Guide to Choosing a Pilates Instructor
I had a prepared a dos/don’ts, why/why not, benefits/drawbacks, a how-to piece on stretching for blog post number two. Then I received a number of emails from different Pilates education programs and the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA)
all in the last week, so this bad boy went to the top of the list. The following post was set to launch later in the year.
The general public could benefit from some knowledge on the different educational backgrounds of Pilates instructors. As a newer profession, it is harder to distinguish well-trained instructors who provide a safe and efficient movement experience from those who have taken a three hour online program and never actually trained with a live human. I received this email last week that ruffled some feathers in the Pilates community. 90 days? An online program? What? A comprehensive teacher training program takes at least a year to complete, average length is closer to two years.
Here are some questions to ask when seeking out a qualified Pilates instructor:
Where did you get your Pilates education? How many hours required? Did your education involve mat training only or training on the equipment as well?
Here is a list of recognized Pilates education programs. Hopefully his/her answer is on the list. If you intend to take mat classes, training on the equipment is not necessary, but can definitely deepen the instructor's understanding of the Pilates exercises and how the body moves.
Did you pass the PMA certification exam?
Only Pilates instructors that pass the PMA exam can use the term “certified” Pilates teacher. That’s an easy question to answer in Mid-Missouri. As of January 2015, there are two Pilates instructors in Columbia that can answer yes to that question. Find the two of us here. If the answer is no, should you cross this instructor off the list? Not necessarily. There are qualified local instructors who have not taken the PMA exam. Columbia has limited local educational options and limited access to all the equipment needed for the comprehensive training required take the PMA exam.
What is the PMA and why do I care?
For quite some time, the term “certified Pilates teacher” was not well defined. Any Pilates instructor who completed some sort of training and received a “certificate” could use that title. One can compare the various Pilates instructor educational options to the yoga and personal training world. Some educational programs offer a weekend course and others require hundreds of hours of lecture time, personal practice hours, teaching hours, and a written, verbal and practical test-out.
In 2001 the PMA was created as a certifying agency and professional association for Pilates teachers. Its main goal was to "establish the practice of teaching Pilates as a profession". The PMA helped to distinguish the difference from the six hour crash course (there is one offered locally--turn your attention to the picture) and the comprehensive 400+ hour programs, to give a little more weight to the word “certified” (accredited in 2012). Basically passing the PMA exam is similar to taking boards after graduating from PT or nursing school.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the Pilates teacher training in order make an educated decision when choosing a Pilates instructor. Still have questions about what PMA®-CPT means? Try the Limitless Pilates FAQ page. Learn more about Jamie's credentials here.