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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Skillful Teaching - Chantill Lopez

*A Special Invitation: I would like to invite each of you to visit the website and join our community of teachers. Skillful Teaching is a project that promotes teaching mastery and leadership for movement arts teachers.

What you will find there:

Access to articles, teacher interviews and teaching resources.

Tune in and listen to Pilates For the People creator, Julie Schonfeld, in an insightful interview on teaching!! You don’t want to miss this!

Access to monthly tele-classes with guest experts in teaching techniques, business, self-care, cutting edge neuroscience, awareness practices and more.

Access to special member-only discounts and invitations.

Opportunities to share your stories, ask questions and connect with other like-minded teachers.


I would like to extend a VERY SPECIAL invitation to you NOW!

Join us on February 1-5, 2012, in Santa Cruz, CA

For the ONLY ONE of it’s kind…

Exclusively for movement arts teachers…


Get More Information Here (
Plus access to payment plans and an additional $100 off registration before Jan. 3rd!!

Honoring Your Teachers, Honoring Yourself

As the year closes, and our attention moves toward reflection, we have an opportunity to appreciate all that we’ve accomplished and waded through. When you are a teacher, this seems like a whirlwind of ups and downs, wins and losses, sweet moments of connection and terrifying moments of not knowing.

It is also an opportunity to pay special homage to our own teachers -- those who gave us knowledge and helped us reach understanding -- as well as those who worked alongside us to make our studios and businesses balanced and fruitful.

One of the greatest acts of generosity we can take part in is simply acknowledging both those teachers who have come before us, who set the stage for our work, and those teachers who currently stand side by side with us to bring healthier movement and joy to the larger community.

In the final days of 2011, here are some heartfelt, simple and potent acts you can take part in to cultivate gratitude and therefore continued prosperity in the New Year.

Acknowledge your teachers:

Grab pen and paper, find a quiet place, and close your eyes. Think back to New Year’s last year. Begin to feel the sensation of being there, a new beginning, an ending, unfolding into the potential of 2011. Imagine where you were and who was around you. Start to see the place, feel it in your body, smell it. Notice the details until you feel like you were there again.

Start to notice who was there supporting you and teaching you. Name them, feel their presence, list the qualities and strengths that you admire. Remember what they taught you, why they were in your life and what kind of impact they had on you.

Continue to explore the year’s events and crucial moments, acknowledging each of the people who gave you something, whether it was ongoing guidance, a single piece of advice, or just being available when you needed it.

When you get to the end of the year, let all of these people and what they offered fill you up. Feel gratitude well up and be there with it.

Now, jot down who those people where, what they did, and how they helped you navigate the past year. Keep this somewhere you see often and see if you can let the feeling of support fill you up in those times when you are struggling.

*A Simple Gesture: If you are up to it, send each of these people a short note telling them how grateful you are for their support. An email or hand written note will do.

Acknowledge the teacher in you:

Much in the same fashion as above, take a quiet moment to reflect on the trials and tribulations of 2011, focusing particularly on how you were able to work with challenges and unexpected situations.

Let yourself feel what it was like in each of these instances. Try to put yourself back in the moment. As the experiences unfold, see how you were either wise in your actions and appreciate how you were able to make good choices, or notice how in retrospect you see how you could have done things differently.

See each event as an opportunity to appreciate your willingness to show up for your teaching path, for stepping up over and over again to see what is there. Rest in the knowledge that each moment brought you to a new place of understanding and growth.

This is the teacher in you. The part of you that is able to keep learning, growing and adapting.

*A Simple Gesture: Write a sweet love note to yourself appreciating all that you achieved and overcame in 2011. Focus on what made you feel stronger, more courageous and brought your joy. Write down the moments you felt truly in the flow. Put this note in your purse, bag or day-planner so you can be reminded often of your infinite potential to show up and keep cultivating the heartfelt teacher that you are.

Acknowledge your teachers (your staff):

There have never been truer words than those pointing us toward realizing our success is not solely dependent on us. Without every single person we encounter, our worlds, let alone our success, would not take shape.

The biggest folly, and ingratitude, you can take part in is to think the success of your work, your business, or your studio comes from you alone. If we hold this as an underlying belief even in a small way it inevitably sneaks into the product of our work.

So, start right now – and do it regularly – by telling your teachers who much their efforts are appreciated. And better yet, tell the world.

*A Simple Gesture: 3 Options –

1. In your monthly newsletter, write a little blurb about how awesome each of your teachers are. Tell your students who much they contribute to the success of the studio and note their achievements from the past year.

2. Give each teacher a note telling them how much you are grateful for their work in the studio. Congratulate them on their successes.

3. In a highly visible place in your studio post a note about each of the teachers with the same content from the first two.

Make it easy and honest. And don’t just wait till the end of the year, consider doing this as a regular practice. It will do amazing things for creating stronger, lasting relationships with your teachers and making your studio a place where they want to be more often.

I find that all of these practices connects me more deeply with my work and gives me inspiration for putting one foot in front of the other. It has also created a foundation for my business that I am extremely proud of.

As I told my bookkeeper the other day, how I know we are successful is that our students and teachers are proud to be a part of our studio, they tell the people they care most about to come to us, they tell us all the time how much they love being a part of the community and they show up happy and willingly. And financial success has followed. With values and generosity at our core, I know prosperity will always follow.

May you move into the New Year with a greater sense of gratitude for yourself, your mentors, and those who support you. May these simple things become a foundation for a prosperous 2012!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Etiquette - Have we forgotten it?

So this week I had an extremely heightened awareness of our society and the lack of etiquette we possess towards others. Okay, this isn't something I just figured out. I think for me as the years go by I just become a little bit more agitated by people and their self absorbed behavior.

When I was a preteen my mother decided it was a good idea to send me to etiquette/modeling school. I was indifferent about going. I just went and learned how to be a proper little lady. I knew my mother sent me out of concern that I might turn out to be a little rebel girl. Well, bless my mother for sending me because I turned out to be a little rebel girl with some great lady-like manners! HA!!! How is that for wacky! Stay with me though. Let's explore the concept.

The yoga studio I go to posted a link to an article about the 10 characters you might see in yoga class. about hysterical. I was number four, the "show off". The flexible girl with a dance background that does every movement with ease and wears a bun. C'est Moi!!! Some other characters were the freestyler, the grunter, the granola guy and my least favorite character.....the latecomer. Now this was a yoga article so you know that there was some of that "we should embrace people and their differences" stuff but come on now. Where do we really draw the line?

This week in yoga, a latecomer decided to plop their mat down right next to me. Turns out not only was she a latecomer but she was a pogo dancer. You know, the student that hops around on one leg throughout all the standing poses and then wants to huff and puff about her frustration because she can't balance. Seriously? Do I really need to embrace that? Is it really okay to be late to class, disrupt the "show off" chick next to you (mind you, I was 15 minutes early and paid the same amount of money just to find some zen from my own hectic life) and then jump around on your mat like a fish outta water?

For those of you that know me personally, my biggest pet peeve is the late with anything person. In my studio, late to class is a super big no-no. Not only do I believe that it is disrespectful to the teacher but I also believe that it is annoying to others participating in class. Most people are also not aware that you can get seriously injured when you walk in late, especially in Pilates. I really don't want to have that talk with a client about why short spine massage isn't the first move you should be doing because you were 20 minutes late to equipment class.

I don't know if any other studio owners have this problem or not but being late with payment for your Pilates services is a really crappy thing to do to your trainer and small business owner. You knew you were coming to your Pilates class today, you knew you had to pay, you made a conscious decision not to bring cash, a checkbook, a credit card and/or you just couldn't get around to paying online 24/7 either. Seriously? Do you not pay for your groceries, gas and salon purchases at the point of sale?

Today I decided to go to the movies to see a matinee of "Midnight in Paris". Totally awesome film! The beginning of the movie started off with the beautiful sites of Paris. Someday I will get there!! Boy did that send me off to dream land. Unfortunately, the couple a few rows behind me had a problem keeping their mouths shut and after clearing my throat and turning around several times I had to finally get up and move across the theater in order to get away from their talking. The Starbucks is across the street if you want to talk. Better yet, the movie will be out on DVD soon and you can watch it at home and talk all you want. That's just ignorant.

There is no Pilates story for the loud talking movie couple. My clients are good about controlling excessive talking during class. I hope you are too.

So here's my last beef on etiquette for this week. I was driving home from work today and was stopped at a red light. I was minding my own business waiting for the light to change and all of a sudden this honking starts behind me. I didn't pay much attention because I was just stopped at the light and wasn't doing anything wrong and then I realized all the fuse was being directed at me!?!? Turns out one of our thousands of disgruntled drivers wasn't pleased with me because he couldn't squeeze his Cadillac between me and the car behind me so I received the honking and flaying hand gestures just for being stopped at a traffic light?

I'm sorry mom. No amount of etiquette school will allow me to conduct myself properly when someone berates me for doing absolutely nothing wrong. I won't go into detail but the little rebel girls response to this behavior wasn't pretty.

Again, there's no Pilates story to go with the crazy driver. I just feel better letting it out on the blog.

I guess the purpose of today's post was to explore the fine line between being accepting of others while not being pushed around, bullied or having your own quality of life being disrupted. I loved the yoga article but at the same time it really got me thinking. Should we really accept people and their ignorant behavior? My manners and etiquette are always wanting to be accepting and open minded towards people but the rebel girl in me thinks that sometimes absurd people really deserve a rude awaking.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ron Fletcher - December 6, 2011

The world of Pilates has just lost one of our greatest Pilates elders, Ron Fletcher.

Let's all take a moment to reflect on all our teachers and mentors that keep the spirit of Joe and his work alive throughout the years. This is so important for our next generation of teachers.

If you have any stories you would like to share, please feel free to email them to

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Giving Thanks Comes In Funny Ways

Over the last month I have been reflecting how wonderful the vibe has been at the studio. All the new and old clients are meshing into one heck of a great group of individuals. I too have generally become a happier and less stressful person. I have made firm decisions to stick to business boundaries and allow myself the down time I never thought I deserved or could afford to take.

On Black Friday I decided to run a discount over my website on services. A thank you to the clients for their patronage. Who doesn't love a deal? They're going to come back anyway. Well, I found that many of the regulars didn't care about the silly deal and would rather pay full price. One client said she just didn't feel like doing the math and would rather write out the usual check. How funny is that? I do have a calculator. I tried to thank them but instead they ended up thanking me.

This evening a newbie and veteran client were chatting it up in the reformer room before class. You know the usual conversation. How long have you been doing this? etc. etc. Just as I walked into the room I overhead my longtime client talking about me, "She is reaaalllly good." Talk about a great testimonial. I love it when my old clients encourage, support and welcome new students.

Today I give thanks to all my old clients who have created a great studio through their patronage and dedication and to all the new clients whom I hope will continue their practice with us.