How does one get certified to teach Pilates? This is a great question, and one that I’m asked all the time. It’s often the first thing that pops into someone’s mind when they think about starting this amazing new career. It can be hard to find a straight and simple answer, but here’s the good news, getting certified to teach Pilates can be done in six simple steps. There’s often no time limit on how quickly you can move through the Pilates teacher training process, so it is a very flexible new and/or second career option for many people. I’ll strip away the confusion on how to get certified and provide you with some tips for selecting the best teacher training program for you.
- Sign-up for the 1st training course of a comprehensive Pilates teacher training program
- Start working on your 400+ required hours (often called out-of-course or practice hours, these are a combination of practice teaching, observation, and self-practice)
- Attend all the in-studio courses
- Finish the 400+ out-of-course required hours
- Take your final exam with the Pilates teacher training company
- Take the international Pilates instructor exam with the Pilates Method Alliance
In between all the numbers above I could have inserted the word “study,” because becoming a Pilates instructor also consists of a fair amount of study time. This is because there’s so much more to becoming a certified Pilates instructor than just learning to teach the choreography of the exercises.
Tip 1: Find a Pilates teacher training program that teaches you how to accommodate many different types of clients.
I have had teacher trainees say they just want to work with “healthy” clients. I literally laugh out loud at them and tell them they’ve started training for the wrong profession. You can’t control the kind of client that is going to sign up for a lesson with you. Pilates practitioners are known around the world for being able to work with any and all kinds of clients, and a good Pilates teacher training program will train you how to do this. If your teacher training program doesn’t include instruction on a variety of client modifications, you need to look for another one.
This is a topic that is so near and dear to my heart that my Pilates studio, Spiral Spine Pilates Studio, specializes in working with client populations that other people in the exercise profession are uncomfortable working with. The studio’s private and group classes are filled with clients who have scoliosis, spinal fusions, disc injuries, neuromuscular diseases, osteoporosis, and more. These clients find freedom in their bodies because my staff knows how to love on them and care for them well. If your Pilates teacher training program equips you how to work with these kinds of clients, you can love your job just as much as my staff and I love ours.
Additionally, you may eventually become a leader in the community for how you teach Pilates. Many of the top Pilates instructors around the world have orthopedists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists referring clients to them because of their knowledge and skill level. These Pilates instructors are known as great teachers in their communities and they typically have this in common: they went through a great Pilates teacher training program and studied a lot (and are still studying!).
So how do you become one of the Pilates leaders in your community? Your Pilates teacher training program should equip you to deal with clients who have all sorts of bodily issues like disc herniations, scoliosis, osteoporosis, pregnancy, and more.
Tip 2: Look for a program that provides you with information beyond the in-studio courses
The ideal Pilates teacher training program should provide you with many manuals and videos for additional instruction beyond the in-studio courses. By the time instructors are nearing the end of their training at my studio they have switched over to carrying everything in a small suitcase because they have too many manuals and notebooks to fit in a backpack or shoulder satchel. You will continuously refer to these manuals and videos throughout your teaching journey as you refresh your memory about exercises and modifications. If the program you’re looking into provides you with one three-ringed binder with typed notes and nothing else, you need to look elsewhere.
Tip 3: Make sure you know what you’re getting for your money
Most Pilates teacher training programs cost about the same amount of money, so please do your research on exactly what you’ll be learning and what resources the training program will be equipping you with. There can be a vast difference between what a great program and a mediocre program offer you. Finally, I have seen too many newly trained Pilates instructors proudly tell me of the program they just finished (while looking for a job at my studio). When I point out what my training program offers, for the same cost, and what I expect my teachers to be competent in, I quickly see a deep look of buyer’s remorse come across their face.
Tip 4: Check out the bio of the lead instructor
It’s important that you check out the reputation of the master Pilates instructor you’ll be learning from and studying under. The standard you set for them should be high. Who you take from will not only affect the quality of training and support you receive, but also your own reputation. This will be important when you look for a Pilates teaching job and will affect your chances of getting hired. The master Instructor should have up-to-date certifications and be attending and/or hosting regular continuing education courses as well offering a training program. You never want to take from someone whose knowledge is out of date.
As an example, I’m the only Pilates teacher trainer in the Nashville area that is a current national and international presenter on Pilates. I’ve written multiple books, taught online courses and in-person workshops, and have created many at-home workout videos that are currently purchased around the world. I’ve founded and owned three studios, one of which I successfully sold. Because of that experience I am able to add business lectures into my training courses (have you thought about what environment you want to work in eventually?). I’m also a third-generation Pilates instructor from Joseph Pilates, meaning the woman who trained me was taught by one of the Pilates elders, who was trained by Joseph Pilates.
Due to the fact that I’ve been training Pilates teachers for more than 10 years, I’ve learned the most efficient and effective way to make the highest quality teachers. It’s imperative that a teacher trainer know how to create knowledgeable Pilates instructors who can not only be hired quickly after completing a program, but also can successfully maintain clients long-term (and therefore make back all that money spent on training quickly). Why on earth would you learn to be a Pilates instructor from someone with less experience if you could simply drive down the road and gain so much more for the same number of hours and money?
So many people are not doing their research and are settling for less around the world. Don’t have buyer’s remorse when you are nearing the end of your training because you didn’t do your research in the beginning. I’ve seen it too many times, and it’s a shame.
Do your research, study hard, and enjoy the journey. Congrats on fulfilling your dream of starting a new career that you’ll love!
Interested in starting your new career? Check out the Pilates teacher training page at my studio. Not sure yet? Here’s what past trainees have to say about my program:
Last week I had a woman in my class come talk to me after about how she just recently started teacher training (at your studio). She said she could tell that I had been trained by you. I know when we spoke after my test out you had mentioned something about wanting people to be able to recognize when someone was trained by you, and I thought it was a great compliment. Just wanted to share with you.
Erin did an amazing job teaching the class. She is so brilliant and her skill level blows me away. She made the whole learning process and the weekend sail by with complete enjoyment.
– Mat 1 teacher trainee
Because sometimes God drops us in the most remarkable places and introduces us to the most remarkable people…and because every day when I plan for the next day in the Pilates studio and I am given someone’s precious body and I get to move them during their day and watch out for jacked shoulders and get them to play or think about being able to move those knees so they can get down on the floor to play with their grandchildren or watch their faces as they groan through the movements or comfort them where they hurt or talk an aging guy into thinking he is Nureyev as he attempts arabesque…your face is there. Thank you for being my teacher and mentor.
I am running out of superlatives to describe the “Erin Experience” to my students. They love when I come back from you super-charged with new information. Thank you again for your brilliance…anatomy has never been so crystal clear.
Erin was a great instructor! Her successes are inspirational to new instructors. She brings valuable, real-life experience to her classes. She is well versed in Pilates, movement principles, and how to run a business. What a great opportunity to learn from her. Thanks Balanced Body for a wonderful class, I can’t wait to take more!
– Reformer 1 teacher trainee