Teacher Spotlight- Lisa Sullivan, owner of Designed Pilates

Lisa is the owner of Designed Pilates and teaches group and 1-1 classes in her local area close to Cambridge. 

Lisa is a keen runner who found Pilates during the pandemic, and qualified with a Level 3 Diploma in Mat Pilates with JPilates. Ongoing CPD education has continued with JPilates which includes: Pilates for Pain Management, The Pilates Hand, Small Equipment, Pilates for Breast Cancer and Pilates for Children. Also qualified to train clients on the Wunda Chair and Tower

Lisa will be offering Business and Marketing/PR support to the Pilates community from September 2023 and has worked alongside Joanne Cobbe to shape and develop the JPilates brand and communications strategy, including the rebrand of the JPilates website. Lisa and Joanne continue to collaborate on many Marketing initiatives.

Lisa is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and has been working in senior and global Marketing & PR roles for over 20 years.

How would you describe your style of teaching? 

The most important teaching trait for me is to deliver a style that is friendly and easy to understand. In my beginners groups I have a few people who have hearing difficulties so I’ve worked really hard at keeping my cues focussed and clear.

That said, I love to teach classes that flow and add technique elements that really build an exercise up – I’ve learnt loads from the rise & spine sessions on this element!


What is your client base like?

A real mix, but my clients are all based in my local community. That local focus has been really important to me from the very start. My 1-1 clients range from rehab work to more hard core sessions on the equipment. My groups are beginners and improvers, and I love to push everyone and offer modifications and progressions in all my group classes. And soon to come – teenagers – can’t wait! I’ve already taught an under 14’s rugby group and in June I’m teaching a local under 16’s netball group. 

Do you have a favourite client base and if so why? 

I love teaching a range of clients, and that part has really surprised (and delighted) me. I was previously a cardio junkie and thought my focus would be on hard core sports clients (which I still love), but I love to see the younger and older clients in class for social, in addition to physical benefits. That’s the community aspect I just love.

What is your most favourite move and why?

If I had to choose – the Push Up. It makes me feel like a superwoman and there’s a reason why Joe put this move at the end of his repertoire. We finish with a sense of – smashed it! I don’t always ‘smash it’ but I love how it makes me feel. And actually that point about feeling great about a move versus performing it ‘perfectly’ is also really important to me. I always strive to work hard on technique for myself and my clients but I’ve learnt not to obsess about technique. We are moving, and moving well – that’s smashing it every time for me!

What is your least favourite?

Control balance! I’m working hard on my inversions and my body naturally doesn’t like to go there. It’s a work in progress and I will crack it (and others).

How are you setting yourself apart in the industry?

When I started my business I put pen to paper and laid down my business and brand vision. I have a Marketing + PR background so I’m lucky to have that knowledge to build the foundations. I also keep up to date with local offerings, so I can set myself apart, e.g. no other local teachers promote Pilates for teenagers in my area – hello opportunity!

I also often refer back to the brand promise I laid down at the start of my journey:

To share my passion and benefits of Pilates to my local community, and deliver a friendly, warm and inviting environment in a purpose-built Pilates studio. Ongoing learning and education will ensure I deliver the most up-to-date teaching practices, and classes will be accessible to all. From teenagers through to older adults – Pilates is Designed for EVERYbody. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?

The people I teach and the relationships I build. I’ve always loved working with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and this has really helped my teaching. At the start and end of class I make the effort to ask questions to individuals I know who are having a challenging time and I think that is appreciated, and that is the relationship building that I love in everyday life, not just in Pilates.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

With an established studio and ongoing loyal, regular and happy clients. I’d also love to be involved in local junior sports clubs to offer Pilates as part of their wider fitness offering. I have a very sporty son and can see first hand the benefits Pilates will bring to these clubs, so I’m excited to see where that journey takes me. I’m also starting Marketing + PR workshops to the JPilates teacher community from September as I’d love to be able to provide ongoing support and frameworks to teachers, so everyone has the Marketing toolkit to build their business. I’m excited to see where this could be in 5 years time.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?

I’m going to keep this Marketing focussed as I’ve had to tell myself this too – don’t be distracted or overwhelmed by what other Pilates teachers do on social media. We all have different aims, objectives and offerings as teachers, so keep focussed on your offering and special powers. Craft your social media posts for your existing/potential customer on Instagram and Facebook. It’s a bonus if other Pilates teachers ‘like’ your posts (I love it when they do), but they are (mostly) not going to attend your classes, so keep your eyes on the prize and market to your clients. Also, don’t obsess about perfect social media posts and Marketing in general. Do, learn and refine. It might not work the first time – and that’s totally OK!

To connect with Lisa:

Website: www.designed-pilates.com
Email: hello@designed-pilates.com
Instagram: @designed_pilates
Facebook: Designed Pilates

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