Today, more and more physical therapists, rehab patients, baby boomers, celebrities, pro athletes and fitness enthusiasts are recognizing the benefits of Pilates. Mind-body fitness is inundating the fitness industry and people are becoming more in tune with their bodies. As a result, the Pilates business is booming.

Since 2001, participation in Pilates has risen by more than 602%, and the number of facilities offering Pilates programming has increased by 50% since 1999. This means clubs have to stay on top of their members needs more than ever. Clients want to enjoy their experience at a fitness facility and be able to get all of the services they want in one location.

Lindsay G. Merrithew, President and CEO of STOTT PILATES, supports the notion that personal training, Pilates, Yoga and dynamic fitness instruction for all ages are poised for substantial growth over the next several years. Much of the growth in the areas of equipment-based exercise is due to professional trainers gaining knowledge of and confidence in the results they are achieving with their clients, explains Merrithew. Facility owners are seeing the benefits of implementing top equipment and hiring the best trained instructors and programming directors top-quality equipment and programming equals increased membership retention.


What is Pilates?

Pilates was created by Joseph H. Pilates in the 1920s and is a system of body conditioning moves that strengthen the core and emphasize the mind-body connection. Pilates is the perfect method of exercise to produce longer, leaner muscles, improve postural problems, increase core strength, balance strength and flexibility, heighten body awareness and prevent injury.

Today, the fitness community is incorporating a more refined, contemporary form of Pilates that caters to people of all ages, body types and fitness abilities. Hence, everyone from facility owners to instructors and members are reaping the rewards.

Some owners who have recognized the benefits of offering Pilates to their clients are establishing storefront designated Pilates studios at their location. These studios essentially operate as an additional personal training service, suggests Carol Tricoche, Global Sales Director, Full Solutions, STOTT PILATES. This type of business within a business offers private, semi-private and group training opportunities. By doing this, these facilities are not only seeing additional profits, but they are also experiencing increased instructor and member retention and additional non-dues revenue, longer-term.


On the Club Front

In order for owners to decide whether or not to implement a Pilates studio in their facility, they must evaluate all of their options and obstacles. One of the problems facing owners is that most club members want equipment-based Pilates programming, and some facilities simply do not have the space to accommodate. As a result, clients are paying for these services outside their regular fitness facility. So to keep members from wondering elsewhere, it is important for owners to find a way to make space within their location to accommodate their clients needs.

The space needed to establish a designated Pilates studio can be as little as 400800 square feet. The 800 square feet space is approximately the size of a racquetball court and can comfortably accommodate a fully-equipped Pilates studio, including four Reformers, two Cadillac Trapeze Tables, four Stability Chairs, two Ladder Barrels and other accessories. Of course, youd need to allow room for four to six instructors to work simultaneously in the same space while offering private, semi-private and group training, remarks Tricoche. On the flip side, a smaller, 400 square foot studio can hold approximately four professional Reformers so at the very least, you can offer programming associated with this one essential piece of Pilates equipment.

Once you find the perfect space to implement your in-house Pilates studio, facility owners must make sure to remain realistic about the amount of equipment they can fit in the area. Choose equipment that is versatile and offers maximum programming to keep your Pilates program fresh, challenging and adaptable to your changing members requests.

Its important to use your imagination. A racquetball court that is only used a few hours a day could be retrofitted to hold an 800 square foot Pilates profit center. Also, by double-decking the court, your facility could actually gain 1600 square feet of extra useable space.


Happy Staff, Happy Owners

With a designated space in your facility, you now have the ability to offer Pilates career opportunities to your staff. A studio for private, semi-private and group training allows instructors to work together in the same space while training clients up to five or six hours at a time. Your current Pilates instructors may be coming in to teach one or two mat classes per week, depending on other fitness class schedules and room availability, which makes it difficult for you to offer them more hours of work. Whereas, when you have your permanent Pilates studio, you are able to offer more sessions which will make your instructors happy as well as your members.

With your own Pilates studio you can offer instructors part-time or full-time positions according to the studios demand. Facility owners will ultimately increase non-dues revenue, while instructors have the ability to earn more income. You may also want to consider recruiting and training your existing quality personal trainers and group exercise instructors to be Pilates instructors. Personal trainers can subsidize their current client base with alternative training methods and grow their personal training clientele.

With a designated studio, you ultimately achieve more instructors working for you exclusively in more than one venue within your fitness programming. Heres your chance to show those dedicated individuals who are already helping you increase membership that you care about their professional growth, which, in turn, means growth of your facility.


The Key for Instructors

As the demand for Pilates instruction increases around the world, so does the demand for qualified Pilates instructors. Its in the best interest of fitness facilities to hire and train well-educated instructors and the key to success for instructors is to become up-to-date in this ever-growing method of exercise.

More and more personal trainers and group exercise instructors have the opportunity to expand their fitness career path by advancing their career in the Pilates field. Not only can instructors broaden their horizons in a new discipline that is literally taking the fitness market by storm, but they can also retain more clients, keep their interest in personal training or one-on-one instruction and make more money in a fitness method that is growing in popularity every day. The key to this success is access to quality education and promotion within the facility that these services exist.

Ambitious instructors become very marketable especially those who obtain professional instruction and expand their repertoire to include special populations, covering the deconditioned exerciser to the very fit. If facilities support their instructors needs to learn more, then their instructors will stick around. Hence, instructors can cross-promote their training abilities and implement new and exciting fitness skills into their repertoire. Instructors have the opportunity to increase their client base with their newfound education and, as a result, will be able to offer core strength, functional fitness, muscle conditioning and mind-body exercise to enhance the lives of others.

Group exercise instructors are also amazed at the increase in working hours they can actually put in consecutively by teaching Pilates. You can teach three to five hours of one-on-one Pilates sessions in a row. The transition from group exercise to Pilates can be quite natural, considering all of the continual verbal cues in this format of teaching. Pilates can also be customized to suit every clients needs including rehabilitation, sport-conditioning and pre- and post-natal exercise.


Owners, Take Note

Theres no doubt that dedicated, talented fitness instructors can increase their earning potential with additional professional Pilates training and, at the same time, increase their clientele and expertise in the fitness industry as a whole. For club owners, this means that members are being taken care of, and that means the potential for increased profitability. The good news is that once a client starts with Pilates equipment-based training, they are your clients for the long term.

As mentioned, for a Pilates studio to be successful, you need the proper equipment, quality instructors and fresh programming you want to keep member retention. Pilates education doesnt stop after certification. Making sure that your instructors are attending continuing education courses and workshops at specified fitness venues or hosting workshops at your facility is vital as well.

Most clients seeking any new form of exercise or training methodology tend to ask around their gym or club for verbal references of trainers. Therefore, its in the best interest of the fitness facility, the client and the individual trainer to be certified to teach Pilates. Its important for trainers interested in Pilates certification to do their research and examine how comprehensive specific courses and certification programs are. Facility owners should always encourage continuing education.

Supplementing trainers income should also be top-of-mind for facility operators who want to retain high-caliber instructors. For the most part, instructors want to enhance their clients experience to help them reach their fitness goals any way they can, so expanding ones instruction skill set is very desirable, and owners must take part in helping their staff reach their economic goals.


The mainstream fitness industry is what ultimately brought Pilates into the publics eye, which, in turn, has given facility owners and instructors the opportunity to increase business revenue. Pilates allows exercisers to do what they do best and can be adapted to enhance anyones current training routine.

Facility owners and instructors alike are reaping the benefits of properly implementing Pilates into their programming through member retention, increased growth and clientele, profitability margins and overall business staying power. At the same time, they are helping clients enjoy mind-body exercise for a lifetime. Perhaps its time you did the same.

Kerrie Lee Brown is Vice President of Communications for STOTT PILATES. Over the past ten years, she has enjoyed an exciting career in fitness journalism. Kerrie is the former editor-in-chief of Oxygen: Womens Fitness and American Health & Fitness magazines and has overseen numerous successful magazine launches and revamps. Kerrie holds a Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies and Political Science Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts, Graduate Journalism Degree from Ryerson Polytechnic University. To contact Kerrie, email


How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?