Joselyn Dustin, founder of Root and Limb Pilates in Berkeley, CA, joins me on the podcast to share her Pilates journey, the transition from teaching in studios to opening her own studio, and what she's learned along the way. Tune in!
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Josselyn holds a BA in dance and an MFA in Performance and Choreography with an emphasis in the Alexander Technique. She began intensively studying Pilates while dancing professionally in New York City as a way to rehab and strengthen her body to enhance her dance career and fell in love with the work. She became certified in Mat and Apparatus Pilates through the internationally recognized Kane School of Core Integration in NYC and began teaching Pilates full time in 2010.
You can find Josselyn on Instagram at @rootandlimbpilates and on her membership site: https://root-and-limb.com/
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Olivia: [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 podcast. I'm very [00:01:00] excited to share a conversation with Josselyn Levinson Dustin, who is the owner of Root and Limb Pilates, based in Berkeley, California. Yeah. And it's early for her. It's early for both of us. So honestly, gold stars all around for having this adventure.
I met Josselyn on Instagram and she was a person who I feel like I really resonated with her philosophy, and I've taken some of her classes, and then going through her website, when I was like looking up little things for her bio, just her ideas about, you know, having clients be comfortable in their own skin and leading a movement rich life that, you know, Pilates is a piece in the puzzle, a less dogmatic piece, in a lot of ways. And it just, it really spoke to me when I was scrolling through vast amounts of Pilates adventures. And so I'm so glad that we connected and thank you, you so much for being on the podcast and hanging out.
Josselyn: [00:01:54] We should all have a podcast introduction, first thing in the morning, that's like such an it's like, oh, that's so [00:02:00] great.
Olivia: [00:02:03] Jessica Valant was hilarious. She's like, can you say that again? Can I record that as my answering machine?
Josselyn: [00:02:08] Yeah. I'm like, I just need that. It's like every, every day in the morning. So woohoo. Thank you so much for having me on. This as a new experience for me to kind of be interviewed and talk about what I do in my work this way. So it's, uh, It's a great learning experience for me too. And I'm just excited.
Olivia: [00:02:25] Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Um, so the first thing I always like to jump into is a time machine. And can you tell me a little bit about how you found Pilates?
Josselyn: [00:02:34] Yeah, so I'm that sort of, kind of cliche, like retired dancer now full-time Pilates teacher.
So Pilates is kind of always in the background. Because of the timeframe and like the legal things that were going on with Pilates, which I didn't know about at the time, but later kind of like looking more at the history. I was like, oh, that's why they couldn't call it Pilates necessarily. Like in the nineties and then two thousands sort of, as it is making that transition into [00:03:00] what we now recognize as kind of the Pilates industry. Um, it was always in the background. So is either called like dance conditioning or there was some sort of mashup of yoga, Pilates, strength training-y stuff and like particularly modern dance warmups.
So I think that, you know, the idea of like conditioning for some kind of athletic performance, for me, it was dance was always in the background, but it never was. I'm not, I kind of didn't follow the route where a lot of teachers do where, like I went to class, I got on the reformer, I had an epiphany and this was going to be my life forever. It was just kind of always there.
And so throughout the journey, my dance career, which has kind of, you know, taken many circuitous paths. What I ended up doing after undergrad and graduate school for dance, where I actually studied a lot of Alexander technique. I was on track to be an Alexander teacher, which is super interesting work and still kind of [00:04:00] influences the way that I approach teaching.
I moved back to New York after grad school to give it kind of another go as in the professional dance world. And I honestly just didn't want to wait tables anymore. So I was doing the thing where I was dancing all day, you know, for, and I, I also want to preface this by saying like, I was never, like, I didn't have like a big contract or, you know, fancy dance company is like, I just was sort of grinding it out as a freelance independent contractor dancer, which was great. So there's that. I also don't, I don't want to be like, oh, this is great dancer.
Anyway, so I decided that- I kind of looked at my life and I looked at what I wanted. And I also looked at the fact that dance might not be a part of my life in the longterm. And I really wanted to keep engaging with a practice of the body. And I loved teaching. That was my focus in grad school. I decided I didn't want to go into academia and teach, but I [00:05:00] love teaching. So all of those things came together.
And I thought about doing a yoga teacher training and I kind of looked at the landscape of the yoga world. And I said, you know, this isn't going to be a great way to actually make a living. Like just the pragmatic part of trying to make it as a full-time yoga instructor and like have enough for rent and food and the whole thing that wasn't really going to happen, especially in New York city, really competitive environment. You're like, yeah, it is.
And I had a bunch of friends who had gone to a particular training program in New York called the Kane School. And it's still called the Kane School. It's run by Kelly Kane. And now the co-director is Matt McCulloch. And it's housed in a studio called Connected now where the Kane School sort of exists and it had a great reputation. And I had taken some classes there and around in New York.
It had this sort of play. It was the place where fancy dancers who wanted to learn more about their body hung out. And [00:06:00] the director Kelly was sort of this movement, maverick person. I said,you know what, this sounds like a really good fit. So that's interesting when I look back, my first time on a reformer was teacher training. Yeah.
So the path has been interesting because I sort of feel I knew a ton about the body. I'd done really extensive anatomy study in my undergraduate work and dance. I had all this teaching experience from grad school teaching 9,000 beginning ballet classes and TA-ing and grading papers. But the actual missing piece was like the poetic piece.
And so as I went through teacher training and as I started teaching in New York, it, when I look back, I'm kind of like, oh wow. Like I was really learning alongside my clients about Pilates. And I feel like it kind of sparked and continues to spark a curiosity in me about the work and its evolution, because I didn't have that. I did [00:07:00] Pilates with a teacher for 10 years before I decided to transition to teacher training. I had all this other body stuff and all this other pedagogy and teaching stuff going on, but the form of Pilates was very new. So yeah, that's kind of what happened.
Olivia: [00:07:16] That's super interesting. In a lot of ways, my path to being a teacher mirrors that, except I did not look at the yoga teacher landscape before I became a yoga teacher, I was just like, that's what I want to do. But-
Josselyn: [00:07:29] Yeah, I love yoga. I want to teach this to everybody and then you're like,
Olivia: [00:07:32] I want to teach it to everyone. Exactly. Um, how do I live? So that was actually the first thing that happened when I came to Chicago because I also did education in undergrad. And then I taught kindergarten for a bit in Korea. And then lots of parallels between teaching kindergarten and teaching Pilates, you would not be surprised.
Josselyn: [00:07:50] Yes. Especially in the group class setting. You're just like, we're just going to manage all of this situation, all the noise, all the personalities, everybody. Yeah. [00:08:00] 100%.
Olivia: [00:08:00] Everyone's body. Hands inside the vehicle at all times. But then the idea that, you know, I did become a yoga teacher. And then when I moved to Chicago and I'm teaching at seven different studios and like eight classes a week, and then I'm like, yeah, I don't think this is super duper sustainable.
So, um, Pilates for me was also very much a oh, like you can teach five clients in a row. Excellent. That sounds great. I would love to do that.
Josselyn: [00:08:30] Yeah. And I, you know, I kind of, I think it's interesting to, to look at that, cause I, I feel like it's very individual, but there's a balance that gets struck between sort of the group class thing and the private client thing, you know, and there's the financial aspect to it, but then there's also kind of like the heart aspect to it. And so much of it kind of parallels the dance road a little bit for me in a positive way where, you know, you have this group dynamic where you're like working with a company you're rehearsing in a group, but then you've developed these really deep [00:09:00] personal relationships with either your fellow dancers or the choreographer yourself.
And so I think that when I looked at okay, how can I keep engaging with the body? How can I make it? How can I have some work-life balance? How maybe can I still keep dancing a little bit, which sort of quickly started fading away. It just wasn't in the cards for me. I wanted to work with people privately and I-
That was a big decision when I didn't kind of do the yoga track also. Cause it's just not as accepted in that culture, I think. Or it's not as, it's not as common as Pilates, you know, we think about Pilates. We think about that private session on the reformer. At least I did at least sort of, that was the dynamic when I went through training, maybe it's a little bit different. Yeah. You know, and it's funny if fast forward, you know, 10, 12 years, like now, like, all I do is private. So when COVID hit, I was like, oh my gosh.
And I also want to be mindful this past year has been for past year and a half has been so hard and just the hurdles and the heartache and the loss. So I want to honor that. [00:10:00] But also it's been, it's given us some really interesting opportunities for people like me, who kind of have a really small business model to have that group experience again, and to be able to branch out and to feel a little bit more community in some ways. So that's been really interesting too.
Olivia: [00:10:15] Yeah. I don't know if that's something that's talked about in teacher training a ton, but it is two different, I almost see it as like, energy demands because when I, when I teach group classes, ton of fun, love audience participation, and you know, we're vibing. And it's very much a like song and dance for me, that I'm cracking jokes. Uh, we're having a blast together.
And then private sessions, you can do that, but the scale is different. The feeling is different. And I'm looking at like my own teaching schedule and I'm about 50 50 in terms of group and then private. And I feel like I can do, I mean, I'm also, I don't know, is it, does it because I'm young, like I'm like I can do four [00:11:00] group classes in a row. Like pretty comfortably. I would be fine.
Josselyn: [00:11:03] Yeah. Yeah. Why not? Six? I mean, come on. Just like bang it out.
Olivia: [00:11:06] Nine hours in a row.
Josselyn: [00:11:08] Yeah, just nine hours in a row. No break. Don't pee. Don't pee, don't eat. Don't do anything.
Olivia: [00:11:12] That's another thing that I think we need to talk about, is bathroom breaks. Because the studios I work out of changed it. It used to be, you could come in five minutes before, and then we were ending five minutes early.
I was like, there's like two minutes where I could probably pee once in my block. And now people are coming earlier. I'm like, I love you so much. Please. Let me pee.
Josselyn: [00:11:32] I gotta, I gotta have those boundaries.
Olivia: [00:11:34] The class starts when, when I'm done. I'm sorry.
Josselyn: [00:11:37] I hear you. Eccentricities of this industry that I feel like it's kind of going to have a bit of a reckoning, you know, that sounds a little dramatic, but there are some things that are going to have to change.
And I don't know if that's influenced because of COVID or if we just all got this big moment of pause. And so now, from studio owners, studio manager, independent contractor, employee, whatever, we're all just kind of [00:12:00] rethinking what it looks like or what it could look like. And part of that is like getting a little more down and dirty was like what it actually means to be working in this industry and breaks, like a real break.
Like if you were working to set in other kind of job, you know, every four hours you get that 15 minutes or whatever it is, I'm not up on the labor laws. And I think the clients also need to sort of be abreast a little bit of what the deal is. Yeah. So there's a little bit of education there that I think can be done really mindfully, but also really clearly.
And that's something that I've done with my own client base, where, because of the cleaning and the extra COVID protocols, which are sort of starting to dissipate, at least in my area a little bit, like I made the decision to shorten sessions by five minutes. I said, I really need 10 minutes in between.
And part of that is so that I can be better prepared to take care of you and there's been no pushback. So I just, I think that these things, when you come from [00:13:00] a place of like, this is what I need to be able to serve you, serve the class or the client in the best and clearest way possible. They don't push back a ton. They don't feel that it's something that you're trying to do to take advantage of them. Or, you know, I'm not like going to the bathroom, just scrolling Instagram, like a, you know, I'm, I'm taking care of myself so that I can give you the best possible movement experience that I can.
Olivia: [00:13:26] You were talking a little bit about this before we started recording, but this idea that, um, communication is so important and something that we talk a lot about, like, well, what are different ways to cue the exercise? Could you use a visual cue? Could you change up your imagery, could you use a tactile cue? But like, can you tell your client that you're going on vacation and then not feel guilty? Or like, try to reschedule everyone on like the day before you go on vacation and then you have a 12 hour day and then most of your vacation is just decompressing from that one day.
Josselyn: [00:13:59] Yeah. You're [00:14:00] like, am I going to lose everybody? Are they all going to leave me? What's going on?
Olivia: [00:14:04] Right. So like, there's, there's like a lot of business stuff. There's a lot of, especially if you're working as an independent contractor, because then, you know, technically you're your own business or as a studio owner, who's managing independent contractors, and striking this balance where everyone feels supported. It's, it's a real balancing act. Yeah.
Josselyn: [00:14:27] And I think, again, that's kind of where a little more of, dare I say, infusing a little more of a corporate culture into our little niche market might actually not be a bad thing. And I also want to say, like, I have no experience with corporate America at all. Like I went from dance land, which is totally weird and bizarre to like dance academia land, which is even more totally weird and bizarre into the Pilates world, which is a little less weird and bizarre, but still kind of weird and bizarre at the same time.
You know, and I [00:15:00] think we spend, as you said, we spent so much time really wanting to get clear on our communication and our teaching to give people the best movement experience that they can have, and to be just really on point with helping the client, whether it's an, a group class or a private session on their physical journey.
Part of that for me, which kind of ties back into one of my main missions with my business. And my practice is to get people to have a regular practice is to get very clear about sort of the rules and the expectations when somebody starts to engage within a practice with you. The teacher, meaning like with me, like when someone comes into my studio and they're like, I want to start Pilates. I want to start sessions.
Having those protocols, having those kind of like the framework in place to say, okay, well that means that this is going to be one or two times a week. We're going to figure out how that looks best [00:16:00] for you. This is going to say what I go on vacation. You're still going to work out. Here's some tools that I have in my toolbox to help you with that. And this means that, you know, there's this cancellation policy and there's accountability, you know? Right.
Of course I don't sit somebody down like, you know, and be like, this is the rules and this is what we're going to do. But there's a way I feel like there's a way, depending on the client that I have to like read the person that's coming in to just laid down a foundation, just like we do when you're teaching the body. Here's your pelvic tilt. Here's your pelvic clock. Here's some footwork, you know, like we give a really solid movement foundation in our sessions, but what about the foundation for all the other stuff?
You know, the etiquette sort of what to expect. And I think all of these things can really help to make a client feel comfortable. And it takes a lot of the guesswork out of what's happening. I have so many, I get a lot of like the husbands that come in, you know, their wives or girlfriends or whatever, [00:17:00] or partners find Pilates. And then I get a lot of the partners coming in and these are people who have. You have no idea what's going on.
They walk into this studio, there's all this weird equipment. There's this person and leggings, that's going to be like, let me look at how your shoulder moves. They're like, what is going on here? So the clearer I can be about like, this is what is going to happen, which includes what I'm going to do. With my own business. I just feel like the smoother and better it is. And actually oddly, the better results we get. Yeah. Would that, if any of that makes sense, that was kind of wandering. You know what I mean.
Olivia: [00:17:42] A hundred percent, no, a hundred percent. Because I, as I said, when I came to Chicago, I was only teaching yoga. I started teaching yoga to studio that had Pilates stuff.
And as a teacher who was teaching yoga, like no one told me what that was or what we were doing on it looked terrifying and there the, uh, they had [00:18:00] the Allegro. Um, so it's like black steel.
Josselyn: [00:18:04] Oh yeah, sure. The Darth Vader of Pilates equipment.
Olivia: [00:18:08] Yeah. With the tower attachment, I was like, Hm. Hard pass. That looks like a danger zone. Have fun kids.
But it isn't. I was talking about this with Beth Sandlin from Trifecta Pilates, and trauma-informed Pilates.
Josselyn: [00:18:25] I love her.
Olivia: [00:18:26] I know. She's amazing. It's a lot of what you're saying. I was like, oh my gosh, she has this idea that even for them to come, even for them to listen to their partner and their partner is like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. You have to do it. And they're like, all right. So many hurdles just to get in the door and then to be like, now we're going to do this mysterious thing and you don't know what I'm going to do. And maybe I'm going to touch you. And it's just like big yikes.
So if you can lay that out. I imagine that that's also going to increase success because the person's not devoting all this brain power to like, what is she doing? Why is she there? What's happening? [00:19:00] What is that? But if you already know, then you can actually have that movement experience more of that with less of the guesswork, like you.
Josselyn: [00:19:10] Yeah. And I think there are things too, as teachers and people who engage regularly, you know, with a physical practice, you know, with, or without the crazy equipment that looks like it's going to eat you. Um, that we don't think about, you know, like going to class for us is just like, we just go to class, we just show up, we've got the gear, we've got the clothes, you know, we, we know the drill, you stop at the desk and you sign in and you do the thing and you find your reformer and you get the ball and you just like, do it.
So to take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of the client, that person that maybe just found you on Yelp or Google, or came across your website. And they're just like, well, I've heard that this can help my back, but I don't really know why. And I don't like, do I come a lot? Do I come a little? What do I wear? You know, all [00:20:00] these tiny seemingly insignificant details that I think, and myself included, that that are just natural to me, to think deeply about somebody else's experience and be empathetic to that. And then try to create the place that you would want to walk into if you were engaging in something as a novice.
You know, so it's a little bit unrelated, but my husband was a chef for many years and, you know, it's sometimes I kind of think about like, oh my God, like, what would I do if I was like walking into a kitchen or cooking school? Like, what would I need to make me feel comfortable? So I could be the most successful.
I could, you know, something that's really out of my wheelhouse, you know, or like starting guitar lessons or whatever it is. And that has a little less, uh, it feels like the ante is a little lower because as you know, Pilates, it's your body. And a lot of people come to us with pain and there's a high expectation level and sort of just possibly some anxiety about like, well is this going to [00:21:00] work? And I really hope, and it's kind of expensive. So just clarity, clarity, clarity. Yeah.
I'm thinking through all of those steps. From somebody looking at your website to somebody getting on that reformer for this first time and what all of those things entail. Cause it's not just that person getting in the car, hopping in a lift and arriving at your studio.
It's a lot more involved than that.
Olivia: [00:21:24] And I think that, you know, as you're talking about it, it may seem. Whoa, laying all that out is going to take forever. And probably when you do it the first time, it will take a little bit, but then once you have it.
I think about, you know, all the first time Pilates student questions I get. And if you just have all of those answered, whether it's on your website, whether it's something you go over when they come into your studio, I know that you do one-on-one so you're probably having a chat. I'm thinking like when I do intro classes, it's their first time. Cause sometimes-
Here's a personal little pet peeve [00:22:00] I can share. And when we tell people to wear comfortable clothing
Josselyn: [00:22:03] What does that mean?
Olivia: [00:22:04] Yeah, for men, especially it's like basketball shorts,
Josselyn: [00:22:06] Cargo shorts?
Okay. Well, not, hopefully not cargo shorts.
Olivia: [00:22:11] Don't be that comfortable. It's still Pilates.
Josselyn: [00:22:12] Seen it all. Yeah.
Olivia: [00:22:14] But like, I think of basketball shorts, and then what's the first thing that happens when they put feet and straps. Their shorts fall down to their hips, and then they're like, you see their underwear. And it's like, they're uncomfortable, you're uncomfortable. We could say something about that and minimize everyone's discomfort.
Josselyn: [00:22:32] Absolutely.
Olivia: [00:22:33] And it would literally be like a line, like comfortable clothes that, and just like a heads up your feet are going to be towards the ceiling at some point, whether we're doing. A single leg circle on the mat, or we're going to do feet and straps, like just be aware.
Josselyn: [00:22:46] A hundred percent. Yeah. And there, there are two thoughts I have about that. One is kind of, I think it might be a little bit of a stretch for the analogy, but as Pilates teachers and people who lead people through movement and lead people through like a progression of a [00:23:00] transformation over time.
We have these tools, we just have to harness them in a slightly different way. So if you think about, you know, how you give someone a first session or how you progress somebody over the first three months, their sessions, we don't just say, okay, um, do teaser or, you know, just do it. You know. I mean, there's some teaching philosophy is that right? I might have that, you know, a little more task-based oriented and that's motor learning stuff, which we can get into, or maybe not.
We incrementally build. We take it one step at a time. We say this leads to that, which will lead to that. And then maybe there's some sort of circuitous path that happens along the way.
But I think the same can be said for when you are thinking about your mission, your philosophy, creating your website, even as an independent contractor building kind of like your brand, even that's sort of a ugh word, whatever your brand is. I don't know, but you take it in steps.
And so maybe you don't think about the [00:24:00] whole piece, cause that's super overwhelming. You just say, okay, what would I do if I was teaching myself a pelvic tilt, I would just take it like one step at a time. And I think that that could happen at any point along the journey of your teaching career, where, you know, I just, because of COVID I went through a huge website overhaul. I kind of like rethought my whole business plan and everything.
And I just remember staring at everything being like, how am I going to get this accomplished as like, I just have to start at the beginning and I have to work through the steps. Just the same as I would, if I was working through somebody in their first session.
Olivia: [00:24:40] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, too. 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.
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I think you're sharing about, you know, things you've learned from teaching. And I didn't say in your little intro, but you have been teaching for more than 10 years, and this seems very well formed and like thought out and it's like, yeah, she's definitely done some thinking about this.
Can you tell me a little bit about your journey and how you changed as you know, first time on the reformer in [00:26:00] teacher training to, you know, here's this fully fleshed, beautiful studio dream that you live constantly.
Josselyn: [00:26:08] Constantly every day. Yeah, it is. I feel very lucky, very privileged to be able to do what I do every day. You know, sometimes it actually, we were talking about vacations a little bit and then I'll come back to answer your question, but you know, like sometimes it sounds a little hokey, but it's like, it's hard for me to get away sometimes when you really do what you love, it's hard to take a break. Those breaks are really necessary though. You need them to kind of enrich yourself, take a rest, but it can be challenging.
So rewind to New York city, because I had this, that work of dancers and people who had gone to the Kane School. And I was really, they were my buds and it was actually quite easy for me to find sort of my first teaching gig. So I started teaching before I even finished my teacher training, which is normal, if there are any new teachers out there listening, like that's fine. You just start at apprentice rates [00:27:00] and you, again, clarity. I learned a lot from that because it's like, Ooh, uh, okay, well, I'm getting paid less, which is fine.
But does that mean the client's getting charged less or like what's the expectation here? So just, you know, Keep your eyes open, be clear with your expectations. It's still a J O B. You know, that's the hard part. I think sometimes about going from dance land to Pilates land where it's, you're just, you're just so excited that somebody would just gave you a job. You don't even care. You get to do Pilates and you get to like work with people and it's like, well, you got to like negotiate your hourly rate, do the thing. It's still a job.
So I started teaching like right out of the gate. So I did my apprentice hours in tandem with teaching at a studio and an apprentice rate. And I did that for a really long time. And I, there, you know, there's the little bit of a hustle there too. I worked at a couple of different studios actually, way back, way fast forward.
I forgot I did my mat training [00:28:00] a year before I did my equipment training, I took it in chunks for financial reasons. Um, so I actually started training people in their homes in New York city. So I would schlep on the subway all over town. So I kind of would like block out my days and be like, this is my upper east side day. This is my Soho day. So I started kind of gathering clients and I would like have my little bag of props and shlep on the subway and go up to people's palatial apartments and do Pilates, and it was amazing and gave me a window into people's lives. And I just, I'm so grateful that people invited me into their homes.
And I think it actually fast forward to COVID um, you know, I was like, oh, so there's a dog jumping on your face during your zoom sessions. No worries. I got this. This is what I used to do 12 years ago. All good, like kids dogs the whole nine yards.
So what I ended up doing, which is kind of the progression for me to sort of having [00:29:00] my own business and creating more of my own brand is when I started getting referrals from either clients at the studios that I was teaching or from friends or other dancers or people, or. You know, I had a little website up, I started asking the studios that I worked for if I could rent their space to bring in my own clients.
So there was this kind of crazy time for about four years or so, where I was like an independent contractor for two or three studios and I was managing kind of my own client base, separate from the studios clients, where those people would pay me directly and I would pay the studio rental fee.
And I kind of look at that transition as like scales. And so what ended up happening is I just got lighter and lighter and lighter on the studio clients. And my own clients became more of like the bulk of how I was making my living, if that makes sense. So, you know, I've, [00:30:00] I've talked to some other instructors as I've gone on through this journey.
And I think that it's not the only way, but it is a path that doesn't feel as like you're like taking clients from the studio or you're doing these things, you know, we're, we're still keeping it clean. We're keeping it respectful. But my thought process was that with it, if, if people were being referred directly to me, I didn't have a problem saying, you know what, you're going to be my client. I'm going to take care of you. Here's your waiver. You can pay me directly and we'll just do our thing in the studio, but separate from their business.
They were still making money. I was making a little bit more hourly. It felt more comfortable, and I could tend to their needs in a different way than I would the group classes or the clients that were clients of the studio, because the studio clients kind of were still hopping around with other teachers, which I encourage people, I still encourage people even come to my studio. I'm like, go like, go do strength training, go [00:31:00] do other things. Like I'm here. Just go move your body.
But it was a way that I started to sort of learn how to manage myself a little bit better.
Olivia: [00:31:11] It feels like a natural transition that happened for you. It wasn't so much a light switch where you're like I'm out, and then I'm in my own business land. And so that's nice time-wise.
Josselyn: [00:31:21] Yeah. And I think, again, this is, I can only speak from my experience, but I do see that that light switch analogy is great and it, it can create a lot of stress for instructors, especially people who are looking to branch out on their own and even though I've moved around a lot. And now I, you know, I lived in New York and I'm in the bay area and I opened a studio when I was three months pregnant and all these other like crazy things that maybe like, God, that sounds kind of risky. I am like the least risky person possible. So calculated ,like should I raise my rates $5. Am I going to lose my whole- you know, I'm, I'm a [00:32:00] very methodical person, which I could probably work on being a little more open.
But I will say that sometimes taking that leap from like instructor training to being like, well, I have to have 25 clients on my own with no other support. Like that could be really challenging. I'm not going to say that it's never going to happen, but I think that's where people start feeling like this isn't going to work for me. I can't make a living. I'm stressed. I better go work at seven different studios. I better run all over town. I better not get paid for my travel time.
All of these things happen and then what ends up really happening is you can't teach as well. You're burned out. It's just, it's not possible. So I think if you can kind of, as an instructor, depending on what your goal is, you know, maybe your goal is to have your own space. Maybe your goal is to continue to be an employee. Maybe your goal is to do some sort of hybrid. [00:33:00] Kind of look at it as a continuum over time, instead of like, well, I was an employee at a studio or I was an independent contractor at a studio for five years. It's time for me to have my own space. That's hard. I'm not saying it's impossible, it's hard. And it might be creating a little bit of undue stress.
Olivia: [00:33:18] I think that that's great advice. And like, if that's a transition that you even want to make, like there are people who, you know, Pilates, isn't the only thing they do. And they teach, you know, a few classes on the weekends, in which case fine, you know, keep doing that. Don't feel like you have to do anything else.
Josselyn: [00:33:34] Absolutely. Yeah. I'm the smallest business in the world and like, it's a lot of work.
Olivia: [00:33:40] Yeah, it is.
Josselyn: [00:33:42] You kind of have to, you have to enjoy a little bit, not, well, maybe enjoy is a strong word. Do at least, uh, find some interest in all of the other things that go on, you know, like writing the copy and managing the software, learning new skills, getting the new [00:34:00] tech for all this post COVID stuff that we're doing right now.
You know, I find a little bit of enjoyment and kind of the organization of the business. But I think if you do not find enjoyment in that, and it is just 100% stressful to you all the time, that might not be your path in this industry. And that is fine. And that is awesome.
Olivia: [00:34:19] Cause I know just again, from personal experience, I've worked at studios where the studio owners were amazing Pilates teachers, wonderful, incredible, not super great studio managers or studio owners. And it is, it's a different skillset. It's not impossible to have both skill sets and it would be entirely possible to have your own studio and then have someone who runs the business bit of it.
Like you don't have to be the only person either, but it is. And it's a lot of work and all of the scheduling and the minutia of administration and forms and documents and, you know, running your website and just like, it can be fun. Like you said, you can enjoy it, but it [00:35:00] is, um, it's not teaching Pilates. It's not all teaching Pilates when you're teaching Pilates.
Josselyn: [00:35:06] Exactly. I had a dance teacher in college who was this really kind of pivotal person in my life. And you know, we're in college and we're an undergrad and everyone has these dreams, stage and performing and all these things. And I, we were in some sort of professional development class, um, kind of, I think it was our senior year or something.
And she looked at us and she said, you know, there's gonna come a time. Like, just keep track of sort of what you find, what you truly find enjoyment in if you're going to exist. And she was talking about the dance world, but I think it's applicable for any other industry. She's like, there's the thing that you think you should be doing. There's the thing that you feel is the right way, is the way that's going to give you fulfillment and validation and adoration and all of these other kind of like more like egocentric thing. And she said, you know, you're, you're gonna, if you listen, if you really tune in and listen, [00:36:00] you're gonna find, find your strength within whatever industry you pick.
So again, she's talking about the dance world and she said, bye. Mine was in teaching and administration. She's like, I was not destined to be a professor. I love dancing. She's like, but that was not my strength. And she's like, once I became okay with that, all of these possibilities opened up because I could see them. And I really started enjoying how, and she's still talking about herself, how she started existing within the dance world.
And at the time I was probably, I don't know, 19, 20, and I was like, whatever, I'm going to be a dancer. That's great. I'm not a teacher. I'm a dancer. You know, fast forward. I'm like, oh, darn. You know, so my joy has always been to teach other people to move. Whether that was in dance land or Pilates land or mentoring undergrads when I was in grad school. And so when I look back to [00:37:00] her, I just, I think it was such beautiful sound advice that maybe I wasn't ready to hear it the time.
And same can be said for the Pilates industry. I think there are people out there who look at the business side and they just get really into it. And maybe they're brilliant teachers, but that's not where their joy lies. And so maybe they're going to be fantastic mentors and studio owners, you know, or maybe you find yourself and you got, you know, a studio space dropped into your lap and you're like, ah, maybe I'll just like run my own space or something.
And now, and you look at yourself and you go, man, all I want to do is teach. I just want to show up and do the thing and leave and I don't want to deal with any of it. So I, I feel that listening part to how you're going to exist in whatever world you create is so important. And it's also so hard cause you kind of have to tune out the expectations from other people and some of those other people can be your clients. And that can be really challenging too. But I do think there's like, there's that little pot of gold at the end of the [00:38:00] rainbow, which could change over time, depending on the demands of your life. But if you can slow down.
Tune in to what is the parts of what you're doing that are really making you happy and kind of run with that? It just makes it more enjoyable, probably more successful too. I don't know. I don't have data on that to back that up.
Olivia: [00:38:21] I want to circle back to, um, cause you mentioned your joy is, you know, teaching people movement and that one of your aims and your business is helping people develop a home practice that it's not just them relying on you to make the movement happen.
And I was wondering if you can speak more about that because I know that's one of your big passions.
Josselyn: [00:38:43] Yeah. Talk, talk about people that they're like, well, that's a terrible business strategy. But it's not. It isn't for me. Yeah, I think that, you know, we're in a results driven society and culture. People either want to get [00:39:00] out of pain quick. They want to see changes to their body. It has nothing really to do, at least from my client base, with an aesthetic thing. Sometimes it does, you know, we're not talking about like, I don't want to have a 24 inch waist or I want to be skinny or any of that stuff. A lot of times people just come in and they're like, I just want to feel stronger. You know, I just, whatever their goal is.
And it's taken me a long time to get comfortable with this, but I've gotten pretty comfortable with telling people, okay, this is your goal. You have to meet me halfway at least. So if this is your goal, I am here to help you and support you. You probably can't come in for sessions every day. You know, maybe you can, I don't know. I don't know if I have room on my schedule. I don't know if you have a bank account. So, if you're going to engage in this, it's going to be really helpful if we approach this, as we are giving you a toolkit to learn how to [00:40:00] move your body and to engage in a process of investigation about moving your body.
So some of that is going to have to be done on your own. And I don't really, you know, everyone has different demands in life, kids, ability, finances, uh, you know, there's, there's a lot of obstacles. But I think there's a couple of things that go with this, where one that people feel, especially in Pilates, because we are so detailed and there's all this fancy equipment and everything. And even in the mat work, you know, it's very specific that they feel that they're going to do it wrong if they don't have somebody watching them.
And I think I used to, as a younger teacher, kind of be like, well, yes, you know, we need to make sure you're doing this right. And let's just like work on it forever in your sessions. And then you can go home and perform a knee fold and it will be perfect. And then the heavens will part and your back pain will disappear. And you know, so like as time has gone on, I'm like, [00:41:00] Your knee fold may completely suck for three months or whatever that, you know, knee folds don't suck. They don't have morals there. They're just a knee fold.
But part of the learning is you going home and doing this stuff and having no idea what you're doing. And then reporting back to me and saying, Hey, I had no idea what I'm doing, but I did it this way. And it felt kind of cool. Can we talk about that a little bit? Can we look at that in my session? And me going, great. Let's look at that. Oh, that's a new way that you did that knee fold. That seems to really work for your, whatever you're popping psoas your back, like let's roll with that and see where that will take us to kind of the next one plateau or the next level of your journey.
So I, I encourage my clients to think of their sessions as more like a dialogue that we're engaging in. And I think for me personally, it also helps me to not feel like I'm just sort of [00:42:00] regurgitating information and exercises. It keeps me engaged and it keeps me sort of on my toes on how I'm going to teach and hungry for new information. And to be constantly updating so that as they're learning about themselves, I can give them better, clearer, more current information about what's actually happening in their body. And I think they're equally as important.
So of course, you know, like any Pilates, it's like the little black dress of the Pilates world, now everyone's got one. Um, I have a membership site because yeah, you just got to have one of these days. Like I'm joking. You do not have to have a membership site to be a successful Pilates instructor.
But it's something that I had thought about for awhile pre COVID. I was like dabbling in some YouTube videos just to make it very small and just trying to find ways to give clients [00:43:00] something that they could engage with on their own, at home, where they felt like they had a little bit of support, but it was a conscious decision on my part to not do the, like, this is your four week abs program.
And I also want to say, I don't find anything wrong with that. I think anything that we get to get people moving is fantastic. And so if it needs to be in a container of like three week glutes or two day abs or whatever it is, great, more movement is just a better thing for the world in general.
I think for me, with my mission, with my clientele, with what I wanted to be able to offer people was something that was. A little less defined, which we'll see a bit works. It's very new. So it could, I could in six months be like, well, that's not working at all. I'm going to have to, you know, pick out four workouts and do like, this is your four week whatever program. But to give people something [00:44:00] that they were comfortable with, my language, my way of cuing, but really make it more of a process of investigation.
And also provide a wide range of choices in those prerecorded classes. There's a little bit of live stream. Yeah. And the membership too, so that people had a lot of different ways to get engage with the material that would fit in with their lives, which I think is pretty universal when people are doing membership sites or prerecorded stuff that they're putting up, you know, it's kind of like the five minutes to 55 minutes, whatever suits your schedule that day.
But my aim with it was to say, okay, You're going to do this on your own. We're really going to do this and it's going to be okay. And you're not going to hurt yourself and it's okay if it doesn't feel perfect. And it's okay if I'm not watching you, because that's when the learning about yourself is really going to happen. Hopefully that answered your question a little bit.
Olivia: [00:44:57] Definitely. I mean, that's something that I [00:45:00] catch myself saying to my clients where I'm like, I can't come with you on your vacation and I can't come with you when you move to Arizona and that's okay because you're going to be with you. And as long as you're engaging with yourself, it's going to be okay.
I see the Pilates industry a lot is making, uh, in some ways, uh, our clients very reliant on us and, you know, they need us to correct them and, you know, give them the next thing. And it makes me sad when people feel like they don't have any agency in their movement. And they're like, well, you know, could I see you a third time in the week because I really want to do a third workout. And I'm like, well, what if I told you, you could do that on your own?
Josselyn: [00:45:44] On your own! Yeah.
Olivia: [00:45:45] And it would be fine. And then we can chat, you know, like I, I liked the dialogue.
Josselyn: [00:45:51] Yeah. And then you can pro you can sort of process and work through what's happening in your home. Um, you know, for me, I think because of the, the [00:46:00] way that I work over the years, I've attracted people with some pretty interesting conditions and some, you know, chronic pain management.
Um, and yeah. Okay. It's hard. It's hard talking about chronic pain, you know, I'm not a neuroscientist. And so I don't want to, I don't want to misspeak, but I do think that that anxiety. Around well, if I, if I don't have somebody watching, if I don't have somebody touching me, if I don't have your hands on me, somehow my body is going to break and fall apart.
I'll also say in the beginning, you know, if, if a client is coming in and they're in kind of a fragile state, either mentally, physically, whatever, you know, they're gonna need a lot of support in the beginning. This is not some, this is not a concept that I necessarily introduced the first session. I actually, when people come in for their first, like two or three sessions and they're like, I want homework.
I'm like, just, just take it. Go for a walk, breathe, maybe remember your [00:47:00] session and remember like something that you liked from it. And then if you want to get down on the floor and sort of be like, that was cool. I liked that. I actually, I don't give people a lot of homework in their first session because they feel like it's really overwhelming.
It's like language immersion course. You're coming into this new experience and you're just like, oh my goodness, what just happened to me? You sort of have to let it just settle in your body and in your brain a little, at least that's the way I think about it. But over time, if I noticed that, like my hand always, well, not during COVID now, you know, we can start to kind of maybe touch people again, like possibly the next couple of months, if my hand always has to be on your pelvis when you're doing sideline work to just sort of like help, you know, where your pelvis is. Like, I gotta take that hand off. We gotta like move past that.
And when we consider, you know, what's good for motor learning, what's good for self-efficacy, what's good for autonomy, all of these things that you just mentioned too, agency, it's [00:48:00] important that they figure out a way to do it on their own. And also I feel it's important for the instructor, the teacher to know that it might not look exactly like it does in the manual. Yeah. It might not look exactly like how it says it should look in your biomechanics book or in your anatomy book. And it's still okay. Yeah. That rib cage ribcage may be a little flared and guess what? It's going to be okay. Because if that feels better to the client, that's cool.
Olivia: [00:48:28] Right. I feel like clients can exhale a little bit. Teachers can exhale a little bit and we can just enjoy what we're doing and the fact that we get to do it together.
Like, I think that we've briefly, briefly touched on it, but this is another thing that really interests me. And that's everything that happens in the session that isn't Pilates, this social exchange, this emotional exchange, this support that we're giving beyond.
Oh, you know, I can remind you to drop your shoulders when they're sneaking up to your face, but like, I'm here for you [00:49:00] and I support you and I'm like, positive person in your life so that you see your own inherent value.
Josselyn: [00:49:08] Yes. And as you know, like all of those things, when we talk about progress, pain management, all of these things, those are actually the gems, the magical little sparkly things that help people get better. It's less about doing footwork on the right springs with a perfect neutral pelvis. And it's more about the, that pat on the shoulder, the exchange, the movement, the breathing, the connection between the two people, the self-efficacy of doing the movement, of feeling your body. That's the magic people talk about Pilates. You know, there's, there's been some stuff in the industry, you know, just like don't do anatomy, do anatomy, do biomechanics, do this, don't do that.
Pilates is magical, but isn't it, you know, kind of a lot of stuff on social media, you know, but for me, like [00:50:00] it's the alchemy of all of those things together. And I think that's why Pilates is kind of magical. It is, you know, and I'm like the I'm like anatomy, geeky. I can just dissect the movement until it's just minutia , I love it. I don't really do that with my clients so much anymore because it drives everyone crazy. But the whole piece, the equipment, the relationship, the conversation, the challenge, the learning, the flow, the flow state that you get into is pretty cool. I still dig it.
Olivia: [00:50:34] It's super cool. I love it. Uh, super duper cool. Um, it is, it is super awesome.
Uh, Jocelyn, I could chat with you for probably another 10 years, but, um, I just want to thank you for your time for sharing your experience, your lessons, all the things that you've learned, really amazing chatting with you. Thank you so so much.
[00:51:00] 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.