How to Help our Clients in Uncertain Times
July 7, 2020
Author: Jo Ann Graser, NCPT, PMA Board of Directors President
Let’s be honest. I was hoping to be writing about meeting client needs in a post pandemic or post quarantine scenario. In March we found ourselves suddenly locked down and struggling to re-imagine our livelihoods in a virtual, non-contact world. We did what we do best by supporting and caring for our clientele as we hoped and prayed for a “quick” solution to our situation. As summer approached, we were given glimmers of hope in the form of decreasing hospitalizations and deaths. States began enacting plans to gradually lift the quarantines, and “non-essential” businesses were able to start opening with restrictions.
As restrictions in my state began to lift, I opened for private appointments and held fitness classes outdoors. As time went on, we could offer small classes indoors with social distancing protocols firmly in place. My clientele responded, returning to the studio and their Pilates practice with great enthusiasm and a sense of relief.
The numbers in my state continue to remain relatively stable, but we are nervously watching as statistics in other states rise and authorities begin reversing their easing of restrictions. Forefront in my mind is how I will survive another lockdown and what steps I can take now to keep supporting my clients, keeping them healthy and mobile.
For me, Pilates has always been about helping my clients solve their movement restrictions and improve their physical function. This is never a finite pursuit. As we free up one restriction, others surface, making the practice of Pilates a lifelong journey.
I find myself wanting to apply these same ideas to our current situation. My 25+ years as a movement teacher have honed my skills at creative movement solutions. I now urgently need to apply those skills to the uncertain times in which we find ourselves.
If a client is struggling with a movement, I always re-focus on the Pilates fundamentals and guiding principles. This strategy consistently yields results and gives my client the tools to problem solve for themselves. How can we apply these same strategies to our ever-changing situation and give ourselves and our clients the tools to survive and even thrive?
When teaching, my thoughts are always one step ahead, anticipating and planning for what will come next based on what is happening in the moment. I always start with a blueprint for how I want the session to progress, but it rarely is completed without some revisions along the way. The pandemic and quarantine are making me look at everything within this same framework. There are no definitive solutions or actions, only processes that get us closer to our goals.
The pandemic is challenging all of us to remain flexible and responsive while living within a constant state of unease. What is coming next? How will my clients respond? How can I position myself now to respond to what comes next?
One approach is to go back to “basics.” Explore what your early business framework looked like – most likely you started with a few basic offerings and some limited tools in your toolbox. Scale back and focus on those tried and true things that comprised the foundation of your business.
Your clients need your authenticity now more than ever. They will always need your help with providing solutions for their movement challenges, but now they need you as part of their solid foundation when much of the rest of their lives is unstable and ever-changing. Even during sessions with your more seasoned clients, revisit the principles:
• Flowing Movement
Providing a grounded and focused session will allow both you and your clients an opportunity to focus on the here and now. These days we are so hyper focused on what the near and distant future will bring, that it is a gift to be in the present moment.
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