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Going Viral! Promote Your Pilates Business with Online Video

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By Nicole Rogers

YouTube is probably best known for viral videos, but it can be useful as a grass-roots marketing tool for all kinds of businesses; from large corporations trying to micro-market and create buzz, to small Pilates studios posting video to broaden their audience. Online video allows you to connect to local clientele, as well as to potential viewers around the world. Pilates studios that wouldn’t have dreamed of making a video a decade ago can make use of this technology to post video for minimal cost. YouTube is certainly not the only way to use online video to promote you business, but it is user-friendly and free.

Here are some of the videos by Pilates instructors interviewed for this article.

Click & Order
Erin Huggins is an especially prolific online Pilates maven, with her own Website, videos on YouTube, a blog and a Twitter account. After three years of running her own growing studio (complete with constant landlord and maintenance problems), a trip to Bali left her epiphanic.

“I had a feeling of bliss that was missing since opening the studio,” she says. “Bliss was why I wanted to open my studio in the first place. I loved Pilates so much that I was willing to close my studio to get that ‘bliss’ back. Within two months I closed up shop and moved from ‘brick and mortar’ to ‘click and order!’” Huggins has short videos on YouTube and is currently in production and post-production on her complete, downloadable workouts, which will be available on her Website within the next couple of months. She chose online workouts because they “are easy, instant and green. There is no packaging, printing, shipping, etc., and they are very appealing to the instant-gratification culture we are living in.”

Added Value
While Huggins made a clear decision to market herself to the world online, other YouTube Pilates stars happened upon the format as a way to help their existing clients. Diane Murray, of Pilates Center of Bend in Bend, OR, chose to do podcasts when her clients requested a way to be able to practice Pilates at home. “Many people could not remember how to do things with proper form, and just having a written explanation was not enough for them.” Instead of referring them to a commercial DVD, Murray created her own short videos, available for free on YouTube. She also has a “Corecast” (podcast) available on iTunes.

Ada Wells, MPT, and owner of ProBalance, Inc. in Alameda, CA, started creating videos to help her clients practice at home as well. She posted a couple of videos to YouTube casually, and was shocked to see how many views her videos were receiving. Since January of 2008, one of her videos has had more than 200,000 hits. Keep in mind, all of this is posted and viewed for free. If you’re looking for egalitarian Pilates, here it is. While online videos are of course not the same as private or group instruction with a live teacher, isn’t it nice that a client who could perhaps only afford to attend your class once a week, could also follow your YouTube video at home, and come back the next week having made some progress?

Pilates for Everyone
Huggins noticed the advantages of online video firsthand from a marketing perspective. She describes an online clientele that she may not have discovered elsewhere.

“Being a ‘Pilates punk’ and covered in tattoos, I’m exposing Pilates to a group of young women who otherwise feel left out of the sophisticated allure that Pilates has,” she says. “These girls can’t afford my $150-a-session rate, but they can afford a $4.99-per-video download or a $9.99 basic monthly membership fee. Not to mention, if the client is in Germany and they really want to work out with you, a download is the next best thing.”

Pilates was and is intended for everyone. The fact is, that it is important to have a range of price points if we are to spread the benefits of Pilates far and wide. A point I remember both Lolita San Miguel and Kathy Grant repeating with emphasis, was that Joseph Pilates wanted everyone to practice Pilates – everyone. With the flexibility that the Internet provides us, there is no reason this technology shouldn’t help us all work toward that goal.

No Experience Necessary
Hugo Cordaro, a native of Argentina, and currently the supervisor of the Fitness Center at the Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel, knows something about global Pilates. He created his unrehearsed outdoor Pilates YouTube videos with camera help from his sister in Rio and a colleague in Massachusetts. “Most of the videos were taken in a single shot. It was not about doing it perfectly, it was more important to be spontaneous,” he says. Cordaro practices his Pilates routine religiously every day though, so little practice was needed.

Wells and Murray each took a spontaneous, DIY approach as well, shooting and editing their videos personally with little or no prior video experience. Most new computers come with some kind of editing program, and with a little patience anyone can make a short video.

Huggins shoots her short YouTube videos herself but wanted higher production value for her commercial Website. “For the videos I’m currently shooting for my soon-to-launch online membership, I hired a director of photography to help me create a professional lighting rig, and I use a high-quality HD digital camera. I’m lucky I live in Hollywood and [that I’m] married to an actor/producer! My husband helps me with all my pro videos. For those, I definitely put a bit more thought behind the workout, wardrobe and make-up!”

The Payoff?
I wondered if these videos had actually benefited their producers financially. The answers ran the gamut. Cordaro hasn’t found a change in his business, but that wasn’t the purpose for him. He loves to practice outdoors and wanted to share that with others. He finds people coming to his classes because they saw the images on YouTube though, and to Cordaro that is reward enough.

Wells sees her videos’ place in the bigger picture. For example, it took her 40 minutes to make her video and post it; and it cost her next to nothing. Then I saw her video and contacted her for this story, which will link to her Website, which links to her Twitter account, and so on. She believes the more networks she builds out in the world, whether on the Internet or off, the more business will naturally come to her. Wells is particularly interested in Twitter now, due to its non-invasive, global nature. Instead of taking people’s email addresses and clogging their inbox with newsletters and updates about her studio, she uses Twitter to let her subscribers know that there is a space available in her 6 pm mat class, for example. Only people who have signed-up to receive such notifications will see the post. What a great, time-saving way of filling a mat class.

Murray says that her podcasts have not helped her business much locally, but she has received some national attention which may have helped her professionally. She is currently part of Lolita San Miguel’s Master Mentor Program, and used her podcast videos as part of her application. Lolita had never seen or heard of Pilates podcasts and was quite impressed.

As for Huggins, the bliss is back in her Pilates business, and her audience is global. As rewarding as her online business seems to be, it is still hard work. “I’m building my brand by doing what I love. But, it is a business with it’s own set of strategies. There is a method to making YouTube videos that lead people to your Website… and eventually to your online store. It’s not enough to slap some workouts on a YouTube page and expect an “online presence,” says Huggins. Her business model is somewhat unchartered territory in the Pilates world. But how wonderful that we can still discover new territory all the time!

Nicole Rogers is a Pilates instructor and writer. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 12:56PM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , | Comments5 Comments | References2 References

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    Going Viral! Promote Your Pilates Business with Online Video - Pilates Pro - Pilates-Pro.com: The Pulse of the Pilates Industry
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    Good Web site, Stick to the very good work. Appreciate it!

Reader Comments (5)

I've adored using Youtube to show what I do. This way new students can see if what I do, and how I teach, connects to them : )

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermelissa macourek

I've used Youtube happily for quite awhile. I post my Pilates work, lectures, aerial practices, and somatics teachings there. New students can check me out first to make sure they connect with my work and ways of teaching.

Also, I teach on the pelvic floor, and many students from all over the world have found me in their searches.



May 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermelissa macourek

Hi Melissa, you have done some great Pilates videos on youtube!

I'm always recommneding your Matwork video to people who have never done Mat Pilates before to give them an idea.


I really like the music you chose for it too. Far better then the annoying Aerobic type music you hear in some Pilates classes in Gyms and DVDs.

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJames

I love Melissa Macoureks' Pe Fl and somatics videos, I have referred them to clients and fellow Instructors. I get so bored with repertoire videos, esp if they are done poorly. I want to learn as an Instructor, advance my understanding and knowledge, not rehash repertoire. So, maybe they aren't aimed at me.
Mels' are informative and well presented and she knows her stuff.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Turnock

Amazing! It’s really informative post for me, and I think also that business videos are very important for online marketing and advertising, and videos play a major rule to make money online. Thanks for sharing.

June 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbusiness videos

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