Pilates is an incredibly popular form of group (and also solo) exercise that’s used for those looking to improve balance and flexibility, reduce back pain and work on that much sought-after core strength. It started life as Contrology and in the early 20th century Joseph Pilates worked tirelessly to develop his methods and in doing so, he created a range of exercises that benefited everyone from bed-bound hospital patients during WWII to famous New York dancers and everyone in-between. After his death, Contrology became known simply as Pilates, a testament to his legacy.
A recent survey in the UK found that over 900,000 people per week attend a Pilates class. It’s not just the masses who love this form of exercise either, mat-based Pilates has proven incredibly popular for the rich and famous too. David Beckham, Jennifer Aniston and Madonna are said to be fans, while Megan Markle and Adele have favoured the more dynamic (and often more intensive) reformer Pilates in the past.
If you have a passion for Pilates and you’re wanting to take things to the next level and turn it into a career, keep reading as we’ll cover all the basics that will help you get started. To kick things off, you need to decide if you have the personal qualities needed to succeed.
Do You Have What It Takes To Become A Pilates Instructor?
The best Pilates instructors naturally exhibit strong communication skills and they’re able to motivate each and every person in their classes. Perhaps most importantly, they have a detailed knowledge and understanding of Pilates, the various exercises, movement and posture.
Gaining this critical knowledge comes from getting the right qualifications. Seems like a no brainer, but it really is that simple. Your first port of call would be to choose from the best Pilates instructor courses on the market. For newcomers to the world of health and fitness, you’ll be starting with a Level 3 qualification (which is equivalent to an A Level) and from here you can advance to Level 4. There are also options to develop your knowledge about specific equipment, for example with a reformer Pilates course.
Throughout your learning journey, you’ll get to grips with the very basics of planning and teaching a Pilates class. This includes Joseph’s original 34 exercises, health and safety, setting goals and how to effectively motivate a class.
Your Options As A Qualified Pilates Instructor
After getting qualified, the next logical step is to get out there and teach. Because of the sheer popularity of Pilates, there are so many opportunities available. The following is by far an exhaustive list, but here are just a few options:
- Going freelance and teaching classes in gyms and health clubs
- Starting your own boutique Pilates studio (or teaching in someone else’s)
- Working abroad at fitness retreats, cruise ships and holiday resorts
- Developing a corporate wellness programme
There is of course nothing stopping the most ambitious of Pilates instructors from mixing and matching what they do in order to forge a really well-rounded and successful career. Maybe that involves developing online classes alongside freelance teaching, or starting your own fitness retreat which focuses on corporate wellness.
Considering it’s both a new year and a new decade, if you’ve been dreaming about getting into the fitness industry and you love Pilates, maybe now is the time for you to become a Pilates instructor.
Josh Douglas-Walton is a fitness writer for HFE, the UK’s leading provider of personal trainer courses. In this spare time, he’s an avid reader, marathon runner and green tea drinker.