I am often asked by those thinking of becoming a Pilates instructor what the career path is. Can you make a living teaching? Where do you teach? Many are worried they are too old to start a new career or that they don’t have enough experience to teach Pilates. When I dove into my Pilates teacher training, I actually had no career path vision. I know that might sound odd, especially if you know me. I am a visionary, a dreamer, and a doer. But I loved Pilates from my first 100 and didn’t really think of it as more than a passion. When I began my teacher training, I was hoping to teach part time, just so I could pay for my personal Pilates obsession. I then found myself on a career path that I didn’t even know existed!
In my book and a recent blog post “To Own or to Rent” I covered all the places you could teach Pilates. You can rent, own, teach in homes, and/or work for a studio. However, while these are all things you can do as a Pilates instructor to make your living, it doesn’t really answer the question, “What does a career as Pilates instructor look like?”
The truth is the answer is not super black or white. A Pilates instructor’s career path isn’t as laid as out as say, a Lawyer, Doctor, or insert “normal” job here. While this can be frustrating and ambiguous, it is also freeing and exciting. You can do whatever you can dream up as a Pilates instructor. You can go big, you can go small – you can even change your mind. You can travel and then stop. You could go corporate or private. Will it be easy? No, but if it’s what you want to do, it will be worth it. When you enter the Pilates instructor journey, your age and background are not obstacles in your way nor are they things that put you at a disadvantage. They are all unique qualities that you get to bring into your teaching. All paths start in a different place. Wherever you are in your life when you decide to become an instructor is a great place to be. The best thing you can do is make sure you pick the right program to give you the strongest foundation to start your journey. If you have already made a selection and are still hoping to figure out where your journey can go – that is great!
Here are a few examples of paths a Pilates instructor can take:
Path 1 example: Retail Store manager – Apprentice – Instructor – Studio Manager – Teacher Trainer – Instructor/Coach
As you complete your training, the path of least resistance would be to get a job teaching at the same studio where you completed your apprenticeship. If that’s not an option, then it’s either find another studio looking for a teacher or start a studio yourself. Most find a job teaching at another studio, and they are on the path of teaching there as long as they want to. This is the path I found myself on. After I completed my program, I was not able to teach at the studio where I trained. However, I was lucky to find a studio to rent and a company to work for as a Pilates instructor. In just a few months I found myself managing a Pilates studio. From there I began managing multiple studios and became a Pilates teacher trainer. Then after seven years working for a company teaching, managing, and coaching, I stepped away and now teach at one studio, lead retreats, and coach instructors.
Path 2 example: Apprentice – Home studio owner/teacher – Apprentice-Teacher/Teacher Trainer – Workshop presenter
A friend of mine studied under one teacher and became a teacher (this was before programs were really popular,) then she began teaching out of her own home. After a couple years running her own business, she moved so she could study under another Pilates elder. Afterwards, she found herself back in her hometown, but this time teaching at a studio as a teacher and teacher trainer. She now teaches and leads workshops all over the world.
Path 3 example: Group Fitness instructor – Apprentice – Studio Teacher – Renter – Studio Owner
I met an incredible group fitness instructor a couple years ago. She was on the top of her game teaching group classes; however, she knew that her days of running all over town were coming to a close. She needed something that would be more sustainable. She went through a comprehensive program and became a Pilates instructor. She worked for a studio, then she left to rent space closer to home, and now she has opened her own studio.
I could go on for days with examples of other successful Pilates instructors I have met over the years. Their paths were not so obvious when they started, but they are exactly what they wanted and needed them to be. If you are wondering what your path is (or could be), then let’s talk. I would love to hear about your Pilates career path. You can comment below or keep it private and contact me here. The beauty of being a great Pilates instructor is that there is a path for you, no matter where your journey takes you!