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Top Tips For New Pilates Instructors

Top Tips For New Pilates Instructors

Top Teaching Tips For New Pilates Instructors

You’ve learnt the repertoire of exercises, done the practice hours, soared through your exam, have your certificate in hand and you’re ready to change the Pilates game, but…then what?!

As a freshly qualified Pilates instructor, you emerge into the profession, bright eyed, full of ambition, eager to make your mark on the industry (which is a beautiful energy to bring to the practice) but at the same time, there’s a dichotomy –of feeling overwhelmed, unsure of how to best get started, how to lock down a teaching schedule and where to find your future loyal clients.

read: my pilates career pathway

Having been in that particular scenario myself and helping to mentor many new instructors through their first teaching appointments, I’ve got a few handy tricks for helping you go from Pilates student, to fully fledged, confident Pilates instructor!

Read on for the Top Teaching Tips For New Pilates Instructors

1.     Get a mentor (s)

Finding a mentor, or mentors, when you first start out as a new Pilates instructor (or group fitness instructor) is highly recommended as you will gain invaluable assistance, feedback and constructive critique from a senior instructor, who can be on hand for any queries, questions or advice you may have along the journey.

Mentors can come in various forms, perhaps they are hands-on as a lead instructor in a studio you are training within, or maybe they are a remote mentor – an expander or someone you look up to via social media or online, who you can learn from in their practice or the way they engage with their work. Either way, mentors will help guide and shape your instructor journey, providing a steady hand of support when needed!


2.     Maintain your own practice

You likely got into this line of work because you are obsessed with the benefits of Pilates and felt the calling to share your knowledge and passion with others. To best keep feeling inspired and fresh, it’s imperative to maintain your own practice!

It’s exceptionally common for Pilates teachers to feel like they have no time to train themselves, however its imperative you do – so as to know how the exercises feel in your own body, to better explain and share with your students, to practice new sequences or series, play around with the method, better understand your body and finally because it is a movement modality that will relax and rejuvenate you!

Additionally, as much as you recharge yourself with your own practice, aim to attend other instructors classes – this will help you witness a range of teaching styles and methods (helping you stay inspired and widening your understanding of communication methods;' a key ingredient to a good teacher). However, it will also beneficially enable you to build relationships and a wide network within the industry.  

3.     Practice, Practice, Practice

When you are first getting started as a Pilates instructor you will spend hours upon hours practicing explaining the exercises, modifications, spring settings, flows and sequences. There’s a lot of information to remember and as you will know from your recent exams, the best way to prepare is to practice, practice, practice!

The more you are able to embed the information into your mind and body via repetition, the easier standing in front of a classroom of eager students will be to share your knowledge and let it flow!

Exam Tip: One of my top tips for practicing for the exam is to follow along with the instructor DVD’s – muting the sound and explaining each exercise in the time it takes the demonstration to occur, so as to be succinct, clear and efficient!


4.     Prepare your class plans

An experienced and dexterous senior instructor will likely be able to walk into a Pilates class, assess the students and formulate a class plan to flow without any prior preparation due to their expansive knowledge of the syllabus and human body in movement. However when you are just getting started, preparing a class plan is the best way to feel prepared and confident in the class you are about to teach.

Your class plan will help you cover all of the crucial movement patterns, stay on time, remain focused and offer up your incredible knowledge to your new students. Once you have the class plan prepared, practice it a few times and try to commit the flow of the class to memory. Keeping a notebook or phone close by with the plan written out is an easy way of being able to refer back to the plan and a tool commonly utilised by many instructors!

read: the pilates breathing technique

5.     Be ready for anything to happen

Just as much as you are prepared for your class plan, try to be prepared for just about anything to happen in your session and be flexible enough to adapt while staying calm and in control! You may have planned a dynamic session, only to turn up and be greeted with a pregnant client, another with a recent injury and another who is attending their first ever session!

Being adaptable is crucial and an adept skill for new instructors to work through. We are all human, so just remember to breathe, focus on the knowledge you have, stay in your teaching power and be willing to be flexible in how you allow the class to unfold.  


6.     Don’t try to re-invent the wheel

There’s an excitement and exhilaration that comes from being recently qualified – you’re likely buzzing and ready to get going – which often comes with a sense of pressure to try and devise new flows, sequences and series which will change the game, a super admirable trait! But just remember, Pilates is a systemic and specialised movement methodology, which whilst it can be highly adapted, doesn’t always require a re-invention in every class!

Take some of the pressure off yourself and allow yourself to trust the Pilates process, utilising the incredible exercises in the methodology to their full advantage and remember, clients don’t always want fancy new exercises, old favourites will often fill them with happiness!  

7.     Take up teaching opportunities in all their various forms

When you’re fresh into the industry, regular teaching opportunities can be hard to grasp, particularly if you don’t begin with a very wide network to begin with – but there are many options to getting started. Look for substitute and cover class lists, reach out the studios with your details, join Facebook groups for Pilates teachers, attend other teachers classes and strike up conversations, offer family and friends classes, be willing to jump in and sub classes where needed and most of all, try to be available.

Often by being flexible in the early phases, when you start to build a base of clients and studio’s into your portfolio, you will gain a reputation for your talent, professionalism and personality, which will help you find more opportunities coming in. From there, it will become easier to find for regular class slots to fill up your schedule!


8.     Create a timetable that works for you

Whether you are looking at a full-time or part-time schedule, it is important to know what times and style of working will suit you. Hold a vision of this in your mind – when you first start, you may have to teach hours that aren’t the most desirable, but work towards knowing what is most suitable for you. If you’re not a morning person, 6am classes may not work the best in the long-term, so evaluate this strategy as you progress in your career and build the lifestyle you truly want with your Pilates skills!

workout: pilates for a better night’s sleep

9.     Take time after class to evaluate how sessions went

After you finish your classes take a few moments alone to assess how the sessions went. Check in and ask your clients how they found the class – the level of difficulty, their engagement, what they liked/didn’t like to receive any direct feedback. Then check in with yourself – what went well, what exercises perhaps felt a little sticky or which verbal cues didn’t quite translate or land as well as you may have liked. Jot these down alongside your class plans so that you can remember and adapt your plans for the next session.

If the class went really well, remember that and allow yourself to have a moment to celebrate yourself. If you feel like perhaps it wasn’t the best class (hey, they happen to us all!) don’t beat yourself up, instead look for the teaching points so you know how to evolve and grow.  


10.  Ask for feedback

Getting feedback is an invaluable learning tool, whether that is from your students at the end of class, inviting your mentor or fellow instructors into class, or from a studio owner, it can feel a little scary, but remember feedback is a tool for growth and will help you exponentially to develop your skills.

 11.  Build Professional relationships (studio owners, other teachers, students)

As a service industry, building relationships is exceptionally important in your teaching career. Developing strong professional relationships will help you expand your network, which can often lead to helping you find new opportunities and establishes your reputation. Showcasing your authentic self as professional, friendly and reliable during your interactions with students, fellow teachers, studio owners or other fitness/wellness professional is imperative for a long, successful career within the sector.


12.  Find your allied health referral team

It is important to know where your scope of knowledge and qualification stands and where you may need to refer students/clients on to other allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, personal trainers or pre/post-natal specialists. Consolidating a network of trusted practitioners with whom you have built a professional relationship and can personally vouch for in referring your clients is highly recommended (you will be surprised how often you are asked for your suggestions) and is an elevated practice for ensuring the safety of your clients when the scope of your practice does not reach their need. Just as you refer out, this is also a great tool for gaining in new referrals, as often allied health professionals will look for great instructors to refer clients to when you are needed! 

search: wellness practitioner directory

13.  Remember learning doesn’t end at your qualification

There will always be new practices, methods, exercises or techniques to learn and it is important to stay humble in maintaining the mentality of being a student in your professional practice. The qualification is just the start of your learning career and continuing on with your CPD’s, expanding your scope of practice into allied fields or up-levelling your qualifications is an important method to staying up to date, inspired and in charge of your career. This continued expertise and knowledge will additionally directly expand your value and expertise as a Pilates instructor as your career evolves!

Want more Pilates content? Try this “basic pilates posture check” at home now!

My Pilates Career Pathway

My Pilates Career Pathway