5 steps to attract and retain mind body clients

A love for what you do is a must for mind body instructors, but it isn’t always enough to ensure a successful business. Kylie Saunder explains how authenticity, information and connection can be effective tools for attracting and retaining members.

Have you ever arrived to teach a mind body class to find that only a handful of people have turned up? Throughout the class you attempt to ‘stay centered and focused’, but all you can think about is how empty the room feels.

And then the cycle of self-doubt and overwhelm begins: ‘Maybe I’m not a very good Instructor’; ‘I just need more experience and training and then I will get full classes’; and ‘Maybe my family was right – this mind body career idea isn’t such a good one after all.’

But then the next week, the class is pretty full and you forget about it – until the week after when only three people turn up.

Attracting and retaining clients in the mind body industry isn’t widely spoken about – it’s often the ‘elephant in the room’.

The truth is, if you’re not consistently attracting and retaining clients to your classes and business, you won’t be able to cope financially, emotionally or spiritually. So here are five proven strategies to help you attract and retain mind body participants.

1. Get naked!

No, this isn’t about turning up to class and performing a striptease; this is about the naked truth, getting honest with yourself.

To get naked, get clear about:

  • Why you’re a mind body instructor; is it because you’re absolutely ‘in love’ with Pilates and you just want to teach it to everyone? Is it because you want to earn a few extra dollars ‘on the side’ of another job? Is it because you want to use this experience as a springboard to opening up your own holistic business?
  • How your personal mind body practice has helped you in your life. For example, if you practice yoga regularly, what impact does this have on your life? Clarifying to yourself what benefits and transformations you achieve from your personal mind body practice will help you verbalise the advantages of your classes to prospective clients.
  • Your message: whether you want to teach mind body classes for a few years or a few decades, the most respected mind body instructors worldwide are the ones who have a clear message. They have developed a point of difference from other instructors and through this have been able to stand out from the crowd. If you don't currently have a message, go back to why you first started practicing Pilates or yoga. Was it to get fitter? Was it to release stress and anxiety? Once you connect with this reason, your message will fall into place.

2. Be authentic

One of the major challenges in teaching mind body classes is the belief that they have to be ‘serious’. But if that isn’t your style, then don’t fake it. If you have a strong personality with a wicked sense of humour, bring this into your class. And if your personality is quiet, stable and calm, allow this to flow before, during and after the class. If you want to attract and retain clients consistently, you must be yourself.

Letting your clients know a bit about your personal journey, and how a certain posture or exercise has helped you, can also help them connect with you. Sometimes mind body instructors can seem too ‘perfect’, almost remote or aloof. By giving your clients insights into what challenges and frustrations you have overcome, you will appear more ‘real’. And these personal insights and knowledge give you credibility and authenticity.

By showing your clients the ‘real you’, they will start to connect with you emotionally. Revealing your personality and quirks doesn’t mean that you should ‘download’ all your issues and challenges though. After all, your clients aren’t there to find out that you’ve got relationship challenges or family issues!

3. Educate

As a mind body instructor, the impact your classes have on your clients goes beyond the confines of your studio. The physical movements and mind body connection that you’re teaching your clients flow into other areas of their lives. For example, a class that focuses on releasing spine and neck tension will allow many of your clients to walk taller, feel stronger and have less pain and tension through their shoulders. A class that focuses on deep abdominal connection and breathing will allow your clients to release their stress and go home feeling more balanced and alive.

With this ability to facilitate positive change, it is appropriate that you view yourself as an educator and help your clients understand why you’re giving them the sequence of exercises and how they’re going to benefit from them, e.g. ‘Tonight we’re going to focus on releasing muscle tension throughout the spine, neck and shoulders. You will feel your posture improve and notice that your shoulders aren’t as slumped. And to build on this, next week we will perform a series of exercises to release your mid spine.’

4. Plant the seed

To keep your classes consistently full, week after week, learn how to ‘seed’. This requires you to tell your class what’s coming up next week or next month. Think of it like a movie trailer: you get flashes of the ‘juicy scenes’ and a snapshot of why you must see the movie when it’s released. Using this same technique in your mind body classes will get your clients committed to coming to your classes, week after week. If you’re about to attend a continuing education workshop or a fitness event like FILEX, let participants know how excited you are, and tell them that you will be bringing back some fantastic new ideas and exercises to include in next week’s class.

5. Connect

Connecting with your class members by using their names is one thing, but getting to know what they do and why they’re coming to class is another way you can ‘keep your mats full’!

This additional information will help you provide participants with the type of class they’re after, so they can feel like you genuinely care about catering to their needs; i.e. ‘I know many of you sit in front of computers all day – this posture is perfect to help release muscles that tighten during sitting and if you practice it a few times each day, you’ll notice a massive improvement in how your back and shoulders feel’. This more personal approach resonates better than ‘Let’s do some back exercises.’

This connection can go deeper when you create a life-affirming atmosphere in your classes. Personal touches to consider adding include burning a candle or oils and playing appropriate music. If the room you’re teaching in feels warm, nurturing and peaceful, your clients will be inspired to make a habit of coming to your class.

Finally, at the end of each class you teach, express genuine thanks to each class member for attending, and let them know they can ask you questions at the end.  If there’s another class waiting to come in, let them know that you will be outside for five minutes to chat. Being approachable and allowing your mind body class members to get to know you will also encourage them to keep returning to your class.

Being a mind body instructor requires far more than simply demonstrating a sequence of exercises or postures. By applying the techniques above, you can create real connection and trust with participants, ensuring a large and loyal following that will cement the success of your mind body business.


Kylie Saunder
Kylie is director of PilatesYogaBiz, the leading marketing and mindset resource to create and develop a profitable Pilates and yoga studio, while living a balanced and fulfilled life. Her FREE eBook Discover the 7 secrets to building a successful & thriving Pilates & Yoga Studio is available at http://pilatesyogabiz.com