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Why is Pilates so Darn Expensive?

Posted Aug 10 2011 8:19am

When I first moved to Washington, D.C., the first thing that shocked me was the road system. Numbers and letters (I get it – a grid!) but wait – diagonals (huh?) and circles (what?). Most of these roads were designed in 1791 by Pierre Charles L’Enfant (George Washington’s drinking buddy) before there were cars and it was intended as the model for American city planning and a symbol of governmental power to be seen by other nations. Um, fail.

That you drive on Rock Creek Parkway and 17 th street one direction in the morning, and in another direction in the afternoon is a recipe for disaster. Don’t get me started on 66, Route 50, or the Beltway.

The second thing that shocked me was the price of everything. Which brings me to my third installment of the arguments against Pilates – its price.

I have no money. I’m a grad student/non-profit employee/associate saddled with law school debt. I live in D.C. – one of the most overpriced cities in the world.

Trust me, we get it. According to a 2011 Kiplinger Report, Washington DC ranks sixth in the most expensive U.S. cities. Rents, averaging $1,790 per month, are more than double the national average. The average home price is $670,675. And that doesn’t even take into account the cost of a martini in this town. Or a burger.

But, we don’t sell those, so let’s talk about the price of Pilates.

The Fuse reformer/tower (jumpboard and push prep) studio. Cost? In terms of your physique and health? Priceless.

First – why it’s expensive.

  1. The training. A comprehensively trained Pilates instructor has spent a minimum of $4,000 for that one training unless they were lucky enough to be trained by a studio who employs them. That doesn’t count private instruction (personally – I have spent over $6,000 on that), travel to do the certifications that are rarely in your home town (more than $4K here), other certifications (I’m up to another $7K in specialty training), mentorships, workshops, continuing education requirements, anatomy courses… My Pilates education price tag far exceeded my undergrad degree years ago. And, it hasn’t stopped (conference this month, breast cancer surgery rehab training next).
  2. The equipment.   A high end studio reformer is at least $3,000. Go really high end, and you’re looking at more like $6K. The other equipment is similarly pricey. To fully outfit a studio with the gadgets of Pilates, you are heading upwards of six figures. At the Fuse Playground, we brought in studio-grade equipment (i.e. top-of-the-line). Sure, some studios buy cheaper equipment, but they tend to price themselves as high or higher than studios who bought the good stuff (hmmm, maybe you should change studios…).   We understand gyms have a lot more equipment than that, but they also operate on a factory system of extremely high number of customers who pay memberships. And equipment cost doesn’t count rent in this town (see above rant on housing expenses), teacher salaries, air conditioning and heating bills, and more.
  3. The Class Size.  Pilates classes are reasonably small. If we had a reformer class with 30 reformers, it would make sense that those classes could be cheaper. But, there’s no way to teach a class that big and keep the students safe, even if it were possible to find a space in DC large enough to accommodate it.

So, it’s expensive for a reason. But, let’s talk about why it’s worth it.

First, you can get most of the benefits of the work just from the mat (the least expensive of our classes). In fact, Joseph Pilates considered the mat work the goal – it features some of the toughest work in the repertoire. I’ve been doing Pilates forever, and I still think the mat work is the toughest. Those gorgeous brides in a previous post? Kate did exclusively the mat work. At Fuse, you could get into a mat class for less than you spend on your coffee drinks most weeks (or if you have a real coffee problem, less than you spend in a day).

But the equipment classes are really fun and challenging (and target arms, legs, and back a little better), so let’s talk about their cost. A chair class is less than you spend on a single dinner out (by yourself), and a reformer class costs less than enough sushi to fill you up. Plus, we have apprentice classes with our teachers completing their training – and those are half-price.

Second, it’s a workout that’s actually fun. And with as much stress as we have in our daily lives from our bosses, coworkers, city driving, significant others, mothers, mother-in-laws, DC parking enforcement, debt ceilings and threatened government shutdowns, we need a little fun in our lives.

Third, it’s extremely effective. Old Joe said himself that with Pilates you can feel a difference in 10 sessions, see one in 20, and have a whole new body in 30. At Fuse, we think our method can speed that up. We’ve had plenty of students notice a difference even more quickly. If you’re going to spend money on a work out, it better work.

Next post, I’ll tell you what not doing Pilates can cost you.

Stay hard core,

Mariska

 

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