Four Tips to Selecting the Right Pilates Studio
By Mary Jo Falvey, MA
Pilates is a commitment of your time, health and finances. Studios are popping up in fitness centers, stand-alone boutique businesses, and as as franchises. It can be very confusing to choose a studio, especially for newbies. Here are four tips to help you decide the best fit for you.
Schedule a Visit:
Meet with the owner and/or an instructor to discuss your goals, background and health. Scheduling a visit ensures that someone will be available to spend time with you. Ask to take a tour (best arranged during a time when instructors are teaching so you can get a feel for what their style is like) and meet the front office staff.
Inquire as to the Credentials of the Teaching Staff:
Read up on the instructors. What type of certifications and training do they have? How long have they practiced and taught pilates? Are they certified in any other modalities, and if so, which ones. The ideal pilates instructor has a certification through a reputable training program, with a minimum of 300 hours of classroom instruction, practice teaching, personal practice and observation. Inquire about continuing education requirements and courses the instructors have taken in the past year. If you have any physical limitations, find out if the instructors have coursework and experience training people in your situation. Inquire as to whether there are any instructor trainers on staff – these individuals teach pilates certification courses and are a good resource for the teaching team. Ask whether the instructors are certified in mat pilates or on the equipment. If they are certified on equipment, find out if they are certified in reformer, cadillac, chair and/or barrels. Multiple equipment certifications allow the instructor to provide you with thousands of different exercises that are individualized to your body, fitness level and goals. Finally, ask whether the instructors can adapt exercises to accommodate your own needs and expectations. Pilates exercises are not a “one size fits all” and lessons should be designed for YOU.
Take a Look at the Equipment and the Environment:
Ask about equipment. A fully equipped studio should have reformers, chairs, towers, a cadillac, barrels and a variety of small equipment, such as bands, balls, fitness circles, and small weights. Other than the equipment, look at the how the studio is laid out. There should be an area to take off shoes and store coats and bags. Especially in a smaller space, you don’t want to be walking over your personal items. Although you may not think of it, learn where the restrooms are located and how many restrooms there are. Again, you don’t want to have to walk through a class to use the restroom. Ideally there should be several restrooms and/or changing areas so you won’t have to wait in line.
Learn about Studio Operations:
Inquire as to the hours of operation and determine if they fit your schedule. Note the travel time to and from the studio during the time of day you plan to exercise. Learn about pricing, packages and services offered. Most studios have a cancellation policy; the industry standard is 24 hours prior to avoid a lesson charge. Learning about the policy up front will ensure there are no surprises down the road. Frequently studios require new clients to take private lessons before joining a group or semi-private class. This policy ensures that new students understand the basics and are able to keep up. Does the studio you’re considering have such a policy? You may want to inquire about forms of payment, and whether you can split package costs up into smaller amounts. This will help you budget your lessons. Finally, be sure that the studio has a business license and holds liability insurance. Wishing you the best in your pilates journey, Mary Jo
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