Tips from a Pilates home studio owner

by Sheri Long

Sheri Long is a BASI Pilates Senior Faculty member who has traveled the world teaching the BASI teacher training programs as well as her workshop, Pilates for the Mature Client. When she’s not traveling, she can be found teaching at her home studio in El Segundo, CA. We sat down with Sheri for a special Q & A to get some tips on how to successfully manage an at-home Pilates studio.

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Q:  Tell us how you were first introduced to Pilates and when you began teaching?

Sheri: I first heard about Pilates many years ago but as a dancer could not really afford it. I started my formal Pilates education in 2000 and shortly after starting teaching reformer classes.
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Q:  When did you first get the idea of wanting to build a studio in your own home?
Sheri: In 2002, After going through two Certification courses  I opened a studio in my home, but I had been in the teaching field for 20 years. I do think if you are new teacher it is best to start in a studio environment where you will be around other teachers since we all learn from each other, I also find at times being by myself can be a bit isolated so I make sure to continue to take sessions and classes with other teachers.
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Q: How involved were you with the construction and design of the studio, in terms of getting your hands dirty?
Sheri: I started in my living room and two months later built a studio in my backyard and am very fortunate to have a husband that guided me through the construction process, I have also remodeled twice so He has been there helping and supporting me each time both manually by helping to build it himself and emotionally.IMG_1830
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Q: The equipment – how was the process of finding it and did you get it all at once or over time?
Sheri: I started with two reformers and a combo chair, when I built my studio I added the other pieces, I have 1-2 of each piece so I can give private sessions, duets, and small mat classes.
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Q: As a Pilates Instructor, you always want to make sure you have liability insurance wherever you teach. What, if any additional coverage do you need to be aware of for teaching clients in your home.
Sheri: In Addition to liability insurance I also have a special insurance policy to have a home business.
 
Q: When your studio was officially up and running, how did you start getting clients? Networking, contacting previous clients, promotions?
Sheri: It has always been word of mouth, I always try to do my best with every client every session, and hopefully continue to evolve as a teacher.
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Q: Does having clients come to your home ever become difficult with your family members or are you able to separate the two?
Sheri: In the beginning it was a transition for my family but we have gotten use to it. The most challenging was when two rescue dogs adopted us, we now have a lovely fence that divides my dogs from my studio. The clients do like looking out my windows at my lazy dogs living the “good” life.
 
Q: Have you recruited your family to start practicing in your studio?
Sheri: No, once in a while they will take a mat class but usually they say my class is to hard!
 
Q: As a successful small business owner, what has been the biggest challenge with owning your own studio?
Sheri: Unless you keep it very professional some clients think that since it is a home business it’s just a hobby, I have a strict 12  hour cancellation policy, I treat this as a business and so do my clients.
 
Q: Do you have any advice for Pilates instructors that are thinking of opening their own studios in their home?
Sheri: I always recommend to new teachers teach in a studio first, that’s where you can learn so much, not only as a teacher but as a future business owner, and if you do open your own studio Don’t stop being a student. Take sessions, take classes, take workshops,  AND ALWAYS REMEMBER WHY YOU WANTED TO TEACH PILATES!
Q: Do you have any plans for expansion of your studio?
Sheri: No, I love it as it is and I think my husband/ contractor has retired.
 
Q: What do you see as your biggest accomplishment in opening a studio in your own home?
Sheri: That I could be successful and still love it after 14 years.11738067_10207403982682700_7824670534343756485_n
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