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How to Become a Pilates Instructor: Ultimate Guide (2019)

become a pilates instructor: header image

Want to know how to become a Pilates instructor, but have no clue where to start? You’re certainly in the right place.

We’re going to walk you through everything, including what a Pilates career can offer as well as what to consider when you set up your own Pilates business!

It’s also handy if you want to know more about your earning potential.

You’ll need to pick up a Level 2 fitness qualification before you can become a Pilates instructor, so do keep that in mind!

What is Pilates?

For those who don’t know, we’re going to quickly establish what Pilates is.

Pilates is the answer for many people who either want to improve their fitness and flexibility, or for those who need help recovering from injury or ailments.

become a pilates instructor: core pilates exercise

If you’ve read our Pilates History article, you’ll know that Joseph Pilates was the pioneer of the contemporary exercise that is practised across the world today.

He was a very active, passionate, and flexible human being that wanted nothing more than to see everyone around him adopt a healthy lifestyle and to overcome any health problems they had.

He developed his routine through years of interest in fitness, and it certainly caught on. This is ultimately why you’re looking up how to become a Pilates instructor!

Nowadays, there are two main types of Pilates; mat Pilates and reformer Pilates. Whilst you're looking up how become a Pilates instructor, you’ll need to decide which of these methods you would prefer to teach (unless you choose to teach both), but we’ll explain this a little later on in our ultimate guide.

Become a Pilates Instructor: Is it the right job for you?

This is probably the main question that you have right now but don’t worry, we’re about to cover everything you need to know before you take the plunge.

To help you make your decision, we’ve compiled all of the skills and traits that you should tick the box for before training to become a Pilates instructor.

become a pilates instructor: pilates reformer

  • Be passionate about fitness
  • Have a lively personality
  • Have a good degree of physical flexibility
  • Be interested in Pilates and the knowledge it requires
  • Willing to communicate and work with large groups
  • Have a lot of patience (relaxed approach )
  • Be persistent in your approach
  • Have organisational skills, particularly if working freelance
  • Be open to learn new business skills
  • Follow a reasonably healthy lifestyle
  • Have a motivational effect on clients

Some parts of this list may speak for themselves but each point is completely valid. You don’t have to be an expert in each field to learn how to become a Pilates instructor, but you should be willing to develop in each area before you consider a Pilates career.

You might want to rethink if this isn’t something that grabs your attention/interest!

However, if you’re thrilled by the idea of working on your own confidence, fitness, knowledge, and motivating large groups of people, carry on reading.

become a pilates instructor: pilates class in a group

You can get a feel for the knowledge side of things from simply going to a few Pilates classes yourself (if you don’t already). This will give you a feel for what the role requires and involves, and you’ll be able to tell after a couple of sessions whether it’s something that you can picture yourself teaching or not.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Can you see yourself taking on a large group?
  • Can you see yourself working one-to-one with people?
  • Will you feel uncomfortable with touching people during the sessions? (Pilates requires instructors to correct clients)
  • Are you able to have patience with clients who struggle to keep up?
  • Do you have a strong interest in anatomy and the science behind exercise? (If you already have a degree in Exercise Science of a fitness qualification, this could be a good sign)

If you’re nodding your head, then that’s a good start.

You can enquire to become a pilates instructor here:

 

Enquire to Becoming a Pilates Instructor

Request information about becoming a pilates instructor or personal trainer

It goes without saying that this is a career you need to bring a lot of passion to. This is true of the physical side to things, but also the business side.

become a pilates instructor: your pilates studio

As most successful Pilates careers are through instructors working freelance or for themselves, this will require some extra skills and willingness to learn.

  • Are you organised?
  • Are you willing to work flexibly?
  • Do you have an interest in marketing?

These things are crucial to have an awareness of when you're wondering how to become a Pilates instructor.

If you don’t know much about marketing or whether you’d be interested in it, don’t sweat! Marketing can mean anything from online to putting up posters around town. But don’t worry, we’ll cover that later on in this article.

For now, you just need to be enthusiastic to put yourself and your services out there. Would you feel happy with communicating with prospective clients on a regular basis, and effectively selling yourself to them over the phone or via email?

If you’re pretty confident that marketing yourself is something you’d enjoy, then stay with us.

What does a Pilates career involve?

Now that you’ve ticked all the boxes and you’re eager to learn how to become a Pilates instructor, you probably want to know exactly what the job involves.

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With a Pilates career, your day-to-day life will depend on a few different factors:

  • Which type of Pilates you want to teach
  • Which kind of Pilates instructor you decide to be; freelance or working for an employer?
  • Whether you want to work full-time or part-time alongside an existing career

If you want to teach mat Pilates for example, then your role will typically be less demanding as there is less risk involved for clients. However, if you teach reformer Pilates, you will have to gain further qualifications and keep a closer eye on your client’s technique.

Don’t let this scare you away though. Becoming a Pilates reformer instructor certainly has its benefits, as your earning potential could soar. 

Learning how to instruct this strain of Pilates is more costly and requires more learning time and skill, but it’s a good idea to get qualified as a Pilates reformer instructor to broaden your career options.

If you can teach both reformer Pilates and mat Pilates, you’ll get more clients. Your potential customer base will increase, as different people want to be taught different Pilates methods. It’s that simple!

become a pilates instructor: pilates class exercising

In a more physical rather than technical way, here’s an idea of what a typical day teaching Pilates could look like:

  • Guiding clients by correcting their form
  • Motivating them to push through the initial soreness and perfect their technique
  • Aiding them in muscle toning, especially with muscles that they don’t use regularly
  • Helping clients to improve their flexibility, as this is a base skill of Pilates
  • Focusing on client’s balance, and demonstrating how to master this (especially on the mat prior to the reformer)
  • Demonstrating each movement with clarity - you really need to love teaching as much as you love the exercise!

As you can see, a Pilates career relies heavily on the teaching side of things. When looking up how become a Pilates instructor, it's important to remember that you won’t just sit at the front of the class and say ‘follow me’. A Pilates career involves a lot of hands-on work, and is very much a teaching based role. 

What qualifications do you need to become a Pilates instructor?

Now that you’ve got a brief understanding of the traits that you should have before you become a Pilates instructor, and of what the role involves, let’s see what you actually need.

become a pilates instructor: fitness certifications

Before you can start on a Pilates instructor course, it’s a good idea to pick up a Level 2 fitness qualification, as most will require this (unless it is included on the course).

To teach Pilates reputably and correctly, you will need to find a reliable course provider to study with. We’ll talk about this shortly, but there are actually quite a few options for you to choose from, depending on which way you want to take your Pilates career.

We’ve touched upon mat and reformer Pilates, so you might have an idea about where this is going! But apart from the two main pathways, there are also advanced Pilates courses that can propel your career further:

  • Pilates specialising in Pre and Postnatal
  • Pilates specialising in Lower Back Pain
  • Pilates specialising in Orthopaedic conditions (common conditions)
  • Pilates specialising in Older Adults

These are just to name the most common specialist Pilates courses. If you’re into education and furthering your expertise, then you’ll be glad to know that these exist!

In answer to the question ‘what qualifications do you need to become a Pilates instructor?’, it depends on what kind of Pilates you want to teach. If you want to teach mat Pilates alongside your existing career, then just a mat Pilates qualification will do.  

become a pilates instructor: prenatal and postnatal pilates

If you want to teach more advanced methods like reformer Pilates or the specialist areas mentioned above, then gain your basic Level 2 Pilates instructor certification and build upon it.

A Level 3 Exercise Referral Course is also beneficial to a successful Pilates career, especially if you’re passionate about getting as qualified as you can or want to start your own Pilates business.

Once you’ve decided which area of Pilates tickles your fancy, the next step of your journey is to choose a Pilates instructor course provider.

How to Choose a Course Provider

This is the first hurdle, and also the most important one when you’re looking up how to become a Pilates instructor. Your qualifications are the foundation of your knowledge and will ultimately determine how confident and effective you are whilst delivering Pilates to clients.  

How to choose a Pilates instructor course provider:

  • Are they CIMSPA endorsed?
  • Are they REPs recognised?
  • How good is their pass rate?
  • Do they provide re-sits free of charge?
  • Think about their location - is it convenient for you?
  • Can the course be studied in a flexible manner? Part-Time, Full-Time, or Online?
  • What study resources do they provide for you?
  • What will you learn? (check out their prospectus)
  • Do they have a good employment rate after graduation?
  • Do they offer post-course support?

It may sound like a lot to take in, but it’s better to get this part right before rushing into a course that isn’t well-suited for you.

become a pilates instructor: cimspa and reps logos

REPs and CIMSPA are something you certainly want to look out for in terms of how creditable and legitimate your qualifications will be. Without these endorsements, you risk getting your training from untrustworthy sources.

The most overlooked aspect when it comes to choosing a Pilates instructor course provider is practicality, specifically location. It’s frustrating when a course ticks all of the boxes apart from this one, and that’s understandable - but you should consider it nonetheless.

Imagine beginning a course that is perfect for you only to find that you’re unable to travel there, or that you’re constantly missing workshops due to lateness. You don’t want to waste your money or your time, so make sure your dream course is literally in reach before you sign up!

become a pilates instructor: map of locations

If your provider weighs up well against this list and is a reasonable distance from you, then we say go for it! There’s nothing better than making the active decision to become a Pilates instructor and kick-start your new fitness career

Career Prospects when you become a Pilates instructor

Let’s imagine you’ve picked your course and where you want to study… what comes next?

As you may have already picked up previously in this article the majority of Pilates careers are done on a freelance basis, although careers in gyms and health clubs are available.

To give you an idea of what’s out there in terms of being employed under somebody else, we did some research on the most popular job websites for your benefit, using ‘Pilates’ as the keyword.

become a pilates instructor: job websites

As you can see, Pilates careers aren’t non-existent. However, there’s not necessarily an abundance in them either, at least not for Pilates instructors that are employed by gyms and health clubs etc.

This is among other reasons why you should consider working independently or setting up your Pilates studio when you become a Pilates instructor.

For example, one reason for Pilates instructors working independently is that you can earn significantly more than the average Pilates instructor salary.

If you work for a health club, they will take a percentage of what you earn away from you. However, when you work for yourself you will keep all of your income, meaning that the hourly rate of your Pilates instructor salary will be higher.

One thing to take note of is that gyms and health clubs will usually provide you with clients, meaning that you don’t have to put as much work into marketing. In most roles, you will have guaranteed clients.

become a pilates instructor: career oppourtunities

This is great if you need a sense of security, but if you’re feeling slightly adventurous then keep reading; we’re going to talk about Pilates marketing a little later on, which is super helpful if you want to work independently or set up your Pilates studio.

Here’s a summary of the settings you can work in if you become a Pilates instructor, just to give you some ideas in case you want to secure a role in a certain industry!

Career opportunities as a Pilates Instructor:

  • Pilates studios
  • Health clubs
  • Leisure centres
  • Private gyms
  • Workplace fitness programmes
  • Fitness retreats
  • Exercise referral schemes
  • Holiday settings and cruise ships

Pilates Instructor Salary

Before venturing into a new career, it’s a good idea to know what to expect from a Pilates instructor salary. This is something that depends on a few factors, such as working independently or under an employer.

If you’re applying to Pilates instructor jobs for the first time, you can expect your Pilates instructor salary to range from around 12k to 18k, depending on your previous experience as well as where your job is based, plus the amount of clients that you are working with per week.

If you go down the one-to-one route, you can expect to earn around £20-£50 per hour. As you can see, this can certainly compliment your current wage and is a great way to make money in your spare time.

become a pilates instructor: pilates business

If you wish to teach group Pilates sessions after you learn how to become a Pilates instructor then you can charge clients around £5-£12 each, but do consider that room hire costs can alter your take-home Pilates instructor salary in this case.

For those who want to venture into the world of Pilates as freelance instructors or who wish to set up their own business, it’s a little tricky to predict what your overall earnings may be.

If you’re willing to put effort into marketing yourself and your services as well as sometimes working at undesirable times of the day, then your earning potential will be far better than working for an employer.

Pilates marketing: Setting up your Pilates studio

If you’re feeling adventurous and see yourself as the next Mari Winsor, the woman credited with making Pilates famous in the modern world, then you’re in the right place. It’s that determination we like to see!

become a pilates instructor: pilates marketing

If opening your Pilates studio is on the cards, then here’s a quick checklist for you to refer back to:

  • Experience - do you have enough experience to start charging a good price for classes/one-to-one sessions?
  • Location - think about where your Pilates studio could be based to maximise business. A town or city centre?
  • Systems - how would you manage your clients and your schedule? Work out all of the mechanics of your business before marketing it. You’ll be putting your best foot forward then!
  • The studio itself - what does it require for you to work safely and effectively? Is it legally up to scratch? Double check all of this before opening
  • The grand opening - before you open, promote your studio with offers and discounts! This will spark an interest with the community, and hopefully earn you a flock of clients

Once you’ve mapped everything out and know how your studio will operate, it’s time to get some clients!

#1 - Be GREAT at teaching Pilates

become a pilates instructor: pilates careers

It’s not enough to just enjoy Pilates, you MUST enjoy teaching it before you open your studio.

Make the best impression possible when you open as you are your own brand when you work for yourself, and you’ll be more than just the new fitness fad of the town!

#2 Get online

When it comes to Pilates marketing, getting a website for your business is absolutely vital. By implementing a nice design and good SEO practice, you’ll be able to rank #1 on Google for Pilates in your area.

That means if people search ‘Pilates near me’ or ‘Pilates *insert location here*, they’ll be more or less guaranteed to click on you first. If your studio is in a busy town or city centre, this can drive heaps of clients to your door!

The best news is you can implement SEO yourself with just a little research.

#3 Create social channels

become a pilates instructor: social media

In the fitness industry, social channels are VERY important. Instagram is the one to target with content, whereas Facebook is useful for ads when your business has found its feet.

Encouraging clients to follow your channels as a way of keeping up to date with classes etc. is a great start, as they will see all of the great content that you’re uploading and even share your content with their friends.

This can prompt them to follow you too, and attract them to try your classes (as long as you’re posting often and have good content!)

Some content ideas are:

  • Video content - (such as clips from sessions, or quick tutorials) - these work particularly well, especially as according to Renderforest, ‘marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users’
  • Inspirational quotes - these go down very well in the fitness industry on Instagram - check out any hashtag related to fitness and see for yourself!
  • UGC - user generated content is great for creating brand awareness and trust. Why not ask your clients if you can share their progress pictures down your newsfeed?
  • Instagram stories - do your research on hashtags and make sure that you use broad ones, e.g. #pilates over #pilatesstudio, as these will get you more viewers. Use stories to show the behind-the-scenes of your brand!

Career Progression when you become a Pilates Instructor

Whether you decide to work for an employer or start up your own Pilates business, it’s always handy to know what opportunities lie ahead to better your Pilates career.

become a pilates instructor: climbing to reach goals

In terms of career progression, you can actually take on further fitness qualifications that enable you to specialise in different areas of Pilates.

These include:

  • Antenatal Pilates
  • Pilates for older adults
  • Pilates for lower back pain

This can be very beneficial for your career as you can imagine, especially if clients with particular needs begin to approach you, or you decide to branch out into other areas to improve your income.

It's always a good idea to further your education in the fitness industry, as the more specialised you get the more clients you can provide for.

We do recommend only taking qualifications that have scope to be beneficial for your career though, as it’s no use taking ones that you won’t put to use!

Pilates insurance

When learning how to become a Pilates instructor, finding Pilates insurance is something you want to be clued up on. The first thing that you should do to ensure you’re practising safely and legally is to research relevant Pilates insurance policies.

To save you the trouble, we have listed some trustworthy Pilates insurance options below:

become a pilates instructor: pilates insurance

When selecting a Pilates insurance company, be sure to read their terms and conditions thoroughly before signing up. It’s also a great idea to check out reviews on site such as Feefo and Trustpilot just to make sure that you can trust them to cover you properly.

We can’t guarantee this for every one of the providers listed, but usually you are covered for:

  • Damage to equipment
  • Lawsuits or claims
  • Injury to clients
  • Loss of earnings

As well as this, there are usually options to include extra cover, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for!

Before you go!

Feeling motivated now you know how to become a Pilates instructor? That’s what we like to hear!

A Pilates career can be incredibly rewarding, and is a great option if you enjoy seeing people improving their health and fitness, and making a full recovery from injuries.

Is there anything we’ve overlooked when it comes to how to become a Pilates instructor? If so, send us your questions on Twitter or Facebook, and we’ll be happy to answer them.

Interested in becoming a Personal Trainer or gaining more fitness qualifications? Go ahead and download our latest prospectus here!

 

Enquire to Becoming a Pilates Instructor

Request information about becoming a pilates instructor or personal trainer

Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Expert & Blogger

Chloe is a qualified Personal Trainer with a passion for blogging, gaming, and playing the guitar. She can be found in her room either swinging kettlebells or binging on Netflix.