Pilates Instructor Courses

Through independent research and conversations with certified Pilates instructors, Allied Health World has explored both the didactic and applied coursework that are included in the different types of programs designed to prepare the next generation of Pilates instructors:

What are the required courses associated with Pilates trainer certificate programs?

Using an affiliated school as an example, Allied Health World outlines the Pilates instructor courses specific to both basic Pilates Mat Trainer programs and more advanced Comprehensive Mat and Apparatus Trainer programs. These Pilates instructor courses are the same or very similar to those required by all schools offering Pilates teacher training programs:

Mat Trainer:

  • Movement Anatomy for Mat Instructors (5 hours)
  • Essential Pilates Exercises (20 hours)
  • Intensive Mat Class (20 hours)

Comprehensive Mat and Apparatus Trainer:

  • Comprehensive Pre-Training (10 hours)
  • Movement Anatomy for Mat Instructors (5 hours)
  • Essential Pilates Exercises (20 hours)
  • Mat Intensive (20 hours)
  • Reformer Intensive (20 hours)
  • Reformer Labs I & II (6 hours)
  • Cadillac Intensive (20 hours)
  • Cadillac Labs I & II (6 hours)
  • Auxiliary Equipment (15 hours)
  • Auxiliary Lab I (3 hours)
  • Postural Analysis and Program Design (10 hours)

What are the six principals of Pilates?

Being a unique chimera of exercise and philosophy that has been refined over decades of practice and observation, Pilates has a clear and well thought-out set of principals that are the foundation of its practice:

Breathing: Concentrated, controlled, and precise inhalation and exhalation are part of every Pilates exercise. Joseph Pilates is known to have said, “Even if you follow no other instructions, learn to breathe correctly.” Proper breathing charges the blood with oxygen, activates the circulatory system, and works to purge the body of waste gases, toxins, and sloughed off cell debris known to cause fatigue. Pilates postural lateral breathing involves deep inhalation that expands the back and sides of the rib cage. This involves engaging the deep abdominal and pelvic muscles both while inhaling and exhaling.

Centering: What is commonly referred to now as the core muscles- the large group of inner-torso muscles that make up the abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks and which are responsible for spinal stability- Joseph Pilates originally called the powerhouse. Core muscle strength is the very foundation of Pilates’ philosophy on fitness. All Pilates exercise draws from the strength of the core muscles. The powerhouse is responsible for coordinating all body movement; even outward movement of the arms and legs begins with the core muscles.

Concentration: Part of what makes Pilates so unique is the mind body connection that it seeks to promote. One must be totally present while performing Pilates exercises. Intense focus is required to remain mindful of specific core muscles even when performing exercises that are seemingly unrelated to these muscles. Pilates is all about being mindful of body and form of movement; being conscious of breathing while also being conscious of every muscle that is engaged in the course of movement.

Control: Joseph Pilates coined the term “contrology” to describe the exercises he developed. This is because absolute control of the body as well as the mind is key to performing each exercise. Pilates uses smooth, elegant, controlled, and precise movements, each having a specific purpose. Pilates exercises never involve any sudden, haphazard, or meaningless movement. This special attention to control is part of what makes Pilates a safe form of exercise unlikely to result in injury.

Flow: Pilates exercises are performed with graceful, fluid, dance-like motions free of jerky or fragmented movement. Once the flow and proper form of a given exercise is mastered, participants work to apply that to the entire routine such that each exercise smoothly transitions into the next. This works to seamlessly thread the exercises together causing the body to be in constant motion, working the muscles even in between exercises.

Precision: There are no wasted movements in Pilates and each exercise looks to accomplish a specific goal. Pilates uses minimal repetition and focuses rather on a few repetitions performed with perfect precision. The philosophy of Pilates asserts that every movement should be honored, so great attention is given to integrating all six Pilates’ principals while performing each exercise with perfectly precise movement.

Pilates Instructor Schools