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5 Important Pilates Instructor Skills

The top 5 important skills to look for in a Pilates teacher

If you don’t know much about Pilates, how can you tell if you’re getting good training?  What things should you look for in an instructor?

When it comes to what you look for in a professional like a physical therapist, a dentist, or an MD, everyone will have their own personal preference, but certain things will help guide your search.  Similar things can be said for finding the right person with whom to practice Pilates.  Look for these five things in your instructor.

Pilates Certification

Pilates has gained popularity and become a little more mainstream in recent years. While it’s wonderful that people are discovering the benefits of Pilates, the danger is that just about anyone can create a training and train people for money. Paying for training doesn’t necessarily mean that the training is good, so how do you know if you have found a good, certified instructor? A good certification is one that requires, at the very least, 500 hours including individual practice, observation, and practice teaching. Good certifications require and exam that covers knowledge of anatomy, demonstration of teaching skills, and requires an instructor to develop skill in creating modifications to fit different people. Pilates is not a one-size-fits-all exercise regimen.  Anyone can go thru training.  Being certified is an entirely higher level.  Any instructor should be able to produce proof of their certification as well as the certification requirements.

Years of experience

You can go through a training program and get certified, but it is the experience working with different types of bodies that makes a Pilates instructor better and better.  The more people they work with, the more the instructor’s experience advances in working with different types of bodies.  This experience will give the instructor the ability to find the right modifications for your body. If you have an instructor who doesn’t have a modification suggestion for you, keep looking for one who does.

Do they observe you?

A good instructor will watch you practice and keep an eye on how you move, and then make corrections, offer modifications, and give you the tools to get the most out of the repertoire.  Pilates isn’t a general fitness routine.  Observation of what the spine and pelvis do throughout an exercise is very important. You need to be personally observed, and it’s that attention that differentiates good Pilates from watered-down Pilates.  The number of people in class will really define how well a Pilates instructor can observe you.  Some Pilates reformer studios will throw you into a class without starting with any one-on-one attention to get you started.  Be sure the instructor offers, or insists, that they watch you move in a one-on-one setting before making the decision to enter a class setting.  Sometimes just one session will be enough, sometimes you may need more, but this will set you up for success in a group setting.

Do they inspire you?

In addition to their credentials and experience, a good instructor will have the natural ability to inspire you to achieve success in Pilates.  Each person will have their own unique thing that will define success for them, and a good instructor will find what that is in each person. A good instructor will see your potential and not use your limitations as an excuse.  They should motivate you and keep you wanting to come back.  While it’s true that not every exercise is for every body, there is ALWAYS an exercise for your body.

Are they approachable?

Because Pilates success is personal to the individual, a good instructor will be approachable, personable, and available for you.  Yes, you are responsible for the follow-through in the action you take, but you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your instructor questions.  The good ones will follow through with you to give you an answer, or even better, get you an answer when they aren’t sure.  This could be done in many ways. You know you have a good studio when the instructors all collaborate to help each other and their clients.

Questions about the tips in this article or anything Pilates? Give us a call, stop by or email us!


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