ilates has taken over the world, so no matter the country you chose to practice it, you will find a good center. That’s why we would say this is the best time to get your certification and become an instructor. You’ll get to inspire and motivate your students, and teach them all about this wonderful routine, while making a pretty nice living and, more importantly, doing your favorite Pilates movements every day.
Doesn’t it sound amazing? Many Pilates instructors will tell you that this was the best decision they’ve ever made and encourage you to follow the path of getting all the certifications, but they will also tell you that this job isn’t for everyone. Like any teaching activity, it implies not only being good at practicing the technique but at showing others how to do it. It requires patience and passion.
With this in mind, let’s explore what becoming an instructor really means, starting from the skills you’ll need, the degrees you need to earn, and the opportunities that are out there for you.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Pilates Instructor?
As an instructor, you will be the center of attention. Your passion and energy will be the ones encouraging your students to keep going until they reach perfection. And good explanations will be the ones driving them there. It can be a demanding job that will bring you plenty of rewards, but it can be a tiresome job if you aren’t really cut to be an instructor.
So, make sure you check the following requirements, otherwise, you may discover at some point that you have spent good money on training classes only to realize that practicing Pilates has nothing to do with teaching it:
- You have tried Pilates before and are familiar with the technique.
- You can speak in front of a crowd and have no problem standing for hours.
- You are patient and able to motivate people.
- You can work with large groups but with individual clients as well.
- You are an organized person.
- You like to help others.
- You partake in a healthy lifestyle.
- You aren’t bothered by physical contact, which is necessary when correcting clients’ posture.
- You are willing to work flexible hours.
- You are willing to engage in a continuous learning process.
You may think we’ve exaggerated. But stop for a moment and take a look at your favorite instructor. You’ll notice that they possess each and every of the qualities we’ve listed above. And, then, look at one of the instructors you consider not to be very good at their jobs. Are they missing one or many of the qualities we’ve mentioned?
What Certifications Are Necessary?
It may seem that it is enough to master the technique to start teaching it to others. But the truth is that it is very difficult to make a living if you cannot prove you have the required competencies. No gym will hire you without a certification, first, because it wouldn’t look professional in front of their clients and, secondly, because they cannot be sure you can ensure the clients’ safety during the courses. Moreover, in some states, a certificate may be mandatory for you to get hired.
Besides all that, you will learn important things during the instructor training that have to do with human anatomy and teaching techniques, which will help you better understand the routines and give your clients pertinent advice.
So, on your way to becoming a teacher, you will need to make some decisions and, only after, invest in courses that will enable you to practice this profession.
Classical vs. Contemporary Pilates
In order to pick one specialization or another, you should first understand what each of them will allow you to teach. You can specialize in both, but, for starts, the best you can do is pick one and master it to perfection.
Classical Pilates still preserves a great deal of the techniques used by Joseph Pilates when he designed the program. The accent is put on training the whole body while maintaining a strong connection with the mind. The exercises increase in difficulty as the practitioners become more advanced and can be executed on a mat or by using a set of apparatus, which have been introduced by the inventor himself, namely, the famous reformer, the cadillac, special chairs, and others, all having the purpose of correcting the posture of the body.
Contemporary Pilates has been adapted to recent scientific discoveries and uses a more advanced exercise repertoire. It still respects Joseph Pilate’s initial principles, but many elements have been added. The accent falls on the design of the routines, which are developed taking into account the principles of dynamics, elasticity, and body movement. Often, artistic elements are included, and the technique promotes the joy of movement.
This can be your specialization, if you are an artistic type and love to explore new things every day. As the science evolves, it is expected for the routine to change with it, so you will always need to learn and adapt. To put it short, this specialization guarantees that you will never get bored.
Mat vs. Comprehensive Certification
You’ve just made an essential decision, but here comes a second one, just as important. The question is if you are going to teach mat Pilates or include apparatus training into your portfolio. The first certification will allow you to work in gyms, which focus more on mat exercises than the ones that require special equipment. You can also work as a personal trainer, assisting your clients at home.
On the other hand, even if a comprehensive certification is more expensive, it will open you far more opportunities. You can work in gyms where equipment is involved and get paid better. Or combine both mat and apparatus sessions, thus being able to attract more clients. Most full-time instructors that work in a studio have this certification.
How to Pick the Right Course
There are some criteria you should follow when checking centers that offer these types of courses, first, to ensure that you will learn everything you need to become a good professional and secondly, to have the guarantee that you will be able to teach in any gym in the country:
- The course should include at least 500 hours, during which you can get the chance to learn everything about the technique, put your knowledge in practice, and teach in front of a class of students.
- The course should be recognized by the Pilates Method Alliance (Professional Association for Pilates Teachers). You can later get a membership here and get resources and novelties concerning your field of expertise.
- The course should extend over a few months, usually six to twelve, and not cover only one weekend or two.
How Much Does Club Pilates Cost?
Getting your certificate for a mat instructor is usually easier and less expensive. The costs can start somewhere around $100 and go up to $300. Nevertheless, as we have explained, this certification is rather restrictive and offers fewer career opportunities. A comprehensive certification is what you should follow, even if it will require more effort from your part and a higher investment. It can cost up to $3,000, but it is a better guarantee that you will get the job of your dreams after finishing it.
If you are going to teach Pilates exercises that require an apparatus, but you have never tried them before, a good idea would be to join a club Pilates class and learn your way with the reformer. You cannot be a good teacher unless you master your domain. This investment will cost you somewhere between $25 to $35 per session, but you can get some discounts if you purchase packs of 4 or 8 sessions. Or you can get an unlimited monthly or yearly membership, which is usually the less expensive option. If you are serious with your career intentions, you shouldn’t fear to commit to a yearly membership, and, once acquired, take full advantage of it.
Moreover, if the price seems a bit high, think that soon you will be the one charging it, so it is a good thing that the rates are high enough to allow you to make a good living.
How Much Do Pilates Instructors Make?
The area where you teach can influence your salary, but not in such a great measure as experience can. Just like in any other domain, the more prepared you are the more clients will want you as their teacher. Nevertheless, according to statistics, most Pilates instructors gain enough money to live a comfortable and sometimes luxurious life. The hourly rates can vary from $15.8 to $50, with a beginner instructor with less than 1 year of experience earning a gross annual salary of $54,912 in Los Angeles to $75, 047 in New York, and an instructor with 1 to 4 years of experience earning $83,200 in Los Angeles and $85,280 in New York. The rates can go even higher for teachers with over 5 years of experience, the gross annual salary reaching $105,664 in Los Angeles, and up to 108,305 in New York.
These numbers are truly impressive, and the odds are that they won’t get lower in the future as more and more Americans are getting interested in Pilates. A study conducted by Statista in 2016 revealed that about 9,000,000 Americans are practicing Pilates regularly, and the amount each student spends on private classes per year is as high as $2,000. Since then, things have remained on a rising path, making this job a highly desired one from a financial point of view.
As a Certified Trainer, Do You Need to Get a Pilates Insurance?
The answer is simple. You should get one. It doesn’t matter if you work for a gym or as a personal trainer, accidents can happen, and if the blame is cast on you, you will need to get good money out of your pocket for the treatment. But if you have insurance, all your worries can be put away. And your employers will appreciate that you don’t rely on others to save you in these situations. Nevertheless, having insurance shouldn’t mean that you needn’t treat your clients with attention anymore. You don’t want anyone to get hurt during your classes as this is just bad advertising.
Once you’ve got through the whole process of getting certified, it’s time for your hard work to start generating money. But keep this in mind. A good business is built in time, so don’t charge your clients with more money than your experience is worth it. This will only ruin your image and prevent you from advancing in the industry. Better take it slow. Make sure that your clients enjoy the classes, speak nicely to them (a good instructor is a good listener as well), and try to secure their fidelity. They will be the ones spreading the word and bringing more and more clients. And more importantly, no matter how successful you become, make sure not to overcrowd your classes. Pilates is about concentration, which can no longer be acquired if the room is full.