Start a pilates studio by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your pilates studio. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the initial costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you. Skip on ahead to the Business Overview for more detailed answers to all your questions.
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your pilates studio is sued. Consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
STEP 8: Define your brand.
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
A Pilates business promotes physical health through guided instruction of exercises that engage the body's core and boost strength. Pilates instructors understand and teach the nuances of proper breathing, body alignment, and concentration. Those who own Pilates businesses typically enjoy a loyal customer base that appreciates the myriad benefits of Pilates classes. These benefits include the alleviation of lower back pain, the strengthening of abdominal muscles, increased flexibility, and rapid recovery from injuries.
Who is this business right for?
An individual who is on the prowl for a profitable business that enhances physical well-being and helps people recover from injury will find owning and operating a Pilates studio to be quite rewarding. Pilates is especially popular at the moment. This is a trendy form of exercise that will likely continue to thrive for at least another half-decade or longer. If you have an interest in physical health, exercise, and new forms of physical activity, you should give serious consideration to launching your own Pilates business.
What happens during a typical day at a pilates studio?
The daily activities are centered on promoting the business, holding Pilates classes and maintaining the studio. The bread and butter of this business is demonstrating Pilates exercises to clients. However, significant effort is required to attract those customers. The business owner must market his studio, keep it clean, research Pilates-related equipment, and manage his team of instructors.
What is the target market?
The target market is primarily young adults. However, people of all ages engage in Pilates. Millennial women are especially interested in Pilates. Gear your marketing and classes toward this demographic and your business will thrive.
How does a pilates studio make money?
This business makes money by charging clients for each Pilates class.
What is the growth potential for a pilates studio?
Pilates is currently on-trend. Millennials are particularly interested in Pilates. This bodes well for those who launch a Pilates business as millennials will have a considerable amount of discretionary income in the upcoming years and decades. It is possible to launch your Pilates business from your home, expand to a space in a health club, eventually open your own studio, and subsequently open numerous other studios across your town or even your entire region.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful pilates studio?
A genuine interest in Pilates, physical fitness and improving the human condition will certainly help. The business owner's marketing prowess is especially important. This individual is tasked with figuring out how to spread the word about the Pilates business without spending an abundance of money on advertising. The most important factor is the merit of the studio's instructor(s). Ideally, the business owner will have a background in Pilates and be able to teach the initial courses. Instructors should be personable, knowledgeable and highly skilled. Otherwise, clients won't return for subsequent classes or spread the word about the business.
What are the costs involved in opening a pilates studio?
The costs are minimal. It is possible to start this type of business from one's home. Others will start out by renting space at a local health club or gym. Some will launch their own studio in a rented space or on property they own. Aside from a space to conduct Pilates classes, little else is necessary. At a bare minimum, the business should have Pilates mats, a computer to build/update the business's website and a high speed internet connection. Numerous Pilates mats can be purchased in bulk for less than a couple hundred dollars. The cost of rent for a space to conduct Pilates classes will likely run $500 to a thousand dollars or more per month. The exact cost depends on the facility's size and location.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a pilates studio?
The merit of your marketing efforts is nearly as important as the quality of instruction. Find a cost-effective way to spread the word about your Pilates studio, key in on reaching locals through a variety of advertising methods and your business will gain momentum. It is imperative that you hire knowledgeable, experienced, and sociable instructors as the business will quickly reach the point where you can't teach every class yourself. Furthermore, each instructor should obtain Pilates certification to establish your business' legitimacy. This certification can be touted in your advertisements to convert prospects into paying clients.
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Growing Your Business
How to promote & market a pilates studio
This is the type of business that should be marketed in a diverse manner. Make use of traditional outbound ads in local newspapers, magazines, etc. Post flyers, build a website, key in in search engine optimization, and establish a presence on social media. Consider establishing an alliance with local health clubs or even local sporting goods stores. Hosting a Pilates class at one of these businesses will bring your service directly to those who have a natural interest in physical fitness. Such exposure will inspire prospective clients to attend subsequent classes at your studio.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Attracting customers is undoubtedly the most challenging aspect of this business. Plenty of people do not know what Pilates is. Key in on educating prospective customers about Pilates. Hold demos and free classes at local establishments that are geared toward physical fitness. Establish a YouTube channel where you post short but informative Pilates clips.
Make sure your Pilates studio is immaculate. It should have comfortable lighting, ample space between mats, high-quality mats, and most importantly, informative instructors who understand the subtleties of Pilates. Hold an open house to show off your facility and people will be inclined to return for classes. In terms of retaining clients, the quality of instruction, and the comfort of the studio are of the utmost importance. Those who feel as though they obtain significant benefits from your Pilates classes and do not feel judged in this space will return for additional classes.
How and when to build a team
You will likely be able to handle most duties when the business is in its infancy. Once the business grows to the point that multiple classes are held on a daily basis, it will be necessary to hire Pilates instructors and other employees. The instructors and marketing expert(s) should have a genuine interest in Pilates. Their ability to educate and inspire clients is essential to the success of the business. As the business continues to grow, you can add a receptionist, a custodian/maintenance expert, a marketing professional, and an accountant.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Pilates studio business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Certificate of Occupancy
Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a Pilates studio business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your Pilates studio business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, Pilates studio business should have their clients sign waivers.
An example of an appropriate waiver can be found here.
How much can you charge customers?
Pilates classes are surprisingly expensive. The going rate is between $20 and $100 per class. In general, group Pilates classes that make use of reformers are between $20 and $30 per session. Private one-on-one Pilates classes are the most expensive, usually topping out around $100 per session.
What are the ongoing expenses for a pilates studio?
This business requires instructors and other employees, mats, reformers, lighting, a website, marketing, insurance, the facility itself, and utilities. Pilates instructors earn between $30,000 and $50,000 per year. Support staff such as receptionists and cleaners earn between $8 and $15 per hour. Plan on paying your marketing and accounting professionals an annual salary of $30,000 to $60,000 or more. The monthly rent or mortgage for your facility will likely run between $500 and $1,000. Budget in another $100 per month for utilities. Marketing will likely cost $200 to $500 per month. Insurance will likely run between $500 and $1,000 per year. Budget $50 to $100 per month for mats, reformers and other equipment.
How much profit can a pilates studio make?
This business has the potential to yield a substantial profit. Pick out an accessible location near areas where young adults shop, work, and learn. Provide high-quality Pilates classes and your business will have the potential to make six figures per year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Offer additional fitness-related services at the studio. You can teach classes aside from Pilates in the studio or rent out the space to instructors who specialize in yoga, step aerobics, ZUMBA etc. Additional ways to make money include selling used reformers/mats to others, training aspiring Pilates instructors, and making/selling Pilates DVDs.