Finding Pilates Teachers for Your Pilates Studio

One of the most common questions I get is where do I find teachers for my studio? Or, sometimes it is not even a question, it’s a statement “there are no Pilates instructors in my area.” So, to help you all find the right teachers for your Pilates studio I am bringing in a fabulous Pilates instructor in her own right, a studio owner with her own teacher training program and ideas to help you studio owners find teachers for your studio! Here she is, Washington Avenue Pilates studio owner Hilary Opheim!


Are you a Pilates studio owner? Are you finding you have no time to do all that you need to do? Answering emails, returning calls, marketing, and all the studio business you have to take care of daily? Are you losing the passion that brought you not only to Pilates but, to opening up your own Pilates studio? Do you wonder where are the Pilates teachers you need? Do you have time for your own clients or even your own Pilates practice? Are you spending time and money trying to get teachers to cover for evenings and weekends or subbing? Can you even think of workshops and getting some continuing education now?

Owning and running a Pilates studio is not what I first envisioned when my doors first opened to clients. I didn’t realize that it would be so much more than just teaching Pilates to my clients and getting them in the door.  Soon I found that I was teaching Pilates to the point of possible burnout, paying bills and dealing with all the daily studio business such as marketing, apparatus maintenance, my schedule at the studio and trying to have a personal life.  My day did not begin with my first client and then end with my last. I no longer had weekends off, even if I had no clients. I found myself on a computer, on the phone and my husband wondering when would I have free time?

He was right! I found that I was having no time for me, no time to spend quality time with my husband, family, and friends. Even when I was away from the studio the work was always there. Emails to answer, text to answer, calls to return. Bills, studio business that you don’t think of when you decide to open a studio. All of this on top of my teaching was eating all the hours in my day, week and months. I found it was harder to find good teachers to help with the load at the studio than I imagined it would be. Soon I realized my passion for Pilates was getting eaten away with the hours of teaching, the running of the business and no time to recharge, breathe or even get my Pilates in for me. Vacations? Workshops? What? Even if I got away I  still was having to do the same work just not teaching clients. I was finding my mood was not what it used to be when I got to the studio or when I was at home that night.

I was losing my passion that led me to teach Pilates. I had no resource to help me with all of this. What should I do? Does this sound familiar to you?  

If only I had known then what I know now! What if I  I had been given a resource to help and guide me so that I would have not had to go through all the years of more work and energy and less joy in the studio. That it was easier than it was for me to get my studio running with good teachers so I could enjoy the work of teaching again. Focus on things I needed to and not be overwhelmed.

Do you find that this is happening to you? Maybe on a lesser scale or maybe a larger scale? Do you not have that extra money to get your Pilates workout in for you? Are you thinking how do I get back to the passion that led me down this path? Most importantly where are those Pilates teacher’s to help you with all those clients and give you that time?

Here are 3 things suggestions I have that you can do today to change that for you!

  1.  Talk to Teacher Training Programs in your area and see if they have any graduates they would recommend. If there are Programs or Schools in your area that you connect with in terms of teaching style, syllabus, what they cover in the program and you need now this is a great option for you!
  2.  Put the word out and see if anyone going through training would like to do an Apprenticeship at your studio. That way they can see how your studio runs, your clientele and you can see how they teach and their work ethic.
  3. Bring in a Teacher Training Program like mine. It doesn’t cost you the studio owner anything, everything needed is supplied such as manuals, homework, quizzes and more. You will be able to observe and see the teachers as they go through training at your studio.

~Hilary Opheim

Hilary has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years, and after a knee injury, she found Pilates. She immediately fell in love with classical Pilates and trained in Houston with John Gossett. Hilary taught in various clubs and the studio’s around Houston as well as managing and building a Pilates studio within the University Club where she was the Group Fitness Director for over 10 years. In 2005 wanting a studio that supported and had a positive effect on both teachers and clients she opened up WAPilates in Houston. The studio grew and moved to progressively larger studios until settling in the Art District of Houston. In keeping with her positive energy and passion for Pilates, she developed WAPilates Teacher Training Program, which is a PSAP Approved School and continues to share her passion with those who want to become teachers. She studied with Benjamin Degenhardt and his 360 Pilates Program, which is an immersion into the Traditional Pilates Method. In 2017 she was one of the Top 10 Finalist for the Next Pilates Anytime Teacher Competition.

 

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Pilates Instructor?

So, you’re thinking about becoming a Pilates Instructor! Yay, that’s amazing and I’m super stoked for you. When I first set out to become a Pilates instructor I remember looking at all the workshop dates, apprentice hours and meetings. I remember thinking “wow, 600 hours and in nine months!” I was excited and overwhelmed. I worked a full-time job managing a retail store across town. But, I wanted to become an instructor. So, I buckled down and fit those hours in between every free moment I had. One of the questions I get a lot is how to become a Pilates instructor and how long does it take to become an instructor? When I was a teacher trainer many students would base their choice on the program I taught for based on the length of time it took to become a Pilates instructor.

Now that I have been teaching Pilates ten years and have gone through three training experiences I can say I’m so happy my first program took as long as it took. In fact, one of the reasons I did a second training program was because I felt I needed more information. I had a strong foundation but I just felt I needed more time with people who had been teachers decades longer.

When I wrote my book Profitable Pilates: Everything but the Exercises I spent a whole chapter on how to choose a program, questions to ask each program and why the apprentice hours are so important to your success as an instructor. Learning the exercises, the steps, the reps, orders, safety’s etc is the easy part. Learning to teach, to see and to understand the depth of the work is something that only time in the Pilates method can do.

If you’re in the program decision stage I recommend my free course on “How to become a Pilates Instructor” and my ebook. It’s filled with tips for choosing the program that is the right fit for you! Every program out there has its own set of requirements, apprentice hours, timeline and prices. Before you pick your program take a look at the experience and wisdom about program lengths from some of my favorite Pilates instructors in this world!

Anula Maiberg – Sixth Street Pilates– “Probably a year. I had one pilates cert that took about a year. And one a bit under. So I’d be super happy if the min. requirement was a year. If that could be upheld somehow.”

Jenna Zaffino – Move From the Heart– “I’ve taken two, full comprehensive programs. The first was as an apprenticeship and took a little over a year to complete the training and then I tested out within the first 6 months of completing the study. The second was done long distance. I traveled between 2004 and 2008 to complete my training with Ron Fletcher. Much of my learning was a self-study situation. In my opinion, the longer the program, the better, but I understand the need to begin to make $$. I would love to see a program be 1.5 years where the teacher begins to teach beginning level students after 6 months, continues their practice and teaching for the duration of the year and then has regular check-in educational sessions for 6 months following their graduation.”

Julie Driver- Julie Driver Pilates – “Becoming an instructor isn’t a finite destination, It’s a journey with many defining moments along the way. I still consider myself a student, I’ve had the privilege of working with generous teachers who have shared their knowledge and work with me along my path.  Without continued education throughout our career, we can lose our way and our own passion for teaching.” 

Jessica Valant- Jessica Valant Pilates – “I support the 450-hour requirement of PMA because I feel that’s a good general starting point for a program (to give them guidance). I also agree year minimum – I think that gives students a chance to complete all the required hours and teaching and observing without putting pressure on them to do it too fast.  Another perspective – I’ve had students take too LONG. Meaning they do their classroom work and then take two to three years to do the required hours while putting off the test. They end up losing accountability and develop their own style which is good but also hard when they are then required to test on one specific program. I think it would be nice to have more one-on-one throughout the program so that getting in is a little harder and people have more commitment to finishing.”

Carrie Pages- Carrie Pages Pilates– “Mine was a full year and levels I-V. Obscene amounts of anatomy, gobs of hours, etc. I wouldn’t change it for anything and I loved every freaking second and bit of it. I was also 19 and waiting tables and working the front desk of the Pilates studio. When I started my program I basically modeled it the way I was trained. I taught it that way for about 4 years and then I thought “there had to be another way”. Sooooo I broke the program into 3 parts. First, the mat training where I basically am scoping out who would be a good candidate for the Full Apparatus. It’s two weekends and 50 hours. Then the full apparatus (levels I-III only). It’s 5 weekends. Then after at least a year of teaching or more, I do a level IV-V intensive weekend. It followed by more personal practice and more observation. Once all of that’s done you’ve got 450 hours. I’ve been super pleased with the layout. The students aren’t tripping out over how to teach the rowings but can focus on how to teach the exercises they’re actually going to teach on a regular basis. Depending on the person it may take them a few years to do it all but it is so much better than slamming them with Control Arabesque in their 5 months of training!”

Cloe BunterBreathe Education– “”Firstly, I need to start by saying that is a really hard question to answer! I’m six years in and sometimes it feels like it’s all just brand new again! And perhaps there is the bigger question of the definition between instructor and teacher? A Certificate IV in Pilates, which will enable you to instruct group Reformer and Mat classes to relatively healthy clients, can be completed in approximately six months if you are really consistent with your placement hours, however realistically may take nine to twelve months to complete your practicum dependent on other life commitments. To do a full certification Cert IV plus a Clinical Diploma in Pilates which qualifies you to teach on all apparatus and work with injured clients will realistically take you closer to 18months to complete. I think it’s important for new instructors fresh out of their course to realise that it is from there, in the real word, that the learning really begins and to not expect to know everything and be a master as soon as they complete their course. What I will say is that the learning process should NEVER end. I encourage all instructors to actively seek out continued education both formal and informal. Pilates Anytime, workshops, online tutorials etc. Keep up to date with the latest research in movement and pain so you can best serve your clients and industry. We are so fortunate in this day and age of social media that there are so many incredible resources just there waiting for you to read and discuss them with your peers.”. ”

As you can see the length of time varies greatly depending on your program and YOU! Some programs training weekends might only be over the course of 6 months but the hours can take you another 6 months to a year to complete. My advice is to be consistent, do not let a week go by that you don’t take a lesson and teach a fellow apprentice. Chip away at the hours and be as curious as you can be. You won’t know it all at the end but the more you desire to learn the more you will know when you are done and you’ll have a foundation that will set you up for the years of teaching ahead. The beautiful thing about teaching Pilates is that you will always be learning, always be a student. There is no need to rush the training experience. For more information on the career path of a Pilates instructor read this blog post. We also have great tips on becoming an instructor in this blog post and one more for good measure here.

As always if you have questions or comments you can post them below or contact me here.

Happy Pilates school hunting! It’s a journey, not a race so take the time it takes to learn and grow.  In the end, most clients won’t care where you went to training but they will care how you make them feel and the benefits of working with you.

xx~LL