Pilates Teachers' Manual

Transitioning To Virtual Teaching (Revisited)

February 10, 2022 Olivia Bioni Season 5 Episode 18
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Transitioning To Virtual Teaching (Revisited)
Show Notes Transcript

Today's episode looks at the bigger picture of teaching Pilates virtually, what remote teaching can look like, some ways to begin that transition from in-person classes to remote offerings,  and how I have experienced the transition myself. Tune in!

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[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.

[00:00:56] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. [00:01:00] Today we're going to be talking about remote teaching or virtual teaching because I've gotten a few questions about it. I know that I've talked a lot about teaching online, whether it's for group or private classes or strategies for structuring those classes, equipment set up, the pros and cons of teaching online, like those sorts of things. But. Today, I kind of wanted to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of online teaching, what that virtual teaching can look like, as well as talking about my transition to teaching online, as well as what my schedule and what my situation is kind of right now, as well as the value of virtual teaching. So that's what I want to cover today. 

[00:01:57] The biggest, I'd say, piece of [00:02:00] context that we can give virtual teaching or remote teaching, where the teacher is offering a class and the students are not in the same room, a big context for that is: we sort of talk about 2020 and this, you know, massive shift to online like it was the inception of teaching virtually, and it's not. Peloton existed before 2020 and Apple Fitness, Fabletics has a fitness app. All of those ways of working out remotely exists. I mean, even bigger than that, we have teachers, and maybe it was your experience as well, that the first time they did Pilates was a VHS in their mom's basement in the eighties or something. You know, my mom definitely had Pilates DVDs, like this sort of thing. 

[00:02:54] So I think an important thing to keep in mind is that even though it's new and for a [00:03:00] lot of us as teachers, it is new. It's not unheard of, and the desire for this kind of online classes or classes that you can do while you're home like that has existed for ever. Right. 

[00:03:17] What did happen in 2020 is kind of the dimensions of what was offered or what can be offered, have changed and what your online and kind of remote teaching situation can look like can be different. There's like lots of ways that it could look and lots of ways that you can teach. So some dimensions that I've spoken about in the past is that you could be teaching for yourself, or you could be working as an independent contractor or an employee under a studio or an employer. You could be offering group classes where many people are taking the [00:04:00] same class or a one-on-one private session. You could be offering classes that are live, that are happening live. And I would even kind of break live down into classes where you can see the people who are taking the class and offer feedback and engage with them and then also live classes like Facebook live or Instagram live or Zoom, even, with everyone's video off. You can't interact with the people. Like you have no idea what they're doing, but it could still be happening live. And then you could also have evergreen content that is prerecorded and then lives on forever. I mean, you could also have live classes that are then recorded and maybe they exist for a little bit and maybe they disappear. Like there's lots of iterations and lots of ways that all of those different kind of dimensions can be paired together. 

[00:04:56] The main reason I share that is just to kind of expand [00:05:00] this picture of what we think of when we think of online teaching in terms of transitioning to teach online and teach remotely.

[00:05:11] I feel like I had it pretty easy in my experience, and it didn't feel easy obviously as it was happening, but, you know, I went online in 2020 because everyone went online in 2020. The studios I was working at also pivoted to online for a fair bit of time in 2020. And the selling point was, if you want to keep doing Pilates, then you're going to have to do it online. Right? So there wasn't a big, you know, needing to convince anyone that this was a valuable thing. Like it was this or nothing. So if you wanted this, like, this is what we had to do. 

[00:05:52] To be honest, I think that teachers now, especially teachers who are coming out of teacher training, [00:06:00] have a really great opportunity to think about how they want to teach and where they want to teach in ways that I had not thought about being possible when I got out of my teacher training. 

[00:06:15] In 2020, I was still a pretty new Pilates teacher, uh, young in Pilates years. And I hadn't considered all of the ways that teaching remotely could happen. I was very much, you know, blinders on, teaching Pilates the same way I had taught yoga, which was, I worked for a bunch of different studios in Chicago and taught a few hours at each of them and spent more money than I'd like to admit on Lyft and the train and buses and more time also, then I'm willing to admit, just trying to get from place to place, to teach, you know, for one or two hours. 

[00:06:54] And I can kind of look back now and be like, I'm kind of glad that everything [00:07:00] stopped in 2020 from a professional standpoint, because if I had kept going full steam ahead without asking these questions, I could have very easily been a teacher that loved teaching Pilates, taught a bagillion hours and then burned out and never taught Pilates again. Like I could definitely see that that was a direction that I was headed and being able to pause and pivot and teach in a different way, really saved me as a teacher. 

[00:07:33] I mean, I'm sure you've also heard from this podcast, like I'm a gigantic fan of remote teaching and for reasons that will become clear after the break. Coming up next, I will share a bit more about my experience and how I pivoted with my clients to the online space, as well as why I think virtual teaching and virtual classes are so valuable for you as a teacher [00:08:00] and also for your students. That's coming up next.

[00:08:09] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, to be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.

[00:08:28] Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout-out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now, back to the show.[00:09:00] 

[00:09:05] One thing that I'm not going to touch on in this episode is the marketing component just because I am not a marketing afficionado , but lucky for you, there is a super cool online marketing guru who will be on the podcast in April, Stephanie Benton of Inspired Brand Co. So, uh, when we come back from the podcast break, I will be talking with Stephanie and she'll have some awesome tips for you about marketing yourself in the online space. But I'm not going to talk about that because it's not my specialty and also not my experience. 

[00:09:48] So let me tell you how teaching online went for me. So my experience, which may or may not be your experience, is that I had been [00:10:00] working in person and was actually continuing to do some work in person and then also beginning to offer things online. And at different points in 2020, you know, the in-person studios were closed and so I may have been a hundred percent virtual, but there was quite a bit of 2020, and then 2021 where I was doing in-person lots of group classes, and then some privates in person, some privates online, some group classes online, a wild adventure. 

[00:10:33] This was very much I already had clients that I had a relationship with, who I had been working at the studios with them for a long period of time, or I had even been seeing them in their houses that they were, you know, my personal clients, they weren't affiliated with the studio at all. They were my clients in my business land. And it was for [00:11:00] me, just an email that was, Hey, I'm going to offer classes on Zoom. Would you be interested? What's your schedule like, and you know, what equipment do you have at your house? Right. 

[00:11:12] I think that's kind of an ideal situation, you know, not just like having a client base and people that you work with, but having people who trust you and people who want to keep working with you is the dream. I'll even share that I actually had clients who had moved to other parts of the country prior to 2020, that they had just moved away. And we said, goodbye, and, you know, good luck finding a Pilates studio. I'm cheering for you, that they actually reached out to me and said, Hey, are you offering virtual classes? And like, I hadn't even thought that that was a thing that you could reach out to past clients and say, Hey, would you like to keep working with me? But that definitely happened. 

[00:11:57] The transition was one of [00:12:00] necessity in some ways, but also one of convenience that, you know, even clients who live in Chicago, that it's just easier to do a 30 minute session. It's just more convenient to do it over Zoom than it is to meet at a studio. I mentioned that some of the in-person studios I was working at were also offering virtual classes for a time. So that was a great way to connect with clients, virtually people who already knew you and then able to keep doing Pilates with them. Depending on the studio, some of those classes kind of went away once studios opened up again. And, you know, I understand that having the reformer, and if you are a studio that has a brick and mortar space, like obviously you want to make use of that. 

[00:12:54] But one of those silver linings in 2020 was, you know, if you weren't [00:13:00] sold on the effectiveness of virtual classes and you know how beneficial they can be because that was the only option. I have clients who continue to tell me, you know, how surprised they were that Pilates kept working, even when I wasn't in the room with them. But that's, you know, that's definitely true. 

[00:13:22] In terms of, if you were working at a studio in person and you wanted to offer virtual classes. One thing you could do is ask the studio like, Hey, would you be interested in adding a group mat class or offering some of these privates virtually. What's nice about working under a studio is that they are kind of in charge of payment structures. And I mean, that's a double-edged sword because then they're setting the prices. Uh, but they are taking care of the overhead and some costs like that. So it [00:14:00] might be worth asking if, if virtual is a way that you want to go, that you can try it kind of under the wing of your studio. 

[00:14:07] You can also work at studios that offer remote classes. I actually do work at a studio that's based in Washington, DC, Kinexology. I work for them, but I'm not in Washington DC. And I don't have to be in Washington DC. And I've got clients, you know, from all over the country. That's groovy and that happens under them. So if you are looking to still work at a studio, like there are totally virtual studios that you could be a remote teacher for, or even studios that are local, but offer virtual options. That's another thing to look for as well. 

[00:14:47] Going out on your own and starting your own classes, whether they're group, whether they're private can seem really intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. [00:15:00] Several teachers, um, notably Josselyn Levinson Dustin, who was on the podcast, and Jessica Valant, who is also on the podcast, and I would say also, uh, Beth Sandlin of Trifecta Pilates, that all of these teachers have shared that when they transitioned into the online space, it was a transition. It wasn't a light switch. It wasn't, I'm a hundred percent in-person and I am a hundred percent virtual. It was, you know, stepping back from these in-person obligations and stepping into more virtual. 

[00:15:38] I will say that if you are leaving a studio, there is an ethical consideration. There's definitely something in the PMA code of ethics about poaching clients. I'll say that when I've left studios, I've always made an effort to connect the private clients that I [00:16:00] had to other amazing teachers at the studio that I was leaving. And, you know, I shared all of my notes and program plans and all of that good stuff with that. I also recognize that sometimes private clients will want to continue working with you, and if you are not at the studio, then they still want to continue working with you. That is something that happens. And if those clients are asking you about how they can keep working with you, offering virtual sessions could be an option. 

[00:16:34] Sometimes with private clients, as much as they love you, they really want to work on the reformer and the studio has a reformer. So they're going to work at the studio because that's meeting their needs and that's totally fine. Um, I can also tell you that I have worked with clients virtually who have invested in their own Pilates equipment, like reformers and chairs and lots of small prop kind of options as well. [00:17:00] That that is also a possibility and it, you know, it's, it's really up to the client, how that's gonna go. 

[00:17:06] Just the last thing that I want to throw in here is that virtual classes are valuable. They're valuable because you, as an instructor are adding value to that session. Like anyone can stand in a room with the client, but it takes your expertise and you holding them accountable and the relationship that you have with them that, you know, sense of support and encouragement. That you are tailoring the class to them, even if you're teaching, you know, footwork all the time. And footwork is not particularly great for anyone, but is exceptionally great for everyone. You're still framing it in a way that is important to them and matters to them. You know, that you are making this Pilates session convenient for them, that it's meeting their schedule. [00:18:00] And then on top of that, they're getting stronger and they're feeling good and they're sleeping better. And like all of these great things that we know come just with exercising that can happen. That value is there, whether or not you are both in the same room. 

[00:18:15] And anyone who's taught online from 2020 on or at all, just know that Pilates still work. Pilates works regardless of the location that the teacher is in and the location that the student is in. Online offerings are not less valuable than in-person offerings. 

[00:18:37] It depends in a lot of ways what the client is looking for, what you're able to offer. I feel like I'm able to offer more and better sessions virtually than I was able to offer when I was running on fumes in person in a bunch of different places, traveling all the time, constantly eating on the go and not having [00:19:00] dinner five nights a week. That's my personal experience. This isn't to say that you have to teach everything virtually or never teach in person again, like there's, there's pros and cons to both ways of teaching, but I can just tell you that for me, I'm really thrilled that this is a way that I can continue to offer what I offer. I'm very glad to have been so young in my teaching career when I realized that this was something that I could do. 

[00:19:28] It's February and I'm super looking forward to this month's zoom chats with my awesome supporters on Buy Me A Coffee. That could be you! Go visit that Buy Me A Coffee page. If you make a contribution to the podcast, you can sign up for a 15 minute zoom chat with me. And we can talk about this if this is super interesting to you, or if you have any questions or thoughts or concerns, let's hang out, let's drink some coffee and chat. It sounds like a party. 

[00:19:58] Huge thank you to all of my current [00:20:00] supporters on Buy Me A Coffee. This podcast would not be possible without you. Thank you so so much. Coming in a couple of weeks, there'll be an awesome interview with Gwen Head, who is a super cool Pilates teacher based in Minneapolis. That's coming in just a couple weeks. And then I will be on hiatus in March and we'll be back and better than ever in April. Thanks so much for tuning in. Have a great couple of weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.

[00:20:36] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual, and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts. [00:21:00] The adventure continues. Until next time.