by Sarah Ruback
Pilates is one of the most popular fitness programs in NYC and the demand for instructors remains very strong. If you are considering enrolling in a Pilates Teacher Training Program, your success as a Pilates instructor will depend on selecting the Pilates training program that best meets your lifestyle, goals, objectives.
When deciding which Pilates training program is best for you, consider these three key factors:
While these three (3) factors may seems fairly basic, in my 10 years as the Director of Education at Core Pilates NYC, I have learned that having clarity on these 3 factors prepares you for the physical, mental and emotional rigors of teaching and for the successful completion of a Pilates training. Let’s explore each of these three (3) factors:
1. Your Program: The Education
There are many options when it comes to Pilates teacher training programs, and the information is structured in different ways:
Classically, or more akin to Joseph Pilates’ intentions and design, is a Comprehensive Training Course, which offers training across all major Pilates apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Cadillac/Tower, Chair, Barrels and other Classical Props). The education is then segmented by level, for example Beginner Level across all apparatus listed above. This training is essential for working in a Pilates studio environment, and I recommend this approach if your goal is to make a career teaching Pilates as you’ll be the most versatile and well-versed in all levels and apparatus. Classical Pilates studio businesses such as Core Pilates NYC, Power Pilates, Real Pilates (to name a few), structure their education in this way. The benefit of the Comprehensive model is that after your 6-12 month training program, you will be prepared to teach Pilates to anyone on any Pilates apparatus.
The Module Approach
There are apparatus based modular trainings, such as a Reformer Course, Cadillac Course, Props Course, Mat Course all a la carte. This option may suit you if you want to focus on a specific piece of apparatus or only have access to certain apparatus. For example, you may be interested in working at a sports club that has a mat space as well as Reformers. A Mat Training Course and Reformer Training Course may work for you.
Modular training is considered a contemporary approach as it divides the Pilates repertoire by apparatus piece. Manufacturers of Pilates equipment including Peak Pilates, Balanced Body and STOTT Pilates structure their education offerings in this way.
Mat Training Only
It is common in the industry for Mat Training Courses to be offered as stand alone courses, even in Classical studios such as Core Pilates NYC, Power Pilates or Equinox. These mat training programs may be required as a pre-requisite for a Comprehensive Pilates training program. I recommend mat training as a foundation to apparatus work as it is the starting point and endgame to Pilates practice. In fact, the Pilates apparatus was designed to assist and resist the body into proper efficient form for the mat work, ideally. Mat trainings are usually shorter in duration, ranging from a few weekends to a month and less expensive than a Comprehensive training program.
If you are interested in developing an additional source of income stream by creating your own mat classes or if you are a personal trainer, yoga instructor, massage therapist or other type of body worker, you can expand your scope of practice by taking a Pilates Mat training program which will enable you to incorporate Pilates Mat training into your clients’ exercise programs.
2. Your Goals: Which Path for Me?
There are three (3) primary factors to consider when deciding whether to enroll in a Comprehensive Pilates training program or a Mat Training program:
Full-Time vs. Part-Time
If you intend to teach full-time and derive your primary income from teaching Pilates, you should enroll in a Comprehensive Pilates training program or plan to take the sum of all modules that equate to Comprehensive training. If you are only interested in earning supplemental income from teaching, then a modular and/or mat training may be more aligned with your goals.
Your Time Commitment
A Comprehensive Pilates training program is a 600 hour program over 6 months which is approximately 18 hours a week in-studio at Core Pilates NYC. In other words, it’s like having a second (or 3rd or 4th job) and the successful completion of this intense program requires dedication, commitment and numerous sacrifices by the student, however, this short term grind paves the way for a strong professional start to teaching. A Comprehensive Pilates training program is a great option for someone who wants to transition from their current full-time job into teaching Pilates (about 25 hours per week).
If, however, you are unable to commit to training 18 hours per week and adopting the mentality of taking on a 2nd job for 6 months, you may want to start with the Mat Training Course. If this less intense style of training align with the pace of your life better, you can take the modular approach to completing a Comprehensive Pilates training program, but remember that such an approach will take more time to complete and may cost a bit more in the long run.
Your Ideal Students
If you are interested in teaching clients who are rehabilitating from injuries such as hip replacements, you will want to enroll in a contemporary Pilates training program that typically includes more rigorous anatomy studies. Conversely, the Mat Training Course is ideal for students who want to teach Pilates as a group exercise class at a health clubs or as a foundation to apparatus training.
In summary, both the Comprehensive Pilates training approach and the Modular training approach are great options because all Pilates is good Pilates! The best program for you is the one that fits your lifestyle, goals and objectives. My path involved taking a Classical Comprehensive Pilates training program first as a foundation and then I began to specialize by diving deeper into “what Joseph Pilates intended” while continuing my education in special cases, protocols and MAD ANATOMY!
3. Your program: The Administration
Once you’ve narrowed down which Pilates education path is best for you, the next question for you to consider is how does the Pilates training school administers the program. Below are a few questions that you should ask:
Certification vs. Certified Pilates Teacher
“Certification” is nearly synonymous with “certificate of training,” but it’s important to recognize the differences. Generally, certification means that you passed a written exam that evaluates an individual's base line knowledge of the subject for which she is being tested. For ACE (American Council of Exercise), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and the PMA (Pilates Method Alliance) are all certifying bodies. Once you pay a fee for the exam and pass the exam, you will be “certified.”
To obtain the Pilates Method Alliance, Certified Pilates Teacher (PMA-CPT) designation, you MUST complete a Comprehensive training program (at least 450 hours) as a prerequisite before you are eligible to sit for the exam. THIS IS A GOOD THING!
Your Program and You
You must learn how to address your client as an individual which is a life-long process that starts after you complete your training program. The Pilates education and training you receive in any program is kind of like a tool belt full of various tools you have at your disposal and, over time, you will learn which tools to use in specific situations.
Make sure you are in an environment where you must apply yourself in your own physical practice and teaching practice. You must do and teach Pilates and develop the physical and mental stamina to teach for 5 hours consecutively.
You'll be best served if you can fully immerse yourself in your Pilates education. This doesn’t mean your life needs to stand still or you have to quit your day job, but in order to get the most out of your education, you have to give yourself the opportunity to put yourself truly in the experience. It will be uncomfortable. You will be challenged. It’s not all fruit infused water and lululemon pants…. It’s exhausting, frustrating and, at its core, teaching Pilates is a service industry occupation. You will need to learn to put others before yourself in your Pilates profession while still finding time to take care of yourself. It’s hardcore if you let it be – and it will mean more to you in the end if you do. Teaching Pilates, being an advocate of the Pilates lifestyle is an incredible gift to live day in and day out. That’s the straight up truth.
For additional insight on this topic from Pilates educator powerhouses, please read these articles and consider their perspectives as well:
Any questions? Please contact me or visit Core Pilates NYC on Tuesdays at 4:00pm to learn more about our education programs.
Sarah is one of the leaders in Pilates education worldwide and is CPNYC’s Director of Education, Senior Trainer and Master Faculty at Core Pilates NYC. She has co-created and conducted Core’s internationally acclaimed Comprehensive and Mat Training Courses® in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, New Zealand and New York.