Pilates Classes: Is Bigger Always Better?
What would your clients think of a more limited class size?
Before you enter the studio, you can already see that the room is filled with enthusiastic Pilates students, eager to begin the class. It’s invigorating to see so many clients. You take this as a sign that your business is doing well. After all, isn’t your goal to boost the number of clients you have and increase your revenue at the same time?
While a robust class size is uplifting, have you ever considered restricting the number of individuals who can attend a class? How would the experience differ for you?
The Pros of Small Classes
Constance Festo Lafond, owner of Complete Body by Connie Pilates in Wakefield, Massachusetts, can offer a positive response to those questions. For the last four years, she’s been offering classes restricted to only five participants—so she knows from firsthand experience how fulfilling it can be to work with a smaller number of individuals, particularly those who might require a bit more attention.
“As a dedicated teacher of Pilates, I find that the most rewarding teaching experience is sharing this technique with individuals who are challenged by real or perceived limitations,” she said. “The small-format class works best for me, because it allows me to modify each individual’s workout. It also provides a more supportive and collegial environment where each person feels that they are the focus of my attention.”
The limited class size enables Lafond to focus on each client to ensure that he or she is deriving the optimal benefit from the technique. On the flip side, clients appreciate this individualized attention.
The Cons of Small Classes
Of course, there is a downside to conducting classes for such a small group. “The disadvantage for me is the absence of only a few clients will have a larger impact on my income from each class,” Lafond said. And while she enjoys the intimacy of this group structure, she knows that individuals drop out or put class attendance on hiatus for various reasons. This means she needs to continually market her program.
“I am constantly focused on increasing the client pool to compensate for the natural attrition of individuals from being active participants. These two facts make a delicate balance between growth and maintaining the desired small class size,” Lafond noted.
As for clients’ thoughts on class size, Lafond has not received any complaints. “I am not sure there is a disadvantage for my clients, except when they wish they could hide in the back of the class if they feel they are having a bad day,” she said.
Every Pilates instructor and studio has to make decisions that benefit the business as well as the client base. In many cases, large class sizes will take precedence over smaller groups. But adding an occasional size-limited class might offer some unexpected perks. Some clients may be drawn to smaller settings where they know they’ll receive individualized attention and derive more benefit from the class.