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 guide to starting your pilates studio. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
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 startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
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.
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.
Who 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.
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.
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.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Pilates Studio Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your pilates studio is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
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.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
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.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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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.
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.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start A Pilates Studio In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
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.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
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 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 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.
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Take the Next Step
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.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
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.
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.