Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

Studio Pilates CEO and Co-Founders Jade and Tanya Winter

Rejected by banks, this couple built a Pilates empire with 130 Studios

I notice many people in the business world are in a hurry to grow or expand. However, we took a completely different approach. Our goal was to see what would happen if we stepped away from the business for a while. This turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.

Jade Winter, co-founder Studio Pilates International 

Former Olympic swimmer Jade discovered reformer Pilates as a cross-training tool recommended by his coach, and it instantly transformed his training and body awareness. 

Inspired by the incredible results, Jade embarked on an extraordinary journey, co-founded by his wife Tanya, a qualified physiotherapist and fellow swimmer, to establish Studio Pilates. Together, they aimed to fill a gap in the market for a safe and effective form of Pilates.

The beginning

Despite initial setbacks, such as a loan rejection and lack of assets, Jade and Tanya remained undeterred. They took a bold leap, maxing out a credit card to purchase reformer machines and secure a studio in Brisbane’s Hawthorne.

Rejected by banks, this couple built a Pilates empire with 130 Studios

Their motivation stemmed from a desire to offer a program that prioritized client safety and avoided the risky, complex movements found in other programs. Leveraging their combined expertise, they created their own programming and established their first Pilates studio.

The response from clients was overwhelming. Jade vividly recalls their enthusiasm, saying, “Clients absolutely loved it, and we found ourselves working 14-hour days, seven days a week. It became clear that this level of dedication wasn’t sustainable.” Recognizing the potential of their venture, they made a pivotal decision to open their first franchise in 2014, propelling Studio Pilates into a remarkable success story.

Fast forward 21 years, and Studio Pilates has become a global sensation, boasting 130 studios across multiple countries, with ongoing plans for further expansion. With studios either open or set to open soon in Australia, New Zealand, China, the United States, and the upcoming launch in the United Kingdom, their reach continues to expand.

The success mantra

Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and it’s something you’re truly passionate about.

For Jade, success transcends mere profitability. He defines a successful business as one that can thrive as a profitable commercial enterprise independent of the owner’s presence. To achieve this, Jade and Tanya made strategic decisions, focusing on careful and deliberate expansion. “My definition of a successful business is one that can run as a profitable commercial enterprise with or without the owner there,” Jade notes.

“I think one of the biggest decisions Tanya and I made from the get-go was not to rush our expansion. I see so many people in the business world in such a rush to grow or expand, but we did the complete opposite and really took our time writing comprehensive manuals and training guides for every aspect of the business so we could trial removing ourselves from the business for an extended period of time to see what happened.

“This was one of the best decisions we ever made. Not only did we get a 3-month holiday in New York City (which was very needed after years of working 90-hour weeks) – but we also got the cemented proof of concept that we needed to open our first franchise.”

Studio Pilates International has emerged as a pioneer in the fitness industry by introducing ground-breaking audio-visual technology across its global studios. This innovative approach has been widely adopted by other prominent fitness franchises. Throughout their expansion, Jade and Tanya prioritized maintaining quality assurance, ensuring a consistent, high-quality experience for clients regardless of the studio location. 

“When we were expanding the business, we really looked at how we could retain quality assurance so no matter which studio clients were training anywhere in the world – they were guaranteed the same high-quality studio pilates workout.

“It also provided a way for us to deliver an unmatched workout experience by freeing up the instructors from having to demonstrate and explain movements so they can instead focus on providing individual feedback to each client, similar to a personal training session.”

The technology not only eliminated the need for instructors to demonstrate movements but also allowed them to provide personalised feedback, akin to a one-on-one training session.

Lessons learnt

From a financial perspective I’ve blown hundreds of thousands of dollars on software I was told would give us a huge return and it ended up doing the complete opposite.

Reflecting on their exhilarating journey, Jade imparts invaluable lessons to aspiring entrepreneurs. He emphasizes the importance of genuine passion and dedication when building and managing a successful business. Jade believes that authenticity and passion are the foundations of prosperous enterprises, with a steadfast commitment to placing clients at the heart of every decision. He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to ensure they embark on their journey for the right reasons and with a true passion, as building and running a successful business demands unwavering commitment and sacrifice.

“Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and it’s something you’re truly passionate about. Growing and running a successful business takes a lot of time, tears, dedication and sacrifice, so if you’re not truly passionate about what you’re creating, it will be really hard to persevere through, and it will show. The best and most successful businesses are ones that come from a place of passion and authenticity and have their clients at the heart of everything they do.”

Jade openly acknowledges the challenges they faced along the way. He embraces the philosophy of “failing forward,” viewing mistakes as stepping stones for growth. He candidly admits, “I honestly can’t even count the number of mistakes we’ve made along the way. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing enough.” 

Despite experiencing financial setbacks from investments in software that didn’t yield the expected returns, Jade emphasises the importance of not dwelling on mistakes but rather using them to propel progress. Jade firmly believes that standing still in business equates to moving backwards, emphasizing the necessity of forward movement.

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment

Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

View all posts