How to Become a Pilates Instructor
Updated: Jul 25
Searching for a Pilates Teacher Training Program?
There are crucial details to consider before you enroll.
If you love Pilates and are thinking about becoming a Pilates Instructor, you are not alone! More than 1,000 people per year enroll in Pilates Teacher Training Programs in the United States. Yet, industry-wide, we see constant shortages of high demand for well-trained instructors. Why is this? The simple answer is that the majority of people going into Pilates Teacher Training Programs don’t know what they are looking for or how to find what they are looking for. Many people end up with incomplete or short-term training that hasn’t provided them with the skills to properly serve the diverse clientele they will encounter as a professional Pilates Instructor, and many others got into teaching as a hobbyist and were not looking for a professional Pilates career.
This article will break down everything you need to know and consider before enrolling in a teacher training program.: What should I be looking for in a Pilates Teacher Training Program?
What questions should I ask before enrolling in Pilates Teacher Training?
How do I compare programs & evaluate the best Pilates Teacher Training Program for my needs?
What should I be looking for in a Pilates Teacher Training Program?
According to Desiree Sanchez, a veteran Pilates Teacher Trainer based in Lone Tree, Colorado, “potential students should think about what their end-goal is. A lot of people love Pilates and just want to have some equipment at home and learn how to use it well for themselves or their families. This is a very different thing than wanting to become a Professional or Certified Pilates Instructor”. She goes on to say “if your goal is to find a career you love, to teach Pilates for money, and make a profession out of it, it is essential that you find a high-quality comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Program.
Doing so will prepare you to work safely and effectively with the diversity of clientele you are likely to encounter in a professional setting (clients ranging from weekend warriors and home-makers to people recovering from injuries or athletes looking for performance improvements). In-depth, comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Programs will help you develop everything from your teaching and assessment skills to business skills. These types of programs will also introduce you to a vibrant community of instructors and studio owners. The professional connections gained in these communities lead to lifelong associations and friendships with people who understand and support your professional needs and are a great source of post-graduation job opportunities”.
A comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Program should train you to an Intermediate or Advanced Level (depending on the length of the program) on multiple pieces of equipment and should include Anatomy instruction as well as training in assessment skills, teaching skills and techniques for adapting the work to accommodate client’s specific needs and goals.
These programs should include classroom and study hours (often called “internship” or “apprenticeship” hours) outside of workshop settings, in which the student:
Observes experienced instructors teaching both group and one-on-one sessions
Does their own personal workouts, on all equipment, practicing and honing skills
Practice Teaches multiple clients for the duration of their training program
Takes classes and Pilates Private sessions from seasoned instructors for the duration of their training
Students of Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Programs should also be prepared to study their notes, create lesson plans, do homework assignments and other activities to fulfill their learning requirements.
The best Pilates Teacher Training Programs will have methods for testing and assessing your skills prior to awarding a certificate of completion.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pilates Instructor?
High quality comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Programs require a significant time commitment. One could compare this to being a full-time student for one or two semesters of college, or to taking on a part-time job. In the case of Pilates Teacher Training, you will emerge with a solid base of career training as a qualified professional in the field of Pilates, after just 7-14 months!
Most career-minded Pilates students find that over time, the cost of a reputable Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Program is on par with or lower than module-based programs.
There are a few reasons for this: 1. Everything is included in your single, upfront tuition price.
2. The programs are so in-depth that there is less need to ‘backfill’ your training with additional specialized workshops.
3. The depth and breadth of initial training that is comprehensive helps Pilates Instructors learn and practice skills that support the longevity of their careers, and introduces them to a community of like-minded professionals. These factors increase job satisfaction and reduce future burnout.
For those whose goal is to explore their own personal practice or Pilates as a hobby, a comprehensive teacher training approach is probably overkill. In this case, weekend Pilates workshops or short training modules which focus on the one or two pieces of equipment one might have at home may be a more effective way to go. Individual workshops and short modules can provide a lot of things to play around with on your own and teach you how to utilize Pilates equipment effectively for your own personal needs.
What do I need to know before enrolling in a Pilates Teacher Training Program?
There are a lot of questions to ask before signing that enrollment agreement!
In this article, we will review the 6 most important ones.
All Pilates Teacher Training Programs are structured differently. It is important to understand the structure and format of the programs you are considering. In order to make the best decision for your needs, it is essential to ask the following questions:
What are the requirements of the Pilates Teacher Training Program?
Some Pilates Teacher Training Programs are based on modules. In this case, there might be one or two workshops, some practice teaching time, and a test included in the cost of the first module. However, that module may only teach you the basics on one or two pieces of equipment. This type of training is great if you own or are planning to own one or two pieces of equipment for your own use as a Pilates enthusiast.
However, if you are planning to become a professional or Certified Pilates Instructor, you will need to complete many modules before you have sufficient training to work safely and effectively with paying clients.
What is included in my tuition fee?
Some tuitions include an entire training program, others are price per workshop or module. Some
charge separately for using their studio to fulfill your mentorship hours. If the program you are considering is priced per session, it is important to find out what the costs are for the other aspects of the program and to take the time to add up all the costs to learn what your total teacher training investment will be – and what you will get in return for that.
Which pieces of equipment will you be trained on?
To what level will you be trained?
Will you be trained on ways to modify exercises or otherwise accommodate the specific needs of clients?
Will you be expected to do the exercises yourself?
Does the program require that you pass any tests in order to earn a certificate of completion?
If so, what kinds of tests & evaluations is the program using? Is there an additional charge for testing?
The highest quality teacher training programs will utilize a combination of written and practical tests. The practical tests frequently involve both teaching and doing the work, so your instructors can evaluate your full understanding and proficiency.
How to Compare Pilates Teacher Training Programs
Comparing different Pilates Teacher Training Programs can be overwhelming. If you have decided that your end goal is to become a professional or Certified Pilates Instructor, you will want to seek out Pilates Teacher Training that covers exercises through Intermediate or Advanced levels (depending on the length of the program you choose) as well as basic Anatomy training and training in teaching skills, safety issues, and how to safely work with people across a variety of ages and fitness levels.
Training that is less than this will not properly prepare you for a profession as a Pilates Instructor and will leave you vulnerable to burnout and less effective work with your clients or put you in a position where you spend a lot of time and money ‘back filling’ your education with additional workshops and training.
Quote From Previous Teacher Training Student
Crystal Boecker, a 2015 graduate of the Functional Strength Pilates Teacher Training Program in Colorado, says “I went through a non- comprehensive training program first. The difference is night and Day. In the FSP program I took, we learned not only what to do but more Importantly the "why's" behind what we teach. We had to think critically, which are skills a Pilates Teacher needs. The unexpected benefits were the connections, lasting friendships and support we all still enjoy”.
“Any program can teach you basic skills -- the words to say and the springs to use. But, a comprehensive training program requires you to look deeper. You learn to see patterns of movement across exercises. Somewhere along the way, you learn to break down complex exercises into movement skills and to build movement skills into complex exercises”, says Erin Lomax, who graduated from the Functional Strength Pilates Teacher Training Program in 2019.
She continues, “The Teacher Training Program at Functional Strength changes you from the inside out. When I started the program, I considered Pilates a form of exercise. About midway through my TTP, I finally started to be present in my body and "feeling" the movement instead of "doing" the movement. Pilates is so much more than exercise”.
To launch yourself smoothly into a successful career teaching Pilates, consider the following:
Comprehensive Training vs. Modules
Most Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training programs charge a single tuition fee for the entirety of your training. At first glance, this may seem considerably more expensive than Module-based programs. However, to properly evaluate these choices, it is essential to look beyond the price and consider the content and duration of the Training Program.
Questions to ask:
How many workshop hours are included in the program
Does the program require practice teaching, observation, and working out (“internship hours”) in the studio?
Note that any program not requiring these kinds of “internship hours” does not meet the guidelines for National Pilates Certification and will not properly prepare you to be a successful professional Pilates instructor.
How many hours of practice teaching, observation, working out, etc. are required by the program?
Is there an experienced instructor, advisor, or mentor who will track your progress through the program? If so, will they be available to answer questions that arise and otherwise support your learning?
Is The Program Operating Legally in Your Area?
This may sound strange, but many states have specific laws governing Pilates Teacher Training Programs! And even more surprising is that many programs do not follow these statutes.
Compliance with state and local laws is a consumer protection issue, it gives you the assurance that the facility you are working with has the resources to stay in business and gives you an official avenue for addressing grievances or other issues. Some programs can even accept federal financial aid! Additionally, learning whether a program is compliant with local laws will give you an idea of the integrity and legitimacy of the program you are considering.
Research if you are going to be practicing in a state that requires Pilates Teacher Training Programs to be licensed by a regulatory agency. If you live in one of these states, find out whether the program you are considering is compliant with state regulations.
Comparing Pilates Certification Program
Because the structure of Pilates Teacher Training Programs can vary widely, it can be difficult to compare costs.
Be sure to ask for a clear list of everything that is required in the program as well as everything that is included in the cost of the program. These may not be the same things! Add up ALL the costs before making your decision.
Here is a sample of questions to ask:
Is practice teaching, observation, taking classes and working out on the studio’s equipment required? Are there additional fees for these activities?
How many workshop hours are required?
Add up the number of total workshop hours and the price for each workshop.
Are there competency tests?
If so, is there an additional cost for each test or are the tests included in the program?
If you do not pass a test, what are your options?
Are there administrative costs such as deposits, application fees, enrollment fees, cancellation fees, or related charges?
Are all of the workshops offered locally? If not, will you incur additional travel costs?
Are there required books, lessons, classes, or other costs?
Is there a senior faculty member, mentor, or advisor who can answer questions that come up during your training? If so, is there a cost for scheduling meetings with this person?
What is the time frame of the program? If you are unable to complete the program requirements within that time frame, what are your options?
A Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Program will typically have a single tuition fee that covers most of the items above. Still, all programs are different, so it’s important to find out ahead of time if there will be additional fees for any aspect of your training.
Getting a clear understanding of the requirements and costs of the training programs you are considering will help you understand exactly what you will receive for your investment and will clarify your decision-making process!