Starting your career as a Pilates teacher
Becoming a successful Pilates teacher is a rewarding career and it is important you work hard and gain experience during your training.
It is essential that you practice Pilates exercises yourself so that you can experience how each exercise feels and how it works your body. We recommend that you attend Pilates classes yourself to give you an insight in how the class is structured, how the exercises are taught by the professional instructor and how a full class of eager participants is managed. It is an exciting (and daunting) feeling when you are at the front of the class and all eyes are on you waiting to teach.
We also recommend you try and get some teaching practice during your training. By doing this you will gain valuable experience teaching under supervision by a qualified instructor which will help you prepare for your practical assessment as well as when you start to teach your own classes. The supervising instructor may ask you to teach the warm-up or a few main session exercises over a period of time and this is an excellent way to learn as you will have plenty of valuable feedback from the teacher and the class. If you are fortunate enough to have this opportunity, be as prepared as you can and consider practice teaching to friends/family before the real class. It’s extraordinary how much more confident you become by delivering a few sessions to your friends in the comfort of your own home.
Once you have successfully achieved your Level 3 Mat Pilates Diploma, you have many options open to you when starting your career as a Pilates teacher. Here are a few;
- Teaching group classes solely in health clubs, leisure centres and fitness centres – you will be paid a set hourly rate to teach your Pilates class
- Offering one-to-one sessions in clubs and centres – you can usually set your own hourly rate and the centre will usually take a percentage
- Working with health professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths by hiring a room in one of these practices and teaching Pilates as part of a holistic rehabilitative approach to client care – you can agree a set price that you will charge
- Offering one-to-one or one-to-two/small group sessions in clients’ houses – this is a popular approach to teaching and the environment can be less informal
- Setting up your own classes in venues such as church halls, schools or community centres – you can charge per person per session. If the venue hire is low and the numbers of attendees is around 12 all paying between £5-£10 each, this can be a lucrative way to earn your living
If you decide to set up your own business and hire local venues and offer one-to-one or one-to-two sessions, you will need to consider the following:
- Are there other Pilates teachers offering Pilates sessions in your area? Would you need to go further afield? Could you offer something different and specialist from your competition?
- Consider price per class or course. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Is the area where you are planning to teach affluent?
- Brand your business. Consider organising a uniform and logo for yourself with a branded polo shirt, vest top and hoodie
- Once you’ve created your business name and logo, its worth investing in professional marketing material such as flyers, posters and business cards
- Where should you advertise? Consider leaflet dropping close to the venues, advertise in local newspapers/directories, hang posters in local businesses, use Facebook – you can set up a business page and pay to promote your business. This will be cheaper and easier than setting up a webpage at this early stage of your career. ‘About your area’ is an online directory that you could utilise as well as advertising in schools, doctors’ surgeries and with physiotherapists
- Equipment – you can either ask participants to bring along their own yoga/Pilates mats or you can purchase mats from fitness equipment companies. Alternatively you could look on eBay or Gumtree as you may find second hand equipment in good condition, which will save you money
- How many clients should there be in each class? Approximately 12 should be the maximum for Pilates as you need to be able to observe and correct all clients when required. Attendees like to feel valued and cared for, not just a number in a large group
- Public liability insurance -you must organise insurance cover
- Create your own health and medical questionnaires (you will be given examples of these during your training) - discuss all listed problems with your clients. You may need to refer people to a doctor or physiotherapist if there is a condition or injury you don’t feel comfortable in dealing with
- Create professional register sheets and purchase a lockable money tin and remember to sign all participants in to each class
- Set yourself up as self-employed with the tax office
- Keep records of everything you earn as well as a record of all expenditure to do with the business – don’t forget to keep all receipts for your accountant
Once you are up and running, keeping clients can also be challenging so consider the following:
- Every 6 weeks or so change the exercises or introduce higher levels and variations to the exercises (remember not to do this all at once but in stages)
- Consider buying small equipment that isn’t too expensive and is easy to transport such as Pilates rings, Pilates small balls, resistance bands – purchase different resistance levels to offer a range of abilities
- After 6 months or a year consider setting up higher level classes so that as your class participants become stronger and progress, you can move them up to the next level class, leaving the beginners and newcomers in the lower level class
- Send out emails to clients offering class discounts, reminding them of other classes you teach or offer a more personalised one-to-one session
- Send out feedback questionnaires (anonymous is usually the best way to get honest feedback) and adjust your sessions based on what your clients want to achieve
There are quite a few key factors in building and maintaining successful classes. Here are a few:
- Be observant during class – watch the class to check each person is performing the exercises correctly and offer further challenges. Are they enjoying the class, remember word of mouth is the best way of increasing class numbers
- Keep yourself updated by attending other classes and keep up your training and knowledge by attending workshops or doing online courses and so on
- Remain professional and approachable at all times
- Always enjoy your teaching, keep positive, give lots of smiles and listen to your participants – have a quick chat with participants as they arrive and be available at the end of the class to provide further advice
- If you have other qualifications such as Exercise to Music or Body Conditioning or even Gym instruction, why not consider creating combination classes? You could mix movement to music with traditional body conditioning exercises and Pilates exercises so that you offer other class types as well as traditional mat Pilates classes
Whichever path you chose to go down, ensure you consider all options thoroughly before you spend any money on equipment or marketing materials as these can be costly. Consider which you would enjoy the most doing as well as what would be more successful in your area.