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The Training of a Pilates Instructor

There are many organizations that are training Pilates instructors, with more developing all the time, but how do we know if they are reputable and have a good quality training program.

Organizations are usually referred to as Classical Pilates or Contemporary Pilates. Classical Pilates teaches exactly the way Joseph did. Contemporary Pilates is based on Joseph’s teachings, but has also researched what we have learned about our body over the years and applies the principles of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology.

STOTT PILATES ® began their first original Studio in Toronto in 1988. Moira Merrithew and Lindsey Merrithew began to manufacture professional Pilates equipment in 1993, with their education program following in 1995 and their video line launched in 1997. Their resources today are unbelievable. They now market six different reformers, over 70 video titles for professionals and the general public and multiple solutions for merchandising. This is in addition to their many intense training courses and variety of continuing education workshops. There are over 50 STOTT licensed training centers in the world and almost as many host facilities.

STOTT has a more contemporary, very thorough and high quality education program. They have an Intensive Program, geared to those already working in the fitness field and a Comprehensive Program, with more required hours for those new to the fitness field. All programs have lecture, observation, practice teaching and physical review hours. Stott is very hands-on in instruction and practice hours. Intensive Mat Plus requires a minimum of 95 hours, Intensive Reformer requires 125 hours as does Intensive Cadillac, Chair and Barrels (CCB). Comprehensive Mat and Reformer is a total of 310 hours and the Comprehensive CCB is a required 165 hours. Three other programs offered by STOTT are Advanced, Rehabilitation and Group SPX. In order to become STOTT certified, there is a written and practical cumulative exam upon completion.

The PhysicalMind Institute was developed in 1991 by Joan Breibart. It is also a very comprehensive training program. The PhysicalMind Institute states on their website, “Although we teach the original classic exercises, we don’t believe that any set exercise routine is appropriate for today’s bodies.” The classical approach still uses a set routine of exercises in each workout. This organization has also evolved with research on the body. Their education is taken from what they call the “three-dimensional connection” which has come from a physical therapist, Marika Molnar in 2002. The concept includes pelvic floor initiation, fewer flexion exercises, more extension exercises with a workout feel focusing on internal connections, smoothness and ease of movement.

The mat training includes two weekend courses, with one covering the standing exercises. The equipment training is a 10-week course of 285 hours required, not including 165 hours of teaching after the course. A written and practical exam is required 9-12 months after completion of the 10-week course. Hours during the course include observation, lecture, self-practice, homework and assistant teaching. PhysicalMind has 44 certifying studios from all over the world listed on their website.

Julie Lobdell began Peak Pilates in 1996 to preserve the Classical Pilates method. In 2002, Peak Pilates Education Programs were launched. Peak Pilates emphasizes Pilates as a movement system, taught with one movement connected to another. They teach to link the exercises with seamless transitions and a dynamic rhythm. The mat program is over 200 cumulative hours including observation, teaching and practice. Peak’s professional equipment certification is a 3 level training program with 452 cumulative hours including teaching, personal practice, observation and contact hours. Peak Pilates is based in Boulder, Colorado and has 11 licensed training facilities with 3 in the US and 8 internationally. There are 25 more host facilities throughout the world.

Body Arts & Science International (BASI) was started by Rael Isacowitz in the early 90’s to uphold the standards of Joseph Pilates’ work. Their website states that they are known for “integrating respect for tradition with openness to scientific advances”. They are in ten countries and on five continents with 42 host locations. BASI is now starting to sell DVDs, Movement Analysis Work Books and they are designing a new line of Pilates equipment. Their comprehensive training is a 3-6 month period and requires approximately 500 hours of study including academic, practice, personal study, observation and teaching. The Mat training is a 6 day 36 hour course.

Ron Fletcher, one of the Pilates elders, endorses The Ron Fletcher Program of Study’s Comprehensive Program includes teaching the full range of Pilates apparatus, Pilates Matwork, the Fletcher Floorwork, Fletcher Towelwork, Spine Corrector and Percussive Breath technique. This program is divided into six 5-day sessions over the course of a year. During the program, 5 to 10 hours of observation, assisting teaching and self-practice are required weekly, along with 10-12 hours each week between sessions. It takes 3 to 6 months of student practice to prepare to enter the program. The Comprehensive Program should be completed in 12 to 18 months.

Kelly Kane, founder of the Kane School of Core Integration in NYC, studied with Romana Kryzanowska, one of the Pilates elders. Their website says “this anatomy-based approach is rare and distinguishes the Kane School from other Pilates training programs”. The Mat training is two consecutive weekends of 32 hours, with 37 more hours of supervised and assistant teaching, self practice, and taking classes. The equipment training is 98 hours of lecture offered in seven workshops, with 240 more hours of supervised teaching, practice, private sessions, observation, and assistant teaching. A practical and written exam is included in the test.

Romana’s Pilates, based in NYC and founded by the Pilates elder, Romana Krysanowska is available in 14 countries and 17 US states. There are more than 50 training facilities in the world and more than 30 in the United States. Their website states that their students “will be taught using techniques that are as close to the original teaching as is available anywhere in the world”. They assess their students when they enroll and evaluate each one on an individual level to determine their certification training plan. They assess experience, knowledge, needs, capabilities and life goals. They have three levels of training, with each level taking 2-5 months and up to 300 observation hours at each level.

Polestar Education, based in Miami, Florida, has a variety of trainings, including several levels of rehabilitation training. Courses require reading and writing assignments, hours of observation, self practice and apprentice teaching.

The United States Pilates Association (U.S.P.A.) promotes the New York Pilates Studio Teacher Certification Program, which started in 1992, at U.S.P.A. Training Centers throughout the U.S. The Authentic Pilates training has two phases including the first phase of seminars and a second phase of 600 hours in an apprenticeship program with an Authentic Pilates certified instructor. Students must take exams after each phase and have one year to complete them.

Power Pilates began in 1989, and started certification programs in 1997. They have 11 Power Pilates studios and 30 affiliate training center in 5 countries. They teach the classical technique in their comprehensive training of 4 intensive weekends of 600 hours including meetings, apprenticeship, training and workouts.

There are many more organizations that certify in Pilates, and it seems to be growing every month. We chose ten organizations that are well known and their information is readily available. Before choosing an organization, read our article on what to look for in a comprehensive Pilates training program. If you have personal experience with one not mentioned here, please let us know your opinion and why.

For more information on standards for instructors training visit The Pilates Method Alliance website.

By · Posted on March 1, 2008 · Topic Instructional

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2 Responses to “The Training of a Pilates Instructor”

  1. Postnatal health with Pilates | Pilates Digest on September 9th, 2008 12:24 pm

    […] Pilates is amazing for so many reasons for moms, including posture, breathing, strengthening the pelvic floor and the deep core muscles. Posture is one of Pilates’ specialties. We work the scapular stabilizers in every exercise. When starting Pilates, it is beneficial to work privately with a well-trained instructor first. Optimally, most people continue private training, move into small group classes or work on their own with the guidance of their instructor periodically. The benefits of Pilates are much greater when a well-trained instructor is involved. […]

  2. L Shoppes on March 7th, 2012 7:27 pm

    I wish you had included Balanced Body, but it’s nice to see a basic comparison of requirements and philosophy in one article. Realize the article is from 2008. Maybe you could update it.

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