Pilates instructors help clients to change and improve their body strength and posture. They do this by teaching stretching and conditioning exercises, involving regimented, repetitive body movement and breathwork to promote core strength, flexibility, and physical and mental balance. A Pilates instructor may instruct students on the mat, using the weight of their own bodies as resistance, or on a series of machines.
A Pilates instructor’s work includes:
By teaching clients to be in control of their bodies, pilates instructors also help them to handle stress more effectively and relax more easily.
Prospective Pilates instructors need to have a background in exercise, movement or a related physical therapy, or have been attending regular Pilates classes – this is considered within the Pilates field as the foundation to becoming a Pilates instructor. The next step on the path to a successful Pilates career is getting a good education. The International Confederation of Registers for Exercise Professionals is an international partnership between registration bodies around the world that register exercise professionals. A basic qualification in fitness or exercise science is required before doing any specialised training in the field. The most basic type of qualification that suffices is called a National Fitness Certificate, which is a combination of study and practice. It is illegal to work in the fitness industry without this. Make sure to choose an accredited course.
Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended:
Body Control Pilates Studio
Teacher Certification and Training
Why did you choose this profession?
Ten years ago I had a successful career in ballet. Having attended the elite Ballet Academy in Russia, I danced in many principle roles with the Cape Town City Ballet and performed on the world’s best stages with the Russian State Ballet. Knowing that I couldn’t dance forever, I did some soul searching and realised that ballet was just a transition to fulfilling my true passion. I knew what my purpose was when I was seven; I aspired to become either a teacher or a doctor. Pilates was the perfect choice as it combines all three components perfectly: teaching, healing and movement.
What training did you undergo?
I completed eight years at the Russian State Ballet Academy in Perm and have a professional ballet dancer’s diploma. I did my initial Pilates training with Miriane Braaf (a top Pilates expert from Canada). I was gaining knowledge under her watchful eye at Equilibrium Pilates for a full year. After qualifying, I did many Pilates-related short courses to improve my skills. Three years ago I certified with the Pilates Method Alliance (USA).
Is there a type of personality best suited to this work?
You have to be patient, but firm enough to make sure that clients achieve their goals. You need to have a warm personality and good motivational skills, and be intuitive to people’s moods.
Is experience as important as formal training?
The true learning in Pilates only really starts when you become qualified, and then it never stops.
What do you enjoy doing most?
I love meeting people and enjoy being able to wear comfortable clothes for work. Running my own business is great; it is often very challenging, but it motivates me to be more and more creative. Having a team of superb instructors on my side is also a real privilege.
Which aspects aren’t you keen on?
The admin and accounts side of things, but my clients have been amazingly trustworthy and very supportive. As the studio grew, it became necessary to have an office assistant.
What are the career highlights?
When someone becomes pain free as a result of my work and when I see improvements in someone’s posture! Sometimes even small changes mean so much for the client’s well-being. Every day is a highlight for me. I feel very fortunate to have chosen this path.
My belief is that every sportsperson, starting from school days and into the senior years, should learn the Pilates principles of joint stabilisation as a tool to a better technique and preventing injuries. I would like to continue developing the Pilates technique, while preserving its integrity.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Always keep an open mind when working with people. Everyone is totally unique. Before deciding on any career, think back to your childhood. What inspired you then?