I’m Going To Live My Life With Less Pressure from Carol Brady and Martha Stewart

I am home. My trip to California to film for Pilates Anytime and attend the PMA conference was absolutely amazing. For me, this trip was an unbelievable professional experience, but I also learned a lot about myself. I was constantly brought to tears by the fact that I’m a different person today than I was 365 days ago.

I walked through the doors of Pilates Anytime this year and filmed 3 videos that I’m already proud of even though I haven't seen the final product. I drove myself from Santa Barbara to Palm Springs in a rental car and didn’t crash it or get lost. I spent 4 days making new friends, hugging friends I’ve never met in person before, and watching old friends move mountains. Most importantly though I experienced a deep, deep feeling of gratitude for my family.

There are times I feel like 2 people. Some days I transition between Pilates and Momming like a ninja, but most days I’m more like a hot, stressed-out mess. My family is left to deal with me being distracted and constantly immersed in my career.

I am so grateful for the man who’s rarely seen but keeps this crazy woman moving forward on a daily basis. He brought chocolate, flowers, and our babies to the airport last night to pick me up. I cried so hard when I wrapped my arms around him because in that moment I wasn't confused. I was crystal clear on how lucky I am. I could not do anything without him by my side. Anything.

I’m so happy to be home with a fresh perspective on what I have already and what I want for my future. At the top of the list are days with my people that are less distracted by work and full of all the feels. Some days that means arguments, long nights of homework, and forgetting to pack lunches because that’s the way it usually goes. I just want to be present when all of that is happening. I also intend to continue to pursue a kickass career. That will come with plenty of mistakes as well, but I’m not going to give up on my career just because it’s too hard to do it all!

I’m just going to have to do it with a little less pressure from Martha Stewart, Carol Brady, and all of the ridiculous preconceived ideas I have in my head of what being a working mom looks like. I’m going to do it MY way which will be full of flaws and hopefully a few successes too. I’ll update you in another 365 days.

Tips For The PMA Conference *Updated*

The PMA conference is 16 days away, and I absolutely can’t wait. Have you seen the venue? Holy cow it’s gorgeous! In my excitement for this years event, I’ve been reminiscing over last years conference and want to share with you a few tips for getting the most out of your experience. After winning the Pilates Anytime Next Instructor Competition and filming my classes at Pilates Anytime in Santa Barbara last October, I was flown to the 2016 PMA Conference. I didn’t stop smiling or laughing for 4 days. To be in the same building with the world's best instructors and surrounded by fellow Pilates nerds was a dream come true. Up to that point I’d felt so isolated from the Pilates community, but at the conference I was surrounded by people who really understood what it was like to love and teach Pilates. I created very close friendships with instructors from all over the country who are a constant source of support and strength for me today. I can’t imagine my Pilates career without them, and I have the PMA conference to thank for this! The workshops and classes are amazing and the presenters are the best in the world!  Join me this year at the 17th annual conference in Indian Springs, CA and keep reading for my insider tips to getting the most out of the conference.

DOWNLOAD THE APP NOW                                                                    

If you're already registered you will want to download the app for the conference.  Search your email inbox for this email from the PMA:  PMA 2017 Conference - Download the Event Mobile App.  It explains how to download the app, and I swear you will be so glad you have it.  I must have opened my 100 times over the course of the weekend.  It has your schedule loaded on to it, so you'll know exactly where and when your classes are being held.  There's an activity feed where people write messages and communicate.  There's also a fun game called "The Hundred Photo Challenge".


From the very moment you arrive there's an amazing buzz of energy and excitement. Head directly to the registration desk where you’ll be met with huge smiles from the conference volunteers and a bag full of goodies. It’s so much fun to check-in to your hotel room, get settled, and sort through your welcome packet.


Don’t miss out on one minute of the Sip and Shop on Wednesday evening! It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the conference! It’s where you’ll see everyone for the first time and meeting my social media friends in person was a total highlight of the trip. You'll sip on complimentary grown up beverages and walk through the shopping venue to check out all of the vendors. The Sip and Shop is sponsored by Weekend At Bernies and Pilates Education Institute.


DON'T MISS THE PILATES ANYTIME PARTY                                          

I am absolutely not kidding when I say don't miss this party.  Pilates Anytime is not only the best online studio but they throw the best parties!  This year the theme is "Party Like A Rock Star"!  Come dressed as your favorite rock star and dance the night away.  I have my costume picked out!  Watch this video to learn more.



Speaking of shopping, you are going to need an extra bag to carry home all of the new stuff you buy and get for free! Many of the vendors aren’t only selling their best products but have free gifts, too! You’ll want to bring it all home with you, so just grab one of your 1,000 Lululemon or Athleta shopping bags, fold it up, and throw it in your luggage. I promise you’re going to need it.



Just one more tip about the shopping. Get ready to be tempted because over the course of the 4 days you’ll be want more and more Pilates gear. The Pilates Nerd booth alone will blow your mind, and there’s nothing like being able to see all of the Nerd gear in person. Click here to see the full list of vendors who will be at the conference.



I was shocked by how many outfits I went through last year. There are 3 sessions per day with at least one being a mat class, and you will get sweaty! I changed my Pilates clothes at least twice a day, so I would definitely come prepared with extra leggings. You could always just buy new stuff, too!


You will be using your phone a lot! You'll constantly be referring to the app to check your schedule. You’ll also be taking loads of pics, posting to your social media accounts, and videoing fun moments which will drain your battery. My cell phone died at once per day, so trust me, you’re gonna need backup. At the very least be sure to have your charger with you at all times, but I suggest bringing a portable charger. Here’s the link to the one I have.


There ya go! Just a few tips for having everything you need at the Pilates Method Alliance Conference.  In this one amazing conference you’ll get all of your PMA CEC’s covered for a year, admission to all of the parties, learn from the best of the best in the Pilates industry, and make tons of new friends! It’s an experience you’ll never forget, and I hope to see you there.



I Never Quit. I Simply Did A Pivot Turn.

I saw last night that everyone was posting their #nationaldanceday pictures on Instagram, and as I searched for mine something kinda big occurred to me. Making the decision to quit dancing at 19 years old before I even gave myself the chance to see if I could have a career as a dancer was one of the most brutal and terrifying decisions I've ever made. Every moment of every day of my life was fueled by my dream to dance for a professional ballet company. My body simply wasn't as convinced as my heart though. One day while I was icing my ankle (a twice daily requirement after my ankle surgery), I decided to "quit." I was sitting on my kitchen counter with my foot in an ice bath in the sink, and I thought to myself, “I will be doing this every day for as long as I’m dancing.” Within a few weeks, I had packed my apartment, jumped in a Uhaul, and moved to a new city hoping I'd quickly forget about dance and all of my years of training. 20 years later I’m finally realizing that I didn’t quit anything, and no matter how hard you try you simply can't forget your past. I realize now that I was unofficially studying movement and preparing for my Pilates career all along. One of the reasons I love the picture I posted above is because it reminds me of a yearly ritual from my dance days. Dancers have to take a picture in 1st Arabesque every year for audition season, and this was back in the day before you could review how a picture looked on your camera before you had it developed. When I went to pick up the pictures (3 days after I took them), I would panic that they would suck. If they did I’d shoot them again and again until they were good enough. I would study the pictures for hours and decide what I needed to do differently to get better results. My eye for form and movement along with my determination to always be improving shaped my future as a Pilates instructor. Today I’m choosing to rewrite the records that have played in my head for years about quitting and failing as a dancer. I now see and accept that I didn't quit, but I did a pivot turn. A badass, old school, jazz hands in the air pivot turn towards the career I was truly destined for.

My Go-To Session for a Beginner

My Go-to First Session

The first thing I want to say in this blog is that to this day I’m still a bit nervous the first time I teach a new client. I want the client to enjoy the session, and I'm constantly processing whether I’m delivering what they were looking for when they booked the session. I’m a big believer that being a little bit nervous is a good thing. I think it shows that you care and are invested in the outcome of the session. Being a little nervous and being anxious and unprepared are 2 different things though. My nervousness would instantly turn into panic if I didn’t have a plan. Below is my “go-to” first session with a beginner. It's not set in stone, and I never follow it 100%. It’s just my security blanket of Level I exercises that I know people will feel but are also safe. It’s been my experience that clients get excited when they’re a little sore the next day, so I try to include at least 1-2 exercises that deliver that result. I also believe in sticking to the Level I content no matter how strong they may appear though. Sometimes the stronger someone looks, the weaker they really are, so just throwing in a super advanced exercise to challenge them isn't necessarily the best strategy. I also make sure to address all ranges of motion of the body in every session I teach. Below I've broken down the workout and given you the reasons I chose the exercises listed. Click this link to download a FREE printable PDF of the workout without the descriptions. There is another video freebie below, so make sure you read the whole post for the link to view it.

Roll Back:
I like to do this before I teach breathing or pelvic tilts because it get's the client moving right away. It also tells me a lot about their body. Whether they can articulate their spine easily, where they hold tension (shoulders?), if they’re a natural breather, a fast or slow mover, etc.

Mat (I do this one the Tower or Cadillac since I’m already there)
Breathing (fundamental)
Pelvic Tilts (fundamental)
Define Neutral Spine
100 Beats

Leg Springs: Up/Down, Circles, Frog, Low Circles, Marches, and Beats
I always teach Leg Circles and Frog on the Tower/Caddy before the Reformer. I think it’s important to teach the movement on a stable surface before the rolling carriage.
Triceps Presses:
This is one of the exercises I like to teach in a first session because it usually make everyone a little bit sore the next day. While I hate to teach a lesson that’s only geared to making my client sore, I do like to have at least 1-2 moments where they get excited about a challenge. Triceps Presses are a great exercise that's safe and can give you the “wow I felt that” experience!

Single leg stretch
Double leg stretch
Criss Cross
Flight (fundamental)
Before I leave the Cadillac I like to incorporate these exercises to lay a nice mat work foundation and to address rotation and extension. I also like to introduce Flight, so I can refer back to it when we do Pulling Straps and T on the Long Box.

Long Box:
Pulling Straps (without straps)
Pulling Straps (with straps)
T (without straps)
T (with straps)
I think Pulling Straps and T are some of the hardest exercises to teach and execute. I always introduce them without straps to experience proper form then I add the straps. On a first session I’m VERY careful not to obsess over perfect form. I demonstrate proper form, have them do it without straps, then add straps, make a mental note of how I need to work with them moving forward and MOVE ON.
Short Box:
Side Bend
Twist without curl
Twist and Curl
Climb a tree (into to Climb A Tree only)
Here's your freebie. This video explains how and why I introduce Climb A Tree in a very first session. Click here to see the video.

Bottom Lift

Ladder Barrel
Runner’s Lunge or Ballet Stretches
I like to finish all of my sessions with a standing exercise and one of my favorites is Runner’s Lunge on the Ladder Barrel. If you don’t have a barrell you can put your foot on the Reformer footbar (locked in place) or even use the chair. Click this link to be directed to my Instagram post that shows the exercise on the Reformer footbar.

Wish you did more Pilates?

One of the things I wasn't prepared for when starting my online studio was that I would be doing A LOT of Pilates. My personal practice hasn’t been this strong in years, and as obvious as it may seem, I’m shocked by how amazing and strong I feel. I know how hard it is to find the time and energy to get your workouts in though. When you teach full time and have 1000 other commitments in your life, it seems like getting on the reformer for a one hour workout at the end of a teaching day is impossible. Here’s a tip for any instructors out there struggling with this. Make a 10-minute workout your goal. If you’re convinced that an hour workout is the only option, it can feel too overwhelming, so avoiding the workout all together is just easier. Setting a more realistic goal of 10 minutes removes the time management stress from the equation which makes you feel more excited about the workout all together. The really cool thing about this strategy is that usually once you get started and into a groove, you end up doing a longer workout. I hope this tip helps, and please let me know in the comments if you have any other strategies for being consistent with your workouts.

"A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics." -Joseph Pilates

Shouldn’t Teaching Pilates Be Easy?

photo credit:

I received the email below last week and it made my heart skip a beat!

Dear Carrie,

I am a new instructor, and I'm really struggling with cueing and confidence. It all seems so hard for me, and I thought I would enjoy teaching Pilates. Not the case at all.  I am so nervous all the time and find it hard to manage.  Did you have the same experience in the beginning?


YES, YES. 100 TIMES YES!  Here’s what my early teaching experience looked like.   Two months after receiving my certification, I took over another instructor's entire schedule because she was unexpectedly put on bed rest in her 2nd trimester.  Overnight I was teaching 25 hours a week to clients who were used to a seasoned instructor.  I can remember feeling nervous every single session of every single day.  I also remember thinking I shouldn’t feel that way.  I thought I should just be able to walk into the studio, take control, and teach like my mentors.  After all, I had just spent over 450 hours immersing myself in Pilates that year and had memorized every single exercise, repetition, and breathing pattern.  Shouldn’t this be easy?  The answer is no.  Becoming a confident and proficient teacher takes time, not memorization skills.  Just like getting the exercises of Pilates in your body is a process so is your journey in teaching Pilates.  Be patient and trust the process, and know that even if you've been teaching for 17 years like me it doesn’t mean that you’re free from those feelings from the question above.  I still get nervous, make mistakes, and worry if I’m making the right choices for my client's bodies.  It does get easier though and I promise it happens sooner than you think it will.  Just keep showing up, doing your best, and if you have to “fake it ‘til you make it!”

My #1 Tip for studio owners and busy instructors

You're never going to do it perfectly.

I had the pleasure of teaching another instructor/studio owner who was visiting Wilmington last week. We met at a Pilates workshop last year, and I was so excited when I got her message that she was in town. She just wanted to come to In Balance to get a workout and be a student. Like so many of us, she teaches 30 hours a week and as a studio owner, she has a list of additional duties that never ends.  We laughed about doing the studio laundry, filling the cleaner bottles and running the vacuum on top of paper work, teaching our clients, and organizing the studio schedule.

She looked at me with desperation in her eyes and asked, "What advice do you have for me after owning your studio for 15 years?" My advice was profound. I said, "Girl, I've got nothing!"

After 15 years, I have finally realized that the best advice I can give is to accept that you're never going to do it perfectly. I don't know how I've finally come to realize AND accept this, but I have. You're always going to be 5 duties behind where you want to be, and that's OK. Granted it can be embarrassing sometimes when a client asks where the towels are and they're in your dryer at home, but it's OK!

To leave you with some reassurance that I am always behind, here is my to-do list that did not get completed from last week:

  1. Wash studio towels: They're washed and dried but smooshed in a bag behind the front desk.
  2. Fill the cleaner bottles: There's about 2 more days worth of cleaner in there...that can wait!
  3. Vacuum: I'll get that done after the workshop I'm doing at the studio today. (maybe!)
  4. Enter invoices into Quickbooks: Maybe Wednesday???
  5. Throw away the old printer and the new printers' box: Still sitting on the floor in the office.
  6. Change the studio chalkboard:  It still says 2017 Let's do this!  Sheesh!!!

Guys! I could go on and on but I won't. You get the idea. The point is I'm doing the very best I can, and I'm not beating myself up for all the things I have to get done but are still on the list.  I'll rewrite a list today, prioritize, and we'll just see what the week holds.

In conclusion, give yourself a break!



Why I post Pilates videos on Instagram and you should too.

Pilates Police

Over the past 2 years, I have come back into the social media world after getting off of it more 8 years ago.  To be truthful I was going through a very difficult time in my life back then, and even though I was 30 years old and the mother of 2 kids, I simply wasn't mature enough to handle it.  It's completely embarrassing to share this but one of the biggest things I struggled with was feeling left out.  Seeing posts of friends going to a lunch without me would make me feel like I wasn't cool enough to be invited.  Did I mention I was going through a tough time???  I would also find myself disliking (Okay hating) people who I very much liked in person because of a post they did.  I made the decision to get off social media and declared I'd NEVER do it again.

Fast forward to 2015.  One  of my friends kept sending me screenshots of cool Pilates posts from people she followed on Instagram.  She kept insisting that Instagram was different than other social media platforms and encouraged me to join, so I very reluctantly did so.  I immediately loved it!  I was blown-away when I saw well-respected instructors doing Pilates a bit differently (and sometimes not classically!). Their posts helped me feel the freedom and confidence to break the rules that were so ingrained in me from my training.  I timidly began to teach creative variations on the classical work and was amazed when the Pilates Police didn't storm through my studio door.  Is it crazy that a part of me honestly thought that could happen?  Watching very reputable instructors put themselves out there and take the risk of being judged by the haters of the Pilates world was so awesome.  I started to feel a new enthusiasm for my future as a Pilates instructor, and it was all because of Instagram.

I have been doing daily video posts for more than a year now.  I felt compelled to contribute to the community of Pilates instructors on Instagram who had inspired me and I'm so glad I did. My posts have also, and very unexpectedly, empowered me.  They've helped me to see myself in a much more positive way and hearing the kind words and grateful comments for a post I did makes me feel like I'm part of something that matters to people.  I've made great friends with Pilates instructors all over the world, and I message them with questions and support when I need it.  Posting on Instagram has honestly been life changing for me so I hope you'll join me!  You may be surprised what you'll get out of it.

What if you were your most important client?

What?!  While reading through one of my absolute favorite websites, I saw a line that read, "You are your most important asset" and I stopped. You hear things like this all the time. "You have to put your oxygen mask on first.", "If you're not taking care of yourself how can you take care of others?", etc. All of those concepts resonate with me but there was something about Maries' phrasing of "You are your most important asset" that stopped me in my tracks. Then I got to thinking about how this could apply to my work and my life. What if I were my most important client or better yet, my favorite? I teach for about 5-6 hours a day. While most of that time is fully focused on Pilates, some of it is spent listening to what my clients are going through that has nothing to do with Pilates, and I believe that time is very important. While I'm a Pilates instructor first, I believe the moments and conversations had before and after (and sometimes during) each session are incredibly powerful and important. During these times, I always have kind and gentle suggestions to offer. I encourage self-care, short walks, not being so hard on yourself, knowing that you're doing the best that you can and more. My hope is that by the time their session is over their bodies feel better and perhaps their hearts do as well. I'm not just trying to make them feel better, though. I genuinely believe that they need to give themselves a break. If I can do that for almost 30 hours a week for everyone else then surely I can do that for myself too, right??? The idea that it's possible to be as kind, forgiving and gentle with myself as I am with all of my clients is kind of huge to me. Do any other instructors struggle with this too? What about other professions? Surely I'm not alone, right???

Confession: I used to be a Pilates jerk

You may have seen my posts recently on Instagram and Facebook about an event I'm involved in called The Pilates Love Movement.  Anula Maiberg, Jessica Valant, Lesley Logan and I are teaching a Facebook Live mat class on February 12 at 3:30pm to celebrate love, diversity, and acceptance in the Pilates world and beyond.  Each one of us has a bit of a different reason why the event is particularly important to us and today I want to share mine.  For me it's about putting an end to all of the cranky, hater-like behavior that happens in the Pilates world.  Here's the hard part though.  I used to be a cranky hater.  I was trained classically and formed an opinion early on that all other forms of Pilates were rubbish.  I believed there was no other way than classical Pilates and when I opened my own studio and started teaching teachers I passed my opinions and attitudes down to them.  I never let my instructors teach outside of the classical method, EVER.  Then years later I started to see that incredibly reputable and classically trained teachers were doing non-classical exercises.  I started to think, "Oh my Gosh,  Joseph Pilates might not strike me down dead from the heavens above if I teach something new" and so it began.  Little by little I started getting inspired by the posts I was seeing.  I started trying new exercises when I worked out and then, oh my goodness, I started teaching them.  You know what happened?  I didn't get struck down dead.  I also started having a lot of fun and felt a bit more realxed.  I even started to post videos of myself doing creative things.  It was so great to get positive feedback from others for doing something that was pretty far out of my comfort zone.  Then one day I posted a video of myself doing a variation of the mermaid on the reformer and I got a grown-up.  Seriously!  It happened three more times before I finally put a stop to it by blocking her.  The hardest thing to admit though is that I understood her anger.  I used to be that person.  Ok, maybe not to her extreme but I kinda knew how she felt and I was so more grateful that ever that I was a reformed Pilates jerk.  Here's the bottom line though.  Do you!  Be classical, be contemporary, be whatever you want to be but be kind and consider the possibility that you may not know it all.

Please join Anula, Jessica, Lesley and I on February 12 at 3:30 eastern time for this extremely special event celebrating love, diversity and acceptance in the Pilates world and beyond.  Each one of us teaches on our own page then you'll jump to the next girls page.  Anula is at 3:30, I'm at 3:50, Lesley is at 4:10 and Jessica is at 4:30 followed by a Q&A session.



How to be fully prepared for every session you teach.



As I've confessed to in the past, I'm an organization/office supply crazy person.  What's funny about this is that I'm usually a completely unorganized, forgetful mess!   Hence the obsession with thinking that if I have all of the right organization tools, which of course also need to be super cute, then there may be hope for me to get my act together!  When it comes to planning my sessions I go through phases when I'm more detail-oriented than others.  It's important for me to share that this is not something I do without fail or perfectly.  Depending on what I've got going on in my life my written preparation for my sessions varies.  I'm always mentally prepared though and this is incredibly important.  Your clients can tell when you're fully invested in their Pilates process or just showing up and teaching exercises.  Whether you sit down and plan it out on paper or just make the plan in your head before the session begins, please respect your clients and be prepared for every session.  In my case, I've been teaching some of my clients for 14 years and don't always write their sessions out because their workouts and bodies are as familiar to me as the back of my hand.  I'm also a very intuitive teacher so once I read my clients energy when they walk through the door, the final decisions about the session are made.  That being said I love the way it feels when I have a plan.  I also want to mention how incredibly important I think this is when you start a brand new client.  One of my pet peeves is to hear a teacher ask a client if they've ever done an exercise before.  That should never be a conversation that happens in a session.  Just like it's our job to know how to set up the equipment, it's also our job to know which exercises they've learned.

Below are 3 ways I organize my teaching binder.  I think any version of this is fantastic.  Some people use regular spiral notebooks, or apps or their computers, but when it comes to planning out my sessions, I love old school pen and paper.  If you're looking for an electronic version of this check out Pilates Metrics.  Joseph Quinn has created new software that's dedicated to strengthening the Pilates industry through advanced analytics on your smart phone or tablet.  It's amazing!  There is an awesome interview with him on Jenna Zaffino's podcast Pilates Unfiltered.  Make sure you check it out!

Tip #1: My binder

I'm a little bit too excited about the new binder I found just before the new year.  I found it in the clearance section of Office Depot for less than $10.  It's a TŪL binder.  These binders don't snap open and closed but have special inserts that can be easily pulled out and in.  You can also wrap the cover all the way around, so it's more like a spiral bound notebook.   The design of the paper that it comes with is perfect for writing out a class plan.  My favorite thing about this binder above all else is the size.  It's standard paper size (they have the smaller size too) but the width is only 1 inch. It fits perfectly in my work bag without bulking it up.  I love, love, love this binder!


Tip #2:  The layout

The reason I like to use a binder rather than a notebook is because I can use dividers to keep it organized.  I have 5 sections: Private Lessons, Tower Classes, Reformer Classes, Mat Classes and Studio Notes.  Then there's just a chunk of paper in the back.


Tip #3:  My method

I usually sit down on Sundays and look at the few days ahead and plan then.  Then I do the same thing again on Wednesday evenings.  I'm never married to what I plan though, and I think that's super important.  One characteristic I see in teachers that concerns me is when the sessions become about what they want to accomplish instead of what the client needs that day.  Be mindful of that because it can make your client feel like they're disappointing you, and that's the last thing you want!  As far as my method, I think about what we did the session before and how we can build on it.  If I'm teaching a tower class I plan for making the fewest equipment changes as possible, so the lesson flows.  I also think about who's coming if it's a large group class.  If I have a tower class of 8 people and one person can't curl I plan ahead for what I can have them do while I'm teaching the stomach series to the rest of the group.

I hope these tips give you some ideas for being more prepared and organized for your clients.  All of these things help me be more focused and less distracted when I'm in a session, so the whole session is truly about the person (or group) in front of me.  Never forget that your students are putting their trust in you to be the expert.  Be professional and be prepared!


P.S. The best part of my  Sunday planning:  staying in my pajamas, wearing NO make-up snuggling with this little lady!  There's nothing like puppy love.



4 Pilates Studio Management Tips


I thought I'd share a few methods I use for managing the schedule, client accounts, and employee payroll.  I've had In Balance Pilates Studio for almost 15 years and have learned a lot throughout the years.  My studio is rather small with about 50 clients and I have 2 employees.  We don't have a front desk person or studio manager (other than me) so each instructor manages their own schedule and client payments.    I don't use expensive online software although I'm sure it's worth every penny!   I've definitely considered it but I just can't bite the bullet.  I know we would spend less time returning text messages and emails if we used that type of software, but I like the personal attention we can give each client by doing it ourselves.  I may move into another system one day but for now our current and FREE methods work well.

Client Accounts

I use Zoho Docs to keep up with our client accounts.  Zoho is a cloud-based spreadsheet designer that is free and works just like Excel. I started using Zoho rather than Excel when I started using a Google Chromebook a few years ago.  You have to use web based apps with a Chromebook and Zoho has been great.  When a client purchases a package we enter the amount in the spreadsheet and then use a simple subtraction formula so that each time the student comes in it deducts the amount of the class and voila...their new balance is updated.  The spreadsheet does the math for you so there are no math errors. We use a new tab at the bottom of the sheet for each student and place them in alphabetical order so it's  easy to navigate through the accounts.  When a client has one to two classes left on their account, we let them know they're ready for a new package.  One more plus with this system is the spreadsheet is easy to print if a client wants to look over their account details.


Employee Payroll

I also use Zoho for my employee payroll.  Basically, each employee has their own payroll spreadsheet and logs the name of the client, day and time of the session, and the amount the client pays.  Since my girls are independent contractors I just tally that amount by using a simple addition formula and figure out their commission from there.  Again the nice thing is that the spreadsheet does the math for you so you're eliminating math errors.


Google Calendar

I use Google Calendar for our schedule.  Each instructor has a different color and we can all see the schedule from our home computers or smart phones.  This is great for moments when you're not in the studio and a client texts to see if there's a spot in a class at the last minute.  It's also been a great way for everyone to have access to the schedule at any time but we have had a few issues.  There have been times that changes made from our phones don't get changed on the studio computer, so I usually just check-in with the schedule from my phone but rarely make schedule changes on it.  One thing I really like about Google Calendar is that we can make quick notes on the clients' appointment blocks or even communicate with one another about what a client is working on in these blocks. Google Calendar has been an awesome (and free) way to stay organized and connected.


Quickbooks and Online Banking

All of my employees have access to Zoho and Google Calendar but I keep my QuickBooks and Online Banking secure to only me.  Throughout the week we accept payments from clients but I enter the weekly sales receipts into QuickBooks only once per week.  I also use my bank's smart phone deposit app to enter checks so I don't even have to fill out deposit slips or drive through the bank anymore.  Having QuickBooks online has been a true life saver for me. For years I had to be at the studio or at my home computer to use QuickBooks and now I can do it from anywhere.  I do pay a monthly fee for QuickBooks online but it's totally worth it to me.  I usually enter the sales receipts while I'm in the carpool line or my son is at Gymnastics.  It's an excellent use of my down time.   I mean why just chill???  Ha!


The Communication Notebook

This is the simplest version of communication ever!  Old school pen and paper.  It's basically our backup system for all of the above.  Each time a client makes a payment we make a note of it so just in case a payment wasn't entered into Zoho we can look back and see that a payment was actually made.  This is also how we communicate non-urgent messages like subbing needs for the next month or days off needed which is nice because it often limits the amount of daily texts we're sending each other.


So there are a few of the ways I stay organized as a studio owner and full-time instructor.  I should mention that my employees are amazing which is the main reason all of the above works so well.  I honestly couldn't do it without them.  They make my job of managing the studio an absolute breeze so when I'm teaching I can be fully present and not distracted.  Which also makes my other job as Mom and kid chauffeur that starts at 3pm each day easier to manage.  Note that I said easier not EASY!

I hope this helps you with ideas for making your daily duties at your studio easier to handle.  Do you have any tips to share???  I'd really love to hear them so please post them in the comments below.