I saw a post the other day on twitter from another studio in another state that said something like “Making friends through Pilates and building community”. I loved that! And it resonated with me so much!
When I did my Pilates training in Cincinnati, I found the other instructors – many much, much more seasoned than me to be supportive, interested in my progress and welcoming. It felt good to belong to the Pilates Community. I was proud to let the other instructors know I was training and eager to learn from them. They too seemed eager to share with me their tricks, tips and advice. All and all it was a great experience. Even now when I return, I feel welcomed regardless of whether the students and instructor have ever met me before.
When I moved to Nashville, I naively expected the same reception. I was eager to find a studio to practice Pilates and eventually teach as well once I was more settled. I went to four different studios with optimistic and hopefully expectations. What I found each time was not the ‘community’ I had loved so much.
I won’t name names – but the first place I went to with a friend who introduced me to the director by saying, “This is Lucie, she’s a Pilates instructor too”. The director’s response, “Well we have a very extensive training process here – much more than most” (all said with a turned up nose and snooty attitude). She did not ask me one thing about myself or even invite me to come take a class! I already knew their instructors were not PMA certified and with that kind of ‘welcome’ – I never went back.
At the second studio the instructors were so busy chatting with each other and another student that I and the others were pretty much ignored. Throughout the class this conversation continued about inside jokes, stories and events. I felt like a third wheel in a class I was paying for!
At the third studio, the instructor failed to explain anything. Some Pilates methods use different names for similar exercises. Because I wasn’t familiar with some of her terminology I was told – ‘you must not be very experienced’ and I spent the entire class watching the person next to me to know what to do. The teacher did not really teach but instead dictated exercises with out explanation.
Studio four was similar to studio three but add that the instructor showed up late and was in a bad mood! I got the impression that she was irritated to have to deal with a new person (me) and to have to be there at all!
Pilates is a choice and an investment of time and money. It’s something I do for enjoyment and also for the good of my body. I was so disappointed with the reception I received at these studios and the lack of community. As a result, I bought my own reformer. And later 2 more and a Pilates Arm Chair. I opened my own studio with the goal to create community, be welcoming and leave the attitude to the others.
It’s my conviction that it’s insecurity that elicits that kind of response. It’s unfortunate because we could all learn from each other instead of being afraid that someone else may have different skills or be more personable or whatever. I seek out mentors – why be afraid of someone who’s doing it the way you want to when you can instead learn from them?
So what kind of studio do I have? When you come for a group class – I’ll make sure you get introduced to the other students. I’ve had several clients become Pilates friends this way. If you are looking for a partner – I’ll see if I can pair you up with someone with similar abilities. I make a strong effort to leave the bad behind and be in a good mood for you. I’m usually pretty happy but if I’m having a bad day – my goal is for you to not know about it. This is your class. I want you to feel welcome, appreciated and enjoy your time. If you have a special need or interest – we’ll take time to discuss or address it. I love helping you feel good, healthy and strong and pain free.
PIlates is about continual progress. I’m not perfect at everything and I’ll let you see that. My goal is for you not to feel intimidated but instead encouraged. I want you to leave class feeling good about what you’ve accomplished and feeling good about yourself too.
At 12South Pilates we are Building Better Bodies and Building Community
PS – After opening my studio I discovered a 5th studio across town and was so pleased to find the owners to be friendly, welcoming and of the same mindset as me. There was no attitude or insecurity and it was great to find that here in Nashville.