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Download the Pilates Article PDFWhy Pilates is Good for Your Business
By Carol Tricoche, as published in canfitpro May/June 2011

Mat-based programming can change the way your clients view their workouts – and keep your members coming back for more!

More and more club owners, fitness instructors, athletic coaches, and rehab specialists are realizing that in order to increase membership numbers and keep their clients' enthusiasm for their workouts, they need to change their offerings. In simple terms, they need to change up the workouts and the way in which the exercises can be performed. Pilates mat-based programming is attracting new members and keeping them at the clubs. With numerous options to alter the programs, such as incorporating props or changing the dynamics of a particular move that is being performed, instructors are finding that they can assist more clients with a wide range of fitness needs and abilities.

Benefits for clubs If you are unfamiliar with Pilates equipment and the cost of implementing an equipment-based Pilates program, a good way to test the waters with your members is to offer mat-based programming. Not only can you incorporate mat-based Pilates programming into your membership fees, but you can introduce Pilates to patrons without the cost of purchasing high-end equipment. You can also offer mat programs in your group exercise rooms without having to establish a designated area during your testing period.

"In this economy, some facility owners have been forced to take a more fiscally conservative approach, supplementing private sessions with group or mat-based programs," explains Lindsay G, Merrithew, President & CEO of Merrithew Health & Fitness™. "However some owners are still hesitant to implement Pilates into their facilities as a whole because of the perception that this can only be done with large, expensive equipment. But this is not the case."

Many fitness club owners who implemented successful Pilates businesses within their locations have established their Pilates offerings as a specialty program by charging members extra for the classes outside of the Group Exercise programs. STOTT PILATES® prides itself on the calibre and intensity of their education and training and offers many solutions for clubs. STOTT PILATES® instructors are highly qualified and spend a lot of time creating workouts for their classes.

Pilates also makes a club more marketable. Just as Pilates training enhances an instructor's professional skills and increases their client base – clubs benefit from the fact that their trainers are unique and in-demand. "Pilates adds one more program that members can get involved in," says Sarah Jarvis, STOTT PILATES® Instructor Trainer and Group Exercise trainer for GoodLife Fitness. "Members can relate to Pilates once they become educated about the benefits – the more available, the better the club, the better the value."

Jarvis continues to explain that offering Pilates also benefits your existing staff. "Pilates provides instructors with more opportunities to obtain high-calibre education and training so they can advance their career and qualifications in the marketplace."

Pilates also caters to a wide array of clients of all ages and fitness levels, and therefore, the instructor will gain experience working with various clients. The Pilates Five Basic Principles can easily be applied to what trainers already have in their training arsenal, and more importantly, Pilates provides an additional revenue stream for trainers, which in turn, provides more profit for your centre.

Benefits for members Pilates programs help make club members more aware of the muscles that need to be used to stabilize and strengthen when they participate in any workout. It also makes them aware of how much more effective their workouts could be if they engage the proper muscles. Jarvis adds that certain classes may not be as beneficial.

"Matwork is the best place to learn and understand the Principles of Pilates without adding too much external resistance. It is important to understand where you need to stabilize first before you mobilize," adds Jarvis.

Jarvis continues to report that Pilates should help realign you, strengthen your core, connect the whole body, focus on stability, help correct postural issues, and balance out musculature. "A Pilates instructor's job is to monitor the class and make sure they are giving appropriate modifications for the group. It is important that they correct form and technique STOTT PILATES® photography © Merrithew Corporation By Carol Tricoche, Vice President Full Solutions™ Merrithew Health & Fitness™ and that cannot be done efficiently in a large group setting."

It's important to note that there are many exercises that can be found in group exercise classes as well as Pilates – the difference being in the technique. For instance, a Pilates push-up involves an awareness of the body including but not limited to scapular stabilization, pelvic, head and cervical spine placement all while maintaining an active core. In Pilates, the accuracy of the movement is not in the speed or number of repetitions but in achieving a quality movement while considering these important principles.

Clubs outside of North America are realizing the benefits of implementing Pilates programming as well. STOTT PILATES® Instructor Trainer Daniela Gonzalez from Litton Lane Training Ltd in Ireland agrees. She says gyms that offer Pilates programming that are mat or equipment-based have that desirable edge over their competition. "Time and time again, clients want to feel that their club is the most ' up-to-date' gym and offers exercise forms the clients read about, hear about and often are advised to partake in. Pilates gives clients a better self awareness and understanding of their bodies and capabilities. That in itself is a great advantage from a safety aspect. As instructors, we want to feel confident that our clients exercise safely when they're following the exercise programs we prescribe for them."

Gonzalez adds that the beauty of Pilates mat-based classes is that they are suitable for various demographics and fitness levels. "Pilates allows you to create a better balance of muscle strength and endurance and reduce the risk of injury as the body becomes more efficient. By reducing the risk of injury, not only will your client be able to continue their routines better, it will keep them coming to the gym for longer and more often."