Pilates Teachers' Manual

Choosing Studios As A Teacher

February 25, 2021 Olivia Bioni Season 4 Episode 8
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Choosing Studios As A Teacher
Show Notes Transcript

What's a good studio to teach at? As a teacher, there are important considerations to take into account when choosing studios to work at. I've got some tips and tricks to share when you're looking for new studios, and some things to keep in mind as you weigh your options. 

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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.

Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the [00:01:00] podcast. Today's episode really builds on themes that I've discussed in the Building Your Dream Schedule episode, and what comes after your certification and Career Paths for Pilates teachers, but today is going to be focusing, especially on finding studios that are a good fit for you that will support you in your teaching journey, and that will just be places that you enjoy working, and kind of how do you find a studio to work for? 

This, of course, is going to be largely from my personal experience, my personal recommendations on this. And you may come after listening to this, or after looking at studios in your area, I'm kind of spoiled because I live in Chicago, which is a big city. So there are lots of studios that I can really choose from. If you're living in a smaller city or a town or even a rural situation, you may not have as many [00:02:00] options, but these are just kind of things to look for. 

And I will tell you that I have worked both in big cities and in small towns. So I will try to address that as much as possible as well. You may find that no studio is a good fit for you. And you may choose to start your own studio or create your own business or create your own plan, or maybe just go into business for yourself. That kind of thing. Those are all options as well. 

But if you've decided to look for studios or even gyms, clubs, fitness centers, these are some things that you can do to make sure that you're getting involved with a place that you really want to work at.

Another thing to keep in mind is what I look for in a studio and what you're looking for in a studio may be different. But it is important to know what you are looking for. So that regardless of whether we're in agreement about what it is, you at least know getting into it, what is your goal? What you're willing to [00:03:00] negotiate on and what you really expect from the places you work?

I would say the first thing to do when you have your fresh certification and maybe you've moved to a new place or anything like that, you might be working at the studio that certified you a couple hours, a ton of hours. It really depends. Usually that is the easiest place to work at just because they already know you, right? So you might already be doing that and looking to expand your schedule. Or as I said, you may be in a new place and you're looking to add some teaching hours. 

A good place to start is the internet. Look up the website of the studio that you are interested in potentially teaching at. See what their pricing is, what their class schedule is. Look at the teachers if they have, you know, teacher bios, can you check out. You know, what the teachers are up to? How many hours a week are the teachers teaching at the studio? You can look at [00:04:00] what kinds of classes are offered. Are those types of classes things that you feel comfortable teaching? 

You can check out the teachers, either personal Instagrams or websites if those are public and accessible. I will say that any studio that you teach at is going to be asking that you only say positive things about the studio, but just like you can get a better feel for the studio on someone's Instagram who's talking about the studio versus, you know, the studio's website where they're putting forth, like the very polished version, right.

Depending on what software the studio uses. If it's something like MINDBODY, and you have a MINDBODY account, you might be able to see how many spots are available for classes. So like, are these classes having students in them? What is that situation kind of like? 

You can also call the studio, and I definitely hate phone calls a lot. I am definitely a millennial in that way. But you can call the studio acting as a prospective student [00:05:00] and get a little bit of information about classes and types and you know, what the studio energy is kind of like. You can learn a lot just by talking to the people who work there. And if there's someone who's working the desk who can talk to you. But also another thing, like if there's not someone working at the desk, that's another thing to like, have in mind. 

I think it's important to check the pricing because if the studio is offering classes for a rate, you know, that you're only going to be getting a percentage of that rate. So if the classes are really inexpensive or if it's something like mat Pilates, they're offering like $10 drop-ins or something like that, that can be, depending on how many people are coming to that class, you may be not expecting to be paid very much.

And by that same token, if they're charging a hundred dollars for a private session, then it's very likely that what you're going to be making from that session is going to be higher. But if they're only charging $50 for a private session, then, okay, I'm only going to be [00:06:00] making a fraction of that. 

The schedule is always important to look at, because if you notice that there's only two or three classes a day, or you look at the teacher's individual schedules and they're teaching one or two classes a week. This is something that I ran into in some studios where you might come in and teach at 6:00 PM on Tuesday. And that is the only class that you teach at that studio.

I'm not saying that that's a bad thing, but if you're someone who is making a substantial portion of your income from teaching, teaching for just one hour, when you have to travel to and from that class and, you know, depending on how much you're making for that class may not be worth it for you. If it seems that they have, you know, 50 instructors, but they're only teaching a class a week, right.

When you've done your initial sort of investigation of the studio, and you've got, you know, some ideas in your head, of course it could be [00:07:00] vastly different, but you've done a little bit of your own detective work. I then recommend that you go and take class at that studio. 

A lot of studios offer intro packs of privates of group classes, or your first week is $49 or something. And that lets you try some of the classes because I'm a pretty firm believer that if you wanted to take class there, then other people will want to take class there. But if you go there and there's just some red flags about the studio setup or how students are interacting with each other or teachers or staff, or is there staff? You just get to get a fuller picture when you're just in the space. 

And you don't have to be like rude or nosy about it, but you just like get a feeling when you're in a place. I like the idea of doing a week of classes or two weeks of classes, because then you get to take classes with, you know, different instructors, come at different times of the day. Things like that. That's just going to give you like a good [00:08:00] feeling of what this studio is like without really being disruptive or interrogating people or anything, but you're just like, you get a good feeling of it. 

You want to talk to the teachers, especially if it's a teacher whose class that you liked, but also if it's a class that you didn't like, like talk to the teacher about maybe their background, maybe read some of it from their bio, how long they've been working at the studio. How long has this studio been open? Was this a typical class? Kind of things like that, that show that you're interested. And because you're acting as a prospective student right now, they might be like really interested in selling you more classes, so like that kind of comes with the territory. But it does feel good to pick the brain of someone who works there because then again, you'd get a fuller picture.

If you do these things and all signs are pointing to, yeah, this seems like a pretty cool place and I would like to hang out here more and also be paid to do that. You can either let the teacher know, Hey, you know, I'm also a Pilates teacher. Is there [00:09:00] someone that I can contact about, you know, maybe getting on the sub list or if they're looking to add more classes. Ideally, if you've hit it off with this teacher, you'll either get an email or a phone number. Or, you know, sometimes the owner is there. A lot of times, you know, the owner may be teaching classes as well. If you can take class with them and talk to them in person, of course, all of that is better. 

But if you're sending an email to them, you can be honest, you know, Hey, you know, I'm a Pilates teacher. I took some classes at your studio. I really loved, you know, this teacher and they told me that I could reach out to you. Are you looking for more teachers? Do you need anyone on your sub list? Are you looking to expand your schedule? Anything like that. And that can really open the door to a great conversation.

I do know that most studio owners are very accessible. They're not like CEOs of Fortune 500 companies that you can never talk to. They're usually just like regular people that you can chat with. Again, just [00:10:00] continue to feel it out. You're not promising anything and they're not hiring you necessarily, but you are just like communicating and you're able to talk to each other about this cool studio that you want to work at. A lot of times, this will lead to a conversation. And I will share with you coming up after the break, what things I like to know as part of this, you know, conversation with the owner or with management.

Yeah. Just things that I'm looking for as well, sharing some of my experiences teaching kind of on both sides of the spectrum of like very rural, very small studio to very large city franchised studio. That's coming up next.

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 [00:11:00] to support the show. There you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.

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.

Just letting everyone know. I've never really been on the hiring side of the conversation. I've only been on the, I want to work at your studio side of the conversation. And not every studio I've walked into has been a place that I wanted to work, but I'm still [00:12:00] glad that I went and I tried it. It's always important to take classes with other teachers who teach in other styles than you. And it's much better that you spend $35, $40 even $50 for a class and know, yeah, I don't want to spend any more time or money here than to just be like writing emails to studios that you've never been to being like, Hey, you should hire me because, you know, worst case scenario, you get what you want. Right. 

So when you go into that conversation with management, it could be over the phone, given the lack of in-person interaction. It's always easier to do it in person because you can read facial expressions and like vibe with each other a little bit better, but it is definitely possible to do over the phone.

Things that I always want to hear about are what are the expectations of teachers at the studio? Like what are teachers expected to do? You may think, Oh, they're expected to teach their class. Yes, that is true. But they may also be expected to [00:13:00] do the duties of the front desk if there is no front desk staff.

And I have mentioned that a couple of times, because that is a bit of a deal breaker for me. I have worked in studios where I've had to process payment and check in my classes and open the studio and then close the studio after the class and it is a lot of additional work. And if you're not being compensated for that work, that is a deal breaker for me personally.

So you want to know, like, do I have to do any of those things? Am I responsible for cleaning the studio? And I mean like deep cleaning the studio, like putting your stuff back at the end of your class is not cleaning the studio. Am I responsible for doing anything like that? Do I need to open the studio or close the studio?

If you're looking at doing private sessions, like what cut is the studio taking? And then what is the studio offering to justify that cut? Like, are they booking your appointments? Are they checking out your appointments? Are they connecting with clients? Like, not that any one of those things is better than, [00:14:00] but it's good to know what this job is actually going to look like beyond just teaching the classes.

You'll want to know if you're being paid as an independent contractor or a part-time employee or full-time employee, I guess, but it seems like a lot. Because that's going to change how you do your taxes and how you save parts of your paycheck for tax purposes. Because if you're an independent contractor taxes aren't automatically taken out. So you are going to need to be responsible for that, which is more work for you. 

You want to know, and you may know partially from looking at the schedule, like how many classes would you teach? Are you teaching one class a week? Are you teaching 10 classes a week? Where does that fall in? Like, is this something that is going to be a job that you can live on? Or is this going to be something in addition to the five other places that you're teaching? Right. 

Of course, you want to know what your rate is going to be. And that can be an entirely gigantic conversation. Sometimes it's per head. If there's a certain number [00:15:00] of people in the class, you get a certain amount of money per person that is attending your class. Some classes will offer a flat rate that whether there's one person or 10 people, you get paid the same. Some do a flat rate plus a bonus that if you have above a certain number of people, you could also make money per that additional person. 

It's a thing that I've been burned on in the past. So I'm just sharing with you. You want to know what you get paid if no one comes to your class. It is my opinion that you're not responsible for bringing your people to your class all the time. Like you do not need to be like recruiting people to come to your class. You can definitely post about it, but I don't think you, as the teacher should be ultimately responsible for how many people are in your class.

Of course, you want to be a fabulous instructor that people want to come back to your class. But especially when a class is just getting started and it doesn't have like a following already, if you're [00:16:00] not getting paid when no one comes to class, like we're going to have a problem. I have a problem. I'm not going to teach there. That's not fair. 

You also, I want to know what the costs are for this studio, in terms of your time, in terms of the cost of transportation, in terms of like, how long are the classes, are you teaching in a block or are you coming in several times a week? Because all of that is going to impact your bottom line.

You also want to know how frequently you're being paid. Is this bi-weekly? Is this monthly? How does that work? How does payroll work? And maybe these aren't things that happen in the first conversation, maybe that was misleading to say, this is the first conversation, but these are things that you want to know ahead of working there.

As I mentioned, I've taught at a really big spectrum of studios, gyms, fitness centers, clubs, et cetera. I've taught at studios that didn't pay for no shows. And even if it takes you an [00:17:00] hour to get there and an hour to go home and you have to be there, you know, 30 minutes before your class to set up, maybe you're also having to check people in. I've done that. Not for a very long period of time because that's rough. That's a really tough thing to do. 

I've been paid once a month and I've been paid every other week. I love being paid every other week because it's like a continual stream of income. But once a month is fine, I've worked at places where I was the front desk, and you can see by what I'm sharing with you, it is not something that I particularly enjoyed because I feel like it is a different hat than teaching. And it's difficult to connect with your students and have them all set up for class and see what's going on in their body and all of this stuff and then also be like, and can you give me some money for that? You know, or, you know, people are coming late, you're having to let them in and then check them into class and process payment. And it's just like, this is not my cup of tea. 

I've worked as both an independent contractor and a part-time employee. I [00:18:00] don't think that one necessarily has benefits over the other. I'm now really comfortable with complicated taxes and a lot of 1099s and W2's so it's whatever in my book, but you may really appreciate being an employee where taxes are being taken out automatically from your paycheck, or you may prefer to be an independent contractor and handle that stuff on your own.

You know, I've worked in places that the management was really involved in what I was doing. There was associate managers and assistant managers and regional managers, and that has its perks. And I've worked in places that have really absentee management. And you were really kind of running the studio whenever it was your class. Like you were doing all of that stuff and they were kind of hands-off management. That also has its perks, you know, like it really depends kind of on your personality and, you know, what you want to be doing at the studio, right? 

I've had a flat rate, which is fine [00:19:00] unless you're having really popular classes, in which case you may want to talk about adding a per head bonus. I've taught classes where I was literally only paid per head, and this was in a very rural area in upstate New York. And it was, you know, the only studio and I was paid, you know, like $4 per person, because there were only 2000 people in the town. This wasn't a place where you could be like, Oh, I only teach if I get paid $50 an hour. Like, that's not how it works. There's less than a hundred members in the studio or something like that. Right. So I've been paid per class, like less than $10 for that hour of time, depending on other things, you know, administrative tasks, sometimes it's more than an hour. And I've been paid, you know, $60 an hour to teach for that hour of time, you know? 

So it really depends on where you are and how much you're teaching. Like I've taught at places where I'm only [00:20:00] teaching two hours a week and I get paid more for those two hours than somewhere I'm going to go teach for four or six hours, but because I'm teaching for four or six hours, and there's a guaranteed base then you're, you're making more for that like block of time, because you're only teaching one or two classes at the place even though you're being paid more per class.

And as I said, I've worked at studios for one hour a week and also for 16 hours a week. And it's not that it's better or worse to do one of those things, but it's really like, what is your schedule? What are you looking for? What are you going for? What is a non-negotiable thing for you? And what is something you're willing to compromise on?

I said this a lot in the Building Your Dream Schedule episode, and I will repeat it. It is easier to say yes to the things that are a good fit and no to the things that aren't a good fit than it is to say yes to everything and then get involved in a bunch of places and then have to [00:21:00] cut back. Because even at a studio, like the one where, you know, I wasn't paid for no shows and it was far away and it was just really disheartening. There were still students that I loved. Like there were still things about that studio that I really loved and it's tough to- even when it's the right thing to do. Same thing as like with breaking up with a client, even when it's the right thing to do, it can still be difficult. So you can save yourself some stress by just not going with it.

Also acknowledged that your needs are going to change. So I might be saying, Oh, like, I don't really want to do any front desk stuff, but my needs have changed. When I first started teaching, I was working in studios where I was doing administrative work. I had more time. I had less necessities. My, you know, overall cost of living was lower. And so I was able to, you know, do those things and I didn't see it as a big issue. 

[00:22:00] Now, like even going to transportation, like I'm taking ride share to, and from the studio, which is incredibly expensive because the studios are farther away, but my time is worth more than the cost of that transportation expense. Right? Like my needs have changed. Like I need to be in the studio faster more than I need to save $20. Right. 

So wherever you are in your teaching adventure, I want you to feel good about where you're teaching and feel good looking for other places to teach if that's something that you're in the market for right now. And knowing that if I shared any of these things about the studios and it's like, Oh, well, I, you know, check in my own class. Like, that's totally fine. Like if that works for you, that's amazing. Like that's, what's most important. I'm just telling you that that's not always the case. And if it isn't your favorite thing, it doesn't have to be the case necessarily. 

When I was living in a more rural area and I was teaching, you know, at a gym and then at this little [00:23:00] boutique studio, you don't always have a say in what you're going to be paid or what your expectations are. And it might be that you have to teach there if you want to teach at a studio. 

But I would also say that you can do your own thing as well, and the right people will find you, the right clients will find you. And just having this amazing Pilates certification that you have, whether you're teaching in person in a brick and mortar studio or virtually, there's so much good and so much wonderful knowledge and experience that you can share with your students. So, you know, take heart and also stick to your guns when you need to. 

Big thank you to all my supporters on Buy Me a Coffee. Thank you so much for your contributions and donations to this project. I am so excited for the next chapter this next year of [00:24:00] podcasting adventuring. So thank you so much. I hope you have a great week and I'll talk to you soon.

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.

The adventure continues. Until next time.