Category Archives: Fitness

My Definition of Classical Pilates

What is Classical Pilates? How is it different from Contemporary Pilates? Here is my definition of Classical Pilates…

Before I give you my definition, I would like to put out a bit of my history as a Pilates teacher and practitioner. Those of you who have worked with me at varying points in my Pilates teaching career may not have a sense of all that informs my current definition, so here we go.

I started taking Pilates in 1986 at SUNY Purchase (I was VP of finance for Student Government and we were funding the studio) under my colleagues Steve Giordano and Nancy Allison, who were trained by Romana Kryzanowska. Romana would visit on occasion, and Steve trained us to know the order of the exercises and the transitions/flow, so that we could impress her when she came. I would also make trips into the city to take sessions with her and the other full-on classical teachers.

In 1988 I moved to Philadelphia to enter a PhD program in Philosophy at Temple U, with a full graduate assistantship. In 1989 I saw an ad in the City Paper – “PT exercise instructors wanted. Pilates background preferred.” I was the only applicant who had done Pilates! And so I started working alongside Master Teacher Karen H. Carlson, who trained primarily with Pilates elder Mary Bowen.

In 1992 Karen and I both became founding members of the Institute for the Pilates Method (now PhysicalMind), under Pilates elder Eve Gentry (but then informed by all of the living elders). Eve and Michelle Larson certified me to teach in 1993. In 2000 I became a teacher trainer for PhysicalMind.

After owning award-winning studios and  teaching at Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos, I have come full circle. Thirty years after taking my first Pilates class at Purchase, I am now back in NYC as a Master Teacher and Lead Teacher Trainer at Real Pilates in Tribeca, a leading Classical Pilates studio.

That said, here is my definition of Classical Pilates:

I define classical Pilates as teaching that is closest to the system as created and taught by Joseph Pilates. I teach with a contemporary understanding of biomechanics, but I teach Mr. Pilates’ exercises in the order he prescribed and prefer at this point to teach on Gratz. Do I modify as needed or leave out exercises that may not be appropriate? Indeed I do! Do I teach on Peak, Stott, and Balanced Body? Yes! But still with the goal of offering as close to a good, old school Pilates workout as I can. His work stands up.

So there you go! I would love to hear your definitions and your thoughts.

How to Charge for Pilates – Sessions, Packages, Monthly

How to Charge for Pilates for Teachers and Studios – Sessions, Packages, Monthly? A guide…

Once you decide how much to charge, based on the simple calculations in my Pricing Pilates post, then you need to decide how to charge for pilates.

1. Per session or package.

Historically, Pilates teachers and studios charge either by the session or in a discounted package. If you do this, you must be sure that the package price is what you need to earn.

For example, I charge $160 per session, or $1440 for ten. Most of my clients buy ten, since the savings is significant. Sessions are pre-paid and it easy to charge for late cancels and no shows.

The downside is that if people go away or are less frequent, you will wait longer for the next payment, which can be a budgeting problem.

Some studios and teachers offer 5 session, 10 session, and 20 session packages. I just need to keep things simple for myself.

2. Per month.

I am strongly considering a shift to monthly billing for steadier income. This model can be a bit more complex at the beginning, but I think the benefits can outweigh the extra work.

Under the monthly model I would charge each client monthly for a certain number of sessions. Those sessions will not “roll over” – if they are not used they are gone. Any additional sessions over the minimum will be charge at the end of each month. Paypal, as well as other processors, will handle auto-billing.

So, for my clients who come in 2-3 times per week (8-12 sessions per month), I would charge them monthly for 6 sessions (at my current lowest price that would be $864). At the end of each month charge for any extras.

For a client who comes once per week, I would set up an auto-bill for 3 sessions per month.

My commitment will be to ensure the client gets the minimum sessions in a month, even if some are by video chat.

The down-side to auto-billing is you will pay some processing fees to the bank or service. However, the steady income that comes whether your client is there or not may make the 2-3% loss worth it. I do know some teachers who charge their clients the extra percentage for the convenience of using a card, so that is also an option.

Do you use one or more of these methods? Do you have a billing method outside of these examples? I would love to hear about it!

A Pilates Teacher’s Guide to Raising Prices

Here is the Pilates Teacher’s Guide to Raising Prices in 2015.

In the wake of my last two blog posts, which have started some interesting and contentious discussions in the pilates teaching community, several pilates teachers have asked for some guidance in raising their rates in 2015.

Note that I am not suggesting that you have to, or should, raise your prices. But if you feel you need to, here are some ideas.

First, let me back up to my post on pricing. In that post I recommend that you look at some simple math before setting prices. The equation is:

I want to make X amount of money per year and would prefer to work Y number of hours per week, so I will need to make Z amount of money per hour/day/month.

In my example, if you want to make $120,000 per year and only work 20 hours per week, you will need to make $125/hour. Note that I don’t say you should charge that, but that is the math.

It is my view that if we as Pilates teachers are not earning enough to thrive, then it will effect our teaching. We will be worried, possibly resentful at teaching a lot and still struggling, and it will bleed into our client interactions. This has happened to me and to my colleagues, which led to this raising prices discussion.

Now, if you didn’t make that simple math calculation before you set your prices, or you did but it’s been a few years and the numbers are different, you may need to raise your prices.

Do not raise prices without doing the math first! And make sure that your discounted packages cover your costs.

But how can you raise your prices without upsetting and possibly losing your existing people?

1. Raise prices on new clients first.

The first inroad you can make is to raise prices on new pilates clients, while allowing existing clients to stay at their current rate for a limited period. When I raised my rates last year, I started by charging new clients more for a month. So I notified people that new rates were going to be happening on 8/1. The new rates went into effect for new folks on 9/1, but current people had until 10/1. This made my current clients feel loved.

2. Offer a few packages at current prices to current clients.

The next step is to let your current clients know that even though your pilates prices will increase, they can purchase a few packages at the current price. In my practice, I offered current clients the ability to buy up to 30 sessions at current prices. This gave me a little extra cash and I didn’t lose money, because it was not a sale. And my current clients still felt loved!

3. You may lose a few clients, but you will gain others.

I was lucky enough to only lose one client in my increase, but she was going through financial hardship anyway and would have stopped. Note that I did offer her a lower price, and this was her response,

“I will not bargain with you because you are too good and there are plenty of lower-priced teachers that are fine for me now. I feel lucky and spoiled to have had you for as long as I did. You are by far the best Pilates teacher I have ever been to.”

I couldn’t argue with that. I just said Thank You. And she still refers people to me!

[For more on why my clients feel like this, please see my post on serving your niche.]

At the end of the day, costs go up every year for all of us. Insurance, rent, groceries, taxes, and even public transportation go up. We need to pay our bills, have a little fun, save some money for fun and retirement, and thrive as Pilates teachers.

I am able to see some clients at a greatly reduced rate without worry or resentment, because the majority of them pay my full price. And I don’t have to work like a Pilates automaton anymore, so I can have a life outside of the studio.

So take the leap! If you know your prices are too low to meet your needs, raise them! Just make sure your level of service and care matches your price.

Happy new year!

How Big Is Your Pilates Niche?

The size of your Pilates Niche (or Fitness, Yoga, Travel…) is less important than how you serve them.

I woke up this morning to a timely e-mail from one of my marketing gurus, Seth Godin. Today’s post is titled, “Is Your Niche Too Small?

There’s no such thing as a niche that’s too small if the people care enough.

If you think you need a bigger market, you’re actually saying that the market you already have doesn’t need you/depend on you/talk about you enough.

You might not need a bigger niche. You might only need to produce more value for those you already serve.

How does this apply to your business?

Well, I will use myself as an example. My niche is people aged 35-65 who are affluent, lead stressful lives, and experience pain and/or dysfunction. I work with hedge fund managers with back pain and bad posture, women with diastasis after having children, and high powered attorneys with scoliosis who need to be as functional as possible.

Because I charge a lot, my clientele is limited to those who can afford me. And since that means they can afford just about anyone, what kind of value do I offer to my niche that keeps them doing Pilates with me?

  1. I am consistently on time and ready to work with my client.
  2. I maintain focus on my client during the entire session, starting with, “How is your body today? How can I help you today?” and ending with, “Happy to help.”
  3. I watch my clients move all hour, checking and correcting position so that he or she gets the most benefit from the exercises.
  4. I answer questions and explain why I am doing things a certain way, or in a certain order.
  5. I am more than happy to discuss what I am doing with medical professionals, so everyone can be comfortable and on the same page.
  6. I offer consistent and verifiable results! Less pain, better posture, smaller diastasis and hernia.
  7. Simply put, my clients FEEL BETTER and do better in life.

And really, if you can afford to, who wouldn’t pay for that?

Do you serve your Pilates niche this way?

Would you?

Some Winter Solstice Gifts for You

It’s the Winter Solstice and I have some great gifts for you!

50% off Pilates Audios

How about some portable Pilates classes for less than $5 each?

Take 50% off any or all of my Pilates Audios – approximately 30 minute workouts.

Basic Pilates Mat, Pilates for Neck Pain, Pilates for Back Pain, or Pilates with Ring & Roller.

Use code solstice2014 now thru 12/26/14.

$120 Pilates Privates (25% off – save up to $200)

From now thru 12/26/14 you can buy up to 5 privates with me at $120 each, saving $40 per session! Sessions can include kettlebells, TRX, and/or reiki in addition to pilates.

Offer is good for past, new, and current clients for in studio (Tribeca, Soho, Bryant Park) or Skype sessions. Sessions are 55 minutes and must be canceled within 24 hours to avoid full charge.

When you purchase I will receive an email from PayPal. I will contact you within 48 hours to schedule. Please leave a message in the customer comment box with best days, times, and which studio (or Skype) you prefer.

$20 off Soma Water

Soma Water filters are WQF certifed and made from sustainable materials. The carafe is beautiful. And they give back. Take $20 off your Soma order with code lynda20.

I Liked the Epson PS-500 Fitness Tracker – Until the Rash

Epson’s entry into the fitness tracking market, the Epson PS-500 Fitness Tracker, seems to have the same problem as the recalled Fitbit Force – it gave me a rash that required a doctor visit and steroid cream!

I was so effing excited the day that I saw the Epson PS-500 fitness tracker in my Amazon Vine review queue. The hubs was even surprised, when on a daily basis I would say, “I hope the fitness tracking device comes today!”

When it finally arrived (just a few days later, but a girl gets antsy), I immediately unpacked and charged it so I could start wearing it asap.

You see, I love quantifiable data. And I really wanted to track my heart rate, steps, calories, and sleep patterns so I could continue to improve them – without a chest strap. Plus I wanted a functional watch and calendar.

The PS-500 promised all of this, along with an easy to sync iOS and Android app, or syncing via PC and micro usb, for $199.99 retail (as  a Vine Voice I received it free to review).

Epson PS-500
The Epson PS-500 – pretty large but looks OK.

I am somewhat forgiving since there is so much technology packed in, but the PS-500 is huge, especially on a my small wrist. It is approximately 3/8″ thick, which means it gets in the way of anything with elastic at the wrist (like most jackets and some gloves). The strap is easy to adjust and comfortable.

Now, you can only set the watch time and settings by syncing it, and it took me few days of research to realize that I couldn’t sync to any of my laptops (Macbooks), tablets (Kindle Fires), or phones (Blackberries). I had to borrow a phone to do that. I did contact the Pulsense Product Manager for Epson, Randy Bergstedt, who replied quickly but could not give me any timeline for MacOS software or any Fire or Blackberry apps (you can sideload and work around, but that isn’t easy and breaks any warranties).

Once it was synced, I wore the device 4-6 days a week, except when in the shower. It wasn’t so comfortable for sleep, since the face is thick, so I only wore it all night once or twice a week. I synced on my friend Regina’s Samsung, since there are no apps for Kindle Fire, Blackberry, or Mac (they since changed the website sales page description to state that only Windows is supported).

The app works seamlessly. I had no problem with bluetooth connection or syncing, and loved having my data in graphic detail. However, the app is very simple, so you cannot really compare your data, run reports, etc.

I found that the PS-500 keeps good time/date, has a good 2-3 day battery life, and seems to track steps and heart rate well. I did find that the HR would sometimes just stop for no reason, or stop displaying, but a quick restart fixed that. Note that the led lights are really bright, so you may want to turn them off when sleeping (and you have to use the app for that and sync). I had a bad dream one night and woke up to a bright, glowing wrist because my heart rate went up.

Because of its size, I did have some issues wearing the Epson PS-500 fitness tracker during certain exercises. I couldn’t do a kettlebell rack with it on, and it was uncomfortable during certain pilates exercises on the reformer, like the Hundred, where it impeded the handle.

Still, this was a solid 3.5 star item. Until the rash. I came home last Thursday night and this was on my wrist.

Epson PS-500 rash
The rash from the Epson PS-500

After waiting through the weekend without wearing anything on my arm, I went to my doctor Monday. He said that the rash was clearly from the PS-500, that I should stop using it immediately (I already had), and he have me a strong steroid cream – triamcinolone – to use twice a day for a few weeks until it resolves (yes, a few WEEKS).

I emailed the photo to Sensing Manager Randy Bergstedt at Epson. He replied and asked if I had any known allergies (none), and how tightly I wore the watch (4 on a scale where 1 is super loose and 10 cuts off circulation).

Meanwhile, my doctor reminded me about the Fitbit Force recall, due to rashes like mine, which has since progressed into a class-action lawsuit against Fitbit.


According to at least one affected user of the Fitbit Force, Alexandra Lucas,

Reading the comments [on the Fitbit Force user community site] was both illuminating and horrifying. Everyone had the same symptoms, most occurring a few weeks after they started wearing it. The rashes have lasted for weeks and in some cases spread and got infected. Most people are trying to help each other by sharing diagnoses, treatments, and theories about the cause — ranging from a nickel allergy to a chemical burn to a fungal infection. One person suggested it’s all in our minds. Most of the people had to get medical care and use prescription drugs to treat the rash. Nobody has a definitive answer about the cause, which creates anxiety about its duration and potential recurrence (according to the self-appointed experts on the forum, once you pick up a nickel allergy, it never goes away).

So awesome, right?

I will have to give this one star at Amazon, since there isn’t a no star option.

PROS: heart rate monitor on wrist, easy bluetooth syncing with app, functional watch/calendar, good step and sleep monitoring.

CONS: very wide and thick, no connections for music, limited app, limited software compatibility, HR monitor sometimes stops for no apparent reason,  CAN CAUSE A CONTACT DERMATITIS RASH.

I am still waiting on an official response from Epson. When I have one I will let you know!

UPDATE 12/22/14

I spoke with Randy Bergstedt today, and Epson will be reimbursing me for my medical co-pays. Thank you Epson for doing the right thing!

Lynda Lippin Receives 2014 Best Businesses of New York Award

Lynda Lippin, Tribeca Pilates Teacher & Fitness Trainer, Receives 2014 Best Businesses of New York Award

And I am Grateful and Excited

Yesterday I received a notification that I had won the 2014 Best Businesses of New York Award in the Trainers category. At first I thought this was surely a joke or some crazy marketing scheme.

But it isn’t.

The annual Best Businesses awards are given to businesses who

“have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. “

I definitely try!


Here is the official Press Release:

New York, October 26, 2014 — Lynda Lippin has been selected for the 2014 Best Businesses of New York Award in the Trainers category by the Best Businesses of New York Award Program.

Each year, the Best Businesses of New York Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the New York area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2014 Best Businesses of New York Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of New York Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About the Best Businesses of New York Award Program

The Best Businesses of New York Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the New York area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Best Businesses of New York Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.