New CEO for KX Pilates as founder steps back

By Sarah Stowe | 13 Nov 2018 View comments

KX Pilates founder Aaron Smith has stepped down from his position as CEO to take on a more directional role with the business.

Selina Bridge, the former general manager of Curves Oceania, takes on the CEO job.

“I look forward to working with the KX Pilates team to further grow the business, leveraging the great work that Aaron and his team have done to build an extraordinarily strong and reputable fitness brand.

“I am passionate about the health & fitness industry and see a wealth of opportunity for the KX brand to continue its expansion across Australia and overseas,” she said.

Smith founded the business eight years ago and has built the fitness franchise to achieve an annual revenue for 2017/18 of $20 million.

Smith told Inside Franchise Business the time to move on was right for him and the business.

“My goal was to take the business to 50 studios, and we reached that milestone a couple of months ago and our first international. We’ve been growing quite substantially and I just needed to press pause. The business needs someone who can manage and grow the current network to 150 studios in Australia.

“I could keep going forever but I have a passion for people, a passion for innovation. I’ve got a classic enterpreneur’s mindset. I’m still passionate about the company and the founder’s role, I will get to every state every quarter, spreading the founder’s ‘fairy dust’.”

Smith is relaxed about handing over the reins.

“I’ve always found it quite easy to release control and empower people in skill sets where they are better than me. I’ve always believed in hiring people more skilled than you.

“Yes, I’m running a 50-studio business but I’m not a good manager, It’s not something I love.

I’m fairly good at leading. I believe if you spend more time in your strengths, you’ll be more successful.”

The move gives Smith the opportunity to return to the roots of the business, running occasional specialty classes.

What next for KX Pilates?

Smith’s new role will allow him to focus on the innovations he’s been working on behind the scenes as the business has grown, initiatives designed to establish a competitive edge through complementary branded projects.

Customised and branded wholesale Pilates equipment is one initiative that is getting close to completion – customising generic machinery has been the first step, but Smith has just finished the design of a piece of equipment from scratch.

“There’s a lot of competition in fitness and Pilates, so apart from the brand and the experience, it’s exactly the same. What experience are we delivering, what can we offer that no other brand is offering, and what can we do to strengthen our IP?”

Smith views equipment and education as valuable tools to consolidate the brand so he expects to launch a basics Pilates program that can be offered externally while keeping the specifics of the KX Pilates method exclusive to the studios.

Add to this an apparel arm to the business and Smith has plenty of innovation to bring to fruition.

International growth has begun with the first studio in a 25 studio rollout over five years opening its doors in Jakarta, Indonesia in August.

Smith says the challenges of starting a new business in a new country are focused on banking and online issues, but is full of praise for the master franchisee who is already performing better than he was at the launch of KX Pilates.

The next move is to take the styled fitness program to Singapore.