen? (chuckles) Like that sort of, you know bracing yourself for like bravely teaching out of doors.

It takes a little courage I think. (chuckles) Definitely it also, as Pilates teachers we tend to be a little bit more on the perfectionist side of that spectrum. So it kind of forces you to let that go because it's never gonna be perfect, the grass isn't going to be even necessarily, even the clients have to be a little bit more thoughtful about like, oh, this isn't gonna be perfect but I can just have fun and move. Right. Exactly. Yeah.

A hundred percent that, yeah. We did get one more question in and then this will be the last question and we'll wrap up. Did you ever find conflict for space with any other group fitness in the park? No, but that's a really great question. There were a lot of other groups.

I think, not a lot, but there was definitely noticeable other groups doing things. Hmm-mm. But we never, ever, I think we just kinda like kept to our turf. I never went where I saw that yoga class. Yeah.

And they never came over where they saw me. (chuckles) That's so cool. Yeah, thankfully that never happened. Everyone kind of respected. Yeah. Everyone kind of respected

each other's space and just kind of, this is my spot, this is your spot and we'll kind of keep it that way. Yeah. That's wonderful. Yeah. So I think we're gonna end here.

Thank you so much, Beth for talking with me and sharing your wisdom with your very successful program last year. And I know you're gonna start it again this year. So if anyone's in Buffalo or will be in Buffalo this summer, do you wanna share where, what the program is and when it will start? Sure. It looks like we're gonna start March 1st.

We're usually on Bidwell Parkway. (chuckles) Did I say May? May 1st, I'm sorry. You said March, yeah. It's May 1st.

(chuckles) No worries. No, not at all. (chuckles) That's over. Sorry, May 1st. And all the information will be on my website which is the Pilates, thepilateslabbuffalo.com.

Thank you. (chuckles) Wonderful. And if anyone else has any questions for Beth that we didn't get to today, this video will be on the site later and we're gonna add some links and resources as well and then you can feel free to add your comments to the forum, and Beth and I will do our best to answer all of those as well. So thank you again, Beth and thank you everyone for attending. Thank you.

And we'll see you at the next Pilates Report next month. Thank you. Thank you. Great, thank you. (upbeat tranquil music)

Comments

3 people like this.
Good information ... in Denmark we would be weather challenged with rain ... 🌧☀️ but as mentioned, being outside makes you happy - and other senses like hearing and smelling get stimuleded ... ☀️👍🇩🇰
Dorthe V ~ So glad to hear that you found this helpful! If you do try to set up outdoor classes, let us know how it goes for you!
Rain can definitely be an issue. I’m always on the lookout for a decent-sized pavilion that could be used for a class— at least in light rain! I hope you get to teach outside a bit.

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