Explore the innovative approach to Pilates teacher training that merges online and in-person learning, propelling students toward mastery. Dive into the benefits of hosting Pilates teacher training at your studio and the strategies to build unshakable teaching confidence.
Today’s guest in the Expert Interview series is Jessica Spillane. Jessica is the creator of the revolutionary new way of delivering Pilates teacher training to studios and aspiring new teachers. She founded the Evolve Your Training (EYT) Pilates Teacher Training program in the midst of COVID with the mission to make Pilates teacher training more accessible to those wanting to be trained, and those wanting to host the training.
Jessica has been a studio owner and a teacher trainer for many years prior to launching EYT. In fact, she has been running a successful teacher training program at her studio since 2009. During COVID she saw the opportunity to step away from the constant grind of teaching 40+ hours a week and launch a new way to share her love for Pilates and passion for education with the world. That’s how EYT was born. EYT is a hybrid way of delivering Pilates Teacher training programs. It combines different elements of learning into one program so that the students can get the best of everything:
- the online curriculum,
- the hard copy manual,
- the local studio environment to help the students practice and learn Pilates in person.
- The in-person apprenticeship to help TT students build teaching confidence and host studios find potential employees.
Whether you are a studio owner, a Pilates teacher or a Pilates student just thinking about a career as a Pilates teacher, Jessica has some great nuggets of wisdom for you in this interview.
We will discuss:
- Effective ways to market a teacher training program at your studio
- How a teacher training program can benefit your studio
- The biggest struggle that all new Pilates teachers have: how to become confident in teaching “bodies” – new clients – in front of you.
- Finally, we will get a sneak peek at Jessica’s teacher training curriculum and cover the most frequently asked questions.
Watch the Interview with Jessica Spillane, EYT Teacher Training Founder
- The benefits of hosting Evolve Your Training Pilates Teacher Training extend beyond mere compensation, providing studio owners with valuable opportunities for growth, financial gain, and strategic development.
- Financial benefit for the host studios: hosting EYT is different from traditional teacher training programs because instead of the studio owner having to pay the master teacher to do this training for them. I pay the studio owner. I compensate the studios for the usage of their studio, their space, their equipment, their mind, and their knowledge. Studio owners get 20% of every tuition.
- Best marketing advice to promote a Pilates teacher training program at your studio: Talk about the teacher training program in the studio to the clients who already love Pilates and love your studio. Most people don’t even realize how many clients who take classes every week with you actually think to themselves “I can do this, I would like to teach Pilates classes like this!”
- Best advice for beginner teachers: “If you make mistakes, make them with confidence.” You’re not going to break anybody with the beginner system.
- How to build teaching confidence as a new teacher: Confidence is built through repetition and breaking tasks into smaller pieces.
Important Resources from the Interview
- Evolve Your Teaching (EYT) Pilates Teacher Training Program for students
- EYT Program for Host Studios
- Pilates and Yoga Studio Owners Network Facebook Group
Meet Our Expert
I’m Jessica, Founder, Education Director & “Abnormally Obsessed Teacher”
I have a long and strong reputation for being a big-thinker with an “I can do this” attitude
I’ve opened studios, grown studios, purchased studios and merged studios. I’ve purchased a failing gym and flipped it in 2 years for a big profit. I’ve opened, and enjoyed the success of and and sold a Pilates-inspired retail store. And, of course, I’ve written and perfected a Pilates Teacher Training program with over 30 (and counting) Hosts and Affiliates worldwide.
I’ve been called crazy, inspiring and ambitious — all with a mix of both admiration and fear. But one thing that’s consistent is my passion is contagious to those around me.
Interview Questions with Quicklinks
- Jessica, please share with us your Pilates story?
- During Covid, when most businesses were struggling to survive, you started a new business. During the time when many studios closed their doors, you had the courage to blaze a new trail. What was your motivation at that time?
- How is your way of delivering Pilates Teacher Training different from many other teacher training programs?
- What are the benefits for the studio owners to host TT programs?
- Is your teacher training program more Classical or Contemporary in style?
- I know many studio owners who wanted to bring TT into their studios but struggled to get the minimum number of participants to meet the TT program requirements. Can you share marketing advice on how to be successful in attracting participants to a TT program?
- One of the hardest things for new Pilates teachers is learning how to teach a person in front of them (with all of their injuries, physical limitations, or just a lack of coordination and listening skills!) What is your advice for the NEW teachers on how to build their teaching confidence?
- Sneak peek at the EYT Pilates Teacher Training Program materials.
- Jessica, what is the source of your drive for business and Pilates?
Jessica, please share with us your Pilates story?
Jessica Spillane: Pilates has truly been an incredible journey for all of us. My personal journey began due to significant back problems at a young age – an issue that shouldn’t have plagued me at that time. A trusted doctor advised me, nearly three decades ago, to embrace Pilates; a forward-thinking perspective as back then, he emphasized movement, not medication, as the solution to my problems.
Embarking as a Pilates student, I developed a profound connection with this form of movement. At that juncture, I was employed at a Manhattan advertising agency. But as life progressed and I neared the stage of wanting to start a family, I recognized that New York City’s demanding, fast-paced career landscape wouldn’t harmonize with my aspirations as a mother. This realization steered me towards becoming a certified Pilates instructor.
I underwent training at Power Pilates in Manhattan, an institution I hold in the highest regard. This transpired over two decades ago – I’ve lost precise count. My intention was clear: within a year, I aimed to open my own Pilates studio. Remarkably, I achieved this goal practically down to the day.
From that point onward, my journey encompassed a continuous process of evolution – perpetual growth, expansion, introduction of novel programs, recruitment of fresh talent, and the inevitable challenges of locating capable instructors. This very struggle with instructor recruitment gave rise to the inception of my teacher training program in 2009.
Since that time, I’ve been at the helm of a successful teacher training initiative. However, it was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted me to pivot towards extending this program to a global audience. This transition has been a significant shift, allowing me to share my expertise and training with individuals worldwide.
What inspired you to launch a teacher training program in the midst of COVID?
I perceive opportunities everywhere, even amidst the challenges of COVID. In fact, I saw it as a chance to step away from the constant grind of working 40 to 50 hours a week. My intention when becoming a Pilates teacher and studio owner was to find a slower pace of life, but it had turned out to be quite the opposite, a whole story in itself.
COVID presented a unique chance for me. I had been running teacher training programs for 15 years by then – a cherished aspect of both my studio ownership and career. I couldn’t fathom letting go of it. Strangely enough, the idea of parting with the teacher training program was tougher for me than letting go of my studio.
So, I saw this as an opportunity to refresh the curriculum. Back in 2009, I had crafted an elaborate manual, complete with captivating images. I did all the photography myself and enlisted a designer to put it together. But since then, I hadn’t given it a facelift. I hadn’t revisited it or added anything new. I was caught in the cycle of continuous trainings.
Then the moment aligned with the Zoom era. My kids were attending school online, I started offering Zoom classes to my clients, and I enrolled my kids in virtual dance lessons. It struck me – could I bring all of this together? If I’m going to revamp the curriculum, why not push it forward into 2020 and embrace this new era of learning?
Naturally, this came with a substantial technological learning curve. So, I brought in a videographer and transformed a small space into a filming location. I set up each apparatus there, following weekly COVID testing protocols. I collaborated with one of my clients, and together we recorded every single exercise, exploring various sequences, progressions, and modifications.
Then came the question – what next? I delved into researching how to structure this into a comprehensive curriculum. This endeavor spanned an entire year, keeping me fully occupied and engaged. It proved to be a stimulating outlet during a time when depression could have easily taken hold. Rather than succumbing to unhealthy habits, I chose to embrace the motivation and inspiration, channeling them into creating something entirely new.
How is the format of your teacher training program different from many others available today?
I combined different elements of learning into one program so that the students can get the best of everything:
- the online curriculum,
- the hard copy manual,
- the local studio environment to help the students practice and learn Pilates in-person.
The students have the reinforcements with the online curriculum from what they hear and what they see in person. They have the apprenticeship that takes place live and under the supervision of senior level teachers and studio owners, and they can observe, they can practice and they can get real time feedback from the hosts.
They have live seminar training and workshop training with me, and then they have their hard copy reading material.
The teacher training itself takes place on Zoom. I teach a complete seminar from my production studio that is equipped with multiple cameras showing different angles. The host studios set up their cameras so that I can view the students. We are in constant communication with the hosts, senior teachers and the students so that I can answer all of their questions.
What are the benefits of being a host studio for the EYT Pilates Teacher Training?
Benefits of Hosting Evolve Your Studio Teacher Training for Studio Owners:
- Compensation Model: Unlike traditional teacher training programs, I aim to create a partnership with studio owners. Instead of them paying me, I compensate them for the use of their space, equipment, and knowledge.
- Financial Gain: Studio owners receive 20% of each tuition from the program, enhancing their revenue stream. This approach contrasts with the typical minimums that studio owners are required to meet without compensation.
- Reduced Time Demands: Studio owners are often overwhelmed by the demands of their studios. Hosting this training provides relief by outsourcing the training process, freeing up their time.
- Employee Potential: The apprenticeship is a true learning experience, allowing studio owners to delegate beginner classes and utilize apprentices for promotional events or studio tours.
- Skill Development: Studio owners can train apprentices to conduct studio tours, articulate the offerings, and even lead introductory sessions, enhancing their skill set and providing them with valuable experience.
- Mentorship Opportunities: Through hosting the training, studio owners can become mentors for the apprentices, fostering growth and inspiring themselves through the fresh perspectives of new learners.
- Revitalizing Senior Teachers: Senior teachers who might be feeling stagnant in their roles can find new purpose by mentoring apprentices. This can lead to additional compensation for both the studio owner and the senior teacher.
- Studio Evolution: This approach fosters growth not only for individual instructors but also for the studio as a whole. Studio owners can offer advancement opportunities, leading to an overall evolution of the studio’s offerings.
The benefits of hosting Evolve Your Training Pilates Teacher Training extend beyond mere compensation, providing studio owners with valuable opportunities for growth, financial gain, and strategic development.
Is your teacher training program more Classical or Contemporary in style?
That’s a fantastic question, and it’s actually quite common. I am certified in Power Pilates, which places me within the classical realm. My lineage traces back through Romana, and that’s how I teach my students.
However, I firmly believe that we have to adapt our teaching to the individual bodies in front of us. Pure classical might not suit everyone. What I emphasize is that my students must understand the rules, the fundamentals, the origins, the “why,” and the objective behind every single movement before they even think about modernizing or entering the contemporary domain.
As the advanced training progresses, I do introduce elements of the contemporary style. I illustrate how we can rearrange things or progress differently from the classical framework. I do this with my own clients too – I’m a classical teacher with a contemporary teaching approach, always grounded in the core principles of Pilates and tracing back to its roots. That’s what I want for my students – knowing the foundation before they explore variations.
It’s similar to learning classical ballet before venturing into modern dance, or mastering classical guitar before diving into punk music. It’s about understanding the origins while staying open to the evolution of our practice. Rigidity exists in so many aspects of our lives; Pilates doesn’t need to be one of them. This is my philosophy.
Now, I don’t require studio owners to adhere strictly to my approach for their apprentices’ observation. In fact, I appreciate the diversity of voices and viewpoints. Apprentices encountering different teaching methods can ask questions like, “Why did you do that?” They can then bring these inquiries back to me, sparking fruitful discussions. Encouraging dialogue enriches our understanding and layers of knowledge in the realm of Pilates.
What is your marketing advice for studio owners who want to host teacher training?
Absolutely, I provide an extensive marketing plan to assist studio owners who want to host teacher training. I go a step further by preparing complete posts, emails, scripts, and landing pages. Recognizing the time constraints studio owners face, I aim to handle the back-end work, allowing them to simply hit “post.” However, if they prefer to use their own resources, they’re free to do so.
I ensure they have access to all the marketing materials they need. Moreover, I offer insights into the target audience – the people who tend to gravitate toward the program based on years of experience. This information helps them communicate more effectively with potential candidates.
For inquiries about the program, I provide a script that teachers or front desk staff can use when discussing it over the phone.
As part of my ongoing effort to enhance the program, I’m currently experimenting with a new strategy. In each semester, I try something different to expand our understanding and improve. For this semester, I’m collaborating with online media strategists in three different markets. We’re implementing a concentrated, one-month paid campaign across platforms like Facebook and Instagram, employing search ads and targeted pop-ups.
I’m investing in these three markets to learn from the results. If successful, I plan to offer it as an additional benefit in future semesters – a valuable option for hosts to consider. The aim is to continually build and enhance the program’s offerings with every new semester.
What marketing channels are the most important for promoting teacher training at a studio?
- People who already know and love your studio. First and foremost, talk about teacher training in the studio. Most people don’t even realize how many clients who are laying right there in front of them, every Tuesday and Thursday at that 9am class, might actually see themselves as being Pilates teachers.
- Social Posts. Social posts generate leads that you will need to follow up with. Those leads might convert the following semester. Some percentage of those leads will convert right away, but I’ve noticed that they are more likely to convert the following semester. We have to nurture them a little bit.
How do you help your teacher training students build their confidence in teaching the “body in front of them”?
That’s such a fantastic question, and it’s something I encounter every semester with each apprentice. I often share my own “first class” story, where I reflect on my initial teaching experience, which helps disarm their anxieties. When they hear about my struggles, especially as an owner or mentor, it normalizes their initial nervousness.
In my program, I offer homework at the end of each seminar or week. This approach breaks down the teaching process into manageable steps instead of overwhelming them. Each week, they’re tasked with mastering a specific series. I encourage them to teach it to themselves, their family, and even practice saying the cues in different contexts, like the shower or the car line.
Over four weeks, they focus on one series at a time, repeating it so often that they truly embody it. When they eventually teach real clients, usually a few weeks later, they’ve built a solid foundation of confidence through these small, focused exercises.
I also emphasize that clients won’t know if they make a mistake. I encourage them to approach teaching with confidence, even if they slip up. Pilates, especially at the beginner level, is safe, and mistakes won’t break anyone. If a client can’t do a certain exercise, they can skip it. The fundamental beginner system is generally safe for most people.
Confidence is built through repetition and breaking tasks into smaller pieces.
To summarize, here’s how I help students build confidence in teaching the individual in front of them:
- Structured Homework: I provide homework that breaks down teaching into smaller, manageable steps over several weeks.
- Focused Mastery: They focus on mastering one series at a time, repeating it extensively.
- Repetition: This repetition allows them to truly embody the movements and cues.
- Gradual Introduction: I ensure they have time before teaching real clients to solidify their confidence.
- Teach within your Comfort Zone. Start by teaching people you are most comfortable with: your family members, friends, spouse etc. Practice each series for about 4 weeks before you actually start teaching “real” people at the studio.
- Make Mistakes with confidence. Mistakes are normal. I stress that clients won’t notice mistakes and encourage them to teach with confidence. You’re not going to break anybody with the beginner system.
Jessica, what is the source of your drive for business and Pilates?
I love what I do. I really don’t have hobbies. My work is my hobby. I’ve been building businesses since middle school and am truly passionate about my work.