How to Start Your Own Pilates Studio

Have you been instructing Pilates classes at a large health club and are now ready to take the huge leap of having your own Pilates studio? Are you interested in adding value to a great Pilates community that promotes a healthy lifestyle? Jump on this hot fitness trend and open a studio that creates a welcoming atmosphere for all members.

Like any other business, the path to a profitable Pilates studio has to be tread on carefully. You must know the risks and what it takes to run your own studio. The following information contains important items to consider.

Pilates Certification

Even though it is not required for opening up a Pilates studio, it is highly recommended and the norm to acquire certification through the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA). If you are interested in obtaining this certificate, then continue reading this section.

Types of Certification

There are two different options for Pilates certification: mat and comprehensive. Comprehensive is the recommended certification because it covers everything the mat instructors need to know as well as the knowledge required for training clients on standard Pilates equipment. Of course, the comprehensive choice will be more expensive and time consuming. You could acquire either training certification while still committed to your current job. Therefore, you still earn a living wage and save money for your new future.

PMA Certification Process

Pilates Method Alliance is a respected certification program and the following are steps needed to obtain a comprehensive certificate.

1. Join a PMA registered school.

2. Graduate from the selected school’s program. Provide proof of program completion with 450 total hours of training and proficiency on all apparatus and mat training.

3. Read the PMA candidate handbook

4. Submit the Pilates Teacher Exam Application and Training Verification Form to Castle Worldwide

5. Worldwide Castle will send you a link for payment processing. Exam fee is $295 for non-PMA members and $275 for PMA members.

6. Schedule a date and location for the PMA Certification Exam

7. Take exam

To prevent your certification from expiring, remember to keep up with your continuing education credit and renewal fees.

Schedule

It is important to balance your studio’s schedule to fit the needs of your area. Decide if it is important to have flexible class hours to fit the majority of people’s schedule or would you rather run sessions at non-standard hours, such as before 9 AM and after 5 PM. Consider the attendance at the potential hours and if the revenue would surpass the expenses from the increase in utility bill and the addition of staff members to cover those extra classes.

Business Formation

Decide what kind of business structure you would like to form for your Pilates studio. Common options typically chosen are either to form a limited liability company or an s-corporation. Legal Zoom has more info on the similarities and differences between various type of business formations. Additionally, they will help you through the process needed to set up your business.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Visit the IRS website to apply for an EIN online for your business.

Business Permit and Regulatory License

Take some time and research into what permits and licenses are required in your designated city. Try using the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website to find this information. Make sure to have all the applications and associated fee payments completed properly.

Business Bank Account

Create a separate bank account that is solely devoted to your Pilates business. Approach your local banks and talk to them about their offerings. Choose the bank that fits your business needs best.

Insurance

Minimally, you are required to have a liability insurance. Lockton Affinity offers a liability insurance policy that provides flexible coverage for Pilates instructors and their studio.

Liability Waiver Form

Rocket Lawyer allows you to draft a Release of Liability form that you should have all class participants sign before becoming a member. Combine this with the liability insurance to protect and defend you against injury-related lawsuits.

Location

If you are just starting out and do not want to put a large deposit or investment into having your own place yet, consider sharing space with an existing studio that offers a different type of fitness program or using a general fitness club’s studio space. This allows you to earn money and start building your brand with a lower startup fee. However, it reduces the flexibility in your Pilates class scheduling, and it will be harder to promote and establish as your own. Otherwise, start looking at various commercial buildings or retail office spaces.

Facility

As you look for a rental space, be mindful of specific factors required for your Pilates studio.

  • Does it have the amenities you need for your members, such as bathrooms?
  • Does it have the capacity needed to fit your projected group session class size and the essential Pilates equipment?
  • Do you want enough space to run only one group session or multiple group sessions at the same time?
  • Do you need to modify the flooring and room setup?

Flooring

Integrating mats or similar flooring choices would add value to your studio. A company named Fuji has developed mats with practical feature, such as being easy to install and clean, and it provides a non-slip surface. This type of flooring is a great alternative to carpet and wood flooring. Fuji has a nice variety of mat options. For example, you could choose whether you want a thick or thin mat for your studio.

Equipment

Below are a list of apparatuses and items needed if you want to offer your members comprehensive Pilates workout options. These items are all available from the company Balanced Body, which is a respected supplier of Pilates dedicated equipment and accessories.

Reformers

Reformer is a commonly used apparatus for Pilates exercises. It is used in a variety of methods to either provide resistance training or help assist in specific movements. One popular option from Balanced Body is the Studio Reformer. This great product is available with various customizable options. They also offer other reformer models that might be more appropriate for your budget.

Pilates Tower

The Pilates tower is an apparatus that could be attached to doors, mounted on walls and are generally attached to the reformer apparatus mentioned previously. 

Trapeze Table

The horizontal bars for the trapeze table adds a new dimension to Pilates exercises. Hanging onto these bars, as you perform body stretching and strengthening exercises, increases the difficulty and provide an advantage not available by other apparatuses.

Pilates Ladder Barrel

This apparatus is used to strengthen back and core muscles. Additionally, it is also used for flexibility exercises. 

Pilates Chair

In addition to stretching exercises, this apparatus is also used for lower and upper body exercises. 

Mats

It is good to have individual mats for your members to use as they perform mat specific exercises. 

Resistance Band and Tubing

Resistance band and tubing, as its name dictates, gives resistance to your workout as well as assist you in stretching exercises. You should have a collection of these items with various level of resistance.

Magic Circle

Magic Circle is a popular Pilates tool that supplement specific exercises with additional resistance. These items have the options of having small pads on opposite sides of each other for cushion and gripping.

Marketing

Promoting your business is a critical part of attaining new members. You may contract out these activities to agency and contractors, but it comes at a great cost. As you are just starting out, it will be a worthwhile effort to learn how to promote your business yourself. Furthermore, try to integrate your marketing materials with key terms and a theme that differentiates your place from local Pilates studio as well as other fitness businesses.

Google Business Profile

Create your business profile on Google My Business. This action will increase the visibility of your business within Google Search and makes it easy to find directions to your location through Google Maps.

Social Media and Marketing Material

Having an active social media presence and physical marketing materials on-hand is important to your studio’s success.

Social Media and Review Websites

Adding your business to social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, will permit you to share and keep others updated about your business, at no expense. Additionally, creating profiles on review websites will help those looking for local fitness clubs to easily search, find and read about your place. Three commonly used review websites are Yelp, Google+ and Facebook.

Physical Marketing Material

Vistaprint is a great option for customizing and printing brochures with a professional look. These printed materials would be great to handout and share with new visitors. Additionally, Vistaprint offers frequent promotional discounts to all their products.

Website

To create a professional website, GoDaddy and Squarespace are two options that simplifies this process. Their easy-to-use features allows for the ability to add and modify texts and pictures to your liking.

Pricing

Research into local Pilates studios and examine what prices and pricing structures they offer. Determine a price structure that is competitive to those studios. Do not outprice yourself, unless there is something unique that is offered only at your location. At the same time, avoid underpricing yourself as well. The lowest price in the area does not always directly correlate with membership numbers and it will force you to maintain a higher number of active memberships to acquire the same profit.

Improving your Business

Use the previously mentioned review websites to analyze the local studios’ customer comments. Make full use of these comments as an opportunity to adapt and prevent your studio from encountering the same prevailing complaints.

Billing Software

Having an automated method to track, bill and send reminders about expiring contract would be critical in saving time dedicated to these administrative tasks. Zen Planner is an option worth checking out. They offer access to their website and phone apps that fulfill these tasks as well as have other beneficial features targeted at Pilates studios.

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