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(upbeat music) Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Pilates Report. I’m really excited about today’s conversation. We are so lucky to have John Marston, the CEO of Pilates Anytime here, and we’re gonna be going over the results from a survey that we’d done a few months ago, just going over the state of the industry, how it’s changed due to the global pandemic. So welcome John, so glad to have you here.
Well, thank you, Gia. It’s great to be here. Yeah. It’s been a while since (inaudible) Pilates Report So I feel very special being your guest. Yeah, it’s definitely been awhile.
And for those of you attending, we will be doing a Q&A at the very end. So feel free to add your questions to the chat. And also with the videos up on the site, we’ll add links to articles that we may discuss, or just previous videos that John did last year when we were doing a series of interviews with different people all around the world and how the pandemic was affecting them. So you can check those out as well. So we’re gonna get started with my first question for John.
So now that we’re in our second year of the pandemic and can look back at everything that’s happened, what are the trends that you can identify? Well, thank you, Gia. I just began to say that our viewpoint is very much from Los Angeles, that during this entire pandemic, I haven’t gone on a plane. I haven’t really gotten to be in many places. So this is a very LA centric view of the pandemic and how things are it’s informed by conversations that we’ve had with people in the industry all over the world.
And it’s the survey results that we compiled by sending a survey out to Pilates Anytime members met the gamers all over the world, and we have thousands of responses. So to everybody who responded, thank you so much. And we’re gonna touch on the trends that we identified in those things. My first kind of thing is this is a once in a lifetime event for all of us. This is a really tough pandemic that we’re in the middle of and just to recap the stats that many of us already know in 4 million people, in excess of 4 million people have died from COVID.
And that probably significantly under reports, the impact it’s had. Over 200 million people have caught COVID and all of that 200 million about 10% have had the long-term impacts from COVID or so-called long-haulers. So this is really had a big impact on our health care system, countries have had to respond. So we’ve all got used to social isolation, staying at home, wearing masks, not doing many of the activities that we kind of got used to. The nature of work has changed for many people for the people lucky enough to be able to work from how work has changed.
And it may never go back to the way it was before. So we’ve got used to working from home the same as we are today here on this call Gia working at home and myself and the people behind the scenes. This has become the new normal. And as some big companies have tried to encourage their employees to come back to the office, they’ve found a lot of resistance to it. The great news is that just to go back to here in Los Angeles, towards the end of the year, our hospital system was overwhelmed.
There was no spare capacity in the ICU and mortality rate was high. Unfortunately, as the year began, we began to see the vaccinations began to come out. And at this point in time my statistics say that about 25% of the world population, have had one dose of the vaccine and about 14% are fully vaccinated. However, that is very varied in terms of the vaccination rate between the wealthy and the low-income countries. Low income countries have had less than 1% of their population vaccinated.
Without doubt the vaccine is working, it reduces mortality, it reduces hospitalization. It doesn’t mean that if you’ve had the vaccine, you can’t catch COVID, but the symptoms you’re gonna have are gonna be really mild compared to a full-blown COVID exposure. So we are seeing here in Los Angeles, the cases, once again, on the rise, as all of those restrictions have been lifted. And about a week ago, we had the restriction back again that people should be wearing masks when they’re indoors again. But we’re seeing that the vaccination has kind of plateaued out.
There’s hesitancy about more people having it, and it’s being spread in the community because of the restrictions aren’t there to the same extent as they were before. So I kind of touched on that a lot of people are kind of looking to continue working from home. They’re becoming really familiar with Zoom we’ve all become that and that the general population have switched to exercising at home. So a lot of people try exercising at home during the pandemic. And I think a lot of people are still cautious about social interaction and kind of questioning whether or not the old status quo is ever going to apply here or apply again in the future.
Gia, do you think I’ve missed any of the key points here? No, I think that touches on basically everything. Yeah, and I think one thing that we’ve seen too is that the social isolation that people have experienced have led people to think about what they really want in life, whether that’s a new career or a move and just it’s really gotten people more introspective and just thinking about their own lives and what they’ve done, yeah. I agree. It a really key point a lot of my friends have questioned like, is this really what I wanna be doing for the rest of my life?
Yeah, exactly. So given the trends that we’ve been seeing, how do you think that’s affected the Pilates industry? I think 2020 was the year of everybody in the Pilates industry, learning how to use Zoom. So perhaps it’s Pilates and Zoom would be the theme for the year. (John chuckles) (Gia chuckles) Lots and lots of remote classes were taught.
Lots of video was recorded and many people have access to it. Sadly, many studios closed, many teachers lost their employment with their Pilates studio they were associated with, but continue to teach them often afterwards through Zoom and doing things that way. And practitioners on their side of things. They bought a lot of Pilates equipment, bought the reformers, but also a very large numbers of props. So that was kind of how I think that the end user or the practitioner of Pilates changed, they got used to Zoom, they got used to recorded videos and working out at home.
I think when it comes to teachers, that transition was before they were employed in a studio and now they employed by themselves and they’re working for their home, delivering their content through Zoom. I think for other teachers, it was a time to think about is this really what I wanna be doing? And there was a lot of career switching and we’ve talked to various people that have done that. Now for studio owners it was a toughest time because they often had to continue to pay their rent on the studios. Didn’t get a lot of rent relief or financial support from their governments.
And so many studios closed and people exited that kind of part of the industry, or they chose to move from a large space to a very small space and perhaps just work from their home or from their garage and deliver their solutions that way. On balance our survey results indicated that more studios closed than opened during the last year and a half. When it comes to teacher trainings, many people decided that a career as a Pilates teach teacher might be a good way of continuing their employment post-pandemic. So we’ve seen a lot of virtual teaching. We’ve seen a lot of master classes being taught by people by delivering it, instead of traveling around the world that they were delivering those virtually.
Conferences came to hault (murmurs) big conference with a large gathering of people is not a safe place to be, but virtual conferences popped out and people experimented with multiple types of formats in that. And I think that Gia is still out on what is the right way to have a Pilates conference. Yeah. Virtual conferences are hard ’cause everyone’s so tired of Zoom. There’s that same fatigue, but then you want to learn more, but then you’d have to spend three days on Zoom like all day.
And that just it’s so tiring. So conferences are definitely something that people will have to figure out. Yeah, I’m looking forward to attending some more virtual conferences, I’m sure they’re gonna get better as the technology gets better and people work out the format. And how long do you really want us to do a virtual conference by being in front of your computer all day? I know I always enjoyed meeting people in real life.
Also with the equipment, the survey results, a lot of people would fill in their other results instead of just putting the results, the options that we had. And I noticed that there were quite a few people who were in teacher training and that’s why they bought equipment. ‘Cause you do need to feel the exercises on your body. And it’s easy to do that with the mat virtual training, but if you’re not on the equipment, you can’t really teach it if you’re don’t feel it in your body and haven’t been able to experience it. So I did notice that happening a lot and also just people wanting to have their own home studio ’cause they like the convenience of being able to practice at home whenever they want, especially as they’re working from home, they can just take a break and go into another room and get on their reformer and take a class and schedule it whenever they worked for their schedule.
I know like my boyfriend, he stopped going to a gym and his purchased all this home gym equipment. Now he doesn’t think he’ll go back. So it seems like that’s kind of a direction that things are heading. Yeah, I agree Gia. I think I’m lucky enough to have a Pilates chair at home and I’ve really enjoyed taking video, Pilates anytime classes on and experiencing the different teachers.
So yeah, I think that (indistinct) is out of the bottle and I think it’s going to be hard to imagine that the gyms will be as busy as they were before the pandemic. Yeah, I agree. So what do you think is gonna happen over the next couple of years? Well, I know to my future self, that whatever I say in the next few minutes is going to be so laughably wrong when I watched this in a year’s time. So I give you that health warning before I start on this.
I think that it’s amazing that we created a vaccine. The human society created a vaccine so quickly and over the next couple of years, the vaccine deployment will be rolled out around the world. I don’t think everybody’s gonna get access to the vaccine this year. I think it’s gonna take a couple of years, particularly in the developing world. And I look forward to thinking that most people have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Having said that we see here in the U.S. that there’s a certain amount of vaccine hesitancy of people that aren’t planning to get vaccinated. So I think the results of those two things is that we will see continued spikes of COVID in the communities where there isn’t high levels of vaccination. And I think the only way to respond to those is gonna be that there are lockdowns and there’ll be communities where, mask mandates or stay at home and all of those kinds of things will happen. I think that the variant that we hear about all the time at the moment, the Delta variant, there’ll be another variant and another variant.
And these variants that are become dominant, they’re gonna be more infectious more easily spread in many ways. Think of it as Delta, but a strong aversion of Delta. I think in terms of timing, I think as the Northern hemisphere goes into winter, which is, only three or four months away, we’re gonna see more people in (murmurs) an increase in the transmission of COVID. I just say, just to recognize that the vaccine means that you’re pretty much protected from hospitalization or death from COVID, it doesn’t mean that you won’t catch it. So I think that there will be times when people that are vaccinated, like myself are gonna catch COVID and it’s going to be like a flu, or maybe it’s gonna impact my ability to work if it does happen.
And so there’s gonna be this continual kind of sense of COVID in society, which will then impact how people behave. So maybe people will be less keen to dine inside because they don’t wanna catch anything. Maybe there’s gonna be a resistance, to go back to the studio or any of the other places of exercise. So I think those are kind of gonna be what the society’s like. I think mask wearing is gonna be, kind of part of society.
And I think if you’re on a plane, you’re probably gonna wear a mask. And the impact of these things is that I think people are gonna be hesitant and probably not desiring to go back to work. They’ve realized for the last work in an office, I mean, not working. Yeah. But I think that there’s gonna be people who are gonna say, I don’t need to go to that office to do that job.
And if their employer is saying, you need to come to the office, the job market certainly here in California’s strong enough that they can say, well, I’m gonna choose not to work for that company, and I’m gonna switch to work for a company that allows me to work remotely. So these things have kind of trends of, as Gia was just saying about her partner, working out from home, having made all those investments in exercise equipment. I think we’re gonna see the results of this is there’s gonna be a continual growth in home exercise and movement and working from home. So things like, if your Pilates studio is in a business district, which relying on people coming to all those offices that may not be in the optimal location to have a brick and mortar location. That convenience of people working out at home and especially in Los Angeles, they just brought back the mask mandate for indoors.
So it’s not as comfortable to work out with a mask on it’s doable, I’ve done it, but it’s just a lot more comfortable if you’re at home able to breathe fully without the mask on. So I see that a lot of people are probably going to kind of go back to at home with that too. So keeping that hybrid model seems like it’s gonna be something that is gonna be here to stay. Yeah, I agree with that. I think the more specific things that are gonna be impacted, the Pilates specific trends that we kind of think we’re gonna see.
Gia has mentioned the hybrid model of teachers working in the studio, but also teaching people through Zoom when they’re traveling or at home. Outdoor classes Gia and I were just talking about some of the studios that had outdoor classes during the pandemic and no choice here in Los Angeles, they’ve continued to do it. We’re looking after have great weather that kind of lends itself to that, but we’re still seeing that, we think practitioners are gonna work out at home. Teacher training programs have added a large virtual teacher training component to it. It’s good for the trainee because it produces the cost of delivering the program and their travel costs or maybe those things.
And so I think that teacher training is probably changed for the long-term into this hybrid model. Because Gia said there’s no real substitute for hands-on work or being on the equipment. So there’s a kind of a rub in that. And lastly, I would just talk about conferences. I miss the in-person conference, but it’s also an expensive experience going to be used to go to the Pilates Method Alliance conference every year.
It’s not inexpensive to go there and rent a hotel room and not work for a few days to be at a conference. So I think the future of conferences, I’m not so confident that I know what’s gonna happen, but I think they’re gonna be virtual, but maybe they’re gonna be much more smack bite as opposed to a three-day chunk. I think also smaller group classes or maybe people leaning on privates duets and semi-privates a little bit more just to kind of minimize the amount of people in a space. I feel like that’s probably gonna be a lot more popular if it’s affordable for people rather than the big group classes that have started… They were starting to kind of come into the industry more pre-COVID.
So I think the class sizes are gonna be smaller again so that way the studio spaces can space out the equipment a little bit more. And so there’s not too many people breathing in the space. So I just think it’ll be… People will feel safer with a smaller class size. So for Pilates professionals, do you have any tips that you would give them?
what should they do? Well, Gia and I talked about this a lot before we did this, the Pilates Report today. The most important thing is for the providers professional, to look after their own health, if you’re sick, you can’t help your clients. So think about maintaining your own health. And by that, I’m not just thinking about your physical health, but also think about your mental health and how do you avoid burnout and how do you just be in a good place to be able to help, your loved ones and your clients.
In terms of some specific tips, we think there’d be a big component of virtual. So continue working on your verbal queuing because you’re gonna be socially distant, and virtual teaching’s just going to be here. You can’t rely on those tactile cues if you’re trying to do things over Zoom. Find resources that inspire you. Those can be different things, it can be watching other people teach, it can be other modalities, it can be time in nature.
But just how do you refresh your own self, your own skills and how you’re feeling. When it comes to props? We’ve seen a lot of indication that clients are really happy to buy props. The big issue with the equipment is they don’t have anywhere to put it, but a box full of props can really increase the creativity of how you can do a Zoom class. So kind of think about props, what they can do with them, and then encourage your clients to buy those.
And then stay in touch with your clients, email them, check in on them, send them texts, share them all kinds of things. Social isolation that we’re experiencing all the way through this means that people are lonely. And part of the role here as a Pilates teacher is to provide that kind of emotional support as well as the connection. When it comes to studio owners, make sure that you’ve still got all those skills to do those virtual classes, because I don’t think it’s impossible that this winter is gonna see a much worse wave and we’re gonna see shutdowns again. Hopefully you won’t have to go back to that, but just make sure that you’re prepared and you’re in a good place if that does happen.
We talked about pricing and some of the very early Pilates reports, and we encourage you to keep on charging the same, whether it’s in-person or whether it’s virtual. you ever seen costs and your time as worth the same, even if it isn’t a different experience than that you’re delivering. Teaching virtually is harder too so you do deserve more for that. Big thumbs up on that Gia. For studio owners that have teachers recognize that teachers are going through tough times and think about how can you support them?
How can you help them continue to work? Overwork is not the solution, but how do you find that balance between, giving them enough employment to make sure that they are able to pay, they have a living wage, but also supporting them emotionally so that they continue to enjoy the job. My last thought to the studio owners, although I have seen friends that have committed to leases recently and open Pilates studio is we don’t really know what’s about to happen. We’re still in this turbulent world. So before you take a really long financial commitment, like a 10 year lease on a Pilates studio, just think about if you really, really willing to do that if we were to have another shutdown for six or 12 months to some kind of COVID related pandemic.
So I would keep your place financially flexible. (laughs) So don’t take on a big commitment and think about, do I really need all this space? Do I need to make a commitment for this long? Is my landlord going to help me out if tough times happen again? Do you have any other things Gia that you would offer as advice to teachers or studio owners?
Yeah, I think what you just said to keeping things flexible and being adaptable is the key, ’cause we don’t know what’s gonna happen. And if you think about places like Australia, where they were doing really well, and then now they’re on another lockdown in many places in Australia. So you just wanna be prepared so that you’re not being reactive, you’re being proactive. So that way you’re not scrambling in the end trying to switch to Zoom or figure it out. You wanna have some kind of plan ahead of time.
And Christie actually gave some good advice. She said, if you’re a teacher, you should record yourself, teaching yourself, then play it back and see if you can follow along without looking. That way if your verbal cues are actually working or if it’s kind of confusing and people have to get up close to the screen to see what you’re actually saying. So it’s a really good tip. I think we could open it up to questions too, from all the attendees.
So if you have any questions, feel free to add them to the chat. Christie had one that I’m gonna go with her question is, was there anything in the statistics from the survey that suggests a good route to take is to keep a brick and mortar… Or to that suggest a good route to take, to keep a brick and mortar studio successful? What do you think Gia just we had so many responses, it’s hard to just pull one specifically about that. Yeah. (John coughing)
I think one of the areas that was a theme is the value of staying in touch with your clientele during the pandemic, whether it was, through social media or whether or not it was just by reaching out, good old fashioned phone calls and those things. But just to make sure that that client feels that there’s somebody there that’s still caring about them. So I think that that connection with the clientele as has been important. Many people were successful during the pandemic, by negotiating with their landlords, other people getting a discount on the rent, some flexibility in those things. And other people would turn their brick and mortar location into a filming place.
So it became their work studio location. We touched on some of these in the earlier Pilates report, but those were the things that immediately came to mind there. Yeah, I think also for the future of what we had said earlier about keeping the class size reasonable so that people feel safe ’cause you want the client to feel safe in order to come back. If they don’t feel safe, they’re gonna stay at home or find somewhere else where they do feel safe. So keeping the class size where they’re spaced out enough, where they have a little bit of room there socially distance, but it’s not so small where you’re not making enough money to support your business.
You wanna kind of find that balance. Yeah, it doesn’t look like there are too many questions. Is there anything that you think we missed John? Well, I think that we have in the audience today, I think we have Porsche Paige. Is that right?
‘Cause Porsche’s with us. Porsche is here. (John murmurs) Porsche. Lisa Hurlburt is here Hi Lisa, nice to see you. Yeah, we have quite a few people here.
There are a few other people that I’ve seen have to go back and look kind of farther down, but it’s been nice to see all these people that we haven’t seen in awhile, wish it was in person. Yeah, I’m looking forward to some in-person communications and if you have questions, please email us and we’ll do our best to try and answer it. The survey had a lot of information. We will be posting some blog posts that summarize some of the data. So look for those over the next few weeks, they’re gonna highlight the trends that we saw and the responses we had.
But we wanted to give you the summary before we’ve completed all our analysis. But we’re always here. Please send us a note. And I wish that we could be in person and, catch up and chat about life and Pilates. So as my t-shirt says, keep calm and do Pilates.
And so thank you everybody. Thank you, John. And thank you everyone for attending and we’ll see you next time. (upbeat music)