(upbeat music) Hi, everyone. I'm Gia with "The Pilates Report." I'm really excited about my guest. Today, I'm gonna be talking to Erika Quest. Welcome, Erika. Yay.
Thanks, Pilates Anytime. Thanks, Gia, for having me. Super stoked to be on the "Pilates Report" and happy summer, everyone. I know. Happy summer. So, today's topic is so much fun, 'cause we're gonna be talking about just pumping up your confidence and doing what you can to make the most out of your career, so you feel comfortable teaching, especially in front of a larger group, 'cause I think, I know I feel more comfortable in like a private setting and one on one, and it took me a while to learn how to be comfortable in a group.
So, I think it's something that all of us can learn from. And Erika has quite a bit of experience. So, my first question for you, Erika, is what is your movement background and how did you get into Pilates? Oh, well, I mean you can hear some of my story on Pilates Anytime on my intro, but I'm happy to tell a little bit of it here too, because it's not my first career. It's not most people's first career unless you maybe came from the dance community.
So, I used to sell cheeseburgers. This is a true, totally true story. And I was in the corporate marketing world for many years in my 20s. And as a young 20 something, I had high blood pressure. And so I went to my doctor and were gonna do what?
They were gonna put on a pill, and I asked if I could actually try and do this holistically through diet and exercise, first. And my doctor gave me six months. So, I decided to, and this is the short version of it. My doctor gave me six months and I decided to start training for triathlon. And instead of choosing one sport, I decided to choose three and I got injured, which is how I fell in love with Pilates because I was selling cheeseburgers, believe it or not, my clients at the time were Burger King, Johnny Rockets and Dell Taco.
And I started taking Pilates classes on the side and that's how I fell in love with it. And I found Body Arts and Science, and Rael Isacowitz, my very first Pilates, basically teacher training program that I went through. And that's how it began in my very early 30s. So, I spent a good portion of my time in the corporate marketing world. And then now, since I was 30 and I had a divine appointment to open a studio in Laguna Beach, California, I have been in the Pilates movement industry for the last 16 years.
And then, what point in your career did you start doing teacher training and mentoring new teachers? Well, okay. So, if you guys know me or if you don't know me, I say this all the time. I don't believe in coincidences, I believe in divine appointments. And so, I had no...
First of all, I had zero zero idea that I was gonna even teach Pilates and or a movement as a vocation. I was wholeheartedly committed to leaving it as my avocation, working still in the corporate world and then teaching Pilates in the evenings and on the weekends to either make a little money, but truth be told, it was to have access to a really nice studio that had thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of equipment in there that I didn't have to spend my money on, right. And so, I was happy doing that in the beginning of my Pilates journey. I had just come out of BASI and I was a new teacher trainer and then low and behold, within six months, a guy that I was teaching for in Laguna Beach, California called me and said, I am moving to Spain. Would you like to take over my practice?
And that was my first thought of, oh, maybe I can do this for a business and I can actually leave my corporate career. And so, that was a divine appointment right there when that happened. And so, I crunched those numbers based upon a party of one, meaning Erika Quest being the instructor. And he gave me the opportunity to train his client list and incorporate them into the studio. And that's how it all started.
And I had no idea that I was gonna become a teacher trainer, a mentor, an educator, if you will. And that started to happen in, well, this is a fun fact to Gia. We just briefly, behind the scenes information, talked about me from a fact from IDEA World a few days ago. And IDEA World, if you guys don't know, is the largest fitness conference in the United States of America. There's, I mean, we're talking thousands upon thousands of people that go there.
And another mentor of mine that I met at my studio in Laguna Beach, I started training him. And his short, basically, advice for me was, Erika, based upon your business background and what you used to do for a living, 'cause I used to publicly speak for Fortune 100 companies a lot with my clients, he said, you're gonna get real bored of this one-on-one, two-on-one thing. And I promise I'm gonna connect the dots here. So, he told me, I really want you to present at IDEA World. And so, this was 2009-ish.
So, I'm about three or four years now out of BASI. And I go to this thing called IDEA World, and I'm teaching in a room with all of these reformers. At the time, they were still bringing large equipment. And I was like, how is Balanced Body being so nice and bringing like $30,000 of equipment and letting all these fitness people, no offense, fitness people. I'm a fitness person too, jump around on these reformers that they don't know what they're doing with, right?
And so, that is literally my entry point, my very first touch point to meeting Nora St. John and Al Harrison, the directors of education for Balance Body at the time. And so, that's my long winded way of saying like, you just never know when things are gonna start to happen. And I feel like then it took about three more years of dating them. I would see them at conferences. I would see them at a Pilates on Tour.
They had me do a couple of sessions at a Pilates on Tour. And then they asked me to come on board as faculty in 2010, 2011. And so, like I said, I had no idea I was gonna be a Pilates instructor for my business, let alone become like a master instructor or a faculty member for another company. So, please don't ever, if you're out there thinking, I don't know my next steps. Well, if somebody asks you something, pursue that relationship.
I think it's very important to remember that relationship building is critical to your career and your journey in any industry, but especially, especially in what we do for a living in a helping profession. I agree. Also, I just wanna give a quick little shout out. Porsche Paige has said hi in the chat.
(indistinct) and I just want to say, hi. So, I know that you have trained in other fitness modalities. Can you tell us what else you've been trained in besides Pilates? Yes. Well, Pilates is my mainstay. I also have just a general fitness certification from American Council on Exercise.
I do a lot of continuing education through BOSU. A lot of you are familiar with some of my programming through BOSU, but I also have gone through all of their foundational certifications. They're mind, body certifications. The Functional Aging Institute. Super, super passionate about active aging.
As you guys know, if you watch any of my stuff on that playlist on Pilates Anytime. And so, I'm always upskilling my continuing education through them. Just did a course with them about six months ago, a little bit more of a specialty certification course, and I could go on and on. But yeah, I, just believe, and Porsche, since she's on here, I'm gonna quote her. When you stop learning, stop teaching. Right?
So, it's really important for us as teachers to always constantly pay attention to research and see what's happening in the market, and what's relevant to upscale our teaching in our moving environments, whether that's Pilate specific or it's a hybridized approach. That's great advice. So, I wanna jump into how your background has helped you. So, what tools or from your other trainings or your previous career have helped you in your Pilates career? And I just wanna know, like, if you wanna elaborate on any of them too, if any are specific, feel free.
Well, it's really interesting to me now, I think, as being that I'm over 16 years in the industry. At the time I didn't realize like how beneficial my business and my marketing background would be. Quite frankly, I was just so excited to be opening a studio in Laguna Beach, California, that I really didn't give it much thought. But in reality, I didn't realize at that time that even some of the simple knowledge that I knew about like accounting and business and crunching the numbers to make sure that I would be able to at least at the very get go of the business, being able to open a solvent business. And this is, I mean, this is before digital media was really, really prevalent.
Yeah, you could have a website, but it was truly like blogging wasn't that big of a deal at the time. I think that Yelp was only getting started. So, I really didn't realize how much of a benefit that my business and my marketing background would have, probably not until actually I started to get into the coaching game, through Balanced Body, as well as on my own to help business coach other people and their studios and their studio environment. And that was definitely several years ago, but because digital media and free digital media is really how we put ourselves out there these days, you can choose the types of platforms and digital media means anything from, yes, Instagram to having a website and sending out an email. So, there's just so many ways that you can actually navigate the world through digital media, that I'm super, super grateful that I at least had a business background.
And as digital media got to be super, super popular and really what we do for marketing for our businesses these days, that I kind of had not a leg up, but I was a little bit more familiar because fun fact on my business background, what I did inside of the marketing, the world of marketing was consumer relationship marketing. So, CRM is a fancy term for, I would basically go out. I would look at the audience at the time, one of my clients, and I can say this, it's not proprietary information, was Nestle Purina PetCare, which I love them, 'cause I love my dogs. You know that, Gia, and I know you love your animal or animals, but I would look at the customer and I would look, and we call these funnels now, right? So, Pilates Anytime even has funnels that they're looking for their audiences. Yes we do.
Yes, you do. And so, I was looking at those audiences and I was saying, oh, okay, well, this customer is a mid user, mid loyal in the Beneful brand. How can we move that customer into a more high user, high loyal position where they're actually using the brand more? And so, I would help develop strategies along with the company or companies I was working for my clients on how best to move them along what we call the path to purchase. So, a lot of that has come to be wildly beneficial for not only myself, actually, but my clients that I coach now in the world of business for Pilates in Movement, so.
Yeah. I agree with that. Have any of the other fitness modalities influenced how you teach Pilates or helped you in any way with your teaching? Yeah. I mean, I think that definitely as I started to move more into being an athlete or more like, I come from a swimming background, I don't come from a dance background, which we oftentimes see in the world of Pilates. So, it's not that I don't believe dancers aren't athletes, 'cause they absolutely are, but I didn't resonate necessarily with that type of a modality.
I think that for me, it was a natural progression for me to kind of find more athletic modalities, whether it be like using the BASI balance trainer in my work as a Pilates instructor, but then that also translated to another, well, funnel if you will, which is the active aging population. And so, a lot of my, how I've shifted and shook up my training for both athletes, non athletes, active agers, and really the body or the bodies in front of you has come from not only continuing education, but also adapting things for environments that are mixed classes, multilevel, the need to get people into weight bearing so that they can train their body in gravity. And that's, I think, very, very important in the work that I do now in my Pilates-based journey versus what I used to do maybe 16 years ago. I was very much more like following by the book, which is awesome because when you're a new teacher and you're coming out of a teacher training program, that's also super important. So, let me say that.
Yeah. Going into teacher training, actually, I want you to put your teacher trainer hat on, what do you find is the most common struggle that new teachers face after they've completed their first training, and then what do you do to help them Oh. improve on those struggles? 100% programming. So, I will say, I'll give two examples here.
And it's not that one program is better than the other, but I can speak to it because I've been through two very robust programs of which they both have their massive, massive benefits. So, my original program that I went through before Balanced Body was Body Arts and Science International. So, for those of you who are familiar with BASI. Gia, are you a BASI? Yes or no? No. Do you have BASI background?
No you don't. Okay. So, for those of us who are BASI that are watching this or are watching it in afterwards, we are very familiar with the block system of which I think is a brilliant, brilliant thing because what it does in a nutshell is that Rael put together a system of where you could actually leave a teacher training program and kind of know how to program a session for somebody, you know, right away. And I'm not talking about everybody. I mean, 'cause I was thrown into the fire where I had type two diabetic morbidly obese, couldn't even lift one leg into tabletop, let alone hold both legs into tabletops. So, that's a different story.
But in general, you have a good general depth of knowledge on how to come out and train the whole body, right. So, I would say there's a bit of a programming piece in that program. Where Balanced Body really excelled was the special population piece. Meaning like, okay, great. So, if you wanted to teach somebody how to, or they couldn't hold their legs in tabletop, how best are you gonna safely work them up to that level?
And so, I really appreciated that from the Balanced Body approach. And so, I really feel like I got the gift of the best of both worlds, going through both programs because I see the most of what I see out there is obviously lack of confidence, but also just not an understanding of how to program for a client or a class, unlike the fitness industry. Because if you go, if Porsche's still watching this or anyone from the fitness industry is still watching this, I even took my class this morning with my foot 'cause they know how to modify for these things. A Bodypump class, which is a 45, 55 minute format where you know that this is where you start. These are the tracks that you go through.
These are your modifications, these are your regressions, these are your progressions. And so, it's a little bit more formulaic, but these are also things you see in a gym setting where there's the numbers game. You see a lot more people coming through classes. So, they have to be more safe about it. But it's going that direction with Pilates as well because we do see so many more group studios these days.
'Cause you know, the more people you can put in there, the more money you're gonna be making. Exactly. You also mentioned the lack of confidence too, 'cause I know I was more classically trained. So, I didn't have trouble with the programming 'cause I kind of knew kind of what to do with that.
with the lack of confidence, 'cause I'd never taught anything before. And I grew up as a dancer, so I'm used to not talking and just being told what to do. So, for me, that was my struggle. And how do you go about coaching people if they do struggle with like a lack of confidence? Well, I mean, I think it's, first of all, I always tell them, just keep doing your repetition.
So, much like in anything that we do in life, it doesn't matter if it's Pilates. It doesn't matter if it's weightlifting. It doesn't matter if it's learning to put together a PowerPoint presentation, you have to keep doing your repetitions. You have to go back and repeat and relearn and or learn more and get a depth of knowledge and you'll gain more confidence the more that you do those repetitions as well, just like in strength training. The more that you do your bicep curls, the stronger you're gonna get.
The more you do a plank, the easier it's gonna be to keep your body in that position. So, that's my, probably my first and foremost piece. And then always honor kind of like your depth of knowledge. Don't try and go outside of your depth of knowledge. Like, don't try and make things up. (laughing) And if you don't know, you don't know.
And guess what, not everyone expects you to know everything out of every single manual that you've taken from. And so, be okay with just saying, I'm not really sure about that. Let get back to you. Oh, that's great advice. And with the repetition, I think, I don't know if you've ever read that book "Outliers." I think it's by Malcolm Gladwell, but he talks about how I've heard of it. I haven't read it.
A lot of really successful like bands or artists or anyone who's successful, there's like that 10,000 hour mark. And once you've passed that, you're basically an expert. So, highly recommend that book to anyone who hasn't read it. This has gotten really a lot more popular, I think now popularized. But when I went through teacher training, probably the same as you Gia, and a lot of us in this industry, we were looking for a particular shape.
We were looking for a particular look and feel and we thought our clients are supposed to look that way too, but when in reality it's like every single body is a totally different, different journey. No two bodies are the same. And so, the hundred is not gonna look the same on one body. It's not gonna look the same on me than it is on you. And so I think giving ourselves and our clients' permission to just take a little bit of an exhale about that because honestly, one of my main, main mantras, especially now in my career, is to move better, is to live better and that looks different on everybody.
And so, I feel like as long as you're being safe about it and you're not making something up that you really shouldn't be and or you just don't know about it and you can be honest about it, that also makes you human to your clients and your classes. Nobody expects you to be Albert Einstein. You're not trying to reinvent the wheel, if you will, but you are trying to be safe in your clients and classes. And I think the best way to do that is to be honest and to be authentic and to build those relationships because really, truly, yes, they're gonna fall in love with Pilates, but more than anything, they're probably gonna fall in love with you as well. Yeah. I agree with that wholeheartedly.
That's wonderful. Yeah. So, I want to go back to confidence a little bit I've talked about it on "The Pilates Report" before too, but many teachers, it doesn't matter how long they've been teaching can suffer with imposter syndrome. I actually find it more with teachers who've been teaching for a long time too, compared to new teachers. But do you have advice for anyone who's experiencing that, that will help them improve their confidence?
I know we've talked about repetition, but is there anything else you would recommend for them? Yes. First of all, get over the fact that imposter syndrome is gonna go away because you will always and forever have it. I got asked at Momentum Fest in June by a gal that I rode to Momentum Fest with in the back of an Uber, who was, it was only her second year teaching at a conference at Momentum Fest, and she said to me, do you ever get nervous, Erika? And I was like, that's such a silly question.
Yeah, of course I get nervous. Right. And that imposter starts to talk to me in the back of my head and starts to say stuff like, should you really be here, Erika? Really? What do you know that's different about this topic? And that imposter's always gonna be there.
I think it's about really flexing the muscles of your brain, where you can catch yourself in those moments and you can really course correct. And so, what I mean by that is oftentimes, and research actually proves this. I talk to myself and if it helps you out there that are watching this or Gia, if you get imposter syndrome, 'cause we all do. You said, you used to not like to talk. Guess now, what you have to do for your lifting all the time?
You have to be on the "Pilates Report" as a hostess and the whole nine yards. But I actually to myself, I have a conversation with myself. And sometimes you guys, it even comes out on stage when I'm teaching. You can probably even watch some of my videos on Pilates Anytime, where I talk to myself in the moment and I'm like, Erika, you got this girl. And research actually says that if you do self affirmations and that came naturally to me.
But try it, you guys. If you don't do this naturally, talk to yourself, just say, you know what? Gia, you're okay today. You got this. You know what? Nobody can do what you do, like and how you do it.
So, there's a reason why you're here. There's a reason why you're showing up. So, show up and let's just see what happens, right? And it doesn't mean that, listen, you're not gonna fail because I've failed many times. And I could tell you those stories too.
And they're actually fine. And you learn a lot from them. But the more that you can actually be your imposter syndrome's friend, if you will, and feel like if you need to name he or she or they, and give them an actual title and tell them, listen, cut it out. I got this right now. I would encourage you to do any and all of that because it actually does help your brain course correct in that moment and not go down that deep worm hole and that potential spiral of like, I'm not enough.
I don't know enough on this topic. What if I trip? What if I fail? What if people don't like me? All the things that we can tell ourselves, right. The stories we tell ourselves, I think Brene Brown made that statement famous. And so, the more that you can catch yourself in that moment, take a deep breath and talk to yourself.
I think that you'll actually really very much calm your nervous system in those moments and be able to walk into the room as your authentic self. Yeah. Oh, I agree with that. I know I've never done any like big presenting at any kind of conferences or anything, but even just teaching like smaller group classes, especially when other teachers take my class, it'd always make me fairly nervous. And so, I had to get over myself like, oh. No, they're just like me, and they just wanna work out and they want to have tactile cues.
They want to have corrections. They just want to move. And it took a long time for me to realize they're not judging how I'm teaching or even like paying attention. They just really want to move. And so, once I get over that, I'm like, oh, it's a fine class and no one's judging you.
And they usually enjoy it. So, it's a smaller scale, 100%. but I know it happens a lot. But you can scale it up. You can scale it down. It's the same thing.
I go and take Pilate sessions with my Pilates instructor and I'm sure she probably felt the same way, you know, not in the beginning because I've been her client from the age of 29. So, before I even got into the world of studio ownership. So, she's probably like, oh, Erika has been with me since the get go. But then my career has changed and gone a totally different direction, and she's still my Pilates instructor. I'm sure that she's probably felt those types of feelings at times.
We all do. I mean, oh my gosh. When my mentor or my mentors are in the room, anyone walks in the room or any other teacher, I'm like, oh, should I be pulling out a party trick? No, just be you. (laughing) Yeah. Exactly. 'Cause I know when I take other people's classes, I used to not tell them I was a teacher 'cause I was like, oh, they treat me differently when they find out I'm a teacher.
So, when they didn't know I was treated like everyone else, I got corrections, which is exactly what I wanted. So, I had to kind of trick myself into thinking, if I want this, probably they want this too when they're taking my class. 100% yes. And also, like for me, I like to hide in the back. I do my HIIT classes and I was at Bodypump earlier today.
Like I mentioned, I'm like, I'm that girl in the back corner. I've got my stuff. I've got my modifications. I'm ready to go. Just there for my workout, you know? So, I'm not there to show off or tell people who I am or be that teacher in the room that gives the side eye because that used to happen too.
Let's get rid of the side eye. Can't we? I want to remind everyone too, if you do have questions for Erika, you can add 'em to the chat and we're gonna be asking Erika at the end. But I have a few more questions for Erika in the meantime. So, since we're on the topic of group classes, I wanna know what skills you think teachers need to learn to keep their classes full, as group classes keep becoming more and more popular? That to me is a relationship game.
So, in my opinion, it is absolutely getting to know, reading your room, if you will, right? So, understanding who's walking in those doors, understanding even on the smallest of levels, a little bit about that person so that you can have that relationship with them. Comes very natural to me. Comes very natural to a lot of other people, but it's not natural to everybody, especially if you're more of a shyer personality type that might be thrown into an environment where you have to teach a group class several times a week. Listen, one of two things could happen.
It could really fire you up, and you're like, wow, I totally came out of my shell or it could make you go the opposite direction. So, if it's making you go the opposite direction, my advice to you would be, then start to just read your room a little bit. If you start seeing Joseph come back week after week, there's something that you need to know about him, and then there's something that he needs to know about you and why you guys are having this relationship and this connection point, if you will. So, I would say one of the best things is, especially if you show up to teach a class, show up early, say hello to everyone. Greet them.
Be really inviting to anyone new that comes into class, 'cause that's intimidating at any level. I mean, I don't know about you, but I just started to go back to my strength protocol. I had a strength coach for years, pre-pandemic, and then pandemic hit and I lost my strength coach. He unfortunately went off and did a different thing. He didn't go back to the gym that I was training at.
And so, I was very intimidated to start going back to classes myself. And I think it's important to tell that story because I didn't take Bodypump classes. Porsche is very proud that I take Bodypump 'cause she teaches that modality. And my HIIT classes, I just was intimidated. I'm like, what if I go in and I don't know what weights to pick up and I don't know how to set up my area?
So, I would say, be as welcoming as possible, especially to new people that are coming in, help them out. You guys, especially we're going Pilate specific, and you're teaching in a group class setting on a reformer where somebody's relatively new to that piece of equipment. For us, it's a playground. For somebody new in that class, they're like, what in the heck am I doing? How do I get my foot out of this thing?
Am I supposed to be on how many springs? Is that person supposed to help me out? Can I touch this thing? So, the more that you could ease their nerves, the better and the more that's going to build that relationship and just help them build confidence in that class setting and keep them coming back. Do you have any advice for teachers that may have like a mixed level class?
How should they approach that kind of class? Yeah. Oh gosh, for sure. So, in certain settings with group classes and there's many studios out there these days of which I don't need to name the brands, you guys can figure this out, where they actually have formats that you have to follow to particular exercises in those formats. So, it's easier to take a class or be an instructor in those types of group classes, because they're a little bit more limiting on who can show up for that particular level. But regardless, these days, it doesn't matter where you teach or where you're trained.
You're gonna have that person that's like, but I can't make it at 11:30, I can only make it at 10. And so, I really wanna come to this da, da, da. And so, they're gonna slide in and slip in here and there. So, one of the things that I have found, and this is how I just teach a lot of my sessions, not only for Pilates Anytime, but also on Level Up Movement and to other teacher trainers, when I'm helping them with programming, this comes directly from what I learned through the fitness industry is to teach a part, part, whole methodology. So, you teach to the regression.
So, you start them with something, whether it be a level one seated, I'll just choose an exercise, a seated either on the box or not on the box, hug a tree. And you start everybody on that level, and then as you start to read the room, then you start to teach the next part. And why I call it part, part, whole is because it's basically a leveled up format. So, you teach to the regression and then you move the room or the particular people in class to the progression and try and do it in a way that doesn't make the person that stays at the regression feel like they're, you know, the weakest one in the room. It typically works very, very well, 'cause if you start everyone on a particular level and everyone's moving on that level, and then you kind of read the room and you walk around and coach and say, why don't you take this up to kneeling over here and da, da, da, da da.
It tends to work very well and nobody feels left out. Yeah. I actually... No one taught me how to do that. But when I was teaching group classes, I started doing that partly to fill the time, 'cause I was just like, I had these mixed classes. I don't know what to do.
And the owner told me I needed to keep it challenging for the regulars, but then we would have new people, especially on class pass that didn't even know was a reformer class. So, I started doing that instinctively 'cause I was like, oh, this is a nice way to keep everyone at least moving and they can make it their own level. And if it's a little too rough for them, I can kind of bring them back in a gentle way. And it was just, I found it worked really well. And I tended to just keep that in my own, 'cause I tend to do that in my own practice too, where I'm like warming up and wanting to like warm up with a little bit of a progression.
So, I found if it worked for my body, it would probably work for everyone else too. Yeah, I feel like it should be based upon how the industry has navigated itself into this world, a kind of group. I feel like it should be, regardless of teacher training program, a part of, if they have a programming piece, it should be a part of the kind of coaching and the cuing piece of their teacher training program, because I think that it will really help keep classes moving to your point, and it'll also keep things safe, but also challenging for those in the room that can actually level up to the challenge because you are not going to be in a room of 12 reformers these days where you're gonna have everyone that is at elephant status. You're gonna have other people that are, you know, ready to do knee stretches with the knees off and the whole alakazam. So, I'm glad that came intuitively, but for a new new teacher out there, it's probably not.
They're still thinking like, oh, okay, well that's on page 32. So, let me read the setup. Let me read the da, da, da. And so, I think it's really important to have that knowledge. Like I said from the beginning, it's really important to honor and respect any teacher training program that you go through that gives you basically your foundation of the Pilates repertoire.
But in the programming side of things, you will get to a point where it's like, you're not just gonna be reading from a manual. And so, that's where intuitive teaching, coaching and cueing really has to become a part of our daily teaching regimen as well. Yeah. Do you have any advice for people who may have trouble like commanding the room? Like, sometimes if they have like a meager voice or sometimes the clients will just start having side conversations or not even following along and doing their own thing.
How do you kind of keep everyone connected to what you're doing? Okay. So, I learned this in a presentation that a colleague of mine put on probably 15 years ago. No, probably 12 years ago. Her sister was a kindergarten teacher.
And I literally just used this in my active aging presentation at IDEA World, because I do a lot of partner work. And so, what do you think happens in partner work, and also just in group classes? There's a lot of chatter, right? There's a lot of effervescing. Like, oh my God. How was your weekend?
Did you have fun? Did you go to that baseball game? Oh, you did? Oh, did your son win? Did your daughter, dah dah dah, right. There's a lot of that. And some of that is great. That's social.
And that's kind why they come to your classes and it's super important that they have those opportunities. But then there's times where you just have to get the room together, right. They're off in left field, and they need to be to brought back. And so, I watched the presentation and it works like a charm. I want you all try in your group classes, whether you are a meager personality or whether you're bold.
I want you to say to the room in a very nice commanding, voice, I want you to say, one, two, three, eyes on me, and see what happens. (Gia chuckles) And you'll be surprised to see what happens in those rooms. You gotta make sure they hear it. And if you have to repeat it, that's fine. But I say, one, two, three, eyes on me.
And I raise my hand if I'm like somewhere else in the room where they can't find me, so they can see me. And usually what happens, Gia, is this. And they're looking around for you. So, yeah, if you have to get control of a room, that's gotten a little outta control. Maybe they're like rocking it on their footwork and they're just chitty chatting about their weekend or whatever, and you want to get them up off their reformer or into a different position and they're not paying attention, just try that tactic and see what happens.
And the more you can walk in room with a confidence spirit, and confidence doesn't mean a loud voice. With your postural muscles engaged, with your chest lifted. Just remind yourself that, guess what? You're the instructor in that room, and you technically own that room. Yes, they are your customers.
Yes, they are paying for your services, but you need to safely get them through that session. And so, the more that you can keep them engaged in their workout and you can even tell them this. I mean, you don't need to demean them or anything, but you could tell them exactly what I just said. Just say, listen. Guys, it's my job as your instructor to give you a high quality workout.
So, I gotta get you back. Let's bring it back to me. We're moving on to the next part of your session. We're gonna be focusing on your core again and da, da, da, da, da, like, just bring them back to you and I think that you'll have really wildly positive results. I love that. My mom's a kindergarten (indistinct)- One, two, three, eyes on me. I'm used hearing that kinda stuff all the time.
Yeah. My husband actually is a middle school teacher. He uses a lot of these tactics with his kids as well. Like, he'll just use hand gestures in his class. And so, he'll walk around the room with a peace sign up. And when they see Mr. Quest with a peace sign up, they'll put a piece sign up and they'll have to zip their mouth.
So, hand gestures as well. But I think that one, two, three eyes on me really works. 'cause it gets their visual field focused on you. And then you raise your hand and then you're on to the next part of your class. Yeah.
Also with the walking in with confidence, I know that was something I had to work on again when I was especially new to teaching. And I found that group classes to me were almost like I was at a performance 'cause I have a more quiet voice. I'm pretty calm, but then sometimes I would teach a class where they're like, you have to be super high energy. That is not my personality, but I would try to fake it to make it seem like it was my personality, and eventually it started to feel more natural and that I wasn't faking it anymore and I could turn it on. And my boyfriend's always laughing 'cause he's like, I really wanna see you teach a group class 'cause I can't fix you like that.
But I was like, I can turn it on if I need to. It just feels like a performance, but then I'm really tired after so many classes 'cause it's just a different level of engagement than I'm used to. One-on-one, I could do like a lot more sessions in a row, compared to a group class, especially if it's a bigger. Yeah, I think that's very, very sage advice, and I think we all feel a good bit of that. Group classes are gonna be an even bigger energy suck.
And for those of us in this industry that I've chosen to either go virtual, stay virtual or do a combination of effort, I've said so many people that actually have gone the virtual route and are actually doing their sessions on screen with their clients instead of just coaching all the time, I'm like, you guys need to be careful. You can't do that day in and day out because that is such huge energy that you're giving in that moment and it's gonna exhaust you. So, you need to amplify your self care. And even for somebody who actually does excel in a group environment, I think that I do pretty well and or can teach to large groups at a time, it still is an energy suck. It still very, very exhausting.
And so, I would encourage people to make sure that they parse in and park in times for self care, really look at their dream schedule and start to see, like what is their threshold of how many group classes they could teach in a week span of time or a day span of time and making sure that they aren't, they're not burning themselves out too quickly, because burnout is real and it's gonna happen to you multiple times in your career, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. Just again, be aware of it and make sure that you have the ability to adjust so that you can either, change your schedule and still make the same amount of money and or make some negotiations in there to make sure that you're able to take care of yourself because that back to back teaching can be really, really rigorous when you're teaching group classes. Yeah, (indistinct) And park in a break. Even 15 minutes, 15 minutes is massive.
I don't know why I didn't do that. Gia, maybe this is new news to you. No, you knew it. So, I've been transitioning out of my brick and mortar in Laguna Beach, and that just happened a couple of months ago, right. And so, I don't know why over the 15 years I owned that studio, I was like hour by hour. I mean, if I had to do it all over again, I would do 50 minute sessions, 10 minute break at the end and I wouldn't change my rates.
And also, let's bring that to the concept of knowing your value. And I don't mean value on your rate card side of things. But I think that it's wonderful, Gia, that you were able to walk into these group environments and eventually do your repetitions. And you actually found some really positive energy out of doing that, but there is some people that are gonna maybe go work for a studio that only has group classes and it's not gonna be their jam. And you guys that's okay too.
Don't try and be anyone that you are not. And so understanding your value and what you offer in that room is also very, very important so that you really do stave off or stay away from burnout as much as possible. I feel like because group classes is the trend that's not gonna go away, that doesn't mean that everybody needs to be doing it. So, remind yourself of that as well. So, understanding who you are as a human, who you are as a teacher, what really feeds you as a teacher and training others, being in an empathic profession that we're all in is also very, very important.
So, don't think that you need to be everything to everybody. Yeah. No, that's great advice. Yeah, and for me, I found that one day a week or like a few classes a week I could handle. Any more than that, and it was too much for me, personally. Absolutely.
No, I think it would be the same thing for me. I think that also in the world of, in the land of virtual these days, a lot of people, they still needed to make money. So, they thought, oh, well I'll just teach a class a day myself. I'll open this virtual studio where on one day I do this. We all saw it happen.
Did you see that happen, Gia? Yeah I totally did. And I was like, I am staying so far away from that. (Erika laughing) There's no way. I knew myself and I knew my body, and I teach group and I was like, I am not teaching several classes a day and I'm not teaching a class a day.
Like I honestly, for me what worked really, really well so that I could actually keep it defined to my energy levels was, I was like, okay, I'll do this on a monthly basis. For one month, once a week, you get a class from me and then we'll kind of like, see how that month went and then we'll negotiate it and we'll see what we want to do in the following month or if we want to take a month off and those types of things, because honestly, I think, coming out of the gate hot, you're all really excited that you can teach two and three classes a day or a class a day or whatever it is, but once you really start to get into it and you start to feel how much work it is on your own body as well as your own brain. We saw this happen, bur bur bur bur bur. And then what also happened, Gia? Did you see it?
A burnout. (chuckles) Boom. Yep. A lot of them fell by the wayside too. I was like, yeah, because you can't sustain teaching three, four and five classes a week on that level all the time. Something's gonna break, whether it's your brain, whether it's your body. And so, really making sure that you're being kind to yourself, especially if you still are kind of navigating the waters of how much virtual and in-person that you're gonna do.
So, when you're teaching a group class, how do you assess the class and decide what you wanna focus on that day? And then, do you have any tips for teachers so that they don't go on autopilot and just kind of do the routine that they know without thinking instead of doing what the class actually needs? Well, I mean, I will say that, I think that for me, the biggest thing is understanding the why behind the what, that's gonna happen in the room. So, if I am teaching a class- Oh. Can you repeat that? Yeah, understanding the why behind the what I'm gonna be teaching in the room.
And so, what I mean by that is what is the goal of the class or what is the goal of the session? And that could be for multiple people in that room or the entire class, or it could be for a one-on-one kind of a setting, but let's keep this in a group setting since that's sort of what we're talking about. I always try in HIIT, 'cause if you're in a group class setting and you're teaching in a group class setting, none of those clients should be in there if they're coming off of an acute injury, such as a sprained ankle or they've just had a knee replacement or they've got a shoulder injury. So, I would put them in what I call the independent exerciser category. So, I'm going to use that time in a group class setting to touch on a little bit of everything.
So, I'm gonna get their lower body strength and power handled. I'm gonna get their core strength handled. We're probably gonna do some mobility and some restoration at the end of that setting, upper body gonna come into play. And so, when I'm thinking about those from the principal standpoint, the movement principles that I kind of like revert back to from Balanced Body, then that really gives me a nice framework to think about like, oh, okay, well this is great. So, today for a lower body, I'm gonna actually get them off their backs and we're gonna do, we'll start with some traditional stuff, but then I'm gonna have them do some standing on the floor stuff, whether that be squatting next to the reformer and pushing a box, of what you've seen me do on Pilates Anytime in some of my sessions and getting a bit creative.
But at least it gives me an understanding of where I'm headed inside that group class so that I'm forward thinking and I'm thinking, okay, so we've handled lower body strength and power. Next time, or in the next five, 10 minutes, we're gonna pick up some core strength stuff and we're gonna add load to the upper limbs or to the upper body to that. And it just really helps me stay in a frame of reference of where I'm headed with the class. I used to, and there's nothing wrong with this team, that's watching this. If you feel like you need to write out your plans, that's okay too.
I mean, a lot of people kind of, maybe they type something out on their phone or they put it on a piece of paper. So, they kind of have their own roadmap of where they're going. But I would say, always be prepared to have bonus, what I call bonus material. If your classes are running short, just say, oh, okay, well just in case I didn't get enough lateral flexion in at the end, I'm gonna make sure that I get them up and over on the barrel or bring out the BOSU or whatever you have in your moving environment. So, what I would say is make sure that you understand the why behind what you're teaching.
And if there's a theme to that class, then great. If you're gonna be doing cardio intervals themed with Pilates-based exercise, then stay in that theme. And then always have a little bit of bonus material in your back pocket, so that if you're bonking, you might be like, oh my God, I still have like eight minutes of class. What am I gonna do? Pull out your bonus material, and also remind yourself that you're the one that gets bored.
Your clients and classes do not get bored. So, don't feel like you need to always have the party tricks ready. So, pull out the stuff that you know, even if it is side lifts on a barrel or it's side lifts on the mat or whatever you're gonna do, not that I'm stuck in lateral flexion, but you guys know what I'm about. Just pull it out. They'll be happy with it. They'll be totally happy with it.
And or, guys, we haven't used the roller in a little while. Let's just do some self massage and we'll make that part of our mobility and restoration. That'll take up at least five minutes, team. (Gia chuckles) Yeah, the bonus material is so crucial too, 'cause I know I've never really been one to plan my classes just 'cause I like to see what people need in the moment. But the few times that I did try to plan, I remember one time I was gonna do a little bit more upper body work, which is, I tend to like doing more abs than legs.
And then, one of the attendees came late and she missed the bit of legs that we were gonna do. She showed up with a cast. And so, had to change. She couldn't hold strap or do anything. So, I was like, okay, not upper body day.
We're gonna change the whole class. So, I learned quickly, always have a plan B or just kind of have something else in mind too, 'cause whatever I was planning, Definitely. wasn't always gonna happen. And always think, I just taught this at the conference I was just teaching at. I always say, think about your moving environment and what you have at your fingertips in those rooms, right.
If we're gonna stay in the group category and you have reformers, you have barrels, you have hand-weights, how can you keep that group class moving and doing what you had intended with the variety of different things you have in that room. So, Gia, maybe if that client that came into that class with a cast, that she couldn't do, she or he couldn't do things with straps in their hands, maybe if you had very light hand weights or if they weren't even holding anything, they could have still done those same exercises. They could have just done them in a different way. So, I think that always having an idea and a mind's eye of like, oh yeah, I'm teaching. 'Cause that's the other luxury item is that, you know, not everyone teaches in one environment these days.
People are going all over the place. They might be out teaching a group class at Equinox and then they might be going to a private studio and then they might be going to, you know, a group studio in the afternoon. So, before you head into those moving environments, take inventory of what you're walking into and what you have access to because in those situations, when you walk in, it gives you more confidence knowing that, oh right, yeah. Well, that's no big deal. I've got tubing here. So, let's have you just grab some tubing and you can do this same exact thing.
You're just gonna do it with tubing today. No big deal. Before we run out of time, I didn't see any questions in the chat, but I just wanted to ask you if you had any final pieces of advice for anyone, especially in a group class setting that they could do to improve their confidence or just to make them stand out as a teacher in general? I think that for somebody who does video and is comfortable with doing video, one of the biggest things that somebody that needs to understand what they say, not necessarily how they look, 'cause that doesn't necessarily matter, but I would say stand in front of your phone, turn on the video camera and just talk to it. Don't freak out about how you look. You don't even need to have it on video.
But what I would do is I would just dictate to a voice memo just so you can hear the cadence of your voice. And people, hopefully if they watch this all the way to the end. I love saying this, but with Pilates Anytime, I started filming for you guys back in, I think it was 2012. So it's, oh my gosh, 10 years. It's 2022. That's amazing. 10 years.
So, 10-year anniversary. But one of the things that I really struggle with personally, even though I know that I can do the video thing, I cannot stand watching myself on camera. But what I will do is, if you guys send me, let's say, a session to watch before it's gonna go live or whatever that is, I will push play and I will listen to myself and I will listen to the cadence of my voice. And I can tell you right now, and you guys can go do this if you want to, go watch one of my first sessions at Pilates Anytime, and watch one of my later sessions at Pilates Anytime. And you will see that things have changed.
You're not supposed to come out of the gate perfect, right. We never are. But if you can work on your cadence of your voice and you'll think, if you turn on that camera, you're probably maybe talking a little too fast or maybe a little too slow. It will really help you hone in on idiosyncrasies that are natural in your own person. And I'm not saying that you should change them, but maybe you should adjust them to the room that you're walking into.
And also nerves play a lot to do with that. So, if you're nervous and you're walking into a room, you might be speaking a lot faster than you think you are. And your clients are probably like, what did they just say? I can't... They're looking to the person next to them, like, did you get that?
So, if you can do a little bit of homework and you're feeling just like, oh my gosh, I just wanna practice that before I go into class, set up your phone, turn on a dictation, a voice memo and hit record and see how you sound. 'Cause I don't think I've ever watched Pilates Anytime videos. I mean, I have. I shouldn't lie. I've watched my Pilates Anytime videos, but like, I'll get to minute 10 and I'm like, okay, that's enough. That looks pretty good. That's good enough. (laughing) Yeah.
No, I've had to watch all of mine 'cause I've had to write the description for them. So, I understand what it's like. But I did learn from my first one to later on, certain things, I was like, oh, I say that a lot. Or another thing you could do is if you teach a class, that you film yourself, take your class and see if your cues are clear, 'cause ideally you should be able to just listen to the cues and do it. And this goes for in-person or on video.
And if you can't understand what you're saying clearly just by listening, then your clients most likely can't understand it either. Absolutely. And I am super, super guilty as charged of having the gift of gab, which is why we could be here for two hours. So, my, I would say, area of coaching for myself all the time is to eliminate filler words that I don't need to have in there such as, good. I say good all the time.
I've probably said it a ton of times during this webinar. I say it all the time. So, eliminating those words that don't need to be in there and also getting comfortable with the fact that it's okay to be quiet and maybe just ask people to breathe and say, I'm gonna breathe with you. (inhaling) (Erika exhaling) It gives you a moment of time to let your nervous system reset as well. So, getting a little bit more comfortable with those pregnant pauses. I'm still working on it.
Work in progress right here, too. And letting people feel their bodies, understanding where they're at in their own space and that they're here to yes, have you coach them, but also to move their body and feel what's happening in that intuitive environment that you're creating for them. Oh, that's such wonderful advice. Thank you, Erika. And thank you everyone for joining. Oh my gosh.
It's been such a pleasure. I really love talking to you. And for everyone at home, we are over recording this. So, if you missed anything or wanna watch it again, it'll be up on the site in a few days. So, thank you again, Erika.
And we'll see you next time. (upbeat music)
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