I don’t know about you, but I always feel September is the start of the year for me, rather than January, which I know sounds slightly odd as we head into autumn, but it always feels as though it is a new beginning, a clean slate, after the indulgences of summer and the lack of routine that accompanies these last couple of months.
This time last year, was a very new beginning for me as it was when I launched my website and really started to up my online presence, because even though I had been teaching Pilates for 10 years, I had never felt the need to be on social media. The pandemic changed all that and as with so many businesses, I had to adapt and change to what is still now an ever-evolving world.
Reflecting on this last year, which included two lockdowns and so much disruption, it has definitely made me aware that change is now inevitable and trying to embrace it has definitely been a unique experience. Before the start of the pandemic, I ran 18 classes in my studio each week. All my classes were full and I always had a waiting list, which is a nice problem to have, but always difficult because one of the best parts of being a Pilates Instructor is helping people, so I often had to disappoint people as I didn’t have the space. Then on March 23rd, Boris announced we were going into Lockdown.
As I have already talked about this in a previous blog, all I will say is I was devastated. I then made the decision to take my business online, teaching classes on zoom. The first few months were a huge learning curve for both me and my clients, but then it all started to come together. Clients started to tell their friends and family about my classes and I started to work with a fantastic lady called Lisa Vassallo of One to Three Marketing and she began to help me gain an online presence in the social media world. Suddenly, I was on Google, or the Google as my mum calls it and I had my own Facebook Business page and a YouTube presence, I began reaching more people and as well as teaching clients in the local area, I gained clients from other parts of the country and overseas. I also got nominated for Best Yoga/Pilates Studio in Berkshire and due to all the wonderful support from my clients, I made it to the last 5. I didn’t win, but as a one-man band, I was so proud to have made it to the final and again without an online presence, I know that would not have happened. It helped me realise that I can still teach a high standard of Pilates online. It was a great boost to my confidence.
I can honestly say I absolutely love teaching online classes, I have always prided myself on knowing all of my clients and this hasn’t changed, as all new clients meet with me first. If the clients are local, this can be done face to face in my studio or online, if they live too far away. This allows me to teach the basics of Pilates and show modifications if any clients have injuries or other issues. After 5 weeks, we then have another session so that I can make sure that no bad habits have been picked up and I always make it clear that they will get quite a few name checks in the first few weeks, so that I can make sure they know exactly what they are doing. I have also had potential new clients join a class to watch how I teach just to see if online is for them. I could never have done that before, as there would have been nowhere for them to sit!!
When I taught in my studio, I always did short videos for my clients. My son would help by videoing me using my phone. It was a bit amateur, but it meant my clients had some exercises to do in their own time. Once I set up my website, I decided I wanted to put together a video library so that my clients could access videos of varying lengths and difficulties, so should they not be able to come to a live class, they could still do some Pilates. I had no idea, it would be so successful. Over the summer, I had 1,000 views and only this week, I received a message from Vimeo, which is the platform I use to upload the videos to say I have recorded 141 videos this year. My clients love them and I received feedback from one of my clients who told me that whilst she was away on holiday, she was able to use the library before going out for the day. In her words, it was sooo good to be able to access the video library when away on holiday.
Talking of holidays, a lot of my clients have taken me with them over the last year, I have been to Israel, Greece, Yorkshire, Devon, Guernsey, Portugal, a campsite in Northumberland and many other locations. It still blows me away to think clients can still attend their classes when they are travelling, another plus of online classes.
Other clients have told me how it’s so much easier to come online during their lunch break, or before work and they don’t need to worry about childcare. I appreciate it can also be difficult if you are used to going out for a class, but I help my clients to schedule the classes into their week and make a commitment as if they were going out to attend a class. Not always easy, but once clients are in a routine, it does work and on those cold, dark days in January and February, when you don’t want to leave the house, you just need to turn on your laptop and there I am ready to teach a class.
One of my clients lives in Yorkshire and he told me the other week, that whilst the pandemic has been difficult and challenging, one of the best things to have come from this time is attending my classes online. That to me summed up this year completely, yes it has been a tough time, but the fact that I have been able to continue to a job I love to my both my existing clients and now many new clients from all over the country via a zoom link is something quite special.
I plan to continue with my online classes as they offer so much flexibility to a much wider audience. If you’d like to find out more or if you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you know somebody who you think might benefit, then please do send them my details. Thanks to all of my gorgeous clients for their continued support. I couldn’t have done all of this without you!