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Pilates & Co

A career in Pilates has taken Roz Norman to places she never dreamed of. In 2018, she and her husband Dave left their boutique Pilates studio business in Australia in the hands of a capable manager to work for Virgin Active in Southeast Asia. There they headed up the fitness and Pilates programs in Singapore and Thailand, with their three children in tow. 

After two years establishing and growing the Pilates Reformer programs at Virgin Active, the couple decided to return to the Gold Coast, Australia, to focus on building and scaling their own boutique Pilates studio business, Pilates & Co. 

When structuring their business plan for Pilates & Co., Roz and Dave had to “find that sweet spot.” “How many Reformers can you fit in a group space to make the business work financially while still maintaining an intimate atmosphere for your clients? We decided on 14 Merrithew SPX® Max Reformers at both studios,” Roz says.

While 14-person group classes are foundational to the financial success of Pilates & Co., Roz also wanted to offer private and small group classes, something most big-box gyms don't generally do. 

“Some people aren’t ready for the fast-paced flow of group Pilates Reformer classes, so a lot of people start with 1:1 and then move up from there to group Reformer classes. We also offer small group classes with up to three people, which have been really popular.” 

“We believe people have to attend at least two classes to experience the benefits of Pilates and mindful movement. We’ve made the memberships more affordable than the class packs to encourage clients to come in two to four times per week. The membership option has grown significantly over the last few months. People aren’t traveling as much these days, so they’re more willing to commit to a membership,” Roz says.

Keys to a successful Pilates studio:

1. Invest in your instructors and their continuing education and professional development 

“We look after our instructors. We deliver two-hour training to our instructors every two weeks and offer 1:1 training every month. We encourage them to attend small and large group classes whenever they can to learn from their peers.

“I’m also a big believer in having a variety of instructors who’ve trained in different modalities. We look for instructors who are great communicators, open-minded and embrace evidence-based practices instead of getting stuck in the old ways of teaching Pilates,” she says. 

2. Teach creative, inventive and evidence-based Pilates programming

“Dave and I, and all of our instructors, have such diverse fitness backgrounds in yoga, Pilates, personal training and functional fitness and we bring that experience to our classes. We offer 80 classes across both studios, including a Reformer HIIT class, strength and mobility small group, pre-natal Pilates, and Mums and Bubs. Our creative programming helps differentiate our classes from the competition.” 

3. Strive to constantly innovate to stay ahead of the competition 

On a recent short holiday to Byron Bay, Australia, a health and wellness hub, Roz and Dave spent most of their time taking Pilates and yoga classes. “We love going to other instructors’ classes and checking out other studios. We are forward-thinkers and we know that we need to stay inspired, curious and abreast of what our clients want. 

“We are considering opening a third location, whether that’s a licensee situation with a physiotherapist or some sort of combination of fitness and holistic/immersive wellness practices. Right now, infrared saunas, hot/cold hydrotherapy, and floatation therapy are very popular on the Gold Coast.

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