By Sabrina Ellen Svard
I opened my first Pilates studio on September 17, 2004. Even though Facebook launched on February 4, 2004, it wasn’t something that I had heard of at that time. Back then how we communicated and commiserated with each other and spread news of trainings and workshops, etc. was done by telephone, cell phone, and/or email. It was also when I got my first BLACKBERRY! Oh my!
Most of us at that time had a small circle of colleagues that we called ON THE TELEPHONE DEVICE, and we would complain, seek advice, bounce ideas around and in general just help each other out with our businesses, classes and the daily grind. We didn’t have complete strangers in other lands that knew virtually nothing about our situations, lives, clients or businesses giving us unsolicited advice and panic attacks! I am mostly kidding about the panic attacks.
With the onslaught of social media, everything, everywhere, in every country seems to be everybody’s business. There is fake news, fake deaths, fake people, fake situations and of course there is fake Pilates as well! And all this just has to be posted on social media for some reason. Now we have all kinds of forums, and groups, and pages, and more electronically generated things that are supposed to help you and to help you clear your brain. I think much of it fogs your brains and your sensible, reasonable thought processes.
Back in the day before we consulted social media regarding something that could be as mundane as scratching our noses, we just called a buddy to ask some questions or dragged out our manuals to review what we had questions about. Or we searched for a workshop to take on the subject we weren’t quite so sure about. Now we post our questions and concerns on social media groups and forums and all too often all hell breaks loose with the answers.
I am not knocking social media. I love Facebook and I have two pages of my own as well as two Pilates groups. I have made connections with people all over the world through these cyber venues. I have met several of these people and have gained many new and dear friendships because of these groups and forums. But I have also watched some things spiral into such crazy business that I just gasp out loud and say /$*&)&;#’]<…£[^\_!!!
I do think that most individuals who comment on posts are sincerely trying to be helpful. Sometimes people don’t even know what they don’t know, so their comments are based on a limited individual knowledge base as well. Others are just commenting for attention. I have no idea where some others are coming from but I wish they would go back to where they came from. Yikes! The problem with all this is that I know personally how serious some of these comments are taken and how it can cloud our own good judgement and decision-making processes.
My CRAZY BUSINESS Story
About 6 months ago I was trying to decide what apparatus I wanted to buy. I have an engineering brain so I have to research everything it seems like a “hundred” times (pun intended) before I make a decision. I also value customer service highly and I usually take that into consideration when making a purchase. (FYI: I am not new to buying Pilates equipment. I’ve bought new from 5 different companies. And I’ve bought and sold used equipment all over the country with great success.)
Nevertheless, I chatted and chatted away with my questions on forums and got all kinds of answers and got all kinds of pressure to go in a particular direction. So my original decision was now somewhat clouded. I caved. I went with the pressure and right now I’m feeling that I made the worst decision I’ve ever made in this department. I know it is going to fix itself and all will be well. But I looked back and thought to myself, why in the hell did I do that? I know exactly why I did it.
“Well on this forum they said you should…”
I was visiting a friend and colleague over the holidays and we had a discussion that started out something like this: “Well on this forum they said you should…” I said: “STOP RIGHT THERE! Who gives a damn what they said you should do. They don’t know your situation.
Most of these people commenting cannot even manage to read the entire post. They really just can’t wait to post comments giving their opinions which in their mind you asked for (and well, you did ask for them). They are giving their opinions on what they think was asked that they did not really bother to read in full.” Rubbish! All of that!
Facebook forums make sane people nuts
I’ve had several conversations with others regarding this madness. People who have successful businesses and are amazing instructors; who are dedicated, intelligent, mindful, kind, and awesome people, and who are now crazed by something some bullshit loudmouth bully said on a forum.
And now, worse yet, some of these sane, beautiful people are crushed and are questioning their own business model, teaching abilities, and sometimes even who they are as a person. WHAT THE HELL??? NOOOOOOOOOO! This must stop.
Now, I do want to say that these groups have been extremely helpful in many situations. I really enjoy the posts, commentary, ideas, photos, videos, etc. I am delighted to be part of several Facebook groups and I am always interested in the viewpoints of others – to a certain extent. So we take the good, but what can we do with the maddening not-so-good?
How to Keep Facebook Conversations SANE
- Start with you.
Find your heart.
You know it’s there.
You know in your heart that you want to do what is best for YOUR clients.
No matter what anybody else tells you, only YOU know your clients.
Follow your heart for those decisions based on “your” clients and not what someone else does for “their” clients.
You know what you’re doing!
- Listen to your belly. And when I say this I don’t mean to go do the AB5!!! Although you can go do that as well!
Deep in your belly, your soul, your “dantian”* or energy center, you find the answer to many things. If you get that knot in your belly, you know something is not right. And you know what? It does not matter what anyone else says, because, you, my sweet, know what is right for you, your business, your clients, your life.
What the hell do you care what someone in the Swiss Alps says to do with your business in West Palm Beach, Florida?
Yes, listen to your gut.
- Contemplate, commiserate, and then shut it all down. Quiet yourself so you can find your heart and your belly – your soul – and make an informed, but correct decision that only you can make for you, your clients and your business!
And know that the more someone pressures you, the more it is really about that person’s agenda not yours.
You will do the right thing!
In closing, please enjoy the groups and forums and the variety of viewpoints and advice offered. But also keep in mind my “unsolicited” advice I offered above to keep it all in perspective. And remember, YOU ROCK your own world! Don’t let anybody that you don’t even know try to convince you otherwise!
*Dantian, dan t’ian, dan tien or tan t’ien is loosely translated as “elixir field”, “sea of qi”, or simply “energy center”. Dantian are the Qi Focus Flow Centers, important focal points for meditative and exercise techniques such as qigong, martial arts such as t’ai chi ch’uan, and in traditional Chinese medicine.
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Sabrina has been teaching movement for over thirty years. More than twenty years of that thirty she has spent certifying fitness instructors and designing and presenting continuing education programs for fitness professionals all over the world. Sabrina’s passion is being a teacher trainer.
Her Pilates journey began in 2000 with the PhysicalMind Institute. She then moved on to Stott Pilates and opened a studio in NH, USA, in 2004. Still wanting more, Sabrina then bridged into more classical studies and became professionally certified through Peak Pilates. She then revamped her studio and transitioned into classical teaching but yet found great value in her PhysicalMind and Stott trainings.
Ever the student, Sabrina then took several other trainings which lead her to a position as Balanced Body Pilates, Anatomy in 3D and Barre Faculty. She now lives in sunny Santa Fe, New Mexico and owns two studios there: Los Alamos and Santa Fe. She continues her fitness career and teacher trainer passion as well as a Master Teacher Trainer for NETA (National Exercise Trainers Association).