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Design Your Pilates Home Studio: Insights from Studio Owners

While the fitness landscape continues to transform, so does our approach to exercise and wellness. Fitness enthusiasts are continuing to incorporate home gyms into their exercise routines, not to replace the traditional gym experience, rather to enhance it and provide a different avenue for personal health.

Whether you’re interested in launching a professional Pilates home studio or looking to carve out a private sanctuary for your workouts, join us as we explore how to complement the studio experience in the comfort of your home.

Gain insights from three Merrithew® Instructor Trainers and a dedicated customer, who have transformed their homes into thriving Pilates studios.

Leslie Wall Home Studio exterior

Leslie Wall, Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer

Leslie Wall, Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer and founder of Pilates in the 6, reflects on the launch of her home studio during the early days of the pandemic.

What inspired you to create a home studio?

As COVID began, like many, I faced uncertainty about what to do next, especially concerning my career as a Pilates Instructor. Thankfully, my husband — a contractor by profession — offered to build me a Pilates studio in our backyard. His generous effort and hard work brought my vision of a home studio to life. By building a separate space, I was able to have a studio close to home and private enough to bring out the best in my clients. The private setting of my studio allows for focused, distraction-free sessions, tailored to each client's objectives. The design of the studio has evolved, now equipped with two Reformers side by side and a Stability Chair pulled away from the wall when needed. Large windows flood the studio with natural light, creating a welcoming atmosphere. I’ve decorated my space with photos of personal milestones that remind me of my journey and add unique character to my studio.

Leslie Wall Home Studio interior with Merrithew equipment

Which pieces of Merrithew equipment are in your studio?

I have a V2 Max Reformer because of its versatility. I love that you get three pieces in one: a Mat, Reformer and roughly 80% of a Cadillac. I also have an SPX® Max Reformer, so that I can offer semi-private classes. The Split-Pedal Stability Chair is a favorite because it challenges balance with its small base of support. Lastly, I have an Arc Barrel and Spine Corrector. These two barrels offer much support to the spine through any form of movement, but my favorite is to do inversions on these pieces. On my wish list, I hope Santa is listening, is a Ladder Barrel.

Leslie Wall instructing students at Home Studio

What equipment would you recommend?

This is a challenging question because I love all of Merrithew’s equipment. For those on a tight budget who want smaller equipment, I recommend the Foam Roller, Mini Stability Balls, Flex-Bands and the Stability Chair. If you have a bit more financial flexibility, then I would consider the V2 Max Reformer because of its versatility.

Leslie Wall instructing an online class at Home Studio

What are your top tips for setting up a home gym?

My advice for opening a studio to serve clients is to either separate it from your home, if you have the means, or have a separate entrance. This separation is beneficial as it eliminates the need for constant housekeeping in anticipation of client visits. As for personal use, create an environment that motivates you. Opt for colors that inspire you and design a space that encourages movement.

Adriana Rotella Home Studio interior

Adriana Rotella, Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer

For the past seven years, Adriana Rotella, Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer, has operated a Pilates home studio.

What inspired you to create a home studio?

On the days I wasn’t traveling into Merrithew’s Corporate Training Centre (CTC), having a home studio gave me the flexibility to see some clients at home and work around my son’s school schedule more easily. When planning my home studio layout, I knew that I wanted to accommodate small groups, up to five people, with space for one or two Reformers. A nearby washroom was essential, along with maintaining a private and professional ambiance. The studio's layout includes simple shelving on the walls to hold small props and mirrors across one wall crucial for self-correction. I also had plans to eventually invest in a Stability Chair, which I've since added, so I made sure to include enough space for it in the studio's layout. Outside the studio, I set up a small, inviting seating area for clients waiting for their sessions to begin, further contributing to the studio’s warm and inviting atmosphere.

Which pieces of Merrithew equipment are in your studio?

I have a V2 Max Reformer I purchased in 2001 to which I added a Vertical Frame about six years ago. This update has expanded my exercise programming options significantly. I also have a Stability Chair, an Arc Barrel and small props including the Halo® Trainer Plus, Rotational Disks and Stability Cushions. The variety of equipment means my clients and I are never bored and have plenty of variety in our sessions.

What equipment would you recommend?

If I had to pick one piece of equipment, a V2 Max Reformer is a must-have! This equipment attracts clients to my studio and creates a professional setting similar to a Pilates studio. Also, small props like the Flex-Band, Fitness Circle and Mini Stability Ball are great options as they offer variety and enhance client programs economically.

What are your top tips for setting up a home gym?

Having a separate side entrance, where clients do not have to come through my house, is ideal and highly recommended. It maintains professionalism and keeps the studio as a separate entity, preventing clients from feeling like they're exercising in my home. Additionally, providing a client-dedicated washroom nearby is convenient. The wall-to-wall mirror is a great feature, enabling clients to monitor their form and allowing me to observe them from various angles. It's also important to choose a location within your home that's away from busy areas, offering clients privacy and the sense that they're in a dedicated studio space. I suggest scheduling a 15-minute gap between clients to avoid rushing them and to provide time for any questions or schedule adjustments, especially since there's no front desk staff. Lastly, create a space that fits your budget and that you enjoy being in, as you'll spend a lot of time there. Clients will be more inclined to want to spend time in a space where they feel comfortable.

Laureen DuBeau Home Studio interior

Laureen DuBeau, Merrithew Master Instructor Trainer

In 2014, Laureen DuBeau, Merrithew Master Instructor Trainer, opened Uxbridge Pilates, her first home studio.

What inspired you to create a home studio?

My goal was to teach in closer proximity to my home, as my family moved outside of Toronto. Integrating the Pilates studio into my home meant I could welcome clients without having to travel a great distance. At that time, my kids were young, and it was important for me to have more time with them. In 2022, I closed that studio and since then, I have created an abbreviated studio space where I mainly conduct virtual trainings. While my home studio supports my teaching career, it also allows me to train my 85-year-old mother and 88-year-old father. My hope is to spark that same enthusiasm for Pilates in my children.

Which pieces of Merrithew equipment are in your studio?

I have a V2 Max Plus Reformer, Stability Chair, Ladder Barrel, Spine Corrector and Arc Barrel, along with a plethora of light equipment and small props. The V2 Max Plus Reformer gives me the option of doing all the Reformer repertoire, as well as replicating Cadillac exercises. To complete it, I also have a Jumpboard, Cardio-Tramp® Rebounder and Vinyasa Triangle. Flex-Bands®, Fitness Circles®, Stability Cushions, Twist Balls, Resistance Loop, Toning Balls and Mini Stability Ball are only some of the props I use. Each one has its unique benefits and helps me provide targeted exercises for all my clients.

What equipment would you recommend?

Space is definitely the most important aspect to consider when selecting equipment for your home studio. You want to be able to get the most 'bang for your buck' by selecting versatile and multi-functional equipment. The V2 Max Plus Reformer is an excellent example as it combines the Reformer and the features of the Cadillac on the Vertical Frame. It also has moveable eyehooks and pulleys giving three-dimensional settings for the rope system on the Vertical Frame to enable customizable rope settings for clients at different angles. If you're limited to one piece of equipment, the V2 Max Plus Reformer would be the top choice. From a space-saving perspective, the Stability Chair is the most versatile. It takes up very little real estate, which is extremely valuable in a home studio, but can also support a wide range of exercises.

What are your top tips for setting up a home gym?

It’s important to consider the main goal of your studio and decide if you will use it for personal or professional purposes. Think through whether you will strictly use it for one-on-one clients or small group sessions. Also, if you are looking to elevate your own practice, subscribe to the Merrithew Connect platform. In order to follow along with your exercise video, a large-screen TV mounted higher on the wall will allow you to see the workout without compromising your position.

Jazmine Wickam Home Studio interior

Jazmine Wickam, Merrithew Customer

Jazmine Wickam, a Merrithew customer, shares her experience relocating her Pilates practice home after her studio closed due to pandemic lockdowns.

What inspired you to create a home studio?

I was a full time Pilates instructor and closed my location once the government shut everything down during the pandemic. During that time, I purchased a Reformer so I could continue to do personal workouts at home. My vision for my home studio prioritized style and functionality.

Which pieces of Merrithew equipment are in your studio?

In my home studio, I currently have the V2 Max Plus Reformer Bundle (Jet Black) and a Stability Chair. Prior to purchasing the V2 Max (Jet Black), I had a regular V2 Max Reformer and upgraded to Jet Black because I enjoy all black esthetics and the functionality of the tower as I like to incorporate different exercises.

What are your top tips for setting up a home gym?

I recommend doing thorough research and taking precise measurements before buying any equipment to guarantee it fits well in your home. A good aspect of investing in a Reformer is its value retention, making it a wise choice if you ever decide to resell. Additionally, enjoy the process of designing your studio. Creating a mood board can be a fun way to explore and visualize different layout possibilities.

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