I came from a very poor upbringing. When I discovered Pilates in 2002 I totally fell in love with it. But I couldn’t take an equipment-based class because I couldn’t afford it. I actually never worked out on a Reformer until I started my instructor training.
Eventually we will have thousands of locations across the globe. If I didn’t think that I never would have started. The bottom line is that Pilates is too important to be financially exclusive.
That experience led me on a mission to get everyone I could involved with Pilates. This is something incredible that absolutely everybody can do for their health. Not just ‘can’ do but ‘should’ do.
After a successful stint as an instructor in several area clubs, I began my own business teaching classes out of the duplex I rented in San Diego in 2007. Many of my old club clients followed me. Later that year my clientele had grown to a point where it became clear that it was time for me to move on. There were so many people coming in and out of the house at all hours I thought people might start thinking it was a brothel!
I rented a 900 square foot space just down the street and developed my own teacher training, combining my fitness and Pilates educational backgrounds to bring more instructors with a like teaching philosophy under the fold. And the business continued to grow.
When the economy turned some of the neighboring businesses closed, so I rented those out, eventually expanding my studio to its current square footage of 3000. I was asked all the time as to how was I growing when others couldn”t handle the recession.
The answer was simple — we adapted our business model. I had so many clients say to me “I don’t think I can come anymore — my husband lost his job.” Well, Pilates is one thing you shouldn’t cut back on. So we created a business model where they did not have to quit.
Our model made sessions affordable to people of all incomes. Our Reformer classes are priced as low as $10 per session, far below the general average. We make up for the low prices by volume. We seriously teach a ton of classes every week.
We also started using online couponing vehicles like Groupon and that was a huge boon for us. We’ve been able to retain about 80 percent of responding clients with those. As an example, one of our campaigns netted over 1400 respondents — and, well you can do the math — we added a ton of customers.
But the main credit behind our growth really belongs to my teachers. They make it fun and interesting for all kinds of body types. It has really paid off. And we pay them very well. The better they do the more they get.
Club Pilates had established a reputation for providing quality sessions at a very low cost. In July of 2011 I had to open up another Club Pilates in San Diego’s North County to handle the demand. And soon that location was full with clients. And not long after that the big idea hit me — franchising.
My goal has always been to bring Pilates to all people. I want school teachers and social workers and others who maybe can’t afford equipment-based classes to be able to work on a Reformer. Franchising is the way to do this.
Thus, Club Pilates Global was born. I worked out a licensing agreement for another location in Encinitas with a respected colleague. Per the agreement the franchisee got use of the Club Pilates logo, access to my teacher training program and courses, videotaped lectures, business and marketing support, and access to their Groupon contacts.
Soon the Encinitas studio was overflowing with clients and it was time to grow again. In 2012 I opened another two locations in the San Diego area. That same year we grew to 5 locations there. In January of 2013 we had 11 open locations in Southern California, with others outside of California — in Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas in the works.
Currently Club Pilates Global now has 13 studios, 75-plus instructors who switch locations when needed, over 700 classes offered weekly, and over 20,000 customers. I know that sounds like a ridiculous number but that is not a misprint.
Every studio is packed to the gills with clients and I need more teachers! But that’s a good problem to have. I’m also in the midst of starting Club Pilates Global franchises outside of California, currently negotiating with interested parties in Michigan, Washington DC, Washington State, Wisconsin and more.
I know that eventually we will have thousands of locations across the globe. If I didn’t think that I never would have started this. The franchising makes it easier for other studios to be successful using our business model.
The bottom line is that Pilates is too important to be financially exclusive.
For clubs and fitness facilities looking to quickly implement a Pilates program, Club Pilates might just be a perfect option. “Definitely,” says Allison. “If a club has space they can lease to one of our franchises and presto — you have your Pilates program up and running. Plus the training program that our instructors undertake is really fitness-based so it works well within a club’s group exercise or personal training atmosphere.”
» Learn more about Club Pilates Global www.clubpilatesglobal.com