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Pilates Mentors: Q&A with ‘Pilates Goddess’ Lynda Lippin

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Lynda LippinBy Anne Samoilov

I’m passionate about supporting my fellow Pilates instructors and passing on the nuggets of advice that I receive from my own Pilates mentors. We can all learn a lot by observing other successful businesses and applying what is relevant to our own. So, today, I am peeking under the hood of Lynda Lippin’s Pilates in Paradise practice. Lynda works on the Caribbean private resort island of Parrot Cay, where she is the Pilates and Fitness Teacher at COMO Shambhala Retreat. With 20 years of Pilates teaching under her belt, Lynda also sees clients in New York City, works as a Usui Reiki Master, has several blogs and is very active in social media.

Anne: I know you are a respected fitness professional in Pilates, reiki and personal training. After being in this service-based industry for several years, I’m wondering if you have established other income streams which are more automated?

I think it is extremely important for Pilates instructors to create multiple income streams for themselves. The internet is a great place to facilitate this. I give away a couple of Pilates ebooks for neck and back pain, and sell inexpensive Pilates audio [content] as well. Plus I have paid advertising on my blogs that brings me a small regular income. In addition, you can sell products to your clients for profit (small props, books, dvds, supplements that you believe in, clothing, etc.). But the internet is key. I created my audios two years ago and they are still selling and receiving great reviews. And I recorded them directly on my Mac using Garage Band - quick, easy and lucrative!

Anne: How have your blogs benefited your Pilates business?

Lynda: First, I do receive recurring advertising income from the blogs. Plus a blog gives people a sense of who I am, what I like and what my perspective is. Many people (including guests at Parrot Cay) have found me via the blogs. In addition I am approached by companies, authors, etc. to review their items. And I have received a few writing gigs as a result of the blogs.

Anne: Do you teach primarily group classes or private sessions?

Lynda: Both! I must say that I really do not love teaching groups. In my studio I had my staff teach the mat classes and I only taught privates, but of course at Parrot Cay I have to teach the complimentary group Pilates classes plus privates. I prefer privates because people can get the focus and attention they need to really do the work correctly and advance.

Anne: What business advice would you give Pilates instructors just starting out? Do you think building a web presence is important?

Lynda: I suggest not opening a studio. Seriously, most studios will let you teach for a per hour or per month rental fee, and you can focus on getting clients. Gyms will typically pay you plus give you membership for teaching even one class a week, which, if you like to use a gym, can be worthwhile! Now when I teach in New York I just pay by the hour and walk away with the rest - easy. Once you get stuck with lots of equipment, rent and needing more staff it just gets crazy.

Having an internet presence is a must! People will search online for studios and teachers and if you’re not there they will find someone else who is.

Anne: Wow, I know I still go back and forth on this, but you are so right. And I’ve been told this by other studio owners as well. They say…just rent! I do think I’ll eventually have a full home studio, but the idea of managing a studio away from home seems like so much work and headache! Great to know what your perspective is on this.

Anne: How important do you think Twitter and Facebook are for your business?

Lynda: Very important, especially teaching in a remote location most of the year. Like my blogs and websites, Twitter and Facebook give people a chance to get to know me, ask questions and interact before they work with me. Plus it ups my credibility and opens up new connections. I met you on Facebook and Twitter, Anne, and now you have reviewed my audios and I am sure that if we ever had an opportunity to work together we would and could!

You can find Lynda at lyndalippin.com, pilatesgoddess.com and on Twitter at @lyndalippin.

Anne Samoilov is a Pilates instructor and wellness coach who teaches women how to achieve their fitness and weight-loss goals using Simple, Daily, Consistent Steps. She is also the creator of an upcoming 6-week total-wellness program called “Having it all without Losing your Mind.” Anne’s free email newsletter, The Quick Byte, provides weekly healthy living tips on how to eat cleaner, move more, and how Pilates combines it all to get you there faster! 

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Reader Comments (6)

I agree with Lynda!! Many people were telling me to open a studio and its the last thing I want to do. I have a studio in my chiropractor's office where I teach private sessions only. We have an arrangement where I pay per client so it works well! My overhead is low and I purchased my equipment several years ago so it is paid for. It's especially great during the slower summer months or if I'm on holidays because I have no expenses. I love to teach Pilates. I hate managing people, doing schedules and all of the paperwork that goes with a studio. Lynda is right!

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSherry Lowe-Bernie

Your situation sounds perfect as well Sherry. I prefer to not even own the equipment but just use other people's space & apparatus. It's been a good experience as now I can teach on any brand or even home crafted or knock off Pilates equipment (not ideal, by the way). My favorite reformer is Balanced Body, Cadillac is Gratz, chair is BB's EXO Chair.

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynda Lippin

I've just been wary to open a studio because 1) the industry has been slow up here (I think there's been 1-2 job openings in the past year) which indicates lack of market, currently, to me; and 2) so much sunk cost, initially, with the equipment. What if, in this environment, I didn't make my investment back for a few years? That's scary.

So, I stick with my current business model, offering on-site and in-home corporate and private classes. (The marketing is more of a challenge! But my cost is lower.)

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrooke

Hi Brooke. That kind of investment certainly is scary. However, there is so little Pilates in your neck of the woods (or at least Pilates that I could find easily on line) that if you had interested clients it could work. I do like your PortaPilates business model, but I think your pricing is way too low! How is it working thus far?

July 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynda Lippin

Food for thought, if you've been wanting to purchase your own equipment but hesitate due to cost: keep an eye out on craigslist and similar sites. It also never hurts to keep in touch with larger facilities that use Pilates equipment. Trainers and facilities change out equipment from time to time, and it's possible to scoop up gently used pro-level equipment for a song. When a local high-end club switthed equipment brands, I picked up several allegros for 10% of retail.

July 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAgeless-Pilates

I agree Christine! I closed a studio and sold basically brand new equipment cheap and I can remember when a gym near us was unloading their Allegros I picked one up.

July 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynda Lippin

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