Have you ever asked your Pilates instructor about their qualifications? There aren’t any standards of education for a Pilates instructor and it isn’t regulated in Australia. Potential instructors can obtain a certificate to be a Pilates instructor with as little as 30-40 hours of training. Safety in the studio is the number one priority and a lack of professional qualifications puts you at risk of injury.
Teaching Pilates is more complex than learning the choreography for an exercise and knowing when to breathe. Thirty to forty hours of training is insufficient to learn 100 or more exercises with any in depth knowledge of how to instruct and program each exercise.
Teaching Pilates effectively requires:
- knowledge of anatomy and physiology
- knowing the goal of each exercise
- deciding who should or shouldn’t do each exercise
- knowing how to build a full program of exercises to achieve the goal of the class
- understanding how to progress each exercise to make it more challenging
- understanding how to modify each exercise to make it less challenging and more achievable for a client
- creativity to vary exercises to create variety but still achieve the intended goal.
And the most important skill of all is being able to ‘read a body’. What does that mean? It means being able to assess the movement patterns of the client in front of you. It is then using that assessment to provide specific, personal instructions for the client to deepen their understanding and performance of an exercise. Learning to ‘read a body’ is one of the hardest skills that you can learn as a Pilates instructor and it takes hours and hours of practice. It also means teaching as many people as possible.
Fitness Australia recently released draft guidelines for registering Pilates instructors under their registration framework. It is critical that anyone teaching Pilates obtains an appropriate level of qualification, however their guidelines only require 30 hours of training. The Pilates Alliance of Australasia (PAA) and Australian Pilates Method Association are two professional Pilates bodies who work to create standards for Pilates instructors to work safely with clients. If you are interested in their feedback on the draft guidelines, you can read their response here: https://pilatesallianceaustralasia.cmail19.com/t/t-l-xcjil…/
Always look for an instructor who has had to undergo rigorous training to obtain their qualifications – even if they are a physio, exercise physiologist or a PT. Without those qualifications, they are teaching Pilates exercises, they aren’t teaching Pilates (yep, there’s a difference).
I hold a Diploma of Professional Pilates Instruction, which involved over 1,000 hours of work experience, course work and Pilates practice. I frequently attend workshops and I have weekly sessions with my mentor, who has almost 20 years experience teaching Pilates.
Finding an instructor with credible qualifications is worth the effort.