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Pilates Is Everywhere From Studios to ‘Saturday Night Live’

Pilates Is Everywhere From Studios to ‘Saturday Night Live’

The late-night comedy show devoted a sketch to the boutique fitness modality as it booms in popularity across the U.S.

Saturday Night Live, known for its topical takes on modern culture, poked fun at the cult-like Pilates craze and sticky socks this past weekend in a skit featuring comedian Kristen Wiig as a horrifyingly intense Pilates instructor. 

Indeed, the popular core- and muscle-building fitness modality is among the top three leading modalities in the boutique fitness market, along with yoga and Barre, although it likely stands in front of those two when it comes to recent growth numbers.

The skit’s concept — an R-rated horror movie trailer for “Pilates: Embrace the Shake” that SNL jokes is from the creators of Saw X and the marketing director for Alo — depicts two women trying Pilates class for the first time. 

“What is this place? Why is it so dark? And what are these…machines?” the Pilates newbies ask as they enter a dimly lit room with Reformer machines, pink and purple ambient lighting, and ‘No Pain, No Gain’ written in LED lights. Wiig, dressed in two-piece pink activewear, greets them before she launches into overly complicated (yet comical) strap instructions. 

SNL takes aim at the challenging aspects of the workout, known for resulting in the “Pilates shake,” and the fitness modality’s devotees.

“Most of the women are ex-dancers or first-time moms. Usually, there are eight gorgeous women,” a girl warns her friend. The clip then shows a breezy Kaia Gerber, who finds the challenging workout to be “randomly so easy.”

“Once you’re in…it’s impossible to get out,” the girl warns.

Pilates Brands Compete To Stand Out 

Pilates has received considerable attention from celebrities, athletes and on social media, with the whole-body workout trending on TikTok for its toning and flexibility transformations. 

As a result, brands in the Pilates space are rapidly scaling, especially as workout enthusiasts increasingly seek personalized fitness experiences in a group setting.

The Xponential Fitness-owned Club Pilates has been the most successful brand to date in terms of locations, with 1,000 open studios across the globe as well a presence at sea on Princess Cruise ships. JetSet Pilates, a fast-growing Miami-based brand has expanded internationally while eyeing 600 studios across the U.S. 

F45 Training is also capitalizing on Pilates, launching Vaura, a club-like Pilates concept with mirrored ceilings, a premium sound system and ambient lighting in NYC’s Upper East Side, with plans to open additional studios in time.

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Vaura Pilates (credit: F45 Training)

As one of 2024’s top fitness and wellness trends, some Pilates franchises are giving the traditional practice a twist in order to stand apart from the crowd.

Studio Pilates, an Australia-based franchise brand with locations in Brooklyn, New York, North Carolina and Kentucky, has begun offering classes that address the unique needs of pre and postnatal mothers.

“Pilates is one of the best methods for exercising while pregnant,” Marisa Fuller, owner of Studio Pilates franchises in the U.S., told Athletech News. “The highly targeted, modifiable exercises can effectively accommodate the needs of the pregnant women.” 

Solidcore, endearingly referred to as “Pilates on Steroids” and founded by fitness entrepreneur Anne Mahlum, is projecting 250 open studios by 2028. Living up to its name, Solidcore’s 50-minute sessions are designed for intensity — and without planned rest periods. 

“The workout itself is much more athletic and comes with a higher level of energy and intensity,” Solidcore president and CEO Bryan Myers has told ATN. “It’s just a totally different approach to what you see out there in the market traditionally under the Pilates umbrella.”

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