Open letter of Jeroen Vancoillie @GRACEPILATESSTUDIO BELGIUM
I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time but I was waiting for the right time to say it. Already for a few years now there is a crazy trend and it feels strange. Last week ,I saw again another advertisement for an opening of a Pilates "studio" in the neighbourhood, after seeing this I always get a bit shaky.
It doesn't feel right.
12 years ago I started my business, feels like my training is still going on. I see my mentor every week and train very disciplined. Starting a studio is a work of years, it requires an enormous passion. You have to be driven and own a lot of knowledge and social skills. You can easily spend a few years studying and learning the basic education , only after that you can start deepening it.
With the startup of those so called Pilates "studios" I am very worried about their quality. There are institutes that give you "diplomas" after only one weekend of Pilates. If you compare this with the years of training of the professionals, this is peanuts.
It’s important to know that Pilates embraces the whole method, so I assume that only a few mat workouts are taught in those weekend workshops. Unfortunately, this is only 10 percent of the whole method. If you have little respect for the craft it is unthinkable to open a "studio" with this kind of knowledge. By the way, I wouldn't put someone with issues on a Pilates mat for 60 minutes, there are so many other solutions for that.
Before the start of any training course, it is also important that you really immerse yourself in this method. 2-3 years of prior knowledge is really a minimum. I like to compare that with craftmen, because that's the way we should look at it. Imagine thinking of opening a butcher's shop without first mastering the craft. Bizarre, isn't it?
So I wonder what motivation someone has to start a studio without all that foreknowledge and passion for the job? It would be painful if it's just "trendy" to start with Pilates. It would be painful if it's just a financial motivation. It would be painful if those people think it's all that simple. It would be painful if you just think you can make a career switch just like this. It takes a lot of perseverance.
In a well-equipped business, tens of thousands of euros have to be spent on the purchase of equipment. Chairs, reformers, cadillacs, barrels, guillotine, mats… you name it, and then suddenly the work is reduced to a stinky rubber mat on a floor and a few "looks like the real stuff" exercises.
I feel absolutely no fear for my own business, or a certain competition because you can't really compare apples and pears with each other. But I do worry about our name and the wrong perception that people have of Pilates in our little world of real studios all over the world. If those people think that “their Pilates" is the same as what the professionals share then it does affect our business. Pilates is a free name, that fight was once lost in court. A very unfortunate case.
So please students and starters think twice when you're looking for quality, talk to the people who run the business. Are their hearts in the right place? Is it the real deal? Do they train themselves? Is it in their bodies?
A studio requires a certain atmosphere, equipment, high-quality teachers, knowledge and passion. Pilates is so much more than just some abdominal and back muscle exercises. It's a way of life, very complete, for everyone and everything and with the right approach we have great results. Find yourself a great mentor that spent the money for the good cause.
And if you're ever thinking of starting a studio, start with professionals first. Learn, practice, train, steal with your eyes and ears. Only after this period you can decide to start something yourself or not.
Phew, it's been said.