Executive Q&A: Club Pilates President Mike Gray

After two years of on-again, off-again gym closures and a workout-from-home boom, we asked industry executives for their thoughts on the future of fitness.

In this Q&A, we spoke with Club Pilates President Mike Gray about the importance of community, how gyms/studios can thrive, and the enduring appeal of Pilates.

Shuttered during the pandemic, gyms/studios are rebounding. How do they succeed going forward?

Mike Gray: The boutique studio setting continues to rebound and become the top choice for fitness consumers due to the sense of community and personalized experience that happens in this space.

At Club Pilates, members get a sense of being cared for and feeling appreciated, which is a key element in expanding any fitness concept, but especially something that big-box gyms need to prioritize to better connect with the consumer.

Many big-box gyms are now using the studio format as a guideline and model to try to emulate that community awareness, culture, and feel.

Omnichannel or hybrid fitness is gaining traction. How does it play out?

MG: While this area will inevitably grow, it’s worth noting this format has been in existence for decades, calling back to VHS and television workouts.

There will always be a segment of the population that enjoys experiencing fitness in this way, so it’s all about adapting to the many different customer needs and offering services and products accordingly.

What we’ve also seen, however, is that many consumers tend to revert back to in-person fitness because of the different benefits:

  • the ability to step out of your space at home
  • the in-person accountability of an instructor and coach, etc.
  • the endorphins that come from a community environment/group setting in person

From VR to web3, immersive exercise is trending. How will it impact fitness?

MG: I believe it’s key that we continue bridging the gap between the in-studio experience and individual experience, especially when it comes to helping the individual experience come to life.

People love options now more than ever. And they love seeing their favorite fitness concept adapt to their needs and take a modernized, tech-forward approach while also staying true to what they love in their fitness experience.

To help our members move their workouts into the evolving tech space, Club Pilates is integrated into Xponential+ (XPLUS), which offers consumers the option to bring Pilates with them anywhere through a digital, on-demand workout experience.

They experience the same knowledgeable instructors they love in-studio through their personal device, allowing them to experience Club Pilates wherever they are.

We’re also integrated into XPASS, Xponential’s cross-brand subscription, so individuals who enjoy a varied workout routine can try Club Pilates in addition to other fitness modalities in the Xponential family of brands at their convenience, outside of a studio-specific membership.

What trends will shape the future of fitness?

MG: The difficulties of the last two years allowed us to level-set and refocus on the consumer versus the product.

Everyone wants to feel safe and be in a fun environment where they can accelerate and thrive. With that, the unit of measurement is changing to: how well do you continue to bring that safe, enjoyable, community-centric environment to your customer base?

There is also an evolution of fitness in a cyclical way. Exercises like Pilates were designed to help repair/get people back on their feet, and what we’re finding now is there is more awareness for exercise that is focused on prevention of injury and low impact yet still functions as an effective workout.

This has allowed the benefits of Pilates as a modality to continue attracting new members.

Wrapping up: Anything else we should keep in mind?

MG: When I started at CP in 2017, we had 126 open. Today, it’s 760+ worldwide.

We continue to be the largest Pilates brand globally, allowing us to continue on our mission to bring the benefits of Pilates to every body. Our success domestically has been duplicated internationally, with studios across four continents and 12 countries (and counting!), and we’re thrilled that new territories and markets continue to open up because of the brand awareness that we’ve fostered.