When Jess Hughes started Citizen Pilates in 2015, she wanted to create a space that welcomed everyone and offered a non-judgmental space to practice Pilates.
Jess dreamed of a beautiful, community-centric space: one where excited, enthusiastic instructors knew the names of every new student before they walked in the door. To find the right instructors, Jess hires her team of instructors based on who they are, rather than what they look like or what they know. “Finding that charisma and finding those soft skills that you can't teach is definitely a challenge for any studio owner.”
In addition to having the right instructors, Jess wants Citizen to be affordable so that reformer Pilates can be accessible to more people. When customers book at Citizen for the first time, they pay a $29 drop-in to come to their first class, but if they make a second purchase to become a member, that Citizen applies that $29 as a credit.
And when they come to the studio for the first time, Jess’s staff already knows their name, thanks to Citizen's Pilates software. “We see the first visit green star in the software, so we know it’s a new client. When we get the notification, we do some investigation and verify it’s their first time. New customers are surprised because they think we can’t possibly know their name on their first visit.”
Once inside the studio, Jess has one rule for her instructors and clients: Give it your all, regardless of your fitness level.
Jess calls her students Citizens—and the studio’s Instagram is filled with photos of Citizens in their daily lives wearing the studio’s branded gear. Jess knows that her brand’s greatest asset is the people that come to her studios, and she makes sure her marketing reflects that.
“We’ve got a lot of activity on our social pages to highlight our customers' successes,” Jess explained. “Maybe even their failures to let them know that they’ve got a huge support of Citizens behind them to get through that next challenge they face either at the office, with any kind of lifestyle change, or just generally tacking their well-being and wellness.”
Jess’s approach is working: she expanded to a second location after just over a year in business to meet growing demand for classes while still focusing on the intimate atmosphere that Jess imagined when she dreamed of Citizen Pilates.