Working from home recently has been an enormous learning curve. Like everyone else worldwide, I am currently social distancing and staying home as much as possible. This week marks the 6th week I have been teaching pilates from my living room. Therefore all my regular pilates classes, 1-2-1 sessions, and teacher trainer courses are all being done “from home”.

For those who work in offices this may not seem like such a change, however when your job involves teaching people face-to-face, observing their movements and correcting their body position, modifying for their current injury or condition, responding to their cues, expressions, reading the mood in the room, and creating the correct atmosphere, moving this to “working from home” initially seemed like an impossible task.

When the lockdown was first implemented last month I applauded how quickly other pilates/yoga/fitness instructors took their businesses online. They were up and running literally the next day with a schedule and all the right equipment. For some reason I couldn’t take myself to do this. I think the shock of loosing my business literally overnight hit me so deep down that I felt paralysed about the whole situation. I couldn’t even begin looking in to what was required to attempt this.

I have spent the past 9 years growing this little business and putting my whole heart and soul in to it. It is so much more to me than just my job. It is how I pay the bills yes, but it is a community of people I have known for years and enjoy spending my weeks with, it is how I help others exercise, rehabilitate, and feel good, and most importantly I just love all the aspects the business brings so much that I spend all my spare time working on it too. Every single day.

Anyway, after my emotions managed to level-out a little, I did my research and got myself set up online. It has been a fantastic success so far but the reality of teaching online is a very different way of teaching when in the studio.

You can find out more about my online classes here, or drop me an email at tracy@freshlycentered.com.

Here is how online teaching varies from studio teaching:

I’ll start with the most obvious points that you may already be thinking, but please keep reading as there is so much more to consider and provide some food for thought.

  • New equipment and IT skills. I use the online platform Zoom to hold my classes, and have to manually manage my registers, payments and mailing out the link to participants prior to class. This means I am “on” constantly checking and updating the lists to ensure no error and that it is completed in time. I invested in studio lighting to brighten the class for extra “professionalism” as well as a wireless microphone. The cables to connect it all and settings took many hours of investigation!
  • Lack of pilates equipment. I have to assume my participants do not have a pilates studio full of small equipment at home and therefore have had to resort back to teaching purely matwork based classes rather than the use of my weighted balls, soft ball, magic circle, and resistance bands. This brings different programming to ensure they are well worked, well supported and feeling it in the right places without the use of props.
  • Atmosphere & reading people. The class environment brings emotion, laughter, frowning, basically any gesture that I can read to know how to direct my class that day. There is NONE of this through online teaching. I have to provide this myself and carry the class. I have to deliver an atmosphere to their home to make their class enjoyable and an experience they want to return to.
  • Hands-on correction. I always observe everyone on every exercise to ensure correct technique and that they are getting the most out of each exercise. Virtually, I now have to check the screen with every exercise. This mostly works, except when their screen is pointing to the ceiling, or is switched off!
  • Individualised correction based on the visual/condition. I pride myself on modifications for each individual’s injury/condition/ability. Again this is next to impossible to read online, therefore I have to be slick and almost guess what modifications I may require for every single exercise to ensure I am keeping everyone safe, and able t participate regardless of their issue that day.
  • Better articulation. Teaching through the laptop means I have to be exceptionally clear in my verbal instruction. It’s unlikely they will ask me to clarify again virtually, therefore clear, articulate, precise words are used on every word I speak.
  • Worldwide community. I am so grateful fo this one. To be able to reach so many new people from all over!  However this is why all of the above is so so important just now.
  • No commute.  Perhaps the best change to online teaching. No travel for myself or my participants, meaning some can now join when previous geography would have prevented them. I can also provide additional classes as it takes less time, less arrangements etc.
  • Cosier environment. I thought teaching form my living room and opening this up to others (especially strangers) would be weird, however I find it really homely and cosy and just “feel at home” for no other way to describe it!
  • There is simply a deeper sense of connection. We are all in this together, and although everyone’s journey is so different we are all continuing the best way we can, keeping each other moving and motivated. I felt tearful the first few live classes I did as I was just so grateful for their support, but also to see them on the other side and then I just knew that we will get through this. 

If you have read this far and want to join in, you can find out more about my online classes here, or drop me an email at tracy@freshlycentered.com.

What has your experience of online classes been so far? I’d love to hear!