How Club Pilates is Changing the Industry

This über-successful Pilates franchise is opening new studios across the country at a rapid rate. We asked the company to explain their business model in depth—and then asked industry pros how they think CP will affect their bottom line and the Pilates world overall.

By Anne Marie O’Connor

With more than 350 locations—and 200 more scheduled to open by the end of the year—Club Pilates is changing the industry more than anything since the trademark lawsuit. Rumors about the company are rampant: There are 24 people in a class! There’s loud, throbbing music! And the most insidious complaint—they don’t teach Pilates! (Actually, the maximum class size is 12, and music is soft and ambient. And though it’s certainly not Pilates the way Joe allegedly taught it, opinions vary on its authenticity.) While there’s no doubt it’s having an impact on the industry, we went to Club Pilates directly for the facts. Then, we asked three industry veterans to report on their experiences and share their forecasts.


THE CLASSES

Pilates Style: What classes do you offer?
Sarah Luna, Club Pilates’ senior vice president of operations: We offer nine signature classes, all of which begin and end on the Reformer, which is the main focus. They’re designed to be challenging but safe. Our class outlines observe Joseph Pilates’ exercise order while incorporating beneficial props such as the barre, TRX and TriggerPoint rollers.

PS: Who creates the choreography?
Tianna Strateman, Club Pilates’ vice president of education: Our classes are not prechoreographed, so our instructors can create sequences that inspire and safely challenge our members. We provide an outlined structure based on Pilates methodologies to ensure that the creative flows maintain appropriate movement structures for the class level and format.

PS: One of the criticisms of Club Pilates is that group workouts are just on the Reformer and Chair, not all the equipment, and thus it’s “not really Pilates.” Can you address this?
Tianna: The group Reformer room incorporates the mat, Balanced Body Reformer, EXO chair and springboard, [which allow] our members to experience a full vocabulary of Pilates exercises. We also have various accessories such as TRX, BOSU balls, Pilates fitness balls, gliding discs and TriggerPoint products.

[In addition to our group training], our Private Training rooms are equipped with a Balanced Body Reformer/Trapeze Combo or Clinical Reformer with Infinity Footbar, Ladder Barrel and Spine Corrector. For members with special conditions or needs, or members who want to experience more [of the Pilates work], we recommend private training.


THE TEACHERS

PS: There’s a notion that many of Club Pilates teachers are new and less experienced. Will you tell us about the range of teachers who work at CP studios?
Carly David, Club Pilates’ director of recruiting and HR: Our 2,200 teachers come from a variety of training programs, including Balanced Body, STOTT® PILATES, Romana’s Pilates, Peak Pilates, Polestar Pilates, Ron Fletcher and even from local programs at colleges or universities, while others have completed the Club Pilates Teacher Training program.
Sarah: We only hire instructors with 450 hours or more of education and who have completed all of their comprehensive-training requirements.
Carly: All teachers also go through a mandatory two-day Bridge Training, which covers the “secret
sauce” on how to apply their education to the Club Pilates class formats.
Sarah: The Bridge training builds on their Pilates knowledge, and provides tools for managing group Reformer classes and various fitness levels within the class.
Carly: On average, each studio has three instructors with five-plus years of experience, two instructors with at least one-plus year of experience and an apprentice completing his or her training.

PS: Tell us about the Club Pilates teacher-training format.
Carly The Club Pilates Teacher Training program is 500 hours. The hours are comprised of: 146 hours in-studio applied learning and observation; 104 hours practice teaching and assistant teaching; 100 hours self-practice; and 150 hours online study. Seventy percent is in the studio and 30 percent is online, which gives participants more flexibility to manage their time. Pilates instruction is 95 percent of the program. Our instructors are trained on all the apparatus. Apprenticeships may be available at studios when individuals have completed at least 250 hours of their training.

PS: How many people have gone through Club Pilates’ Teacher Training?
Tianna: This year, we’ve had approximately 40 to 50 instructors graduate each month from the Club Pilates Teacher Training program and it’s our biggest year yet.”
Carly: On average, studios graduate seven participants, but this number is growing.

PS: Must teachers be PMA certified?
Carly: Master Trainers at Club Pilates are required to have a PMA certification. While we do not require our studio instructors to be PMA certified, it’s highly encouraged.

PS: Are teachers employees or independent contractors?
Carly: All of our instructors are direct employees of the studio/franchise owner. We do not have any instructors hired as independent contractors.

PS: How are teachers paid?
Carly: Each franchise partner researches the local market and decides on compensation. The most popular class-compensation model is a flat hourly rate, in addition to a variable class rate. Many studios implement additional opportunities for compensation and/or benefits so that instructors feel taken care of.

PS: What percentage of instructors teach full-time, which for the sake of argument we’ll define as more than 32 hours a week?
Sarah: The opportunity to teach full-time is available at our locations, but we find that many instructors prefer to take on smaller class loads. If an instructor does teach more than 32 classes a week, they are often working for multiple Club Pilates studios.

PS: I know class prices vary by location and package, but can you give some examples or a range?
Sarah There is a little variation in class prices that’s dictated by the local market, and so that studio owners can offer competitive compensation to instructors. We also offer a few membership options, so classes can range from $35 for a single class, up to $249 for an unlimited option.

PS Tell us about Club Pilates On Demand, your new on-demand video service?
Sarah It allows our members to practice Pilates even when they can’t get to the studio. Each workout is 15 minutes; the majority are mat based.


To get the rest of the article including the sidebar, “Welcome to the Club: Many people in the Pilates industry are raising issues with the speed of Club Pilates’ expansion, and how it will affect existing studios and the industry in general.” plus more articles like this order the September/October issue from in our Pilates Style Shop, or download from Magzter for immediate access.


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