Pilates Instructor Careers
In a conversation with certified Pilates instructor and life-long fitness enthusiast, Graza Doyle, Allied Health World learned what’s involved in working with the public as a certified Pilates instructor. Graza helps our readers understand the unique level of dedication to clients and unwavering commitment to health and fitness required of Pilates instructors:
What is the demographic of people commonly practicing Pilates?Pilates instructors are tasked with making the unique benefits of this revolutionary form of exercise attainable by all who wish to learn. One of the beautiful things about Pilates is that it can be tailored to fit the skill level and physical ability of anybody. This would include the elderly and even people whose physical capabilities have been dramatically limited by severe injury. It is a form of exercise that truly belongs to all people; therefore Pilates instructor jobs will involve working with a very diverse demographic, and Pilates teacher training programs will focus on the need to adapt routines to the ability of the individual client.
Pilates instructor, Graza Doyle, described the group of people she instructs, “I have in my class an 18-year-old dancer, and I have a woman who is in her 70’s, and I have a 90-year-old three-time cancer survivor that comes to my class. And I have a guy who is an
Graza went on to describe how both men and women are embracing Pilates, “Men in particular seem to be hesitant to get involved in Pilates, but every once in a while somebody struggles in, and they end up swearing by it. I have a guy that used to be a firefighter and has old back injuries; he’s retired but he still likes to garden. Every time he’d to anything physical he’d get injured. Since he’s been taking Pilates, coming to my class, he’s been pain free.
Why is Pilates the best exercise for injury rehabilitation and injury avoidance?When we asked Graza Doyle, life-long fitness enthusiast and Pilates instructor, why she began practicing and then instructing Pilates, she told a story of how her personal understanding of what it means to be strong and fit changed after sustaining injuries: “I’ve been into health and fitness all of my life. I was a very weak child with scoliosis and multiple childhood diseases. I started dancing and when I started to dance I felt an increased sense of well-being. It stuck in my mind that when I’m active, it promotes life in me, the life force. Being cognoscente of that I started running in my 20’s and hiking. When I had children I thought it was good enough to just chase after children for exercise, that I’d still have my strength. I was proven wrong when I tried to water-ski and injured myself very badly. I tore my sciatica, tendons and ligaments, and was laid up for a long time. That showed me that it was not okay to just be slender and active. There has to be form. You have to be watchful of how you move to prevent injury.”
Graza went on to explain, “Mainly it’s about preventing injuries. We all develop certain bad habits with regard to how we hold our bodies as a result of our professions or certain tasks we perform repeatedly. If we don’t develop posture that allows our spines to be in plumb line, these bad habits become acute conditions, muscular conditions, joint conditions, so forth.”
To this point Graza said, “Sometimes you see the guys in the gym pumping weights, isolating muscle, jerking on the spine in one direction and they wonder why they have a stiff neck. You often see people who are very powerful in the gym, but if you see them walking to their car in the parking lot you would almost laugh because they often have funny posture, they’re stooping, or their hips are pushed forward. They are not really healthy. They are an accident waiting to happen.”
How do Pilates instructors typically structure the routine for new students?In Pilates the focus is on performing exercises with perfect form and total concentration. Pilates instructor courses highlight the importance of patience, as this often means that mastering each exercise can be a discipline that takes a considerable length of time. Pilates instructor, Graza Doyle, explains the general structure of each class, “We always start with a warm-up. My students get themselves a matt, they take their shoes off and they lie down and relax. Then we start breathing, we’re going to teach them how to breathe before we teach them how to move. Then we do what we call imprint and release so as to learn how the student’s spine moves in his or her lower lumbar. We perform hip release, and spinal rotation. There are about 12 very small movements new students will learn to do including Shell Stretch, Cow-Toe Stretch, the Pilates Hundred and ab prep. It takes about 5 or 6 weeks just to learn how to warm up properly.”
What equipment might be used when performing Pilates exercises?Those aspiring to Pilates instructor careers will be made familiar with some highly specialized and elegantly refined pieces of exercise equipment. Sophisticated machines known as the Pilates Reformer, the Pilates Tower, the Cadillac, and the Pilates Chair have evolved tremendously from the original apparatuses Joseph Pilates built from parts of hospital beds and wheel chairs.
Using any of these machines properly will require some familiarization and instruction provided by an experienced Pilates instructor.
All of these machines were designed specifically for performing Pilates exercises. A series of springs and pulleys provide the resistance which works to strengthen core muscles while stretching and elongating the spine and connective tissues based on the principals of Pilates: control, flow, precision, and centering.
More simple equipment is also incorporated into Pilates mat exercise. This often includes a Step Barrel and Half Arc, sometimes called a Spine corrector.