Claudia Fink, owner and Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer
Licensed Training Center and Official Merrithew Distributor in Italy
Claudia Fink has energy – tons of it. It comes across in the passionate way she speaks, the hugely popular classes she teaches and the sports she competes in. It’s that boundless energy and enthusiasm that has made Pilates Italia a highly successful Licensed Training Center and Distributor.
Claudia opened Pilates Italia in 2007 and now has locations in Milan, Rome and Bologna, where she runs regular courses. She also runs a satellite studio called Brussels Pilates. She teaches all over Italy, attracting students from across Europe and around the world. This high-energy dynamo is warm, articulate and passionate about sharing her knowledge, whether that’s training great instructors, talking about how Pilates can help with chronic pain, or sharing the secrets of running a successful business.
Here are her top tips for establishing a strong Pilates-based business.
Pick the right people
When Claudia first opened Pilates Italia, one of the biggest challenges was finding a team that actually worked as a team – people who were more interested in the success of the group than their own advancement.
“I come from a competitive sports background,” Claudia says. “It taught me that teamwork is a lot more important than being a star, no matter how good you are. You can be the best player, but if you don’t use your knowledge and skills to support the rest of the team, you aren’t going to win. There’s no place for ego on a strong team.”
It took Claudia some time to find a group of instructors who shared that mindset and it took a shift in her perspective to put together her dream team. Instead of bringing on fitness stars who had difficult personalities, she recruited less experienced teachers who shared her team-focused vision – and developed them into star instructors herself.
“I’ve realized that when it comes to instructors, personality is more important than skill,” she says. “You can teach skills – but you can’t change personalities. As a busy studio owner, I don’t have time to deal with uncooperative people.”
Develop a solid studio philosophy – and stick to it
One of the reasons Claudia has aligned herself with Merrithew® is the company’s overall philosophy—that effective and responsible exercise is the foundation to a better lifestyle— which she applies in her classes every day.
“We focus on what, why and how,” she says. “It’s a core tenet in the way we train instructors at Pilates Italia. They need to understand what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how they should do it in terms of form and thinking about how they can modify to do it better and make it more challenging without hurting their clients.”
Never stop learning
Success takes constant effort and the desire to learn and grow. Claudia is a qualified osteopath and is constantly learning about how the body works, how it moves, and how it reacts to stress, illness and injury. When a family member was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she learned about diseases that affect the brain. When women she knew were diagnosed with breast cancer, she educated herself about that as well.
“The majority of my clients are women,” she says. “It helps me as an instructor to have a deeper understanding of how breast cancer and related surgeries and treatments affect the body, and it helps me see how I can adapt Pilates movements to help those clients stay active.”
In Claudia’s opinion, giving up teaching completely is a mistake. It disconnects you from what your business is about.
“I have never stopped teaching,” she says. “I learn so much from my students. If you just want to be entrepreneurs, that’s fine. But if you want to be a real part of your business, don’t stop teaching clients. Don’t stop learning from them.”
Find balance by following your passions
Not only is she a successful entrepreneur and an involved parent, Claudia is also an accomplished musician and a competitive water skier – her schedule would exhaust the average person. But for her, it’s vital. Following her passions energizes her.
“Every year, I have a different goal,” she says. “This year, it’s training for the national water skiing competition. Next year, it will be something else – maybe spending more time on music. I get bored otherwise.”
Working with Merrithew feeds that same desire for growth and change. Claudia loves the innovation and focus on quality that is the company’s hallmark – and she’s always excited by what the next months and years will bring.