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Three Boutique Studio Owners Reflect on How COVID-19 Has Changed the Future of Fitness

Pilates Studio Owners on the Future of Fitness

Three Pilates and mindful movement studio owners from around the world talk about how COVID-19 has reshaped the future of fitness and health and wellness trends, and what clients are looking for as they return to the studio and working out in person.

1. How do you think COVID-19 has changed the future of fitness?

A group of women practice Reformer Pilates at a Pilates studio in Australia

More clients are recognizing the benefits of boutique studios

“In short, as weird as this may sound, I think the pandemic will affect our business in a positive way in the future. It has taught me and all of our staff to be a lot more adaptable, compassionate and understanding. I also believe clients have become more appreciative and interested in joining smaller boutique studios because of our attention to hygiene, safety and customer care.”

Alison Newby, STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor and Total Barre® Qualified Instructor, Director of Active Pilates & Sports Therapy in Sydney, Australia

A group of people practice Mat Pilates at a Pilates studio in New Zealand

The upsides and downsides of virtual fitness

“I see everything going online. Sometimes for the better… and sometimes for the worse. I see the benefit being that the price point can be lowered, making it more accessible to those who can’t afford the studio; and instructors can expand their teaching demographic massively. I also see so many talented, incredibly knowledgeable mentors and trainers opening their learning opportunities to international students which is amazing. However, I think there is a real advantage to learning hands-on in a studio alongside fellow students and instructors where you can go through the journey together in real time.”

Tahlia Charleson, STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor and director of The Pilates Fix in Tauranga, New Zealand

A beautiful Pilates studio with several white Pilates Reformers in the Netherlands

Setting Reformers up at a distance appeals to clients

“I expect that all fitness equipment, including Reformers, will continue to be placed 1.5 meters apart from each other. This is a good thing for clients as they will be offered classes in a more ‘private’ setting. Boutique fitness will probably thrive even more as a result. When I opened my boutique Reformer Pilates Studio ZES in May 2021, my clients really appreciated the extra space between Reformers and realized the added benefits for them.”

Petra Top, owner of ZES Boutique Studio in Maastricht, Netherlands

2. Has COVID-19 made people more aware or interested in mindful movement?

The owner of a boutique Pilates studio in the Netherlands sits on a windowsill at her studio

Clients are seeking out mindful movement to de-stress

“Yes, COVID-19 has absolutely made people more interested in mindful movement. The lockdown has had a big impact on everybody. Not only do people want to get in shape again after being cooped up at home, but they also want to get out and set their minds on something else. They need to de-stress, and as a result, they value the mind-body connection even more. I’ve noticed that my clients are paying much more attention to effective breathing and focusing inwards, just to escape.” – Petra Top, ZES Boutique Studio

Clients want to slow down and be more present

“COVID-19 has reminded us that anything can happen at any moment and literally stop the world in its tracks. The clients I now see at the studio are enjoying slowing down, taking time to be more present, learning new skillsets, such as meditation, that perhaps prior to COVID-19, they didn’t think they had time for because of the pace of life. Mother Nature has certainly humbled us and reminded us to stay connected, to one another, and to ourselves.” – Tahlia Charleson, The Pilates Fix

Two men practice a Reformer Pilates exercise at a Pilates studio in Australia

Clients have discovered the importance of movement for mental health

“Mindful movement plays such a pivotal role in not just our body’s physical state but also our mental state; this time really shone the light on how important it is to be mentally fit to get us through it.” – Alison Newby, Active Pilates & Sports Therapy

3. What are clients looking for as they return to the studio and in-person fitness?

A young Pilates instructor guides a senior woman through a Pilates exercise

Clients are looking for knowledgeable and credible Pilates instructors

“With everything now being available online at the touch of a fingertip, clients expect us to stay innovative, offer a variety of good movement options and teach to a high standard. I’m constantly being asked about my instructors’ training and background knowledge; where and what they studied; which method of Pilates we teach; how long we’ve all been teaching, etc. People recognize Pilates as a valuable tool to incorporate into their workouts every week to facilitate a free and mobile body. Clients really value Pilates and consider it a specialist field, which I personally love.” – Tahlia Charleson, The Pilates Fix

A brightly lit Pilates studio with several white Merrithew Pilates Reformers is pictured in the Netherlands

“I’ve noticed that people are starting to explore new things in the fitness market; they’re approaching the ‘reopening’ as a new beginning, almost like they want to re-invent and heal themselves. Offering Reformer Pilates in a boutique setting, which is quite new in Maastricht, the personal attention and somebody taking care of them, seems to be one of the trends to meet those needs.” – Petra Top, ZES Boutique Studio

A group of clients practice Reformer Pilates at a Pilates studio in Australia

“When we clicked the reset button, we made a lot of changes. Some of those included fewer classes and more open (not level-specific) classes. We empowered our instructors to teach to all levels, allowing clients to attend any class without having to categorise themselves or stick to a specific class type. We thought this would only be a short-term thing, but it’s actually helped clients progress and expand their capabilities and not feel boxed-in. We also offer a lot more private and semi-private classes as clients have discovered the benefits of one-on-one and very small 1:3 group classes.” – Alison Newby, Active Pilates & Sports Therapy

What are your predictions for the future of fitness? What do clients want as they return to the studio? Send us your thoughts at:

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