I remember the first time I saw the Pilates Cadillac machine. I was rehearsing for a dance performance at New York University. I had no idea what this machine was for but one of my dance friends said it was used for Pilates. It was then that the Pilates seed was planted. Years later I was living in West Hartford, CT and I walked by a Pilates studio in my neighborhood. I started taking lessons and shortly after was enrolled in a comprehensive Pilates certification program. I completed my Pilates classroom hours but only completed 100 of my 200 practice teaching hours. I was working full-time and was busy and stressed so I put Pilates teaching on hold. Three years later the pandemic hit. I left my full-time job and was dreaming of teaching Pilates again. I would have to wait until the studios opened up. 

A year later I saw a posting about CORE Personal Training and Pilates studios looking for Pilates teachers. I called the next day and spoke to Ruth Gordon. She was incredibly nice and gracious and invited me to be an apprentice. I took weekly mentoring classes with Ruth and a few other students and taught some privates and some classes. It was rough getting back into teaching and not all classes I taught were my best, so I kept an open mind, took feedback from Ruth, other teachers, and students, and made small improvements over time. 

I still consider myself a beginner Pilates instructor and will always be a learner and try to be the best Pilates instructor I can be by looking for feedback and trying to help anyone I come into contact with while improving my teaching. Ruth Gordon is an amazing teacher and mentor and so knowledgeable about the body and how to teach anyone with a passion for Pilates. 

Pilates is really, truly for ANYBODY, any BODY, ANYbody! Really! If you have taken classes and think you may be interested in teaching we have shared some steps for you below. 

How to become a Pilates instructor (How to get Pilates certified)

  • Gain experience with Pilates exercises. Take group classes or classes with a private Pilates instructor.CORE Personal Training & Pilates (mindbodyonline.com) 
  • Enroll in and complete a Pilates training program. It’s best to start with Pilates basics – like a mat course (https://polestarpilates.com/mat-pilates-teacher-training/). This can be taught online or in person. Polestar Pilates offers a comprehensive teacher training course (where you learn all of the repertoire including the mat work) that combines both online and in-person training so you get the best of both worlds. 
  • Begin teaching, observing, and continuing your personal practice. You can take classes at a studio and also practice at home Pilates. 
  • Prepare for and take the National Pilates Certification Program Exam.

Start by gaining as much experience doing Pilates exercises as possible. Take classes, try private lessons, and check out some online instructions. CORE has some excellent online Pilates at home for beginners classes (https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/mainclass?fl=true&tabID=104). Then, talk to the teachers you encounter and find out what they did to become a professional.

You may be able to start teaching soon after, or even while you complete your program. Teaching Pilates is where you will really learn how to be the best instructor. There are many ways to be a Pilates teacher, CORE has many opportunities to train in Pilates. Ruth is a fantastic mentor and can help you find your voice as a Pilates instructor and can set you up with an apprenticeship and help you to enroll in the best Pilates certification programs. 

Who can become a Pilates instructor?

Anyone with a passion for the subject can embark on the journey of becoming a Pilates trainer. There are successful trainers anywhere from under 20 to over 70. Some trainers are completely new to Pilates and have developed a passion for it while others have deep exercise or movement experience (dancers, gymnasts, Physical Therapists, personal trainers). 

If you are searching online for opportunities to teach Pilates, chances are that you have at least some of what it takes to become a Pilates Instructor. See below: 

  • Interest in and enthusiasm for Pilates. 
  • Commitment to obtaining a professional certification and building a career.
  • Self-motivation.
  • Strong work ethic.
  • Passion about sharing the Pilates method with others.

What kind of training do most Pilates instructors do?

Many schools offering Pilates teacher training courses will offer instruction as a comprehensive course (teaching the complete repertoire on all the pieces of equipment). If you are able, you should enroll in a comprehensive course as this is the most efficient and logical way to learn the material.  The principles and exercises layer on top of each other from course to course so it can be easier to internalize if you haven’t taken too much of a break between each course. Most certification programs are best taken in person, but there are certain parts of the program where you can take a Pilates course online Online Courses – Pilates Teacher Training – Polestar Pilates.

If you are taking one course at a time, it is highly recommended that you start with mat Pilates certification, as this is where the most comprehensive basic information is layered on top of it. Reformer Pilates instructor training is commonly the next course that students take. Mat and reformer classes are generally the most in-demand from studios and gyms that hire teachers. Most Pilates instructors have taken a Pilates instructor training course that teaches one or more types of Pilates equipment: Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, and Barrels. Polestar teaches you how the exercises are done on different pieces of equipment (or the mat) can be interchanged so you learn the best way to help your clients. 

Learn more about these pieces of equipment if you aren’t already familiar with them.

In order to sit for the National Pilates Certification Program exam (NPCP) exam you will need to learn the repertoire for all of the Pilates equipment. For more information about this program you can view this link https://nationalpilatescertificationprogram.org/NPCP/NPCP/About/NPCP.aspx

Ruth Gordon is a certified Polestar teacher trainer and mentor (soon to be educator) for Polestar Pilates and can help you become certified in Polestar as well. The next comprehensive training course to be held in Woodbridge, VA is coming up in March 2023.  To enroll in the comprehensive course, you must do the Mat 1 training first and the next online Mat 1 training begins in January 2023.  There is more information about that program in this link.  https://polestarpilates.com/comprehensive-pilates-instructor-training/

How long does it take to become a certified Pilates instructor?

The number of hours required from course to course will vary slightly but the NPCP has attempted to standardize the minimum required hours for comprehensive training and has accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, NPCP certificants are assured that their credential has been validated by a recognized institution.

At CORE Personal Training and Pilates, for example, comprehensive course instruction occurs over nine 20 hour weekends, with those weekends spread out across 9 months. Our entire program is more than the 450 minimum required by the NPCP. 

Information on Pilates certification cost. 

The cost to become a Pilates instructor depends on the type of instructor training classes you take, the number of hours in the program, and/or the provider of the program. Many comprehensive programs start around $5000. There are also fees (Fees (nationalpilatescertificationprogram.org)) for the NPCP exam; as of March 2022, the cost was $295 USD. But not all programs are created equally.  Polestar gives you ALL of the tools to be a well-educated instructor. 

How should I prepare to take a Pilates certification course?

The best way to prepare for pilates instructor training is to build your interest and enthusiasm for the subject:

After I take my Pilates instructor training course, will I be certified?

While some courses may issue you some kind of certificate of completion, and you must test out to receive this, in order to call yourself a professionally certified Pilates instructor you will need to take a nationally recognized certification exam. Increasingly, the expectation is that teachers will pass the National Pilates Certification Program exam which is an accredited third-party certification organization.

When can I start teaching Pilates?

Once you have started your training, you can start practice teaching as soon as you feel comfortable. Most people start sometime during the mat training to teach the principles to family, friends, and fellow trainees. Some places will hire you during your training as long as you are on track to finish and plan on getting your certification. 

At CORE Personal Training and Pilates, we have an apprentice program that offers mentorship and teaching opportunities so you have the support and practice you need to be a confident and competent trainer. Look for these opportunities to learn from seasoned teachers.

Is being a Pilates Instructor a full- or part-time career?

It can really be either. There are many trainers who work part-time as an instructor in addition to other full- or part-time careers, and many who do it full-time. Teaching Pilates is an in-demand skill and a natural supplement to many careers such as a physical therapist, dance instructor, massage therapist, sports coach, other types of fitness instructor, and more.

How much money can you make as a Pilates instructor?

The amount of money you can make varies greatly according to experience and levels of certification. In addition, the amount of money you can earn can vary greatly depending on where you live.  Find a studio that is an area where you would like to work and talk to them about the possibilities. 

On average, newer trainers can expect to earn closer to $15 or $20 per hour per class, while experienced trainers with several certifications and areas of specialization can earn much more. Weekly hours vary according to availability and desire. Some trainers teach only a few hours while others teach 30 hours or more. 

Are Pilates instructors expected to do continuing education after their initial certification?

Yes, Pilates instructors should expect to be enrolled regularly in continuing education courses. 

Most trainers take at least one course per year, and most certifications require that you take a course at least once every two years. Courses can be as short as a day or a weekend, though some are a week or two.

Once you are an instructor, most teachers are enthusiastic about the chance to further develop their knowledge in some area of interest. This also ensures increased knowledge and expertise and makes a higher wage more likely.

What does the workday look like for a Pilates instructor?

This also can be highly varied according to what you are available for and comfortable with, as well as the resources of your area. There are many trainers at CORE Personal Training and Pilates who will teach many classes and private lessons at a single studio location most work days, keeping consistent hours from day to day. Other trainers have more diverse hours to accommodate second jobs or the demands of parenting. Some trainers will work up to twelve hours at a time, whereas some only do an hour or two.

One of the nice things about this line of work is that you can often decide what you want your schedule to look like in order to fit into your life in a way that makes sense.

The final takeaway? If you are truly passionate about becoming a Pilates trainer you can and should pursue it.

Are you interested in becoming a Pilates instructor and live in or near Woodbridge, Virginia?

If you are interested in becoming a PIlates instructor you can contact Ruth Gordon for more information at Pilates Studio – Woodbridge, VA | CORE PT & Pilates (coreptpilates.com)

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