The Complete Guide to Opening a Pilates Studio: Everything You Need to Know
So you're planning to open your own Pilates studio business, and you're wondering where to start? Great call. Running a Pilates studio is potentially very profitable and, if you have a passion for the discipline, it can be great fun too.
While opening a fitness studio of any kind might be daunting, it's not too bad if you break it down step by step.
So, in this post we're going to do just that. We'll take a look at the steps you need to take to go from zero to Pilates hero and start a Pilates studio in your town.
Dream Big: Research and Planning Your Pilates Studio
Before you dive headfirst into the world of running a Pilates business, you'll need to do your homework. Research and planning are the foundations of success, whatever business you're planning.
After all, you don't want to be that person who opens a Pilates studio in an area with zero demand, right?
Location, Location, Location
It's no secret that the location of your Pilates studio can make or break your business.
You will most likely want a spot with high visibility, easy access, and plenty of parking, or close to public transport.
Think about your target audience and choose a location that caters to their needs. Busy professionals? Consider a downtown area. Families and suburbanites? A neighborhood shopping center or community center might be your best bet.
Know Your Audience
Speaking of target audiences, it's time to define yours. Are you catering to beginners, advanced practitioners, or a specific age group? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your services and marketing efforts to attract the right clients.
While it is fine to have a broad target market as a Pilates studio, it's a good idea to define one specific ideal customer class. We'll look more at marketing later in this article. But the basic explanation is, if you know who your target market is, you can tailor things such as branding, messaging and marketing approaches to them.
Scope Out the Competition
Take a look at the Pilates studios and fitness centers in your area. What do they offer, and what's missing? Are their classes too big? How much do they charge? When do they open and when are their busy times?
There are many mistakes that Pilates business owners can make, which, again. we'll look at later in the article.
Find out what the competition are doing wrong, and do it better in your Pilates studio.
Budget Like a Boss
Before you start spending, it's crucial to crunch the numbers. Calculate the initial investment required for rent, equipment, renovations, and marketing. Remember, it's always better to overestimate your expenses than to find yourself in a financial pickle.
While you might manage a profitable Pilates studio, in time, getting off the ground can be costly. Those early days can make or break your long term success, so make those budget plans watertight.
Certifications and Licenses: Get Your Pilates Street Cred
You wouldn't trust a doctor without a medical degree, so why should your clients trust a Pilates instructor without proper certifications? As a Pilates studio owner, it's crucial to have the necessary certifications and licenses under your belt.
If you're already a Pilates instructor, you should have the instructor certifications. But there is much more to bear in mind when running your own studio.
Complete a comprehensive Pilates instructor training program from a reputable organization, such as the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) or Balanced Body. This will not only give you the skills and knowledge to teach Pilates but also boost your credibility in the eyes of your clients.
Don't forget to apply for a business license from your local government. This is a necessary step to legally operate your Pilates studio, wherever you are in the world.
There might also be additional taxes to bear in mind depending on where you're based.
Is Funding Available?
You may find that in some areas there are sometimes discounts and business rate relief for fitness and hospitality. In fact, in many countries, there are even grants available to fitness businesses as part of national drives to improve fitness.
Check out these articles about grants and subsidies for fitness businesses in:
Do your research and you might be surprised.
Get the Right Insurances
Accidents happen, and when they do, you'll want to be prepared. Obtaining liability insurance is a must to protect your business from potential legal issues.
You will also need insurance to cover your premises and the equipment too.
The Business Plan: Your Pilates Studio Roadmap
A solid business plan is the backbone of any successful enterprise, and your Pilates studio is no exception. Think of it as your roadmap to success.
We've looked at the elements need to open a gym business, which are very similar. We recommend you take a read of that article too.
But to summarize the essential roadmap to open a Pilates studio.
Map out and summarize your business objectives and vision. This is your elevator pitch, so make it count!
Detail your target market, competition, and market opportunities. Show that you've done your homework and understand the landscape of the Pilates industry in your area.
Services and Pricing
Outline the classes and services you'll offer, as well as pricing strategies. Will you offer group classes, private sessions, or a mix of both? How will you price your services to remain competitive while still turning a profit?
Develop a marketing plan to attract and retain clients. We'll dive deeper into marketing strategies shortly...
And be sure to check out our guide to gym marketing strategies and ideas.
Estimate your expenses, revenue, and potential profit. Make sure to have a business bank account specifically for your Pilates studio business to ensure there are no mix ups or complications.
Be realistic but optimistic with your financial projections. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your Pilates studio empire.
Setting Up Your Pilates Studio: Create a Space That Inspires
Now that you've got a plan in place, and hopefully also funding, it's time to bring your vision to life.
Setting up your Pilates studio is probably the most important and exciting step in the journey. You want to create a clean and welcoming space that makes it easy for your clients to come and get ready for their Pilates classes - and enjoy them of course.
Customize your space to create a welcoming and functional environment. This includes proper flooring, mirrors, and lighting. You'll also need to offer a pleasant changing room area, and of course bathrooms with quality fittings and a pleasant aesthetic. Yes, bathrooms are important even in a Pilates studio.
Shop around for a good local business who has experience fitting out gyms and fitness studios. And check their credentials and testimonials too.
Invest in high-quality Pilates equipment, such as reformers, mats, and other props. Remember, you get what you pay for, so don't skimp on quality.
You've heard the old saying, 'Buy cheap, buy twice'. This is especially true in the world of fitness business, where there is lots of wear and tear on equipment.
In today's digital age, having the right technology is crucial. Invest in a fitness scheduling and payment system to streamline your operations, such as Arbox.
Arbox is business management software designed with gym and fitness studio owners in mind. You'll find all you need to manage memberships, schedule classes, take online payments and even do your marketing too. You can even sign up for free to see if its right for your Pilates studio business!
Other Important Elements
Does your Pilates studio need secure lockers? Have you included water coolers in your plan? Is there a noticeboard to display upcoming Pilates classes or events?
Maybe you want to place a coffee machine or vending machine in the foyer to give your clients some refreshment options and also make some extra money for your Pilates studio business.
Oh, and don't forget a killer sound system for those upbeat playlists during classes!
Hire Your Pilates Dream Team
You can't do it all on your own, so it's time to assemble your Pilates dream team. Hire experienced and certified Pilates instructors who share your vision and can deliver quality classes.
And of course you need more staff than just Pilates instructors.
You might also need to hire:
- Front of house staff
- An administrative team including bookkeepers and data managers
- A Marketing team
All of these team members will be part of your Pilates studio business plan, so map out exactly who you need before you need them. Some might be hired externally, for example you can outsource bookkeeping and accounting to a local accounting firm, and the same goes for cleaners.
But there will definitely be a need to hire specialist staff full time to keep your Pilates studio running smoothly.
Market Your Studio: Spread the Pilates Love
You've got a fantastic Pilates studio, but how do you get people through the door? It's time to put your marketing skills to the test.
Marketing is a full time job in itself, so consider hiring an external marketing agency to take care of the ongoing marketing. But, these are all of the key marketing elements you'll need to take care of for a successful Pilates fitness business.
You can't have a successful business without a good web presence these days. so, you will need to create a professional website with class schedules, pricing, instructor profiles, and contact information.
Make it easy for potential clients to find everything they need to know about your studio.
Another reason to have a quality business website is so you can include a blog and build up your organic traffic. This means you can rely less on paid marketing channels such as Pay Per Click (PPC).
Every fitness business needs to harness the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. Having a good social media presence allows you to engage with potential clients and showcase your studio, as well as building an online audience.
While this is great for local marketing, there are additional benefits to having well managed social media accounts such as expanding your reach beyond your local audience for online classes or merchandise.
Distribute flyers, participate in community events, and collaborate with local businesses to increase visibility.
There are plenty of creative ways to get your studio's name out there and make connections within your community. Make sure to check out our guide to marketing your fitness brand.
Encourage clients to refer friends and family by offering incentives, such as discounted classes or free sessions. You will also want to ensure you try and win reviews and testimonials on sites such as Google Business, Facebook, TrustPilot and any other platform you want reviews on.
This is where Arbox gym management software is a crucial tool, allowing you to communicate easily with your subscriber list. Don't be afraid to ask for reviews or feedback, or even use incentives such as discounts for people who share their experiences at your Pilates studio on social media.
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, so use it to your advantage!
Launch and Grow Your Pilates Studio
You've done the research, created a plan, set up your own studio, and spread the word. Now, it's time to open your doors and watch your Pilates business flourish.
So how can you max your branding and attract the biggest buzz when you start a pilates studio?
Host a soft opening for friends, family, press and local influencers to gather feedback and create buzz. This is your chance to iron out any kinks before the grand opening - and get some good feedback too.
Plan a grand opening event with special promotions, giveaways, and introductory classes to attract new clients. Make sure to get the word out in the local press, as well as online. Drop flyers into local businesses and maybe partner with another local fitness business owner to take advantage of their appeal too.
Make it an event to remember and start your Pilates studio journey with a bang!
Regularly evaluate and adjust your marketing strategies, class offerings, and pricing to ensure your business continues to grow and thrive. Fitness is a rapidly changing sector, with new trends and developments all the time.
So stay open to change and always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Whether it's using new equipment, riding a trend on social media or offering diet or physio support. There is always scope for more growth...
Running Your Pilates Classes
Of course, the most important part of your entire Pilates business plan is.... The classes! You can't expect to attract and retain clients without offering a service that is second to none.
Now, we're sure we don't need to tell you how to run effective Pilates classes, or the best Pilates exercises to include for each session.
But as the Pilates studio owner, you will be responsible for the quality, the scheduling and the overall experience.
Some tips for you:
- Make sure that your Pilates classes feature a good mix of exercises, perfectly tailored to your class demographic
- Are your Pilates instructors aware of their schedule and their upcoming classes. Instructors turning up late or not knowing which class they're running will reflect badly on your business
- Is it easy for your clients to book classes online or in the studio?
- Is each Pilates session well structured and not too heavily weighted on one specific area?
- If you're running multiple classes at the same time, is it clear where they are, who they're for and which of your instructors is taking the session?
Using studio management software such as Arbox will make it much easier to manage most of the day-to-day elements of your Pilates studio.
Sign up for Arbox for free and check out all the features available for Pilates studio owners.
Common Mistakes Pilates Studio Owners Make
There are several common pitfalls that Pilates studio owners can stumble into, which can negatively impact their business. This can mean less profits, lost clients and more stress for you, the busy Pilates instructor and business manager.
Underpricing or Heavy Discounts
While we want to be competitive and build up a reputation as a good quality local Pilates studio, you want to avoid doing this at the expense of profits.
Free classes might be good in the early days while you're trying to attract clients to your new business. But don't rely on the free classes model indefinitely as people will just wait for the free or discounted offers instead of paying your standard price.
Not Doing Enough Marketing
Marketing is essential to the success of any business, so understand how to build this into your business plan. If you're not sure where to invest your efforts, start marketing and find what works for you.
Eventually you'll understand which channels are most effective for you, so you can focus on those instead.
It's better to invest in two or three marketing strategies rather than spreading yourself thin trying to do everything.
Having said that...
Doing Too Much Social Media
Social media is great and is a cost-effective way to spread your message and build your brand reputation. But it can also be a time suck and doesn't always provide the return on investment you might hope for.
Target your prospective customers with useful content, but don't worry about becoming a Pilates influencer.
Not Tracking Your Business Performance
When starting any business, there are a lot of outgoings and it can be a bit of a whirlwind. But, eventually, you'll need to monitor financial performance and keep track of what spending you are doing.
Are you winning enough clients? Are you charging enough? What ongoing expenses are unnecessary and could be cut out?
Pilates studio management software by Arbox will help you stay on top of your finances, improve business and financial decision making and make sure you're paid, and you pay on time.
Doing It All Yourself
So you've just taken a Pilates class, now you have three more, then you need to do some bookkeeping, send some emails, clean the bathrooms and re-order some business supplies?
This is a classic mistake for many small business owners, especially Pilates and yoga studio owners.
While you might think you're saving money by multi-tasking, it's a recipe for burnout and business failure. Invest in yourself and your business and get people in to help where you can.
Investing in Pilates Studio Management Software
Using effective software, designed for your industry, is one of the best investments you can make in your Pilates studio business.
Arbox is made for studio owners like you to help automate many of the essential tasks, from class scheduling, payment processing and task management; to data analysis and marketing.
Start for free today and save yourself a lot of headaches when opening a pilates studio.
Join a live demo to learn how Arbox can help get organized and provide an amazing client experience.