The first fully equipped Pilates studio to open in Northamptonshire turns 25.
Northants Pilates, an award-winning fitness company established in November 1997, still has customers who have been taking classes since the very beginning.
It was Karen Grinter who started the studio, with a desire to accommodate all levels of fitness ability and ambition with a team of highly trained teachers – and still to this day she does, but now with the help of his son.
Karen’s son Daniel was seven when she started Northants Pilates, located on Abington Avenue, and he now helps run the business at the age of 32.
Speaking of Northants Pilates celebrating its 25th anniversary, Karen said, “I am incredibly proud and consider this a tremendous achievement for a small business like mine.
“Not only has my business lasted this long, but most of my clients have stuck with me the whole time – it makes me want to cry.
“The difference is that when you buy a gym membership you only pay to enter and use the facilities, but we offer small hands-on classes and are committed to getting to know our customers.”
The founder says the business is “evolving” and her son brings something new to what they offer.
Karen completed her first training course with Pilates author Lynne Robinson in October 1997. Soon after, Lynne went on TV and “the Pilates trend went crazy”.
“I made sure to know health and fitness professionals early on,” Karen said. “Knowledge stands the test of time, and knowing the systems and the best way to help someone is essential.”
After starting the business, she quickly joined Northants Cricket following an invitation from Kirk Russell, who was Northants’ physio at the time – before joining the England cricket team.
Karen regularly taught team members, including Australian fly-half Matthew Haydon and England pitcher Graeme Swann.
Since then Northants Pilates has changed ‘massively’ and Karen argues that you can ‘tell the difference between someone who is invested in what they do and someone who isn’t’.
She said: “Engaging with the people who visit you is paramount to creating an environment they want to return to.”
Northants Pilates has thrived during lockdown due to ‘incredible loyalty’ from customers, and they have been recognized with a Rose of Northamptonshire award for their commitment to keeping classes and people as active as possible.
They also held health webinars during the lockdowns to raise money for local charities, including educating attendees about taking care of your spine, HRT and menopause, and hormonal health.
In the first year of the pandemic, they raised over £1,600 for the Hope Centre.
Karen says “when you do things you don’t realize how fast time flies”. She described being open for 25 years as “bonkers” and it makes her feel “very lucky”.
With a team of eight teachers, including Karen and Daniel, the business continues to thrive.