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Why is Pilates so expensive?

One of the most-searched phrases online regarding Pilates is “Why is Pilates so expensive?”

It’s a fair question. Maybe you've found yourself wondering that yourself as a client. Maybe you're thinking about becoming a Pilates teacher or maybe you're a teacher who is considering opening your own studio, and now you're wondering about what you'll be budgeting for. We're happy to dive into it!

We'll be the first to admit that Pilates is pricey, and it can surprise people when they see the cost of a drop-in class or 1:1 sessions (this can be particularly noteworthy since it's often not covered by health insurance). Why does Pilates tend to cost more than going to a yoga class or a generic group fitness class?

Anybody who owns or runs a business knows that business owners must pay a lot of regular expenses (internet, electricity, computer software, cleaning supplies, etc). But a few things make a Pilates studio in particular a pricey passion project.

1. The equipment

We’ve talked about the cost of Pilates equipment in the past, but in case you missed that discussion, here's the truth: Pilates equipment is jarringly expensive, even if you go with the less “elite” versions of apparatus without all the bells and whistles. For example, a single studio reformer will cost anywhere between $5,000-$12,000 CAD (before shipping). Even the little spring replacements on their own cost hundreds of dollars -- and all springs need to be replaced annually. It’s an enormous investment that can take a LONG time to pay for itself, especially for large, fully outfitted studios.

2. Initial education/certification

A reputable certification course will generally cost you somewhere between $2000 to $10,000 CAD, depending on how comprehensive it is or what type of Pilates lineage you’re studying, and that may or may not include things like the course materials, exam fees, and plane tickets… and it doesn’t account for the countless hours of study time, observation hours, and unpaid practice teaching hours.

3. Rent

Rent is getting expensive pretty much everywhere these days, including for commercial space. It’s a big reason why so many studio owners opt for small home studios. When you're renting a space with enough room for multiple reformers and large group mat classes -- whew, that's not a small order! Here in Whitehorse, most studio or fitness space owners are renting or paying for spaces that cost somewhere around $20,000 and $60,000 a year for their physical space alone (not necessarily including extra utilities), depending how big it is and how new the building is.

4. Insurance

Insurance is another substantial expense, and it goes up if you have Pilates equipment and apparatus, a physical studio versus an online one, and contractors/employees, and then more if you teach virtual international clients or high-risk special populations or elite athletes. For context, we pay about $1000/year for our little studio.

5. Continuing education

To maintain their certification and retain their insurance coverage, your teacher will usually need to keep up with their continuing education credits. It’s nice that we now have more online options for CEC workshops, but that’s still somewhere around $600 CAD/year, and for more comprehensive education or specialization, it’s more like $3000/year (not including flights and accommodations if you need to travel for the course).

6. Your teacher’s time and energy

Even though your teacher is having fun and loves what they do, they are working hard for you and the studio behind the scenes when you're not in class with them. That work will include the individualized class planning, and then setting up and cleaning up after each class or client. Countless hours are spent on emails and admin work (often after regular business hours), social media, filming and editing videos and tutorials, studio maintenance and cleaning, managing staff or contractors... the list is endless.

Is your Pilates teacher making bank with their high rates?

Maybe, but probably not. Although some Pilates teachers and studios definitely position themselves as catering toward the “elite” and they’re unapologetically proud of charging extravagant amounts for their services (like this New York City Pilates studio), it’s much more likely that your local Pilates studio is setting their rates to just try to get by. Even if the initial cost of your session appears to be high, it's actually most common for teachers and studio owners to take home minimum wage or -- more often -- even less. This is a huge reason as to why so many beautiful studios and other privately owned businesses had to close their doors over the course of the pandemic.

Another thing to note for many skilled Pilates professionals is burnout. Teaching can easily become unsustainable when their time and effort are not being adequately compensated, even if they love their jobs and are great at what they do.

What if cost is an issue?

All that said, if Pilates classes are too expensive for you, we hold no judgement! Everyone has to make budget decisions that align with their values and abilities, and we totally get that.

It would be nice if high-quality Pilates was easily available to everyone, but that’s not always the case. We are proud to offer our sliding-scale community classes so that there's something for everyone. You can also check out our previous blog post on doing Pilates with us when you’re on a limited budget. Additionally, we are happy to recommend other studios and teachers (online and in person) who may be able to offer their services at a lower rate than we do.

Questions? Thoughts? Please send them our way! We’re all about being down to earth and transparent, and we’re happy to chat if this subject has raised any concerns or thoughts for you.


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