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.


My 2017 Planner


It's December 26 and my excitement for 2017 is in full swing.  I thought I'd do a few blog posts about how I get organized as a regular person, Pilates instructor, studio owner, and Mom over the next few blog posts.  Today I'll share which planner I use and some of my favorite planner tools.  I've learned that I'm more likely to get excited and be committed to something if I can be creative along the way.  As a kid, I always decorated my loose leaf paper with pretty markers and somehow it made taking notes at school the next day more fun.  So now as an adult I have figured out an outlet for the Lisa Frank, sticker loving kid in me. I use a Passion Planner.  I've been doing so for 3 years and I love it.  The crisp black and white pages are like butter to write on, it has a place for personal and work to-do lists, and there are inspiring quotes throughout.  I use stickers and washi tape to decorate it each week which serves absolutely no purpose other than to make it pretty! I look forward to every Sunday when I sit down to get organized and I enjoy the chance to get a little crafty and creative.   Passion Planner is having a flash sale through 12/27/16 for $5 off a 2017 planner.  Get one now!

One way I have customized my planner is by gluing the monthly reflection sheets at the end of the month together and putting washi tape on the edges of it.  That way I now have monthly view pages that separate the 4 weeks of the each month.  They're very easy to flip to and the washi tape makes the planner super pretty from the side.  The monthly reflection sheets are awesome but I found after a couple of years that I wasn't taking the time to complete them, so I came up with this idea.   I also use washi tape and Create 365 stickers to decorate it each week.


On the front cover of my planner I stick small stacks of Post-It Notes (the super sticky ones work best for this) and this very cool Post It Notes pocket.  I have been able to reuse this pocket for 3 planners and the adhesive is still sticky.  I absolutely recommend it!


My most loved planner tools are my pens!  I use Pilot Frixion Pens, markers and highlighters.  They are AMAZING!!! These pens and markers are erasable and I mean it! They leave absolutely no trace once you've erased using the Frixion eraser.  A WARNING:  Don't leave any important documents in full/direct sunlight.  The ink will actually disappear.  I have never had anything terrible happen due to this but I am thoughtful about when I use these pens.  I definitely don't have clients use them when filling out their intake forms and I would never sign an important document with them.  As for my planner needs and lesson plan documentation: you can't beat these pens!


Another way I individualize my Passion Planner is by using these adorable holiday stickers by  Star City Designs.  You can instantly download them here.



So there's a little peak at how I get ready for my life each Sunday.  I also plan out my lessons for the week and have them organized in a cute binder but more on that in my next post!  I hope this gives you some ideas for getting ready for the new year.  Let's do this 2017!



Party time at In Balance

I was actually able to make one of my great ideas a reality this weekend and the outcome was amazing.  While the girls and I were in Phoenix at the PMA a new documentary was premiered called Tribute to Joseph Pilates.  Not only did I love the movie but I also got to know Glaucia Adriania, one of the producers, and knew that I needed to share her project with Pilates lovers back home.  The idea snow balled into a Sip and Shop Movie night and Carrie B., Kristen and I threw a pretty awesome party if I do say so myself!  Local businesses were there to sell their goods and Good Citizen and Pilates Nerd were also represented.  At 6:30pm we started the movie and it was awesome to hear everyone's reactions.  Thank you to all of you who came out.  We'll definitely do it again!




I’m getting excited!


I love this time of year.  I love the holidays but I really get excited about the weeks following the holidays more.  My mind starts to get very busy with all of the possibilities and opportunities a new year can present.  In my personal life I get motivated to set a new a cleaning schedule for my house.  Sounds silly but getting my house organized makes me feel like I have control and I've mentioned how much I like that feeling!  I set goals like actually looking through the kids notebooks every evening and doing meal prep every Sunday.  Usually I only stick with it for about 6 weeks but it feels so good to give it another try!  At work I love to reset with clients.  For some we decide on new goals like working on flexibility for back greater extensions or learning every Level III exercise.  For others the assessment is that we're on a perfect path and to simply continue with our focused and steady progress.  I also get excited about my teacher training program and workshop design.  I love working with teachers because it fuels my daily work.  Today I set the dates for my winter 2017 mat training.  SO exciting!  WARNING: Nerd alert:  I also love, probably more than anything, opening my fresh, crisp 2017 planner.  It makes me SO HAPPY.  I'm going to do a post closer to the new year about which planner I use.  I realize this seems completely silly to some but I know there is a whole culture of planner obsessed folks like me out there who love to see how other people use their planners. Just search the hashtag #planneraddict on Instagram.  You'll die!  So friends...enjoy your upcoming holidays and join me in getting PUMPED for a new year and new possibilities.



Daylight Savings Ends…

but my enthusiasm is just getting revved up.


I am home after the most amazing professional experience of my life.  It was a week I'll never forget and if it was my peak then I am satisfied.  It was unreal and if you'd like to see more about it click here .

I've spent just about all of my energy preparing for my trip over the past month (in a way over the past 37 years but that's another blog post) and I'm so full of enthusiasm for my future I could burst.   Add to my excitement that I get a whole extra hour in my day today and I'm feeling outright obnoxious.  I'm excited about anything and everything!  I'm excited about my life slowing down a bit. Now I can enjoy the little things again like self-care and weekly meal prep which make me feel like I have control.  I REALLY like that feeling!  I'm also excited about making plans for the near future.  Maybe I'll teach a summer workshop or hold another mat training in 2017?  I'm excited about setting long-term goals.  What could I aim for in 10 years when both kids are in college?   Usually, when I get inspired and enthusiastic I feel like it's time sensitive.  I feel like if I don't "act now" my moment will disappear.  Today it feels different.  I'm busting with enthusiasm but I am calm and here is why.  Last week I had the honor of being around some of the greatest and most experienced Pilates instructors in the world.  I had the opportunity to sit down and have lunch with Kathy Corey and listen to her talk about new opportunities coming her way after 35 years of teaching.  It reminded me that if you're invested fully in your passion then opportunities will always present themselves.  I also had dinner with Alan Herdman who's been teaching Pilates for 45 years.  When he talked about travel, teaching, and mentoring students I was reminded that when you love what you do you'll always be bright eyed and excited about it.  Just watching Kathy and Alan move and interact with people reminded me that when you live what you love, you glow. They were both full of enthusiasm for their own lives and enhancing the lives of others with Pilates and I realized their journeys are what I wish for myself.  My sister reminded me when I called her last week so full of joy that I was weeping that "timing is everything".  If I had had this experience 5 years ago or even last year it wouldn't have been the same.  I was ready for it last week.  I was able to wring every last drop out of each and every moment and it was glorious.  For someone who is really good at working so hard for something that I can't enjoy the result, this was a major success!  The timing was right.  So as I make lists and set goals for what I'd love to see happen in my future I will also sit tight and embrace the journey.  I'll try not to forget that where I am in 20 years is not necessarily what I'm striving for but it's fully feeling and being present in the experiences along the way.  I will simply (yet enthusiastically) pass down my love for Pilates one person at a time, one day at a time just like any good Pilates Nerd would.

So cheers to a day of goal setting, meal prep, an afternoon walk, laundry, cleaning out the fridge and unpacking my suitcases!  I think I may need more than just one extra hour.

#carryonnerds #lovewhatyoudo #yourenthusiamisscaringeveryone




Why doesn’t Pilates get easier?


This is a question I hear a lot. At some point in a student's first month of Pilates, they’ll say, “Why isn’t this getting easier?” They tend to think that once they’ve done an exercise for a few weeks they should be able to do it without effort. To help them understand my view of the Pilates process I always compare Pilates to dance and music. With dance and music after a certain point in your training, you're no longer learning new movements or notes but you refining your performance of them. You begin to put the movements or notes together in ways that make them more challenging. You may learn to execute more turns or hold notes longer but the fundamentals remain the same, therefore the process doesn’t get easier you just get better. For me, Pilates is like a dance or symphony that flows from one movement to the next and I love to experience how each workout feels different. I try to perform the movements with more precision and control concentrating on how I can move more effortlessly and focused. I never get bored. If anything I find myself falling more in love with Pilates year after year.


Patience and Persistence


I love this Joseph Pilates quote.  It’s such a perfect reminder to me that no matter how persistent and determined I am that I need to balance it out with patience.  I rock at persistence. I'm type A, OCD and driven as h*ll but when I consciously let go of some of that and lean into patience I am able to experience more joy in the success.  I’ve been known to ruin a fantastic experience by working so hard that I can’t feel the joy.  When I found out I won the Pilates Anytime competition I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t ruin it by stressing out.  That same day I saw the above quote that I’ve seen a million times but it resonated differently.  This is my big chance to do this right.  To feel it and not fight it.  15 days and counting until I fly to California and teach the classes of my life!  I’m so excited for this opportunity and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.



Pilates at Boston Body Pilates


This weekend the family headed to Boston for vacation and we had a blast.  We did some touristy things (the rain changed our plans a bit), took our niece and nephew to the aquarium & science museum and even went to  Newport, RI which is truly one of the most beautiful towns I've ever visited.  I was also able to fit in Pilates!

During the past few months I've met a lot of wonderful people on Instagram.  The IG Pilates community is so positive and supportive and the experience I've had has been incredibly empowering.  I've made a lot of virtual Pilates nerd friends around the world and this weekend I met a real live one!  Zayna Gold is the owner of Boston Body Pilates and a Balanced Body educator.  Throughout the voting process for the Pilates Anytime competition Zayna was my cheerleader and up until Saturday I had never met her or even talked to her on the phone!  I took her reformer class at 10 am and then we talked about Pilates and the future of Pilates.  We talked about the amazing Pilates community on Instagram and how Instagram seems to represent what we all need. Positivity, support, connectivity and acceptance.  Let's keep the joy of Pilates going my friends.  It's in our hands!

I won!

Carrie Pagès, owner of In Balance Pilates Studio, competed against 98 Pilates practitioners around the globe to win the distinction of The Next Pilates Anytime Instructor.  Pilates Anytime® is an online Pilates studio delivering world-class instruction to more than 130 countries.

In search of their next instructor, Pilates Anytime hosted a competition and Carrie’s video submission was selected top 10 by a panel of judges, and then voted the winner by Pilates Anytime members around the world.  The prize?  Carrie will now travel to Santa Barbara, California to film her first two videos for Pilates Anytime, and then to Phoenix, Arizona to be honored at the Pilates Method Alliance Conference.  While there, she will also be interviewed for her four to six page spread in Pilates Style Magazine.

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