Pilates Teachers' Manual

Surviving A Busy Schedule

August 19, 2021 Olivia Bioni Season 5 Episode 6
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Surviving A Busy Schedule
Show Notes Transcript

This week we look at getting through days or weeks when your schedule is too busy and you're feeling overextended. Tune in to hear strategies for recognizing when you're in that too busy place, encouragement to cut back on classes and commitments, and things you can do in your classes in the short term to push through.

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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 [00:01:00] podcast. Today, we're going to be discussing surviving a busy schedule. And this is coming out of my personal experience from this summer. 

[00:01:11] So if you've taught Pilates for a year and you've experienced all the different seasons of the year and how that kind of affects your class attendance and your private clients and things like that. Summer is a notoriously slow season. Uh, it's often called the summer slowdown because you know, your clients may be traveling for a few weeks or month at a time. You have a bunch of holidays in the summer. And your attendance in classes can go down um, not only from traveling also because the weather is nice and sometimes it's too nice to stay inside and do Pilates. They're biking and swimming and doing all of this lovely outdoor stuff, which is fabulous. But as a teacher, your attendance and your private appointments can kind [00:02:00] of diminish in that season. 

[00:02:03] For me, I had a bit of the opposite experience this summer. Some of my good friends who are teachers were traveling and I offered to pick up some of their classes while they were gone, or there were some teacher turnover at the studio and so I offered to cover an additional day of classes. What that's resulted in was, uh, me being two and a half to three teachers a week instead of my usual, just doing my own schedule per week. And uh, resulted in me teaching about 40 hours each week, six days a week, which on its face is not ideal. 

[00:02:45] I do recognize that it was self-imposed. I did want to help out. So it's definitely on me that I did choose to take those classes, but it was a lot. And then looking at my schedule, I would think to myself at the beginning of the week, like, [00:03:00] how am I going to get through this? This is so much. This is not the fun time that I usually have. So this episode is really about surviving that too busy schedule.

[00:03:15] What's too busy for you and too busy for me might be two different things. And there's not like a universally "this is it. This is when we need to reevaluate." It's really dependent on you, your teaching load, what you feel comfortable with, and then what you start to feel uncomfortable with. This episode is going to be about strategies to get through that kind of difficult, super busy time.

[00:03:40] And I do say surviving, not thriving. Like the best of me was not there all the time. And that's disappointing as a perfectionist, but you also have to recognize that when you have this much on your plate here, just some strategies to get through that. 

[00:03:58] The first thing you have to do [00:04:00] is recognize that you're in this place that this schedule is not working for you, that it is too much. And then ideally take steps to change it in the near future. Ideally, these times are non-existent where you're too busy, but if they do have to exist, they're short term and you want to take steps to get out of this so you can get back to kind of being in your flow and doing a number of classes or a number of private appointments that really is sustainable for you. 

[00:04:39] The studios you're working for, if you're working for studios, may want to keep you on the classes that you took on. If it was like a teacher left the studio and they're trying to find someone else to teach those classes, like they may want to keep you there, especially if on the surface you're doing really well. If your classes have a high attendance, if you have students who [00:05:00] really enjoy coming to your class, if you're selling memberships or retail or whatever comes with your, uh, studio stuff, the studio may very well ask you to keep those hours.

[00:05:14] And, you know, it's not their fault. They don't know what other obligations you have or how you're feeling with these current commitment. And you may see yourself as just helping out or filling this need, because of course you want your studio to succeed because when the studio succeeds, you also succeed. 

[00:05:35] What you need to remember, especially when you're telling them like, Hey, I need to let go of this block. Or, you know, I can't keep teaching this class. Um, you need to remember that you have to do what's best for you and really making choices that are more sustainable for you. Because continuing to teach at a level that you're already feeling drained after doing it for a few weeks or [00:06:00] for a month, this is burnout territory. This is, you know, you love teaching and you love everything about Pilates, but the joy is just gone and you don't want to go to work and you're tired and sad, and it's not a fun place to be. And so if you can recognize those signs before you get to that point of no return where, um, you swear off teaching Pilates forever, that would be best. 

[00:06:29] If you've given notice to the studio that you are going to cut back on your teaching hours, or you stop yourself from overextending by, you know, limiting the amount of sub requests you say that you're able to cover, just making this situation that you're in as short term as possible. 

[00:06:52] And I know that letting go of classes, even classes that you were covering for a short period of time can be really difficult because I would [00:07:00] say for the vast majority of us, we actually really enjoy teaching Pilates and we enjoy the people that we work with. And there's something really wonderful about teaching movement and working with people that can be hard to say goodbye to, even if you're just dropping a day of classes or a few hours of classes. 

[00:07:22] I think about this, especially in the student and teacher relationship in Pilates, because I know that I feel a sense of responsibility of showing up and being there for my students. And in ways that's great. Like to a degree that's amazing. You do want to show up and be your best for your students, but you can think about students that, you know, go on vacation or move to another state. They're not thinking to themselves, well, you know, I can't take this job in this other place because you know, my Pilates teacher needs me to be there. Like, no. They just move. 

[00:07:58] Um, so part of our [00:08:00] relationship is a business relationship and you have to put yourself in your needs at the forefront, even if they're amazing people, which I know they are. I know, like I have struggled that struggle as well. You have to know that it's okay to scale back. You have to give yourself permission to take care of yourself. If that means teaching less than that's teaching less. 

[00:08:25] It's something that I've told myself when I've left studios, is that you don't owe the studio anything and you don't owe the students anything beyond being the Pilates teacher when you're there to teach Pilates. It seems callous. It seems cold. And I don't mean it that way because I have really wrestled and struggled with this, but you have to put yourself first in this situation. 

[00:08:51] I had a client who was visiting, um, the studio. It wasn't their home studio. They were on vacation [00:09:00] visiting and they came and took some classes with me. And as an offhand comment, they said, you know, oh yeah, when I visit next year, I'll be really excited to come take class with you again. You know, on it's face, it's like, it's wonderful. Like, you feel so appreciated that, you know, they're going to be visiting Chicago and they're going to come specifically to see you. 

[00:09:20] But on the other hand, like you have your own life and your own adventure that is teaching Pilates, but also beyond teaching Pilates, your family and your dreams and goals and the things you're working on, and you don't need to meet that expectation, their expectation, that you're going to be in the same place a year from now.

[00:09:44] When I left the studio that I did my teacher training at and kind of went off into the wild because I saw my teaching going in a different direction and, you know, I wanted to teach more hours than I wanted to do more, um, [00:10:00] and other things. I really wrestled with this idea that I was like abandoning students. And on one hand, like maybe that's a little bit egotistical to think that you have such a big part in people's lives. Your students will continue doing Pilates, or I was also teaching yoga, like they'll continue doing yoga and find yoga classes um, without you. You don't have to shoulder that burden.

[00:10:26] Coming up after the break, I'm going to talk about some things that you can do in your classes to kind of get through things you can do in class and in your life when you're in this really busy schedule. That's coming up next.

[00:10:48] 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 [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.

[00:11:07] 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.

[00:11:45] Okay. Things to do when you're in class and you're not at your greatest because you are a bit overextended. Mentally, you're there a little bit. Physically, you're definitely there, but [00:12:00] how can we make this class, this block of classes this day, a little bit easier for you? 

[00:12:07] I feel like it's good teaching advice anyway, but also specifically in this situation, simplify. Simplify, everything. Make it so simple. Especially when I'm teaching back to back classes in the studio. I'm talking simplified choreography, simplified equipment usage, equipment transitions, everything as simple, as intuitive, as possible, as like stripped down down to the foundation as possible. If you are not getting enough sleep because you're burning the candle at both ends because you're teaching all of these classes, you do not need to add complicated transitions in choreography to your brain, to uh, make it fancier. You do not need to do that. 

[00:12:55] We know that the fundamentals in Pilates are [00:13:00] always worth revisiting. And if I'm looking down a day schedule, that's got six classes in a row. Yeah. We're definitely going to be hitting those fundamentals and guess what? That is not bad teaching. That is excellent teaching. A lot of times, light bulb moments happen in the fundamentals and your students are not looking at you and being like, oh my gosh, we're doing bilateral footwork. Like you might have taught bilateral footwork 30 times this week, but they didn't take it 30 times. You may have seen them once or twice at most, you know. Like they're not living Pilates the same way that you are when you're teaching it. So you're really not doing your students a disservice. If anything, you're giving them more opportunities to apply their Pilates principles, to, you know, the real core central tenants of Pilates. 

[00:13:55] I feel like I've talked about this in maybe progressions in [00:14:00] classes or seamless transitions, things like that. You can teach one class at multiple levels. You want to be a little bit more particular, I think, with private clients, especially like if you're doing a hybrid of virtual teaching and in-person teaching, like I am. I can't necessarily teach the exact same class because not everyone has the exact same pieces of equipment, but if you're in a studio and you're teaching, you know, varying levels of classes, you can have one class plan for your classes and then dial it up or dial it down depending on whether it's an advanced class and intermediate class or a beginner class, if that's how your studio levels classes. 

[00:14:37] You know, you can give more options in more advanced classes. You can take that footwork and, you know, spruce it up a little bit, but you can teach the same thing in all of your classes. And it's okay. No one will know. Very likely they aren't staying for more than one class. On Instagram, uh, Nikki Naab-Levy was posting earlier this [00:15:00] week about, you know, the basics work, like the fundamentals work. That's why all of these exercise regimens have a bunch of squats and a bunch of lunges, because they work. They're not fancy, but they're very effective and they're very worth doing. 

[00:15:18] And if you're gonna put your energy towards something, when you're teaching, I think it's better to put it towards your sense of observation, giving feedback to your students, seeing what they're doing, and then offering them suggestions. That's way more valuable than having them do this super complicated choreography. Like we can really strip it down and I think that'll save you a little bit of brain power. 

[00:15:44] Another thing I will ask of my students when I'm feeling a little bit tired- and I'm afraid if they're listening, they're going to be like, oh no, you know. I ask for their help with the transitions, you know. Instead of me setting the equipment for all of the stations, I'll ask them, [00:16:00] Hey, can you shorten the straps on the TRX? Hey, can you change your springs? Can you put this back on the chair when you're done? When you ask students, you know, can you put the mats back? It just saves you one thing so that you can get out a little bit easier and like go to sleep and recharge your batteries as much as possible. 

[00:16:22] That's kind of great. Multi-fold because I think asking for help is something that's really empowering. And I'm going to talk a little bit more about that in a second, but it gives- I don't know where I read this. I don't know if I can even quote where I read this, but that there's something about being asked for help and then being able to offer that help that humans like do, and like, you feel good when someone asks for help and then you can help them. And so it kind of has that nice little connection.

[00:16:51] And then it also gives the students like a greater understanding of how the studio works, how the equipment works. I use the [00:17:00] TRX earlier this week and we did a little TRX tutorial. This is how you lengthen the straps and shorten the straps. And that's also valuable learning. It doesn't always even have to be exercises, right? 

[00:17:11] Maybe it goes without saying, but caffeine is your friend. I know that I'm teaching a little bit too much if I'm having more than two cups of coffee a day. But as a very short-term strategy in that I did not fall asleep while I was lying down teaching a mat class, like it is worth it to me, but that's also another sign that like, Hey, this is not going to be something we do long-term. 

[00:17:36] When you're really busy, it seems like you don't have a lot of time to do things. Um, but I'm going to stress that it is important to make time to sleep. Even if it means the plants that you had to water today, don't get watered until tomorrow or the next day,. Unless it's like a really finicky plant, it's probably going to be okay. 

[00:17:58] Whatever you can [00:18:00] do to wind down. I know that group classes for me kind of wind me up. And so when I come home at night, I'm kind of really energized even when I'm tired. And so having a cup of tea or watching some silly videos on Tik Tok, like that. Even though I know you shouldn't look at your screen right before you go to bed before you, uh, share that with me, but doing something to wind down so that you can get to sleep is really important.

[00:18:26] Also asking for help from your support network can be really valuable. If you have a partner or spouse or live with people and you can ask them for help as well. I know that I'm really lucky that, you know, I don't have children or a pet or really a lot of responsibilities outside of my work. And I do have a partner who is working from home currently, and he's able to help with dinner and laundry and things like [00:19:00] that, but really sharing that that's the space that you're in. And ideally they're going to help you anyway, because they love you and care about you and want you to get through this as well. 

[00:19:13] So if you find yourself in a similar situation to me this summer, and you're looking at your schedule and you know that it's too much, I had a couple of strategies that will hopefully help you push through, but honestly, the mantra like this too shall pass, and that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, that this isn't forever. 

[00:19:34] For whatever reason that you took this on whether you were helping out a studio or a teacher friend of yours, it's a short term thing. You're going to get through it. You're going to do your best and we'll make changes so that we don't end up here in the future. But even if you do everything is changeable, right. We can change our situation. [00:20:00] We're not stuck. We're highly mobile and highly able to create a new schedule, create a new reality for ourselves. I hope that your really busy time and your schedule passes quickly and you're back to your ideal schedule as soon as possible. 

[00:20:21] Huge thank you to all my supporters on buy me a coffee. I appreciate your commitment to this project, and I really appreciated chatting with you. Yeah, I really look forward to seeing you again in August. I hope you have a great couple of weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.

[00:20:45] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming. great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual, and be sure to [00:21:00] subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

[00:21:09] The adventure continues. Until next time.