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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Pilates: Revenue driver

How well is your pilates studio performing? Could you sweat the asset more? Kath Hudson looks at how to turn pilates into a successful secondary revenue stream

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 2
Rather than focusing on delivering everything to an OK standard, health clubs can outsource to the right people to create a remarkable standard

There’s a move away from including pilates classes as part of gym membership, with canny operators increasingly recognising it as a potential secondary spend opportunity.

If the experience ticks all the boxes, most members will happily pay a supplementary fee for pilates. Pilates can also bring a different audience into the club, attracting people who wouldn’t necessarily be tempted by a gym membership: new mums wanting to rebuild their core but with limited time available, or perhaps the rehab market who don’t feel ready for the mainstream gym. Other people like to use pilates to complement their out-of-club sports pursuits, conditioning their body for activities such as golf, horse riding and team sports. It can therefore make commercial sense to open up paid-for pilates classes to non-members.

We take a look at a number of ways in which health clubs can drive secondary revenue from their pilates offering.

BRING IN A THIRD PARTY
A hassle-free way of delivering a pilates offering is to lease the space to a specialist third party to run the sessions. This gives a guaranteed monthly income with no risk involved, no further investment required by the health club, and no pressure for them to keep fully abreast of the latest developments in the pilates arena.

Tempo Pilates runs the classes at Gymbox’s Covent Garden club in London, UK, offering reformer pilates to music – all packaged into an experience that suits the Gymbox membership base. “We cater for a more ‘uptempo’ clientele, who want to sweat while practising pilates,” says Tempo Pilates founder and director Daniel Le Roux. “The young, upbeat clientele attending Gymbox is perfect for us. In return, we provide the club with an additional service.”

Gymbox allows non-members to attend the classes, but members receive a discount. “We provide a specialist, high standard service, and we source and in-house train each individual instructor to a high level,” says Le Roux. “Gymbox uses us to complement its facilities in the same way that cruise liners rent out space to dedicated spa operators like Steiner.

“Rather than focusing on delivering everything to an OK standard, clubs can outsource to the right people to create a remarkable standard.”

SMALL GROUP SESSIONS
If you prefer to keep your pilates operation in-house, it could be tricky to introduce a charge for something that was previously free. To avoid such issues, there needs to be some sort of added value – perhaps a refurbished studio, new equipment, or changing the format of the pilates offering by introducing small group sessions or courses. It goes without saying that the instruction must also be excellent and that instructors should keep updating their skills.

For example, Central YMCA in London, UK, started charging separately for pilates when it invested in a state of the art studio in 2005, to deliver Merrithew Health and Fitness’ STOTT PILATES courses. The standard of the new studio, facilities and instructors was set very high, and studio manager Brigitte Wrenn says the classes were marketed as an added value offering to existing members, as well as externally to non-members. A reformer class now costs £14, and matwork classes £12.

One real success story comes from the US, where health club operator Equinox offers mat classes for free to members, but charges for sessions using Balanced Body equipment – US$65 per student for groups of three people, or upwards of US$95 an hour for private sessions. “Our club made more than US$500,000 in revenue from pilates in 2013,” says Bess Mahoney, pilates co-ordinator for the Equinox club in Palo Alto, California. “Nationally, our clubs made over US$10m.”

Mahoney believes that, to charge extra, an excellent full-body workout must be offered that includes strength training, stretching and an emphasis on the core. “Workouts are tailored to each client’s needs and goals,” she says. “All equipment is used in a session: reformer, chair, cadillac, barrel apparatus and mat work.” 

RUN A COURSE
Enderby Leisure Centre, operated by Everyone Active in the UK, doesn’t offer pilates as part of the timetable. Instead, it runs a progressive, mat-based class course – using props such as balls and bands from Physical Company – which must be booked onto and which has always been perceived by members as an extra. Beginner, intermediate and advanced courses are held, and all are open to non-members.

“The pilates classes are booked as a course over a six-week period, and the cost is based on the cost non-members pay for any class on the timetable, multiplied by six – a total of £33.30,” says group exercise co-ordinator Jo Purdue. “Members get a discount of one class per six booked.”

The average occupancy of the course is 12 to 15 people, so the centre generates £350 to £450 per six-week course – a good, steady additional income. The course format is also seen to work well, as everyone starts at the same time and progresses together.

“We’ve been running these classes for more than seven years and they’ve created a large group of strong Everyone Active fans, who’ve developed a relationship with the instructor,” says Purdue. “It’s also another opportunity to bring non-members into the centre.”

INNOVATION
Justin Rogers, creative director of London-based pilates studio operator TenPilates, says that, in order to command premium prices for pilates,
it’s important to innovate.

For example, he suggests operators consider what expertise they could bring in from other areas of the club to add value to the pilates class. TenPilates incorporates a number of different disciplines that complement the pilates focus on posture and the core, and which make the classes more dynamic and varied, such as jumpboards, boxing training and group cycling.

“When you’re running a premium operation – or as we say ‘boutique’ – you have to be very good,” adds Rogers. “Regardless of their qualifications and experience, we require all our instructors to undertake six weeks’ full-time training at our accredited academy.

“We run a very personal service: we know our clients’ history and injuries. We make them feel at home, with free water, fresh fruit and wifi, so they want to hang out at our studios. Our ethos of making people feel good underpins everything.”

How to charge

* There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on pricing: the location and the demographic of your club, for example, as well as the prices that other local pilates facilities are charging. Offering a discount to members is a popular choice.

* Central YMCA in London often runs two-for-one introductory offers, while TenPilates offers the first session at half price. David Lloyd Leisure in Chigwell – which offers small group GRAVITY Pilates classes on its Total Gym equipment – offers free taster sessions.

* Make it easy for people to attend: give them the option of online booking from a mobile, as well as by phone or in person, or even consider launching an app.

* In terms of marketing, although the normal channels should be used – in-club leaflets and posters, websites and social media, and so on – most operators agree that the most persuasive way of getting people to embark on paid-for pilates classes is if their staff and instructors are able to engage with members and explain the benefits of the discipline.

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Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
At Gymbox, non-members are welcome to attend; members get a discount
At Gymbox, non-members are welcome to attend; members get a discount
Equinox in the US made over US$10m from pilates in 2013
Equinox in the US made over US$10m from pilates in 2013
TenPilates runs a very personal service, and knows each client’s history
TenPilates runs a very personal service, and knows each client’s history
All instructors at TenPilates undergo an additional six weeks of full-time training
All instructors at TenPilates undergo an additional six weeks of full-time training
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2014_2pilates.gif
Kath Hudson looks at how clubs are turning pilates into a successful secondary revenue stream
Gymbox, Tempo Pilates, Central YMCA, STOTT, Equinox, Balanced Body, Everyone Active, Physical Company, TenPilates, David Lloyd, DLL,Pilates, revenue, secondary revenue, Gymbox, Tempo Pilates, Central YMCA, STOTT, Equinox, Balanced Body, Everyone Active, Physical Company, TenPilates, David Lloyd, DLL
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features

Pilates: Revenue driver

How well is your pilates studio performing? Could you sweat the asset more? Kath Hudson looks at how to turn pilates into a successful secondary revenue stream

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 2
Rather than focusing on delivering everything to an OK standard, health clubs can outsource to the right people to create a remarkable standard

There’s a move away from including pilates classes as part of gym membership, with canny operators increasingly recognising it as a potential secondary spend opportunity.

If the experience ticks all the boxes, most members will happily pay a supplementary fee for pilates. Pilates can also bring a different audience into the club, attracting people who wouldn’t necessarily be tempted by a gym membership: new mums wanting to rebuild their core but with limited time available, or perhaps the rehab market who don’t feel ready for the mainstream gym. Other people like to use pilates to complement their out-of-club sports pursuits, conditioning their body for activities such as golf, horse riding and team sports. It can therefore make commercial sense to open up paid-for pilates classes to non-members.

We take a look at a number of ways in which health clubs can drive secondary revenue from their pilates offering.

BRING IN A THIRD PARTY
A hassle-free way of delivering a pilates offering is to lease the space to a specialist third party to run the sessions. This gives a guaranteed monthly income with no risk involved, no further investment required by the health club, and no pressure for them to keep fully abreast of the latest developments in the pilates arena.

Tempo Pilates runs the classes at Gymbox’s Covent Garden club in London, UK, offering reformer pilates to music – all packaged into an experience that suits the Gymbox membership base. “We cater for a more ‘uptempo’ clientele, who want to sweat while practising pilates,” says Tempo Pilates founder and director Daniel Le Roux. “The young, upbeat clientele attending Gymbox is perfect for us. In return, we provide the club with an additional service.”

Gymbox allows non-members to attend the classes, but members receive a discount. “We provide a specialist, high standard service, and we source and in-house train each individual instructor to a high level,” says Le Roux. “Gymbox uses us to complement its facilities in the same way that cruise liners rent out space to dedicated spa operators like Steiner.

“Rather than focusing on delivering everything to an OK standard, clubs can outsource to the right people to create a remarkable standard.”

SMALL GROUP SESSIONS
If you prefer to keep your pilates operation in-house, it could be tricky to introduce a charge for something that was previously free. To avoid such issues, there needs to be some sort of added value – perhaps a refurbished studio, new equipment, or changing the format of the pilates offering by introducing small group sessions or courses. It goes without saying that the instruction must also be excellent and that instructors should keep updating their skills.

For example, Central YMCA in London, UK, started charging separately for pilates when it invested in a state of the art studio in 2005, to deliver Merrithew Health and Fitness’ STOTT PILATES courses. The standard of the new studio, facilities and instructors was set very high, and studio manager Brigitte Wrenn says the classes were marketed as an added value offering to existing members, as well as externally to non-members. A reformer class now costs £14, and matwork classes £12.

One real success story comes from the US, where health club operator Equinox offers mat classes for free to members, but charges for sessions using Balanced Body equipment – US$65 per student for groups of three people, or upwards of US$95 an hour for private sessions. “Our club made more than US$500,000 in revenue from pilates in 2013,” says Bess Mahoney, pilates co-ordinator for the Equinox club in Palo Alto, California. “Nationally, our clubs made over US$10m.”

Mahoney believes that, to charge extra, an excellent full-body workout must be offered that includes strength training, stretching and an emphasis on the core. “Workouts are tailored to each client’s needs and goals,” she says. “All equipment is used in a session: reformer, chair, cadillac, barrel apparatus and mat work.” 

RUN A COURSE
Enderby Leisure Centre, operated by Everyone Active in the UK, doesn’t offer pilates as part of the timetable. Instead, it runs a progressive, mat-based class course – using props such as balls and bands from Physical Company – which must be booked onto and which has always been perceived by members as an extra. Beginner, intermediate and advanced courses are held, and all are open to non-members.

“The pilates classes are booked as a course over a six-week period, and the cost is based on the cost non-members pay for any class on the timetable, multiplied by six – a total of £33.30,” says group exercise co-ordinator Jo Purdue. “Members get a discount of one class per six booked.”

The average occupancy of the course is 12 to 15 people, so the centre generates £350 to £450 per six-week course – a good, steady additional income. The course format is also seen to work well, as everyone starts at the same time and progresses together.

“We’ve been running these classes for more than seven years and they’ve created a large group of strong Everyone Active fans, who’ve developed a relationship with the instructor,” says Purdue. “It’s also another opportunity to bring non-members into the centre.”

INNOVATION
Justin Rogers, creative director of London-based pilates studio operator TenPilates, says that, in order to command premium prices for pilates,
it’s important to innovate.

For example, he suggests operators consider what expertise they could bring in from other areas of the club to add value to the pilates class. TenPilates incorporates a number of different disciplines that complement the pilates focus on posture and the core, and which make the classes more dynamic and varied, such as jumpboards, boxing training and group cycling.

“When you’re running a premium operation – or as we say ‘boutique’ – you have to be very good,” adds Rogers. “Regardless of their qualifications and experience, we require all our instructors to undertake six weeks’ full-time training at our accredited academy.

“We run a very personal service: we know our clients’ history and injuries. We make them feel at home, with free water, fresh fruit and wifi, so they want to hang out at our studios. Our ethos of making people feel good underpins everything.”

How to charge

* There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on pricing: the location and the demographic of your club, for example, as well as the prices that other local pilates facilities are charging. Offering a discount to members is a popular choice.

* Central YMCA in London often runs two-for-one introductory offers, while TenPilates offers the first session at half price. David Lloyd Leisure in Chigwell – which offers small group GRAVITY Pilates classes on its Total Gym equipment – offers free taster sessions.

* Make it easy for people to attend: give them the option of online booking from a mobile, as well as by phone or in person, or even consider launching an app.

* In terms of marketing, although the normal channels should be used – in-club leaflets and posters, websites and social media, and so on – most operators agree that the most persuasive way of getting people to embark on paid-for pilates classes is if their staff and instructors are able to engage with members and explain the benefits of the discipline.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
Reformer pilates classes at Gymbox in Covent Garden – run by Tempo Pilates – are set to music for a more dynamic class
At Gymbox, non-members are welcome to attend; members get a discount
At Gymbox, non-members are welcome to attend; members get a discount
Equinox in the US made over US$10m from pilates in 2013
Equinox in the US made over US$10m from pilates in 2013
TenPilates runs a very personal service, and knows each client’s history
TenPilates runs a very personal service, and knows each client’s history
All instructors at TenPilates undergo an additional six weeks of full-time training
All instructors at TenPilates undergo an additional six weeks of full-time training
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2014_2pilates.gif
Kath Hudson looks at how clubs are turning pilates into a successful secondary revenue stream
Gymbox, Tempo Pilates, Central YMCA, STOTT, Equinox, Balanced Body, Everyone Active, Physical Company, TenPilates, David Lloyd, DLL,Pilates, revenue, secondary revenue, Gymbox, Tempo Pilates, Central YMCA, STOTT, Equinox, Balanced Body, Everyone Active, Physical Company, TenPilates, David Lloyd, DLL
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