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Boomtime for pilates

Pilates is having a moment. Steph Eaves asks suppliers how they’re responding to the demand


Joy Puleo
Balanced Body
photo: Balanced Body

Demand for Pilates is skyrocketing. One only needs to read the trade media or visit a show like FIBO to see how many brands are either launching new concepts based on the modality or integrating a Pilates offer into their existing schedules.

We’re responding in several ways. Firstly, by providing operators with the support they need to create a group Reformer Pilates programme that delivers an outstanding user experience and commercial success.

Through instructor education, equipment and knowledge sharing, we’ve developed a comprehensive end-to-end solution that guides operators to success.

Secondly, we’re strengthening our global ability to serve key territories. For example, in the UK, over the last 18 months we’ve established in-territory storage and distribution facilities to improve our order-to-install time and protect our customers from volatile international shipping issues. We’ve also appointed a business development manager on the ground to provide in-person support to our customers and to optimise the opportunity to address the increased number of incoming enquiries.

Attracting and retaining Pilates instructors is a challenge for the global fitness sector. Operators have no difficulty filling classes, the factor limiting growth is a lack of qualified instructors and the time it takes to train them to deliver Pilates classes. In direct response, we’ve developed a new education programme to up-skill instructors already teaching in the fitness setting. Our new Group Reformer programme is accessible and flexible without sacrificing the quality of Pilates movement.

Some Pilates education has a reputation of being long, expensive, rigid, and esoteric. We are breaking down those barriers and providing operators with a means of providing valuable CPD and additional earning opportunities for their incumbent instructors.

We’re providing operators with the support they need to create a group Reformer Pilates programme
Group reformer Pilates classes have grown in popularity / photo: Balanced Body
Howard Braband
Peak Pilates UK
photo: Peak Pilates

Demand for reformer equipment has exploded since the pandemic. We are experiencing a shift in culture with consumers placing greater importance on their overall health. Sleep, relaxation and a focus on exercising for better posture and an overall feeling of wellbeing are key drivers. Stock management and keeping up with demand has been a critical part of our plan. We have increased stock, particularly in our Peak Pilates metal-line equipment and spare parts. We also have access to buffer stock in the European hub which has been a great support.

In addition to the range of Peak Pilates Reformers, we have recently introduced stock of the Peak Pilates versatile MVe Chair to the UK. The MVe Chair brings a new style of workout to mainstream fitness, adding further challenge to the traditional pilates repertoire. It’s a great complementary pilates apparatus to the reformer, using the same spring resistance for a super challenging core workout.

The MVe Chair is ideal for one-on-one training or small group classes in a reformer studio environment. Workouts can include advanced concepts relating to spring resistance, body awareness, movement dynamics and exercise complexity. We have seen a good level of interest from studios who are planning the next phase of development.

A recent installation saw a studio in Cambridgeshire offer chair classes as part of their reformer membership package with an 8-unit class offered on their weekly timetable. You don’t need to be a Pilates teacher to teach reformer workouts. Peak Pilates recognised the growing demand for dynamic group reformer workouts and the challenges for operators in finding a team of trained Pilates teachers to deliver Reformer workouts. For this reason, Peak developed FitCore, a two-day education programme that has made teaching reformer workouts accessible and affordable to the wider fitness industry.

The MVe Chair brings a new style of workout to mainstream fitness, adding further challenge to the traditional Pilates repertoire
The MVe chair is ideal for small group classes in a reformer studio / photo: Peak Pilates / Robert Kittilä
It’s not necessary to be a Pilates teacher to teach a reformer class / Main photo: Peak Pilates / Tim Steele Photography
Samantha Kellard
Nuforma Pilates
Kellard wanted to remove participation barriers / photo: Nuforma Pilates / MM Design studio Marlow

There has been a huge shift in the demographics of people doing reformer Pilates. It was originally reserved for dancers and for one-to-one rehab. It is now being used by a much more diverse population, as an incredibly effective strength and conditioning activity.

We launched the Nuforma at FIBO to phenomenal feedback. I took the traditional Pilates reformer and built upon the best of its features and functions, working on its limitations and adding increased functionality. The Nuforma features: an integrated weights ad jumpboard, a wider, non-slip platform to give greater comfort to larger users, a variety of resistance points, a built-in monitor offering 100s of classes for group or self workouts, and the ability to fold it against the wall for efficient use of space.

My goal with the Nuforma is to remove all the barriers that previously restricted the audience and created capacity and operational issues. Things like availability of instructors, times of access or simply the intimidation factor of the equipment itself.

I designed the Nuforma for instructors to be able to easily deliver effective large group sessions at all levels of ability. It also allows individuals to work out confidently on their own, as they follow the quality-controlled classes that are displayed on the built-in monitor.

Our Nuform raining school gives students practical skills and experiential training to fast track quality instructors, giving them the confidence to hit the ground running and adapt to teach anybody that comes to class.

Nuforma allows individuals to work out confidently on their own, as they follow the classes on the built-in monitor
Nuforma folds up against the wall to use studio space efficiently / photo: Nuforma Pilates / MM Design studio Marlow
James Anderson
Physical
Photo: PHYSICAL/NELSON PHOTOS

Reformer Pilates has become part of everyday fitness, strength and conditioning training and group exercise timetables, enjoying a far broader user profile than ever before. No longer the exclusive domain of rehab and older clientele, it has moved into new verticals, from boutiques to full-service health clubs.

Growth is significant in the US, Europe and notably the UK, where Merrithew partners with Physical. A designated UK warehouse ensures quick lead times and good stock availability to meet the growing demand from commercial gyms.

We’re seeing a growing number of mainstream health clubs looking to offer reformer Pilates, but not all have the space for a dedicated studio. Storage is therefore key, and Merrithew has led the way in creating Pilates reformers that, in spite of their size, can be stowed away to free up space for other classes. All Merrithew SPX Max series reformers are stackable up to five reformers high; the SPX Max with vertical stand can also be stored vertically.

How are we responding? In terms of the equipment – beyond a new jet black look and feel – we don’t really need to: the springs on Pilates reformers mean you can make each movement significantly easier or harder depending on the exerciser, and as always with Pilates, there are options to progress each exercise.

We also already supply equipment such as Cardio Tramps to add a cardio element. The most important thing is to ensure instructors are fully qualified and able to adapt to all member profiles and that, if clubs do innovate in their programming, it’s done by a certified, experienced instructor.

Operators should refrain from designing their own training; a quick CPD course won’t cut it. The quickest way to achieve a trusted qualification is to do Merrithew’s Intensive Reformer course, open to anyone with an anatomy background – a sports science degree, for example.

Comprising 50 hours in person followed by 100 hours’ work experience and an exam, you can be confident all instructors will meet a high, globally-recognised standard. To meet demand, Merrithew has expanded its network of training centres across the UK, and in collaboration with Physical can also deliver on-site training at fitness centres.

Operators should refrain from designing their own training; a quick CPD course won’t cut it
Merrithew’s SPX Max model can be stored up to five reformers high / photo: Physical / Merrithew / Matthew Plexman
Matthijs Wilhelmus
Basi Systems
photo: BASI Systems

We've been steadily ramping up our production capacity for some time. Our products are mostly handcrafted, so we're fortunate enough to have anticipated this growth and trained more highly skilled staff. It feels like we're just getting started, so we're preparing for exponential growth in the coming years. We're helping our global partners tap into this growth as well – we've developed new marketing assets to support their business, carefully monitor insights to catch any trend early, and have a highly filled innovation funnel, as the type of product in demand is also changing.

We see group classes as a way into Pilates; the majority of people doing group classes will supplement with classical, individual training, because they have seen the positive effects. There has also been a surge in buy-in from physical rehabilitation specialists, referring their clients to Pilates in their rehabilitation journey.

Our reformer has taken us years to create and perfect, but we're always improving it further. In the very near future we'll launch a second version specifically aimed at more beginner or intermediate instructors and practitioners, which also will be slightly more space-efficient. This will help more people start reformer Pilates, by lowering the barrier to entry.

The risk we see is that with the fast-track Pilates is on, there are cheap and quick options to get a form of certification – sometimes even a free online education course with the purchase of more than one reformer. This could be detrimental to the industry, as a bad experience tends to multiply faster than a good one. Our quality education offer is always developing – both in geography and course types – which will help to create more qualified instructors.

We see group classes as a way into Pilates; the majority of people doing group classes will supplement with individual training
The barriers to Pilates entry have lowered / photo: BASI System
Jonathan Whitby
Align-Pilates
Photo: Align-Pilates

Pilates has been on an upward trajectory for the past few decades, but in recent years the popularity has really surged. There are plenty of factors as to why, but widespread understanding of the benefits and an increase in accessibility are two of the reasons.

Influencers openly sharing the benefits have not only increased visibility but also lent a certain aspirational quality, encouraging people to explore Pilates and its potential.

In the last few years we’ve introduced new apparatus based on market trends, including a versatile light commercial Reformer, designed to cater to both home studios and commercial setups for light usage which brings an optimal balance of quality and performance without sacrificing space. We’ve also launched a style-oriented Pilates Reformer, designed and tailored for studios prioritising aesthetic appeal.

We’ve also taken steps to keep pace with its growing popularity. Being a UK brand sets us apart, and we offer direct install and delivery to most of the mainland UK. In response to increased demand – we’ve expanded our team, increased warehousing and capacity.

We’ve introduced a versatile light reformer, to cater to both home studios and commercial setups
Influencers sharing the benefits of Pilates have aided its growth / photo: Align-Pilates / JMCR DESIGN LIMITED
Pilates, and use of the reformer, has taken on an aspirational aspect / photo: Align-Pilates / JMCR DESIGN LIMITED
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2024 issue 4

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Boomtime for pilates

Insight

Boomtime for pilates


Pilates is having a moment. Steph Eaves asks suppliers how they’re responding to the demand

Pilates has seen a big demographic shift in terms of clients photo: Balanced Body

Joy Puleo
Balanced Body
photo: Balanced Body

Demand for Pilates is skyrocketing. One only needs to read the trade media or visit a show like FIBO to see how many brands are either launching new concepts based on the modality or integrating a Pilates offer into their existing schedules.

We’re responding in several ways. Firstly, by providing operators with the support they need to create a group Reformer Pilates programme that delivers an outstanding user experience and commercial success.

Through instructor education, equipment and knowledge sharing, we’ve developed a comprehensive end-to-end solution that guides operators to success.

Secondly, we’re strengthening our global ability to serve key territories. For example, in the UK, over the last 18 months we’ve established in-territory storage and distribution facilities to improve our order-to-install time and protect our customers from volatile international shipping issues. We’ve also appointed a business development manager on the ground to provide in-person support to our customers and to optimise the opportunity to address the increased number of incoming enquiries.

Attracting and retaining Pilates instructors is a challenge for the global fitness sector. Operators have no difficulty filling classes, the factor limiting growth is a lack of qualified instructors and the time it takes to train them to deliver Pilates classes. In direct response, we’ve developed a new education programme to up-skill instructors already teaching in the fitness setting. Our new Group Reformer programme is accessible and flexible without sacrificing the quality of Pilates movement.

Some Pilates education has a reputation of being long, expensive, rigid, and esoteric. We are breaking down those barriers and providing operators with a means of providing valuable CPD and additional earning opportunities for their incumbent instructors.

We’re providing operators with the support they need to create a group Reformer Pilates programme
Group reformer Pilates classes have grown in popularity / photo: Balanced Body
Howard Braband
Peak Pilates UK
photo: Peak Pilates

Demand for reformer equipment has exploded since the pandemic. We are experiencing a shift in culture with consumers placing greater importance on their overall health. Sleep, relaxation and a focus on exercising for better posture and an overall feeling of wellbeing are key drivers. Stock management and keeping up with demand has been a critical part of our plan. We have increased stock, particularly in our Peak Pilates metal-line equipment and spare parts. We also have access to buffer stock in the European hub which has been a great support.

In addition to the range of Peak Pilates Reformers, we have recently introduced stock of the Peak Pilates versatile MVe Chair to the UK. The MVe Chair brings a new style of workout to mainstream fitness, adding further challenge to the traditional pilates repertoire. It’s a great complementary pilates apparatus to the reformer, using the same spring resistance for a super challenging core workout.

The MVe Chair is ideal for one-on-one training or small group classes in a reformer studio environment. Workouts can include advanced concepts relating to spring resistance, body awareness, movement dynamics and exercise complexity. We have seen a good level of interest from studios who are planning the next phase of development.

A recent installation saw a studio in Cambridgeshire offer chair classes as part of their reformer membership package with an 8-unit class offered on their weekly timetable. You don’t need to be a Pilates teacher to teach reformer workouts. Peak Pilates recognised the growing demand for dynamic group reformer workouts and the challenges for operators in finding a team of trained Pilates teachers to deliver Reformer workouts. For this reason, Peak developed FitCore, a two-day education programme that has made teaching reformer workouts accessible and affordable to the wider fitness industry.

The MVe Chair brings a new style of workout to mainstream fitness, adding further challenge to the traditional Pilates repertoire
The MVe chair is ideal for small group classes in a reformer studio / photo: Peak Pilates / Robert Kittilä
It’s not necessary to be a Pilates teacher to teach a reformer class / Main photo: Peak Pilates / Tim Steele Photography
Samantha Kellard
Nuforma Pilates
Kellard wanted to remove participation barriers / photo: Nuforma Pilates / MM Design studio Marlow

There has been a huge shift in the demographics of people doing reformer Pilates. It was originally reserved for dancers and for one-to-one rehab. It is now being used by a much more diverse population, as an incredibly effective strength and conditioning activity.

We launched the Nuforma at FIBO to phenomenal feedback. I took the traditional Pilates reformer and built upon the best of its features and functions, working on its limitations and adding increased functionality. The Nuforma features: an integrated weights ad jumpboard, a wider, non-slip platform to give greater comfort to larger users, a variety of resistance points, a built-in monitor offering 100s of classes for group or self workouts, and the ability to fold it against the wall for efficient use of space.

My goal with the Nuforma is to remove all the barriers that previously restricted the audience and created capacity and operational issues. Things like availability of instructors, times of access or simply the intimidation factor of the equipment itself.

I designed the Nuforma for instructors to be able to easily deliver effective large group sessions at all levels of ability. It also allows individuals to work out confidently on their own, as they follow the quality-controlled classes that are displayed on the built-in monitor.

Our Nuform raining school gives students practical skills and experiential training to fast track quality instructors, giving them the confidence to hit the ground running and adapt to teach anybody that comes to class.

Nuforma allows individuals to work out confidently on their own, as they follow the classes on the built-in monitor
Nuforma folds up against the wall to use studio space efficiently / photo: Nuforma Pilates / MM Design studio Marlow
James Anderson
Physical
Photo: PHYSICAL/NELSON PHOTOS

Reformer Pilates has become part of everyday fitness, strength and conditioning training and group exercise timetables, enjoying a far broader user profile than ever before. No longer the exclusive domain of rehab and older clientele, it has moved into new verticals, from boutiques to full-service health clubs.

Growth is significant in the US, Europe and notably the UK, where Merrithew partners with Physical. A designated UK warehouse ensures quick lead times and good stock availability to meet the growing demand from commercial gyms.

We’re seeing a growing number of mainstream health clubs looking to offer reformer Pilates, but not all have the space for a dedicated studio. Storage is therefore key, and Merrithew has led the way in creating Pilates reformers that, in spite of their size, can be stowed away to free up space for other classes. All Merrithew SPX Max series reformers are stackable up to five reformers high; the SPX Max with vertical stand can also be stored vertically.

How are we responding? In terms of the equipment – beyond a new jet black look and feel – we don’t really need to: the springs on Pilates reformers mean you can make each movement significantly easier or harder depending on the exerciser, and as always with Pilates, there are options to progress each exercise.

We also already supply equipment such as Cardio Tramps to add a cardio element. The most important thing is to ensure instructors are fully qualified and able to adapt to all member profiles and that, if clubs do innovate in their programming, it’s done by a certified, experienced instructor.

Operators should refrain from designing their own training; a quick CPD course won’t cut it. The quickest way to achieve a trusted qualification is to do Merrithew’s Intensive Reformer course, open to anyone with an anatomy background – a sports science degree, for example.

Comprising 50 hours in person followed by 100 hours’ work experience and an exam, you can be confident all instructors will meet a high, globally-recognised standard. To meet demand, Merrithew has expanded its network of training centres across the UK, and in collaboration with Physical can also deliver on-site training at fitness centres.

Operators should refrain from designing their own training; a quick CPD course won’t cut it
Merrithew’s SPX Max model can be stored up to five reformers high / photo: Physical / Merrithew / Matthew Plexman
Matthijs Wilhelmus
Basi Systems
photo: BASI Systems

We've been steadily ramping up our production capacity for some time. Our products are mostly handcrafted, so we're fortunate enough to have anticipated this growth and trained more highly skilled staff. It feels like we're just getting started, so we're preparing for exponential growth in the coming years. We're helping our global partners tap into this growth as well – we've developed new marketing assets to support their business, carefully monitor insights to catch any trend early, and have a highly filled innovation funnel, as the type of product in demand is also changing.

We see group classes as a way into Pilates; the majority of people doing group classes will supplement with classical, individual training, because they have seen the positive effects. There has also been a surge in buy-in from physical rehabilitation specialists, referring their clients to Pilates in their rehabilitation journey.

Our reformer has taken us years to create and perfect, but we're always improving it further. In the very near future we'll launch a second version specifically aimed at more beginner or intermediate instructors and practitioners, which also will be slightly more space-efficient. This will help more people start reformer Pilates, by lowering the barrier to entry.

The risk we see is that with the fast-track Pilates is on, there are cheap and quick options to get a form of certification – sometimes even a free online education course with the purchase of more than one reformer. This could be detrimental to the industry, as a bad experience tends to multiply faster than a good one. Our quality education offer is always developing – both in geography and course types – which will help to create more qualified instructors.

We see group classes as a way into Pilates; the majority of people doing group classes will supplement with individual training
The barriers to Pilates entry have lowered / photo: BASI System
Jonathan Whitby
Align-Pilates
Photo: Align-Pilates

Pilates has been on an upward trajectory for the past few decades, but in recent years the popularity has really surged. There are plenty of factors as to why, but widespread understanding of the benefits and an increase in accessibility are two of the reasons.

Influencers openly sharing the benefits have not only increased visibility but also lent a certain aspirational quality, encouraging people to explore Pilates and its potential.

In the last few years we’ve introduced new apparatus based on market trends, including a versatile light commercial Reformer, designed to cater to both home studios and commercial setups for light usage which brings an optimal balance of quality and performance without sacrificing space. We’ve also launched a style-oriented Pilates Reformer, designed and tailored for studios prioritising aesthetic appeal.

We’ve also taken steps to keep pace with its growing popularity. Being a UK brand sets us apart, and we offer direct install and delivery to most of the mainland UK. In response to increased demand – we’ve expanded our team, increased warehousing and capacity.

We’ve introduced a versatile light reformer, to cater to both home studios and commercial setups
Influencers sharing the benefits of Pilates have aided its growth / photo: Align-Pilates / JMCR DESIGN LIMITED
Pilates, and use of the reformer, has taken on an aspirational aspect / photo: Align-Pilates / JMCR DESIGN LIMITED

Originally published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 4

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