Pilates trends over the past 5 years

Five years ago in August 2013 an article in Health Club Management  entitled Pilates Predictions identified at that time that Pilates was beginning to move from its ‘Girly image’  with views about it being for ‘yummie mummies’ or ‘ladies who lunch’ towards something more professional as more Sports teams, physiotherapists and an older population started to see Pilates as an option to fit into their lifestyles. 

Glenn Withers, Founding Director of APPI Health Group predicted that the future of Pilates would be ‘getting off the mat’ or lying only positions on the Pilates Reformer with a move towards more functional upright positions to allow more suitable Post Rehab programming within Pilates. He also predicted an increasing older population interest in Pilates and challenged the industry to focus more on Bone Health and falls prevention.

Five years on and the Pilates market in the UK seems, from where I sit, to be moving at a consumer and provider level to embrace the reality that traditional Pilates Matwork classes are, just as Glenn Withers predicted, not catering for the rapidly increasing growth in the older retired market where client preparedness to invest in lifestyle and health is often incompatible to Pilates on the Mat.

Between 2000 and 2005 Health Club operators Esporta and Holmes Place invested heavily in Pilates Studios in their flagship Health clubs only to find it impossible to operate them with insufficient Apparatus trained Instructors willing to be employed and very soon these chains were selling off their Pilates Apparatus Assets and moving to a policy of leasing space to Pilates instructors to run their own Studio businesses outside of their membership systems.

The failure of the Apparatus Studio in the UK health Club during the first 5 years of the century scared away health club operators around Europe from revisiting a strategy of providing Pilates Apparatus studios within the Business plan of the health Club but this is now changing –  in the UK David Lloyd Health Clubs and Virgin Active are working with Apparatus suppliers like Align-Pilates and BASI Systems to market test and expand Pilates Studio provision as a part of a corporate strategy to embrace the value of Apparatus Pilates particularly to the older more wellness focussed market. 

The result of all the above is a Commercial Fitness market that is looking to embrace the clear benefits of Apparatus based Pilates as it seeks to profit from an Ageing population prepared to spend more on their lifestyle and wellness needs.  At the same time a more flexible workforce with large numbers of Pilates Matwork instructors able to transition much more rapidly than five years ago to work on Apparatus.   

It is important to understand the market but to predict areas of growth and act on them if as a Pilates Business you are going to remain stable or grow your business.   

About the Author
Chris Onslow has been in the Pilates industry since 1999. He has sold or distributed Balanced Body, Stott-Pilates and Align-Pilates equipment in the UK and Europe and has owned Pilates Studios ranging from 600 square feet to 6000 square feet in size, with studios in Oxford, London and Witney. Chris brought Stott Pilates education to the UK in 2006 and now runs Mbodies Training Academy. He is a consultant for several Pilates studio operators and owners seeking to use his experience in the industry to ‘launch’, ‘develop’, and ‘refocus’ their Pilates focussed companies.