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Posted by on Mar 5, 2017 in Business & Education, Featured, Interviews, Social | 0 comments

Ken Endelman – The man behind Balanced Body

Ken Endelman – The man behind Balanced Body

Working with Pilates as I do, I get to interview some of the most inspirational people involved with Pilates over the years. It makes my job so much more rewarding and helps to inspire and inform our ever increasing audience of Pilates enthusiasts.
During Pilates on Tour 2016 in London, I got to interview Ken Endelman, the man behind the innovative creation of Pilates equipment. It was a golden opportunity to find out more about the man, how he started out, his inspiration and plans for the future.
Before we start, a little background about the man himself for those who are new to Pilates. Ken started out as a designer of custom made furniture back in the 70s along the famous Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. A future customer would change Ken’s path when she came in asking for modifications on an existing piece of equipment, known as the “Reformer.” With no background in or knowledge of Pilates, he studied the original designs from Joseph Pilates, consulted with other knowledgeable instructors and original students of Pilates, and came up with something special. From there would begin a whole new adventure for Ken and Pilates enthusiasts. Today Ken is the CEO of Balanced Body, providing equipment, exercise, instruction and much, much more worldwide.
My first question to Ken was about his early days and that first special client: Looking back now he can remember stalling and putting her off, thinking it was something he shouldn’t really get involved in, that it would be a phase, a passing fancy that wouldn’t really result in anything. However, the lady was persistent, and following some random dates in the diary as to when he would start, the lady in question eventually cornered and confronted him about when he was going to start. So from there, he worked on modifying and refining the Reformer.  Ken continued his work on Pilates equipment and creating pieces that helped make Pilates a pleasurable, safer and more unique experience for the user.  Input from others helped him to formulate his ideas including an antiques dealer from Majorca, Pilates instructors from all over the States, the use of unusual bits and pieces such as motorcycle parts and various shaped lamps, everything was explored and everything was changed, modified and fine-tuned, until it was right, until it was perfect.


Lawsuits and trademarks made Ken’s early career difficult. Pilates really started taking off in the 1990s, with the enthusiastic endorsement of celebrities and movie stars. However, back in those early days, it was impossible to use the word ”Pilates”, or even call yourself a ”Pilates” instructor without the risk of being sued.  The ‘P’ word was a dirty word that everyone was afraid to mention, and it made it difficult for Ken to use it for his new found business in Pilates equipment.  Ken took the lead in the Pilates trademark dispute, and thankfully, in 2000 the federal court in Manhattan, along with the US Patent & Trademark Office, decided that the word Pilates was not trademarked and could be used to describe exercise, equipment or studios without risk of legal action, and that had a tremendous impact on Ken Endelman’s career.  The result was that the name Pilates was freely available to everyone.

Although Pilates became popular in the 90s, it started much earlier, Ken was happy to fill me in on its earlier history.  Joseph Pilates was born back in the 1920s and become popular for a brief period in the 60s before fading away in late ’67.  In the 1990s, it gained more momentum with Pilates schools coming up in the mid-90s, and of course, with the help of movie stars and celebrities, it gained worldwide popularity.


For Ken his work is about the process of perfecting, improving, and brainstorming with other people. Collaboration is the key and he’s worked hard with many people over the years to fine tune his existing equipment and to come up with new ideas.  At this same time, other aspects of Balanced Body business are developing, like for example, education.  Numbers for the Pilates on Tour Conferences, and workshops are increasing and it takes tremendous dedication and focus he to keep all these balls in the air. You take an empty room, he points out, a room with nothing but carpets and walls, and turn it into this dynamic conference centre with equipment, people, and all the dynamics that goes with that, and then at the end of it you have an empty room again.
Looking to the future, Ken mentions that in the US, 85% of Pilates users are female, and this is something he wants to change (considering the founder was a man).  It’s good to have more men on-board, and he’s looking to see what he can do to make this happen.  Men like to work hard, get sweaty and beat it up slightly, although he’s quick to point out that perhaps he’s generalising a little.  As most of the exercises men do, usually, involve standing positions, and Pilates involves lying down and sitting, he’s looking to create something where there’s more focus on practicing in a standing position. What kind of situations can we present people with? What will make it more appetising for them? And how can we market Pilates in a way that’s appealing to people who aren’t doing it now?
In his 40th year in business, Ken is as enthusiastic about Pilates now as he ever was. The beauty of Pilates with its “cool set of principles” that make a lot of sense, but, his mind is still working on improvements and attracting a wider audience.  He’s frustrated by the fact that Pilates is only a small part of the fitness world and that people still don’t really understand it and would like to find a way to reach that part of the population and steer them towards Pilates through varied approaches.  For example, the Bodhi SuSpension System,  a practical and challenging piece of equipment for the Pilates studio owner, it needs somewhere to hang, preferably a strong wall, a wall that’s safe. The Bodhi provides exercises that involve working against gravity. Yes, there are other kinds of suspension like TRX but he feels that Pilates can feature its own unique form of suspension, and he’s keen for people to try it out.


Does Ken know more about Pilates now and does he practice it himself?  Yes, for a man who started out as a self-described ‘closet engineer,’ he does enjoy Pilates, even though he started out not having a clue as to what it was. He understood the basics enough to create the machines he came up with, and what their end goal should be, but little more. However, for more than a decade he’s been consistently practicing Pilates back home in Sacramento. He also practices it whenever he can when travelling.
Balanced Body is very much a family affair with everyone involved including his wife and his sons. His daughter-in-law has become a Pilates Instructor and is also involved in the business, Pilates is clearly had its influence on the entire family.
Apart from Pilates, how does Ken relax when he’s not working? He enjoys bike riding and goes for ‘epic’ rides.  In 2015 he prepared for a fantastic ride at Lake Tahoe in aid of Leukaemia. His preparations involved daily 100-mile bike rides!
I ask him if he has anything to tell us he’s not told anyone else before, a secret he’d like to share with us today, he thinks for a moment and then suggests philanthropy. He’d like to be a philanthropist, to be able to give stuff away to those most in need. He buys the $5 lottery ticket and thinks about what he’d do with the money should he win a considerable sum. We talk about small kindnesses and the importance of giving. He mentions the book “Who Stole My Cheese?” and we talk about simply being nice, of making someone’s day, just because you can.
His favourite Pilates moves are standing ones mostly, (no surprises there) and also standing moves using the Corealign. He also loves the Elephant.
I ask finally, what’s his birth sign? Pisces. And that’s interesting I tell him because that’s the typical ”giver” – the philanthropist who’s tries and does everything until they have a large body of knowledge. Then they think about what and how can they give to others.
It’s a perfect way to end the interview.

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Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 in Business & Education, Featured | 0 comments

The Business Side of Teaching Pilates

The Business Side of Teaching Pilates

Choosing where to study Pilates as an apprentice can be tough. Many consider location, costs, equipment, exercises and Teacher Trainer. What about business skills taught? Did you know what to do to build your business after your apprenticeship?

As you read in our previous article “The Pilates Apprentice Story” each apprentice chose their programs based on the best mentors and learning the technique. All of them are well on their way towards rocking their Pilates teaching dreams. But, what happens after the apprentice hours are completed? Where do they find their clients? How do they fill a schedule and build their own Pilates business? Most programs still do not teach the business side of Pilates. Focusing mostly on teaching students the exercises and history of Pilates. Of course, this is important. In fact, teachers will never stop learning the in’s and out’s of Pilates. But, what about the business side? Can we do more for apprentices, so they come off the ground running? Gina and I believe so!

This follow-up is geared to help teachers, teacher trainers, and apprentices focus on five areas to take with them and hit the Pilates reformer, Cadillac and mat running! Aside from a website try these tips and make the business side of Pilates, your friend:

1. Focus on what’s in front of you: To be successful as a Pilates instructor you do not have to advertise to everyone. You just need to connect to those in your area, and specifically with those that want the depth and breadth of the method. You only need to speak to 20 – 30 people. Plan to use simple, local marketing programs; e.g., pin specially designed postcards for group mat classes on the bulletin boards in nail salons and coffee shops.  Set up a FREE Google Local business page to your location. Build a local community mat class that meets regularly; collaborate with another small business to co-promote a community health & fitness workshop; write a article or two for a local paper or community business journal. Before buying Google AdWords or even Facebook ads take some stock. You don’t need a national audience to see you! Buy targeted space in your local area and minimize your cost and maximize the effectiveness. Then focus on teaching the one or two clients in front of you. Make their bodies feel and show the benefits of Pilates by training with YOU! They will soon become be the walking billboards you need in your community and more friends, and friends of friends will seek you out. Do not hesitate to ask for their feedback as a testimonial to their experience. Word of mouth stories will go a long way in helping others find the path to you.

2. Knowing when to say Yes and when to say No: In the beginning,it is easy to say “yes” to everyone who asks for a session and at any time. Why? Because saying “no” often means saying no to money. The money you want and need. You are the instructor. You have all the power. First, know when you are available to work. You may think you have plenty of time to teach. You are new and building your business, but you are not available anytime. What would a full schedule for you look like? Ask yourself, when do I feel at my best? When am I taking my Pilates sessions? Build a work schedule and then only offer those times. Stick to it! There is an attraction to the “busy restaurant.” People will wait hours to get into the restaurant with a line out the door even if the one next door is empty. If someone asks for a time, you are not available say “I am not available then. I have this time or this time, which works best for you?” If none work then you’ll have to say no but I bet the next time they’ll work Pilates with you into their schedule first!

Angela Paul-Gaito, who runs a studio in Newburgh, NY, commented in our “The Pilates Apprentice Story” interview, that she learned the hard way, that saying “yes” too often, perhaps being too lenient, too timid with goal of “wooing” clients and building relationships actually made it harder in the long run. She realised that she needed to keep a focus on my own limits in the relationship and transaction. She needed to stop trying to be a friend and work toward being their teacher.

3.  Know what the clients ‘Why’ is? Why is the client coming to Pilates? What brought them to you and Pilates? They are not going to learn all there is to know about Pilates in that first session. Take the pressure off yourself and spend your time showing them how Pilates with YOU will help them hit their WHY. I know their body has more needs than that why but if you don’t get them to come back in you’ll never get to help them with their bodies needs. Allow them to feel what Pilates with you is. Their first package with you is them buying time with you. They felt enough trust with you to help them attain their Why.

4. Choose the best option for you: As a Pilates instructor, you have multiple options to choose from when it comes to where you teach. You can rent space, work for a studio or fitness facility, work for yourself and go to clients homes. You may feel the urge to choose one or a few of these options at once. We recommend you choose the option that works best for you and your work style. In a Profitable Pilates post “To Own or To Rent,” I suggest you ask fellow teachers what the positives and negatives are. What work best for them and why? If you dream of having a studio of your OWN one day, find a space that allows you to build your own business and following. Prefer to show up, teach and leave? Perhaps working in a studio is a better option for you. There is an advantage to being your own boss and calling your own shots and wearing all the hats. Do you know yourself enough to know which option works best for you?

5.  Online options: A website is important. It’s a crucial calling card in the digital marketplace. For more on why websites are important, take a look these tips from web developers. If you cannot afford one, in the beginning, don’t worry. You can purchase the domain today so that when you are ready, your ideal website URL is available. Start a Facebook page or Instagram page. These do not replace a website, but they do help people find you and see who you are, what you do and what you stand for as a Pilates Instructor. Yelp and Citysearch as well as other review sites are great options as profiles on these sites are often free. A website is an assistant that works for you 24/7 so get one sooner than later! In the meantime use the free options you have and then don’t be afraid to ditch the world wide web in exchange for good old fashion in person connection. Hang out at the cafe by your studio and introduce yourself to people. Your future clients are all around!

We cannot express how important it is that you do not avoid the business side of teaching. You got into teaching Pilates because of your passion for the method. For you to share that passion for Pilates, you will have to master the business. Start with these five tips and see how they help you fill your dream schedule with dream clients!

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Co-Authors & Collaborators Gina and Lesley found each other via social media and their common love of connection, Pilates and blogging.

Lesley Logan, a PMA Certifed Master Pilates Instructor and has been studying and teaching Joseph Pilates Classical Method since 2005 and 2008 respectively. She has also been featured in Pilates Style Magazine and recently was admitted into “The Work,” a masters program taught by one of Joseph Pilates elders, Jay Grimes. Maintaining that

Pilates is a unique practice that is good for every body, Lesley tailors the method for each individual client. Connect with Lesley via http://www.proftablepilates.com.

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Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Becoming a Teacher, Business & Education, Featured, Pilates | 0 comments

The Pilates Apprentice Story – passion and business

The Pilates Apprentice Story – passion and business

Whether 17 years old or 62 years old; initially trained with a classical orientation or contemporary, the experience as an apprentice in the Pilates method is an exhilarating and challenging, yet life-changing experience.

My colleague and I spent a few hours getting to know five teacher-trainees a little better, asking what made them decide to become  Pilates instructors.  What drew them in? What were their goals when finished?  Who inspired them?  Whether West Coast or East Coast trainees, their stories are relatable to all of us.  While their varying answers might seem predictable, “helping others love pilates and wanting to make a difference,” there is another theme that can be found in all their stories.  The desire and ability to have the flexibility of creating their own business doing something that they love, ie., teaching Pilates.

Follow along.  We dug deep to extract a few pithy, take-away points from the commitments each of them gave to the rigor of the training program and challenge of building a business with Pilates.

On the East Coast, Gina Jackson, teacher/studio owner, Pilates4Fitness, spoke briefly with three teachers-in-training about their personal observations. On the West Coast, Lesley Logan, teacher/teacher-trainer, Profitable Pilates, spoke with with two stay-at-home moms that made the transition to Pilates teachers.  Not surprisingly, from the eldest to the youngest, a classical training program was the intended goal of each; ultimately operating a business as an independent and continuing to learn from the industry and their respective mentors and support teachers.

Initially certified by Polestar Pilates, with a Mat and Reformer group class certification only, Angela Paul-Gaito, 38 yr old mother two, says she felt she was

“Missing the comprehensiveness of the teaching system, and ultimately sought out a Balanced Body full apparatus certification.  However, she knew in her heart of hearts, she wasn’t feeling as confident and felt she was missing a link.

Angela  trained in dance with Master Teacher, Matt Mattox, and as a certified student with the Alvin Ailey school, she performed around the world in the french musical “Notre Dame de Paris”.  I was part of the creation team of “A New Day”, Celine Dion’s show in Belgium and Las Vegas and worked as a free-lance dancer for various companies, theater and TV projects.  She was introduced to Pilates thru dance with the Alvin Ailey company as a 19-year old,  she says, however,  the benefit of the work didn’t connect until 10 years later when she needed to  “reform” her body after her first child was borne.  “I became very aware of all the great benefits as a dancer, a teacher but most importantly as a woman.  Time of maturity was the right time.”

angela

 

Angela states, the biggest challenge to her as a Classical teacher-trainee was “forgetting or letting go” of all the previous contemporary training references.  She owns/operates her own studio in Newburgh, NY since 2012, and counts as her mentor influencers Ann Toran, Fabrice Lamego and Jennifer Kries.

In fact, it was Jennifer Kries that convinced her of the importance of the classical system, and in 2015 she started a bridging program with Juliet Harvey, Beacon Pilates, to improve my practice and knowledge on the classical form of the Pilates method.

Consistently, students are greatly influenced to find or follow the path to teaching by their exposures and mentors.  Whether drawn to the Pilates teaching path by either health or physical injury, or following the lead of friend, colleague or relative, the recognition of the depth of the method and specifically, the classical approach to teaching is a profound awakening.

“The Pilates apprentice experience is an incredible learning journey, no matter what programme is selected.  Everyone starts off in a group at the same time.  Then life happens.  It’s windy trails intersect with the apprentice journey and don’t stope even when you become an instructor.” Lesley Logan, Profitable Pilates

Jen Hilton of Encino, CA, a “stay-at-home”  mom, who was seeking a part-time Pilates teaching career.  She chose the Equinox Pilates teacher training program after much research.

Key to her success in the experience, she says was having amazing support from her family, as she balanced being a wife and a mother of three, while traveling all over Los Angeles to complete her required apprenticeship hours. During her time as an apprentice she found the instructors she calls her mentors, Carrie Samper, Susannah Todd and Ashley Hoffman.

Her best day as an apprentice, she states “when I finally got it and felt like teaching was starting to glow.” Always a positive spirit she cannot think of one “worst day,” however, as all instructors can relate, there were a “few days of exhaustion and feeling completely overwhelmed.”

Jen’s selection of the Equinox Training program, coupled with her personal goals for completion, helped her prepare for the business side of teaching. Before she completed the program, she had a targeted dream studio in mind and an interview set up.  She utilized her time observing in the training studio with the specific intention of noting great examples of what works and doesn’t work when developing a Pilates teaching business.   Her 10-year goal, “I’m hoping to still be teaching part-time but as a fabulous experienced teacher.”

Another Equinox Pilates Teacher Trainee, Jenny Latham of West Hollywood, CA, is a 40-year old mother, interior designer and fit model.  She chose the program based on her experience as a member of the studio/gym.   She states that the teacher/client relationship drew her in and and mentor/teacher trainer relationship with Carrie Samper, helped pull her through the program.

When asked to describe a dream client, she said, “one who is open and willing to change their body.”  Further, “in 10 years I’ll be 50, so I don’t want to think about that, but, I would love to be more confident in my body and my teaching, so I can work with women/men like myself who are adapting to their changing bodies.”

“When I finished my program I was elated and a little tired. Six hundred  hours in nine months while working 50-hours a week across running back and forth across town. I left with a certificate and immediately signed up for the upcoming PMA conference. I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” states Logan, who teaches workshops on How to Sell Pilates.   While the start or initial driver that brings one into becoming a Pilates instructor differed for everyone, the end takeaway is the same.  There is so much more learning in the process. To be a Pilates instructor is to be a student of the method for life.

daniel-profileDaniel Alvarado, 19 years old, was the youngest apprentice in Alycea Ungaro’s New York Real Pilates Teacher Training program, and the only male in the group we interviewed.  Danny, is the nephew of Real Pilates NYC, Senior Teacher Trainer, Juan Estrada and as a result, has a high bar to surpass with all the mentors he has in his corner; Alycea Ungaro, Bob Leikens, Carrie Campbell Clark, Stephanie West, Anna Clark, and Bethannie Redinger.

He describes his best day as one filled with teaching moments, where he mistakenly thought he had a “rest day” and suddenly found out he was scheduled to teach

“Four classes in a row and take a private session for myself afterwards. On this same day I taught my first duet and then a trio session following it.  The closest thing to the worst day was having to deal with 3 fully- energized teenager girls.”

Daniel is already teaching at Real Pilates in both the Tribeca and SOHO studio locations as well as two gym studios in Manhattan and Long Island City and has the freedom and time to hone and refine his skills with an active teaching and personal practice schedule.  However, building a client base, he recognizes will come over time.

“I am not ashamed to say, I recognise the ‘student-apprentice’ in myself at every session I have with a senior or master teacher” Gina Jackson, Pilates4fitness.

While experience is the best teacher, being a good teacher, or having access to the highest quality training programs, may not create the requisite experience, exposure or training for building a successful business as an instructor or a business owner.  It’s really the next layer of the apprentice programming that we see is noticeably absent and true of the entrepreneurial experience as a business owner.

Jennifer Cayenne, was first introduced to Pilates following an injury of her spine. She states she fell in love with the system after three sessions at a Montclair, NJ studio.

As a 62-year old IT Project Manager, she researched and found the United States Pilates Association teacher training program and specifically began a trainee-mentee relationship with Brett Howard and Pamela Dejohn.

jennifer-cayenneWith a long-term goal of operating a boutique Pilates Studio in her native home of Trinidad & Tobago,  Jennifer’s  short term plans are to seek teaching positions at various local studios to explore different teaching techniques and styles and build client/business experience and relationships.

Mentoring relationships and small-business training and programming would greatly serve teacher-trainees.  Small business planning, marketing, promotion and new business development are acknowledged as key elements crucial to running a successful studio or independent instructor business.   However these are generally well beyond the scope of most highly regarded teacher-training programs.

When asked what you wish you knew about the Pilates business side of teaching, Jennifer stated,

“I wish I knew how to find my own niche in the Pilates business since I’ve never run a business before.  My expectations upon completion are to teach one-on-one at multiple locations to expand my clientele, and to further progress to teaching group classes.”

Angela, who runs a successful studio already in Newburg, NY, observed that she had to learn the hard way,
“Being too nice, too timid with goal of  “wooing” clients and building relationships may actually make it harder for yourself in the long run.  I realized that I needed to keep focus on my own limits in the relationship and transaction.  I need to stop trying to be a friend and work toward being their teacher.”

Like Jennifer, Jackson states she transitioned from a corporate life very foreign to the typical dancer-apprentice.   “As a former general manager and corporate business leader, I made the transition from selling or managing  “widgets” in corporate America to teaching and selling the goodness and benefits of life with Pilates.”

Further, Jackson states, “I was lucky, that my former experiences gave me a foundation and the confidence to step out to operate an independent, small business that in some ways to most new teachers, may feel as daunting as the apprentice test-out itself. “

Learning never ends.  To be a Pilates instructor is to be a student of the method for life. Contemporary systems training leads one to classical refinements. Intermediate work leads to advanced transitions.  Bowen did it different than Grimes; and we all seek to deliver the best quality instruction with each client/student relationship.
The business of teaching Pilates, however, requires another set of ABCs, tools, workshops and learning experiences.  The importance and value of establishing business policies, building business relationships, acquiring clients, retaining them, communicating with them via a website, newsletter and social media and being the floor and mat cleaner  – all at the same time  – have equal weight with being the principal teacher, independent contractor or Pilates studio owner.

Stay tuned for Part II of the apprentice story – The business side of teaching Pilates.

Co-Authors & Collaborators Gina and Lesley found each other via social media and their common love of connection, Pilates and blogging.

lesleylogan
Lesley Logan, a PMA Certified Master Pilates Instructor and has been
studying and teaching Joseph Pilates Classical Method since 2005 and 2008 respectively.  She has also been featured in Pilates Style Magazine and recently was admitted into “The Work,” a masters program taught by one of Joseph Pilates elders, Jay Grimes. Maintaining that Pilates is a unique practice that is good for every body, Lesley tailors the method for each individual client.  Connect with Lesley via http://www.profitablepilates.com.

ginajacksonGina Jackson, Director/Owner, Pilates4Fitness Movement Space, West New York, NJ, has been teaching, coaching and training for more than fifteen years and loves the challenge of helping others find their center with Pilates. Certified by Power Pilates, New York, NY,  connect with Gina via http://www.pilates4fitness.com.

 

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Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Becoming a Teacher, Business & Education, Featured, Freelance, Owning a Studio | 0 comments

Are You Giving Yourself Enough Credit?

Are You Giving Yourself Enough Credit?

Are you a Pilates instructor that is passionate about delivering the best Pilates you can to your clients?  You watch on in admiration as your clients improve their bodies and minds in life changing ways, yet you still have a niggling feeling that you’re not good enough?  Stop for a moment and ask yourself: Are you giving yourself enough credit?

The thing is, we can learn, read books and go to workshops until the cows come home, yet with all this knowledge it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking: ‘there is so much more to learn, so much I don’t know and so little time to learn it all’

What’s more, as an industry, I’m going to hazard a guess that we have an extraordinary amount of perfectionists when compared to the general population and although striving to be the best you can be is healthy, falling into the ‘perfection-paralysis’ trap, is not.

So I’m going to encourage you to stop for a moment and think: 

  • What have I done with my clients today that has inspired them to live happier more fulfilled lives?
  • What have I done to put someone in a better mood?
  • What have I taught someone today about their bodies that they didn’t know yesterday?

The work we do can have far reaching benefits for our clients that they may never mention to us, maybe because they don’t consciously realise how their lives are better and more balanced with Pilates (and you as their teacher), or because they are too shy to articulate it out loud.

Being OK with not knowing all the answers and trusting our intuition can be difficult, so in those moments, it’s important to remember the things that we do that help our clients.

This is often more than just the exercises we give them to make them stronger and more flexible. It can be the time and attention that they get, that they don’t have elsewhere in their life. Or by simply being a role model of health for them when there is a lot of negativity going on in their lives. Or as the only person that reminds them of the importance of taking a deep breath.

These things may seem small, but they can have huge repercussions in the lives of your clients in ways that you might never fully grasp.

So stop and give yourself some credit, OK?

Please tell me, do you forget sometimes to give yourself credit for the work you do? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Becoming a Teacher, Business & Education, Pilates | 0 comments

Choosing to train as a Pilates Teacher

Choosing to train as a Pilates Teacher

A guide to Pilates Training and Qualifications for Pilates Teachers/Instructors Part2 

Do you want to teach Pilates?  At the time of writing there are 55 companies offering Pilates qualifications. How do you choose between the myriad of different courses?

Pilates can be taught purely as matwork using just a mat and other small equipment such as foam rollers, gym balls and bands.  There is also studio Pilates where you will be taught using big equipment such as a reformer, Cadillac, ladder barrel and Pilates chair (Wundachair).  In most cases someone wanting to train as a Pilates instructor will learn how to teach matwork first and then learn how to teach on the big equipment.

Did you know that in the UK anyone could call himself or herself a Pilates instructor?  It is not a legally defined term but it is unlikely that anyone without any qualifications would be able to obtain insurance putting both the instructor and the client at risk should anything go wrong.

Types of training course

There are (Fitness) Pilates Instructor training courses, often held over a weekend, so maybe 14 hours of lectures, sometimes followed by a short exam at a later date (or submission of a video of yourself teaching a class) and some coursework.  In most cases these courses are marketed at qualified gym and aerobics instructors working within the gym chains or independents who already have fitness qualifications who are interested in increasing their range of fitness skills.  These courses would not give the successful candidate a REPs qualification (see below).

Then there are the ‘level 3 REPs’ courses.  Please see the separate article about REPs but, in a sentence, a national body has produced a definition of what a Pilates instructor at this level should know in terms of knowledge, skills and competence and someone holding a qualification at this level will have demonstrated their ability against this national standard.

Within the range of level 3 courses there are shorter courses with pre-reading course notes, about 21 hours of lectures, followed by producing a video of themselves teaching and some coursework which usually take a couple of months to achieve.  Again, these are aimed at people who are already Fitness Professionals with a level 2 or level 3 qualifications such as aerobics instructors or personal trainers.  The organisations offering these courses are likely to offer a wide range of fitness qualifications but fewer courses specifically aimed at Pilates instructors and they are unlikely to teach the large equipment courses.

There are also much longer level 3 courses with 100 plus hours of lectures, numerous written exams, 50 hours supervised teaching (working with qualified, experienced instructors) and teaching exams taking many months of work.  The companies offering these courses, by their very nature, tend to be larger with a wide support network of Pilates teacher trainers.  They also have further courses to broaden instructor’s knowledge once the initial qualification has been completed successfully and are often able to offer training in the large equipment along with support associations.

Following on from this are the long term intensive training courses, in the manner of an apprenticeship, often lasting 14 months to several years but whose course is not recognised by REPs. Within the Pilates community these courses are often well regarded, producing excellent instructors but they may not cover the entire curriculum as defined by REPs. This was the original way that Pilates teachers were trained and these training providers often also offer continuing education courses on the big studio equipment.

How do you choose from all those different courses?

It’s worthwhile taking a long-term view on your career as a Pilates teacher when you’re looking at training courses, rather than just picking the cheapest course or the course that your friends/colleagues have done.  For many people, their first matwork course is just a stepping stone into a broader world of Pilates training going through additional courses on small equipment, qualifications in working with clients with lower back pain, to large equipment and studio instructor qualifications.  In this case it would be wise to choose a training course which allows you to do this.

As with any subject, some ‘styles’ of teaching may suit you better than another ‘style’.  For example, Pilates Foundation teachers are renowned for their attention to detail and will often teach more slowly, whereas Stott classes can often be very intense and fast.  I would recommend attending classes from as many different training schools as possible prior to making a decision to work out for yourself which style is going to suit you the best.

If you are going to complete a supervised teaching period you would be well advised to check where the supervising teachers are based to ensure that you take travel time and availability (i.e. if you need to do your teaching practise at weekends but your local teachers only have time to supervise you during working hours) into account to check that this will actually be achievable for you.  However, trainees often find that they learn so much from this experience they end up doing more than the minimum required and travel longer distances to more experienced teachers.

Please read the separate article about REPs so you can decide whether you need to take a course which allows you to appear on the Register of Exercise Professionals.

In summary, there are many different training courses available out there and it is essential that you take into account your own requirements and to the level that you are likely to want to study as you may otherwise end up retraining with a different company.  Try many different teachers, with as many different styles as you can find to help you with your decision.

(c) Julia Crossman 2013

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