Pilates has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing fitness trends in Australia, experiencing a staggering 250% surge in popularity between 2021 and 2022, according to Forbes. With this kind of momentum, there’s a good chance that pilates will continue to be a highly sought-after fitness class in the years to come. So, if you’re interested in starting your own business teaching pilates, this could wind up becoming a steady business venture! 

However, before you start signing up eager clients, it’s important to understand the legal side of starting your own pilates business. This will ensure your business is properly protected while you help your clients on their fitness journey. 

Do I Need Any Qualifications To Start A Pilates Business? 

While there’s no legal requirement or official certification to start a pilates business, it’s highly recommended that you have some sort of training and recognised qualifications. Clients who are paying for a service generally want to know they’re in good hands. You will also have a lot of competition in the market and being qualified can make a difference. 

The Australian Pilates Method Association and Pilates Alliance Australasia certify pilates professionals that have completed some kind of recognised training. It’s good to do your research and undertake one of these courses- that way you’ll be better prepared to teach your students. 

It’s also worth noting, many fitness instructors choose to undertake first aid and CPR training. Just in case something unexpected happens in one of your classes, you want to make sure you know what to do. 

Starting Your Own Pilates Business

The first thing to know before starting any kind of business, is that you need a solid business plan in place. Even if you don’t end up following your business plan down to the T, it helps to have everything written down in one place to help keep things on track. When you’re writing up your business plan, here’s some considerations that could be useful to have in there: 

  • An executive summary 
  • Short term and long term goals
  • Finances 
  • Marketing plan 
  • A description of your services 
  • Management and organisation 
  • Business values and vision 

Registering A Pilates Business

When you’re all set to start your business, you’ll need to have it registered. Before you do this, carefully consider the structure of your business. Your business’s structure will set the foundation for matters like management, liabilities, fees and future planning. 

When it comes to business structure, there’s two main options. You can register your pilates business as either a business or company (keep in mind there are other options as well). Each choice comes with distinct processes and requirements, making it essential to weigh the implications before making a decision.

If you opt for a business structure, you will register as either a sole trader or a partnership. This choice may offer more straightforward registration and compliance procedures compared to a company, but it also means that you will have personal liability for the firm’s debts and obligations. On the other hand, establishing your pilates business as a company gives it status as a separate legal entity which can be the more attractive choice when considering things like liability. However, company registration involves more complex procedures and higher compliance costs.

Whatever structure you choose, it’s crucial to align it with your long-term objectives, as changing the business structure later can be both time-consuming and resource-intensive. A sole trader business or a company may not completely suit your business’s needs. In this case, you can look into a Partnership or something like a Dual Company Structure. If this is something you’re thinking about, then it’s best to talk things through with a legal expert before you get started on registering. 

What Do I Need To Start My Own Pilates Business? 

Now that you’ve successfully complied with getting your pilates business registered, it is time to think about legally protecting your business. The best way to make sure your business is covered is by having strong, well drafted contracts in place. 

Contracts are going to be vital to your pilates business because they set out expectations, protect the interests of all parties, manage risks and reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings and disputes. Here’s a few legal agreements you should think about getting. 

Employment Contracts 

If you’re going to be hiring staff, whether it’s to schedule in classes or as another teacher, then it’s necessary to have a formal agreement in place with each and every employee. An Employment Agreement covers things like salary, time off, rules and responsibilities. It can help set the tone for your professional relationship with your employees- have one drafted by a legal expert as soon as you’re ready to recruit newcomers into your business.  

Service Agreement  

When a business offers a service to their clients, it’s always good to have a Service Agreement signed by your clients. In the case of a pilates business, having a service agreement signed when clients decide to take your class can help with setting boundaries, expectations and defining the responsibilities of each party towards one another. Things like payment, scope of services and dispute resolution process can all be included in your service agreement. It’s an important legal agreement, so it’s best to have an expert write it up for you. 

Waiver

You can’t control everything when it comes to teaching a physical class, so it’s good to make sure your liability is protected. A Waiver can help limit your liability and manage any potential risks. Don’t be mistaken, a waiver won’t protect your business if your actions are negligent or harmful towards your clients. However, it can provide clients with an ample warning about the physical nature of the lessons, allowing them to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to take it. If something does happen and you have a waiver in place, it can go a long way in protecting your business. 

Gym T&C’s 

As the owner of a pilates business, you could also look into getting a Gym Terms and Conditions. This is another legally binding agreement that covers a whole range of matters, from payment methods, to conditions of use and liability. You can consider getting individual legal agreements for some of these concerns (such as liability) but it can be useful to have them addressed in one, big agreement like a Gym T&C’s. Furthermore, a Gym T&C’s can cover other seemingly small matters (that make a big difference) such as cancellation fees. 

Can I Teach Pilates Online? 

You might be wondering if there’s a way to teach pilates online. The answer is yes, you can always offer classes online. In fact, this method appeals to a lot of business owners as teaching pilates online allows them to reach an audience that isn’t limited by geographical location. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about paying the rent for your pilates studio as you’ll likely be able to do it from home. Even if you do prefer to have face to face classes, it’s always possible to have an online component to your pilates business. 

As with everything when it comes to starting a business, there are a couple of legal considerations you should look into first. 

Are There Any Legal Considerations For Teaching Pilates Online?

Legal considerations for starting an online pilates business are largely centred around the risks that come with being online. We’ve put together a list of the key legal agreements you should consider getting if your business is going to operate online. 

Privacy Policy 

If you collect any kind of information from your clients, you’ll need to have a Privacy Policy in place. A privacy policy is a legal obligation under the Privacy Act 1998 and Australian Privacy Principles. In a nutshell, a privacy policy lets users of your website know what is done with their information, plus any other relevant details that should be disclosed. Having a privacy policy in place will fall under your regulatory compliance measures therefore, it’s something you want to get right. Having a legal expert draft your privacy policy can help make sure it’s hitting all the right notes to be legally compliant.  

Cookie Policy 

In most cases, you won’t be legally required to have a Cookie Policy in place. However, this doesn’t mean you should not look into getting one. A cookie policy can help build trust with your clients and anyone that uses your website because it means you’re being transparent about the kind of information you’re collecting. It doesn’t hurt to have this additional component, so it’s worth looking into. 

Data Breach Response Plan 

When you’re dealing with the personal data of your clients, there’s a chance your systems might be compromised and information leaked. Even the most airtight security gets breached sometimes. Having a plan in place for when this does happen can help make your response much quicker. A Data Breach Response Plan can prepare you for what you need to do, who you need to inform and how to make things right again. 

Next Steps 

Starting a pilates business is an exciting venture although it demands thorough planning and a consideration of legal aspects. With the right legal help, you can have everything sorted and be ready to go! To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Pilates is growing quick in popularity and could be a golden opportunity for business 
  • You don’t need any specific qualifications to teach pilates, however it can help to be certified 
  • To start your pilates business, get a business plan written up so you can have a clear idea of your goals  
  • Then, you will need to decide on a business structure and register your business
  • Protect you pilates business by getting strong legal agreements in place, such as a waiver or gym terms and conditions 
  • You pilates business might have an online component- it’s important to have the right legal documents such as a privacy policy sorted out first  

If you would like a consultation on starting a pilates business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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