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The Pulse

Pilates: Good For Your Members, Good For Your Business


PilatesMembers of health clubs are realizing more and more that they are in control of their own fitness and wellness journey. As a result, they expect a premium experience, for a price that fits their budget. And they are specific and open about what types of facilities and amenities they expect from the fitness center they join.

One service many members now look for is Pilates, a strengthening, stretching and mobility exercise founded by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. Donna Cyrus, the SVP of programming for Crunch, understands how Pilates can benefit members, as well as the club. “Members want that [Pilates] class experience,” said Cyrus. “It used to be something a few people did — now it is a staple.”

One unique way to market Pilates is to gear it towards injured athletes (or those looking to prevent injury from occurring in the first place). Both Reformer and mat-based Pilates classes allow athletes to continue to stretch and strengthen their body, without putting unnecessary pressure or weight on injured body parts. “Over time, over-use turns into injury,” said Cyrus. “Pilates helps stabilize everything. It’s not as daunting as yoga — it’s in between. So you have a chance to strengthen your core and yourself.”

To reap the benefits of offering Pilates in your facility, Cyrus suggested that clubs pair Pilates with an overall complete wellness experience. For example, clubs can offer Pilates, yoga and a spa. “In [Crunch’s] case, it is so much more necessary to offer wellness programs [than Pilates alone],” said Cyrus.

To exude the “wellness” aspect in a Pilates class itself, Cyrus advised that club owners keep class sizes smaller than what would be traditionally found in a Zumba or BODYPUMP class. “There shouldn’t be 25 to 30 people,” she said. “In a Reformer class, it would be ideal to have five to eight, or even less.”

The quality of the trainer is equally important as the class size. “Everybody comes in with something different,” said Cyrus. “From back issues to neck issues or an injury, the instructor has to be able to know each individual.”

The typical Pilates-goer has been exercising a while, has general fitness knowledge and has the money to spend on a separate studio. In order to create a successful Pilates program in your facility, having the proper equipment and the best trainers are important — but having the studio atmosphere is vital. “[Studio members] have a different mindset than a typical gym-goer,” said Cyrus. “I really believe … people are so busy. They want to walk in and know they have a spot. They want to have the experience and get out.”’

The studio atmosphere lends itself to focus and is better without distractions. If you can create this atmosphere and availability within your health club, you can appeal to both studio-goers and gym-goers alike. “It is a good, viable business model and the direction people want to go,” said Cyrus.


By Maggie Cunningham

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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