The SME Story: Reza Alavi, founder and managing director of Real Pilates
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The SME Story: Reza Alavi, founder and managing director of Real Pilates

The SME Story: Reza Alavi, founder and managing director of Real Pilates

Real Pilates has three studios in Dubai which are located at Jumeirah, JLT and Meydan

Gulf Business
Reza Alavi, founder and managing director, Real Pilates

What were you doing before you started Real Pilates?
Before creating Real Pilates, I spent over 10 years in the corporate world, including at the regional HQ of a major automotive company whose vision statement was ‘Enriching People’s Lives’. As much as I loved my job, I wanted to really achieve that vision statement. I wanted to enrich people’s lives in a tangible and real way, so I combined that desire with my passion for health and fitness and launched Real Pilates.

What is the scale of your business?
We currently have three studio locations: Jumeirah, JLT and our newly opened Meydan studio. We have 30 team members from 21 different countries. We typically have about 150 new signups per month.

What is the USP of Real Pilates compared to other fitness and wellness centres in Dubai?
The quality of instruction, our customer service and our processes. Contrary to most studios, our team of instructors is comprised of full-time Stott Pilates-certified instructors who work exclusively at Real Pilates. Stott Pilates is known as the Ivy League of pilates worldwide.

Real Pilates has three studio locations: Jumeirah, JLT and Meydan
Real Pilates has full-time Stott Pilates-certified instructors

How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
Like all SMEs, our business has been massively hit. Our industry was one of the first to shut down and one of the last to reopen last year. Since reopening, we have been following strict government mandated health and safety guidelines that have significantly reduced our capacities and therefore our turnover.

We have been inspected by Dubai Economy and Dubai Municipality multiple times and have been praised by them for our full-compliance to the guidelines and the fact that we offer a safe environment to our clients to exercise.

What’s the biggest challenge that your business faces at the moment?
Continuity and adaptability. With health and safety rules changing fairly frequently, we have had to develop a very vigilant, agile and adaptable approach to our operations. Class capacities and hygiene procedures can be modified without notice, so we need to be highly reactive and effective in order to continue to operate without interruption while also maintaining high standards of customer service.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt by way of running your business?
It would have to be the critical importance of having a healthy internal work culture and a workplace that allows a candid communication style at every level of the organisation. Each organisation, no matter how big or small, will face its own learning and growth challenges, but the simple truth is that if we take care of our employees, they will take care of the clients.

What are the expansion plans for Real Pilates?
Our expansion strategy is focused on franchising in the UAE, across the GCC and beyond. We have worked hard on creating a comprehensive franchising kit that will allow those who dream of owning their own health and fitness studio to achieve their goal without the risks associated with starting a new concept from scratch. We support our franchisees with finding the right location, design and fit-out, equipment purchase and installation, staff recruitment and training, marketing support and IT systems.

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