Surviving a plane crash inspired this franchisor to launch his network

The founder of Pilates ProWorks came up with the idea of the franchise after surviving an airplane accident

Surviving a plane crash inspired this franchisor to launch his network

Franchise ideas can come from a lot of places. Lightning can strike when you’re attending a baby activity class, being bored at the gym or just from loving coffee. Nevertheless, few franchisors can say inspiration struck them after a tussle with death but Oscar Sanin, founder and CEO of Pilates ProWorks, the boutique studio pilates franchise, is one of them.

Back in in 1994 he was flying from Bogota in a single engine plane with four other passengers when the engine suddenly failed. “The plane landed on a street and then crashed into a house. Fortunately, everyone survived but my fellow passengers and I sustained serious injuries,” Sanin told Forbes.

During his recovery, Sanin’s doctor suggested pilates as a way to help him with his back pain and to avoid unnecessary surgeries. When Sanin did, he was blown away. “[I] was amazed by the strength and improvement that I gained in such a short period of time,” he said.

But after a few years he still found himself dissatisfied with the machines he was forced to use. Pushing six feet, Sanin felt he was a bit too tall for the equipment and” therefore couldn’t get the most out of his sessions. Not one to sit quietly and hope for better days, he designed his own machine, trialled it at a friend’s gym and once he was satisfied with the reception, Sanin launched the first Pilates ProWorks studio in 2009 in San Francisco.

During the next six years he opened five more centres around the city most famous for its tech entrepreneurs, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. But it was when he decided to expand his operations in new areas that he ventured into franchising.

Sanin launched his franchise model in 2015 and today it has 17 locations around the US with more in the pipeline. “We are very excited about what’s next,” he concluded.

His experience just goes to show that to be successful in business, you must have the guts to act whenever those precious light-bulb moments come along.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson