Reflections on 20 Years in Business
Robyn Alvarez, Then and Now “Bending over to help someone is the best form of exercise”.
Instructor Name: Robyn Alvarez
Studio you own: Pilates Body Shop
Location: 18 Bluewave Cres. Forresters Beach, Central Coast NSW
Instructor Training: PIA Mat work Certification 2001, PITC 2002-2003, Diploma PITC 2006, Polestar Studio certification 2015
PAA Level: Professional Principal
Congratulations to Robyn Alvarez who is celebrating 20 years in business this week. Celebrating this milestone in lockdown has been interesting but a wonderful time to reflect.
How did you get interested in Pilates and start your Pilates journey?
I was a flight attendant overnighting in Melbourne with Ansett. I turned on the news to see if Ansett was going to go into liquidation: as I was watching a news flash came over that the twin towers had just been crashed into, it was 9/11. The next day Ansett went into receivership.
As a second job I taught exercise at NSW UNIGym. Months before I had signed up to a Mat work certification course run through Pilates Institute of Australasia. I had participated in a mat work class and after teaching exercise for 10 years this was a different form of exercise that I had never experienced before –I instinctively knew that I would like to teach it.
I registered Pilates Body Shop’s name the day after Ansett collapsed. 20 Years ago!!!! So it was a pretty historical week worldwide, domestically and personally. From this very first experience in business I believe that from every crisis there is an opportunity.
I put an advert in the local newspaper and somehow jagged an editorial and started a 9-week Beginners Mat work course at North Cronulla Surf Club by the October.
Here is my first editorial.
When did you get your Studio Certification?
I initially enrolled in a BASI studio certification in Surry Hills in 2002. I received a letter to say the course would be now known under the name of Pilates International. So I was part of the inaugural course that Pilates International ran. I received a certification in Studio in 2003 and then upgraded to the Diploma in 2006. In 2014 I completed another Studio Certification with Polestar
How long have you been a member of PAA?
While I was studying my certification with Pilates International Sally Anderson was also creating PAA. I remember the very first meeting in the Surry Hills Studio where we had to vote for the first committee. The first conference was called “Mind your Body ‘ held in different studios across Sydney February 2003.
When did you start to teach Pilates in the studio?
I started teaching for a physiotherapist in Maroubra to complete my hours for my PITC certification. I left to give birth to my first son. We moved up to the Central Coast in May 2004, 6 months later. I opened a studio in Fitness 2000 (F2) but with the birth of my middle son (October 2005) I moved the studio to my home and have been there ever since. My business has always revolved around my family-being there for my kids.
How would you describe your Pilates classes?
I remember attending a conference in Melbourne with the PAA and Kathy Ross –Nash said, “Pilates is like chocolate cake. There are so many different recipes but in the end you get chocolate cake. “
I have blended a lot of different modalities in my class that have resonated within me-I’ve learnt these different modalities through wanting to know more about the human body and molding them into a Pilates framework. So my recipe is a little different each time.
Whenever someone walks into the studio I always ask ‘how is their body feeling today?’ and intuitively Ill know what we need to do. They might need more; breath work on the OOV, TRE (Trauma Release Exercises), DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stability) or Cranial Sacral therapy. Whatever their body needs on the day. The reason they come to you is your recipe to make them feel better.
Different programs you’ve implemented?
- 10-12 year old boys Mat work classes before school to improve their concentration and stretch as most of them were Sporty and starting to get Severs disease.
- 10 week TRE workshops (Trauma Release Exercises and Pilates)
- Cook Island Stand up Paddle Board yoga retreats with a few Pilates classes thrown in
- Meditation classes
- Boxercise at the beach (remember Joe was a boxer)
- Social events (theatre shows, paella parties, lunches)
What are you learning at the moment?
I love learning and I think it’s the secret to longevity in any career-when you get “stale”-you stop being creative.
- Just before Covid last year I attended Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilisation (DNS) and Pilates workshop. When Covid emerged Chris Lavelle developed a study group via Zoom every Friday morning to embody the DNS principles so every Friday morning I learn something.
- I read James Nestor’s book Breath earlier this year. It reminded me of reading a book 15 years ago that I picked up at an op shop on Buteyko breathing. This inspired me to investigate a little further so I contacted Buteyko Australia and did a private course via Zoom.
- Pilates Anytime is a wealth of information so I’ll jump on regularly and ill always learn something
How have you seen the industry change?
- Advertising is no longer in Newspapers or letterbox drops –it’s now on social media.
- Payment is no longer cash or cheque its direct debit
- At the moment we have to evolve from face to face to online so we are not as hands on
- More Pilates Studios, Group reformer classes
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’m excited about the future I think in this current climate we are evolving and adapting. It’s forcing us as instructors to think outside the box on what we can offer and how we can keep connected to our clients. In 5 years time I hope to still be learning and be more present on the digital platform (I am a bit of a dinosaur at the moment in this realm). Being creative but above all still helping people out of pain. Who knows ABBA is making a revival as holograms –maybe this is the way we will be teaching in the future?
A walk around Robyn’s Home Studio: