Is Club Pilates Worth It? My Review After Years of Being a Member

club pilates

*Note: This review was originally published in December of 2022 and has been updated to stay current.

In just a few weeks, a lot of people are going to make the New Year’s resolution to get in shape or even lose weight. I see the wave of sign-ups every January at Club Pilates, where I’ve taken pilates reformer classes for the past three years. Then, usually, by March, the crowds have thinned and a lot of the people have gone back to living their pre-resolution lives.

So, if you’ve been looking into a Club Pilates membership as a way to reach those fitness goals, but have questions and wonder if it’s worth it, keep reading. I’m going to share my honest Club Pilates review and the inside scoop on what it’s really like as a member, plus how to get the most out of your membership if you do sign up.

What is Club Pilates?

Club Pilates offers low-impact, full-body Reformer Pilates-based workouts with a variety of classes that challenge your mind as well as your body. They made reformer pilates classes more affordable with their pilates-only membership program. While pilates is still the most expensive fitness membership I’ve ever had, it’s more affordable than taking pilates classes at a private gym or even pilates classes at the gym I went to before, where sessions ran from $25-40 for one 30-minute class. Reformer pilates has always been on the pricier side, for a variety of reasons, one of them being that teachers require specialized training to teach the classes and the reformer machines are expensive to purchase and maintain.

But, Club Pilates found a way to accelerate teacher training through the use of their highly focused teacher training programs (that I almost signed up for in 2021 and researched thoroughly) and pilates only classes. So, while it’s still an investment–which we’ll talk about more later–it’s going to be on par with memberships to places like Pure Barre and other stylized gyms. Sidenote: If you’re interested in Pure Barre, read my full review of that here.

What is Reformer Pilates?

club pilates

New to this workout? I’ve shared a lot about it on the blog, because it’s been transformative for me and my health. When I started having autoimmune issues, which included tons of body aches, pains and overall fatigue, I couldn’t do the workouts I’d been doing for all of my life. I’m a very athletic person and enjoy taking care of my body, but I wasn’t even able to make it up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. If I did a traditional gym workout, I would have been almost incapable of moving for a week.

When I found pilates, the low-impact workouts was exactly what I needed to build core strength, flexibility, muscle strength and bring alignment to my body. It helps reduce inflammation, too. I have a lot of pain that comes and goes throughout my body and I go to classes almost no matter how I’m feeling, because I find that I feel better when I leave than when I got there. It helps stretch out achy limbs and reduces the inflammation that causes the pain.

Plus, many of the workouts are performed while lying down on the reformer machine, which means you aren’t putting all of your body weight on hands and feet. There are exercises that do, but it’s not the predominant workout as it is in other types of fitness classes. I find that I am able to work out longer and harder because of the nature of the exercises. I see people in classes with all body types and they are also able to perform most of the exercises. There has even been professional athletes recovering from injuries that use pilates to restore strength and balance so they can get back to doing their jobs.

To read more about pilates and the benefits it offers, check out this detailed post here.

How do Club Pilates memberships work?

You have options when choosing a Club Pilates membership. You can choose to pay per class or purchase a monthly membership.

While the prices at each club is different or the prices will be same for a block of clubs with the same owner, they have the following break down of membership options:

  • Individual class passes (most expensive)
  • 4 classes per month
  • 7 classes per month (website says 8-pack, my studios don’t offer that)
  • Unlimited Monthly (the plan I have)
  • Annual (pay a year at a time)
  • Passport (the pass that allows you to go to any CP across the US)

The more you buy, the cheaper the classes are, unless you pay for unlimited and go less than 2x per week. I have always been on the unlimited plan, for me it’s less than $200 a month and I go 3-5x a week. This brings my per class price down to $10-15 a class. If you’d like to do pilates, but at home using your own reformer, check out my post where I find the 6 best pilates reformers for your home pilates workout.

How do you book Club Pilates classes?

club pilates

You sign up for classes on your app which allows you to book and cancel bookings right on your phone. For unlimited plans, we can book up to 10 classes at a time. Then, if you don’t show up to a class, you pay a fee of $15 or so. If you cancel before the class, but after 24 hours, you pay $10. Personally, I don’t mind this, because it can be difficult to get into some classes and then when you go, there will be empty reformers. You know there’s a waitlist and people couldn’t get in because members signed up and didn’t show. Very frustrating.

They do offer seasonal deals occasionally where you can buy a block of classes or get a membership at a discount. If you happen to get into a new studio, they’ll grandfather you in on the rate you get forever. There are some members who were the first to join my location and they pay an incredible rate for their unlimited memberships.

How often should you go to Club Pilates?

How often should you go? At least 2-3x a week to see results. Sounds like a lot, but I’ll warn you: pilates is addicting, especially if you struggle with other types of exercise. I can go up to 5x a week and be fine. I can’t do that with any other kind of exercise, even walking. If I go for an hour walk, my heels and arches will hurt for a couple days. So, pilates is definitely addicting. I think if you mixed up your class types and levels, you could even go every day. To learn more about how and why I walk – check out this post.

What kinds of classes does Club Pilates have?

The classes at Club Pilates are leveled by difficulty. You start with an introduction class to learn how the reformer works and basic movements. This is required to take classes. Then, you move to a level 1 which is going to progress through exercises slower, with more breaks in between, a lot more instruction and guidance from teachers, and lighter weight loads.

You move to a 1.5 and it’ll get a bit more rigorous, slightly heavier weights, less breaks between exercises. At this point, you have options for different types, such as Control, Flow and Cardio. Cardio uses the jump board and you jump lying down. It’s very cool, I love it, but it’s heavy cardio and will work you out. You can always take breaks when needed, too.

After that, you go to a level 2. These classes move faster, exercises are harder, and the weight is heavier. I have been doing 2’s for almost my entire time at CP. There are different types, such as Control, Flow, and Suspend. Depending on the teacher, a 2 can be close to a 1.5 or it can feel like a 10.

There are some level 2.5s and you can go with instructor approval. There is a lot more balance work involved and you need to be strong enough to do the exercises without injuring yourself. It can be a really fun challenge after you’ve done pilates for awhile.

What’s amazing is you can make any workout easier or harder based on how you engage your muscles and core. The longer you do pilates, the more you understand your body, how to isolate different muscle groups and how to use your body to manipulate the exercise to meet your own abilities that day. Some days I am stronger than others and I can naturally adapt to make the workout right for me.

How do Club Pilates classes work?

After you’ve booked a class, make sure to arrive properly dressed, with water, at least 5 minutes before your class time. You’ll want to wear stretchy leggings that aren’t too tight and don’t have any pockets or weird seams on the backside, because you’ll be laying down quite a bit. I’ve tested a lot of activewear and wrote a post with my top picks for pilates leggings, but if you want the elevator pitch: these leggings are my absolute favorite. They are buttery soft, stretchy, super flattering, don’t roll down, allow your body to move and breathe, and are super affordable.

You’ll also want to wear a top that is comfortable and not too loose, as well as pilates socks. When you enter into the lobby, remove your shoes, put on your pilates socks (these are required), drop your things in a cubby and check in. You’ll wait until the class before you has left completely and then you’ll get your towel, spray and head to a reformer machine. Try not to change at the location if possible. There are bathrooms, but there isn’t a lot of time.

After you’ve picked a machine, you can put on your own straps if you like (I do, they’re more comfortable) and then pick out some weights. I use 5 or 3lb weights depending on the teacher. You only use these for some exercises in the class.

Then, you wait for the teacher to signal the start of class. They turn on music and they have you start by doing breathwork and roll downs. At the end of class, most classes applaud the teacher, then you use your towel and spray to clean everything you touched and reset the reformer. The teacher may ask you to do certain spring settings or other equipment placement to get the next class ready. This is nice if the class before you did this for you. It helps getting the next class started easier, because if people are right on time or late, you don’t have to wait until the teacher gets them set up.

You head back to the front, drop off your towel and spray, put your shoes on, get your things and you’re good to go.

How are Club Pilates teachers trained?

I almost did the teacher training program, so I know a thing or two about this. It’s a somewhat rigorous program that involves in person classes, online classes, book learning, teacher observation and a gradual release of instruction. Your pay scale reflects how full your classes are and how long you’ve been teaching, so it gives teachers an incentive to do well.

They do accept teachers with other schools of pilates training and then offer additional training to get them well-versed on the CP way. There are things that most CP classes have that are standard, so every teacher does them in every class. This continuity helps me, personally, know what to expect and have a more consistent experience. For example, classes start with roll downs and usually end with feet in straps. A lot of the warmups are done on the reformer, lying down, although sometimes they use the chair or do them standing.

Some people have criticized Club Pilates for having cookie cutter classes, but it’s like Starbucks. You know what you’re paying for and it delivers it consistently each time. The only issue I have is with teachers who don’t mix up their flow often enough. If you’re taking the same teachers classes a couple times a week, it gets very old to do the same flow over and over again. I can do that at home with a $10 video. I don’t need to pay good money for that. I find that very few teachers do this, though. Most of them mix it up all the time and always keep you guessing.

What is Club Pilates good for?

club pilates

The Club Pilates Method is excellent for anyone looking to build strength, increase flexibility and improve range of motion. If you’re struggling with balance, overall physical pain, recovering from childbirth or an injury, or even vertigo, pilates can help you strengthen and tone your entire body – while also improving balance and core strength. I see people of all shapes, ages, and sizes in classes. The diversity is refreshing and it’s amazing to see how it transforms health and fitness levels. 

Can you lose weight with Club Pilates?

The million dollar question! I have found that the benefits of pilates is beyond losing weight. For all the reasons shared above, the increase in strength, flexibility and range of motion; the reduction of chronic pain and inflammation; the improvement in balance, mental health, and alignment, are all reasons I love pilates. I have seen tightening and toning throughout my body and this has resulted in the loss of weight and inches. Although, I do find that I need to incorporate a few long walks a week and/or other cardio when I can to improve my chances of weight loss. If you are looking to drop considerable weight, remember that a lot of this comes down to reducing inflammatory foods, increasing your water intake and getting your daily steps in.

To read more about how I get more cardio, read my reviews of Row House classes here or how I try to get 10,000 steps a day here.

Can Pilates change your body shape?

It can and it will. It leans out your muscles, making them strong without being bulky. It also lengthens muscles, so I’ve noticed a more streamlined look to my body, whereas I was much more curvier before. It hasn’t turned me into a lithe ballerina just yet, but I’ve definitely seen trimming in my waist, thighs, hips and even upper arms. Many of the teachers have enviable physiques that will definitely keep you motivated in classes to work hard.

How long does it take to see results at Club Pilates?

While this will depend on your fitness level, what you’re eating, how much water you’re drinking and other factors specific to you, you should start to see your strength improve within a couple months of classes. By 2-3 months, you should feel really confident taking a level 2 class and you will see changes in your body. My cousin was only able to go one time per week and after 6-8 classes, she was noticing that she was stronger during class and wasn’t as tired after. If you pair pilates with walking, you will see results even faster.

What do you need to take pilates classes?

You’ll want to wear comfortable, stretchy workout clothes. Don’t wear leggings that restrict movement or have lots of zippers and pockets on the back. When you lay down, you don’t want anything digging into your back and hips. Wear a sports bra, a comfortable one is fine, and a loose fitting top. I write more about great pilates leggings in this post.

You’ll also need sticky socks. They sell them or you can buy them on Amazon. I also like to take my own straps and sometimes wear gloves, depending on how my wrists are feeling.

Does pilates flatten and tone the belly?

The core area is a key part to pilates and you will strengthen it quickly with the exercises. If you have a pooch or a belly (like me and many other people), you won’t get a six-pack of abs with pilates alone. You’ll need to adjust your nutrition, water intake and probably do other forms of cardio – walking, etc., to get those coveted washboard abs. But, once you burn through the layer of fat on top, pilates will make sure you have a strong, toned belly underneath.

How do I find a Club Pilates location?

Looking to get started? Go here to check out the studio locator. These are franchised locations, so there are lots of owners and many of them own a group of studios. The owners of my studio have 5 locations I think, so far. This means that like any franchise, some things are going to be consistent across the board and some things will be unique to an owner’s studio.

Final Thoughts:

Club Pilates has been transformative for my quality of life and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. While it’s not the only thing I do for my health and fitness, it’s an important part and I’m grateful for it.

I do recommend trying CP, but nothing is perfect. So, if I had a magic wand, what would I fix?

First, I would fix teachers who repeat the same block of exercises over and over again. They should make an effort to make each class unique. This is a very expensive exercise option and many people come because they can no longer do anything else so they come several times a week. So, mixing it up keeps it exciting, but also allows people’s muscles to rest while they do a slightly different workout.

Second, I would have them add a component to the teacher training about how to stagger exercises so they do not blow out/overly fatigue certain muscle groups, such as wrists or triceps. Many people come to pilates with joint pain, so if they’re going to overly fatigue muscle groups, clients with joint pain won’t get the full value of the workout.

Ultimately, these are small complaints and they are not things that happen that frequently. You’ll learn which classes/teachers/levels work best for you and then can schedule your classes in the app around that. It’s fun to see how classes will become consistent and I’ve had classes where the group becomes friends. You look forward to seeing that group every week and the teacher gets to know everyone, too.

Have you tried Club Pilates? What did you think?

Have a fabulous day,

E

 

 

 

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22 Comments

  1. SRichards
    February 13, 2023 / 5:47 am

    Thank you. I joined last August 2022 but they are finally opening this week. My first Intro class is this week. I am a beginner and was looking for personal insight into CP. This is very helpful. Thank you for putting all this information together.

    • Erica
      Author
      March 2, 2023 / 10:43 am

      That’s awesome! I still go 3-4x a week. I hope you love it!

  2. Miriam
    May 8, 2023 / 10:53 am

    I’ve been with CP for almost 4 years. Love the classes but ….. the unlimited is now actually a 15 pack. You can only sign up for 15 classes at a time. And waitlisted classes are counted as a credit ….. this makes it Impossible to get the classes you want. My studio has a waitlist for every 1.5 and above class. It’s NOT unlimited any more. It’s limited to 15 and u can sign up further out.

    • Erica
      Author
      May 8, 2023 / 10:56 am

      We have a limit to how many we can book at a time, but I can book more than 15 in a month, if after I go to a class, I sign up for another one right away. But, I think different locations have different owners and may handle it differently. Personally, I go about 3-4 times a week, so I can’t go more than 15-16 times a month anyway, but if I were trying to go 5 times a week, it might be more annoying.

  3. Miriam
    May 8, 2023 / 11:54 am

    Yeah we have a whole new set of rules as it May 1. New owners. We can only do 15 even if you have Passport. Along with new rules like NO chair under a 2.0, we can’t changes gears, much lower weights – and they check! I feel like my contract is not being honored.

    • Erica
      Author
      May 8, 2023 / 12:52 pm

      Wow, that’s wild. Can’t change gears and they control your weights? Odd. At ours, you can cancel at any time. It might be a 30-day notice, but I can’t recall. If you’re not happy with it, definitely try something else. I just dropped a post on my experience with Pure Barre and that’s another low-impact exercise that has similar movements and benefits to pilates. Just an idea 🙂

  4. Melissa
    May 17, 2023 / 7:11 pm

    I’m 5.5 months in. I’m in my pre pregnancy clothes for the first time in 22 years. I’m 50 and a size 4. I have the benefit of gymnastics muscle memory but the detriment of autoimmune. I’m stunned at how strong I am now and I’ve still got a bit to go with toning and adding muscle. I’ve lost 40 pounds, 4 sizes in yoga pants, 3 in bra band, and have cut arms for the first time in decades. Eventually I’ll need to move up to classic and or megaformer to elevate my practice, but I am a lifer now. CP: I’ve had a few bad moments with instructors but I’m a traveling club member so I have a home base, but frequent other locations often. Overall I’m thrilled with the experience.

    • Erica
      Author
      May 18, 2023 / 10:05 am

      This is seriously amazing. What an endorsement for pilates! I love hearing this.

  5. Pilates Lover
    June 1, 2023 / 3:11 am

    This is a very thorough article! I just took my intro class and enjoyed it even though it was very clear that I need to work a lot on my flexibility. Some parts were hard for me, but I’m going to keep pushing myself. Great content!

    • Erica
      Author
      June 29, 2023 / 9:03 am

      That’s amazing! You will get stronger if you stay with it. It works the body and muscles in different ways than other types of workouts, so it takes time. Thanks for reading!

  6. CemoRA Slatten
    June 26, 2023 / 7:55 pm

    Wow great Pilate stories here, so I guess I could add my two cents. I joined just over five years ago, my how time passes when you are enjoying/loving what you do. I do Pilates. I’m now seventy two years old. I attend CP Pilates five days a week.

    I started CP Pilates after spending thirty days in a hospital and two or three months at home recovering from a spider bite on my back. It was a nightmare being in the hospital for that long. All I did physically was short walks and lay down all the time. I was in to much pain to do anything else. I became over weight, weak and depressed. I had no energy at all.

    But this was not my true self. I had to change my thoughts. I wanted to live. So I researched looking for the best training for me. Mind & Body it is pilates. I chose Club Pilates and I never looked back. I’m Up Up Up. Cemora

    • Erica
      Author
      June 29, 2023 / 9:03 am

      I love this story, Cemora! What a great testimony for the benefits of pilates. Keep up the great work!

  7. Glitz
    July 16, 2023 / 9:17 am

    This was the most well written and informative article I have read yet on Pilates. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and post this!!!

    I have not pulled the trigger yet on joining any classes but thanks to your article I am very interested and well informed.

    • Erica
      Author
      July 16, 2023 / 10:20 am

      I’m so glad it helped you!

  8. SM
    August 30, 2023 / 9:40 pm

    Same comment as Glitz above – I’m looking at Pure Barre and Club Pilates, and while I haven’t decided on which to try first, I really appreciate the details you included in your PB and CP articles. Thank you for including the “what to expect” portion; I can be timid when it comes to starting something new and I appreciate knowing how things flow, things to do/not do, even the legging tips!

    • Erica
      Author
      September 2, 2023 / 11:16 am

      I’m really glad it was helpful for you! I definitely get anxious when trying new things, so I wanted to share all the info in case it helps others. The leggings are amazing – I think you’ll love them!

    • June Griffiths
      September 28, 2023 / 2:02 pm

      I’ve done Pilates off and on for 25 years. I loved Pure Barre and was devoted for a few years and then found that the repetitiveness with some of the moves was not good for my body and especially my feet. I stopped and went back to Pilates and feel so much better. I joined a Club Pilates studio last year and love it. Just started the CP teacher training and I can tell you that it’s very thorough and challenging.

      • Erica
        Author
        October 2, 2023 / 10:42 am

        That’s awesome! I can’t do Pure Barre as often as pilates, either, for similar reasons. Good luck on your pilates teacher journey! Sounds like you have a tone of experience and your classes will be lucky to have you 🙂

  9. Sara
    November 16, 2023 / 7:46 am

    Love this article! I’m going today to try it out, and this has me very encouraged! Also has given me some questions to ask.

    • Erica
      Author
      November 16, 2023 / 11:09 am

      I’m glad it was helpful! I hope you love pilates as much as I do.

  10. Sharon Hunt
    December 3, 2023 / 10:04 am

    I am 69 years old and recovering from Pneumonia. I have been fairly physically fit my entire life, although I have struggled with immune issues the last several years, which I think have been most likely caused by Dysautonomia, but I am finding this is an extreme medical speciality field and even my specialist physicians are fairly ignorant about it. I started swimming a year ago and typically swim laps 5 days a week for an hour. After having way too much free time being sick with Pneumonia, I have been researching and think perhaps swimming in an indoor chlorinated pool may have contributed to my current lung illness. For this reason I am thinking when I get well I may try pilates. I enjoyed your write up very much. (: I guess my main concern is wondering if my joint issues, that include weak wrists, may inhibit my ability? I have to be careful in bending my wrists too much while exercising, for example when I do modified push ups they can cause me to have flare ups in my wrist. Swimming was wonderful for my joints and never caused me any issues! Thank you for any suggestion or comment you might have.

    • Erica
      Author
      December 9, 2023 / 10:44 pm

      I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this. I have heard of dysautonomia and it does not sound fun. I think that if you stay at the lower level classes, you’ll find that most teachers use exercises and spring loads that are going to be okay, but definitely be your own advocate. There are exercises that I modify and/or just stop doing and do something else without disrupting the flow of the class for anyone else and I’ve never had an instructor call me out or embarrass me for it. I see other people doing the same, so I would say it’s worth a try. I’m guessing you’d know within a few classes if it’s a good fit or not.

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