With its sunny climate and health-conscious population, Southern California is a hotbed of Pilates and wellness studios. A quick Google search of the region shows dozens of studios in close proximity. So in such a crowded market, how do studios carve out a niche for themselves and attract new clients?
We spoke to three Merrithew® Host Training Centers in the Los Angeles and San Diego corridor about how they’ve built thriving studios by focusing on their clients, the mindful movement philosophy and educational opportunities.
Pure Power PILATES & Fitness
San Diego, California
In 2013, Lori Taranto committed to a total career change. After almost 15 years as an interior designer with her own company, she decided to become a STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor and opened her own fitness studio— based out of her garage.
She quickly diversified her offering, providing Pilates, strength, cardio and endurance training, growing her client base with small group and private classes. In 2016, she opened her storefront location in the San Carlos neighborhood, doubling its size last year. Now Pure Power PILATES & Fitness employs seven STOTT PILATES Certified Instructors and fitness trainers, offering 45 small group classes per week to 75 members.
Their niche: Diverse programming and specialty workshops
One thing you’ll notice about Pure Power PILATES is its large variety of classes. They offer everything from Essential, Intermediate and Advanced STOTT PILATES classes to specialty workouts in fascial movement and athletic conditioning using the Jumpboard, Cardio-Tramp® Rebounder and TRX. The studio also offers cycling, strength training and barre and will soon be adding yoga. Lori says her goal is to keep workouts fresh and new to keep clients motivated and challenged.
“Our studio periodically surveys our clients to see what they want and need in order to sustain enjoyment in their health and fitness routine,” she says.
With many year-round golfers, hikers, swimmers, surfers and runners in the San Diego area, Pure Power PILATES identified a need to offer specialized workshops that addressed clients’ sports-related aches and pains, injuries and muscular imbalances. In June, they offered an alignment and fascial-release self-care workshop for swimmers and surfers, and have previously done the same for golfers.
“I believe our studio is unique in the variety that we offer and that we train our clients in small groups, giving each person personalized care, creating a safe and effective workout for all,” Lori says. “Our goal is to help clients achieve their optimal health— for mind, body and soul.”
The education edge
This past year, Pure Power PILATES has hosted continuing education workshops and the Merrithew Fascial Movement Foundation course and plans to expand its education offering in the future.
“What we are hoping to gain is an increase in STOTT PILATES alumni and new student inquiries. We are passionate about our education and believe that it is the best in the industry, and we want to share that with our community,” Lori says.
Some of Pure Power PILATES’ trainers have worked at Merrithew Licensed Training Centers in the past, so with that level of knowledge and expertise, they’re able to provide new and existing San Diego Pilates teachers with a fresh perspective, she says.
Wicked Pilates & Fitness
Wicked Pilates began in 2012 and was one of the first studios in the area to apply the mind-body philosophy to all types of exercise formats, says owner Christina Bouni-Bonorris.
“Wicked Pilates is not just a place where members come to exercise,” she says. “We truly encompass the mind-body philosophy of Pilates by creating a loving and caring atmosphere that supports members in all of their goals. If we see a need to adapt Pilates for individuals, we always try to act.”
Their niche: Community engagement and ballet dancers
With many young ballet dancers in the community, Christina began offering private STOTT PILATES sessions specifically geared towards that market. She reached out to some of the local ballet studios to promote the importance of adding Pilates to a young dancer’s training routine. Some of her Pilates instructors, who are also ballet teachers, promote the cross-training to their students.
Wicked Pilates has also partnered with Body Basics Physical Therapy, which has two physical therapists on staff who have completed their STOTT PILATES training, to provide rehab services to its community.
Finally, Wicked Pilates is also heavily involved in the community beyond its doors. “We have partnered with the non-profit pediatric physical therapy group, Friends of Leaps and Bounds, to allow children with special needs to benefit from Pilates,” Christina says. Wicked Pilates participates in the organization’s yearly fundraiser, raising donations for the program’s equipment and service costs.
Every year, Wicked Pilates also hosts a breast cancer fundraiser called Dance for a Cure in Pink, with 100% of the proceeds going to breast cancer research. The entire Wicked Pilates community gets involved, with instructors and members selling tickets and donating gift baskets to raise awareness.
“If the community works together and supports each other, great things will happen, such as finding a cure for breast cancer and helping out people in need. I am a very lucky studio owner to have instructors and members who support not only the studio, but good causes as well,” Christina says.
The education edge
As a new Host Training Center as of this August, Wicked Pilates is just getting started. It currently offers the STOTT PILATES Intensive Reformer course and plans to expand with an upcoming Intensive Mat-Plus™ course. “We are very excited to be going in this direction,” Christina says.
“Our reputation has always been based on promoting mindful movement, and partnering with Merrithew has offered us the guidance to move our studio to the next level. Merrithew has been very supportive during this process. By becoming a Host Training Center, other studios know where to reach out for their training needs.”
The Green Room Pilates
The Green Room Pilates got its start in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011. “Our goal was to create a safe, non-competitive environment where people could trust that they were receiving biomechanically-sound exercises and achieving their personal wellness goals. Our clients ranged from senior citizens to Cirque de Soleil performers,” says The Green Room owner and Merrithew Instructor Trainer Caterina Senecal-Lyen.
In 2018, they relocated to Oceanside, California, where they coined the motto, “Pilates for People,” emphasizing the studio’s culture of safe and efficient Pilates training for everyone. There, Caterina connected with Melissa Condron, a physical therapist and Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer of 18 years, and together they built up the Green Room’s educational offering.
Their niche: Post-rehabilitation and education
With two Merrithew Instructor Trainers on staff and two STOTT PILATES Certified Instructors, the Green Room’s clientele get to work with veteran instructors who have a deep understanding of optimal movement.
“We have a true passion for helping people reach their full potential. Whether it's living with less pain, post-rehabilitation, sport-specific athletic conditioning or maintaining a healthy wellness program. We are Pilates instructors for people, all people. We train professional surfers, circus performers, people recovering from surgery, pre- and post-natal and everything in between,” Caterina says.
The education edge
Caterina began teaching STOTT PILATES courses in 2013 after becoming an Instructor Trainer. Today, she and Melissa offer all of the STOTT PILATES foundation courses as a Merrithew Host Training Center, including STOTT PILATES for Injuries and Special Populations and various continuing education workshops. They wanted to bring Merrithew education to fitness professionals in the San Diego area to help them learn, grow and offer the highest-quality training to their clients.
“Having two Instructor Trainers as part of the Green Room team gives us the opportunity to give instructors in the area direct input into what type of continuing education is relevant to them and we’re able to provide it within short notice. We also conduct examinations and provide studio equipment for people who need physical review, practice teaching and observation hours,” she says.
On Sunday afternoons, they open the studio to STOTT PILATES apprentices so they can practice on the equipment.
“Being a Host Training Center for Merrithew, specializing in STOTT PILATES, has helped us build a community of instructors who value education to better service their clients. We hold the bar very high and want to continue to have a community where we learn, grow and address the needs of the community together.”
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