Michael Ramsay, Co-founder and CEO of STRONG Pilates

Strong Pilates

In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Michael Ramsay, co-founder and CEO of STRONG Pilates, an Australia-born boutique concept infusing reformer Pilates with strength and conditioning. Michael shares how its patented machines balance high-intensity and low-impact training. Plus, he details the franchise’s growth plans for North America and Asia.

Tell us a little about STRONG Pilates.

Michael Ramsay: STRONG Pilates bridges the gap between reformer Pilates, strength & conditioning, HIIT and endurance training.

We use our patented Rowformer machine, where exercisers have the option to row or ride during each session. Studios house 16 to 22 Rowformer beds, with clients switching between resistance-based Pilates movements for strength and hypertrophy and rowing/riding to spike heart rate and increase calorie expenditure.

Instructor-assist technology enables clients to see the exercises displayed on screens while trainers control the timing. Music changes from R&B on the strength side to deep house and beats on the row/ride side.

We use lighting, different cues and adaptive programming to make each session feel different and exciting. At the end of the workout, STRONG humans get a cold towel soaked in eucalyptus oil to cool off and tailored stretching for recovery.

What led you to pursue this opportunity?

MR: Pilates is so incredibly beneficial for your body (and mind) but always leaves you feeling like you want to do more, a lot like the natural high from something cardio-heavy like a run or a HIIT session.

Combining cardio with controlled Pilates movements is the perfect storm. The balance between high intensity and low impact makes you feel incredible, giving you all the benefits of Pilates and resistance training with a huge calorie burn.

How did you turn your idea into a company?

MR: STRONG Pilates was set up as a franchise from day one. We always felt the concept was incredibly niche, so we built the company to scale from the start.

The business is still privately owned and self-funded as it approaches its 50th location, with 150+ confirmed studios in the pipeline. STRONG’s HQ team consists of around 20 staff and will progressively increase as the company grows.

How big can this get?

MR: We want STRONG Pilates to be the market leader in low-impact training worldwide.

STRONG is now operational across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK, and we’ll launch in Canada, Jakarta, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines and the US in 2024.

We’re achieving this growth through a series of partnerships, master franchise agreements, developer deals and key hires in certain territories.

How do you reach your core customer?

MR: Our members range from 16 to 78 years old and come from all sorts of training backgrounds in Pilates, strength and running.

We also have people who are completely new to a Reformer or rowing. Putting our efforts into branding first and foremost, we aim to reach people five, seven and 10+ times across various marketing channels.

Referral is also a huge part of our business, and we leverage the 10K+ people training across the network to share the love of the brand.

What’s next on the roadmap?

MR: Our goal was 50 studios by the end of 2023. In the next six months, we’ll launch in Canada, Jakarta and Japan, with a substantial US pipeline already building.

The STRONG network is on track to achieve over $30M in annual revenue, with innovation in tech and machinery front of mind. In Q1 2024, STRONG will launch three new Rowformer innovations to effectively double our exercise library, with integrated heart rate and Concept 2 monitor integration coming in Q4 2024.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers?

MR: STRONG’s average pre-sales are now sitting at over 210 members from the start, ensuring studios are profitable and thriving from the day they open. We’re not well-liked by traditionalists, nor do we want to be. We sit in our lane and are on a mission to deliver a unique, holistic, low-impact training experience to the world.

If you’re interested in having your company featured in our Q&A series, send an email to hello@welltodoglobal.com.

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