In Part 1 of  Pilates Predictions:  Incorporating your Pilates Business into the European Wellness Market we looked at the structure and sectors within the Wellness market, identifying the 5 highest growth sectors.  The relevance of the Wellness market was highlighted as the sector having the best growth potential for Pilates businesses in the next 5 years in the article titled ‘Pilates Trends in the last 5 years 2013-2018’.

In this article we explore avenues that a Pilates business owner might consider moving their business to take an increased market share within the 5 key Wellness growth areas.

The five identified sectors in order of growth between 2015-2017 were

  1. Spa Facilities 9.9%
  2. Wellness Tourism  6.5%
  3. Wellness Real estate 6.4%
  4. Fitness and Mind Body 4.8%
  5. Workplace Wellness 4.8%

Spa Facilities

If we use the Global Wellness Institute’s 2007 definition of a spa as:

“establishments that promote wellness through the provision of therapeutic and other

professional services aimed at renewing the body, mind, and spirit.”

A Pilates company can look to add sessions and complimenting services that need not be the traditional Wet side pools, saunas, steam rooms etc. that come to be associated with the Spa market.

By adding classes and services like Myofascial release, massage, tai chi, relaxation sessions etc.  to core Pilates services an entrepreneurial Pilates micro or Small business can harness the Wellness Client’s interests in the ‘multi-product’ spa concept by bringing an ‘own style’ spa offering without the overhead of the traditional ‘Wet’ Spa market.

Wellness Tourism

When considering how your Pilates oriented business could possibly harness the growth in Wellness tourism it is useful to treat Tourism as both the product catalyst as well as the potential product supplier.

If we split the consumption of Tourist Wellness products into two categories it is easier to consider where our businesses might fit in.

The Global Wellness Institute categorise wellness tourists into ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’ tourists.    A ‘Primary’ traveller is inspired in their choice of venue by a wellness urge whereas the ‘Secondary’ traveller intends to maintain wellness whilst travelling.

Given that the vast majority of Tourist Wellness product consumption occurs within the Secondary traveller group and that this category is growing faster than Primary wellness tourism – it is here that most of the benefits to our Pilates (or newly created ‘own’ spa offering) businesses can be considered.

The fact that Hotels chains are increasingly offering in room exercise equipment and add on services like pillow, mattress and lighting choices to improve sleep whilst Airports increasingly offer Gyms and spa treatment services walking tracks etc whilst passengers are in transit is all a part of the attempt to harness the movement towards Wellness secondary spend in travellers.

At one time it would have seemed far fetched to suggest that we could sell our Pilates services to an Airport or to a tourist destination but if you consider that others in the mind-body sector such as Yoga are ahead of the game here and museums like the USA Brooklyn museum offers one of the largest yoga classes in the area with 200- 300 participants within an exhibition hall and yoga classes also compliment New York Rubin Museum’s collection of art from Tibetan and Himalean and Indian displays.

Yoga and Pilates, although very different to practitioners, were classified together by the United Nations World Tourist Organisation (UNWTO) in 2007 as having ‘holistic tourism’ growth expectations. They identified the market as driven by single females from key source markets North America, the UK and Europe, and increasingly Asia, seeking a deeper, richer experience alongside their main holiday.

Mintel’s Holistic Tourism TTA, published in February 2009 entitled Yoga and Pilates Tourism showed Pilates tourism growing alongside ecotourism, active and adventure tourism and gastronomic tourism.    It showed that Pilates Operators within 45 minute easily travelling (taxi, car, bus, train) tourist destinations (large towns, areas of natural beauty, stately homes, exhibition halls, shopping malls, museums etc.) could increase significantly tourist visits by marketing to the traveller via tourist portals etc and by creating products to make a visit worthwhile –  a spa style half day pass with the opportunity of a Pilates class, one on one private and maybe a massage being more likely to attract the tourist market as opposed to purely marketing a classes timetable.   

Likewise connecting with local tourist operators, restauranteurs etc to be a part of a holistic holiday offering offers potential.

On the other hand Pilates studios have considerable success in extending their standard offering to their clientele by organising retreats or holidays based around Pilates –  for example as well as fixed venues in the UK or abroad there are now specialist residential tourist boat operators in Turkey who provide a Pilates only offering to instructors to bring their customers on holiday for a week, the teacher instructs for a couple of hours a day whilst the boat moves from one location to the next.    

Wellness Real Estate

Increasingly consumers are putting high up their list environmental and wellness opportunities in the way that they have always valued quality of schools, doctors and transport network when choosing where they will live.

This is true of all age range with the more recent movement to build the ‘retirement village’.  Preciously the newly retired market and active elderly population were not considered as seeing wellness products as a key influencer in choice of residence.

Within Europe there is an increasing interest of wellness focussed consumers to seek local wellness experiences that can deliver the benefits of experiences consumed whilst engaged in tourism and this should be of particular interest to the wider looking Pilates business who might be able to extend elements of Spa, Retreat, Excursion, Healthy Eating, Wellness products and clothing to their core business or to look to integrate their business into local real estate projects and local housing developments etc. to create a community wellness centre as opposed to Pilates studio or to combine business interests with others in the Wellness sector Beauticians, Hairdressers, Complimentary Therapists, Mind-Body and mainstream fitness practitioners to run a small personal business within a larger wellness focussed business .

The Global Wellness Institute research suggests that new or existing residential developments positioned at the middle or upper ends of the market can command a 10% – 15% price premium compared to similar projects without.     The key reason for this is greater demand than provision.

The opportunity for entrepreneurial Pilates studios and businesses to link with developers and projects to locate a wellness studio within the development is clear as is the reason to expect the developer or management company to want to offer preferential terms to wellness service operators to establish themselves alongside the real estate. 

Workplace Wellness

Whilst at a ‘banal’ level some companies embrace fitness classes, massage at the desk

and a positive attitude to certain other ‘wellness’ initiatives – often because Boards of Directors feel that the investment may drive down costs in areas such as absenteeism, staff recruitment and staff retention this is really missing the signals coming from Wellness seeking customers.   The approach of Directors needs to be far more ‘Cosmic’ and recognise that increasing numbers of the working population are looking outside their personal needs towards a vision of the needs of wider society and even the needs of the World.

If Pilates businesses are going to make a move to capture ‘wellness’ revenue from within the Workplaces of other companies they are well advised to first take an internal look at their own business and ask the question whether the whole operation and business choices of the owners and employees when looking to attract and inspire customers who are increasingly making buying decisions based on their collective wellness values and on their emotions towards issues like sustainability, resource waste and by association the wellness of others as opposed to just themselves.  

Once our own Pilates business ‘brand perception’ matches the wider social and environmental as well as the more specific ‘product and service’ needs to allow the wellness customer to identify that this company cares about what they personally care about  the product offering of the company will inevitably change in its scope and style and this will make the company much more ‘credible’  when it looks to bring services to third party workplaces.

Choosing the best businesses to work with is of course key and it remains a fact, whether we like it or not, that not all companies will be the right fit – neither at management level nor at worker level.

Many businesses employees are too focussed on basic needs, such as paying the rent/mortgage, job stability, workplace safety, etc to see Wellness initiatives at work as a key advantage – however there are a growing number of businesses often multinationals or SME’s in specific sectors where both workers and management workers are in demand from employers and there is competition to retain staff.  

Traditionally workplace wellness programmes have typically revolved around initiatives focussed on preventing stress, diabetes and other chronic illnesses or improving employee morale through initiatives targeting work-life balance all of which are relevant to service companies offering Mind and Body based products

Increasingly there is a move away from traditional focusses on Workplace Wellness with an increasing focus on creating environments where employees as individuals can be successful and thrive at their work and to achieve this they are looking at the workforce as an entity and engineering ways to see that the community at work can thrive believing that it is this culture that has the greatest success in attracting and retaining team members.

Employers in these sectors are often motivated to build a wellness programme within the workplace to tackle issues of absenteeism, maximise staff retention, improve morale, improve recruitment success, and increase productivity within the workforce.    Whilst the USA market is by far the biggest spender on Workplace wellness – driven by the fact that staff healthcare costs are so heavily

Placed on the employer the growth in investment in this sector is also growing in Europe.

Pilates businesses wanting a piece of the Workplace wellness pie need to understand the cultural goals of the organisations that they are approaching and consider in advance of any approach how they can add to the ‘happiness’ and ‘wellness’ of the workforce and to do this there will most likely be a need to augment think about how they can augment their core Pilates classes offering with a wider variety of services and products including health screening, fitness assessments, incentive Programs maybe with wellness prizes, promoting the use of wearable devices like FitBit, coordinating Nutrition, Weight Loss, Stress, sleep counselling services and offering targeted corporate campaigns for type 2 diabetes, obesity and maybe Women’s Wellness.    Generally companies are more likely to embrace a coordinated wellness offering than a series of individuals offering a limited service.

In 2019 I am working with Pilates operators who are opening Pilates Apparatus and wellness studios in both retirement villages and large ‘new Village plans’.

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.