5 Myths About Teaching Online

As our lives have changed significantly over the course of 2020, the concept of teaching a Pilates class or private session has also transitioned. Meeting over ‘Zoom’ has seamlessly become our new way of being, whether it’s taking a fitness class, having business meetings or even seeing the doctor. Although this movement into the online space seemed to happen quite swiftly when initial closures happened, it doesn’t mean that it was an easy change for all. Change as we know is often met with resistance because it’s unfamiliar, surfaces new emotions and usually puts us outside of our comfort zones.

I was hesitant at first as I went to teach online – in some ways it felt like I was back at square one teaching my very first Pilates class all over again. But after taking the plunge, teaching both classes and private sessions online since March this year, I have a bit of a different perspective. I’ve surprised myself by just how much I love teaching online, and just how effective it has been for me as a teacher and my clients. Sometimes identifying what’s holding us back can help us move forward, so with that I thought it might be useful to highlight five myths about teaching online that I’ve heard over the past few months, along with some insights in the hopes that they may convince you to give teaching online a try.

Myth #1: Teaching online is not personal.

How in the world can you develop a relationship with your client or class attendees in a virtual space? Well, it is possible and I have to say meeting over Zoom has been quite effective at building a wonderful sense of community. Even though it’s all happening online, we still have to show up to class, be on time and participate as a group. Just like in studio, everyone is doing the class together, working towards the same goals of keeping their bodies moving and building strength, and ultimately creating a welcoming group experience. Video allows us to see each other’s faces, and when we show up for class five minutes before and stay five minutes after, that’s where the magic happens and we can all get to know each other a bit and catch up on the week. Before you know, there’s a sense of community in your class, an increased sense of trust amongst clients, and everyone’s excited to come back and see you every week.

Myth #2: I won’t be able to see my clients move the way that I can see them in real life.

This is the one myth that personally shocked me the most. I have been amazed since day one of online teaching by how clearly you can see a body move over camera. Just like in real life when we notice that one side of the pelvis is rotated ever so slightly, you can see it all on camera and make adjustments accordingly. The ability for us to see so precisely over video may perhaps have something to do with the computer being at eye level, but regardless, I promise, you can see everything.

Myth #3: It will be hard to make money.

Whether you’re teaching in studio or online, your knowledge and expertise as a Pilates and movement educator remains the same. And with that your fees should stay consistent with your regular in person fees, so it is possible to make your regular income. You may find it challenging to have every one of your clients transition online, but that’s where client relations becomes key. Staying in touch with clients, checking in with them, and trying to show them just how beneficial an online session can be, are all effective ways at retaining clients whether in person or online.

Myth #4: How can you do Pilates with no equipment?

Of course, we love Pilates equipment, but teaching Pilates and movement without our traditional equipment (reformer, cadillac, barrel, chair, etc.) is absolutely possible, we just have to get a little creative. There are endless ways to move the body to build strength and better alignment, and with a few props from around the house (think: hand towel and a can of beans!) and you will be set. Feel like you’re running low on ideas? Talk to your peers to share ideas, take classes for inspiration, or do continuing education workshops to keep the ideas flowing.

Myth #5: It’s nerve wracking being on the screen – I’m too nervous!

Sure, we all get nervous teaching sometimes, even classes that you’ve taught every week for years can spark a little bit of nervous energy every now and then. The only way to truly combat these nerves is to dive in and give it a try – I promise once you get past that first class, those nerves will calm down, and you’ll forget you’re even on screen. Be easy on yourself and give yourself some time to get use to teaching on the new platform, and soon enough it will be second nature to you.

So if you haven’t taken the plunge to teach online just yet, all I can say is to give it a try! Movement is critical to helping people feel calm and resilient in these uncertain times, and it will not only benefit your clients, but the sense of routine and normalcy could positively benefit you. As Pilates and movement educators, we can never underestimate the essential role we play in helping people stay well, so go on, try teaching online, I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts on how it goes. Good luck!