Introducing Kate Abbott, owner of Kate Abbott Pilates, a fully-equipped studio based on the Essex/Suffolk border. Fully comprehensive teacher, completely trained by JPilates
How would you describe your style of teaching?
My clients would say I work them hard and take no prisoners but they are always surprised when it is the end of the class as they are completely absorbed in their movement. My focus when planning mat classes is my clients’ needs; generally they want to stay mobile, build their strength and to have fun in class.
What is your client base like?
I have clients who are at sixth form and university who first started coming with their mums, and I have an octogenarian who attends weekly 1:1s with me! I have a healthy mix of men and women too.
Do you have a favourite client base and if so why?
I enjoy teaching “women of a certain age” (like myself) because I understand what stage of life they are going through and I love the laughter in classes.
But I love introducing men to Pilates and removing their preconceived ideas about what they will be doing in mat and equipment classes. They respond in a completely different way to women and I find it fascinating – and sometimes challenging – to communicate what movement I’d like them to do and how they can achieve that.
What is your most favourite move and why?
I don’t have a favourite move, but my favourite piece of equipment would have to be the Tower. It’s my go-to piece for both unwinding after a long day, and challenging myself if I need to work something out mentally.
What is your least favourite?
Horseback on the Reformer. Just why?
This has been such a tricky time for teachers, how have you adapted?
Having completed my training in December 2019, I started teaching 5 weeks before we were locked down and I had just 6 clients! I went straight onto Zoom (thanks to my IT savvy husband!) and gradually they recommended me to their friends who joined in the online classes.
I’m incredibly lucky to have a loyal client base. I used lockdown to complete lots of training, convert an outbuilding into a small studio, and it also gave me the time to develop my personal practice. Purchasing the Legacy Equipment has opened up a completely different avenue for me – there are not many fully-equipped studios in my area, so I am now in the lucky position of adding potential clients to my waiting list.
Do you think you’ll have to manage your business in different ways if the financial challenges in the UK continue?
I have increased my prices gradually to reflect the difference between my small studio classes and the other classes in the area which are significantly larger. My view is that my clients receive a great deal of individual attention and my mat sessions are more ‘tailored groups’ rather than large classes. I suppose that my 1:1 prices are quite a lot less than those closer to London but I can’t quite bring myself to raise my prices for those sessions just yet!
Another change I’ve made it to introduce 30 minute 1:1 sessions, and limit any new clients/referrals to 4 sessions before transferring to a class with the proviso that they can book in other 1:1 sessions as we go along as needed.
How do you feel about social media?
I’m not sure of the value of social media for my small business. My website is a definite business plus – I get regular enquiries and these often convert to business. Instagram for me is a distraction and I can find myself doubting my abilities when drawn into watching everyone else’s glamorous and beautifully edited reels etc. I’m trying to take a step away from it. Facebook Local Groups have been useful for me; I post new timetables or any important news on these on an adhoc basis.
For me, word of mouth is the best marketing tool.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?
When a client leaves the studio smiling, standing taller and ready to face their challenges. I like to think that they leave their baggage, be it physical or emotional at the door (with their shoes and socks) and then by the time they leave, it’s gone or at the very least lightened.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Because it will be September/October, attending Pilates at the Pillow™️ – with Joanne Cobbe!
If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?
Don’t forget to ask Jo! She is there for you all the way with advice, information and a healthy dose of common sense.
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