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How to recognize a good Pilates instructor

How to recognize a good Pilates instructor

The entire fitness industry recognizes the Pilates Method as a commercially profitable endeavor, and thus you will find that every gym, and boutique fitness studio will claim to have a Pilates instructor. The truth is, that only a small percentage of trainers in the fitness industry will make the commitment in time and money to become an advanced practitioner of the Pilates Method, and attend a formal certification program. The cost of your Pilates session should be based on your instructor's skill level, formal training, and years of teaching the Pilates Method.

The first question you should ask yourself when searching for a Pilates instructor, is whether you want to study Classical (original) Pilates, which is a very specific methodology, that creates long lean muscles, and a beautiful, effortless quality of movement, otherwise known as "the Pilates body", or whether you would be happy with a "trainer" who has borrowed the machines and exercises of the Pilates Method, and uses them to create the physique of a body builder.

In order to make a grounded assessment when choosing a "teacher" of the Pilates Method, you may want to use the following scale of competency.

Someone who has a superficial interest in the Method, who has no formal teacher training, or has attended one weekend workshop, and thus doesn't understand, or has rejected the methodology. This is typically, the gym personal trainer who is doing some form of "bodybuilding Pilates", and lacks a personal practice of their own.
Suggested fee for a semi-private: $0

Advanced Beginner
Someone who has completed a respected, beginning level certification program, consisting of 300-350 hours of education. These programs, for the most part, consist of beginning level concepts, and exercises, and do not include modifications, or contraindications for any of the many physical ailments the general population suffers from.
This "certified teacher" may have a personal practice that extends beyond the beginning level, but is only qualified to teach the beginning level.
Suggested fee for a semi-private: $25-$35

Someone who has gone on to study advanced teaching techniques, is well educated, and experienced in the Pilates rehabilitation protocols, is familiar with all of the original Pilates apparatus, and the Classical exercises. This person has seriously studied the Pilates Method for years, and has taken their personal practice to the advanced level on all the apparatus, and has the "Pilates body" to prove it.
Suggested fee for a semi-private: $40-$55

Someone who has combined a natural gift for movement, with years of perfect practice, resulting in the most sublime quality of movement, and flawless alignment. This person has taken their personal practice to the most advanced levels. A virtuoso may demonstrate the exercises perfectly, but may not be able to teach the component parts of each exercise, simply because their progress from beginner to virtuoso was attained through a highly developed kinesthetic sense, rather than through analyzing technique. They may also lack the intuition, or insight into her clients needs, that defines the artistry of teaching.
Suggested fee for a semi-private: $40-$55

Someone who possesses all of the abilities of the expert, and the virtuoso, combined with the intuition, and spontaneous insight, that arises from decades of practice, study, and teaching. A truly masterful teacher of the Pilates Method will continue the creative work of Joseph Pilates, perhaps adding new exercises, new exercise rehabilitation protocols, a new teacher training syllabus, or possibly something the rest of us can't even imagine.
Suggested fee for a semi-private: $60-$80

When it comes to physical disciplines, it takes years of study and practice to become proficient enough to teach that discipline well. Avoid the dilettante, and beware the advanced beginner who charges as much as the expert.


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