Pilates Community Forum > Pilates business in today's economy.

Dear Pilates entrepreneurs! Let’s share!

There are so many entrepreneurs among us and some are doing what I am doing. I thought it would be worth for all of us Pilates entrepreneurs alike to come together and share what sparked off the idea for going solo and how is business going at this time colored by pink slips. And if against all odds you are starting your Pilates practice in today’s economy, then what’s made you do it?
How did it happen when the idea suddenly hit you? Or was it nudging you for quite a while? Was it sink or swim situation or just a brilliant idea? Are you like me and run your own business wholly unrelated to the field you graduated in? How is your business doing and how are you pricing your services? Considering today’s reality of unemployment and home foreclosures hitting more and more current and/or potential clients.

And for those of us future entrepreneurs, what is holding you from doing it on your own? Is it just the new economic circumstances? And what will help you go into business someday?
I love stories. Don't you? :-)

June 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTatiana Larios

I’ve been teaching Pilates for over 5 years now and it is my dream to open my own studio, but there are a few reasons why I haven’t taken action.

Regret. I’ve spoken with a few studio owners and most of them say that if they had to do it all over again, they would not have opened their studio. Their reasons: They hardly get to teach because they are so focused on the business aspects of running a studio, they are always stressed out, they work a ton of hours, and they don’t make that much more income than they would have made if they had just stayed an independent contractor. This was not encouraging to hear.

The Cost. The start-up costs seem quite large. Not owning a business before, my ability to receive a large business loan from the bank might prove to be challenging.

The Right Location. I live in Orange County, CA and if you’re familiar with the area, you’ll know that the county is saturated with Pilates studios. How do you set yourself apart from other studios? Will you make enough money to survive in a county where the consumer has so many other options within a 10 mile radius? What square footage should you begin with?

For me, the cost and location factors are what’s holding me back. When I open a studio, I want to open it in the right way. With a great location, appeasing interior, the right amount of equipment, and with enough money to fall back on while the business is in its beginning stages.

Did anyone else have these same concerns prior to opening their studio? If so, what did you do to overcome these obstacles?

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterND

I opened my Pilates studio almost one year after I first heard the word Pilates on the first floor of my house. I expanded a year later when my waiting list reached 100 people. I found cheap rent (4.00 per square foot) in an old warehouse that was off the beaten path, but easily accessible. I started with 2500 square feet and added and additional 1500 when it became available.My start up cost were low(10,000) because my husband and I did most of the work that did not require contractors.I hung dry wall, sanded floors, laid sub-flooring and stripped lead based paint off of a brick wall.I am proud to say that my marriage lasted through the renovations even though it was tempting to use that nail gun on my husband a time or two.

I began teaching in 2000. As my experience increased, so did my price. I started at 40.00 per hour and I recently increased to 80.00. per private hour.

I have an assistant that comes in once a week to do my books and update my computer. I have an apprentice that helps assist in class while I teach. I do all of the teaching and handle the day to day operation of the studio, working 11 hours a day, four days a week.That week consists of 17 classes,18 privates and 2 house calls.

I still love every minute of it and I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield

I am also in Orange County and I work from home and I am perfectly happy running my studio from my first floor. I don't have a big clientele, but I feel that I am busy enough. Because I have such low overhead I can charge more competitive pricing. With our economy so bad now, I can see people who ordinarly could not afford Pilates.

I think if I had to rent space and compete with (as ND said) all the other studios (although I have noticed that the list is thinning out as the economy seems to be getting worse out here), I wouldn't enjoy what I do as much. This way I can be somewhat partial on who I decide to take on as a client and I don't panic when I have a slow week or a slow month.

Hope this helps!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDevra Swiger

I have several irons in the fire to try to earn a reasonable living, teaching at 2 studios, a gym and at my home. I get in about 20 sessions a week and am almost making a reasonable living - still not nearly as much as I made as a corporate professional. Still, I wouldn't go back unless I was desperate! I've been teaching for 3 yrs. and since day one, I started working out of my home, getting my clients ONLY by the web site my friend developed for me. I can't advertise, can't afford retail space, and don't want the headaches it can cause. I would love to give up the other gigs if I could, but until my home-based business can keep a consistent number of clients, I can't. On every board there are ads to share studio space, to rent studio space, etc., so I know times are hard everywhere, which makes me feel better knowing I have my home base to rely on. I get very creative in leaving my information places and approaching people (new, young moms out wtih their babies during the day are great potential clients! They can bring the baby with them to my home, unlike a regular studio!). My advice, have a plan, but know that plans can change and you have to change with them.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterluann klein

Luann:

Thanks for your honest post. These are tough times in our business and we do what we have to do to keep sharing the method. What I mean by that is we often have to compliment teaching from home with also working for someone else. Many of us are not in environments where there is a huge market of people who can afford Pilates or if we are, there is competition. I'm with you; I am so happy I don't have to pay rent or pay huge advertising expenses to stay afloat. I am also somewhat flexible with my rates so I see young students with a 'pay what you can afford' program and more elderly who are struggling with limitted income. I don't believe in turning people away because I charge some outrageous amount of money that few if any can afford.

Because of this policy, I don't make much but I feel I make a huge difference in the lives of many people. I still have my clients who pay full rate which is always good.

Anyway, good luck and it's always nice to hear a fresh, honest reply to a post.

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDevra Swiger

Dear friends,
Thank you for your sharing thought-provoking posts. Dear Devra, Luann, ND and Stacey, I appreciate your honesty and sincerity.
We really have not the easiest of times to start a business or even just start growing the clientele list. You probably have read an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal “Entrepreneurs Take Second Jobs to Stay Afloat.” In this tough economic environment, so many people choose teaching Pilates as one of alternate sources of income. And this just adds to the competition. But we can still succeed; we can do it thanks in no small part to this kind of posts. We as small-business owners and/or independent instructors very often are struggling to keep our studios/ practices afloat. We are doing anything we can to ride the recession by teaching at different studios, at home, etc., even taking on second jobs. That’s why it’s good to learn from colleagues what they are doing differently, how to do it on a budget, using resources we have, drawing in more people to become Pilates enthusiasts.
Amy, thanks for the forum and keep the good work!
-Tatiana

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTatiana Larios

Tatiana,
Thanks for starting this topic. With so much talk of home studios in this thread, I wanted to point out a related article from our archives, in case anyone missed it.

How to Open a Pilates Business at Home

Thanks,
Amy

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Leibrock/Editor