Teacher Training?

So many Pilates Teacher Training Programs, where is a future Pilates Teacher to go?


I will never forget the moment I decided “I want to be a Pilates Teacher”, now I didn’t know anything about Pilates Teacher Training or how to get Pilates certified or what Teacher Training Program was even the right one for me. I had no idea what it took to be able to teach Pilates much less what a Pilates Training Program looked like. All I knew was I loved Pilates and I wanted to teach Pilates! Simple right?


Well, way back in the “stone” age when I got trained I didn’t have a lot of choices. It wasn’t like it is now with multiple training programs and the “menu” of taking Reformer levels or Beginner or Module when it is available. To be honest most people had no idea what Pilates was, much less even heard about it. So, I didn’t really have to think too hard as I was led to one place in Houston and that was where you got trained. I don’t know how potential students even get past all the “noise” and figure out what will work for them!  So, because you are thinking “I love Pilates and I want to learn Pilates” I want to arm you with a checklist to assist you on your search. Are you ready?


This is from my over 25 years of experience having gone through Teacher Training, teaching in gyms, small and large studios, private clubs and in people’s homes as well as creating my Teacher Training Program. These are the top 3 questions I would ask myself if I was a potential Pilates student wanting to be a teacher today.  Let’s see if we can clear a path a bit for your journey!


1. Why do I want to teach Pilates?

       This seems like a simple question right? Yet, your answer can lead you down one path or the other when it comes to your Teacher Training. Are you looking to just make money? Did Pilates help you with an injury or issue and you want to do that for others with your Teaching? Have you been doing Pilates and love it so much you want to just teach and get away from the “real” world of work in an office or at a desk?


2. What kind of time do I have to focus on my Teacher Training?

       Now with all the choices for potential students, we have” a la carte” style Teacher Training, weekend mat or Reformer training, full Comprehensive, training to teach in that particular place and more. Each comes with different hours, type of hours, are you learning online or in the studio? Is there a lot of students in your class or is it small? some just learn the choreography and go. Will the training program give you all the hands-on training and knowledge to teach in the type of studio you want to make the salary you desire?   


A lot of your answer here goes back to your answer to question 1. Right? What is it you want to do with your Pilates teaching? For me and the teachers going through my program, it is about the full body of work of Joseph Pilates. That means learning all the repertoire on all the apparatus. Delving deep into the why’s and how’s of the work. Learning teaching skills, hands-on training and no online. This requires a lot of hours practicing, observing and practice teaching. This full Comprehensive Training takes depending on the school a year or so. Yet, when those students graduate they can teach anywhere, all apparatus and they are confident in their work, teaching clients and this also leads to your 3rd question for yourself. They also know that they can work in any studio or setting and work as full-time Pilates teachers as a career.


3. Do I want to be a fully Certified Pilates teacher?

To me, this seems like a simple yes! Is it though? There are many programs of teacher training out there and if you are wanting to be Certified as in PMA Certified Pilates Teacher then you need to dig deep. Looking into yourself and in the Teacher Training Program.  There are many places in the Pilates world that don’t require you to be Certified and you can teach there with just a weekend or learning from them quickly to get on the schedule and go! There are no hours for you to do, exams to take, or assessment to go through. Learning in a weekend and getting started teaching sounds awesome right? I have seen many go this route to later realize they can’t move to other studios who require teachers from trainings of over 450 hours. They realize they need to now get more training and that they went down a path that was short and it didn’t set them up to make more income. It also is a path they realize didn’t give them enough to keep clients safe and from getting hurt.


If you are serious about Pilates as a career and for the long run, you want to be fully Certified. That means going through a Teacher Training Program that is at least 450 hours with learning all the Pilates apparatus which includes not just mat and reformer but, the barrels, Cadillac, Wunda Chair and if possible arm chair, pedi pull, and the smaller apparatus like the foot corrector. Yes, it takes time but, you will also be learning the Precautions and contraindications that your clients may have such as what and how do you teach someone with an ACL (knee issue) injury that has decided they don’t want surgery? What if they had a hip replaced? Disc issue? After going through your Training in a 450 hour at least school you have that information and you are confident you can keep that client safe and working to be stronger, more mobile and healthy.


For my Teacher Training Program it is important that potential students have that time, support and information that they understand the full scope of the work as well as the clients they will be teaching. If you are wanting to be a teacher for a long time it is important to think long-term. I want my students to really have that knowledge. To leave my Program knowing they know everything possible for a long career, to keep clients safe and to work in any Pilates environment they choose.


4. There are so many prices. What can I afford or is it worth the price?

This is a hard one right? I remember when I was thinking of going through Teacher Training and remember this was...well, a long time ago...and the price was almost $4,000 for the full Comprehensive and this was the only option for me. I was young, newly married and the hubby and I chatted at length. He knew I was passionate and wanted to do this so, we went for it. It was scary but, I knew I wanted this and I would learn all the work and have studio time, get tested out, and be a Certified teacher. I would be able to teach anywhere.


So, let’s look at this. You answered questions 1, 2 and 3 and this may have led you to your path on this one! You want to teach Pilates and you want to be fully trained, no short path for you. Now you are off to college, Pilates college. In today’s world, a college education can run $10,000-$ 31,000. Pilates College or your Pilates Teacher Training Programs are anywhere from $4000-$14,000 for the student. Essentially the knowledge you are getting from not only the Pilates exercises but anatomy, teaching skills, program design, precautions, and contraindications as well as other tools is as if you are in college. You will be studying and learning in your Pilates School.


Now, this again is lots to think on! There are many Teacher Training Programs that will teach the full Comprehensive and here are things to decide. How long do you want to do the Training? Is it levels and modules that you have to wait a bit before continuing on to the next or does one immediately flow to the next? How long total would that be in terms of time for you and what is the total cost of all the levels or modules? Does it include all your materials? Are there any extra charges? These are good things to get situated before you begin. Another route in the full Comprehensive is the way I went and I have developed my Teacher Training in the same vein and that is the full in one package. This is where from start to finish is everything. Mat to Reformer and through all the apparatus, anatomy, precautions and contraindications, teaching skills and more. The benefit for me and my students on this is the whole A-Z starting with the Mat and continuing through the whole work being able to really see and feel as you progress and learn in a continued flow for your mind and body. Also, in price, it is one for all. There is no additional learning it is all included.


For many, the price seems a lot. I know, to me way back it was more than I ever thought I could do but, somehow I made it happen and it is something not once have I regretted and was the one thing that really set me off on the right foot for the journey I went on and where I am today.


Maybe think of this as you make that decision?  Now that you have answered those questions and your juices are flowing here are some questions to ask the teacher training programs you are looking at.  How much personal attention or help will you get from the Program as you go through? What about once you are finished?


If Pilates is your passion, something you really see for yourself then make that effort. You will not regret it. Do the work. Teaching Pilates takes a lot of knowledge not only of the work but, of the work in your body, feeling it for yourself,  understanding it and how to get others to understand what you are asking in terms of the movement of their body. To me learning to teach Pilates well..there is no quick way. So as you set down whatever path you take in terms of Teacher Training keep that in your thoughts. The journey may seem long but, if you want to keep that journey going and growing then check out my Teacher Training Program HERE.

XO Hilary Opheim

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