I love running Pilates Retreats in Italy& Cyprus, with the help of my Administrator we have been running them for the last 5 years. I can honestly say I’ve been rewarded on every one, rarely financially but always professionally. As with any venture there are pro’s and cons and I’m watching with interest as more and more teachers are looking to set their own Pilates Holidays up but as with all new ventures in life. Forewarned is always forearmed so please enjoy just some of my tales before you book that flight either as the teacher or the participant
Deciding on your choice of venue is your first hurdle and doing a reconnaissance trip before you commit to the time, expenditure and administration is imperative. I’m sure every place you have ever stayed on holiday has had its idiosyncrasies, get to know the ones your guests might experience before they do and you might just prevent confusion over the Toaster at breakfast. Think of how your regular classes talk, the changing room catch ups and the way negativity spreads like Nits in preschool. If you are staying in the same venue as your guests they will get to know exactly the way you have your coffee or your preference for sun dried tomatoes over fresh as will they with you. Is this something that either you or they want? Staying apart from your guests can leave them alienated, consider both options carefully. Be prepared to talk as much as you teach and remember those same people you teach regularly at home week in week out will return and tell everyone in class about their time spent with you, if you want it to be positive then take the time to consider the needs of your guests, which may well not be the same as yours, let them know to have sea shoes for a shingle beach before they get there and save them a day of shopping for jellies or band aids.
Your guests are only part of the equation, will there be others at the venue you use? will there be possible conflict with their presence and other existing guests or residents? A venue that supports you is invaluable.. Whoever says Yogi’s and Pilates advocates don’t occasionally lock horns has never witnessed war over scrambled eggs and watched as the morning Om Shanti meditation becomes history. Accommodation is something people naturally compare, know your rooms and be honest with your guests, adjust the pricing if necessary and be assured that the darkest rooms will invariably be allocated to those that prefer light and vice versa.
So you have a beautiful location, accommodation, the Pilates is covered, have you thought about equipment and if you need to take it with you? explaining toe corrector’s and magic circles to customs officers is always interesting, Are you insured to teach outside of the country your teaching in? what happens during the time outside class?! Not everyone wants company, not everyone wants to be alone. Leaving your guests without support is like leaving Pilates teachers loose with Vodka for prolonged periods of time without food. It might seem like a plan at first but long term just causes an avoidable headache. During my time running Retreats guests have got lost (particularly in a medieval village in Italy) and we have had to help locate them in the small hours when they still haven’t arrived back home. Guests have got unwell, never run a Retreat alone, you might be the master of multi tasking but being in two places at once is still not possible. They’ve been bitten voraciously by Mosquito’s and have had reactions to drugs. They have drunk more than is wise forgetting the Rolling like a ball effect and that’s just the teachers!
But on the plus side guests will teach you how to Slug Roll on the Mat (don’t bother looking that transition up its quite unique to our Retreats in Italyhttp://seraphinapilates.com/retreats/) Guests will have their luggage lost by the Airline and you will spend 8 hours in an airport and the following 4 weeks trying to locate it whilst the other guests come together to ensure everyone has what they need to keep things positive over the weekend. Guests will miss flights and spend a significant amount of money getting another one just so they don’t miss the week. they will have allergic reactions to food, some will want to go out to restaurants, others want to stay in. If your lucky They will resist the temptation to cover themselves in slime even if the Yogi’s have. They will lose their keys (OK that was us). Sometimes the teacher even rescues a puppy with the help of her group and ends up with a new company mascot all because the group came together and decided class could wait . . If you can still envisage spending a week with your clients or a week with your teacher then you really are ready to run or attend a Pilates Holiday.
As the teacher you will talk like you didn’t know you could and share stories, anecdote, experiences, laughter and tears (often from laughing so hard you have all found your Abdominal’s) because running a Pilates Retreat, Holiday or healthy escape is more than just showing up for your shift. When people invest their money (not to mention your own) but more importantly their precious time you owe it to them to ensure its time well spent. That they go home invigorated, recharged and feeling better than when they arrived. This is their holiday, not yours but the rewards are immeasurable..
I hope very much that I can be part of expanding the Pilates Retreat experience, that just as Yoga devotees have known for a significant time and understood the value and importance of dedicating time to their practice. I believe activities holidays and more specifically Pilates focused retreats can do the same, Even if its not on our Pilates breaks I hope its something people seek to do as part of their busy lives. if not with us then with other great teachers. Any experience that makes Pilates an even more important and positive part of our clients lives cant be bad, not to mention the Pilates teachers themselves long overdue some time out in an Industry that continues to gain momentum, pace and passion for keeping the Method not only alive but thriving.
Whether its running a Pilates Retreat or attending one I wish you a wonderful sun kissed adventure.