How this Norwegian studio is realizing its potential in an up-and-coming Pilates market

“Pilates can be life-changing!”

The message is as straightforward as it is enthusiastic. For Aislinn Jensen and Kristina Cavanna of SPACE in Oslo, Norway, it’s the only reason necessary to explain why a career in Pilates is a worthy pursuit.

When they speak so passionately of the potential for Pilates, they’re referring to what can happen for their clients. However, Jensen and Cavanna’s origin story — for both their studio and friendship — proves Pilates can be life-altering in more ways than one.

After meeting in London, England, seven years ago, a conversation over lunch revealed the pair shared more than just a kindred spirit when it came to Pilates. “Both of us came from corporate backgrounds, and we were passionate about starting a business that was centered around something we love,” says Jensen. “We had been practicing Pilates for years at that point, and we knew it could bring huge benefits to others.”

Just three years later, Jensen and Cavanna had not only started their business, they had also become best friends. Focusing on client experience instead of volume, they began small. Calling a 25 square meter room in a shared block of flats on the West side of Oslo home, the pair may have lacked size, but they more than made up for it in reputation.

“We wanted to take the time to truly understand the market and the level of interest and engagement from clients,” explains Jensen. The strategy worked. Now, with two newly refurbished boutique studios in the Frogner and Skoyen neighborhoods of Oslo, SPACE has become a go-to Pilates destination, recognized throughout Norway.

Having already found a measure of success with their business strategy, Jensen and Cavanna decided their next step would be to partner with Merrithew, and continue to grow SPACE into something that could provide even more for their clients. “Having gained a deep insight into that since 2018, and having used the time to build our reputation, we felt that partnering with Merrithew would have a multitude of benefits and be very well received,” says Jensen.

The acumen the two gained from starting and building their Pilates business led them to Merrithew. According to Jensen, “Students are looking for multiple things: from a qualification that will set them apart from others to increased personal understanding of movement.”

A Pilates instructor practices an exercise on a Merrithew SPX Max Reformer at SPACE Pilates studio in Oslo, Norway

With that in mind, a partnership with Merrithew seemed like an obvious choice. “The level of knowledge that Merrithew students acquire, even in the early stages of their study, is the gold standard,” says Jensen.

The benefits of the partnership were almost immediate. Jensen says that they weren’t entirely sure how long it would take for “interest levels to reach a critical mass, but our first course was almost full, and we’ve had a high level of interest for additional courses that we’re planning on running.”

The instructor training program has brought in students from unexpected backgrounds, as well. “We’ve had interest from a variety of people which has somewhat surprised us,” explains Jensen. “From aspiring teachers, as you would expect, to clients who have developed a passion for Pilates and want to learn more for their own practice.”

A Pilates instructor practices an exercise on a Merrithew SPX Max Reformer with some additional accessories at SPACE Pilates studio in Oslo, Norway

Overall, the partnership with Merrithew has been great for Jensen and Cavanna: “We’re extremely happy to partner with such a trusted brand, and to work together to raise the bar in Norway.”

And raise it, they have. Over the course of the pandemic, SPACE has been there to provide comfort for its clients — something that gives Jensen and Cavanna no shortage of satisfaction: “Many of our clients commented that Pilates helped them cope during the more difficult times of the pandemic and, as a Pilates instructor, the ability to offer respite, health, community and happiness to others is genuinely rewarding.”

So, what’s next for SPACE OSLO? It doesn’t sound as if the two owners have any plans of slowing down. Jensen says “The Pilates landscape in Norway could best be described as fledgling, but it’s also full of potential. We’re seeing increasing numbers of clients who are completely new to Pilates.”

Let’s hope it continues, just as Pilates will continue to possess the potential to change lives — for both clients and studio owners.

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