by: Lisa Johnson
Life as a Pilates Instructor
What is it like to be a Pilates instructor? It’s actually a great career, one that is constantly challenging, constantly changing, and incredibly rewarding.
Training to Be a Pilates Instructor
The training necessary to become a Pilates instructor is intense. Most personal training certifications are in the 16-hour range, but to be a fully-certified Pilates instructor requires a 500-hour course and takes most people 18 to 24 months to complete. You’ve got to love the discipline and be prepared to train and study hard. You’ll be spending a lot of weekends in seminars and a lot of time on your own practicing, and then practice-teaching on your friends and anyone else willing to lie down on a mat for you. Expect to spend around $4,000 to become fully trained.
Finding a Job as a Pilates Instructor
That part is easy … Pilates instructors are in demand! As a studio owner I am always looking for good help and Pilates instructors usually get paid better wages than personal trainers. We should, after all, since we’ve done so much more training. A full-time job for instructors is considered to be 25 – 30 hours per week with clients in a studio and you can easily make over $50,000. Not too shabby, eh?
When You Start
At first, you’ll likely be working nights and weekends. It’s just a fact of life; the good shifts tend to be taken by the more experienced instructors. As you work at a studio over time, shifts will open up and you’ll be able to wiggle your schedule around to what you like best. I personally love to work mornings; the clients are very consistent about coming and I’m done by 1:00 in the afternoon, which is perfect for spending time with my son after he comes home from school.
Be prepared to learn a lot when you first start working with clients. What the text book says isn’t necessarily what will happen in front of you, and practicing teaching on other limber Pilates instructors in training isn’t quite the same as teaching that sweet older woman with a shoulder issue. You’ll find yourself adapting your knowledge to work with each client. One set of cues might work great with one person and horribly with another. You’ll develop a range of cues to work with people whether it’s aural, tactile, or visual by demonstrating moves. Everyone learns differently and you’ll need to figure out quickly how your clients process information best.
Pilates Instructors Are Very Friendly
We are inherently a social bunch. We geek out over anatomy, but we love to talk about movies, local goings on, and the latest health news. We also see many of our clients twice a week, so we tend to really know a lot about them. We go through their ups and downs and become part of their lives. This is all fine, but remember, there is a line that you have to think about crossing. We are customer service providers at the end of the day and that doesn’t necessarily mean we become our clients’ friends. Don’t expect to get any dinner party invitations, but be grateful if you get a holiday gift. In the 15 years that I’ve been a trainer, I’ve become good friends with three people … I have crossed the line, but only rarely and always at the initiation of the client.
If you’re curious about becoming a Pilates instructor, leave a question below and I’ll do my best to answer it. I do recommend that you spend time researching the different training programs and deciding which one is the best fit for you. If you are a Pilates instructor, I’d love to hear your tips for new instructors.
Lisa Johnson opened Modern Pilates in 1999. She has been a sought-after instructor with over 15 years of experience. Check out her award-winning mat Pilates video and her popular blog at LisaJohnsonFitness.com.