A question I’m asked very often as a Pilates teacher trainer is, ‘how long does it take to go through a Pilates teacher training program and become a Pilates instructor?’ When you read a training program’s website, there never seems to be a clear and simple answer. There is good reason for that because the length of time really depends on you. I have seen people complete the training in as little as eight months when they are able to focus on it full time. Others take two years or longer to finish instructor training because they are juggling multiple priorities in their life, like a family or full-time career. While the amount of time it takes is completely personal, below I break down the components of a teacher training program and share my thoughts on about how long it should take and why.
At Spiral Spine Pilates Studio I offer Balanced Body’s Pilates teacher training program. This is the largest Pilates instructor training program in the world and is very reputable. It is also the most popular program in the Nashville area, meaning our graduates are extremely hireable. Like all highly rated Pilates teacher training programs, Balanced Body’s is composed of two parts: the in-studio courses and the out-of-class practice hours. After you have completed all of this, you will need to test out. Balanced Body’s comprehensive teacher training program consists of 11 required in-studio courses, each ranging from six to 18 hours in length. At Spiral Spine Pilates Studio the courses are offered over one to three days depending on the length of the course.
There is great variability in how often studios schedule teacher training courses. Some studios offer one course once a month. This means that just taking the required courses will take you a year, and then you’ll still have all your out-of-course practice hours to complete. At Spiral Spine Pilates Studio two courses are lumped together, making a long weekend, so people can finish up the in-studio courses quicker. This also allows people who live outside of the Nashville area to make fewer trips, and therefore needing less time and money, to complete their training.
Then there are the out-of-class practice hours consisting of self-practice, observation, and practice teaching hours. Reputable programs typically require 400+ of these hours, which is true of Balanced Body’s program. These hours are done on your own schedule and can be completed as quickly or slowly as your life allows. I’ve seen this part of the training process take a few months all the way to a few years. If this is done quickly, you could receive your certification in less than a year. It really depends on the amount of free time you have and are willing to devote to the training. Most people complete the teacher training process and are ready take the final exam in 18 to 24 months from the start of the program.
When you put both parts together, you are looking at over 500 hours of training. I know this may seem like a lot of time, but it really is a short period considering you’re learning skills to start a new career. If you compare it to a two- or four-year degree, it requires significantly less time than either does.
Even though it seems like an eternity, many Pilates teacher trainees get hired and start working before they’ve completed their final exam. All it takes is attending a good Pilates teacher training program, studying a fair amount, and finishing the majority of the required hours.
Occasionally, if a Pilates studio is in desperate need of teachers, they may hire a Pilates teacher trainee who isn’t ready. This is not good for anyone, including the teacher, who ends up feeling insecure and incompetent. It’s so important to pick a good program, take your practice hours seriously, and not rush through the training without letting anything sink in. Before accepting employment at a Pilates studio, especially if you haven’t completed your out-of-class practice hours, please take gauge yourself and take an honest look at if you’re read to start working with paying clients.
It is vital to research the Pilates teacher training programs you are considering. You want to make sure you pick a program that doesn’t promise to make you a teacher in six months. If it does, you need to look elsewhere for your training. (You can read more about selecting a good Pilates teacher training program here.) While I don’t recommend you spread the process out over more than a few years (you’ll forget too much, will feel defeated, and eventually throw the towel in), you do need to give yourself time when going through a Pilates teacher training program. Never let an eager studio owner push you into teaching sooner than you feel comfortable.
Once you complete your testout you’ll be a Pilates instructor (don’t forget to celebrate this huge accomplishment!). To be able to say you are a “certified” Pilates instructor, you’ll have to take the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) exam. This additional exam may or may not be required by the Pilates studios around you, but I strongly recommend every single Pilates teacher trainee I train take it because you never know where your career will take you. The last thing you want to do 10 years down the road, when you’ve been asked to teach some continuing education courses, is realize you have to sit for this exam in order to offer continuing education credits with the courses you were asked to teach. Don’t make the mistake I have seen too many instructors make and take this exam as soon as possible after you test-out of your Pilates teacher training program.
The PMA exam lasts three hours, although you may finish sooner, and consists of 150 multiple choice questions. You’ll take it in a standardized testing center just like where the SATs, GREs, etc. are given. I recommend signing up to take it shortly after you pass your program test-out as it covers a lot of the same material, and this way you minimize your studying time.
Do your research, study hard, and enjoy the journey, however long it takes you. Congrats on fulfilling your dream of starting a new career that you’ll love.
Interested in fulfilling your Pilates teacher dream? Get all your questions answered and register here.
Here’s what some of the recent trainees have had to say about training with me.
Erin is one of the most amazing teachers! Her energy is so uplifting, and she makes learning Pilates so fun. Her passion for helping people and her thirst for knowledge is so inspiring and I absolutely love being in her studio! I can’t say enough wonderful things about Erin and Spiral Spines Pilates studio!
– Cadillac teacher trainee
I really enjoyed Anatomy, especially since I have such an interest in it. Erin does a really good job of explaining the material as well as keeping everyone motivated and attentive for such a long period of time. Questions were welcome and I felt that Erin had more than enough knowledge to answer everyone’s questions.
– Anatomy teacher trainee
This was a wonderful learning experience. It helped that we spent a great deal of time practicing and discussing each exercise as well as modifications that could be made. I especially liked covering how to address specific individuals such as athletes, dancers and pregnancy issues. The manual is fantastic at explaining which exercises are best for those people as well as explaining which movements to utilize to work on specific areas of the body. Without that content I would have had a more difficult time creating routines, but because you provide the information it encourages and excites me to plan ahead. Thanks!
– Mat 2 teacher trainee