Since I’ve been teaching pilates for several years, I decided to take some time to review the lessons I learned my first year teaching. What did I learn that first year that has stayed with me? What information or advice could I pass on to other new teachers? What do I wish I knew then that I know now? What advice did I receive in that first year that changed how I taught or conducted myself as a teacher? What is the reality of income as a pilates teacher? What did I think of my certification course after the fact?
Let’s start with certification. First of all, take pilates at as many different studios for as long as possible before you pursue certification, especially if you aren’t a dancer or other body movement professional. You will be able to see first hand what the different methods/schools teach and really understand where you will fit the best. Also, the certification centers tend to be studios, so take classes from the person who teaches the certification and take their advice seriously if you ask them about getting certified. If you want to know more about preparing to take a pilates certification course, comment below and I will contact you.
The second thing I learned my first year is to pick that first studio you work in very carefully. Interview the studio and owner just as they are interviewing you. Talk to their instructors/past instructors, ask current/past clients, ask other professionals in the area. You will probably get some negatives here and there, but you will have to edit and form your own opinion. Also, be aware that many studios like to hire new instructors, so they can pay them less than more experienced instructors. That’s pretty normal, no matter where you go. If you end up working in a studio with lots of great teachers, the payoff in knowledge is great!
Third, don’t spread yourself too thin. Work at one place, maybe two at the most and try to schedule them on different days. At one point during my first year I worked at three places — all at least 25 minutes from the other. Not only was I eating up my money in gas, but I was burning out quickly! Look at what each place is giving you in terms of money, challenging/learning environment, and opportunity to grow your business.
Fourth, remember that you are a start up business. You are still learning. You need to get real about how much you can earn. If you get a job at a large gym that has machine/mat classes and privates, you will be able to make some okay money, but keep in mind that full time in pilates is very hard to do. Forty hours of teaching is difficult and you will burn out. I’ve seen it. Even 30 hours is hard depending on your clients. If you are teaching privates only, it is very draining just because you are pouring so much energy into your clients. Some require more energy than others. I’m not saying either is impossible, but when you are completing your apprentice teaching, you will understand what I’m talking about.
Fifth, your training does not stop when you walk out the door of the certifying studio. Take classes, go to workshops, attend additional training, and always keep your eyes open of new ways to teach the material. Always find new ways to keep yourself interested in pilates too! Don’t forget why you love pilates and wanted to share it with others!
Let me know if you have any questions. I would also love to know about your first year experiences! What are your biggest frustrations as a new teacher?
Sites that can help you during your first year:
Also, below are a listed a few books that I find useful as a pilates instructor.