How to become a Pilates instructor in 2023 - The FULL Guide

If you have thought about becoming a Pilates instructor but never quite knew how to go about it, you have come to the right place.

That’s because, in this blog post, I will look into Pilates teacher training and the path you need to take if you want to know just how to get Pilates certified.

And make no mistake; a Pilates trainer needs some form of a Pilates certificate if they want to teach this low-impact type of exercise.

Pilates continues to grow in popularity worldwide and in the United States, and becoming a Pilates instructor is an amazing way to become involved in fitness.

And the excellent thing is that because of its popularity as a form of exercise, Pilates teacher training opportunities can be found all over America.

That’s not to say that Pilates certification is beyond your reach if you are from another country! In all major countries, it’s not that difficult to get Pilates certified.

From a personal training point of view, Pilates, like Yoga, is one area that you could look to include in your overall knowledge.

The theory behind this exercise is all anatomy-based; it uses low-impact exercises, which would be perfect for certain target markets, for example, older clients or those recovering from significant injuries.

It even incorporates various equipment, although somewhat different from what a regular personal trainer would use in the gym!

This blog post will cover a range of subjects, including a brief look at Pilates certification, whether Pilates really is the right field for you, where to find your first job, and other steps you need to follow in your question of how to become a Pilates instructor.

So let’s get going then.

Is Life As A Pilates Instructor The Right Job For You?

Is Life As A Pilates Instructor The Right Job For You?

So, I first want to look at a pretty important question. If you become a Pilates instructor, is it really the right calling for you? I mean, you might have taken a couple of classes or just seen people using Pilates as a form of training at your local gym.

Or, if you are a personal trainer looking for that killer niche that will take your business to the next level, and you are considering Pilates and have participated in a few sessions, how do you know that you can make a success of a new venture in which this exercise format will be at the forefront of your business.

Well, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to provide some guidance. And it’s good to take part in an exercise like this before you start an expensive certification and then find you don’t actually like it that much.

If you already work in the fitness world, some of these questions might be redundant, but many are relevant for those looking to start out. And these questions are:

  • Are you passionate about fitness?
  • Do you want to help others?
  • Do you have a vibrant personality?
  • Do you mind standing for long periods of time and doing lots of talking?
  • How flexible are you (and we talking about your body here)?
  • Have you done some study on how to become a certified Pilates instructor?
  • Do you understand how much Pilates instructor training can cost?
  • Are you patient?
  • Can you work with large groups?
  • Equally, do you like working in a one-on-one situation with others?
  • Are you able to motivate?
  • Pilates involves correcting clients’ forms by touching them and moving them in the correct position. Would this bother you?
  • Do you love learning about the body and anatomy in general?
  • Do you partake in a healthy way of living?
  • Are you an organized person?
  • Would you mind working flexible work hours?

Wow, that’s a lot of questions. But don’t just overlook them; they are all important, that’s for sure! These are all the characteristics Pilates trainers have to show and situations they must deal with daily.

How to Become a Pilates Instructor in [year] - A Full Guide 1
How to Become a Pilates Instructor in [year] - A Full Guide 2

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What Can You Expect A Pilates Career To Involve?

What Can You Expect A Pilates Career To Involve?

You might have a general idea of what a Pilates career involves, but it can be very different from what you think.

For example, the life of a Pilates teacher in a studio is different from one who is practicing as a freelancer. Even the type of Pilates you want to teach, classical or contemporary, has a day-to-day impact.

And then there is exactly what you want to teach. Will you only be a Pilates teacher that teaches using the mat (which is the far less demanding form of teaching)? Or will you focus on using the various Pilates equipment available, or perhaps both?

Day-to-day activities

I thought that taking a small peek into the day to day activities of a Pilates trainer would also give you a great idea of what to expect.

First and foremost, you are a student’s guide and expert knowledge in helping them reach the correct form for each Pilates movement. Over and above that, your powers of motivation will be needed to help them break through some of the soreness they might feel to reach a perfect technique finally.

By demonstrating each of the movements to students, you will be showing them the perfect form they should be aiming for, which helps them with muscle toning, flexibility, and overall balance.

As mentioned a little earlier, there’s plenty of talking to do and lots of standing. Being a Pilates teacher can be pretty tough work!

Ok, So Now That You Know What It’s All About, Starts by Getting Certified…

Ok, So Now That You Know What It's All About, Start by Getting Certified...

Certification in the world of fitness means everything. Getting certified shows that you are an expert in your chosen field, whether a personal trainer, yoga instructor, or even a group fitness guru.

And Pilates is no different.

Certification means that you have undergone an extensive training course offered by a respected training organization in your chosen field. Pilates has many options in this regard.

Getting certified is going to take some time on your part. There is a range of full-time and part-time certification options that you can consider. I suggest you take a look through my blog post on Pilates certifications here as an example of seven that you could consider.

The thing about Pilates certification is that it’s not going to take you four weeks or even six weeks. Most of these courses take months, sometimes up to a year.

That’s because, over and above the extensive theoretical training that you will put in, there are many practical hours as well that you will need to complete to be certified. We are talking hundreds of hours here.

Classical v Contemporary Pilates

When deciding on a certification program, the first important question you need to ask yourself is which discipline of Pilates you will get certified in. And there are two: classical and contemporary.

Classical Pilates was born out of concepts devised by Joseph Pilates, the founder of this form of exercise. It’s not an exact copy of his program, with some variation on order in the Pilates forms and other changes. In classical Pilates, the pelvis position is crucial during mat work, especially for abdominal exercises carried out with a posterior tilt.

Contemporary Pilates is a far more modern approach to Joseph Pilates’ work. Here, biomechanics, as well as physical therapy, play a large role. You can expect many of the same exercise forms as found in classical Pilates but with many other additions. This modern form of Pilates training is particularly popular for helping with injury rehabilitation.

What will you specialize in?

What will you specialize in?

Another important question to ask yourself is, what area of Pilates will you specialize in?

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For many, the starting point of their career is as a Pilates mat instructor. Gaining certification for mat work means that you will be able to teach group matt classes as well as one-on-one sessions.

But don’t forget; there are also certification options that consider Pilates equipment. This includes pieces like the Reformer, Cadillac and Barrels, and more.

Or, if your budget allows, you could opt for a comprehensive certification that includes all of these aspects. And that’s your aim if you want to become a full-time teacher in a studio.

Does the Pilates Method Alliance recognize your chosen course?

Undoubtedly, the best courses out there are affiliated with the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA). This organization was established in 2001, and it’s a non-profit organization that is committed to the field of Pilates.

With paying members from around the globe, many of them who own studios or Pilates schools as well as teachers, the PMA is based in Miami. Not only does the PMA hold a Pilates Educators Summit, but they help raise awareness of Pilates worldwide.

Not only that but the PMA help to further the advancement of Pilates by supporting a research committee that constantly looks to evolve this form of exercise while ensuring it remains safe, efficient, and as effective as ever.

Perhaps most importantly, the PMA, in 2017, started its Pilates School Approval Program, which effectively drew up a set of 10 educational standards for Pilates training studios and schools.

Even if you are a student studying towards your certification, you can sign up to become a member of the PMA.

Once you are certified, what’s next?

How to Become a Pilates Instructor in [year] - A Full Guide 3

So what happens after you have worked those long hours to get yourself certified? Well, it’s time to take the first steps in your career as a Pilates trainer. There are some things to consider, however, before you start.

Pilates insurance

No matter where you train, either as a freelance Pilates instructor or if a studio employs you, you will need some form of insurance to cover yourself if a client sustains an injury and then lays the blame on your door.

That’s a distinct possibility in the fact that a lot of Pilates is about pushing the body further and further (within reason, of course) to be able to do exercise forms correctly.

  • Pilates insurance gives you peace of mind to confidently carry out your career as a Pilates instructor.
  • It will lead to more opportunities to practice as a Pilates instructor
  • Because you care enough about your Pilates instruction to take out insurance, this means clients are more likely to put their trust in you as well
  • Having your own insurance means you don’t rely on others. So you can accept jobs anywhere, perfect for a freelancing Pilates instructor or one that works from multiple studios

Many insurers across the United States offer fitness insurance. When you research these, if it’s general insurance for fitness practitioners, then make sure that it also covers Pilates.

Otherwise, opt for an insurer with a specific package for those who teach Pilates. There are many excellent options to choose from. Ensure you are insured before taking your first class or one-on-one client.

Start your journey as a Pilates teacher.

Start your journey as a Pilates teacher

At this blog’s beginning, you probably had the question of how to become a Pilates teacher. And everything you have read so far has hopefully helped you to plot the route you need to get to this point.

So once you have that certification and some insurance, it’s time to take the big step. And that’s to find your first teaching gig as a Pilates instructor.

But where do you start?

As a certified Pilates instructor, there are several options for finding employment. Consider these, for example:

  • At a studio specializing in Pilates
  • At gyms and health clubs
  • At leisure centers
  • Corporate fitness programs
  • Retreats that focus on Pilates
  • Holiday resorts
  • Cruise ships
  • One-on-one teaching as a freelancing Pilates instructor

Let’s take a look at some of these a little closer.

Working as an instructor in a Pilates studio

Working as an instructor in a Pilates studio

While you might want to go it alone from the get-go, perhaps it’s best to first find your feet by working in a studio environment. Although your certification would have included many hours of practicals, expanding your Pilates knowledge in a studio with other like-minded instructors is the perfect setup for new Pilates teachers.

Just think about it, larger studios will often employ several teachers, with perhaps all of them having far more experience than you might. These are the people to watch and learn from, that’s for sure. There is just so much knowledge to be gained in a situation like that.

Working as a freelance Pilates instructor

Who doesn’t want to be their own boss? I am sure that even before you have started your journey in the Pilates world, you envisage yourself working from your own studio or traveling to visit your clients as you take them through one-on-one sessions.

And that’s a great goal to have! But I can tell you, freelancing isn’t the easiest, that’s for sure!

One of the first ways to freelance is by finding a studio that occasionally needs relief instructors. Or even those that use freelance instructors to teach classes every week.

That’s a great place to start.

But as mentioned above, you can obviously have private clients, although if that’s your only source of income, you will need plenty. Or why not start Pilates sessions at the local community hall, local college or university, or perhaps even at other medical practices, like physiotherapists?

A freelancing Pilates instructor doesn’t only have to rely on those one-on-one clients to boost their income.

Continuing education and re-certification

Continuing education and re-certification

As in all forms of employment in the fitness industry, there is always scope to learn more as a Pilates instructor. That’s particularly true if you decided first to get certified as an entry-level Pilates mat teacher, for example.

In a case like that, there is so much more that you can still study in the world of Pilates, for example, more in-depth certifications covering mat work, the use of Pilates equipment, or perhaps a fully comprehensive program that covers both of these aspects in the deepest of details, along with hundreds of hours of practical work. It’s up to you, really, just how far you really want to go.

Also, although the world of Pilates is not regulated like some of the other fitness careers, it pays to keep your certification up to date. And that means that you should enroll in continuing education Pilates courses. This shows clients that you are at the forefront of new trends in the field of Pilates and able to give classes with the most up-to-date Pilates theory and practice.

Last Words…

Last Words...

So how do you become a Pilates instructor? Well, hopefully, that question has been answered!

And after reading through this post, you would no doubt agree that the best way to do so is to secure one of the many pilates instructor certifications from a reputable course. If you want more information on these, then please read my blog post about certification options here.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to read this piece, and as always, please feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions. I will answer them as soon as possible. Also, take the time to look through the rest of PT Pioneer; it’s a wealth of information about the fitness world!

Until next time!

References

  1. Origym
  2. The Balanced Life
  3. Pilates Method Alliance
  4. Next Insurance
  5. Statista

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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2 thoughts on “How to Become a Pilates Instructor in 2023 – A Full Guide”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Hello, good read. Thank you. How long and how often should i take pilates classes before committing to a certification program? As a student, how long should I practice before i jump in? When is too soon or can i learn as I become certified? I practiced pilates for a year 5 years ago, but stopped when i had two children. I know i love pilates.

    Thank you.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Sarah, I would say you just need the amount of practice that makes you feel comfortable teaching the classes. For some people this can be months; for others, it can be longer. It sounds like you have a good knowledge base in the realm of pilates, though!

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