How to Become a Pilates Instructor

Becoming a Pilates instructor will take your practice to the next level, deepening your skill and passion for the exercise.

You may have started taking classes and fallen in love with how it makes your body and mind feel. Pilates is a life-changer for many people who practice regularly.

Are you interested in taking the next step and becoming an instructor? Teaching Pilates will completely change how you view your practice and even improve your abilities.

To learn exactly how to become a Pilates instructor, keep reading.

1. Become a Student

This may seem obvious, but some people attempt to teach Pilates without fully realizing the impact and value of this practice. It can take a year or more of classes to become fully immersed in the benefits and become passionate about it.

Consider trying out different Pilates classes in your city.

Take different classes, meet different teachers and bond with other students. Learn how Pilates has impacted others’ lives and why they continue to come to class each week.

Observe your teachers; what are the moving components they handle during a class and do they handle them well? Perhaps talk with your teacher after class about how they became an instructor and how it changed their fitness journey.

There are lots of things you can learn as a student before you begin Pilates teacher training.

2. Choose a Certification

You should be very picky when choosing a teacher training program. Read the course outline and notice what you’ll be learning and what topics won’t be covered. Consider how many hours the course is and how much time you can put towards it.

There are two main types of Pilates instructor certification: Mat and Comprehensive.

Mat Certification

This is the basic certification that allows you to teach Pilates classes using solely a mat, no other equipment.

Instructors who choose to do this certification are sometimes drawn to its quick turnover. Usually, this basic program can be completed in a few weekends or even online; you learn about techniques and concepts in a concise and practical sense.

Most gyms will hire an instructor with this level of certification, but it does limit your possibilities in private teaching and teaching more advanced classes with equipment.

Regardless, it’s a good place to start your Pilates teaching journey.

Comprehensive Certification

This certification is a fuller, more elaborate program that covers the history of this exercise, anatomy and body mechanics, as well as training on equipment use and advanced methods.

If you plan on becoming a full-time Pilates instructor, it’s recommended to do the comprehensive program because it opens more doors for job opportunities. And, your own personal practice will be elevated to a new level.

Sometimes the certification is divided into levels based on the learning material and requirements to proceed to the next stage. It usually takes at least one year to complete a fully comprehensive program, sometimes more.

This program also expects teachers to become an apprentice at an accredited studio, so you can learn hands-on under a certified instructor.

3. What Makes a Good Instructor?

Consider the personality traits and skills a great Pilates instructor possesses.

They’re usually passionate about Pilates, excited to share it with the class, and knowledgeable.

Instructors have patience with students yet also motivate them to push their limits and improve. As an instructor, you need to be able to demonstrate and explain exercises in a clear and understandable way; public speaking skills are an asset.

Successful teachers are usually organized; since you won’t be working on a set schedule, you must be good at time management and planning.

You need to assess your own personality and notice what traits you could improve on. Being self-aware and open to growth will make you an excellent instructor.

4. Work Hard

After you’ve chosen the certification program you want, and you meet the requirements, get to work. You’ll get out what you put into your course; put as much effort and focus into your Pilates teacher training as you can.

Some courses will take more than a year to complete and require hundreds of apprentice hours. Don’t let that time commitment scare you- every moment of your training is an opportunity to grow.

Use this training to practice your self-discipline and self-motivation.

Students are encouraged to find a mentor to guide them throughout the teacher training journey and encourage their development. Having a mentor in the industry who has been through the same hoops you’re jumping through now will have great advice and wisdom to offer you.

5. Pass the Exam

After your weeks or months of coursework and preparation, you must pass an exam to receive your certification. You have the option of taking an extra exam later to further advance your certifications.

The Program Exam

At the end of the course, there will be an exam to test your skills. There’s usually a written portion and a practical teaching assessment.

For the written exam, you’ll need to demonstrate your knowledge of human anatomy, body mechanics, and the concepts of Pilates. In the teaching assessment, you’ll be tested on your ability to lead a class and safely take them through different exercises.

It’s beneficial to practice teaching classes whenever you can during your apprenticeship and work on whatever feedback you’re given.

The PMA National Pilates Exam

For further accreditation, after your program is complete, most new instructors will also take an exam through the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA).

The PMA is one of the governing body of Pilates comprised of instructors and experts who aim to streamline the standard expectations of Pilates teachers.

Completing this exam will improve your chances of being hired at a high-quality studio.

6. Get Insured

Most studios will only hire instructors who have their own liability insurance. You should get it for your own interest as well, though.

Consider what would happen if you have even the smallest claim against you, like a trip and fall claim in your class. You would be required to spend lots of money on a lawyer to defend you, spend lots of time dealing with the legalities, and then you also have to address the claim on a personal level.

If you care about your career and your practice, protect it. Getting liability insurance is a smart move to ensure that scenario doesn’t happen.

You can purchase insurance through the PMA as well as many other Pilates institutions.

7. Land the Right Job

Every city has a dozen or more Pilates studios. But, which one is right for you?

Start your search by testing out classes in studios you may want to work for.

Notice the style of teaching from various instructors, their professionalism, and the cleanliness of the building. Observe how students discuss the class afterward and if they leave feeling satisfied.

You should also research the studio’s mission statement and values, usually found on their website.

When you work for a studio you are supporting their values. For example, some studios believe that weight loss and changing your body are the end goals. Others believe in self-love and accepting your body for how it is right now. Teach at a studio that shares your values.

When you go to apply to work in the studio of your dreams, remember to keep a positive attitude and demonstrate how your core values align with theirs.

8. Continuing Education

Your class time doesn’t end when you land the perfect job. This field of work requires regular updating and expanding of your skills.

Many Pilates instructors choose to become certified in exercises that align with Pilates, like yoga and exercise bands. Studios sometimes offer Pilates Fusion classes which are a mix of different methods.

Becoming certified to teach different exercises allows you to teach a wider array of classes and thus earn more money. Plus, diversifying your skills looks good on your resume should you ever decide to apply for a new job.

Here are some other continuing education courses Pilates instructors can benefit from:

  • Foam rolling, Bosu ball, and exercise bands
  • Pre-natal and post-natal Pilates
  • Post-rehabilitation Pilates
  • Pilates for golf and other sports
  • Yoga, Zumba, and other fitness methods

The health and wellness industry is always changing and evolving; what you learned in teacher training 5 years ago may not be the current recommended practices.

Keeping your qualifications updated means your students are getting the best possible instruction with the most beneficial techniques.

Want to Learn More About How to Become a Pilates Instructor?

Teaching Pilates is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career. You get to encourage students to become the best version of themselves while also improving your own skills.

Depending on the path you want to take with your certification, you could be applying for jobs next month or next year. The length of programs vary, but they all have the common goal of improving your instructing skills and taking your practice to the next level.

If you want to learn more about how to become a Pilates instructor, check out our online certification course!

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