This inaugural feature in our Q&A spa and wellness series brings you the insight of Lindsay Lopez, founder of Form Pilates Union Square in NYC. She shares details into marketing strategies, the philosophy of her studio, tips for motivating clients, and more.
Q: You’re originally from L.A. and relocated to NYC. Do you find the Pilates scene to be different between the two cities? If so, how?
A: I grew up in Los Angeles and started teaching there over 10 years ago. When I started teaching, Pilates was not as prevalent as it is now….there were very few studios on the scene. I had never seen classical New York-style Pilates until my mentor came to L.A. to teach; it’s definitely more of a modern take on the method. In California, Pilates is more fitness-based; people are more interested in esthetics, having a flat stomach, perfect body, and here in New York, people are more concerned about getting around. You have to walk everywhere, climb the subway steps, etc.
Q: What would you say is your philosophy for your studio?
A: I’ve worked in a lot of different Pilates studios and right before I had a chance to take over this existing Pilates studio, which became Form, I was working at Equinox. One of the things that I felt after years of teaching was that it was really hard to make a living teaching Pilates, and people didn’t really understand that you can’t teach 40-plus hours of week without burning yourself out.
At Form, teachers could come, they could bring their own clients, charge what they wanted and still have a great, clean space with equipment that was in working order…They like it because they make more money, I like it because I have less overhead, and it seems to work well.
I really wanted it to be about a community, about entrepreneurs, where teachers could be entrepreneurs as well. Sixty percent of revenue is rental income, that’s little to no overhead…We’re hoping to open a second location next year, same concept.
Q: What kind of marketing do you find to be most successful?
A: I built my business on word of mouth. I don’t do too much traditional marketing…The biggest marketing tip I can give is to build your email list organically through your website…I’m diligent about communicating with my list; it keeps me in their mind. It’s organic. It’s people that raised their hand and said, “I’m interested.” I give a lot of high-value free content: videos or articles about food, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Word of mouth, community, and email list are the three [main initiatives], and the website is the vehicle for all of that. As well, definitely market on social media.
Q: What kind of techniques do you use to keep your clientele motivated during a workout – and coming back to Form?
A: I think it’s the experience of the studio. Our studio has a high-end spa-like feel, like you’re doing something really nice for yourself, from the time you walk in to the door to the time you leave the session. We have fresh flowers, tea, a place to sit. It’s not just about their workout, it’s about relaxation and a treat for themselves.
We give a personalized approach to the method. We can only have four bodies working out at the same time. Every client has a plan…and I can attest to that—my clients have been with me for years. In general, I think it’s the relationship—it goes beyond the actual workout and the experience…[Also], trainers all have been trained really well and have different backgrounds to offer.
Q: What do you think sets your studio apart from others?
A: The fact that we deal with teachers and allow them to rent the space and focus on the entrepreneurial side of things. We’re boutique: It’s all one-on-one or duet sessions. We’re exclusively in that genre, in that niche—not larger classes.
Q: You devote your career to helping people feel their best. How do you take care of yourself?
A: Sleep is huge for me. I have to make sure I get enough sleep a night, and I’ve learned over the years, I do need eight hours. I do take at least one full day off [a week] when I don’t do anything business-related. I do my own workouts—Pilates, spinning…It’s really easy as an instructor to become discouraged if you’re not giving yourself the workout. I try to eat well, take baths, go to the spa. In general, I think the rest and taking a day off is huge for me.