How to Become a Pilates Instructor

Pilates is a fitness program developed in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates, a German-Greek physical therapist. Originally called "Contology," the Pilates method combines principles of yoga, calisthenics, and aerobics to help people improve their body alignment and muscle control.

When you take a Pilates class, you gain respect for the dedicated fitness instructors who impart their knowledge with skill and patience. In fact, many Pilates students are so impressed with their experience they wish to become certified Pilates instructors themselves.

If you are considering a career in fitness training, and you have a passion for Pilates, this guide will show you how to become a Pilates instructor.

Getting Hired as a Pilates Instructor

First develop your strength and flexibility by taking several Pilates courses, from beginners to advanced. It is possible to become a certified Pilates mat instructor with little Pilates training, but mat instructor is the lowest level of certification. You cannot become a comprehensive Pilates instructor without extensive practice and training.

While you are taking Pilates courses, study Pilates theory. Learn how the exercises were developed, as well as the mind-body connection behind the method. Read books by Joseph Pilates as well as modern textbooks about technique and theory. You will learn more in your Pilates certification classes, and it will make you an insightful Pilates instructor.

Once you have immersed yourself in Pilates study, the next step is to start instructor training. There are two routes. The first and more traditional way to become a Pilates instructor is to apprentice with another more experienced teacher. When you have completed training, you may be hired by the same studio, or your teacher will recommend you at another studio.

The second, and more common route these days is to enroll in a formal Pilates instructor training program. The quality of these Pilates certification programs varies widely; the general rule is that you get what you pay for. Do plenty of research before you pay tuition.

After you have completed a formal training program, an optional step is to become certified with PMA, the Pilates Method Alliance. Although each school offers its own instructor certification, there is a movement toward national certification, such as PMA certification.

PMA offers a comprehensive exam to test your skills as a Pilates instructor. If you pass, you have a nationally recognized credential, and you can find Pilates jobs more easily.

Make contacts with other Pilates teachers to help your job prospects. As you become more proficient in the Pilates method, you can teach other styles of Pilates. Fusion programs have become quite popular, for example, Pilates-Yoga, and Pilates-on-the-Ball. Stay current with fitness trends so that your classes are fresh and attract more students.

If you plan to open your own studio in the future, take business courses at a community college. You will learn the basics of opening a Pilates business and managing other instructors.

© Had2Know 2010