We wanted to provide a way for cancer patients to still be able to experience the proven benefits of exercise.
Pilates is becoming increasingly popular among people looking for a low-impact regimen that strengthens their core and improves their physique. In response, industry professionals are tailoring this discipline to specific niches, such as men, teens, and people with cancer.
REAM MEN DO PILATES
At John Garey Pilates in Long Beach, California, getting men interested in Pilates is largely about marketing. While this STOTT PILATES studio doesn't offer classes exclusively for men, the sessions' names—such as Reformer for Golfers and Athletic Conditioning on the Reformer—imply that they are geared toward male clients. “The classes don't necessarily have to have the word ‘men’ in the title, but they should be strong titles,” advises Garey, president and program director, who has co-owned the studio for seven years. He is also a STOTT master instructor trainer.
As men become more comfortable with Pilates training, the names of the classes become secondary to the content, prompting them to try additional classes as well. Since Garey began implementing this marketing approach about two-and-a-half years ago, male participation in Pilates has jumped from 5%-10% to 25%-35%.
He suggests giving men a taste of Pilates by easing them into exercises that work their core muscles and hit target areas. The payoff? Men have shown extraordinary loyalty to these classes. “If they see that they're making progress with their golf game as a result of Reformer for Golfers, for example, they will stick with that class forever,” Garey says.
In general, male clients prefer to first try Pilates through private sessions. “Then, when we add the targeted classes, they'll jump into those,” notes Garey. While Pilates exercises are gender neutral, in some cases it’s necessary to adjust female-oriented vocabulary during sessions. For example, instead of referring to a move known as “the mermaid,” instructors call it “the side bend;” and, rather than instructing male clients to “put on their high heels” for the high half toe, they'll tell them to “stand on their tip-toes as if they're trying to reach the top shelf.” The bottom line? Thanks, in part, to his targeted marketing strategy, Garey has seen a 30% increase in revenues.
TERRIFIC FOR TEENS, TOO
At Spectrum Athletic Clubs, Pilates knows no age limitations. Over the last several years, the facilities—serving Greater Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Antonio—have witnessed enormous growth in the number of teens, ages 13 to 18, seeking Pilates training.
From Spectrum's perspective, “everyone should be doing Pilates,” insists Heather Stevens, Spectrum's director of special projects. In addition to building confidence and improving posture, by focusing on smaller muscles and the whole body, Pilates helps counter the wear and tear of sports activities that use one's large muscles repetitively. As a result, the discipline can help prevent sportsrelated injuries, which is especially important for growing teens.
At Spectrum Athletic Clubs, teenaged clients work one-on-one or in semi-private sessions with Pilates instructors. The intensity and duration times vary from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the client's physical ability and attention span.
“Every session is tailored to the individual client,” Stevens says. And because of the way Pilates equipment is engineered, it can be easily adjusted to one's size and strength. Indeed, sessions with teenagers incorporate the same equipment as adult classes: the chair, barrel, Cadillac, Reformer, and mat work.
Based on the success of its teen Pilates programming, Spectrum is looking to expand its offerings to an even younger set; Stevens says the kids club director is considering adding Pilates mat classes for 6-12-year-old children.
Pilates for kids, notes Moira Merrithew, cofounder and executive director of education for STOTT PILATES, is a relevant and promising niche. In fact, the company is so convinced of the future of children's Pilates that it has targeted the children's market through its recent programming and training. “Depending on their age, you need to take bone density into account, and the fact that [kids] are doing other sports.”
PILATES ON ICE!
Two years ago, when competitive figure skater Mary Grace Baldo, 15, learned that she had fractured her L5 and pedicle from repeated rotational stress and spirals, she thought her skating days were over.
She had been taking Pilates group classes at Spectrum Athletic Clubs with trainer Gerard Hinderlich, but then, following her diagnosis, began working with him one-on-one, three times a week.
“I started simply with the core principle of the breath,” Hinderlich says. From there, he worked to build Baldo’s strength, breaking down the components of the exercises in accordance with her capability. Baldo was healed within three months and ultimately progressed to advanced-level Pilates.
“He brought a whole new light to Pilates for me,” Baldo says of Hinderlich.
Today, thanks to Pilates, the 17-year-old has overcome her injury and is now the national figure skating champion for the Philippines. She hopes to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
CARING FOR CANCER
At Trinity Fitness + Spa, people undergoing treatment for cancer can enjoy the fitness and therapeutic benefits of Pilates, along with the restorative and healing properties of massage, through an original program called Pilates-sage.