The Empty Studio

I started this blog writing about the coronavirus pandemic and then realised it was far too big and emotional subject to even go there. Also, I’m not in the least bit qualified to comment on medicine or politics so I’ll stick to what I know best…exercise.

My whole working life, 21 years, I’ve spent gathering people together to help them keep fit. It’s a joy of a job, a win win for everyone. Group exercise is not just about the exercise. It’s about creating a space for people to meet, to breathe, to move, to calm their minds, to have fun and to set themselves up for whatever lies ahead. It’s about giving people long-term, frequent access to activity that will improve their mental and physical health.

But now? Now we have empty spaces, dark studios, quiet gyms and we can only exercise alone or with our family members. It goes against everything we believe in and have built up our businesses to provide.

As members of our community, we are the exercise teachers and don’t underestimate the worth you have in this role. When group life begins again, we will be needed again, perhaps even more than ever. The last month has been like no other we have experienced and through sleepless nights, kid-filled days and this quite remarkable Yorkshire Spring, I’ve found a few ways to cope with the changes to my working life…

  • No comparisons. I’m happy for everyone who’s nailed it on their ‘Zoom’ classes and have transitioned smoothly to providing a successful online business, but not all of us are in a position to do that, technologically, time-wise or mentally. We can’t all be Joe Wicks, fair play to the guy, I’m very impressed but he’s a one-off. Don’t compare yourself to anyone.
  • Free stuff. I’ve never given away anything for free. My time and expertise are valuable. But the shock and emotion that came with the ‘lockdown’ were such that I couldn’t possibly have switched straight to charging folk for online classes, I would have probably cried in a live workout. Also, I’m not the only one who’s income has disappeared overnight. Go with your gut (and your financial situation) on this one. Offering free stuff doesn’t mean you can’t charge for it at a later date when your online business has got slicker and you’re feeling more in control. Or charge from the get go, whatever works, just don’t feel judged on this.
  • Time for my business.  I have a million things I could and should be doing…homeschooling for example, gardening, housework (I’m trying my best) but I’m a pilates teacher and I really, really miss it! All those things we didn’t have time to do: our own workouts, sorting out mailing lists, finances, timetables that could have done with a change years ago. Do them now!

And most importantly…

  • Keeping in touch. I used to see my clients for at least an hour each week, that’s an hour more than I spend with some of my closest friends. These people are a big part of our lives. Ask them how they’re getting on. Even if they’re not keen on doing the ‘online thing’, keep them in the loop.

Keep your pilates community intact.

It won’t be long before you’ll be able to recreate it in ‘real life’ and your studio will come alive again. Good luck and take care, Jess xxx

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