March 15, 2020
Founded by former professional dancer and Pilates Master Viveca Jensen in 2009, Piloxing is a women-owned global fitness company based in Los Angeles. With a philosophy that “fitness should be accessible, affordable, convenient, fun and free of pressure to perform,” Piloxing focuses on providing group fitness classes in four different programs through training and certifying instructors, as well as offering digital classes. There are currently instructors in most U.S. states and 92 countries. FIBO Focus sat down (virtually, of course) with co-founder and general counsel Natasha Bellroth for a look inside how this unique business operates. (Ed.Note: Director of business development Mia Bjorkroos and Jordan Ballard, director of education and lead Master Trainer, also added some insight into the business as part of the discussion.) www.piloxing.com
Although we don’t want to focus too much on it, Piloxing is a female-owned and operated company. How did that come about?
Natasha Bellroth: Viveca Jensen, Cortney Gornall and I are the three partners and co-founders of Piloxing. Viveca and I are both Swedish and met here in Los Angeles. Viveca had been Cortney’s Pilates instructor and Cortney became mine. When the company was formed, we were very aware of and proud to be three strong women working together to empower women.
So what do each of you bring to the partnership?
Bellroth: I am an attorney, Cortney is an occupational therapist and Viveca is a Pilates instructor and group fitness instructor. Our skill sets covered all aspects of the business’ needs initially. Once we began to grow, it was a very organic process, as if we all found each other, and we kept bringing more strong women on board.
So was that the plan?
Bellroth: There are all women on our core team, although that wasn’t a conscious decision. It was all very natural and we now have a team of likeminded, incredibly talented and charismatic women and men inspiring change across the world.
How much does being women-owned affect how you do business and structure your classes?
Bellroth: Everything. Our approach, our mission, our purpose. Being that the programs are created by powerful women, they inherently allow women to discover and embrace all facets of themselves – femininity, power, sensuality, silliness, fierceness – with the result of empowerment. That is what we call the Piloxing Experience. At a company level, we are constantly embracing being women in a male-dominated industry and finding the power and opportunity in that.
Other than the all-female management, what else differentiates you from your competition?
Jordan Ballard: Our programming. We remain the only group fitness brand that combines the two disciplines of Boxing and Pilates in one experience and we do so fluidly and effectively. That unique fusion has allowed us to establish and sustain a loyal audience.
What is your philosophy behind the programs you create?
Ballard: In creating all of our programming, we have held ourselves to a very high standard. Our approach is not quick and dirty, not simply pumping out content. Integrity is paramount for us, therefore our programming and continued education, everything we produce, is something we can stand behind.
How about from a business perspective?
Bellroth: We are very proud of the fact that we are entirely self-funded. However, that which sets us apart can be a blessing and a curse.
Bellroth: For example, we are invested in every dollar, every decision. That raises the stakes, yet allows us to make decisions with integrity and in keeping with our mission. We don’t have to answer to investors. It forces us to have a very lean team, yet one that has been with us from day one of expanding, and it allows us to be more agile.
You say on your website that you believe fitness should be “accessible, affordable, convenient and free of pressure to perform.” How do you make that happen?
Bellroth: It was a conscious decision from the very beginning to be an education provider versus consumer-directed workout content, or a franchise. Rather than franchise or cater to an exclusive demographic, every instructor pays the same entrance fee. They then charge their own rates — they are their own business.
What is the ultimate goal with that strategy?
Bellroth: The instructor’s ability to impact people and create transformation is the goal and bringing that to reality is our obligation. Teaching is a passion project and likely a part-time job for most and it is hugely under-resourced. We have integrated opportunities within our membership to help reduce the financial burden of membership and help to economically improve their overall experience. Inspiring, educating and motivating the instructor, while keeping prices down, that is our goal.
So who is your target customer?
Bellroth: Everyone. We believe there is a constituency among younger women that we have yet to tap into, an open space in the market. But generally speaking, women ages 25-55-plus are our main audience. Given our programs’ ability to allow that Piloxing Experience, embracing all facets of ourselves, they cast an increasingly wider net. We need to spend time in all of those elements, no matter where we are in our own personal journey. We [women] are more alike than different, regardless of age, location, demographic. Piloxing has proven that.
How has technology allowed Piloxing to reach a global audience?
Bellroth: With a reach to 90-plus countries, it is important that we as a company take any necessary steps to support our industry, including gyms and instructors, but also the consumers, without compromising the quality of our offerings. Technology has helped us do so in many different aspects of our business.
How about your latest Live Virtual Instructor workshops?
Mia Bjorkroos: Our latest tech upgrade was last year when we launched our Live Virtual Instructor training workshops. We live-stream our Virtual Instructor trainings utilizing the Zoom platform, which allows the participants to stay involved and actively engaged throughout the entire eight-hour training day. They can see and interact with the instructor and the other participants, and most importantly the instructor can see, interact and correct them.
How do you ensure the consistency of your training when it is virtual?
Bjorkroos: What is important to remember is that for Piloxing quality is of utmost importance and no matter if you take a live in-person training, a live Virtual training or even on-demand training, you can be sure that the quality will not be affected. The delivery method will be different, the experience will be different, but the content and the quality will be the same.
Bellroth: Additionally, we have partnered with both Wexer and Fitness OnDemand to offer our classes virtually in the clubs and at home or while traveling. We do not want to detract from live classes, that is important, but we want to provide a competitive and innovative opportunity for instructors and clients to access the experience during their travels and during a time such as now with safety concerns. We remain committed to expanding with the trend, yet keeping the live experience a focus.
Why should health clubs and trainers utilize Piloxing? What are the benefits to them and their clients?
Ballard: Because it works. We have been on the market for 10 years with steady expansion and high retention. Why? Because we have put together programs that are proven effective and unique, coupled with a membership network that supports the instructor — both ensuring their success and providing revenue opportunities.
Is that where the Piloxing Club Model comes in?
Ballard: The Piloxing Club Model brings the same benefits to the club — an economic approach to comprehensive programming. We know that licensed programming cost is prohibitive for facilities and individual instructors and we want to be the solution. We are constantly striving to improve and expand upon our member experience, to grow and adjust to the ever-changing industry demands.
How is Piloxing helping to make the fitness business stronger?
Ballard: One of the biggest contributions that we have made to the industry is the focus on and empowering of women. When we began in 2009, that movement had not yet begun. Our programming provided a safe container for women to discover, develop and own their power and femininity and it has been thrilling to watch it be embraced by the industry. When I conducted our first round of instructor trainings in India in 2015, many of the women getting certified had never been to a gym nor worked out. Bringing this experience to these communities all over the world and facilitating that movement is our fuel, our purpose.
How about the men?
Ballard: Of course, we have a male contingent and we love men, Their support is a welcomed integration to our mission.
Finally, in what direction is your company headed in 2020 and beyond?
Ballard: 2020 is yet another big year for Piloxing. In February, we released our newest program – Piloxing BootyBuilder – a collaboration with the eponymous Norwegian equipment brand, marking our first equipment-based program, joint venture and OnDemand Instructor Training option. Our soft launch took place in Vienna and the official launch was a Live Virtual training March 15. Several instructor trainings are scheduled globally, and the OnDemand option will release early summer 2020.