New Column! During February, Pilates-Pro.com is hosting an open Q&A with Siri Dharma Galliano. Siri will be “on call” all month to answer your questions about teaching Pilates and running a business. If you have a question for Siri, please leave it for her in the comments section of this post and she’ll answer soon.
Siri has started things off by answering a few questions sent to her lately by studio owners. After the jump, you can read her responses to whether to buy new or used equipment and how to discourage clients from wanting to wear shoes in the studio.
About Siri: A protégé of Romana Kryzanowska, Siri Dharma Galliano is also certified in Kundalini yoga and the owner of Live Art Pilates Studio in West Los Angeles. She has sold over $1 million in Pilates equipment and has set up studios all over the United States, Europe, Australia and Russia. She travels to studios as a consultant, has been used as an equipment expert in liability court cases, is a trainer of teachers in the Traditional Method, and is producing the Second Big Bear Pilates Intensive, August 21-23, 2009, in California.
Think of buying equipment like buying a car. You can get a used one that has wear and tear on the interior and body, but is mechanically sound, or you can get a car with a perfect body but it needs mechanical work. A Reformer or Cadillac you can get reupholstered from $100 to $250, depending if you do it yourself, or you can take it to a car upholstery place. You can buy the vinyl from the manufacturer or cheaper from a vinyl store. The springs, straps and bolts can all be replaced. The wooden Reformers get damaged in time, but the dents and scrapes can be sanded out and the wood grime scrubbed off.
In Los Angeles, where the home client has been popular since the 1980s, we find used equipment all the time, but that’s not as common in other cities. However if you check Craigslist, PilatesConnections or thepilatesguy.com there are often used pieces available. I see equipment from Balanced Body, Stott and Peak often for sale, less often for Gratz. But most studios can’t ship it; they don’t have the packing material or know-how. If they do and it gets damaged, you are not likely to recoup your loses, whereas if you buy new from the factories, they will file the claim for you.
Buying new has other advantages. First of all, you get exactly what you want and the size, features and manufacturer you are used to. Also, you get the warranty that comes with the equipment should a wheel go bad or a spring or strap be defective. You also can take a 100-percent tax deduction and depreciation, which you cannot do on used equipment.
I started my career in 1987 with a used Reformer, and I believe that is an option for some people if you can find it. It’s one thing if it is just for you, but if you plan to hire other teachers, some are attached to how they learned; a West Coast person gets confused by four springs and leather straps and a Romana-certified teacher will rarely know or care how to adapt to multicolored springs and adjustable ropes. So, you also have to consider your staff.
Our club has been offering Pilates for several years, but recently we have encountered a growing problem. It seems that more and more of our members are insisting they must wear shoes when using the equipment because of every imaginable foot problem. We have taken a hard line on this by not making any exceptions because as we continue to enroll new members, the problem would only continue to grow. We have allowed the use of socks, Pilates socks and a ballet-like slipper. However we are now being threatened with civil rights action and law suits because we will not allow these people to wear shoes.
What is your position on this, and what exceptions, if any, do you make in these situations?
First of all, it’s an education issue. As gym members are used to wearing shoes from being on treadmills and around heavy weights that might fall on their toes, they don’t know the difference.
If you tell your clients that most people wear very expensive athletic shoes but the foot bar on the Reformer has been designed to strengthen the arches, toes, heels and balls of the feet, and that you can’t see their toe position in shoes, they may understand. Romana always says the footwork stimulates the point in the feet like reflexology, and you can’t get a foot massage with shoes on! Also mention shoes are not worn in yoga class.
If you have an intake form or policy statement, your policy on shoes could be include a section on proper attire. For example, it is better to not wear sweatshirts as the teachers would like to see as much of the body as possible. Give them a reason, rather than a rule.
If it is a fear issue, from germs and fungus that are rampant in gyms, having your clients spray tea-tree oil on equipment after each use makes them know the equipment is always cleaned.
Socks can be cleaner than bare feet and are required by law in some states such as New York, but they can be slippery; so selling sock with grippy soles, like ToeSox, in the club store is a good idea.
Shoes are allowed on the other apparatus besides the Reformer, such as the Electric Chair and Ladder Barrel, so sometimes I let them start on other equipment and then ask them to take their shoes off for the Reformer.
Shoes are necessary on the Reformer if any one has a neurological problem like neuropathy where they can’t feel their feet, or cerebal palsey or paralysis. Then, we hold their feet.
Use humor, common sense and a written orientation to get your point across. Good luck!
Please leave your questions for Siri below. She’s promised to answer quickly! We’ll be inviting more Pilates experts to be “on call” in the future. Let us know who you’d like to hear from by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.