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How To Avoid The Pitfalls Of Exclusive Training

by: Dana Auriemma

As human beings, we like to get attached.

We get attached to our favorite foods, clothes, places and activities. We become attached to doing things a certain way and we even get attached to people - people we feel a connection to, relate to and feel comfortable around.

If you look inside a Pilates studio, you see this in action.

In every studio there are some clients who will happily work with almost any instructor, but there are also many clients who develop an attachment to just one. Perhaps they love the instructor’s teaching style, exercise selection, cues, corrections, personality or overall demeanor. Whatever the reason(s), the client gets attached and will only schedule sessions or classes with their favorite instructor.

Is this good? Bad? Does it matter?

Every client will naturally feel a connection to some instructors more than others due to teaching/learning styles and personality traits. And when a client works with an instructor whom they feel a great connection to, it certainly does make for a more enjoyable, engaging and (in many ways) a more successful learning experience. However, the problem with long-term exclusive training is that it is an incomplete learning experience.

When a client limits their learning to just one instructor, they miss out. Every instructor has different strengths and talents. They approach and cue exercises from different perspectives. So even though a client may like one instructor more than others, those other instructors have unique strengths and skills that the client would learn from in ways they wouldn’t with their favorite instructor. So in training exclusively with just one instructor, a client may plateau, feel stale and bored more quickly and even leave sooner than if they had a broader learning experience from more than one instructor.

The other disadvantage of exclusive training is that it can limit how frequently or consistently the client takes sessions or classes. If the instructor is not available when the client wants them or needs time off, the client may end up taking fewer sessions. This slows down the client’s progress and can increase the chance they will sooner drop their sessions altogether.

So what is ideal? Clients don’t need to hop around like crazy to lots of different instructors, but they should mix it up in little ways. They can occasionally jump into classes or workshops with different instructors or rotate to a new one after a few months of working exclusively with their favorite.

Now here is what you can do to help your clients be open to different instructors and give them the best, most consistent and complete learning experience.

  1. Explain the advantages to new clients.

  2. Start with your marketing materials. On websites, scheduling systems, brochures and social media pages, studios typically have dedicated information for new clients on how to start their training. This is a great place to add a few sentences about the opportunity and benefits of working with different talented instructors at your studio. You can also discuss this when a client calls to schedule or comes in for their first session (if they scheduled online). This way, the new client develops the right expectations from the very beginning.
  3. Promote all of your instructors.

  4. Social media and studio bulletin boards are great places to post regular features about your instructors. Write a personal blurb promoting the instructor’s skills and expertise plus compliments from you or the clients. Don’t hesitate to brag about them. And any time an instructor takes a continuing education course, get out there and tell your clients about it!

  5. Guide your instructors to promote each other.

  6. Create a culture of support. Sometimes in our desire to be our best as instructors, we can feel a tiny bit competitive with each other. If left unchecked, this grows into a very negative environment in a studio. But good owners make sure this doesn’t happen and instead build a positive, supportive environment. Lead by example and teach your instructors to recognize and speak highly of each other’s skills in front of the clients. Whenever it comes up, instructors should reassure clients that they are welcome to work with anyone and that there are no feelings of exclusivity among instructors.

  7. Utilize subbing & workshops to showcase different instructors.

  8. These are great opportunities for clients to ‘sample’ instructors they haven’t yet worked with, so guide your instructors to take advantage of these opportunities! Advise them to put in a little extra preparation for these occasions to showcase their unique strengths and style. Request that instructors spend a little extra time chatting with clients before or after class to help develop new relationships.

  9. Oversee teaching styles.

  10. It’s to be expected that every instructor has a unique teaching voice and style. That is what makes them special and shouldn’t be stifled. However, there should be some consistency and commonalities in what all instructors are teaching and how they are teaching in a broader sense. For instance, a client who takes the same type of class with two different instructors shouldn’t walk out of one class feeling like it was an army boot camp and the other class feeling like it was physical therapy. It becomes confusing and frustrating to clients and makes them less willing to branch out and work with different instructors. So to avoid these inconsistencies and frustrations, be present around your studio and observe or take classes from your instructors on a regular basis. If you feel like their teaching is deviating too much from the style and mission of the studio, have a discussion with them to make sure everyone is on the same page. (I’ll talk more about this in my online training courses coming this fall).

Take action on these 5 steps and you’ll see your clients be more open to working with different instructors. They’ll appreciate the improvements they experience from it, be able to enjoy sessions more frequently, be more engaged in their workouts and be committed to your studio for a long, long time!


Dana started her professional career in marketing and sales working for Fortune 500 companies, but later moved out of the corporate world to pursue her passion in fitness. She opened, grew and sold a thriving Pilates studio and is now dedicated to helping other studio owners and teachers master the marketing and business skills needed to reach their full potential! Dana publishes free training articles plus online and live business courses coming soon. Visit her at danaauriemma.com danaauriemma.com or find her on Facebook.


Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 10:32AM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , , | Comments2 Comments

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Reader Comments (2)

Good theories, but how does this apply in a contractor based studio? How do you encourage pilates instructors to share clients then? Aren't most pilates studios run as independent contractors renting space? They are around Oklahoma, at least. Guess that's yet another good reason to go for the employee structure instead.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy - Pilates Oklahoma City

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March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Ankers

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