Become a Pilates Teacher

2nd October 2017

Become a Pilates Teacher
The History of Pilates

The Pilates system was pioneered in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. As a child, Joseph suffered terribly from conditions such as rheumatic fever, asthma and rickets. Doctors told his parents that he would die prematurely, but Joseph remained convinced that he could nurse himself back to health. Pilates spent his formative years in England where he was a bodybuilder, gymnast, self-defence teacher, boxer and even a circus performer. For political reasons, Pilates was imprisoned during World War 1where he taught is fellow inmates how to keep fit.

His journey to health and peak physical condition finally took him to America where he founded ‘Contrology’, which is the precursor to Pilates as we know it today. In today’s exercise world, the practice of Pilates is used to greatly improve musculoskeletal heath. It’s especially useful, but not limited to, alleviating low back pain. As Pilates himself once said: “In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 you’ll see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a new body”.

Who can become a Pilates teacher?

Leading Pilates instructors must possess a range of personal qualities in order to succeed. Attention to detail is an absolute must as classes must be delivered in an incredibly precise and controlled manner. Coupled with this, instructors must be able to motivate and inspire class participants. In fact, instructors are widely regarded by most as teachers rather than instructors because the method is so concerned with educating participants (or re-educating in a rehabilitation setting), how to move correctly.

As previously mentioned, Pilates is incredibly well suited to enhancing musculoskeletal health and injury rehabilitation. Teachers are therefore required to be extremely adaptable and open-minded, no two class participants will be the same and there may be those with very specific needs.

How to become a qualified Pilates instructor

If you have the required personal qualities, the next stage is to gain an appropriately recognised qualification. The industry’s most popular entry-level Pilates qualification is the Level 3 Diploma in Mat Pilates. This programme focuses primarily on mat-based bodyweight exercises, which are the foundation of Joseph Pilates ‘Contrology’ programme. There are a number of training organisations that have sought to further developed the original work of Joseph Pilates and who deliver adapted versions of his method under a brand – Stott Pilates is perhaps the most widely known of these.

Employment opportunities for qualified instructors

Once qualified, there are a range of employment opportunities available to teachers, including self-employment. Some of the most common places Pilates teachers deliver their classes include private health clubs, leisure centres, village halls, Pilates studios, GP surgeries as part of referral schemes, holiday resorts/retreats and in a client’s home. Pilates teachers also commonly work alongside physiotherapists and osteopaths delivering rehabilitation Pilates programmes.

The freelance Pilates route is also an incredibly popular career path for teachers to take because it affords a great deal of flexibility and allows teachers to work from a variety of locations throughout their working day or week. Naturally this also helps to keep the role interesting and allows teachers to interact with a wider-client base than would be accessible in a single facility.

With regards to career progression, lots of Pilates teachers also become yoga teachers, largely because of the natural synergy between Pilates and yoga. Many of the original 34 Contrology exercises published in Joseph Pilates book, “Return to Life Through Contrology” have been inspired by yoga postures and sequences. There are also a number advanced pieces of equipment and apparatus that Pilates teachers can progress on to, including the Pilates Reformer and the Cadillac. These are most commonly found in dedicated Pilates studios where the teachers are equipped with extensive experience and specialist qualifications to work with such equipment.

How much are Pilates teachers paid?

Freelance Pilates teachers are typically paid an hourly rate, or on a class-by-class basis – this of course is dependent on the type of employer and it could in fact depend on where in the country you are located. Some gym or health club employers may require you to work on a self-employed basis and submit an invoice each month, others will operate a payroll scheme where National Insurance and other taxes deducted automatically.

Typically, instructors could earn between £20-45 per class. If you’re operating your own studio or hiring out private facilities for classes, there’s every chance you could earn and charge more, especially when working with special populations (pre/postnatal clients, low back pain or older adults).

Once you have qualified, list your classes on the Pilates Near You website!

Or, if teaching isn't for you, find a Pilates class near you today.