Look at any fitness or mind/body magazine cover and you will see images of instructors who “have it all”!
They’re fit and toned, wearing the latest track pants, smiling and are the role models of “work life harmony”.
But behind the glossy pages lies another story – a story you may have witnessed or even experienced.
An instructor who loves what they’re doing so much they decide to teach as many classes as they can.
Some instructors work in gyms or studios – others decided to set up their own business.
Wherever you are on your journey as a mind/body professional, there will be times when it can feel like you’re not an example of “work life harmony”.
Here are some clues:
- You can’t remember the last time you attended your regular Pilates, meditation or yoga class,
- You teach so many classes in a day that when you go home, the last thing you want to do is stretch out your own body, or
- You dream about your classes and are constantly thinking about your clients,
From first hand experience, and as a mentor to many mind/body professionals, I know that it can be hard to sustain work life harmony.
Here are some strategies that work:
As a mind/body professional you know how important it is to move your body everyday.
But are you moving your body using the same method – or are you allowing yourself an opportunity to move outside of where you are now?
If you practice and teach Iyengar yoga – consider attending a Kundalini yoga class.
If you teach Pilates – attend a mindfulness meditation retreat.
If you practice and teach meditation – attend a rock climbing class.
Shake up your routine - walk a different route, go bushwalking or get a surfing lesson – then notice what happens.
3 START SMALL
Work life harmony is a term that many people throw around as an aspirational dream – almost like you have to work really hard to get there!
It’s not hard though when you start with a plan.
And the plan doesn’t have to be complex!
All you need to do is look at yourself as a new client or student – if you were sitting in front of yourself right now, what advice, strategy, insight or tool would you give out?
You may tell yourself to:
- Schedule in a massage every week,
- Go for a walk by the seaside on Saturday,
- Start a gratitude journal, or
- Book a holiday!
Make you plan simple to follow and be open every day for spontaneity.
For it’s in the times of spontaneity that you allow life and the universe to reach out and give you exactly what you’ve been yearning for.
As a mind/body professional you’re used to teaching others how to stay in touch with their breath, their body and the way they move in space.
And whether you attend classes to be taught, or just like to hang out at in your own space and practice on your mat - you know how important it is everyday to take “you time”.
Whether it’s to move your body for an hour or so, sit quietly and practice mindfulness or have a well deserved nap between teaching classes.
But, sometimes “life gets in the way” - an instructor is sick and you have to cover the class, you have a staff meeting to attend, you need to chase up the brochures, you have to market your classes, you need to pick up the kids from school…
if you don’t make time everyday to listen to (and hear!) your own heart – to it’s urgings, it’s desires and needs, how can you really make the impact you want to with your clients?
If you’re not hearing your heart’s urgings, how can you influence the minds and hearts of the people you really want to help?
So how can we take “time-out” and make sure we’re listening to our heart, while making sure “everything else” is running smoothly?
Here’s some suggestions:
- Be choosy: Today there is so much information, noise and turmoil around us all. Whether it’s having the radio or TV on, interacting on social media or dealing with family and friends. It can be really hard to find an “escape” from all the noise and demands. So make a choice: choose who you want to listen to; what you want to read and watch; who you want to “hang with”.
- Embrace nature: When was the last time you stepped outside and heard only the birds sing, the wind rustle in the trees or the waves crash on the beach? It may be hard to schedule a “mini-break” right now, but using your mind/body knowledge, you can filter out the traffic noises, the chatter of passing pedestrians and focus on the birds singing to each other. Or maybe you can take time each night to look out your bedroom window and watch the clouds part as the moon and stars emerge. Embracing nature and allowing it into your life will help your heart stay open and warm.
- Do at least one thing a week that makes your heart sing: If you’re teaching mind/body classes on a regular basis, your creative energies can get depleted if you’re not replenishing them regularly. Take some time to consider what you would really love to do, but have put off. Maybe it’s to start a drawing or painting class, maybe you really want to learn how to bake cupcakes, perhaps you want to learn how to belly dance? Whether it’s a singing class, a stand-up paddle class or a walk in the bush every week, make sure you schedule this in your diary and put a “not negotiable” around it.
Hearing and listening to your own heart beat is important - whether you teach a few classes a week or own a studio.
Getting in the habit of filtering out noise will help you stay aligned with your heart-path – and from this, what you create can be anything you desire.
As a mind/body instructor, you feel “in the zone” when you’re teaching your students.
You love seeing your students move with more freedom and feel a thrill when you see how their commitment to the practice changes their life.
But it can feel really overwhelming when it comes to how to market your classes.
After 17+ years in the fitness and mind/body industries, I’ve come up with a 3-step process to help quieten the “monkey mind” that can appear when you want to attract more students.
Step 1: Get grounded
Many yoga and Pilates exercises focus on being grounded . That may be when you lie supine and feel every part of your spine on the mat – or when you stand tall at the top of your mat before you commence your Sun Salutations.
Feeling grounded creates an inward sense of stability and a quietness of mind.
Now use this when you market your classes:
- Write down 3-5 things you love about teaching. How do you feel when your classes are fully booked?
- Cast your mind back to when you had “the best” day teaching. What happened during the day and how did this translate into your life “off the mat”? For example, did you come home after teaching back-to-back classes feeling grateful that you’re making a difference?
- Lastly, think back to the first time you seriously considered being a mind/body teacher. Maybe you were in a job you hated and you realised that if you didn’t follow your heart and enrol in the instructor training, you would never feel happy? Perhaps you had a teacher who made such an impact on your life that you felt compelled to follow in their footsteps?
Step 2: Connect
Connection is a key principle in Pilates and yoga. Whether that’s to your core or to your breath, you know from your personal practice and from teaching your clients that it also helps to stay “in the moment”.
Now use this when you market your classes:
- Who do you want to connect with in your local community? What could you offer them that makes your classes “stand-out”? For example, they may be desk-bound workers who really need help with releasing their neck and shoulders, but are reluctant to commit to a series of classes. Could you offer a one-off workshop at lunchtime or offer to go into their office to show them “5 ways to relieve neck and back stress using Pilates/Yoga exercises”.
- Next, connect with what makes you stand out from other teachers. Think back to what your students have told you after they’ve had a great class – “I sleep so much better after your class…this class sets me up for the week, I feel so aligned and peaceful…If it wasn’t for your classes I would have to be at the Physiotherapist every week!” Including a student testimonial in your marketing material is a form of social proof. It’s like when you’re looking for a restaurant online and you look at the reviews before you ring up and book!
Step 3: Set an intention
Setting an intention in yoga is called “sankalpa” which can be loosely defined as a conception or idea formed in the mind or heart.
When you’re planning your classes for the week ahead, you are consciously and subconsciously setting intentions.
From class structure, to researching contraindications for clients, to creating a theme for the week.
Now use this when you market your classes:
- Before starting any marketing, sit quietly and drop down into your heart. When you feel ready, quietly ask, “What do I really want from marketing my classes?” The first answers that come up may be from your head. You may notice things like “I need more students so I can pay my rent easily…I would like more students so I don’t feel like it’s a waste of time when only 5 people turn up in a room that fits 25…” Notice what is coming up, without judgment then breathe deeply. Now, allow the answers to come from your heart. You may notice things like, “I want to market my classes so I can help more people in my community improve their health…I have amazing tools to help young mothers stay present, so they can be peaceful and balanced when they’re parenting…”
- Lastly, ask yourself how you want to feel when you’re teaching. Again, allow the answers to resonate from your heart and watch the “head stuff” without getting caught up in it.
Marketing your classes goes hand-in-hand with teaching classes.
Start slowly, be kind to yourself and most importantly, allow yourself to enjoy the process.
After practicing yoga for 20+ years, going to gyms since I was in high school and being part of the mind/body and fitness industry for 17+ years, I’ve been instructed by hundreds of people.
Some classes have been mind-blowing: those classes when the essence of the movement you’ve been struggling to discover finally appears – almost like magic!
One yoga class I attended started like this, “I’m really, really hung over today….My housemates are still stoned and I can’t believe I got here on time…What do you all want to do today?”
There have been times when I taught that I knew I connected with the class, and other times when nothing I gave the class “worked”.
So what makes an amazing teacher?
What makes us as instructors and business owners keep going to classes, week after week?
Here’s what I’ve noticed about awesome instructors:
1 They explain how their class lessons translate into their student’s real world
Awesome instructors know their students have busy, noisy and stressful lives.
They admire their commitment coming to class week after week and tailor their classes so their student’s can benefit from the teaching during and after their class.
They give “here’s what to do at home or in the work-place” tips.
2 They are human
Amazing instructors walk the talk – they’re fit and healthy, but they also show their class (without revealing too much information) that they too have challenges.
Whether that’s by saying, “I found this exercise really challenging too” or “This posture helped me a lot when I experienced a lot of migraines”.
They know they’ve still got a lot to learn themselves and are humble enough to let their students know this.
3 They’re approachable and love questions
I remember attending a conference workshop and the presenter was so intimidating that even though many people had questions, no one dared ask them in case they got ridiculed.
Awesome instructors welcome appropriate questions and love it when students show interest in the practice.
4 They are a joy to be around
Awesome instructors have that “inner glow” – they are instructing because it lightens up their heart and brings joy to their soul.
They love seeing their student’s get stronger, more flexible and healthier.
Happy New Year!
A time where you have extra space, time and energy to consider the year ahead.
A time where resolutions are made, goals set and intentions bubble away.
A time to connect with what you would really, really like to do this year.
With your studio and clients.
Your teaching career – more workshops, less face-to-face time, more online presence…
Your home life - more time with family and friends, clearing a space to plant some vegetables, creating an environment that lightens you up…
Your life – pursuing interests outside of the movement world, enrolling in the writing course, having a regular massage…
So how does this happen?
As a movement professional, you know how to set goals and achieve them.
But sometimes when it comes to life “off the mat” it can feel like outside influences creep in.
Comparisons to others, listening to the “inner critic” that says you’re not experienced enough/old enough/young enough…
Here’s some tips that have helped me and my clients step into 2013 with a light-hearted step.
1 Make a list of the things you want to release from 2012
What have you outgrown?
Maybe you don’t really want to be teaching early morning classes every day of the week in 2013?
Perhaps you feel stifled by teaching at a certain venue?
Take the time to connect with any previous commitments and promises and check in with your heart and ask:
“Are these helping me be who I really want to be? Or are they keeping me small and a lesser version of who I am now?”
2 Let yourself be happier
Bronnie Ware is an Australian palliative care nurse who has written about the top 5 regrets that her dying patients had.
One of the most common regrets was – I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
3 Consider what you want to feel
At the start of each year, there’s an excitement in the air – a buzz of new possibilities and opportunities.
But what often happens is that by the end of February (or sometimes January!) the routine of life, home and work takes over.
So here’s a chance to shift that!
Make a list of what you really, really, really want to embrace this year!
Sometimes a list that often has numbers next to it like, “Increase client numbers by 20%, improve cash flow 30% by June 2013″.
Numbers are important but they can make you feel stressed out about how to actually achieve the goals.
So add some feeling to it - after all, you’re a movement expert and you thrive on feeling light and energy flow through your entire being!
As an example, next to “increase clients by 20%”, write how this would make you feel – and dig deep!
First you may feel relief – that your classes are now full, that you can make payroll easily every month…
Next you may feel proud – that your classes are helping more people…
Sit with the feelings and if you feel light and energized it means the goal is aligned with your deepest passions and values.
Entering a new year is exciting but what if you transferred that feeling to everyday?
Why does the ticking of the clock from December 31 to January 1 each year provide so much hope, joy and excitement?
And how can you feel this every morning as you wake up?
Have you noticed how much louder and busier things get around this time of year?
As the end of year celebrations get closer, stress and anxiety levels rise, grumpiness becomes a default setting for some and there’s a sense of “time running out”.
You may even hear yourself saying things like, “Once I get through these next few weeks, then I can relax…”
The end of year means different things for all of us, yet there is a common feeling that it’s a milestone to aim for.
In a studio setting you may notice that your clients are getting tired, forgetting the simplest of exercises, not turning up to class or turning up in such a stressed out state that you spend most of the class just trying to get them to breathe!
So what to do?
With that sense of rushing towards December 31 comes an internal pressure to “get things done”.
It may be wrapping up your classes for the year, organizing an end of year party or making sure your home renovation is completed by December 25.
And with so many people feeling this way, is it any wonder that so many people world-wide feel like they’re just about ready to explode?
As a mind/body practitioner, it can be challenging to stay balanced and calm at times like this, so here’s some tips to help you and your clients out:
1 Reflect on how far you’ve come this year
As a Pilates and Yoga instructor, it’s almost second nature to set intentions, both in your business and personal life.
Go back in your mind to January 1 this year.
What were your intentions?
Maybe you wanted to increase the number of classes you taught a week?
Perhaps this was the year you branched out on your own for the first time?
Or maybe, you had a goal to expand your reach in your local community by marketing your classes more?
Now quietly, consider how far you’ve come since January…
Maybe your intentions changed mid-stream – and that’s perfectly fine because this is your life; your journey will take little twists and turns along the way.
2 What have you learned this year?
Did you have a goal to learn how to cook cupcakes like a professional?
Maybe you wanted to learn how to meditate?
Sit quietly and consider all the lessons you’ve learned so far this year.
In a class setting, some of the most life-changing lessons can come from seemingly inconsequential moments.
Many years ago, one of my clients suffered a relapse – she knew the secondary pains in her back and hips weren’t muscular, and so did I.
One day, as I was adjusting her reformer straps she quietly mentioned this was her last class.
Instead of putting her body through endless medical treatments and procedures, she had decided to spend her last few weeks at her beach house – surrounded by her dogs and family.
This 3 minute conversation still has a profound impact on me today (as I’m writing this, tears are rolling down my face…)
So stop for a moment, because sometimes the smallest lessons can produce the most profound results.
3 Helping your clients
Your clients come to class to move their bodies; to improve their strength and flexibility – but you are giving them so much more.
Over the next few weeks, take the time to remind your clients how far they’ve come this year – how they’re moving without pain, how they’re stronger and more energized.
Your classes are a perfect space for you to help them slow down – to feel the stress melt away and to appreciate every moment.
So with a new year approaching, take the time to appreciate and celebrate where you are now.
Inhale the possibilities of each new minute, hour and day – exhale the busy-ness, stress and anxiety.
Have you noticed your clients feeling more stressed in the past few weeks?
The end of year is looming and with it comes the associated pressures.
Pressure to “get things done” before the end of year – like December 31st, is the cut off date for everything to be done:
- To “catch up with everyone”,
- To attend end of year events,
- Complete every piece of work,
- Organize family functions, or
- Arrange time away.
The tumbling forward into doing things, to get things “right” for the end of year can create a sense of just wanting to “get through” the next few weeks so you can collapse and finally relax.
This may show up when you’re planning to close your studio down for a few days or weeks.
Part of you is looking forward to having time away from teaching classes - time to refresh and renew your body, mind and soul.
And yet, there’s another part of you that is feeling tight and anxious.
You may feel:
- Concerned about cash flow,
- Worried about how many clients will resume their classes in the new year, or
- Tense about how to start marketing your classes when the new year starts.
And it got me wondering why we don’t talk about this more?
Being concerned about your classes, clients, staff and studio is okay – but feeling like you need to control everything can lead to a grasping in your mind and body.
You may feel a grip in your heart as you look at the class bookings leading into mid December.
Or a tightness in your throat as you hear yourself say that you can’t wait to have a break over the holiday season.
Any tightness and grasping in your body is an indication that you’ve moved away from your aliveness – the very essence that attracts your clients to your classes and studio.
So notice when you’re feeling uptight - about cash flow, marketing, client bookings…
Allow yourself to be present with the feelings and with a lightness of attitude, allow kindness and compassion to flow throughout your being.
Feeling, listening and being aware of what’s going on at a deeper level, will bring you back to you.
To your open heart.
To your kindness.
To your gift of helping people transform their lives through movement.
If you want more tips on how to “survive” the Xmas/New Year period, check out this post.
Maintaining your joy as a Pilates or Yoga Instructor may seem a strange topic to blog about.
After all, who wouldn’t want to be able to go to work in track-pants?
Who wouldn’t want to help people improve all areas of their life through mind/body exercises?
And yet, there may be times during your instructing career when you feel like the joy and love for what you do isn’t as high as it could be.
It may be that you’ve been teaching a lot of classes lately or that your holiday is long overdue.
So how can you keep you feel confident and full of joy as you look towards 2013?
This topic came about as a result of a blogging course I recently completed.
The presenter, Holly Becker of Decor 8, is a blogger and author who focuses on craft and interiors – and she teaches bloggers how to “blog their way”.
During one of her lessons I realized that what she was teaching us translates perfectly to the Pilates and Yoga world.
So here are some tips to maintain your joy as a Pilates and Yoga instructor:
Avoid comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to other instructors, other studio owners or other businesses is a sure-fire way to stamp out your joy. Why? Because comparing yourself to others leaves you feeling second best. You may see other instructors attracting more clients and an unhealthy comparison could be, “They’re better than me because they’re busier and more popular than me.”
Instead of this unhealthy comparison, flip it around to a “healthy comparison” that could be, “I see they have full classes and look like they’re popular. I know they’ve got more experience than me.” From this you can then see that teaching one client, then building up your classes, step-by-step is the way most instructors have developed full classes and good reputations.
Define your vision as an Instructor
In the busy world that is Pilates and Yoga instructing, it can be really easy to lose sight of your vision. And when your vision becomes blurry, it can be hard to feel joyful.
Go back to why you wanted to become an Instructor? Was it because the mind/body exercise made such an impact on your life? Was it because you wanted to help people move with freedom and a lightness of spirit?
Examining these motivations will fuel your vision.
Be kind to yourself
The world of instructing conjures up images of balance, peace, harmony and love. Yet sometimes as an Instructor it can be difficult to feel any of this if you’re not being kind to you!
Being harsh on yourself and listening to “the little voice on the shoulder” that is critical and says unhelpful things can weigh you down.
But when you turn the negative voice around by noticing that listening to it all the time isn’t helpful, you will start feeling more comfortable in your own skin.
Putting pressure on yourself as an Instructor to “be a certain way” only leeches joy and lightness out. So ease up on yourself.
Instructing should be enjoyable – you have amazing skills, talents and a gift for helping people improve their life.
Allow yourself to “be you” and feel the joy and bliss ooze back into your life again.
A couple of weekends ago I attended the 3rd ProBlogger conference in Melbourne, Australia.
ProBlogger is Darren Rowse, he is the “Oprah” of the blogging world and has been at it for 10 years. Darren is known worldwide for his insights, sharing of quality information and his desire to help every blogger reap the success they desire.
So why write about blogging in a Pilates and Yoga forum?
Bloggers share the same key values that Pilates and Yoga Instructors do: they value community, love creating connections and share valuable information that can change lives!
Here’s some lessons I learned from attending the conference, held at Etihad Stadium in down-town Melbourne, Australia.
1 The Manifesto for Bloggers:
All attendees received a manifesto to take home – use what feels right as you nurture your community and build your business. You can download this manifesto here.
2 Find 15 minutes a day
Darren’s opening address was one of my highlights of the conference. He “walks his talk” and openly acknowledges that he gets distracted when it comes to doing the “business stuff”. So he sets aside 15 minutes a day for business development – every day.
How can you use this 15 minutes a day? Can you update your email list, write a list of local businesses that you can cross promote your classes with, or think about what promotional activity you would like to do in the next 3,6 and 9 months?
3 Do things that give you energy
Darren Rowse also spoke about “the spark” within. As a blogger, it can be hard going if you’re trying to write content that doesn’t “feel right”.
Ask yourself: what do you do in your business that “fires you up”? It may be that you absolutely love teaching classes, yet you feel drained when it comes to book-keeping. Do a quick audit of your energy levels and consider out-sourcing areas that drain you.
4 Create a point of difference
Branding and “standing out from the crowd” was a theme of a couple of the sessions. Put simply, the most successful blogs are the ones that stand out from the crowd. A newly established blog, Zen Pencils is a great example of how a simple idea, with a quirky difference has created an amazing business.
What can you do to promote your classes and studio that make you stand out from the crowd?
5 Make big mistakes
I was fortunate to be able to meet and listen to media personality and blogger Sarah Wilson. Her key message was to get “in the mud” and make mistakes. She told us about her first day at ACP as editor of Cosmo magazine when she was told “don’t ask for permission”. She urged us all to try things out without getting hung up on “the right strategies”. At the heart of Sarah’s advice was to check in with her inner wisdom – if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
So what lessons can you infuse into your everyday life now?
Have you ever had the experience of being overwhelmed by someone else’s exuberance and energy?
Maybe your friend is on the other end of the phone telling you about their new job.
Or you’re at dinner with your best friend and they announce they’re having a baby.
The feeling is positive, uplifting and contagious; bubbling over and making everyone who walks by your table smile!
And you’ve experienced what happens when there’s a negative “vibe”.
The energy pulls you down, the atmosphere feels heavy and the tension can become unbearable.
So what can you do if you experience this as an Instructor or Studio owner?
Learning how to shield energy will help you remain unaffected by negative energy and allow you to teach and grow your Studio without feeling blocked.
Firstly it’s a good idea to consider what or who may drain your energy:
- You may have a client or a class that makes you feel exhausted,
- You may have a friend or colleague that leaves you feeling wrung out, or
- You may notice that you feel drained when you enter a shop.
Here’s some tips to help you shield your energy:
- Before you teach a class, visualise a cocoon lovingly wrapped around your body. Walking into a class with this energetic cocoon around you allows you to remain focused on what you’re there for, without being affected by negativity.
- Visualise a white light around your solar plexus region to protect your energy. Visualise the white light filling every corner of your class, highlighting the negative energies and showing them the door.
- Cleanse yourself after each class. This can be as simple as removing yourself from the room and washing your hands; as you do so, visualise any “dirty energy” going down the plug hole.
Now you’ve dissolved the negative energies, it’s time to draw the positive energies into your classes:
- Close your eyes and remember when you taught a class that “just flowed” – the clients smiled and laughed, your class structure was well received and you felt like you were in “the zone”.
- What stands out from this class? Was it the clients, the soft breeze coming through the open window, or the smell of the essential oils burning? Working this out will allow you to manifest these types of classes over and over.
- Visualise how you want to feel as you enter and leave your classes. You’re an instructor to inspire and motivate your clients to better health and fitness. How does this feel to you? Do you feel like you’re a leader who intuitively guides your clients? Maybe you feel like your personal experience can gently guide your classes to improved wellbeing?
You can choose what energies you allow into your personal space.
Allow the energy of laughter, connection and peace into your world as you mindfully protect your space against draining and murky energies.