How to Find a Pilates Teacher for You (a Teacher)

Awhile back I wrote about the importance of “maintaining your own Pilates practice.” When I first became a Pilates instructor my personal practice was necessary to help me be a better teacher. To feel how cues from my teacher felt in my own body. I would come early and watch her teach the person before me and if I could I would stay late. Many of us may find that we can continue taking Pilates from our teacher trainers. And, yet, there are still many teachers who find themselves off on their own, working hard to grow their Pilates business and due to location and time cannot get to their original Pilates instructors.The other day I was talking with a Pilates instructor from out of town. Where he lived there weren’t many instructors with more experience than him. He would take classes from the teachers who worked at his studio or online but he didn’t have an instructor that he regularly saw that was helping his own personal Pilates practice grow.  He needed to find a Pilates instructor that would challenge him, a teacher for teachers.

So, how do you find a Pilates instructor for yourself? 

Last week over at my Pilates teaching website I gave some tips for Pilates practitioners to find the best instructor for them. As well all know a quick Google search can give you more than you were looking for. And, while all those tips apply here for you. There are also some key things I think are important for a Pilates teacher looking for their own Pilates teacher.

  1. Get Referrals: Talk to your original Pilates teacher trainer and see if they have any advice for whom you should continue to learn from.
  2. Who trained whom: If you love the way your original teachers taught you Pilates who taught them? Do they have a Skype opportunity, workshop or master training you can take to continue to grow?
  3. Use the Online options: Binge out on classes (use LLOGAN for a 30-day free trial) and see what instructors really speak to you and your body. Then connect with them. Can you take a Pilates vacation and meet them, take a class or workshop?
  4. Get tech savvy: So the teacher doesn’t live near you? So what! A camera on your phone or laptop with some blue tooth earbuds will do just the trick! Sure, you miss the touch aspect of Pilates but, when you take away one sensory the other ones are enlightened. Seriously, if you are blindfolded your hearing and sense of smell begin to work harder. The clients and teachers I teach via skype/facetime all find that they are more focused during our sessions because they cannot just look at me and tell me about their day in footwork. They would have to turn their head awkwardly to see the camera and chit-chat. And, for me as their teacher, I have to watch more and be as creative as I can with my words to get them to feel what I want them to connect to our change.
  5. Go to Pilates conferences: Take workshops and sessions from as many different teachers as possible. You will find so many amazing instructors at the Pilates Method Alliance, Momentum Fest, and any other Pilates conference you can find. Sure, you have to travel to go to these but one, it’s a write off so do it! Two, continuing education is key for staying inspired and growing your skills to retain your clients. Three, networking is essential for feeling like you are not alone and for getting ideas on what to do or not to do in your Pilates business. I’ll be at both the PMA gathering in October and teaching at Momentum Fest in June (use momentumlesley to save $)! So, come and introduce yourself and share what teachers you want to try to get more Pilates in your body with.
  6. Get a coach: Contact me or another life coach to help you figure out what you need in choosing a teacher that is right for you. It’s essential that your Pilates instructor inspire you as much as they challenge you. That you are not just another hour in their day but someone they are passing the torch to. That they are dedicated to you growing as a teacher and a Pilates practitioner.
  7. Change is ok: Sometimes we find we are going in a different direction. Or, maybe you teach a special population of clients but you are not that population. You need a teacher whose niche is YOU! It’s ok to need a different set of skills. In my teaching journey after being an apprentice, I switched from the teacher who helped me learn all the exercises I needed to do my program to a woman who used to be a teacher trainer for the same program. Then from her due to our schedules not vibing I switched to the woman she was taking from, Sandy Shimoda. And now, I take from her and her team at Vintage.

When I talk about living part-time in one country and part-time in LA I’ll admit at first I was like “what am I going to do for my Pilates?!” And then I laughed out loud! I’ll do what I do now. Take from my teachers who challenge me via the web when I’m away and in person when I am not.

I know you are probably doing an amazing job teaching yourself, taking classes with others or even online with me and my mat classes. But, it’s so important that you have regular Pilates sessions that are just about YOU! Now that I have convinced you of that here are a few things to keep in mind when doing your search.

Tips on what to look for in a Pilates teacher for yourself:

  1. They challenge you
  2. The Pilates instructor is focused on you and not talking Pilates biz during your session
  3. They remember what cues work for you and where your weaknesses are
  4. They have a teacher who challenges them.
  5. They never stop learning
  6. They hold you accountable
  7. They don’t let you take yourself too seriously

Your Pilates practice not only helps you stay connected to your mind, body, and soul. It helps you move. You became a Pilates instructor because you loved the way you felt, you loved the movements and wanted to share them with everyone else. Maintaining your practice is always a challenge. It’s so easy to cancel our own Pilates workout to make room for another client. But, when you have a teacher who is expecting you to show up and workout you will not only do it you will continue to be able to hold your clients accountable, stay inspired and grow.

If you already have regular sessions with your own instructor congrats! I’d love to hear what it is you love about taking Pilates with them. You can comment below or simply send them a message letting them know how much they mean to you. If you are feeling blue because you don’t have a teacher yet that does what I said above then feel free to reach out. Let’s find out what you’re looking for and how we can find you the perfect teacher. I’m happy to be your Pilates teacher matchmaker!

But, no matter how busy your studio is, no matter how little time you think you have or how much money you think you don’t have your Pilates sessions will pay you back tenfold over and over again!




How to Find the Best Pilates Job for You

This week I am excited to introduce you to Pilates instructor and Teacher Trainer Rebecca Sirkel. Last year when I put a call out to allow guest bloggers for this year Rebecca jumped at the chance to tell her story. If you are a new instructor wondering what path to choose or if you have been teaching for a while and wondering if it’s time for a change or to continue rocking your path I think Rebecca’s piece will give you comfort in your decision.

When I first started teaching Pilates, I was already employed at Bally Total Fitness as a Personal Trainer. The company offered the Personal Trainers and Group Exercise staff an opportunity to do a weekend training in Pilates on the Balanced Body Allegro Reformers. It was a quick tutorial on how to do very safe, very simple Pilates movements on the most versatile piece of Pilates equipment. I loved it from the beginning and started teaching some of my existing clients the new method. I began intentionally putting my attention on Pilates and steering away from Personal Training. There was limited space in the club, and we were forced to share the spinning studio. After every Pilates class was over, we had to lift the reformers onto the wheel end and stack them against the walls out of the way of the spinning bikes. It was not an ideal situation, and when the program grew in popularity, management decided we needed a Pilates studio and ultimately converted the small employee break room into our new studio. I got dirty looks from many of the trainers who subsequently had to eat their lunch in a very dark closet in the back of the gym where maintenance kept all their equipment. Eventually, I decided I needed an upgrade in both my studio space and my Pilates training. I was craving more space, more knowledge on different apparatus and a chance to be my own boss.

I found a studio, we will call studio #1, with an owner who would allow me to rent the space without a real Pilates certification and a promise that I was going to pursue a Comprehensive training program. I found a perfect fit for me at classical training program with Power Pilates at a studio; we will call studio # 2. Once I finished the program, I was asked to continue as part of the staff and taught there under the guidance of my mentors Alicia and Doug Zabrocki. I taught at both studios for a year until the owners of Studio # 2, decided to move back to Chicago at which time I went to teaching full time at Studio # 1. Teaching at both studios gave me a chance to see what I really appreciated about both settings and what I needed to find to be happy teaching for years to come. That place did not exist until about four years ago when a fellow teacher from studio #1 who was also trained with Power Pilates at Studio # 2, opened her own studio where I teach full time now.

5 Tips to help you Find your Happy Teaching Place:

Number One: Gather information. Leave no rug unturned. Write out a list of all the places that offer Pilates in your nearby radius depending on how far away you are willing to travel. Check into every place online including, Pilates/yoga studios, health clubs, wellness centers, spas, schools, physical therapy/medical offices, and community centers. Look through websites as if you were a prospective client and were shopping for a place to work out. This will give you a lot of insight as to how much business is likely to come your way.

Number Two: Investigate Options. Once you have gathered all the information you can with your internet search, call all potentials on the phone and let them know you are considering them as a place to set up shop. Tell the studio owner/Health Club Manager/Physical Therapist, etc. what you like about their business.

Ask the following questions:

1) Will I be an employee or an independent contractor if I decide to teach at your business?
2) Will I be expected to build my own client base or will you provide me, new clients?
3) If an employee, how much do you pay per session? Private/Semi-Private/Group/Mat class?
4) If an independent contractor, how much do you require for rent? Do I pay a percentage of my sessions or will I pay a flat rate fee for the renting the space?
5) Do you have a non-compete clause in your Independent contract/employee contract?
6) What is your policy on training friends/family? Can they work out for free or a discounted rate?
7) If an employee, what are the benefits? If Independent contractor, do you pay for any continuing education or provide any sales incentives?

Number Three: Talk Shop. If possible, talk to other Pilates staff at the prospective place and try to get a feel for how things are flowing. Ask questions like, “How long have you taught here? And “How often do you receive new clients?” as well as “Is your schedule full?” The people who already teach there will likely be more transparent on the vibe and whether you might enjoy the teaching environment. Sometimes other teachers can make you love or hate your job!

Number Four: Make your pros/cons list. Now that you have a good amount of information write out the things that are most important to you. For instance, pay rate, teaching environment, Pilates apparatus, employee benefits/sales incentives, and distance from home are factors to consider. Use this information to create your chart of all potential workplaces and what they offer. You may find it easy to decide when you see it on paper, but chances are you already know the answer.

Number Five: Set up the Interview. Now that you have narrowed it down to two or maybe three potential workplaces send your resume out to studio owners, Health Club Managers, etc. If you don’t hear back within a day, call to check the resume was received and set up an interview. In my experience, after your initial interview, you will typically be asked to come back and teach a full or mini Pilates session as this will give your prospective employer a better idea of your teaching style beyond your Pilates training background.

In the end, you should pick one place that gives you an opportunity to grow as a teacher and simultaneously allows you to create relationships with clients whether you want to be full or part time. The good news is, Pilates teachers are in high demand, and you may have more than one offer. Ultimately, I would recommend going with your gut once you have done all your homework. Following your instincts can go a long way to carving the right path to your future in the world of Pilates.

~Rebecca Sirkel

Power Pilates Teacher Trainer 

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Thank you, Rebecca, and thank you all for reading. Feel free to comment below with any questions or compliments. Also, please take the time to connect with Rebecca with her handles above. Tell us, what was your Pilates career path? Are you where you want to be? What questions do you have? You can comment below or for a private conversation connect with me here.