Club Pilates Launches Canadian Expansion Following Pandemic Slowdown [Interview]


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Like all fitness clubs in the past two years, Club Pilates was rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic with the closure of clubs due to health and safety protocols and restrictions.

Now, the brand is back on track and in expansion mode.

Club Pilates currently has 826 locations internationally with 21 in Canada.

Mike Gray, President of Club Pilates, based in Irvine, California, said the brand has another about 35 still in development in Canada.

Mike Gray

“Our Vancouver market is not necessarily sold out. There’s a lot of development still happening in that market. Calgary, Toronto are really kind of the two areas that have lots of opportunity. When you look at the growth aspect, Canada is really unique to how diverse it is and how spread out it is,” he said.

“For us, it’s really finding the right partners and bringing them into the brand and then finding the right demographics in the area to grow and I think it’s really limitless. Our Canada studios have opened stronger in most cases than our domestic studios have here in the States. It’s eye opening.”

Image: Club Pilates

Studios range between 1,800 to 2,100 square feet. Real estate that is attractive to the brand is situated in areas with a strong anchor like a grocery store to drive traffic. Demographics in the area are also important. The brand’s core consumer is 35 to 65 years old and 98 per cent of its consumers are female. Average household income and traffic patterns in the area are also key factors in where the company opens locations.

The company originally began in 2007 in San Diego, California and in 2016 the brand started franchising.

“We had some exceptional growth right away,” he said.

“One of the great things about the brand is that it’s not new. Pilates itself has been around for over 100 years. Originally it was founded to help people get up on their feet. Joseph Pilates founded it back in the day and his goal was to get people, primarily soldiers, back healthy again.

“Now with COVID and everything else, people have a new sense of understanding in what the importance of physical activity is and at the same time they have the understanding that as more gyms open they tend to have more injuries and they tend to fall back into our hands.

“It truly is for everybody. All ages, all shapes, sizes. And that’s the exciting part that kind of separates our modality versus anywhere else out there which is nice. Our ability of consistently opening in smaller footprints and providing top-notch classes with certified instructors is also another great aspect too.”

Club Pilates Waterloo

Gray said the company experienced some really great growth in 2018 and 2019.

“We were opening studios and we were on the upward trajectory and then obviously 2020 was a challenging year for everybody in the world. We went from having 586 locations open to closing them all down and then based off the laws and restrictions we had to find a way to kind of get things going,” he said.

“So what it really did is it allowed us to get more nimble and more resilient in our process that we were doing and allow us to really work with the partners and they started to get more engaged into the process more so than ever.

“We started opening studios. We started pivoting in the process. So in 2020 we pivoted to a virtual element. Then we went from virtual to private training, outdoor classes, really taking it out of the studio and into the parking lot, setting up tents and getting classes going.

“Fast forward to where we are today where we’ve exceeded any target we ever thought in our original planning. Our studios are stronger now than they’ve ever been. We’ve hit new targets and set new records and we consistently do it month over month. Our growth aspect is just tremendous but also the success of the studios and the quality of the workout we’re giving in the communities is amazing.”

Image: Club Pilates

Gray said the company’s partners have gotten more sound in understanding where to spend money and managing the business. It also has a better understanding of consumer needs.

“The other part too is the belief factor how well and how good we are as a brand and company is forthcoming now in the aspect that people not only see it but believe it and the community as far as the name has grown tremendously,” he said.

Don Gregor, of Aurora Realty Consultants, is helping the brand with its expansion plans in Canada.

Club Pilates is part of the Xponential Fitness company, the largest fitness franchise group in boutique fitness.

“For our consumers who can’t make it to the studio every day we’ve had a strong emergence of our virtual platform with XPLUS and then we’ve launched domestically and internationally our XPASS which allows them to use Xponential (fitness locations).”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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