The 2016 Pilates in America Study
This study is a snapshot in time.
The moment was early in 2016. There was an uproar from the international Pilates world after New York Magazine published an article titled "The Pilatespocalypse: How the Method That Started the Boutique-Fitness Trend Is Going Bust." PMA Executive Director Elizabeth Anderson wrote a Letter to the Editor which was sent to New York Magazine and distributed via the PMA’s Facebook page. The post attracted remarkable reactions: 1,100 likes, 398 shares, and 233 comments.
Long before this New York Magazine article, the PMA regularly examined the existing research for answers to the frequently asked questions that we receive at the office concerning industry trends. After the Pilatespocalypse article went viral, however, we re-doubled our efforts as we prepared to refute it with legitimate statistics. We looked at a report put out by ACSM, their Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, but it didn’t answer our questions as they were focused on the larger fitness industry and particularly health clubs and gyms.
The context wasn’t right.
We looked at a report done by Sports & Fitness Industry Association on participation in the method, but the questions asked were so vague that we didn’t feel confident in the responses. We also looked at the report mentioned in the Pilatespocalypse article, IBISWorld’s Pilates and Yoga Studios in the US, but, again, the report disappointed as it focused overwhelmingly on yoga and seemed to just dump Pilates into the yoga paradigm. Even if the reports were positive, when we realized that the questions had not been well crafted, we didn’t feel we could trust the results.
It was clear that the time had come. Pilates needed its own focused research.
Hearing that the PMA was planning a research project investigating Pilates clients, teachers, and studio owners, Pilates Anytime reached out to the PMA and offered to be a partner in the project. Pilates Anytime agreed to share in the financial expense, collaborate on designing the interview questions, disseminate the survey to their database of clients and teachers, and assist with publicizing the final product. We at the PMA are grateful for their support and participation.
In the downloadable document below, you’ll read the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted from August 12th – September 26th, 2016 on behalf of the Pilates Method Alliance and Pilates Anytime.
We distributed an online survey to thousands of clients, teachers, and studio owners. Respondents included a sample of 930 active clients, 102 inactive and lapsed clients, 243 teachers, and 230 studio owners.
We recruited respondents in two ways. We sent user-specific links to members of the Pilates Method Alliance and Pilates Anytime databases. Additionally, we posted an open link to the survey (not targeted to any specific individual) in various social media locations, including:
Facebook (Pilates Method Alliance and Pilates Anytime)
Twitter (Pilates Anytime)
Blog post (Pilates Anytime)
Newsletters (Pilates Anytime)
We hope that this study will be illuminating to Pilates professionals, bringing new insights that will inform how you understand the Pilates landscape, conduct your marketing, or employ your teachers.
Maybe it will confirm things you already knew, or thought were true but had no evidence for. Perhaps you will disagree with the findings. If so, bear in mind that these are responses made by the numbers of people mentioned above during a roughly six-week period in 2016. This Study does not represent everyone in the profession, just those that answered the interview questions. This is the first study of its kind specific to Pilates, and we consider it an initial benchmark against which future studies will be compared.
Managing this project was an extremely labor-intensive undertaking with a steep learning curve for both the PMA and Pilates Anytime. Having asked the questions and received the answers that we did, we now have many more ideas for questions for the next study, to provide further clarification and insight.
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