STRONG Pilates Planning Canadian Expansion with 1st North American Flagship Opening in 2024 [Interview]


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One-of-a-kind group fitness studio, STRONG Pilates is launching its first of many Canadian studios on January 6, 2024.  

With over 5,000 square feet, this flagship studio, in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood, will feature a workout space, beauty bar, washrooms with showers, stretching area and community collaboration space.

Alyce Luczak, Director of Operations & Performance for STRONG Pilates Canada, said the brand fills a gap in the market.

“We’re Pilates-inspired. So we’re not just solely a Pilates studio. It has basically the low impact workout formats that you would find in a Pilates class but it’s also a very high intensity workout. It has a very unique machine, which is the first of its kind in the Canadian market,” she said. “It has the option to either row or bike. 

“That is where the high intensity comes from and it’s a really good mesh of the two formats together and on top of that you’ve also got your traditional resistance style training as well. So we do have the dumb bell aspect as well.”

Future STRONG Pilates in Little Italy in Toronto (Rendering: STRONG Pilates)
Future STRONG Pilates in Little Italy in Toronto (Rendering: STRONG Pilates)

Ashley Haraburda, STRONG Pilates Flagship Studio Co-Owner, said the Toronto location will be the first in North America. It will be located at 533 College Street in the lower level of the building.

“Our location is just over 5,000 square feet so also for a Pilates studio it is very large in scale,” she said. “We are going to have 20 (of the row/bike training equipment). And options for clients to sign up to either row or ride. It started with the row and the bike has been a new part of innovation that the brand has implemented pretty recently. So we’re really excited that we’re going to be able to offer both those options to our guests.”

Strong Pilates co-founders Michael Ramsey and Mark Armstrong. (Image: STRONG Pilates)

The founding headquarters for the brand is in Australia. 

“It launched in 2019 and ever since then it’s been going strong, pun intended, and it’s basically expanding across the globe. There’s studios obviously across Australia, New Zealand, in the UK, Singapore, soon to come in Indonesia and obviously in Canada soon,” said Luczak.

She said the company wants to have more than 50 studios across Canada, hitting all the major cities.

“At this point in time there’s a lot of interest in the GTA as well as Vancouver,” said Luczak. “Right now, we are going through all the inquiries and the leads that people are submitting to become a part of the franchise and just looking for the right fit for the brand.

“Looking to find those owner operators, the investors, that really believe not only in the STRONG workout, the brand and the network of it but are going to be able to drive it forward in a really positive way.”

Future STRONG Pilates in Little Italy in Toronto (Rendering: STRONG Pilates)

Haraburda said the brand can appeal to all demographics. Traditionally Pilates has been geared more towards women. 

“In terms of actual workouts, it’s a combination of everything. It’s the best of Pilates, rowing, cardio, cycling and strength,” she said. “In the past, we’ve seen people who love Pilates, and my background is in dance, you tend to have your Pilates studio and then you’re going somewhere else for your cardio, or maybe you do a Pilates class and afterwards you want to go for a run to make sure you’re getting your heart rate up.

“We’re eliminating all that so now you can do everything in one studio and hold one membership and it’s open to everyone. And the way the classes are structured too, we make sure that you’re set up for success . . . Instructors are there to make sure you’re really working hard and sweating throughout the class.”

Image: STRONG Pilates

Haraburda said the studio also has a mobility area that encourages people to focus on recovery which is really important and has become more of a buzz word in the industry as well lately. 

“So you can either stretch before class, after class and those moves are created to benefit the moves that you’re doing directly in the class,” she said. “So we’re really making sure that people are getting the most out of their time and classes are 45 minutes. We know people are busy. We’re accommodating.”

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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