To spend Valentine’s Day in a Pilates studio takes dedication — and a lot of love.
Sarah Aldrich Pilates, the latest such flexibility and fitness studio to open in New Haven, hosted its first open house Saturday afternoon. But though no one attended the open house, owner Sarah Aldrich still believes her new business, which opened in January, will weather the nation’s economic malaise.
Despite being tucked at the back of a quiet office block on 681 State St., Sarah Aldrich Pilates has been steadily accumulating a loyal client base of mostly women, Aldrich said, some of whom travel from as far as Milford and Orange for their weekly dose of stretching, flexing and lunging.
“A lot of people who don’t jive with the Zen and spiritual aspects of yoga turn to pilates,” Aldrich said.
For Aldrich, who left her career as an elementary school teacher in Boston to work as a Pilates instructor at the Payne Whitney Gymnasium last fall, her studio’s “promising start” came as both a surprise and relief.
“I was nervous at the start about how it would work out,” Aldrich said, “but all my group classes are now full.”
The Pilates studio has also attracted the attention and patronage of a number of Yale graduate students. Many of her clients from Yale are nursing and law students, Aldrich said, noting that her clients benefit from close personal attention in an intimate studio environment.
“Our group mat sessions only have six participants, so everyone can get a fair amount of personal attention,” she said. “And they are welcome to have a cup of tea after their workout.”
But Sabrina Lombardi — who shares studio space with Aldrich for her diet and nutrition consultancy, BodyWright — said the current economic gloom has interfered with business.
“The economy has definitely had a great effect on my client base,” Lombardi said. “People are putting off dealing with their nutrition issues.”
Aldrich noted that no Yale undergraduates currently attend any of her Pilates classes.
But, Aldrich said, the relative affordability of her classes makes her confident in her future prospects — at $15 per session, the group mat classes are comparable to the prices at Connecticut Pilates Center on Whalley Avenue and cheaper than PowerFlow Pilates on Peck Street and P2 Studio on Whitney Avenue.
“The numbers have been steadily growing since the studio opened and I expect it will continue to do so,” she added.
While her clients decided to take Valentine’s Day off — none attended her free Valentine’s Day open house — Aldrich said those who frequent her regular mat classes come in the hopes of gaining flexibility, building core strength and shedding weight.
“People want to see results quickly and with Pilates, that can happen in weeks,” she commented.
And ultimately, trainer and co-owner of BodyWright Jason Wright said, he was optimistic about the market.
“I don’t think the downturn has made much of a difference to the business,” he said. “I’m still getting new inquiries.”
Sarah Aldrich Pilates offers private and group lessons led by Aldrich, who also works as a Pilates instructor at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.