Question #23: What else do I need to know?

So you’ve finished your Pilates certification but how much do you really know, and how much more do you need to know? This is a great question inspired by a recent post on social media.

The answer really depends on what environment your will be teaching in, and the make up of your clientele. The role of an Instructor can vary greatly from teaching a couple group classes a week to healthy fit adults to working with clients with extensive musculoskeletal or neurological impairments. In this regard, the amount of additional information, aside from the Pilates exercises and basic anatomy you learned in your teacher training program, varies just as much.

I happen to work with clients with serious conditions as well as teaching Teachers that range from part-time instructors to Physical Therapists. This requires me to have extensive knowledge far beyond an understanding of the Pilates Method. I also happen to be very curious and want to understand in great depth the ins and outs of my profession. This is just a personal interest of mine and is not necessary for every teacher, and that is great. There are some expectations however that clients do have about the amount of knowledge their Movement Educator should possess to effectively and safely work with their bodies.

Here are some strategies that I feel are useful to determine if you need to know more, and how to find that information:

  1. Build your clientele and find your niche
    As a new teacher, you don’t know yet who you will be working with consistently. Over time you start to build your clientele with loyal clients, and eventually there will be some predictability in the type of client you attract or enjoy working with. Once you know who is your ideal client, you will start to learn what additional tools you need to work most effectively with this group.
  2. Research what you need to know immediately for your clients
    More and more, clients are coming to us with a list of aches and pains, and they expect their Teacher to understand the condition, the faulty patterns involved and to inevitably help free them of pain. You have many resources to help you with understanding the basic concepts about your client’s diagnosis, from symptoms to exercise ideas. Contacting your client’s PT or other practitioners can provide a wealth of information that you need to know right away to work safely with this client. Of course, any condition that is outside of your scope or that is not diagnosed should be referred to the appropriate professional.
  3. Seek additional training in specific areas of interest
    Once you have built your niche client, and have worked with some common conditions, you will begin to find an interest in a specific area. This could be to better understand biomechanics, neurologicial conditions, effects of aging, sport-specific training, and on and on. Make a list of your interests and look for workshops or mentors that help feed that curiosity, and inevitably hone your skills and make you more marketable.
  4. Continue your training to keep your skills sharp and relevant
    Your education as a Pilates Teacher does not end on the day of your practical evaluation. Research and information about movement changes rapidly, and so does the industry in which we work. There is a plethora of continuing education opportunities that will help you stay on top of your game, build your expertise, and keep you relevant as things change. A reputable Pilates Teacher Training program requires a minimum number of continuing education hours to be completed each year or two to maintain certification.
  5. Learn some business tools
    Something not learned or often mentioned in your Pilates Teacher Training program is that in most cases, you will be running your own small business, unless in the rare situation where you are employed by your studio. Some useful tools for general business operations is basic accounting, business strategy, and marketing. Workshops are available to the small business owner through the Chamber of Commerce or City’s Business Development office. Finding a successful Studio Owner as a resource or mentor is helpful to troubleshoot Pilates business-specific questions and challenges.

The most important thing to note is that filling your head with reams of information is useless if you don’t know how to apply that knowledge with your clients or to your business. Learning should be fun, informative and readily applicable to what you need for your clients now. Seek courses that satisfy these requirements.

Do you have a question related to your teaching or movement practice? Send it to to be featured in a future Ask Holly.

Written by
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

© Movement Monthly 2019. All rights reserved.

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