How to become a Pilates instructor (with steps and skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Pilates is an exercise that improves physical strength, body posture and flexibility. It also has applications in stress management and relaxation techniques. If you enjoy Pilates and want to pursue it as a career, you can consider becoming a Pilates instructor. Knowing the skills and qualifications required for a Pilates instructor can help you begin your journey in this career. In this article, we describe what a Pilates instructor is, provide steps on how to become a Pilates instructor, outline key skills for the role, explore some career opportunities and highlight their benefits.

What is a Pilates instructor?

A Pilates instructor is an individual who teaches clients how to execute different exercises and stretching techniques effectively and safely. Pilates instructors use equipment such as a mat, Reformer, Wunda Chair, Cadillac, magic circle and a ladder barrel. Instructors work in private gyms and fitness centres, leisure centres or their own studios. They teach various types of Pilates, which include:

  • Classical Pilates: This type of Pilates involves using a mat and other apparatus in a specific sequence with transitions between exercises to give the entire exercise a seamless flow. This is the original form of Pilates invented by Joseph Pilates to achieve coordination of the mind, body and spirit.

  • Mat Pilates: This type of Pilates is suitable for beginners as it focuses on fundamental techniques and requires only a mat. It's beneficial for strengthening several muscle groups, including back muscles, shoulders and upper body and pelvic floor muscles.

  • Contemporary Pilates: This is a modification of classical Pilates that accommodates the clients' abilities. It's useful for clients undergoing rehabilitation and pre-and post-natal clients.

  • Reformer Pilates: This type of Pilates uses a Reformer machine, which increases resistance to the exercises. It helps increase stamina, strength and flexibility.

  • Clinical Pilates: This type of Pilates involves working with clients who have injuries. It focuses on athletes or dancers with injuries and pre and postnatal clients.

Related: Personal trainer certification: types and requirements

How to become a Pilates instructor

To learn how to become a Pilates instructor, you may want to research the relevant qualifications and skills required and the various job duties. This can help you decide if this is the right career for you. Here are seven steps you can take to become a Pilates instructor:

1. Take Pilates classes

You can begin your journey by signing up for Pilates classes. Try to take classes in different studios and observe similarities in how Pilates instructors do their job. Attending Pilates classes can show you what to expect during your training and give you an idea of what the job entails.

2. Learn the job duties of a Pilates instructor

Learning the daily job duties of a Pilates instructor can show you what to expect when you begin your career in this field. Their job duties may vary depending on whether they work as freelancers or employees. Some of their job duties include:

  • evaluating clients' health during the first session

  • scheduling and teaching Pilates classes

  • customising Pilates classes to fit clients' abilities and goals

  • ensuring clients' safety and well-being during exercises

  • updating client records

  • managing the finances and other administrative aspects of their studios

  • training future Pilates instructors

Related: How to become a fitness instructor

3. Apply for training

There are several ways you can get training to become a Pilates instructor. You can apply for various diplomas and apprenticeships to give you training while on the job. These courses teach anatomy, physiology, safety and care and practical skills such as planning, adapting and evaluating clients. It can take up to 24 months to complete training. Consider applying for diplomas accredited by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA). These courses include:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Instructing Pilates Matwork

  • Level 3 Diploma in Pilates Teaching

  • Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Pilates Matwork to Adults, Children and Pre and Post Natal Clients

  • Level 4 Certificate in Instructing Pilates Matwork

Related: How to become a Zumba instructor (with steps and skills)

4. Join professional organisations

You can join professional organisations such as CIMSPA after completing accredited courses. Being part of a professional organisation can allow you to network with other Pilates instructors, share new skills and find job opportunities. It can also help you get continuing professional development (CPD), which involves staying updated on Pilates techniques and learning new techniques by attending seminars and workshops.

5. Update your CV

A CV is a brief document that summarises your skills, qualifications and work experiences related to your career. Updating your CV to include current qualifications and recent work experiences is important. This allows hiring directors to view your credentials and may improve your chance of employment.

Related: How to create a personal trainer CV (with example)

6. Start teaching

You can begin teaching Pilates after receiving accreditation from CIMSPA. Consider searching for job opportunities at fitness centres, leisure centres or with private clients. This work experience exposes you to different clients, which can help you specialise in a specific area, such as teaching Pilates to athletes with sports injuries. It also allows you to improve your skills and connect with other Pilates instructors.

Related: How much does a fitness instructor make and what do they do?

7. Open your practice

You can consider opening a Pilates practice after gaining some experience. Opening your practice may allow you to tailor programmes to individuals or groups with specific goals. You can open a practice independently or collaborate with other instructors and individuals in similar fields, such as yoga teachers and personal trainers.

Key skills for a Pilates instructor

Here are some key skills for a Pilates instructor:

  • Physical fitness: It's important for a Pilates instructor to be physically fit to keep up with the different techniques. You can improve your physical fitness by regularly practising the exercises and stretches you teach clients.

  • Technical skills: These are the skills you learn during your training sessions. They include knowing how to perform exercises that include the different apparatus used in Pilates.

  • Attention to detail: Attention to detail can allow you to observe clients' techniques and correct them if necessary. This skill can also help you perform administrative duties such as financial management while working as a freelance Pilates instructor.

  • Communication: It's helpful for a Pilates instructor to have communication skills. You can use these skills to give clients instructions on different exercises.

  • Creativity: Being creative can allow you to develop unique programmes for clients who have specific goals.

  • Interpersonal skills: These skills can help you form good relationships with your clients and increase client retention. They can also help you interact with clients with different backgrounds.

  • Motivational skills: Knowing how to motivate your clients during Pilates classes can help them meet their goals.

Related: 11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

Benefits of becoming a Pilates instructor

Here are some benefits of becoming a Pilates instructor:

Enjoy a flexible work schedule

Working as a Pilates instructor can allow you to have a flexible schedule. If you work as a freelance instructor, you can set your own schedules and create unique programmes for clients. Pilates instructors can work 32 to 34 hours a week. This can allow you more time to pursue other goals and pastimes.

Take care of your physical and mental wellness

Training and practising exercise and stretching techniques can help you maintain a high level of physical fitness. It can improve your posture and core strength. You may also experience lower stress and anxiety levels as you train and teach clients.

Achieve job satisfaction

Pilates instructors help many individuals with injuries or people who want to improve their physical strength and flexibility. Seeing clients achieve their goals can give you job satisfaction. You may also feel satisfied pursuing a career that's also a passion.

Career opportunities for a Pilates instructor

There are several career opportunities available to you as a Pilates instructor. These opportunities can increase your skills and experience, which can help you develop as an instructor. Career opportunities for a Pilates instructor include:

  • working in fitness or leisure centres

  • teaching Pilates at private health clubs and gyms as a freelancer

  • working with specific groups such as injured athletes and dancers

  • teaching clients privately on a one-on-one basis

  • working with pre-natal and post-natal clients

  • training new Pilates instructors

  • offering Pilates classes at holiday resorts and cruises

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles