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ISSA | What’s the Best Pilates Certification?

What’s the Best Pilates Certification?

Reading Time: 5 minutes 30 seconds


DATE: 2024-01-17

There are currently around 2,100 Pilates instructors in the U.S. (1) If you’re looking at becoming one too, you may be checking out Pilates certification courses. Why is it so beneficial to take Pilates teacher training—even if you’re familiar with this practice?

Why Pilates Certification is Important

Earning your Pilates certification helps build your credibility as an instructor. It tells potential clients that you aren’t just calling yourself a Pilates teacher. Instead, you have the knowledge and skills needed to create and deliver Pilates exercise effectively and safely. Certification provides evidence of your abilities.

Completing a Pilates certification program also helps fill educational gaps. Maybe you’re familiar with the Pilates method but don’t have a lot of teaching experience. A training program can provide effective teaching approaches. Or you might be familiar with exercise on a Pilates mat but have less experience with a reformer. In teacher training, you can learn more about what a reformer is and how it works. This can make you a more well-rounded Pilates instructor.

A third reason to pursue Pilates teacher certification is that it may be required by your future employer. It’s common for fitness-based employers to want an instructor who has completed Pilates training. This provides them with some level of assurance that you’re the real deal. It also increases their comfort with you representing their brand.

Having your certification isn’t just important if you want to work at a Pilates studio. It’s equally critical if you want to offer Pilates classes at some other type of fitness center. In this case, it tells the gym or rec center that you know how to add Pilates to a client’s workout.

Finally, Experian reports that having a certification can boost your income as a fitness professional. (2) Do you want to save money at a faster rate or are you looking to create more breathing room in your budget? Earning your certification can get you one step closer to your financial goals.

What’s the Best Pilates Certification?

Once you’ve decided to pursue certification, the next question is often which instructor training course to choose. Which program is best for becoming a Pilates teacher? 

The answer to this question is a bit complex. That’s because several factors must be considered. Some of these factors are related to the program itself. For instance, you want to choose teacher training that’s offered by a reputable organization. Other factors are more personal. These are based on the type of instructor training you want based on your career goals.

How to Find the Right Pilates Certification Program for You

To help you find the best Pilates certification for you, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

How Much Experience Do You Have with Pilates? 

Different certification programs offer different levels of Pilates education. If you’re completely new to Pilates, you may want a more comprehensive teacher training course. This helps you learn about its history (it was developed by Joseph H. Pilates) as well as the benefits of Pilates exercise. A comprehensive certification course provides a solid foundation for this practice. 

Maybe you’ve been doing Pilates for years and now want to share your passion with others. In this case, a Pilates certification program that focuses more on the teaching aspects might be better aligned with what you want. (Although, you can also develop these skills when you start to practice teaching.)

Even if you have been doing Pilates for decades, don’t underestimate the value of a robust training program. Everything you learn in an instructor training course can make you a better Pilates teacher. 

What Type of Pilates Class Do You Want to Teach? 

As a Pilates instructor, you may choose to teach:

  • Classical Pilates. This type follows the sequence as designed by Joseph Pilates. It starts with foundational exercises that gradually become more complex. Classical Pilates is also sometimes referred to as Contrology.

  • Contemporary Pilates. This type is a combination of classical Pilates and yoga, aerobics, physical therapy, and more. Instead of following strict steps, contemporary Pilates is designed with the individual in mind. It takes into account their fitness level, needs, and lifestyle.

  • Mat Pilates. When leading this type of class, exercise is performed on a Pilates mat. This enables people to practice Pilates anywhere because no other equipment is required.

  • Reformer Pilates. As its name suggests, this type uses a piece of equipment called a reformer. A reformer is a platform that slides across a frame. Clients can lie, kneel, or sit on a reformer to do a specific exercise. The opportunities are endless. Reformer classes tend to be more expensive due to the equipment. However, research also connects the use of a reformer with positive health benefits. They include increasing good cholesterol, lowering insulin levels, and reducing waist size.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Clinical Pilates is another type. It is used to help people recover from injuries or as a treatment for certain medical conditions. However, this type of Pilates can only be taught by trained physical therapists. Thus, it requires additional schooling if you want to offer clinical Pilates.

The movement principles for each Pilates type are the same but taught using a slightly different approach. So, do you want to teach classical Pilates, for example, or contemporary Pilates? If you know, you may want to choose a certification course that aligns with that type. 

Maybe you know that you want to lead a mat Pilates class or that you’d like to use a reformer. If you want the former, a mat certification might be better for you. If you want the latter, reformer instructor training may be best. 

Some Pilates teacher training courses cover all types. This provides the flexibility to teach whichever one you want or to switch back and forth between them. 

Who Is Your Ideal Pilates Client? 

Do you want to work with clients new to Pilates? Maybe you’d prefer to work with athletes, using Pilates as a form of cross-training. The reason considering your ideal client is important before choosing a training program is that you want to select a program that will teach you what you need to know.

Granted, most certification courses provide a solid overview of the Pilates method. This enables you to develop a course for almost any type of client. However, if you want to work with a special population, more instruction in that area can be beneficial. 

For example, maybe you want to work primarily with seniors. In this case, becoming a certified senior fitness instructor is a good step. Taking an additional certification course beyond Pilates instructor training can help prepare you for this role.

Other Factors to Consider When Pursuing Pilates Teacher Training

There are also programmatic factors to consider when choosing a Pilates certification course. They include:

  • Program cost. Some certification courses cost hundreds of dollars and others cost thousands. What fits into your budget? Also look at whether the certification program offers payment options. Stretching payments over time can make getting certified more affordable.

  • Program length. Certification courses also vary in terms of length. Depending on the program, you may be certified as a Pilates instructor in a couple of months whereas others take longer. Choose a Pilates training program that fits with your schedule. Think about your goals as well. How soon do you want to be teaching Pilates? Select the certification course that aligns with your vision.

  • Program reputation. Is it a national Pilates certification program? In other words, is the certification accepted by most employers in the U.S.? This is important if you want to work for a Pilates center or studio. You want to earn a certification that they will accept.

  • Continuing education options. Continuing education courses are required to keep your certification. Getting certified by an organization that offers these courses provides greater convenience. It also makes it easier to get credit for the continuing education courses you take.

You can become a Certified Pilates Instructor with ISSA. This Pilates teacher training program teaches you how to design and deliver a safe, effective class for clients of all fitness levels. ISSA also offers numerous continuing education courses. This helps create a more streamlined process for keeping your certification current.


  1. Pilates Instructor Demographics and Statistics In The US. Zippia. (2023, July 21). https://www.zippia.com/pilates-instructor-jobs/demographics/ 

  2. Cahill, E. (2022, May 10). 6 Fitness Trainer Certifications to Help Boost Your Income. Experian. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/top-fitness-trainer-certifications-to-help-boost-your-income/ 

  3. Yilmaz, A., Ozen, M., Nar, R., & Turkdogan, H. E. (2022). The effect of equipment-based pilates (reformer) exercises on body composition, some physical parameters, and body blood parameters of medical interns. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.24078 

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