Why Be A Pilates Teacher?
Pilates is a fairly recent exercise discipline. Named after its founder, Joseph Pilates who actually called his method “Contrology”. Since it is only decades old and does not have the years other training methods such as yoga or martial arts, the Pilates instructor career so to speak, is quite a new one. Even today there are people who don’t know what Pilates is. Having said that, Pilates is growing in popularity every year and so are the various niches under the Pilates umbrella. This makes for a very flexible, diversified and stimulating occupation should one choose to become a Pilates teacher. I did and have been teaching now for over a decade. In this article, we will be looking at some of the reason why being a Pilates instructor is a great choice as a career and lifestyle.
Teaching Pilates is Stimulating
My fellow instructors will agree with me when I say you never stop learning as an instructor. The passionate instructor will tell you there is no end to continuing education and learning from their clients. This makes every session an experience and an opportunity to learn. If you enjoy thinking out of the box, and problem solving you will never get bored. Teaching Pilates is a lot like participating in a class. You have to tune in, listen to the details, feel the subtle changes in your body’s movement and bring your mind to the party too. Teaching is exactly the same, except you are communicating these nuances to others. This can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time as not every person necessarily connects to the essence or purpose of the exercise the same way. Connecting with different people and learning how to best deliver the Pilates method to that individual or group is what makes it new every day, all day.
Finding a Niche is Easy
There are so many roads one can take as an instructor. Some studios or instructors have devoted their entire marketing focus to a niche. A bit of your own passion mixed in with some Pilates, business coaching and there you have it. Instructors have built entire businesses on specializing in Pilates for specific populations such as prenatal and postnatal Pilates, Pilates for Neurological conditions, rehabilitative Pilates, corporate Pilates classes, Pilates for scoliosis, Pilates for men and the list goes on and there is nothing stopping you from developing your own niche.
Adaptable and Flexible Employment Opportunities
There is a myriad of employment options at your fingertips. Whether you want to work as an employee, an independent contractor or run your own studio you can do it with a Pilates background. The industrial age of having a full-time job with benefits and working towards a pension is no longer the case for many today. People are having to become more diversified and self-reliant given the huge fluctuations in our world economy. Many people are looking for alternative careers and side hustles, now that decades long employment with a nice retirement package is becoming a thing of the past. As a Pilates instructor, you can be employed full time at a studio with benefits if you chose to or you can freelance and work in the environment of your choice. If you like freedom and independence this is a great way to work. Most studio owners are not large corporations so your instructor tends to be a fairly organized and disciplined individual who knows how to manage their time and finances.
As life goes on your situation may change, for example, you may want to start a family. As an instructor, it is not hard to structure your time around what suits your family. This is not common place with other occupations where you typically have to restructure your family around your work. Ultimately what I really like is that I have full control of my earning capabilities, there is no ceiling. Even if you are moving to another part of the world, the demand for fully certified instructors is high.
Teacher Training Programs are Cost Effective
Training to become a Pilates instructor is a serious commitment, and a lot of time is spent on learning how to perform the exercises with precision. Mentorship programs and working with fellow apprentices make this period enjoyable and time always goes fast when you’re having fun. You are also able to earn as you learn. Many students go into a huge amount of debt while in college only to face the reality of a declining job market in our current world economic situation.
The cost of learning Pilates as a trade is nowhere near as much as doing a degree, and the demand for quality instructors outweighs the supply. Doing a quality teacher training program that requires a minimum of 500 hours practical and observation hours with support and mentorship is what I am advocating here. Please do not go for the cheapest option available. The job market is not looking for the “weekend certification” instructor.
Equipping a studio is a costly process. However, the good news is entering the income earning side of being an instructor does not require you to rent a space and buy equipment all at once. You can pace yourself and start small. Many studios grow from the owner just having a mat! Some clients enjoy having an instructor go to their house for the convenience of an in-home session.
Enjoy a Low Stress Work Environment
As a Pilates teacher, there are no deadlines to worry about or corporate politics. Clients often become good friends and the environment is generally a safe and enjoyable space. No one wants to go to a studio that has a bad vibe so you probably won’t come across many “toxic” environments. This is quite the opposite of many other work environments today.
As you can see from the above it is a really great industry overall to be a part of. Of course, it is not all “cookies and cream”. The hardest part of being a Pilates instructor can be the early mornings and late evenings, working over the weekend and difficult clients. Studio owners have staff to take into account too. Life happens and when a staff member gets sick, wants to go away or has an emergency the chances are the studio owner has to handle the situation and take the class or classes in addition to managing their studio. There is of course the competition aspect of boutique studios verse mass class gym type studio.
The good news is absolutely every challenge listed above can be mitigated through relevant and effective client and employment policies, business coaching and strategic advice, thinking out of the box and contingency planning for all situations. You can’t plan for everything but the great news is the Pilates industry is big on mentorship. Mentorship is not limited to the teaching aspect, this includes running your own studio. Chances are someone can give you tips and advice that will save you tons of money and time. How many industries do you know of that are willing to guide and support your every step from apprentice to studio owner?
In summary, the Pilates industry has a lot to offer, whatever you are seeking. Ask yourself what are your long-term goals and what line of work best supports your goals, personality and need for social engagement. I have been teaching since I was 21 years old and plan on doing it well into my 90s (God willing!). Many of the Pilates elders such as Romana Kryzanowska, Ron Fletcher and Kathy Grant to name a few continued to teach well into their 80’s. Joseph Pilates himself was 84 when he died in 1967. That in itself says a lot about what Pilates has to offer.