Pilates Instructor Requirements

The requirements for becoming a Pilates Instructor depend greatly on what kind of instructor you wish to become. Some level of qualification is highly recommended for every tier of the professiona, however, there are varying degrees of both the quality of the coursework and the length of time required to study the course of your choice.

Are there any prerequisites to study Pilates?

There are generally no prerequisites for the study of Pilates if you intend to start at the Certificate IV level.  Ideally though, your body should be fit, healthy and capable of reaching a highly competent level with the Pilates repertoire.

Although you don’t need to be the fittest or the best at Pilates to start an instructor training course, you will, however, make an example when you are in front of your clients, and therefore many instructors have to make a point to set aside personal practice time!

While you are learning to be a Pilates Instructor you will definitely need to be able to demonstrate at least a few repetitions of each exercise in the repertoire included within your qualification, so fitness is important and also being willing to learn new and exciting exercises is part of the process.

We also recommend that practicing Pilates yourself for some time before starting to study is always beneficial (although not entirely essential), so that you will hopefully already be familiar with some of the principles of Pilates.

Lastly, having language, literacy and numeracy skills sufficient to understand anatomy & physiology terms, pathology terms and the ability to communicate with clients and other Allied Health professionals is a must.  While the ‘language’ of movement is universal, the terms that are used in anatomy and physiology often come from Greek and Latin- so be prepared for some words that are not entirely familiar in day-to-day English.

Once you are confident that you meet the entry requirements, next is to decide which course you wish to undertake.

Which Pilates Instructor Training is right for me?

A Pilates Instructor may hold a range of qualifications:

  • Group reformer. This qualification is arguably the least regulated of all the current offerings within the Pilates industry. In many of these ‘courses’, the Pilates repertoire is taught ‘in house’ by fellow staff members who may (or may not) have any qualifications themselves. While this can be an easy ‘on the job’ training for new staff members, it is always advisable to ask about WHO is running the ‘in house’ training, what their qualifications are and what sort of outcome or certification you will get at the end of the training programme.   Many of these ‘in house’ training programmes are simply an array of exercises to be performed (which you will be asked to memorise), to be delivered to groups of 7+ clients by one instructor with little to no regard of pre-existing conditions. There, are, however, some courses that are more in-depth than others so it definitely is a good idea to ensure that the instructor will be delivering enough knowledge of the body for you as a student to deliver any of your classes in a safe manner.
  • Certificate IV Level Pilates Instructor. The title of a course like this suggests that the training is Government Accredited and therefore you (as the student) will have some assurances that the instructor should know the entire Pilates matwork repertoire with regressions, progressions and variations to the exercises taught. The trainer should at least have the same Qualification that they are teaching you (ie the trainer should have a Certificate IV level Qualification already) and also they should have a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.   This will assure you, as the student, that the trainer has the skills necessary to assess you as you undertake your training.   At this level, you should expect a course that will impart to you knowledge of the correct Pilates breathing and a solid grasp of anatomy, physiology and pathologies. This qualification may also include some basic Pilates equipment such as Magic circle, Foam Roller and other small apparatus exercises depending on the course.
  • Diploma of Pilates. As well as everything described about the Certificate IV level qualification, a Diploma qualified instructor should also know all aspects of the equipment repertoire, covering the Reformer, Cadillac, Barrel and Wunda Chair. The training program should also go more in-depth to cover anatomy and pathology knowledge, enabling a graduate to work alongside a Physiotherapist or any other Allied health practitioner for rehabilitative purposes as well as being able to work with pre and postnatal clients.
  • Advanced Diploma of Pilates. As a postgraduate course, an Advanced Diploma would have all the content and depth as the Certificate IV and Diploma level courses and would also delve further into the rehabilitative applications of the Pilates method and the management of chronic pain, neurological conditions, musculoskeletal injuries and cancer. Some courses may also offer various forms of Somatic therapies such as Hanna Somatics, a sensory-motor training technique that marries very well into the advanced Pilates practice

The pros and cons of each of these options should be weighed against what you hope to get out of a career or job in the Pilates industry.   Once those considerations have been made, you are ready to embark on your exciting new journey into the world of movement and rehabilitation. We highly recommend that you contact any training provider directly and ask them questions about where their previous graduates have found employment or what other successful outcomes they have experienced.  The goal of any programme is to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge that they need- so go get yours!

How to start a Pilates Studio?

One of the big questions that many practitioners ask themselves is “How do a start my own Pilates Studio”?   When an experienced practitioner is ready to ‘go out on their own’ and how they go about doing it, are excellent questions!

A Pilates career has the opportunity to be very lucrative, but like anything else, to succeed it must be done correctly and especially nowadays because Pilates is in vogue, studios are opening up in metro and regional centres- popping up in gyms and health clubs, and even appearing in aged care and assisted living facilities.   The best way to make a lasting impact on the clients is to find what it is about the Pilates method that inspires and drives you, and then to bring these elements into your own business model.

Do your Pilates and demographic research

It is always best to do extensive research into what you think it will take to run the sort of studio that you want to run and then take that forward into your planning stages.  Also connect with instructors far and wide and learn from their experiences- don’t be shy about asking them what they did when they started out. Running a studio is not for the faint hearted but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your professional career.

Choose your Pilates business strategy

Deciding which business strategy you will use can take time- ensuring that you have sufficient money, potential staff, and a desire to create the studio that you envision may be the most difficult decisions you initially will make as an instructor. Figuring out how your business sits within the existing community is something else to consider. Who are you targeting with your Pilates? What are you prepared to offer and to what demographic? This will determine greatly the kind of equipment you buy- do you want a simple studio just full of Reformers vs a fully equipped studio that includes Wunda Chairs, Cadillacs and Barrels?  Also considering how much money you will put into initial and ongoing advertising and where to advertise are important points when starting a new Pilates studio.

Working in a Pilates studio vs. opening your own

The base wage for a Pilates Instructor is generally around $35 an hour, depending on the studio, the location and the level of experience and qualifications you may have. Working within a Pilates studio is generally not a ‘nine to five’ job as you may have the opportunity to work eight hours a day but the hours are more likely to be starting earlier than 9am and probably also finishing later than 5pm.   This will most likely be the same if you run your own studio, but you have the potential to get other staff members to cover various times of the day.

What style of Pilates studio do you want to open?

If you have a large amount of space available, starting at least a portion of your studio as a Mat Pilates area has a low start-up cost but provides a consistent earner if sessions are well attended.   Mat participants may pay anywhere from $10-$20 per class, and with groups of 6 or more in each class, a studio like this can easily yield upwards of $1500 a week, by teaching only 4 hours a day depending on your location, and skill in teaching.

If you have less space available but a greater amount of money able to be invested in the start-up, then an equipment-based studio may be more up your alley. Clients will most always pay more for equipment classes than mat sessions, and even though the initial outlay costs are far greater than setting up a mat studio, the returns can be higher.  A studio with 5 reformers could potentially earn $3000 per week, still teaching 4 hours a day.

Continuing the level of studio complexity and specialization further, to open a rehabilitation studio where the practitioners offer private sessions along with also doing some small group classes- the studio can actually be initially cheaper than an all reformer studio, as the final setup cost is broken up considerably by the price difference between Reformers and Wunda Chairs, etc. A small rehabilitation studio, with five varied pieces of Pilates equipment, specialised programming and a range of one on one sessions offered could easily make the same as a purely reformer studio, but with a lower start up cost and a more committed client base that comes regularly for pathology rehabilitation as well as for fitness and wellbeing.

Where are you located?

Lastly there is the question of the actual space itself.   Most commonly studios are started by the rental of a business space and running of the studio from that space. In regional areas, some unique and alternative spaces can often be found- old churches, former retail spaces, theatres, community halls, etc.   The possibilities are endless!

Some astute new studio owners actually purchase the building or site and then create the studio in their own investment property.  This can be an outstanding investment and enable a rental return as well as the studio income to increase the business revenue.

Another option is to have the new studio co-located in an existing Allied Health facility- such as a Physiotherapy/Chiropractic practice or sharing space with yoga/movement or other modalities.

Where to from here?

The most cost and time consuming aspect, can be having staff working in the studio.  This does, however enable the studio to run consistently and can overall provide the business with more time to pursue other interests or ventures. A small studio with 5 pieces of equipment and one staff member could easily have a gross earning potential of over $7000 a week. Of course, this depends greatly on the location and times offered by your studio.  However, with the right location, marketing and expertise, owning and operating a Pilates studio can comfortably satisfy even the hungriest entrepreneur.

Pilates Reformer Teacher Training

What is a Pilates Reformer?  This unique ‘machine’ was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1950s using a combination of springs, pulleys and straps and a moving carriage. Until relatively recently the use of the Reformer and understanding of the potential for developing the muscles with the resistance with it was under-appreciated and definitely outside of the mainstream.  Not anymore!

Initially Pilates was probably thought of as a modality that should be lumped in somewhere between yoga and aerobic fitness classes. But nowadays, as people from the general public move more and more into taking care of their bodies and becoming informed about what does and doesn’t work for them, Pilates is experiencing a huge growth phase and as a result the demand for instructors is growing exponentially.   From Pilates mat classes by the beach to specific rehabilitation in Physiotherapy clinics, Pilates is aiding people in strengthening, lengthening and toning their muscles while developing better awareness of themselves and their body.

Pilates Reformer Studios

One of the biggest expansions is in Pilates studios (and gyms) that focus on the provision of Pilates Reformer classes.  These studios (and gyms), and their classes, have greatly increased in popularity in recent years and the clients who are enjoying these classes come from all walks of life- from young and fit sporty types to retirees wanting to stay mobile and healthy with gentle but directed exercise programmes.

This style of Pilates has developed into something better known (and commonly called) Group Reformer. These sessions, and the studios who offer them- as the name suggests are delivering classes that are composed solely of Reformer exercises, with anywhere from 5-12 reformers in a room and with usually just one instructor overseeing the group.

As a client or participant in these sessions you are ideally healthy and relatively injury free.  This ensures that these classes are a fun and dynamic way to get out and move your body, making use of the straps, pulleys and resistance to bring your body into completely new movement patterns and strengthen muscles that you didn’t even know you had!

Training to work in a Pilates Group Reformer Studio

It is very important, therefore that as the instructor of these Group Reformer sessions that you have proper training necessary to confidently run a session for a large group of people, taking into account all the various needs and ability levels that such a large and diverse class will present.

The Pilates Group Reformer instructor training is generally a shorter course than a full Pilates qualification at the Certificate IV or Diploma level, given that you really need only study the Reformer repertoire and cover topics about how to teach effectively.

Depending on the caliber of studio/gym that you intend to work in, the level of training expected will be different depending on the type/style/number of Group Reformer classes being offered. Some studios (and gyms) have a pre-set routine for clients who have passed a rigorous screening period and already know how to perform the exercises in their own bodies.  These are the easiest to teach.

Other studios (and gyms) may focus on the more rehabilitation-based aspects of Pilates during some small group sessions but will also offer Group Reformer classes to their clients at other times of the day.   Given that most of the clients attending a studio (or gym) will be expecting a more experienced Pilates Instructor in the smaller or even one on one classes, it would be advisable to have a more rigorous Qualification.  This way you and your employer can feel more confident that you are able to respond appropriately to the needs presented and deliver both types of Pilates Reformer classes.

The Pilates industry is a fun, dynamic and fantastic industry to enter in any capacity, so whether you decide to just do a Short Course on the Pilates Reformer enabling you to teach some high energy and dynamic sessions, or do a full Qualification with an in-depth focus on the full range of Pilates equipment- you will be rewarded. Pilates will provide you with an outlet to be creative and fluid, and to bring that fluidity and strength forward to help others reach their highest potential.

Pilates Courses South Australia

Tensegrity Training provides Pilates teacher training in many locations throughout Australia and we can also arrange to come to you at your venue even if you are off the beaten track or unable to attend one of our many, picturesque training locations.

Adelaide, South Australia

If you are anywhere near the capital of South Australia, Adelaide, then we highly recommend our SA course provider, Leanne Mollison at Queen St Pilates.

Leanne has over 19 years experience teaching Pilates in Australia and overseas, and she has also been a professional dancer with major dance companies such as Australian Dance Theatre, Leigh Warren and Dancers, Expressions Dance Company and Dance North.

Leanne developed and wrote South Australia’s first Certificate IV and Diploma level Pilates Qualifications and she delivered these courses for five years in South Australia. She also designed and offered an industry-based Pilates Therapy Instruction in Mat and Equipment Work course and provided the first ever Pilates training to Adelaide and South Australia.

Her qualifications and experience include:

Associate Diploma of Arts (Dance)

Diploma of Pilates Therapy Instruction

Diploma of Contemporary Pilates and Teaching Methodology

Certificate IV in Pilates Therapy Instruction

Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Certification in Applied Kinesiology (Working Body, USA)

Leanne is the Director of Queen St Pilates in Adelaide located at Croydon.

Queen St Pilates, Adelaide

Queens St Pilates is a fantastic example of a well run and professional studio, with the inviting space setting you at ease and creating a real sense of peace and calm from the minute you enter. It also boasts on site Physiotherapy, Massage, Boutique Retail, a gallery and even a community garden!  Certainly the studio has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the front room of Leanne Mollisons’ home in 2004.

Queen St Pilates is housed in the historic 102 year old Ancient Order Of Druids Meeting Hall in Croydon’s retro precinct and has been operating as a specialist studio for the last 13 years.

What better way to immerse yourself not just in training and the Pilates method but also to experience the synergy of all aspects of health coming together to form the vast tapestry that is the allied health professions all housed at Queen St Pilates. The team of extensively experienced Pilates practitioners at Leanne’s Pilates studio are on hand to guide students through the practical teaching learning journey, providing the competence to step into the industry with many hours of teaching skills behind you.

Somatic Exercises

But what does “Somatics” mean? The word itself is derived from the Greek word “Soma” meaning “the living body”. Somatics is a broadly used term to describe the mind and body, not as separate entities but as complex married couple, intertwined within a constant dance of effect and affect. When care and thought are given to how the two may work together instead of apart, this coupling assists each other in bringing forth healing and growth. Hence, while the exercises are indeed a major component, the manner in which the exercises are performed is also of paramount importance.

How are Somatic exercises done?

The movement patterns that the exercises bring you through are meant to involve the contraction and then the slow release your muscles.  DOING THESE EXERCISES VERY SLOWLY AND CONCISELY IS IMPORTANT.

To move slowly (It helps to close your eyes) is to give your brain the chance to notice all that is happening in your body as you perform these easeful exercises. Slow movement, coupled  with mindfulness and breath is the foundation of the partnership between body and mind, and the key to your Somatic practice.

Our muscles contract and hold tension as we navigate our busy lives, oftentimes in a sub-optimal position, causing much pain and/or discomfort.

What causes chronic muscle tension?

These chronic muscle contraction patterns created by past experiences are unconsciously retained and the muscle(s) in question often become exceedingly difficult to release over time. Thomas Hanna, the creator of Hanna Somatics named this tendency “sensory-motor amnesia”. Hanna Somatics enables the individual to use the brain to overcome sensory-motor amnesia and the negative effects of stress, trauma and aging. It empowers us to hear more clearly the wisdom of our bodies.

What is Sensory-Motor Amnesia?

Sensory-motor amnesia is most often caused by three main processes within the body/mind.

  1. The Trauma Reflex – This occurs as a protective muscular response to severe injury. It is the reflex of pain avoidance but it may also manifest psychosomatically in response to intense feelings, cringing, for example, is the overt manifestation of this reflex.
  2. The Startle Reflex –  This reflex occurs as a stress response to threatening or worrisome situations. Just as with the Trauma reflex, these may be actual or imagined. But still have a very real effect on the body.
  3. The Landau Response – Perhaps the most commonly occurring response within the bodymind, The Landau response Our state of being in life is evident through our breathing patterns and to fully breathe is to fully engage with oneself and with the environment occurs in situations where action is demanded of the person, for example, a knock on the door, the ring of the telephone, a response to a request, and so forth.

Given the physical and mental basis of these reflexes, Somatic practice can greatly assist individuals suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and grief.  Clients from all walks of life can benefit greatly from Somatic therapy, especially those cases where traditional remedies have not been satisfactory in the treatment of the ailment in question. The focus on breath as a carrier of life and healing throughout, renders this practice as a staple for those with busy lifestyles where the need for breath is not always considered. Our state of being in life is evident through our breathing patterns and to fully breathe is to fully engage with oneself and with the environment.   Bring a new dimension to your practice and find out more by taking a course.

Somatic exercises are taught in Tensegrity Training’s Diploma Instructor Training Course and also as included in the Short Course, Somatic Movement Education.

Tensegrity Training’s Somatic courses come with a full guide to the Hanna Somatic exercises, as well as a comprehensive video to couple with the kinesthetic experience of face to face learning.