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A HFE Pilates instructor talks to their reformer class.
A HFE Pilates instructor talks to their reformer class.

From passion to profession: A career in Pilates

6 minute read

If you’re passionate about all things Pilates, find out how to turn your passion in to a rewarding career as a professional Pilates Teacher

If you’re passionate about all things Pilates and you’ve experienced first-hand the considerable benefits that this exercise methodology has to offer, what better way is there to use that passion and experience than to take a Pilates instructor course?

In this short series of articles, we’ll supply you with a wide-range of information about what it takes to become a teacher and succeed as a Pilates professional, so that you have a blueprint for your future career.

Pilates group class

Pilates as a profession

You’ll note that in the last paragraph we drew a distinction between becoming a teacher and becoming a professional.

In reality, almost anyone can complete a qualification and get the certificate, but not everyone is truly committed to achieving and delivering the highest standards of professionalism, both in terms of their technical knowledge and how they apply this to help their participants.

Broadly speaking, a profession is defined as: “a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged technical training and formal qualifications”.

Pilates is certainly one of the more technical fitness industry qualifications – it stands as the exercise approach most promoted by clinical and rehabilitation specialists to help patients to overcome symptoms of pain that arise from modern lifestyles – and there are no shortage of these people in society today!

Interestingly, there are many physiotherapists and osteopaths choosing to qualify as Pilates teachers so they have more knowledge and skills to help their patients to recover from their pain and dysfunction.

Top-level benefits of Pilates

One of the main reasons most participants attend Pilates classes is because they are experiencing some form of pain, acute or chronic, often affecting the neck, shoulders and/or low back, although this list is far from definitive. Pilates can be adapted for many of these issues accordingly, most commonly perhaps for back pain.

They may also have functional deficits, such as being unable to perform certain movements, and Pilates is a great way to re-train those movements and restore optimal function. Similarly to the previous point, there are many Pilates exercises designed to improve balance and flexibility in order to help this.

Pilates students using Pilates ring

Teaching vs. instructing

Pilates instructors show people how to perform Pilates exercises, whereas Pilates teachers educate people how to move correctly and efficiently, not just in the class, but in daily life, so that they can overcome their pain and physical limitations. This is a really important distinction.

Every participant that attends a class or session is an opportunity to learn something new about functional anatomy, kinesiology (the study of human movement), pain and rehabilitation. A Pilates professional knows this and seizes every session as an opportunity to learn something new.

Most Pilates instructor courses will educate participants how to perform and teach the 34 core Pilates exercises to individual and groups alike, with a focus on adapting these exercises to individual student needs. While interpretations of Pilates have changed, these 34 principles have not, and they have been present throughout the history of Pilates since founder Joseph Pilates put them in place.

Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.Joseph PilatesOriginal Creator of Pilates

Joseph Pilates portrait

Becoming a Pilates professional

It typically takes the average student around six months to complete a Level 3 Mat Pilates Course, although some people do achieve their qualification in much less time than this.

The initial training provides students with the necessary knowledge and understanding to function effectively as an instructor, but the reality is that it takes a little longer than this to become a master Pilates professional. In fact, it could be argued that it’s more of a process than an outcome – teachers are always learning as they interact with more clients and uncover more challenges, meaning there’s no real end goal or destination.

Many Pilates teachers keen to become more of a master of the method and as such, will often choose to add to their skillset a Level 3 Reformer Pilates Teacher Course. Learning how to apply the principles of Pilates to reformer-based Pilates exercises can really help to maximise the many of the functional benefits of Pilates, and from a business and marketing perspective, offering reformer Pilates can potentially help your services look and feel more exclusive.

Once qualified, teachers need to become a sponge, exploring every opportunity to learn about human movement and how modern lifestyles can cause these movements to become impaired and dysfunctional. This doesn’t necessarily mean completing more formal training or qualifications (even though may Pilates teachers do), but it’s more about having a keen eye for detail, because you can learn so much from your own clients.

As a Pilates professional, you’ll need to continually observe your participants and pay close attention to the subtle effects that your exercises are having (or not) on their posture, movement quality and level of pain. This is especially the case if clients have come to you in an attempt to improve their quality of life – are their issues improving?

Pilates group class using Pilates rings

Starting your professional Pilates journey

At this junction, you might be thinking that there’s a long road ahead – it’s only natural to be nervous and unsure about whether this is in fact a route that you want to take. Believe it or not, most of our students feel this way at the start of their training and most look back with satisfaction that they took the plunge and started the process.

Becoming a Pilates instructor or professional is a journey, and like every journey it starts with a single step. It’s important to be realistic with your expectations of yourself and your timescales, so that you have the time to learn, grow and process the information and techniques.

Sure, if all you want to do is to sprint to the end and get your certificate, you can definitely do that, but you may miss a few important lessons along the way. Alternatively, if you want to become the best Pilates professional you can be, then you are definitely in the right place with us.

Whatever your goals and objectives, our team of Pilates specialists will be on hand to guide and support you along the way.

Good luck with your future career, wherever it leads.

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