I recently got hired as a Pilates instructor at a large and very chi-chi health club. Management asked if I would offer free demos to their members, as a way to introduce them to the Pilates method and also to meet me.
Clearly this would be for those members who have been living under a rock, because, really, who doesn’t know what Pilates is? Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tiger Woods do Pilates, for crying out loud!
I’ve done so many free friggin’ demos since I became an instructor, that it’s a bit of a soul killer to have to essentially whore myself out yet again. That being said, I had a little meeting with myself and decided to suck it up, adjust my attitude and do it. It has been a tough year, work wise. I started losing clients back in March and haven’t really picked up any new ones. I also left the country to teach in Dubai for two months this summer. So that couldn’t have been good for building a client base and continuity.
Now, I know that I have impeccable skills and I deliver quality Pilates instruction, with the added bonus of my awesome personality. But the evidence doesn’t lie and I wondered what I might be doing wrong.
I started wondering whether I wasn’t attracting new clients because of my laissez-faire attitude towards beautifying myself when I teach. It seems unimaginable – the idea that my winning personality isn’t enough all on its own. But there it was: Could my client drought actually be because I don’t wear make-up, shower frequently, or blow dry my hair before I hit the Pilates studio or gym?
I’ve always felt that I shouldn’t have to succumb to such shallow and superficial practices. I choose to sit comfortably crossed-legged on my high horse, espousing ditties such as, “Like me for who I am, and how I can help your horrible posture. Don’t like me because my hair is long and luxurious. My work speaks for itself.” Well, aren’t I adorable and misguided? It was the same way when I lived in L.A. and auditioning. I wanted to believe that people would hire me based on my talent alone. I never worried about whether the powers that be thought I was pretty or wanted to sleep with me. I think we can all agree that my strategy was both flawed and naive.
But that was then, and this is now. What’s wrong with putting on mascara and showing a hint of cleavage (men do Pilates too ya know), if it’s going to bring me paying clients? Once I’ve reeled them in, they’ll be so bowled over by my teaching and humor, that eventually I’ll be able to just roll out of bed and not brush my hair.
I decided to test out my theory. I wanted to see if I would attract more clients when I made an effort (this means wearing unstained clothes and putting on lip gloss).
So for my first Pilates demo, I put on make-up as if I were going to a wedding, and I changed my clothes a half dozen times – finally deciding on a head to toe Lululemon ensemble. My Astro pants showed off my camel toe, and gave me a wedgie. Perfect. I went with a tight purple Define jacket, wearing only my bra underneath. I needed a bit of padding to help lift the sistas up onto their perch. I smoothed out my hair, and flat ironed my ponytail. However, I did not shower. It was my little secret. Between me and… me?
“Chaka, Chaka, Chaka, Chaka Khan
Chaka Kan, Chaka Kan , Chaka Kan
Chaka Khan, let me rock you” — Sorry, it just came on my iTunes.
After two long hours, just one man asked for a demo amd it’s hard to say whether he was genuinely interested in Pilates or he just likey my wedgie.
What do you think? Should I keep working on looking pretty to sell more Pilates sessions? Or am I really just selling out my self-respect?