How to Become a Pilates Instructor

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Pilates has earned a reputation for being a highly effective physical fitness system designed for core conditioning through controlled movements and focused breathing.

Although Joseph Pilates first introduced the Pilates method in the early twentieth century as a way to improve rehabilitation programs for casualties of WWI, it didn’t make its mark as a mainstream fitness program until the last decade or so. But since then, Pilates has taken off.

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, nearly 9 million people participated in Pilates in 2009 – that’s an overwhelming increase of 456 percent from 2000.

Your passion for Pilates may very well translate into a thriving career as a personal trainer who focuses on this popular field of fitness.

What is Pilates?

Joseph Pilates sought to design a program of exercise that concentrated on fewer, more precise movements (control and technique over repetition). His belief was that mental health and physical health are vital to one another and to the perfect working body. His system of “flowing” movements (since referred to as Pilates principles) focuses on:

  • Correct alignment
  • Centering
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Breathing
  • Flowing movement

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Pilates is focused on your core – the area that runs from your shoulders to your pelvis; or more specifically, the muscles of your core. Through the strengthening and lengthening of the core muscles, Pilates is designed to produce long and learn overall muscle tone without the bulk.

As a personal trainer, your Pilates training sessions will help your clients build strength, flexibility, and lean muscle, with the overall goal of lengthening the body and aligning the spine.

The Benefits of Pilates

Because Pilates is focused on the core of the body through slow and deliberate exercises, it is often recognized as a safe and effective workout for people of all ages and abilities. It is still widely used for rehabilitative purposes, as well.

For example, athletes rely on Pilates to improve their speed and agility and prevent injuries, while seniors benefit from its non-impact exercises that strengthen the core, thereby improving balance and posture.

Your personal training clients can expect to achieve overall slimming and increased flexibility and mobility as a result of a Pilates program. Through the implementation of a comprehensive Pilates program, your clients are also likely to achieve better postural awareness, alleviation of back, neck, and joint pain, and better balance and coordination.

Just a few of the other benefits achieved through Pilates include:

  • A heightened body awareness
  • Improved inner strength
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased energy levels
  • A clear, focused mindset
  • A stronger body
  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Improved digestive system
  • Improved pelvic floor function
  • Increased bone density
  • Increased lung capacity

The Pilates Workout

Pilates involves low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements that emphasize the abdominals, the lower back, the hips, and thighs. A typical Pilates routine involves 25 to 50 repetitive strength training exercises.

Pilates can be performed on a yoga mat, or it can be performed using a variety of Pilates equipment, such as:

  • Magic circles
  • Exercise ball
  • Pilates reformers
  • Pilates chairs
  • Exercise bands

Some of the basic Pilates movements you will encourage your clients to perfect include:

  • Crisscross
  • Double leg kick
  • Hundred
  • Neck pull
  • Double leg stretch
  • Push-up
  • Roll up
  • Shoulder bridge
  • Spine stretch

During a personal training session in Pilates, you will encourage your clients to focus on:

  • Deep, focused, and rhythmic breathing
  • Control and concentration of movements
  • Being centered and balanced, thus creating an even musculature
  • Relaxation and whole body movement through the release of tension

As a personal trainer, you will emphasize proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and smooth, flowing movements. You will always emphasize the value of movement over the quantity of repetitions.

Your expertise in Pilates will help your clients achieve proper form and movement, which produces a challenging and refreshing mind-body workout.

How to Become a Pilates Instructor

If you want to become an authority on Pilates and earn a reputation as being a Pilates expert in the personal training field, you will want to complement your experience in this fitness field with a solid educational program.

Degrees in Personal Training

A college degree in personal training is an excellent first step to becoming a Pilates personal trainer. Most professionals in the field of personal training complete an associate or bachelor degree in personal training or a related field, such as:

  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise science
  • Sports medicine
  • Exercise physiology
  • Physical education

These types of degree programs focus on the human body, its biological functions, and the therapeutic and functional benefits of exercise and physical activity on the body.

Typical core coursework in an associate or bachelor degree program related to personal training includes:

  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise physiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Writing for exercise science
  • Advanced physiology of exercise

Professional Certification in Personal Training and Pilates

Professional certification almost always complements a personal trainer’s resume. This field remains largely self-regulated. This means professional certification, although voluntary, is recognized and often required by employers and clients alike.

A number of personal training organizations offer Pilates certification, such as:

  • American Council on Exercise: Mind Body Specialist
  • International Fitness Professionals Association, Certified Pilates Instructor
  • Pilates Method Alliance, PMA Pilates Certification
  • National Exercise and Sports Trainer Association, Spencer Pilates Instructor
  • National Exercise Trainers Association, Pilates Specialty Certification
  • American Fitness Professionals, Pilates Fitness Instructor (Level I, Mat), Pilates Fitness Instructor (Level II, Props)
  • American Aerobic Association International, Mat Pilates Instructor
  • American Sports and Fitness Association, Pilates Certification
  • Personal Training Institute of America, Mat Pilates Certification

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