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Pilates Teacher Training and Education Requirements

The training to become a Pilates teacher may occur through basic and advanced certificate programs. Below, you can read about what's taught in these programs, see key prerequisites and get an idea of the job outlook for fitness trainers. There's also general information on certification.

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Essential Information

Certificate programs varying in length and curriculum content prepare students to become Pilates instructors. There are usually two kinds of certificates a student may earn. The first certificate deals with basic Pilates mat instruction and the second is more comprehensive, covering mat exercises and common Pilates equipment. While experience in teaching Pilates is desired, it may not be required to enroll in these programs. Students should check with their school as to whether these programs prepare them for certification exams.

Pilates Mat Instruction Certificate

Certificate programs are usually offered by community colleges or through recreational departments in state universities and can be credit or non-credit based. Training for mat instruction covers basic Pilates mat exercises, modification techniques and sometimes the comparisons between yoga and Pilates exercise. Mat instructor education may be offered all at once or in courses of increasing difficulty. Some certificate programs prepare students for a national certification exam through the Pilates Method Alliance organization, a non-profit association focused on the educational standards and growth of Pilates fitness training. Prior experience in Pilates exercise is recommended but is not necessarily a prerequisite.

Program Coursework

Mat instructor training includes learning about the history of Pilates, its effects on the body and the specific principles of Pilates routines. Courses may include:

  • First aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Pilates terminology
  • Order of mat exercises
  • Exercise modifications
  • Basic anatomy and physiology
  • Communication techniques
  • Educational ethics
  • Pilates safety

Employment Outlook

A Pilates instructor is categorized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as a fitness trainer or instructor ( Fitness trainer and instructor positions are expected to increase much faster than the national average for all professions. The expected job growth in the fitness training industry is due to the increasing number of people spending their time and money to become physically fit.

Complete Pilates Instructor Certificate

The certificate program for becoming a comprehensive Pilates instructor involves teaching exercises using mats, reformer machines and other apparatuses. To maintain safety while teaching a class, students are taught how to modify moves and to perform exercises in proper order. Coursework may involve:

  • CPR training
  • Pilates and specific human anatomy
  • History of Pilates
  • Beginning, intermediate and advanced mat exercises
  • Reformer Pilates equipment and exercises
  • Apparatus Pilates equipment and exercises
  • Creating a routine
  • Exercise safety guidelines

Employment Outlook

Part-time employment is common for fitness workers like Pilates instructors. The median annual wage for fitness trainers in November 2013 was listed as $32,358 by The job growth expected for fitness trainers and instructors is 24% between 2010 and 2020.

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