When people hear how expensive Pilates is, they often assume that it’s because of the cost of the equipment. And while that’s true, some instructors do pay for expensive machines, it’s not the main reason Pilates can be so expensive.
Pilates class prices are high due to the specialised nature of instructor training and so class sizes can be kept small, allowing instructors to work individually with their students. Pilates instructors are required to be highly trained to ensure they can deal with all types of clients.
Below, I’ll go over the top ten reasons your Pilates class may seem expensive. Then, I’ll dive briefly into why this investment in yourself is totally worth it!
1. Pilates Is Often Considered a Boutique Workout
Pilates is a boutique–or niche–workout. By that, I mean it’s not a mainstream way to burn calories and tone your body like going to the gym or taking a spin, yoga, barre, etc. Pilates is different because it focuses on strengthening your core muscles so that you can have better posture and move more easily through daily life without as much pain or discomfort (which means fewer trips to your chiropractor).
The studios need to charge a little more for Pilates classes to stay open. Additionally, some studios raise their prices because it’s a trendy “boutique” class (though it makes me cringe saying it because I’ve been in this game for so long!).
For this reason, fewer people are looking for Pilates classes, meaning the “niche” group that does may be paying a little more.
2. Pilates Instructors Are Highly Trained
At a gym equipment usually comes at a one-time cost. Treadmills, ellipticals, and weights don’t require a salary.
However, at a Pilates studio, your body is the equipment, and the person leading the workout is a highly trained instructor who does require compensation for their time.
Not just anyone can be an instructor, either. Pilates instructors are highly trained.
Most instructors have a minimum of 500 hours of training before they can teach clients. And note, that’s just thebare minimum.
Most teachers have 800 and 1000 hours of training before they’re ready to work with clients in a studio setting.
You never know what kind of classroom you’ll have, and being aware of all of the possibilities (how to support older individuals through their mobility, working with postpartum mothers through gentle workouts, etc.), is necessary to be a successful Pilates instructor.
As you imagine, this takes time and money! This is because it takes time and effort to properly instruct Pilates classes, and once you’ve learned how it’s best not to rush through the process just so you can get more people into your classes faster (and make more money).
If you want to be a Pilates instructor, you don’t just sign up for an online class and open your own studio. While it’s true that there are many certification programs available, they all require a significant investment of both time and money. When you’re paying $1,500 (and potentially even more) for your education, it makes sense that the program should be worth it.
To ensure this, most schools require students to demonstrate their skills in a practical setting before being allowed to graduate from the program itself. This means that before you can earn your certification or recertification as a Pilates instructor, you must first be able to demonstrate an advanced skill level through an internship or apprenticeship with someone who has already been certified by their school. This is often unpaid time!
Many budding Pilates instructors are also working other jobs just to make their unpaid internships or apprenticeships work. So when you sign up for a class you consider expensive, you should know they’re likely earning their money back after countless hours of free labour!
3. Pilates Instructors Often Continue Their Learning
We are constantly learning more about the body, fitness, and best practices for all types of bodies. Instructors are also constantly getting re-certified and updating their learning. This isn’t an extra thing, either;, you should look for Pilates instructors that are always continuing their learning.
Your instructor should keep up with changes in health and fitness because their expertise will be invaluable when it comes time for you to decide which activities are best suited for your needs at any given time in your life (e.g., pregnancy).
Unfortunately, these certifications, classes, and seminars also cost your instructor money. So when you pay your instructor for their time, you’re not only paying for the amount of time you spend in the studio together. You’re also paying for their expertise and the countless hours outside the studio!
4. Pilates Classes Are Often Small
Pilates classes are often small, meaning the teachers need to charge more. Pilates classes are small so that you can get more individualized attention and have adequate space to work out.
The reason for this is that in small classes, the teacher is able to see the students and correct their forms. It also makes it easier to communicate with students.
I offer 1-to-1, 2-to-1 and group classes in a studio. If you consider that the private sessions get 100% of my attention for the duration, it’s understandable why private classes cost more than group classes.
In addition, if you’re taking a studio-based class, there may not be enough space for a large group of people or equipment required for certain exercises (such as the reformer). If this is the case, it could lead to problems such as overcrowding or equipment damage from overuse by one person at once.
5. Pilates Equipment Is Expensive
While the majority of Pilates equipment is very affordable, there are some elements, in particular the reformer, which are very expensive. It’s near impossible to find low cost second-hand machines as they hold their value providing they’ve been kept in good condition. If you don’t buy the best equipment, you may find yourself liable for injuries, or you may not have a great customer return rate. That’s why most studios go all out–these days, you have to have the best to be the best!
This also doesn’t take into account the different types of Pilates. For example, hot Pilates requires a different set of equipment (and instructor training) and ups the amount of energy used to create the ideal environment. All this adds up towards the final price the customer pays.
6. It’s More Difficult To Pay for a Studio Space Than a Gym
Let’s be real about gyms for a second: many people paying their gym fees don’t even go.
What I mean by this is that gyms work on a subscriber model. They have people pay a monthly fee for unlimited or nearly unlimited access. Whether that person comes to the gym and uses the equipment, they’re charged the monthly fee.
In January the gyms might be full of people with New Year’s resolutions, but by March the levels usually return to pre-new year levels.
The subscriber model keeps the lights on, pays for staff and personnel, and allows the gym to perform maintenance, even if half the people don’t go!
Research says this number is higher than you think– nearly 67% of gym memberships are unused! This allows gyms to plan for a certain percentage of no-shows. They can sell more memberships than they would be able to accommodate if everyone were to turn up, knowing this won’t happen.
It’s also why some chains are able to set prices so low: they’re looking to gain as many memberships as possible, knowing that over half the people who pay won’t show up.
This just doesn’t work for a Pilates studio. We work on a more intimate, personalized level with our students.
We want you to show up to classes, grow with us, and embrace your power. We rarely have someone paying for a monthly membership to our studio or buying a punch card and not using it.
Usually, people get a return on their investment when they pay for Pilates classes!
7. There Are A Lot of Behind-the-Scenes Costs
For this point, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of someone running a Pilates studio. Pretend you’re running your own business and need to set a price for the classes.
Running a studio is not as simple as teaching classes and watching the cash roll in. There are many costs to consider when running a studio, including:
- Advertising costs: You will need to invest in advertising for your business to gain more clients. This includes things like a website, print adverts, flyers, and posters.
- Equipment costs: Your equipment needs can be high if you want to offer the best experience possible for your clients. You must have the right equipment to offer them quality sessions without having to worry about breaking down during class or hurting their bodies due to poor-quality equipment.
- Operating costs: You will also have operating costs associated with running your studios, such as utilities, insurance premiums, a booking platform and other similar expenses.
When starting out in the boutique workout business, it’s important to do your research and ensure you have enough funds available to keep your business going for at least six months.
You’ll need to think about how much money you’ll be making from each student, what supplies you need to buy, and how much time it will take for you to schedule classes and teach them. New studios also have more costs to consider.
As we’ve learned in the past year or so, it’s not just a matter of covering bills; it’s also important to make enough to build up savings, especially in these uncertain times. For example, we recently had a global pandemic, nobody can come to classes any more, and an investment is needed in new technology to allow classes to continue over Zoom.
8. Pilates Teachers (and Studios) Often Pay for Insurance
In America, insurance is a necessity for most workers. Many people need health, life, and disability insurance to protect themselves from many of the risks of modern life, and there’s no shortage of companies willing to provide it at a premium.
If a Pilates studio hires only teachers who are independent contractors, then the instructors themselves would be responsible for providing their own employee benefits (since they, technically, are running their own small business, even if they are the only employee!). On the flip side, if a studio hires Pilates instructors as employees, they’ll need to pay for employee benefits.
The UK has a very different health system to America, but instructors still need specialist instructor insurance to cover against client injury, property/equipment damage and cover if treatment is required due to a personal accident.
Pilates is highly physical; if something goes wrong, it may fall back on the studio. That’s why it’s so important to have highly certified teachers and functioning equipment. In addition, the studio itself needs insurance in case anyone gets hurt.
9. Few Instructors Can Work 8 Hours a Day
If you hear the hourly rate of a Pilates instructor, you may find yourself shocked and thinking, “wow, they are making BANK!”. However, it’s important to remember that few Pilates instructors work a traditional schedule, unlike most jobs, you can’t multiply their hourly rate by a forty-hour work week. There are very few instructors that teach classes eight hours a day.
There are several reasons few instructors can teach a class for eight hours a day. For one, you’ll notice that most studios have a large block of time where no classes are happening. This is because their participants are at work, at school, picking up kids, and the like.
Additionally, teaching classes eight hours a day would potentially be dangerous for the instructor. Imagine working out for eight hours a day, five days a week!
Many instructors will teach three or four classes a day at maximum. So when you see their hourly rate, remember, it’s not a forty-hour work week they’re working. It could be anywhere from a one-hour work week (if the teacher is just starting out) to fifteen or twenty, and even that’s pushing it!
10. You Get What You Pay For
A Pilates class isn’t just an hour of stretching and strength building. It’s an hour of guided,expert-level instruction that considers your individual needs and goals, all while you get a serious workout.
Your instructor will help you make the most of your session by tailoring exercises to address specific muscle groups and imbalances, teaching proper form so that you can continue strengthening those muscles on your own outside of class, and even creating personalized routines based on your goals.
With this level of attention and expertise comes quality equipment as well. Students at a Pilates studio will find themselves using high-end machines like reformers to get an optimal workout—which can be worth its weight in gold!
- Pilates Moves You: Is Hot Pilates better than regular Pilates?Pilates
- Pilates Move You: Why Pilates is So Popular and What it Can Do For You
- USA Today: Is your gym membership a good investment?
- Spiral Spine: How long does it take to become a pilates instructor?
- LegalNature: Do Independent Contractors Need Insurance?
- MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Are you getting too much exercise?
- Pilates Instructor Academy: How Much Does it Cost to Become a Pilates Instructor?
- The Pilate Project: What’s a Pilates Apprentice & Why You Should Snag Sessions With Them While You Can