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What is Pilates?

What is Pilates?

Mat-based Pilates exercises have been derived from a method created by Joseph Pilates, a system of 34 exercises performed with precision and control with exquisite attention to detail. The unique method encompasses depth through specific principles applied to the technique and is designed to improve the quality of movement.

Pilates is a total body conditioning discipline that lengthens and strengthens the muscles in the entire body. The technique promotes a mind-body connection by applying the principle of concentration and flow of breath, preparing both the mind mentally and body physically.

Frequent Pilates training will strengthen the deep stabilising muscles and core musculature, helping to improve posture, alignment, and body awareness, undoing the damage caused by lifestyle choices and repeated bad habits. Pilates will not only strengthen the body, improving functionality, but will also aid mobility, range of movement, flexibility, and overall general health and wellbeing.

Instructor in a mat Pilates class

Key facts about Pilates

As a Pilates instructor, you will need a good solid knowledge of anatomy and physiology, specifically the anatomy of the spine and core. You will study and analyse the biomechanics involved in movement and learn how to plan effective Pilates sessions to aid balance and symmetry throughout the body.

You will learn about the history of Pilates and how the fundamentals and principles of Pilates, unique to this method, are applied throughout execution and delivery. As a Pilates teacher, you will develop teaching skills to cater for mixed-ability classes, programming for one-to-one training, and how to modify, adapt and progress clients over time. You will learn how to sequence classes for effectiveness and flow, and how to tailor programmes to meet individual goals and needs.

What do Pilates Instructors do?

A Pilates Instructorscan take different approaches to teaching some of which include:

  • Classes within a community
  • Classes within a Gym
  • Opening their own matwork studios
  • One-on-one sessions


Key Qualities of a Pilates Instructor

Pilates Instructors often have the below skills to be successful in their Pilates career:

  • People person
  • KExcellent communication skills
  • Adaptable teaching skills
  • Engage and retain clients
  • Ability to build technique

The Value In Pilates?

Many people that choose to come and teach Pilates have had a positive experience from practising the technique themselves and so, where your passion fuels your ambition, career satisfaction is inevitable.

The rewards from practising Pilates are plentiful, seeing people flourish, achieve their goals, and thrive both mentally and physically will give you a sense of satisfaction both personally and professionally. As the saying goes – do what you love – love what you do.

Pilates has evolved considerably and is now a major trend in fitness across all health clubs and fitness centres, but it hasn’t only evolved in the world of fitness but also in the world of health. Many physiotherapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors are turning to Pilates and using it as a modality to complement their rehabilitative intervention programmes.

Why do people start Pilates?

A common reason why people start Pilates is due to an injury, back problems, following pregnancy and childbirth, and for overall general health and wellbeing. Pilates is also extremely popular in sporting athletes wanting to enhance their training methods and improve their game. Pilates is renowned for developing power by increasing core strength – a key element involved in many sports.

The popularity has seen a rise in professional athletes and team sports, rising interest and speculation of Pilates across the media. For example, Pilates is a publicised training method for the England football team. Another special population attracted to Pilates is the older adult. Known for its healing qualities and ability to increase mobility and range of movement in the body, many older adults choose Pilates as their go-to exercise, especially as the exercises can be quite easily adapted to suit its audience, whether it being the elite athlete or the more mature participant.

The profile of group exercise has expanded considerably, according to EMD UK and CIMSPA, especially throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Bringing communities together and promoting retention to exercise more than any other form of physical activity, with Pilates being amongst the top 3 exercise disciplines in current popularity.

Knowledge of a Pilates Mat work Instructor

As a Pilates mat work instructor, you will need a Level 3 Diploma in teaching mat work Pilates as a minimum. Many Pilates teachers choose to build on their portfolio to enhance their knowledge and skills set, with qualifications such as Pilates for common orthopaedic conditions, pre-and post-natal exercise, and small equipment, or even Level 4 low back pain and exercise referral.

Expanding the qualifications that you have will widen the scope of clientele. Pilates is an extremely hands
-on approach, with intricate attention to detail and your clients will expect a customised approach. Expanding your knowledge will enhance your confidence to provide a more personalised service to your clients.

Comprehensive Level In Pilates

If you wanted to study Pilates to a comprehensive level then there are many Pilates-specific training providers that offer training on the apparatus, however, there is no set standard for this type of training, and all will differ between providers.


All forms of Matwork Pilates stem from the original Pilates method created by Joseph Pilates, however, types of training can fall into two main categories. Classical and contemporary.

The classical method stays true to its original form and retains the integrity of the method. The original repertoire has 34 exercises and was originally very popular with dance professionals. In recent years the original exercises have been adapted and modified to make them suitable and usable for a range of clientele, from older adults, injury rehabilitation, and for general fitness and wellbeing, catering for a range of fitness levels and skills.

Contemporary Pilates has taken the original method and adapted the technique to form variations of the exercises. Many contemporary styles of Pilates will change the tempo, add further exercises to the system of 34 movements and design a new and varied programme, veering away from the classical form.

Pilates Instructor Job Roles

The most common career path for Pilates Instructors is to first complete a Level 3 Pilates Instructor qualification, From here, pilates instructors have the choice to take on additional training to enhance their opportunities and scope of practice.

The structure of a day may include:

1. Teaching classes in the morning

2. Teaching 1-2-1 mid-afternoon

3. Teaching classes in the evenings

There will be breaks between the sessions, however working for yourself means that you have options, for example, you may choose to only teach 1-2-1 ones on Tuesday and Thursday, or, you may choose to only teach classes in the morning so that you can be at home with family in the evening. Another option is to teach classes in the evening around another job that you may already have – so that your hobby becomes an additional source of income.


As a qualified Mat Pilates Instructor you will be able to:

  • Run your own classes and work with clients on a 1-to-1 basis.
  • Teach Pilates at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels
  • Run your own weight management clinic, or offer individual consultations
  • Create bespoke Pilates routines for new and expectant mothers
  • Be able to create bespoke Pilates routines for clients with mobility considerations such as Arthritis or Hypermobility
  • Instruct clients on the safe use of equipment in your Pilates routines

Discover our Pilates Instructor Courses

Level 3 Mat Pilates Instructor Course

The Level 3 Mat Pilates Instructor Course will enable you to teach mat Pilates at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels on a one-to-one basis or in group sessions.

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Level 3 Mat Pilates Instructor Course with Antenatal and Postnatal

The Level 3 Mat Pilates Instructor Course will allow you to run inclusive classes, work with a wider range of clients in your community and significantly enhance your teaching skills.

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