STOTT PILATES Media Coverage: News, Views & Reviews

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Download the Pilates Article PDFPilates A to Z – Revisited
By OnSite Fitness as published in OnSite Fitness , 2007

With member interest in Pilates accelerating, the challenges that our facilities face to provide successful programming also increase. Recently, we conducted a survey asking you for your input on how your Pilates programs work, how you find talented and qualified instructors and what your equipment needs are. Thanks to everyone who answered the survey, we are able to provide a comprehensive overview of the Pilates programming at the non-profits and develop a number of questions for our Pilates industry experts on how Pilates can be more successful in our unique environments.

Programming and equipment space and certification challenges seem to be the most pressing as non-profits try to do more for their members with limited budgets. Our experts share their best advice on bringing Pilates to the masses in a way that holds true to its mind/body connection. They also show us the latest in Pilates equipment technology with smaller footprints that are easier to move and store, and offer more options for a variety of members. Balanced Body also shares some thoughts on keeping this equipment in top working order. Maintenance is key, as with all equipment.

We hope you enjoy this detailed look at Pilates and how it can enhance your membership and programming!

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Industry experts respond to the challenges of starting and improving a Pilates program

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturer’s Association, in 2006 there were more than 10 million Pilates participants in the United States with more than one million of them considered frequent participants taking at least 100 classes a year. This exponential growth period is an ideal time for reluctant non-profit facilities to jump in and become a part of the fastest growing exercise method in North America.

OnSite Fitness is here to help your facility start or improve upon your Pilates programming by offering guidance and assistance from some of the best minds in the industry. Here, two of the leaders in the Pilates field, Balanced Body and STOTT PILATES, offer some solutions to the “Pilates challenges.” We have also included responses from efi Sports Medicine, who offer a kind of Pilates hybrid, and all share their most up-to-date information, ideas and suggestions.

Q) ONSITE FITNESS: With often limited resources available to Pilates, and mind/body programming in general, how do Board of Directors and Facility Directors rationalize and justify the expense of starting a program?

A) STOTT PILATES: We know that not all facilities are created equal, but we also know that obstacles like limited resources, space or budget shouldn’t prevent non-profit facilities from participating in mind-body fitness programs. Bringing Pilates into a facility can actually create more non-dues revenue, enrich group class programming, inspire members, and maximize spaces like a squash court during off hours.

A) EFI SPORTS MEDICINE: The best way to rationalize a Pilates program is to provide a great and diverse program that draws and retains members, encourages utilization and ensures member success. With reformer based Pilates especially, instructors are in high demand due to relatively limited supply. Our incline resistance training equipment used for reformer based Pilates, provides non-profits other opportunities for strength and endurance training in private, semi-private and small groups as well as training for special populations from kids to the active aging, and from beginners to elite athletes—not only Pilates. Many YMCAs who don’t normally charge extra for programming, have begun successfully to charge for our equipment based GRAVITY® program because of its high demand in the facilities and the member acceptance of the programs, and this helps with selling the ROI of the program to the Board of Directors.

Q) OSF: There are so many out there who teach “Pilates” yet many are not certified to do so. How do facilities find quality and qualified instructors?

A) BALANCED BODY: The issues with finding a qualified instructor have evolved a bit in the last year as many companies have started offering equipment and training packages designed specifically for commercial fitness facilities, JCCs and YMCAs. These packages can provide both the equipment and training for internal staff that a facility would need to get started quickly with a low cost per head. I guess the bottom line is that to find instructors all these people have to do is call the Pilates equipment manufacturers, as most have training and certification programs available.

A) STOTT PILATES: The people that make up your Pilates team are the key to the success of the program. However, because of the growing popularity of Pilates, good instructors are in demand and harder to find. You can resolve this problem by doing a few things.

  • 1. Offer career opportunities to your existing staff and educate them. First, find a strong leader within who will champion the program’s development. This Group Exercise Director or Wellness Director can recruit people who would make a good fit e.g., dynamic group exercise instructors, staff with backgrounds in movement or dance, or friendly floor leaders who have expressed interest in transitioning into a new role. Then host an education course on site to educate several instructors at once. Make sure to choose a well-respected education provider that requires students to complete a written and practical exam component, and offers top-of-theline training support materials such as manuals and videos.
  • 2. Find new ways to reach certified instructors. Post positions on your website or sites for Pilates-related organizations; advertise in local or national fitness publications; promote the upcoming launch of a Pilates program at your facility in your local or regional newspaper, noting that you are looking for instructors; and search education providers’ databases.

Q) OSF: Space is at a premium in non-profits because of so many great programs that reach out to so many. With a full line of programs already on the schedule, how do facilities find the right space for such a program?

A) BALANCED BODY: Smaller equipment options have basically changed the way facilities offered Pilates. Beforehand, reformers took up too much space and couldn't be stored. But because smaller footprints, such as the Balanced Body Allegro were able to stack or stand on-end, that made it much easier. In addition, Pilates chair programming has become huge as it offers a challenging workout with a small footprint.

I think the overall statement is that Pilates floor space shouldn't be an issue any more because of the easy storability and portability of the equipment involved. It's probably just a matter of educating people to that fact.

A) STOTT PILATES: Thanks to lightweight, stackable reformers, you can use shared space such as a group exercise studio for equipment or mat-based Pilates classes. However, the best case scenario, for maximum revenue, is a dedicated space allowing private and semi-private instructors to train part-time or full time in your studio. The area can be as little as 400 square feet. Ask yourself some questions and take another hard look at your facility to help you assess its reality versus its potential:

  • Is it possible to do an expansion on your building?
  • Can you convert underused space like a storage room, office or racquet court?

Once you determine what you’re working with, you can create a plan. Even the most square-footage-tight facilities will most likely be able to find 400 square feet somewhere and as a result, generate enough revenue to help fuel future expansion plans that would allow for a bigger studio.

A) EFI SPORTS MEDICINE: Using the GTS® for equipment based Pilates provides a platform for every fitness professional at the facility to utilize throughout the day. The group exercise instructors can teach a group session, followed by a group Pilates session and personal trainers can utilize the equipment for goal oriented semi-private training sessions. When not in use, the equipment folds up and can be rolled away to make space for other group sessions. Many facilities find the program so successful that designated space is often given to the equipment or they operate with the equipment in a segmented area of the main floor.

Q) OSF: Once you have found the space for a Pilates program, how do you make that space conducive to the mind/body experience?

A) BALANCED BODY: The Pilates experience is greatly enhanced when class participants are able to focus on their movements and body and not on the noise next door or the overhead lights. Ideally, a Pilatesenvironment should be its own dedicated space and if this is not possible, then perhaps screens can be put up to separate stored equipment not in use from the class experience. Other ideas are:

  • Lower the lights, or even turn off the overhead lights and place small low light lamps around the room.
  • Keep the room temperature no cooler than 70 degrees and direct vents away from students so the air does not blow directly on them.
  • Look for music specially designed for mind/body classes by musicians known as psychoacousticians. They have studied music, it’s affects on brainwaves, and have designed music that elicits an ideal brain wave state for such a class.
  • Don’t forget props like balls, foam rollers and mats, and don’t forget to keep them clean for the next member with towels and organic cleaners.

Q) OSF: How much does scheduling and pricing affect a Pilates program’s success?

A) BALANCED BODY: Both factors can be very significant. A good rule of thumb is to schedule your classes away or at a different time from activities that may disturb the "mind-body" element of your Pilates class. From a pricing standpoint, the biggest thing you need to know is your demographic - both financially and geographically. A JCC in Cedar Rapids is not going to be able to charge the same for a group reformer class as is one in downtown Manhattan. You'd be surprised at how many times that mistake is made. They should call other similar facilities in the area and see what they are charging.

Q) OSF: How do non-profits successfully get the word of their Pilates program out to the public, both members and non-members?

A) BALANCED BODY: A marketing plan is a primary key to a successful Pilates program. An important component of that plan is education of your staff and members as to what Pilates is, how it benefits members, when it is offered, etc. Also, communicate to your members that you are starting (or already have) a program. Invite them to join a class or bring a friend to class, whatever it takes to get them in the door.

If you haven’t already, join the local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and other civic organizations within your community. The sharing of a commitment to the community, to local business and the sharing of ideas can have a profound effect on your business.

A) EFI SPORTS MEDICINE: The best customer is a referred customer, so the first step is to launch the program successfully within the existing membership base, offering free trials, bring a friend sessions, and really build hype around the eventual launch of a new program. Then you can go out to the community with press releases and advertisements and people will begin a viral discussion about the great Pilates program at X facility. Some companies, such as efi, provide marketing support such as posters, press release templates and a wealth of strategic support for the program launch and long term success, including the on-site training of the facilities instructors to ensure that the program is operationally sound.

OSF final thought: Thanks to our leaders in the fitness industry, Pilates has become a movement (literally and figuratively) that benefits just about everyone who is willing to try it. Our challenge as fitness professionals is to create an environment for our member’s that will be conducive to the expansion of successful Pilates programming and in the end, benefit the community’s that we serve.