Aug 16 2015

What would Joseph do? Navigating the Competitive Arena of Pilates

In recent years, Pilates has become as prominent in some cities as Starbucks. In smaller communities even, you can find a Pilates studio almost on every corner, in a number of iterations. In one neighborhood in my town, there are 7 studios in a two block stretch, with 3 more rumored to be opening soon. We saw this happen sooner with Yoga studios popping up like dandelions, and most recently with Barre studios. With all of the options for Pilates and various movement practices, how can they all be successful?

There are a number of strategies for success being used, or at least tactics to undercut the competition. With Groupon and Class Pass providing cheap options to try a number of studios without committing to one, this creates a continuously rotating door among the many studios, with very little predictable stability. The client base is constantly changing, and retention rates are plummeting. Any service business owner knows that without retention of a client base, a business cannot be successful long-term. Eventually the revolving door will stop spinning.

What would Joseph do?


We know that Joseph and Clara felt strongly about the value of their service, and stood firmly behind the benefits of the Practice. Group classes were not on the service list at their NYC studio. Every client was given one-on-one attention and as a result, was able to build a strong and trusting relationship with their Pilates (then known as Contrology) practitioners, and as a result, reap the Physical rewards.

Drastic discounting of services is quickly eroding the value of the Pilates Method. ‎When we offer packages of private sessions that do not even cover the overhead of the studios or a fair salary for the practitioners, how can we ever expect to succeed? The truth is, we can't. These discounts not only lead to failure but once offered, it is extremely difficult to convince clients that your services are worth anything more. The result: the client moves on to the next cheaper service, or you are always operating at a loss just to retain a client base.

The bottom line is that Pilates offers a valuable practice for all bodies, and it is worth a reasonable price just like other therapeutic services. Clients that are committed to their health and movement throughout life will make the financial investment to achieve this. ‎Discounts are not the answer, differentiating your Pilates services from the neighboring studio is. You are valuable and should not apologize for asking for a fair wage in return.

Some Keys to Success:

1)    Confidence:  A little confidence goes a long way. Putting in the effort to be the best Teacher you can be gives you the confidence to effectively communicate the value of your service offering. Confident Teachers earn the trust of their clients more quickly, and that translates into long-term relationships and positive word-of-mouth.
2)    Training: There are a number of Teacher Training opportunities available today. Continuing Education is so much more than just something Teachers have to do to remain certified. This should be an investment in your skills and service offering. Each course you take should deliver a return-on-investment for your business, not just make classes more fun for your current classes. Do your research and seek out high-quality and ongoing ‎training in subjects that are of value and benefit to your current and prospective client base.
3)    Networking: Pilates Teachers are in an interesting position these days. In the coming years, Pilates Teachers will hopefully have the opportunity to be recognized as Allied Health Practitioners. The Medical community is becoming more open to the many benefits of Pilates, and the value for their patients. There are so many Practitioners that we could connect with in hopes of building a strong referral relationship. The old adage ‘Birds of a Feather Flock Together’ is relevant here. Be selective about who you align with, and find like-minded Practitioners that you would feel comfortable referring your clients to, and who are compatible with your philosophy.
4)    Connect with your Community: This is a two-part process. First, developing a positive presence among your fellow neighborhood merchants is important, but more importantly, make an effort to connect with your Pilates community. We have access to each other through social media, but also making a point to meet other Teachers in your area is a valuable benefit for the sharing of knowledge and experiences. Find or start a local Pilates Teachers meetup.
5)    Invest in basic Business Skills: Having a foundation in the most compulsory business concepts is valuable and necessary for any business-owner. There are a number of continuing education courses in Marketing, Finance, and Accounting available in class or online. Find a local Toastmasters group in your area to improve your Public Speaking skills.  

Invest your time in your business' value, not in scrambling to keep up with the masses of cheap services. Those businesses will not be around in the long run, so plan for the future instead of panicking in the present.

Internationally-acclaimed certification programs and continuing education workshops emphasize current neuromuscular science, established movement protocols, and advanced teaching methodologies. All courses are valuable for Health Practitioners and Fitness Professionals alike. View ReActive’s 2015/2016 BODY HARMONICS® course offering in the San Francisco Bay Area at

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Written by Holly Wallis, PMA®-CPT, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist
ReActive, LLC     510-990-1364

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ReActive Practitioners have extensive training and experience working with many structural and functional conditions, including...

  • Posture/Gait Imbalances
  • Hip Instability/Mobility Issues including pre-/post-operative care for hip scope and replacement
  • Shoulder Instability/Mobility Issues including frozen shoulder, rotator cuff imbalances/injuries, pre-/post-operative care for shoulder replacement
  • Spine Issues (Spinal Stenosis, pre- & post-operative care for discectomy, laminectomy, spinal fusion, DDD, ankylosing spondylitis, spondylolisthesis, disc bulges/herniations – Post-rehab)
  • Knee Instability/Mobility Issues including Patellar Femoral Syndrome, pre-/post-operative care for knee scope and replacement
  • Scoliosis – Functional & Structural
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteopenia/Osteoporosis
  • Pre- & Post-natal including diastasis recti, C-Section, SIJ pain/pelvic instability and dysfunction
  • Low, Mid- & Upper back pain (incl Core Stabilization/Muscle Recruitment issues)
  • Muscular Recruitment/Patterning Issues including habitual compensations, faulty recruitment/patterns
  • Chronic conditions – Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, chronic pain syndromes, MS, etc
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Standing & Walking stability issues including balance issues, leg discrepancy, neurological disorders (ie stroke)
  • Functional Movement Issues (ie difficulty performing movements of everyday life ie sit-stand, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, managing stairs, etc)
  • Sport-Specific Training (golf, tennis, cycling, climbing, swimming, running, education for safer and more effective gym training, etc)
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