A well-trained Pilates instructor has put in more than 800 hours of initial pilates teacher training and continues to develop their teaching through continuing education and ongoing study over the course of their career.
Put into a different framework, the average college Bachelor's and Master's degree is earned with around 200 hours of class time. A well-trained Pilates instructor has earned the equivalent of multiple college degrees, all on the same subject. They have invested a year or more in their initial training and continue their learning through personal practice and study, continuing education workshops, and attending professional conferences.
Well-trained, experienced Pilates instructors tend to be very committed to their work and the success of their clients and they typically approach teaching as a profession
What are you Paying for when you take a Pilates Class?
In addition to your instructor’s training and expertise, there are overhead costs. Good Pilates equipment lasts forever, but it needs to be maintained regularly, with springs, wheels and straps replaced routinely. Most Pilates studios are additionally paying for commercial rent, software for booking and payment processing, website and SEO support, and all of the other overhead costs associated with running a small business.
Clients tend to get the most benefit from small group or one-on-one instruction, where a qualified teacher can provide targeted correction and guidance. Unlike an aerobics class which may have 20 or more students, Pilates classes tend to be smaller and address needs with precision.
How Much do Pilates Instructors Make?
Depending on the structure of the studio, Pilates instructors are paid 30-60% of the revenue brought in for their sessions. They are most commonly paid hourly, based on their actual teaching time, as either employees or independent contractors depending on how the studio is set up.
The most common benefits for Pilates Instructors are free classes, discounted private sessions, continuing education, and very flexible schedules. Pilates teachers typically get more vacation time than most other professions. A well-trained Pilates instructor can earn $40-70k per year, working 25-35 hours per week. Rates of pay can vary considerably depending on the region and whether Pilates is taught in a private studio, gym, or franchise studio setting.
Beware of Inexpensive Pilates
The popularity and efficacy of Pilates has given rise to a proliferation of studios focusing on low-cost, large-group sessions and membership-based franchise studios. Most of these studios are able to be profitable based on holding large classes and hiring teachers with limited training. Many offer their own teacher training programs so they can increase their revenue streams and train instructors to the specifications that generate the most profit for the franchises.
Sessions at these studios are fine for generally healthy clients seeking new and different ways of working out. However, to get the best benefits of Pilates it is important to work in small groups or one-on-one sessions, where instructors with a keen eye and in-depth understanding of the Pilates Method can provide corrections and instruction tailored to individual needs. Healthy, pain-free clients will see the biggest changes and get the most benefit this way, and this style of teaching is essential for injured clients or those in pain or dealing with chronic conditions.
Typically if a doctor has suggested their patients try Pilates to manage or minimize pain, recover from injuries or childbirth, etc. they are not referring to group classes of 12 people led by instructors with no training in special applications or assessing and correcting movement!
What to Ask a Pilates Instructor
Want to get started with Pilates? Great!
Be sure to ask about the training and qualifications of the instructor and their experience level!
We believe it is essential to have 900-1,000 hours of initial training, in which an instructor has spent a year learning how to read movement patterns, assess & troubleshoot problems, and dive deeply into an understanding of the Pilates Method. Typically an instructor with less than 800 hours of initial training is not well prepared to address complicated issues, injuries, etc.
That said, there are exceptions for instructors who have followed their initial training with consistent, good-quality continuing education, they may be perfect for you and certainly demonstrate a commitment to their work through their engagement in continued study.
*Check out the equipment!
Pilates equipment doesn’t have to be shiny and perfect to be effective. Some of the best Pilates equipment in the world is well worn, with small cracks in the upholstery. This can be a great sign of a busy, active studio.
So when you are scoping out the equipment in a new studio, what should you be looking for?
On the Reformers, leather straps are much, much easier to work with than rope straps. The equipment was originally designed with leather straps that have few if any options for adjustments. This virtually guarantees that your straps will be even and properly positioned in relation to the carriage. The challenge with rope straps is that most reformers with rope straps do not have strap extenders, which means you must manually adjust the length of the straps for some exercises. It is virtually impossible to get rope straps even when you adjust them, especially between exercises, while moving quickly in class.
If you see rope straps on a reformer, you might take a moment to ask how the instructor ensures the straps are even.
On the Pole systems, Wunda Chairs, and even on the Reformers, you might also take a quick look at the springs. What you are looking for is that the springs open & close evenly, with no sags or gaps between the coils. Gaps are a sign of wear and weakness and sags are either a sign of wear or a sign that the equipment is not adjusted properly. It is common that springs may get some residue on them from disinfectant used to clean the equipment between clients or this sort of thing, so it does not matter if the springs aren’t shiny and ‘new looking’ - the structural integrity of the springs is what matters!
Less-than-idea equipment doesn’t necessarily mean you should run the other way. But it is worth asking some questions of your instructor. Springs in good condition are a sign that the instructor or studio owner is invested in maintaining their equipment.
What if a spring breaks in class?
It happens! Even in the best of situations, the metal on springs can snap or clips can become undone. This can be alarming and very occasionally can result in minor injuries. If your Pilates instructor is well trained and experienced, they will know how to address these issues and will do their best to reduce problems by replacing worn parts on a regular basis.
Once you find a studio that fits your needs, your last question should be: When can I get started?