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Thu 2nd Nov 2017

Why Finding a Properly Qualified Pilates Instructor Really Matters

With over 70 organisations in the UK offering Pilates Instructor courses and no regulatory body in existence, finding a suitably qualified Pilates Teacher can be a bit of a minefield. In this article, we’ve picked it all apart to provide some clarity, whilst suggesting a few pointers to help you find the best Pilates teacher for you.

Why You Need A Properly Qualified Pilates Teacher

In a Pilates class, you are putting your well-being and safety in the hands of someone else. Pilates is a deep system that works both on your body and your mind. So, you definitely need to find a teacher that is trustworthy, but who is properly qualified, skilled and experienced.

It’s also worth mentioning here that Pilates is hugely popular - so some gyms and fitness instructors may look for a shortcut to be able to use the name ‘Pilates’. That can’t be a good thing for you and your well-being

So Many Routes to “Qualification” - Which Ones Are the Best?

Not all qualifications are what they seem. Across the country, and online, you’ll find close to eighty organisations offering training courses qualifying people as Pilates Teachers. With so many routes to qualification and a huge variation in the standards for that qualification, it’s no wonder finding a suitably qualified teacher can be confusing.

We’ve identified three main types of qualification to make choosing a teacher straightforward and clear:

  1. Qualifications that are gained after a comprehensive, safe and professional training
  2. Qualifications that are reasonably ok, but may fall short in some key areas
  3. Qualifications that seem to be inadequate, lack training hours and may be unsafe

1. Qualifications that are gained after a comprehensive, safe and professional training

In the UK, many professional Pilates Teachers go through an in-depth training course which includes hundreds of hours of training time. In addition to studying with the aid of a thoroughly written course handbook and many hours of teacher training, these qualifications come with a commitment to ongoing training and a membership of a professional organisation.

You could say these types of training courses are comprehensive, include enough training hours and equip teachers to teach safely and well. They normally cost between £3000 and £5000 (just to be able to teach Pilates Mat Classes) - so they are a financial and time commitment for those enrolling in them.

Out of the seventy-plus courses in the UK there are three leading organisations that provide this type of qualification for Pilates teachers. Namely, they are:

There will be other organisations (especially internationally) that offer comprehensive training but we think these three organisations offer the best.

2. Qualifications that are reasonably ok, but may fall short in some key areas

In the middle of these three groups are the qualifications gained by teachers who may have a qualification within another discipline, but have decided to do a Pilates training as a ‘bolt-on’ to their existing discipline.

Although there may be some merit with this kind of qualification, it will not have the depth of some other training courses - mainly due to the amount of hours needed to qualify and the lack of actual contact time with qualified facilitators. Some such qualifications may even be attainable with a weekend course - which is hardly enough time to cover the depth needed.

This type of training may have a decent handbook, some contact hours and at least some commitment to further training, but it is more than likely to lead to under-experienced teachers working with class-goers and the watering down of many of the techniques and skills needed to teach Pilates well. That also means less of the benefits and a potential lack of detail for the student.

Typically these qualifications cost a few hundred pound to complete, may have an online component but will usually include a few days of actual training time.

Compared to more comprehensive routes to attaining a qualification, these courses can be a short-cut for some gyms and instructors wishing to jump on the Pilates ‘bandwagon’.

3. Qualifications that seem to be inadequate, lack training hours and may be unsafe

Amongst all of the ‘qualified’ teachers out there, some are best avoided. During our research for this article, we found online qualifications available for £16 and others that were based on one-day courses or were exclusively online.

For such a physical discipline, any online training can only be inadequate and one-day courses for something as exacting and deeply physiological can’t possibly be comprehensive. If you find a teacher that has this type of qualification, we’d recommend that you avoid their classes - even if they are well-meaning.

What To Look For When Choosing a Teacher

In addition to asking your prospective teacher how they gained their qualification, it’s also important to go with your gut feeling when choosing a class. However, here are a few questions we think are important:

  • Were the qualifications held by your teacher or prospective teacher gained after an in-depth training course?
  • Does the teacher seem to know what they are doing and are they teaching safely?
  • Are the classes small or are they too large to provide personalised teaching?
  • How does the teacher respond to questions prior to enrollment? Are they defensive or open?

Pilates South West classes are all taught by suitably qualified Pilates teachers with a comprehensive training behind them. If you have any questions about our teachers and the classes we teach, call us on 07773 645 748.