Here is another addition to the Pilates Stories series. In this blog post, we are featuring Robyn Rix, the owner of Pilates Works in Sydney, Australia.
I used take weekly practice sessions with my Pilates mentor at Robyn’s studio and also had the privilege to teach Mat Pilates classes there as well when I was living in Sydney.
What stood out for me in this story is how Robyn stayed true to her vision of creating an environment that makes her feel comfortable and happy. That’s exactly what I saw and felt the first time I walked into her studio. It is a place filled with positive energy and happy people – from the instructors to the clients who were practicing in the studio.
I feel very lucky to have the experience of practicing and teaching at Robyn’s studio, and it is definitely a great foundation to my Pilates journey.
1) How did you first come across Pilates?
I was a regular member of Fitness First and they started group reformer classes and they looked interesting so I thought I would give them a try. Pretty quickly, I had signed up for 3 classes a week
2) What is your favorite Pilates exercise?
It changes but it is almost always something on the Cadillac with the push through bar. Currently, it is Pilates Bridge on the Cadillac.
3) How long have you been practicing Pilates? How long have you been teaching?
I have been doing Pilates for about 15 years and teaching for 9 years.
4) What were your doing before your started teaching Pilates?
I was studying to be an architect. Prior to that I was an actuary working for a large financial institution.
5) What was your first paid Pilates teaching job? How did you land yourself in that position?
I worked for Pilates International. I was doing my work experience with them and they offered me a job when I neared the completion of my training.
6) How did you feel when you taught your first class?
I loved it. I initially did the training just out of curiosity to learn more about the techniques and philosophy. One of my first clients was a prison guard who had been suffering from 2 or 3 migraines per week. When he started Pilates, he instantly saw a reduction in his migraines. After 3 weeks, they had totally disappeared.
7) What is the funniest moment that you’ve had with Pilates?
When I was giving a male client a back stretch on the Cadillac following Hanging Back, I asked him to release one hand so I could give him a rotational stretch which he did. But then for some reason, he let go with the other hand. He fell on top of me with his feet still in the fuzzies. We were laughing so much, neither of us could move!
8) What was the first mistake you made teaching Pilates?
I had a client lying on the long box on the reformer but I had not put it quite straight. I asked the client to hop off so I could realign the box but he insisted that he was fine and could jiggle it over into position. In the process, he got one of his fingers caught under the long box. Since then, I haven’t let clients talk me out of doing something the right way when they have wanted to take a shortcut.
9) Who did you train and attain your certification with?
I did my training with Pilates International in Sydney.
10) How long have you had your Pilates business? Tell us a bit about the journey starting your own business eg how many people did you start with? And how did you grow your business over the years?What do you enjoy most about the business? What is the biggest challenge?
I left Pilates International in 2010 and opened my business not far from where I live. I knew there was no other major competition nearby. I did most of the teaching although I had another instructor that I had mentored who was working one morning a week for me.
The business built quite quickly. My goal was to have enough clients within 6 months to cover the rent but after 6 months, I was completely full and even had a wait-list.
Then in 2014, I signed up as a work experience site for Pilates International’s training program. Through that, I have had a number of fabulous instructors do their training with me and so far I have been able to offer them employment.
I love seeing people improve. The most exciting thing is when someone comes to me who has been told they need surgery of some sort and we work to build up their strength for the surgery. They then go back to their doctor only to be told that they no longer need surgery as the preparatory exercises we have been doing has corrected the thing that the doctor wanted to correct surgically.
The biggest challenge is not taking on too many teaching hours. I find it very difficult to tell someone that we don’t have space for them but I have set myself a limit of 30 hours of face to face teaching. I think going beyond that would mean being tired all the time and that disadvantages all of my clients as I wouldn’t have the focus required and would compromise my health. I think it is important that we are role models regarding caring for our own health.
11) Where do you see yourself in two years’ time?
I studied with Lolita San Miguel, a first generation teacher in Miami, Florida and two of my instructors are also now studying with her. I have started delivering Lolita’s teacher training program to my instructors and a few clients. I would like to build this part of the business. I see many Pilates places starting to place more focus on profit rather than the value of the method. I want to help potential Pilates instructors to realise their dreams of bringing Pilates to more people in the world. It was Joseph Pilates’ dream and I would like to help achieve his dream.
12) What reading or resources do you use to further your own Pilates learning?
I subscribe to Pilates Anytime and Pilatesology online. I do lots of google searches and I am always buying books searching for answers to questions like: Why did Joseph teach the mat classes in that order?
13) What do you do to maintain your own fitness?
I do a weekly Pilates workout with an experienced instructor at another studio, I play squash, I attend my students mat classes and I try to move as much as I can.
14) What advice would you give a newly qualified Pilates instructor?
Keep the hours you work to a manageable level because you don’t want to resent teaching. Hang out with like minded instructors so you can learn from each other. Work in an environment that makes you comfortable and happy. I feel like I belong to an amazing family that includes my instructors, my clients and support staff. Most importantly, listen to your intuition…whether it is where you work, what exercises you give your clients…as you will find it develops with practice!