Q. Help! I need to break up with my client. She’s constantly late to our sessions and has trouble focusing. Then she complains that she’s not getting results. Any advice on how to handle?

A. This is a universal issue for all service-related businesses and providers. Unfortunately, we will all experience clients who are consistently late and/or distracted during their sessions. There are psychological underpinnings to this behavior that are beyond our scope of practice to analyze or “diagnose.” Simply understanding that these clients most likely display this same type of behavior in every aspect of their lives will help. Ultimately, the underlying message is that the client’s time is more valuable than yours, which doesn’t lead to a respectful, professional or productive learning environment.

There are a variety of ways to address this issue systematically. You can establish a policy stating that your business considers any client who shows up 15 to 20 minutes late a “no show” or “late cancel.” You can even establish a three-strike policy, forgiving the first two late shows, and then enforcing the policy on the third. Another strategy is to set up automatic email and/or text appointment reminders for these clients.

Ultimately, a frank conversation is required. Remind the client that outcome in Pilates (as with anything in life) follows action. Consistently being late, rushed and distracted does not allow for tangible results. One of the primary principles of Pilates is concentration. Remind your client that you are there to support, guide and teach, but it’s up to them to show up physically—and mentally—for each session, to ensure a positive outcome.

» Kyria Sabin Waugaman initiated her Pilates studies with Ron Fletcher in 1991 and founded Body Works Pilates Studios in Tucson, AZ, in 1993. She founded Fletcher Pilates® International in 2003, a licensed Pilates school offering a professional comprehensive curriculum, as well as a wide variety of continuing education. A graduate of Duke University, a PMA-certified Pilates teacher and a massage therapist, Kyria developed the Pilates Program at the University of Arizona School of Dance, where she serves as adjunct faculty. She is an international presenter and has served on boards for the Pilates Method Alliance, the University of Arizona School of Dance and the Foundation for Expanding Horizons. She currently chairs the PMA Certification Commission.

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