Take your classes online with TeamUp's new Zoom integration!

The Pilates Journey A customer report by TeamUp

Real customer research for
Pilates businesses.

Get marketing insights based on this report and more.
Sign up for the TeamUp newsletter here:

Introduction to the Fitness Journey research

Adrian is 51 years old. For the last 7 years, he has worked the same job where he sits at a computer. He commutes for 40 minutes on the tube in London, and he socializes with friends, mostly from work. He goes for walks sometimes but doesn’t do much exercise.

Then, something shifts. Something changes in Adrian’s life. He wants to get fit. What happened to cause the shift? We don’t know.

So, Adrian looks around. He sees a group running in the park near his house. He could do that, maybe. He walks past a yoga studio. Maybe once a week? His coworker goes to a spin class twice a week. That could be fun, but he doesn’t want to socialize with just his coworkers. He wants to make new friends. How is Adrian choosing where to workout? We don’t know.

After a few months, Adrian finally decides to go for it. He decides to have an open mind and check out a few different kinds of classes. When he goes online to check out what is close by, he looks at websites. One website shows impressive people with big muscles competing with each other. He’s not sure he would fit in. How is he choosing whether to book? We don’t know.

He decides to book a class, and shows up. He even bought a new pair of shorts for the occasion. But, he’s nervous. What does he need in this first class to make him feel that this is the right place for him? We don’t know.

Fitness business owners have strong instincts for answering these questions. When you decided to run a successful fitness business, you had to pay attention to what drives your customers to choose you, book with you, and stay with you. This research is meant to supplement your instinct.

We based our research methodology on a customer research framework called Jobs To Be Done. JTBD investigates the how do people see the problem your solution solves for them.

With this data, fitness business owners can identify with this problem in a way that resonates with how your customers speak, or with the situation happening in their lives, to make sure they buy from you. This work makes sure your business attracts the people you are trying to attract.

The results in this report can be used for company strategy, class planning, and marketing strategy, messaging, and distribution.

You can use the information from this report when making big decisions, planning a marketing campaign, choosing where to put your marketing, when you’re writing out flyers, emails and web pages, hiring contractors, and onboarding new hires.

The Challenge

i-Pilates is a boutique Pilates studio north of London, UK. Jen Day's students love her teaching style and say that they don't want anyone else to teach. Jen has only so much time in a day, and her classes are full. Without the opportunity to hire another teacher, or increase class times and size, how will she choose to grow her studio?

The stages of the Pilates Journey

Unaware
1
I walk to work, that seems like enough.
Aware
2
Lifting my child is starting to hurt my back, I need to do something about it.
Interest
3
This pilates studio is a block away from my flat, I should check it out!
Action
4
I can schedule in a free day pass online! I’ll give it a shot.
Referral
5
I haven’t felt better in my life! I should invite my sister to join me.

The Research

Jen and TeamUp worked together on a customer research project. We sent a survey to her 130 members and requested interviews from 20 of her best customers. 58 people filled out the survey, and 10 people agreed to interviews. That was enough to give Jen the insight she needed to plan her next steps.

The Experts

They reviewed the research and provided helpful insights and feedback that you can see throughout the results!

Claire Atkin
Marketing Expert
Tim Green
TeamUp
Jeni Ferguson
Jeni Ferguson Pilates, Sheffield
Karen Grinter
Northants Pilates, Northampton
Melanie Christou
Melanie Christou Pilates, London

What prompted people to look for
something like i-Pilates?

What were i-Pilates members struggling with before they found Pilates? What happened
in life to cause that struggle?

Help me become more fit & flexible
18
Help me age gracefully
13
Help me recover from chronic pain
11
Help me recover from an injury
7

Help me become more fit and flexible

Survey mentions: 18

Just had my second child, realised my core was very weak, which was making other forms of exercise like running more difficult. Was also experiencing back pain because of my weak core.

Flexibility became an issue. A realisation that doing up boots and shoes was a considered action.

Awareness of getting less mobile due to poor work / life balance resulting in feeling stiff, less flexible, lower back pain and other niggling aches & pains.

Yoga, definitely was working for me. Going walking, yes. And tennis. Everything was working, it was just sort of that I wasn't doing as much strength stuff as I could have been doing. Even though i-Pilates is not designed as a strength thing, there are lots of strengthening exercises, as well as stretching and stuff. I think that I was lacking in that area.

I was at the gym and I was doing a lot of weight lifting, but it just wasn't giving me the sort of core strength that I needed.

Help me age gracefully

Survey mentions: 13

Age! Mobility seemed to be the key to staying fit in old age. I had lost 1 stone on doctors orders but left hip was still causing pain especially when walking. I was 72 when I saw your advert.

When I felt my balance and my flexibility were getting worse. I’ve always had posture problems and small back aches that I didn’t want to get worse as I get older.

Early 50s. Consistently overweight and starting to get aching hips and knees. Onset of osteoarthritis! Looked at my mum who was becoming increasingly immobile and decided that was not going to be me in 20 years time! Needed an all round exercise for strength and flexibility and pilates seemed to fit the bill.

I knew I needed something because I was in the menopause, my body was getting a little bit fatty here and there, and I knew I had to like approach the problem constructively. I all of a sudden realized that I needed to - probably the way your body changes in menopause is the thing that makes you think you need it.

I've been doing some other exercise. I walk quite a lot, and I was doing a Zumba class and everything, and just felt that it wasn't really helping my joints and stuff.

When I was getting twingey backs and my knees used to be a bit achey, and I just remember feeling better when I was stretching properly before. Because I used to do Pilates or yoga when I was in my 20s. Then had a long break. Aerobically, it wasn't bad, what I was doing. It was keeping me fairly fit, and keeping my weight down. But I didn't feel that it was really addressing aging, really. The body aging.

Help me recover from chronic pain

Survey mentions: 11

Post children my core was week, my back was sore and i didnt have an exercise routine.

I had neck/shoulder tension issues resulting from busy lifestyle and bad posture.

I realised I needed to start Pilates around 12 years ago when I was diagnosed with mild Scoliosis. I enjoyed the Pilates class I attended at the hall in Wheathampstead but I changed my working days and so an evening class suited me better. I also felt that I wasn't being pushed enough in my original class as the teacher told me to do exercises differently sometimes and I felt that my strength was not increasing.

It was recommended by my physiotherapist when I had lower back ache. I’ve suffered with lower back pain since pregnancy (20 years ago). My osteopath suggested Pilates to maintain a healthy back and posture.

Recalled how much I’d enjoyed practising Pilates years ago, but had since struggled to find the right teacher and venue. Really needed to get back into the discipline of regular classes to help with back pain.

My lower back was getting twingey, even with the walking and everything. I started going to see my chiropractor about the same time because I was getting some low back issues and occasionally some knee issues. My chiropractor's very into the Pilates thing anyway, so she's quite good.

I'd had a few problems with my feet. I got a lot of back pain, a lot of foot pain, knee pain. I probably was quite skeptical that it would make any difference really. But it did seem to help my back pain quite a bit when I did it. So I stuck with it and carried on, and I've been doing it in different places every since.

Help me recover from an injury

Survey mentions: 7

I hurt my back and was recommended to take up Pilates.

Sore shoulder and bad posture, weak core. I used to do pilates a few years ago and enjoyed it and was recommended i-Pilates by Physio.

I had had an operation... my personal trainer had gone abroad and I needed to strengthen my core again and develop strength and fitness.

I had always practised yoga until my life was interrupted by breast cancer; following surgery I needed to get back to fitness.

When I suffered a herniated disc.

How do people find i-Pilates?

How did customers find i-Pilates?

A friend or neighbor
29
Google
10
Advertisement
9

A friend or neighbor

Survey mentions: 29

Knew about Pilates for over 40 years but discovered i-Pilates from a local friend.

I had a friend and she was doing Pilates and she said it was fantastic and she's a very broken person in terms of her body. And she highly recommended it, so it just worked.

I moved into this area five years ago, which is when I started with i-Pilates. I started with i-Pilates about four years ago, I think. I tried the classes at the gym. Pilates classes. They were fine. I did a couple, they were okay. I spoke to lots of people. I think practically everyone I spoke to 'round here knew of Jen, and i-Pilates. Very positive from everybody that I spoke to about the class.

A friend of mine does Pilates and she said that Jen was doing a workshop so we went along to the workshop and I started doing a bit of Pilates. I trusted the friend, she's a good Pilates teacher in this area and I'd been to a few of her classes and I'd been to sort of a few other classes and she just spoke very highly of Jen.

Google

Survey mentions: 10

I Googled “Pilates in Wheathampstead.”

A Google search. I wanted something really local as I can be easily persuaded (by myself!) not to drive out once I am home from work, particularly on dark evenings!

It was on the Web. I think it was mainly on the Web, really, that I looked. I didn't pick up a book or anything like that. And I didn't talk to anyone who'd done it. It was just doing a bit of research on my own.

I Googled Pilates and Hampstead, which is the village we live in, and I think it might have been one of the first ones to come up on my Google search. Bodyfit wasn't... what made me inquire with them is that it's seriously local to me, so it's on the golf course on which I live. The website looked funky, it looked young and funky and cool, so that probably is what attracted me to it.

Advertisement

Survey mentions: 9

The local Wheathampstead monthly magazine containing your advert.

I saw a local advert.

Via The Old Brewhouse originally.

From advertising range of classes in my local area and talking to friends.

Saw a flyer in local shop.

When I saw [Jen's] flyers saying she was just starting something up in the village, I thought okay, now's the time to go for it. And let's just give it a whirl, see what I thought.

What stood out about i-Pilates?

What were the differentiators that stood out for customers?

Good location, lesson times or class size
23
Teacher's motivation
18
Recommendation
9
Approachable lesson styles
5

Good location, lesson times or class size (convenience)

Survey mentions: 23

Convenience of venue and like the facilities.

It was close to where I lived and at a convenient time for me.

It was local and convenient initially and then I enjoyed the friendly environment.

The website was professional and presented lots of information about Jen and pilates. I contacted Jen who was very friendly and although I was nervous to join a class, I felt encouraged to try it out. The studio looked lovely and the location was good for me.

Local, knowledgeable, approachable.

The going there, it is very local to me. Getting there and being with the group, it's quite nice actually being with a group of people who are fairly regular though they change.

It's a beautiful studio.

Well, it's a combination I think I like having a regular slot that's my slot. So I don't have to rebook it. Let's say I was at a gym, like my daughter is, if she does a class there and she has to kind of rebook it every week to get back on that slot. I couldn't be bothered with things like that. It's nice to know that's my slot, Thursday at 9:00. That's helpful. How close it is to where I live is important. The fact that's it completely, there's no issues with parking. It's a nice location.

When I first went in, I felt the location was amazing. The studio, fairly newly done. It was really, really lovely. She's done it more since, actually. I like the location. I liked Jen, straight away.

It's a handy location for me. So it's quite easy to go to. Good times. The people there in the group, I sort of know. I've known them, quite a lot of them for a long time through school, mums and that sort of thing. Just quite a friendly atmosphere. And I really like Jen. I think she's a really good teacher. I think that's one of the main reasons I go really.

I mean that's really easy: I book my classes. It's very easy to change if I can't make one and I can book for another day. That's really is great for me. That really makes a difference that you're able to do that because at the moment only doing it one class a week. If you miss it, it would, you couldn't do make it up in the week. That would be a real shame. I would miss it. I would do my own thing at home, but I would miss that class. Just being able to book that or rebook that online if I needed to. That's really helpful.

Teacher's motivation and professionalism

Survey mentions: 18

Jen herself is to me the main thing. If she gave it up, if she suddenly said next week, I'm closing this all down, I'd be devastated. Because I could find Pilates somewhere because I need to do that stretching but I think Jen herself is the key. Her personality, her commitment, her professionalism, all those things are the things that I enjoy about the class. I feel like I get a lot out of it.

What I love about the whole thing about Jen's lessons, is I love the social aspect, the little bit of philosophy she throws in there. Her personality is very engaging, appealing. She is funny. And professionalism - I really admire that. She always wants to improve herself and improve her teaching. I think that's brilliant.

The chats and little pearls of wisdom, definitely. It is much more than you might think. Just talking at the beginning or end of a session. Jen chats about things she's learnt, things she's come across since she's read that might help us or not. Take it and leave it stuff, but she doesn't try to ram it down your throat. I am always very interested in it. I find it really interesting.

When Pilates was first [popularized], back in the early 2000s, a class of more than four was considered sort of compromising the ability of the teacher. I think you can go up to, I think Jen goes up to nine or ten, but she's attentive and she knows everybody and she knows everyone's bodies. Almost naturally, like once she gets to know you she knows what you can and can't do. And that's important. So I think that's fine for her to keep the class size to that kind of level.

Because of finding out how much Jen does to update her skills. She's always up-skilling. She's always doing something different. It always feeds through to us. Whatever she does. Whatever course she does. Whatever book she reads. It always filters through, which is good 'cause it's an ever-evolving class. It's an ever-changing class.

She makes you want to move on and do better. I'd miss my little group as well that I go mostly to Pilates with. Just the whole thing, really. It's certainly the best ... I've been to lots over the 20 years, or whatever, I've been doing it. This is the best one that I've been to, definitely, without a doubt.

Because there are so many Pilates classes out there with people not really thinking about what they are doing, it's very easy. I think anyone can go along and run a class but it's quite obvious that Jen spends a lot of time doing movement in her own body and thinking about what she can give to her classes and so the classes are always varied, there's always a challenge in there, and I think her passion for Pilates comes through very strongly in the classes that she gives and it's very few classes that you can go to where someone has that kind of passion and I think that for me , that's the difference between going to a Pilates class around the corner or traveling to a Pilates class half an hour away.

Recommendation

Survey mentions: 9

Physio recommendation.

Personal recommendation from a professional. Then extensive training and experience of Jen.

Approachable lesson styles

Survey mentions: 5

Pilates was suitable for all, beginners, and up to including "seniors" which was the most important thing for me.

Small class size. Also, it was a special Beginners group.

Lovely comfortable setting, able to work to your own level & feeling safe in the process.

What I enjoyed about it is that every class was different. You never knew what you would be doing. I mean obviously you've got the basic things like the hundreds and stuff like that but every week it was a different routine.

What made members realize that i-Pilates was right for them?

What were the differentiators that stood out for customers?

The instructor really cared about my well-being
25
My physical and mental health improved
21
The classes were welcoming
5
I became more aware of and in touch with my body
4

The instructor really cared about my well-being

Survey mentions: 25

YOU! It's still the reason. Even now that i live much further away and can no longer walk there. I love a small class too. It feels special and magical and personal.

As above, the friendliness of the instructor, the location of the class, the class sizes in particular as I had been to a pilates class years ago where there were about 25 women and the instructor just did the class at the front and didn't walk round to make sure everyone was doing it correctly.

I instantly liked Jen and could see she was passionate about her craft and I felt so good after each taking each class.

The quality of the classes and the individual care and attention. The fact that you registered my knee issue and remained aware of it felt very professional. The consistently high quality of the classes and the fact that you both look as if you are enjoying teaching rather than 'going through the motions'.

I felt confident that I was being taught by someone who was not only knowledgeable but cared and someone who could explain / articulate clearly 'how to do pilates'.

So, Jen always has nuggets of information. I've been surprised at how much other stuff I've learned. For example, about nutrition, and about life balance, that has surprised me how much I've learned outside of the actual Pilates. Just living in a more balanced and healthy and nutritional way. I do seem to learn lots there, and she just has a lovely approach to live. I feel like it's more like lifestyle coaching as well as Pilates.

Just as soon as I stepped into the class I could see that she just takes it very seriously. She shares with us that she's gone through other courses. I tell you the biggest thing I think for me, is that every single week she's worked out a new lesson plan. So, in the previous Pilates I've done it pretty much been the same thing week in and week out. Where as Jen has really thought through, she explains about the muscle groups that we're using and she gives the feedback about when we're doing well, or what we're doing wrong. Yeah, so she's obviously inspired by Pilates herself and she kind of is infectious in passing it on I guess.

I've been there with a particular ache or a pain, and come away without it. That's quite a thing. Hamstring problems, or whatever. If you tell Jen at the beginning of the class, she can generally guide you in the right direction. That's probably it, really. Just literally feeling stiff or whatever, and coming away feeling better.

My physical and mental health improved

Survey mentions: 21

Every time I walk out of a class, I feel that I have learned something new and my mind and energy levels are on a high - I feel like a better person.

I understood the analogies used, to know I was making the right moves and felt a benefit almost immediately.

I am doing a lot of walking and jogging and I felt it was strengthening my core and it was a completely different type of exercise that complimented my other exercises and made me stronger.

I had a private lesson which really made me feel that I would be able to cope with the classes without feeling embarrassed or out of my depth. I find Jen to be an excellent teacher and I really enjoy the class. I now no longer have any hip pain, walk without pain, and no more pain killers. Really wish the doctor would have suggested Pilates instead of painkillers!

I think for me it was about having time for myself and doing something that would help me in the future stay a bit younger, stay flexible, stay active for as long as I could. And Pilates, as far as I could see from having read about it a bit before I spotted the flyer and whatnot, was one of those things that you can do way into old age. And that will help you stay young, stay flexible, stay stable. Stay mobile, really.

More flexibility. Less visits to the chiropractor. Just general well-being as well, because I just think anything that works on the spine just gives you the real feeling of clarity and well-being. Just because I feel my clearer headed when I've been, because I feel like I've stretched everything out, and everything's moving properly.

Rolling like a ball and what else ... I mean it's just ... I think it's my stamina, my stamina is much better, my ... I want to say flexibility but my ability to do positions moves that I wasn't able to do, and that again is a challenge. The other day I did the spine stretch forward and I did it really well and I was so proud of myself but you can take that into your everyday life, can't you. So when you bend down to pick something up you don't collapse through your center, you're aware that you need to sort of come up and over and so in everyday life and you know, you can apply it but also just more challenging things I can start to do now.

The classes were welcoming

Survey mentions: 5

The classes were welcoming, pitched at about the right level for me whilst also enabling me to improve.

The environment was welcoming, Jen reassured me that I could do it from the get go. The classes were focussed but not scary. It became my thing, time to focus on me, time to get better all helped by the fact that I didn't know anyone else there.

Once I'd had a couple of sessions in Jen's class, that was for me, and as I say, I didn't have that much spare time, if you like. Once I'd found something that really suited me I never really wanted to go anywhere else. I guess the way it made me feel. I ached afterwards, a day or two afterwards. But I was seeing some benefits.

You got a few times, obviously, you're not gonna make a decision on one session, and I think we just felt that she was... we liked her, hugely, as a person and that we just got confident over a few weeks that she was a really good teacher.

I don't get bored of it considering that I've been going for so long. I'd never think of trying a different teacher or going somewhere else. And I think that's potentially surprising to a few people that ... I think you'd find it hard to find anybody who goes regularly to Jen's classes that would want to go anywhere else and it's all down to her.

That was very simple. Attention to detail, attention to the integrity of the exercise, a very keen eye watching you do it. So that one-to-one told me a lot about the way Jen worked. And the fact that she keeps her classes relatively small as it maintains the integrity of Pilates really. I say integrity a lot because it means a lot to me.

I became more aware of and in touch with my body

Survey mentions: 4

It made me think about my posture and highlighted everything I was doing wrong!

I knew it was making a difference. I stopped ballet way back because of a back problem and so I've always been aware that that's an issue that I have to kind of manage and deal with. I found that the classes were on-the-whole helping that. [My] core was keeping strong and I was keeping supple.

To be honest, I didn't think that it would be necessarily the key, that it would something that I wanted to do. So, I was a little bit surprised to find how much I enjoyed it. I thought, "Right, I want to be a part of this."

I didn't really envisage that i-Pilates would be the answer. I thought, "Well, I'm fine, thank you. I'm relatively well and to be okay for my age. That's just fine." Having discovered it, I thought, "Oh gosh, I definitely could do with that now. This makes such a difference."

It is something that I've done and thought, "I know this is doing me good, so I'm going to carry on doing it." I'm sure it was doing me good, but I never really enjoyed it. Whether its my maturity, perhaps I'm a bit more mature now, I don't know, maybe more receptive. I really don't know.

I mean I'm trying to think, I would say pretty soon I thought, yep this is the right class for me. I mean you do this a few weeks and you're getting used to somebody's style and getting to know the other people in the class. I would say within four or five weeks I was hooked. I'd come out feeling taller from the class. I'd come out feeling more stretched. Her sort of energy is also quite infectious. I'd come out feeling good about my day and good about myself and feeling I'd had some time to myself to kind of do some exercise and that was important. Yes, I'd say fairly quickly.

I walked out of the session thinking wow, I feel amazing. I feel quite powerful, I feel quite ... really just reinvigorated.

What are the ways life is better now for students of i-Pilates?

What benefits did customers experience from going to i-Pilates?

I have a stronger core and better balance now
28
My pain is improving
9
I have a better flexibility
8
Listen to my body
8

I have a stronger core and better balance now

Survey mentions: 29

My core has strengthened but I am also much more flexible in my upper body/ thus has come in very handy for dealing with recent surgeries.

I now have confidence in my my core (including my pelvic floor which was weak after 3 pregnancies!).

I could certainly feel the benefits myself. And it certainly helped me in my running and looking after me generally. I felt more stable, I could do things like press-ups. I could do plank, I could do various exercises. And they became easier the more we practiced them.

It is things like just being aware that you are more stable. You've got more strength to do various things like just some of the exercise Jen takes us through now, I can now do fairly, not easily. I wouldn't say it was easy. None of it ever is. But certainly with more confidence. And it certainly made me feel a lot more confident about taking on other exercises or going out more by myself, running et cetera. Because I feel fairly secure and fairly stable. For me it's more about opening up other things in life as well.

Well I'm pretty certain I'm more flexible, I'm stronger. Being flexible I think will help me in my old age, I think it will help me to keep access for longer, I think it will help to stop any, niggles that might come along the way and it will help me to continue to be stronger, or strong and avert injury doing the other sports that I like to do, namely tennis and golf. I think core strength and I think building muscle is really important now ... we now understand how important it is when we get older is that our bone density and our muscle capacity just ... you know ... I mean I'm in my early fifties now and that's why it's important to me. Just ... and the more flexible you are, you don't want to become hunched or not able to run for a bus or whatever. Yeah, I think to keep ... you know I see how inflexible my mother is for example, there's no way she could touch her toes. That's important to me, to think that when I'm seventy, or even eighty, I'm still going to be able to do a roll-down and touch my toes and have a reasonable amount of strength around my upper body and in my core.

I feel [Pilates] just holds me all together.

I think it makes you on the whole it makes you stronger. I would say it's more kind of maintenance. It's maintaining where otherwise I would be losing. It is important to maintain strength and flexibility because without it I would really struggle with more activities of daily living I think even. I wouldn't, I think it would effect my health. It's really important.

My pain is improving

Survey mentions: 9

[I can now] run around my crazy life at breakneck speed with no niggles, aches and pains. I feel strong (well unless Jen has made me stand on one leg for an hour!) and getting stronger.

Over the last few years, Pilates has become harder for me due to knee and arthritis issues but I seem to be better at the single and double leg stretches.

I've not had a recurrence of back spasms as yet. Living in a pub with low ceilings and ducking 25 times a day. I feel more flexible most of the time.

I do feel that I've had less back pain since I've been doing Pilates every week. Pilates generally has definitely made me less stiff, and feel better.

Just generally, the knee pain, I haven't had anything for two or three years. My lower back is great. I don't have any issues with that. I just know that it's the right thing for me, Pilates.

I have better flexibility

Survey mentions: 8

Touch my toes and press up on my knees. It’s a positive start.

Get out of bed without feeling stiff in the morning!

I am much more aware of my own body, am better able to address the weak points and am appreciative of how important core strength is to my daily living/movement. It’s enabled me to avoid frequent visits to my osteopath!

I'm absolutely certain it has prevented me injury. Like, pulling calf muscles and things like that because you're stretching and working those muscles and I think it's only when you don't do that that you are more prone to hurting yourself when you're doing other activities.

Well, let's just say that my body is deteriorating over time and I can still do quite a few things. What I can't do is more what I'm concerned with, for instance, I can't do a lunge. But I can do most other things. And I maintain being able to do that much, which is really important to me.

I got really annoying arthritis in the bottom of my spine, L5, S1 area. I started to get, oh God what's that thing again? I get double sided sciatica sometimes. That's for like twelve to fourteen weeks. And the only thing that relieves it is Pilates. When I come out of Pilates, for two days it's fine. I can go to a physio or an osteo and I'm fine for a day or two and then it starts up again, but I'd much rather go to Pilates 'cause that's what to do anyway.

Why it's important to you to be more mobile? Well, because I'm getting older and the last thing I want to be is not able to live an active life. That's, you know, that's the reason. I want to- You wake up- Well, getting older is no joke, it's not very pleasant in some ways, particularly if you've been sort of quite active and doing this and doing that over the years and your body is sort of like going against you a bit. So I think that it's really important to be able to maintain the fluidity of my body as much as I can, even though I have cranky joints.

I don't feel stiff when I get out of bed in the morning. I was beginning to feel a bit old. When you hit your 50's you suddenly realize your body's just not working as well as it did. And I've found that since I started with Jen I just feel like I'm, I'm still definitely getting older but, actually I just feel like it keeps that stiffness and sort of old age feeling at bay.

Well, it makes me feel more positive about myself. It makes me feel like I'm looking after myself and particularly with my bit of arthritis, that I'm keeping myself flexible which is a really positive thing about managing getting older really. And just maintaining some flexibility.

Listen to my body

Survey mentions: 8

It's making me more aware of my posture out of class and I'm trying to stretch regularly.

Feel more connected with my body and therefore more in control and pushing back age process.

That hour of just being focused on what your body can achieve. I think everyone needs that. It's so easy to go through life doing things for other people, working hard, having hobbies. But that spending time actually keeping your body working well I think is something we often neglect. And that's the bit that I couldn't lose now. I mean, even if I moved away or Jen moved away or something happened I would want to somehow reconnect with that somewhere else.

It's just more fulfilling, I think. It just makes you feel like, yeah. Life is good. It gives you a chance to get on with other things that you wanna do and knowing that you're looking after yourself as well. And you're not having to visit the doctor with aches and pains and not being able to do things that you wanna do.

I think I've always found it very valuable. I wouldn't say the results were surprising, as such, because it's a slow, steady thing for me. It's a progressive thing. For me that is more satisfying, in a way, because you feel like you've got an input into it and you can see the progression as you go through.

I feel more confident. I feel probably younger than I would have done. I'm in my 60s now, I don't feel like I'm in my 60s. And I think that's partly down to i-Pilates, mixing with a different group of people, mixing with youngsters. Keeping myself active. When I think of my mother at 60 it's, people were old in those days. Makes me more adventurous. Makes me willing to try new things. Doesn't make me think I shouldn't be doing that 'cause of my age, or I shouldn't be thinking about doing that. Or I shouldn't be having adventures any more. It just makes you still feel alive.

I definitely feel more positive and I like her approach about being kind and being kind to yourself, and just sharing love. I like that loving yourself and loving others, she definitely has that. I think I feel calmer, happier, more considerate probably.

Well, I think it actually keeps me really positive. Yeah. I'm not so worried about deterioration of the body. I would be very sad not to be doing it. I think I would notice the difference if I wasn't to have the classes. Definitely. I feel secure enough in knowing that I'm doing, that it's beneficial. That I'm not at risk of injury or anything like that.

Other interesting notes

My Pilates is my time for myself, that's the one thing that I will not stop and so I always make time in my week to take time out for myself to do my Pilates because it makes me feel good, and then I can come home and be a better person for my children and my husband.
I go on a Monday morning, I quite often think "Can I really be bothered?", I felt like that this morning. But I always come out feeling really good. And it's not necessarily physical, it's mentally as well. I think it lifts my mood. I think all exercise does, to be fair. I think you always feel better. If you're feeling a bit low, I think the advantage is that you're booked in and you've paid for it so you jolly well go.
And she has to put in, it doesn't happen very often, she puts in someone to cover her class, or you know she's having a week away and she puts someone in for the whole week, and it's not the same. It's just not the same. I mean we go. But it's not the same. If there was anything that I wanted to see or to improve it would be I suppose the opportunity to do another class with Jen at a time that suits me.
The good instructing really, really, really makes the difference and the good observation of people’s bodies because all peoples bodies are different and people’s needs are different. I think Jen must be looking to cater to all those different needs within a class. It is important to always be aware of that individual needs.
You don't have to be an athlete. You can be overweight, you can be weak, you can be whatever, it doesn't matter. You can still get a massive benefit from it. I think that makes it very appealing.
I think Pilates is the only sensible form of exercise. If you combine it with some kind of aerobic, walking for instance. To me those two things together are as much as anyone needs to do.
Having time out to not think of all the minutiae of every day is nice. And I'm going to a really, and her studio is a really nice space where I sort of feel, I walk in and I feel calm and she concentrates on, sometimes on just breathing. And she talks to us about just sort of focusing on ourselves and thinking of things that we're grateful for. So there's a little bit of kind of spiritual thoughts, sort of mental work as well. Just taking, calming our minds as well as focusing on our bodies. Which I think is really good and beneficial.
She's always got time. If you wanna talk to her about something, a specific issue. If she doesn't know about it, she'll research it and come back to you.
She must spend a fortune on up-skilling. 'Cause she loves it so much, and loves the way that Pilates works and everything. She'll look at every angle of it, and she's got an open mind to everything. She's just a really, really passionate ... you can just tell it's her passion. When somebody works within their passion, you just know, don't you? Nothing's too much trouble. She just keeps moving forward and evolving. No, she's an excellent teacher. I'm glad everyone's said that.
Jen's actually quite a long way from me. I travel to see her, she's about 30 minute drive from me, 30, 35, 40 minute drive. I still do other Pilates classes but I go to Jen once a week. The reason I go to other Pilates classes is because she was so inspiring that I decided that I wanted to be a Pilates teacher.
I always thought that the Pilates that I had done, that's what ... that's how Pilates was, I didn't realize that there was this ... I didn't realize there was so much more to it and that you can always learn, you can just continue to learn and develop your practice. I just thought you went along each week and you did the same old same old thing and all of a sudden I realized wow, you know, you can ... there's no end to this. You can do whatever you want with it, you can take it wherever you want to take it.
You know what I did, maybe not that I was aware of it but I came out and I was sort of quite buzzing with it and then each class every week I'd come out and think wow, yes, you know, she then teaches us something new and I think oh yeah, that's a great idea, that's really good, how can I use that all, you know. Then you drive and you think wow I feel so good, I feel really good today, you know, and it almost becomes an addiction doesn't it. Where it makes you feel really good and happy it becomes quite addictive.
Jen is sort of the brand of i-Pilates a bit. And I think that's what I go for, and I think that's what a lot of people say as well. I think if she employed other teachers and sort of branched out, then I wouldn't feel quite the same as I do to go to her lessons.

Marketing Ideas for Pilates

How do you grow your business when it's you the customers want to work with? Boutique Pilates studios have a special challenge: the classes are small, and the students have high standards. When you can’t grow your class sizes, and it’s hard to find instructors who are as passionate as you are, how do you grow your business?

Melanie Christou says:

I think it's a bit of a limiting belief that other instructors won't be as passionate as you. What it requires is a careful process whereby the other teacher is introduced to the clients gradually. For example, co-teaching before the new teacher leads classes themselves is a great way to gradually introduce a new teacher to the clients. It's also about sharing the story and motivation of the other teachers through the newsletters, website/marketing etc.

Claire Atkin at TeamUp says:

Before we answer that question, let’s take a step back. It’s quite possible that i-Pilates could run as it is until Jen decides to retire. There’s no rule that says that our businesses have to grow. i-Pilates is a strong, successful operation. Jen is happy, and her customers are happy. Growth for the sake of growth is unnecessary and possibly harmful. It’s important that we state that before we say anything else.

The story of this data is a straightforward one: customers wanted to improve their fitness and flexibility so they could age gracefully and relieve chronic pain. When they came to i-Pilates, their core strength and balance improved, and they found it helped their chronic pain so much that they didn’t have to go to as many medical appointments. A few people said they felt younger and even more adventurous even though they were entering their retirement years. Amazing!

There was a twist, though. Movement wasn’t what inspired return visits. Even Pilates itself wasn’t what drew people back. There are 17 Pilates studios in the same area as i-Pilates; so the competition is high. But people love Jen, and some people drove up to 40 minutes every week just to come to Jen’s lessons. They came because Jen is a passionate, curious, and inspiring person. She works hard to make lessons interesting and engaging, and she pays attention to each student as if it’s a private class.

Because of this, I would recommend that Jen...

  • Consider a paid subscription service for pilates videos online. One class per week offered to anyone in the world, live or not.
  • Consider training other Pilates teachers
  • Explore what a book or other paid writing could look like

Tim Green at TeamUp says:

There’s always an assumption that growth is necessary for growth sake. While this clearly isn’t true, there are some implicit weaknesses with a business based on the brilliance of one person. As time goes on, this can create a conflict between earnings potential versus free time.

The other side to not figuring out how to grow as a business is that the future resale value of the business is diminished. Does Jen want to create something that will last? To instill with longevity the values that have made the business so inspirational for her clients?

Jen has a unique challenge, but one that many wonderful fitness businesses face. How to scale while retaining that exceptional attention to detail and personal focus.

There isn’t one answer to this challenge, but rather a series of processes that could be created, defined and refined over time. There are touch points within each of i-Pilates fitness journey that build the whole relationship with customers, and documenting these will be the first step in understanding how to carefully systemise them, without a reduction in overall quality.

This report can act as a guiding light - as inspiration as well as a map - to start that process. Thank you to all of i-Pilates customers for taking part, and to Jen. We hope that this will help you on your onward journey.

Acknowledgements

The research for this report was conducted by TeamUp Sports Inc., with assistance from i-Pilates and Jen Day. We would like to thank Jen and the members of i-Pilates for offering their time and stories for this report.