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How to Build a Successful Pilates Business in Your Club
By Kerrie Lee Brown as published in STOTT PILATES, 2008

Pilates has grown exponentially over the past decade in and around the club scene – fulfilling the needs of regular exercisers, athletes, rehab clients and even children. Basically anyone who desires a leaner, stronger, healthier body for a lifetime can participate in Pilates. And fitness facilities everywhere are taking note.

According to the 2007 IDEA Fitness Programs and Equipment Survey, 68 percent of facilities surveyed have Pilates as one of their program offerings. This is a 49 percent increase from when IDEA first started tracking Pilates back in 1999. As a result, most clubs are rigorously trying to incorporate Pilates classes into their regular programming – often by only scratching the surface with basic training and equipment.

Why Pilates? Pilates allows exercisers to do what they do best and can be adapted to enhance anyone’s current training routine. It is a form of exercise for all ages and stages and is a kinder, gentler exercise for the body with all of the benefits of strength training.

“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 Lindsay G. Merrithew, President and CEO of STOTT PILATES®.


Ask any program director or club owner what defines their facility’s success and they’ll probably say ‘member retention’. In essence, Pilates helps build member retention and increased clientele.

“For a Pilates studio to be successful within a club, the key is proper equipment, quality instructors, and fresh programming to keep your clients happy and wanting more," says Carol Tricoche, Global Sales Director, Full Solutions™, STOTT PILATES.

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.

“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.”

Determining whether you can afford or even want to open a Pilates studio is the first big question.  From a programming perspective the answer seems quite obvious, but from an owners’ perspective – there are more things to consider.

One of the dilemmas is space. Industry surveys suggest that most club members want equipment-based Pilates programming – which ultimately takes up a lot of room. As a result, clients are paying for these services outside their regular fitness facility which is not ideal. So in order to keep members from seeking Pilates elsewhere, it is important to find a way to make space within your location to accommodate your clients’ needs.

“The space needed to establish a designated Pilates studio can be as little as 400–800 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,” explains 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 member’s requests.

“It’s 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,” adds Tricoche.


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.

With your own Pilates studio you can offer external 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. Here’s 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.

Pilates education doesn’t stop after certification. It is vital to make sure that your instructors are attending continuing education courses and workshops at specified fitness venues – or you can host workshops at your facility to keep your programming fresh and retain your numbers in the long term.

STOTT PILATES® offers over 100 workshops for continuing education annually: from rehab for back care and breast cancer, to pre and postnatal workouts, to athletic conditioning, Pilates for golf conditioning, and more. All of these workshops can be accessible within your facility for your staff.


The STOTT PILATES® Full Solutions team is a group of seasoned fitness industry professionals, who work with countless facilities big and small to help implement and run strong, profitable Pilates programs. They know that not all facilities are created equal. Common obstacles, like limited resources, space or budget can seem like barriers to facilities that want to participate in mind-body fitness programs like Pilates.

Because every facility's needs are unique, the Full Solutions team offers their service with unique step-by-step support in every area. They provide a customized ROI analysis and one-on-one expert advice on everything from staffing and strategic marketing to equipment and studio layout scenarios. In fact, they take the puzzle out of Pilates and anxiety out of decision making for the decision makers.

“The Full Solutions team at STOTT PILATES has helped me take my business to the next level more quickly than I could have ever imagined. By offering teacher training courses, I have generated local buzz that sets me apart from the competition, and the equipment that was recommended to complement my existing equipment has become the most popular within my studio - classes fill in absolutely no time! The STOTT PILATES Full Solutions team is intelligent, focused, and a pleasure to work with. Studio owners like me benefit greatly from their tireless counsel.” - Gina Santangelo, Owner, Callanetics and Pilates Studio Inc., Tenafly, NJ

 “Once we made the decision to purchase Pilates equipment and education, the STOTT PILATES Full Solutions team became instrumental in the success of our studio opening. From helping to draw up plans for what equipment we would need, to visiting us on site to see where our studio would be, they were always there with sound advice. Every time I call with questions, Full Solutions Sales Manager Carol Tricoche is always willing to spend time going over whatever questions and concerns I have. Our studio has been open for one month now and is tremendously successful. Carol has her place in that success.” - Maria Rigo, Group Fitness Director, Oak Brook Racquet & Fitness Club, Westmont, IL


Once you have designated a space for your new Pilates studio in your facility, and have agreed that equipment-based Pilates programming is essential to satisfy all of your members’ needs. All you have to do is make it happen. Run your Pilates equipment program as you do your Personal Training program and you’ll maximize your club revenue in no time.

For more information on implementing a successful Pilates studio, email