So, you want to become a Pilates instructor? I get at least one email a day asking for advice on this very topic and I thought it might help to put all the replies I give you into one handy blog post (otherwise I’ll end up with no business left after replying).
Pilates has been around for a long time (I’m talking almost 100 years) yet it has seen a huge increase in popularity since group reformer studios opened up across London. Pilates went from being associated with injuries, old age or yoga (nothing wrong with that), to being the workout of choice for those wanting a stronger, leaner body. Some of the claims made by Pilates studios are a bit far-fetched (Pilates alone will not give you a dancer’s body) but there is no denying Pilates works, and it is anything other than boring.
Liking Pilates and wanting to teach Pilates are two very different things. Here is a list of things you need to consider if you are considering becoming an instructor:
- Do you like standing on your feet all day? Do not underestimate how tiring it is but also how draining talking all day can be. I remember when I first started teaching I would wake myself up thinking about Pilates breath patterns, or counting out reps. I also had terrible jaw ache.
- Do you want to genuinely help others? You will spend all day talking about other people’s aches, pains, body concerns and spend very little effort on your own. My back was its best before I became an instructor. You have to be very giving in this industry.
- Do you truly understand what Pilates is? Many studios teach ‘Pilates’ but not many teach ‘proper Pilates’. This might sound snobby but Pilates is not about getting a slim body – it’s about anatomy, posture and functionality.
- Are you ready to learn? You’ll need to know every muscle, every insertion point, every muscle action, every opposing muscle. And that’s before you even learn the exercises.
Are you still interested? Ok great. So here are my 5 top tips to get you started on your Pilates journey.
Every studio, every instructor, every Pilates training school is different. Some instructors have a very classical way of teaching, based on Joseph (Pilates’) original repertoire. Others (myself included) have brought in their learnings from other qualifications and created a more dynamic style. Make sure you learn the difference and work out what you want to teach (see next step)
Think about what type of instructor you want to be. Do you want to train people with injuries in rehab-style Pilates? Do you want to teach individuals or groups? Do you want your sessions to be slow and steady or fast and fun? This will somewhat decide which training provider you go with.
Get a Mentor
Find an instructor you like and ask them where they trained? Chances are you’ll like the course too. Ask their opinion on the course though – just because you trained with a certain school doesn’t mean you necessarily enjoyed it (I did though)
Ask instructors if you can observe their classes and try to imagine how it would feel to be in their shoes. Would you like the attention or shy away from it? Would you feel comfortable touching people or find it awkward? You will find those things get easier with experience but if physical contact is an issue for you this might be tricky. Manual correction is important in Pilates.
Just Do It
When I took my first Pilates course I had worked as a manager in a Pilates studio but I had no guarantee I would like teaching it. You sometimes have to say ‘f*** it’ and give it a go.
I trained with STOTT and found them open-minded enough to discuss exercise variations but classical enough to teach me the true foundations of what Joseph taught.
Body Control are known for being great for those who wish to work with those with injuries as they are very heavily involved with technique.
J-Pilates have recently hit my radar too as two of my instructors trained there and they absolutely loved it.
These Pilates schools are not the only ones, but I can only talk from personal experience. At the end of the day it’s like passing your driving test, you learn most from seeing 100’s of bodies in front of you each week so just get booked on the course and start practicing.