March Tips on Starting a Successful Pilates Program By Ken

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					                                                                                           March 2007




Tips on Starting a Successful Pilates Program
By Ken Endelman, Balanced Body, Inc.


Thinking of starting a Pilates program? Fitness centers all over the world are realizing
substantial revenue increases by implementing profitable Pilates programs. However,
success does require some planning. Here are some things to think about before
launching:


    1.   Gauge member interest
         Poll your members and see if there is enough interest to start a program. If
         so, you will want to put together a business plan, which should include
         answers to the following questions.


    2.   Gauge floor space
         Do you have enough room for a mat class? Equipment class? Keep in mind
         that the total footprint you’ll need will be more than the actual dimensions of
         the equipment. For instance, an Allegro Reformer by itself requires around 24
         square feet of space. However, the actual space required for the equipment,
         when in use, is about 60 square feet.

         Also, Pilates is a “mind-body” exercise. Your classroom needs a place where
         members can focus on their movements. It shouldn’t be placed next to a
         basketball court or a step class.


    3.   Hiring and training instructors
         Train your existing staff? Hire externally? There are pros and cons to both.

         Internally: If you’re willing to invest a little time, the benefits of hiring
         existing staff are significant. Your instructors are already familiar with your
         club membership, dynamic and philosophy. Many Pilates equipment
         manufacturers now offer on-site instructor training packages, so it’s a good
         idea to consult them for education tips.

         Externally: Hiring new instructors who are already trained in Pilates is a good
         alternative if you want to start your program quickly. However, as just
         mentioned, your Pilates instructor needs to be in sync with your club’s
         philosophy. Your hiring process should emphasize this point.


    4.   Establish a Pilates champion
         Once you have your instructors, you need to select one who can “carry the
         Pilates flag” for your club. This person should have a vested interest in the
         success of the program. Charge them to maximize class participation and run
         the program smoothly. You’ll need someone who is a certified instructor, with
         strong organizational, marketing and leadership skills.


    5.   Choosing the right equipment
         Get familiar with the various pieces of Pilates equipment. You’ll get a feel for
         the exercise as well as what kind of equipment will be best for your center.

         Choosing an actual equipment vendor is based on many variables, including
         price, quality, and durability. You should also investigate what role that
         company will take with your program. A good manufacturer shouldn’t just sell
         equipment – they should want a role in helping your program to succeed and
         grow. Check to see if they offer additional services like instructor training,
         marketing, business planning, leasing and more.


    6.   Buying or leasing
         Run the numbers to see which is best for your facility. Your vendor should be
         able to assist.


    7.   Programming
         Many facilities start with free mat classes, and transition those who are
         interested into fee-based Reformer classes. However, keep in mind that
         matwork is not an introductory form of the exercise. It is actually harder than
         Reformer work, because it offers less assisted resistance.


    8.   Marketing
         Despite the popularity of Pilates, members aren’t just going to walk in
         through the front door. Lots of simple ways exist to effectively market your
         program to both your existing members and your community. Fliers, emails
         and free demos are just some of the ways you can promote the program.


    9.   Launching
         Plan for anywhere between 4-6 months from initially gauging membership
         interest, to launching your program. Your launch date should be considered
         the first training date if you are training existing staff, or the first day of your
         classes if you hire external instructors.


Ken Endelman is the Founder and CEO of Balanced Body Inc. www.pilates.com.

				
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