I am very much about giving something for free, and I often see criticism in the fitness industry about giving free sessions as "undervaluing" what we do, but this isn't how I see it…

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With Jane Thomas Pilates we always offer a free taster session — whether that is a class space, or a free consultation at our studio.

We can spend lots of time on social media sites setting up posts, scheduling posts etc, trying to show what we are about. And don't get me wrong, I obviously recognise the benefit of having a social media presence, and how important this is in our industry. I just really believe that giving half an hour of your time to spend with a client for free, could be worth an extra £300 on your turnover, whereas hours and hours on social media can often result in £0, nil points, nothing.
Offering a free taster class place in a class that you are going to teach anyway, isn't even taking any extra time.

It isn't about undervaluing what you do, it is completely the opposite, it is an opportunity to give them the full experience of what you are able to do for them. Often this isn't possible in a social media post.

This is just one example of how I believe a free consultation should work to help all concerned, from both a business point of view and from making someone's life better point of view.

I recently offered a free 1-2-1 consultation at our studio to a person who had contacted us to find out about Pilates because she had been told it would help with her condition. She knew nothing about Pilates and didn't feel comfortable just going to a class. She also said there were certain health concerns which she felt could affect her participation, but when asked felt she wanted to discuss face to face.

At our studio, as I met with her, she shared that she had Anorexia Nervosa which she had suffered with from a young age, and therefore was faced with mass muscle wastage, osteoporosis, and low self-esteem. I gave her half an hour of talking and taking her through some foundation Pilates based work. To cut this story short, she thanked me for seeing her, spending the time and providing her with all the answers she needed, also for making it feel like she had options of how to make some changes to her lifestyle so that she can improve her health. She has signed for one of our 6 week Absolute Beginners programmes. I really didn't mention any of our classes, prices, or anything else, but by the end of her consultation she just asked me what she could do with us.

We have on average, an 80% success rate of converting our free tasters into fully paying clients attending our classes and booking for 1-2-1 training — so giving free tasters is not only great use of my time, it’s good business too!

If you totally believe in what you do, and how you want to work, giving something for free is a reflection of your self and your values, and that free time is an opportunity to share your value with others.

Written by: Jane M Thomas of Jane Thomas Pilates, as featured on the BBC.

First Class Pilates — Pilates Done Right!
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First Class Pilates — 9 Great Central Road — Loughborough — LE11 1RW