Becoming a Pilates Instructor

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Pilates Exercises


Pilates Instructor - what course to choose
Pilates Instructor - what course to choose.

Considering becoming a Pilates Instructor?

If you are reading this article and are considering taking a course to become a Pilates Instructor, then I know that you have enough of a passion and interest in Pilates to consider making a career of it. I have written this article for you, as over the years I have found that there are essential things to consider as you search for the right Pilates school, certification and instructor.

There are many types of courses on offer, as are there many different training methods around the world. But if you are serious about taking a course to become a Pilates instructor, then you should consider carefully the path you choose and aim for the most professional course you can attend. Let me explain.

Courses can range from a day’s training to weeks and even months in length but they can all offer a certification at the end. Essentially it is possible to become a ‘certified Instructor’ after a weekend course. I do not necessarily rate the length of a Pilates training course as the most important factor in the quality of instructor - I have worked with Chartered Physiotherapists who have attended a weekend course in Pilates and they have evolved into excellent teachers. Similarly, I have encountered non-medical Pilates instructors who have done lengthy trainings and have become excellent teachers. However, I have never encountered a non-medical Pilates instructor who attended a weekend course and found them to be a suitably knowledgable or competent. They may be out there - but I expect there are very few - if any!

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Pilates courses are generally expensive so do your groundwork before you set yourself up for disappointment. I recently ran a day workshop to eight qualified Pilates instructors around my favourite subject - Pilates for back pain Patients! When I got feedback from them, several of them mentioned that they attended a five day Pilates Course together that cost over $2000 each. They all said that they learnt more in my workshop than over the whole five days of the other course. Furthermore, they said that some of the information that they were previously taught proved to be medically inaccurate.

In my experience, the quality of a Pilates Instructors Course depends he following:

  1. The quality of your Pilates Course Instructor: I have put this at the top of the list, because as we all know from school, a good teacher makes all the difference!

    So what makes a good teacher in Pilates? In my opinion - a Pilates teacher (like any good teacher) should to be thorough, clear, kind and patient and passionate about what they do. They should be experienced in the discipline and have sufficient medical and anatomical understanding and knowledge of injury rehabilitation. Ideally, they should have practical and clinical experience over years to support this knowledge.

    Now I know - I am a bit biased here! However, theory of Pilates is very different to the practical situations we see in our daily classes. It is easy to teach an exercise but the challenge is this - how do you teach an exercise to somebody is unable to get into the position required by the exercise without pain or difficulty? Your Pilates training teacher should be able to educate you to be competent in these types of situation. Otherwise, some of your pupils will struggle in your practical classes - and you will struggle to be successful in your career.

  2. The quality of the Course itself: As with all courses, there are some better than others. I have attended Pilates workshops where I have been inspired and have left the workshop with both additional knowledge and enthusiasm. I have also attended ones where I have left disappointed with the quality of information, accuracy and methodology. Always do a lot of research into the course content and equally into the experience and qualifications of the teacher who will be teaching you. Ask for a list of subjects that will be taught, and check that anatomy, injury management and rehabilitation is covered in the syllabus. Where possible, talk to someone who has previously done the course as their feedback will be of great help to you.

  3. The depth of knowledge on fitness, injury management and rehabilitation provided in the course: A good Pilates instructor’s course will provide modules in musculoskeletal anatomy, along with injury management and rehabilitation, and you should consider this when making your choice.

    Remember, many people attending your Pilates classes will have some sort of history of back or neck pain. If you don’t understand their injury you will struggle to effectively resolve it with Pilates. The nature of their problem will dictate the exercises you can and can’t do with them, so you will need to correctly identify the injury and determine the boundaries in which your pupil can exercise safely.

In summary -

There are many types of Pilates Training Courses out there, and if you are considering becoming an instructor, don’t take the next step lightly. Research into the courses and choose the best one available to you and one that will help you become a great Pilates Instructor. Pilates is starting to evolve into a back pain therapy in itself so your expertise must meet this demand.

It takes time, practice and study to become a competent and effective Pilates Instructor, so choose a course that will support you in that. Ensure that the course syllabus has sufficient medical and anatomical detail, as well as the instructors and facilities to set you right at the beginning of your career.

Good luck!


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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