If you have recently qualified as a Pilates instructor, then you are probably feeling rather excited and ready to get some of your own Pilates classes up and running, and maybe even starting some private one-to-one Pilates work with clients.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the different ways you can find work, the range of Pilates instructor jobs that are available, and where specifically you’ll be able to find these opportunities. We’ll also explore the earning potential associated with Pilates work, including what you can expect to get paid on a class-by-class basis.
Most Pilates instructors and teachers work on a freelance basis and are normally paid class-by-class or hour-by-hour. Instructors are usually given a set number of classes per week/month by at a particular venue or facility, and they will often teach their classes in multiple locations or facilities.
Freelance Pilates instructors may deliver private classes to groups of people in the community, like in a church hall or community centre, or they may work on a more one-to-one basis, either in similar spaces, their home or a client’s home.
Certainly, in the health and fitness sector, Pilates instructors and teachers most often deliver their classes at dedicated exercise facilities, which may include, but is by no means restricted to:
• Local leisure centres
• Private health clubs
• Private therapy clinics (physiotherapy or osteopathy)
• Boutique Pilates studios
While these following Pilates instructor jobs are less prevalent than the above, many instructors are also able to secure freelance opportunities in the following locations:
• Schools, colleges and universities
For many Pilates instructors, their role is often multifaceted and they will perform a variety of instructor roles throughout their working week or month (e.g. yoga, personal trainer, exercise to music instructor, and possibly even delivering pre-choreographed programmes like Les Mills). It’s also common for Pilates instructors to deliver related services like sports massage or other physical therapies (including osteopathy and physiotherapy) alongside their Pilates instruction. However, there are some Pilates instructors who focus purely on Pilates and do not deliver any other type of training or service.
Working as a freelancer offers great flexibility in terms of benefits. First and foremost, you can to some extent pick and choose the days, hours and locations that you want to work, and sometimes how much you will charge (especially if you deliver privately organised sessions or one-to-one training). This, of course, comes with the caveat that you need to be available when your clients are available for one-to-one work (the reality is this often involves working some unsociable hours – evenings, weekends and sometimes early mornings). The location and pricing strategy of private sessions also needs to reflect the needs and wants of your target client base.
At the outset of their Pilates career, those looking for Pilates instructor and teacher jobs will end up starting out providing cover for fitness clubs and leisure facilities for things like holidays and sickness. Once they have proven their skills, they often become a permanent feature in the group exercise timetable.
Freelance Pilates instructors are technically self-employed, well at least for tax purposes anyway, but the reality is that they are still working for somebody else. However, many Pilates instructors are completely self-employed and as such schedule their own classes, often in their own facilities, assuming both all the risk and all of the reward!
As a self-employed Pilates instructor, you would be responsible for managing all of your income and expenditure, ensuring that you declare and pay the appropriate taxes where they are due.
A key benefit to being self-employed is that you are pretty much your own boss. However, you’ll be responsible for sourcing and providing all the Pilates equipment that you need, as well as making all the arrangements for marketing, promotion and advertising. You’ll also have to cover the cost of these. There is also the legal arrangements and expenses to consider, so, it’s certainly not a decision that should be taken lightly.
An alternative to working as a self-employed or freelance Pilates instructor is to source casual Pilates contracts where you instruct a set number of sessions per week, within one or more dedicated facilities (e.g. local authority leisure centre, private fitness club, spa, private clinic, or a boutique studio). These facilities are usually owned and operated by the same organisation (e.g. local council). There are many operators within the active leisure sector, especially local authorities, that favour casual instructors over freelance or self-employed teachers.
Perhaps the main benefit of a casual position is certainty; your salary will be paid on a regular basis and you will also likely receive other employment-related benefits like holidays and sick pay. You will also get paid the same amount even if class numbers are small, or for some reason, the class is cancelled. The trade-off, however, is that your hourly rate will often be less than that of freelance instructors, so you’d need to decide which you value most: the certainty of a fixed income or the opportunity. Albeit with a little more risk, of earning more and/or working less.
When searching for Pilates instructor jobs and opportunities there is no single best solution. Like any other job search, grit, determination and a little creativity will often pay dividends.
An internet search is often the starting point for anyone looking for employment but this can often be overwhelming for people when they are at the outset of their career, especially given that most employers advertising vacancies will be wanting experienced candidates.
At the time of writing, there were a significant number of Pilates jobs being advertised across the UK, with a few international positions, including on cruise ships, also up for grabs. If you do want to play the volume game, sending your CV to online advertisers there really are no shortages of positions being advertised.
A good place to start for those looking for Pilates jobs is to try travelling around different clubs and physiotherapy clinics in your area, speaking directly with the managers and owners. This way, they get to see you in person and they can gauge your energy level, passion, professionalism and general presentation. They will also be able to ask you questions to determine how competent you are. This is something they wouldn’t get from a CV or online application form and will certainly help you to stand out from other candidates. You can always leave your CV and business card with them anyway.
The pay and salary of Pilates instructors is somewhat variable throughout the UK depending on the employer, nature of employment, and whether the sessions are run in a group or one-to-one format.
As a general guide, Pilates instructors can expect to earn between £20.00-£45.00 per hour when working on a freelance basis. Outside of London, the hourly rate is likely to be much closer to the £20.00 threshold, but in London and other major cities, the hourly rate is normally somewhat higher.
If sessions are delivered privately on a self-employed basis, either in a group, small group, or one-to-one setting, then the earning potential is significantly greater. You would need to factor in the cost of hiring the venue and any other overheads that you might have (e.g. equipment).
For example, if you were to charge £7.50 per person for a community-based group Pilates session and you were to have 15 participants in a class, then your gross income for that hour would be £112.50. If you then had to pay £30.00 to hire the room/space for that hour, you’d make a gross profit of around £82.00.
In contrast, if you were working on a one-to-one basis, or with small groups of two-four people (either in your own home or studio), you could reasonably expect to charge £30-£60 per hour.
It is worth noting here that consumers are often willing to pay much more for personalised and specialised services than they are for generic group-based training. If you have mastered the Pilates method and can justifiably charge a little extra for your services, then you’ll be amazed at just how many people there are looking for a more premium Pilates solution.
There are of course some Pilates instructors who charge considerably more for their services than the ‘going rate’. They are usually clinically trained, often in areas like osteopathy or physiotherapy, and usually offer equipment-based Pilates training like the reformer, alongside their matwork sessions/classes.
These hourly rates presented in this article are ‘averages’ based on informal feedback provided by our students, teachers and graduates. They do however provide ballpark figures from which you can work from, allowing you to calculate the number of sessions you would need to teach each week to earn a reasonable income.