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ISSA | How to Become a Pilates Instructor in Four Simple Steps

How to Become a Pilates Instructor in Four Simple Steps

Reading Time: 5 minutes 15 seconds


DATE: 2024-01-31

Qualified Pilates instructors are in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions for all types of fitness instructors are growing at a rate of 14%, which is much faster than average job growth. 

There is a market for skilled instructors, but not just anyone can teach Pilates. You need experience, a passion for the practice, and a recognized credential. Here’s how to begin and grow a lucrative, rewarding career in Pilates. 

Why Be a Pilates Teacher? 

You enjoy your own fitness practice, but why should you become a teacher? There are several benefits of beginning a career as a Pilates instructor: 

  • There is a future in Pilates. Pilates is a practice that dates back more than 100 years, but it’s more popular than ever. According to statistics, the number of people practicing Pilates has been trending upward for at least the last decade. (1) There’s no reason to think numbers will drop. 

  • Love what you do. How many people do you know who love their jobs? If you wish you could feel more passionate about what you do, teaching Pilates could be the solution. You get to do what you like while also enjoying helping people. 

  • Boost your own practice. As a practitioner of Pilates, becoming a teacher will deepen your personal knowledge and bring you even more health benefits. Even if you don’t make a full career out of it, becoming an instructor will boost your own practice. 

  • Get out from behind the desk. Sitting at a desk all day is unnatural and yet it’s what most people do for work. Pilates instruction is a healthier career that gets you up and active throughout the day. 

  • Enjoy a side hustle. Pilates instruction doesn’t have to be a full time career. You don’t even have to give up your current job. For a little extra cash that’s fun to earn, become a part-time Pilates teacher. The hours are often flexible and can be fit in around a typical 9-to-5 job. 

If you’re curious about what you can earn, check out this post about how much Pilates instructors make

How to Become a Pilates Instructor

Like many areas of fitness, there is no licensing or certification required to teach Pilates. The industry is self-regulated by professionals who take their roles seriously. 

If you’re serious about it, training and certification are musts. Follow these steps to become a professional and successful Pilates instructor:

1. Take Pilates Classes

This might go without saying, but before jumping into a certification course to become a Pilates teacher, you should be somewhat familiar with the practice. Maybe Pilates looks interesting to you. You’re already into fitness or work as a personal trainer. Why not just get certified and learn it as you go? 

There are several good reasons to practice Pilates before becoming a teacher. First and foremost, it will help you decide if this is really something you enjoy. Pilates is a type of exercise but it’s also a philosophy of exercise. You won’t know if it aligns with your own fitness values and practices until you try it. 

Taking classes also gives you valuable experience and prepares you to learn how to teach Pilates to others. It gives you the opportunity to learn from experienced instructors and to network with the community. 

You don’t need years of your own personal Pilates practice to become an instructor. You certainly don’t need to have mastered all of Pilates, or even any of it. You should have enough experience to know this is a career path you want to pursue and to help you understand the perspective of a student. 

2. Enroll in a Pilates Certification Course

While the industry is not strictly regulated, having a credential that clients and employers recognize is essential to finding work as a Pilates instructor. The industry relies on self-regulation. Instructors without proper training and a credential to prove it will struggle to get hired or find clients. Those with the right skills and certification will be more successful. 

You can find plenty of Pilates instructor training courses online and offered in-person by some studios. The most convenient option is to earn your certification online. Accredited online courses provide self-paced programs ideal for anyone trying to fit training in around a full time job or family responsibilities. 

You can find certification programs for areas of specialty, like reformer Pilates or apparatus certification. It’s most important to start with a general or comprehensive program, courses that will touch on the fundamentals and give you a solid foundation for specializing later. 

Also look for programs that are accredited and recognized in the industries. Check with your Pilates studio and others to find out which certifications they accept in instructors. Make sure the program’s courses have been written by and are led by experts in the field. 

The program should cover the fundamentals of human anatomy, principles of fitness, and energy and metabolic systems. It should include the history and philosophy of Pilates, basic Pilates moves, and how to teach them. Look for additional instruction in nutrition, motivating clients, ethics, safety, and basic business skills. 

If you’re also passionate about yoga, consider a yoga teacher training course.

3. Complete a Pilates Course and Get Certified

Finding the right course is just the first step. Once you’re enrolled, it’s time to start you Pilates education and training. Choosing an online Pilates teacher training course means you can take your time, but there are typically limits. You might have six months or a year to complete the course and take the exam. 

The exam is the end point of a certification course. If you have done the readings, done the work, and studied and practiced what you learned, passing the exam should be straightforward. You’ll have your certificate in hand. 

If you choose an accredited and recognized program, that Pilates teacher certification should be enough to get started, but consider national credentials as well. Organizations like the National Pilates Certification Program uphold standards for instructors to maintain integrity in the industry. You don’t need this kind of credential to start teaching, but it might help you get more jobs or clients. 

4. Start Teaching and Learning

With your certification in hand, you’re ready to practice teaching and start working with clients. Choose from a couple of paths: find employment at a gym or studio or take on your own clients as an independent instructor. There are rewards and challenges with both paths, so consider the options carefully. 

Even as a teacher, especially a new teacher, expect to keep learning. Consider working with a more experienced instructor initially. They can help you get started and teach you some valuable aspects of instruction that are difficult to learn in a course. 

Once you get into teaching, you might find that you want to specialize. You can take additional Pilates training and certification courses in several areas of specialty: 

  • Reformer, Cadillac, chair, or barrel equipment 

  • Pre- and post-natal training

  • Rehabilitative Pilates for clients recovering from surgery or injury

  • Pilates for older clients

  • Pilates for dancers or athletes

  • Pilates for arthritis and other types of chronic pain

With or without a specialty, it’s important to keep learning. If you have a certification, you’ll likely need to update it with continuing education credits every few years. This helps you stay up to date on any changes in the industry and help you master your practice and teaching craft. 

If you have a passion for Pilates, consider a Pilates teacher training course to becomd an instructor. Whether it’s a side hustle or your full-time job, there is a market in fitness for qualified teachers. The most important step is getting a recognized certification that communicates your professionalism and knowledge to studios and clients. 

The ISSA’s Pilates Instructor course provides everything you need to learn more about this special training method and to teach others. Enjoy self-paced programming, a success coach for guidance, and a certification recognized throughout the industry.  

Featured Course

ISSA | Pilates Instructor

ISSA’s Pilates Instructor course teaches fitness professionals how to use the Pilates training method to help clients get regular exercise and improve their health.


  1. U.S. Americans who trained Pilates 2021. Statista. (2023, June 9). https://www.statista.com/statistics/191616/participants-in-pilates-training-in-the-us-since-2006/ 

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