How to Assess the Qualifications of a Pilates Teacher

Written by:
Jessica Gowen
November 7, 2022

A few weeks back, I shared my take on the Pilates copyright lawsuit that is being heard soon in federal court in New York. Parties on both sides of the lawsuit claim to want to protect Joseph Pilates’ work and legacy, albeit through different mechanisms.

The first trademark lawsuit brought back in 1996 – which held that Pilates is a generic term – paved the way for a dramatic increase in the number of Pilates teachers. This ruling helped the method explode in the early 2000s.

As is often the case, the gift of the trademark being canceled (making training more accessible) brought with it a myriad of challenges. Not least, with Pilates considered a generic exercise term, it became much harder for consumers to know how to evaluate a prospective teacher or studio.

Pilates teacher training ranges from quick weekend certifications to exhaustive 18-month intensive study. And the movements and equipment covered in one training might be nearly identical to what Joe documented in his books, photographs and films. Or it might be something else entirely. 

As a consumer of Pilates services, what questions should you ask to understand whether you are engaging with a Pilates teacher or someone who has Pilates-inspired training? 

More and more, we are seeing boutique group fitness studios that use some of the underlying concepts from Pilates and/or equipment similar to those designed by Joseph Pilates, but that don’t offer comprehensive training or require it of their teachers. Fun group fitness has its place. However the service offered in these studios is entirely different from what a traditional Pilates studio can do for its clients.

Here are 6 key questions when you interview a Pilates teacher (or a Pilates studio):

1. Did you graduate from a Pilates teacher training program? If the answer is no, look for a different teacher.

2. At which school did you complete your training program? Reputable training programs have websites with clear information about their curriculum and training process.

3. How many hours of training did you have? A reputable program has at least 450 hours of training.

4. What did your training curriculum include? A reputable program includes lectures/workshops covering all material, practice teaching, observation, personal practice, feedback on teaching, and assessments.

5. Are you comprehensively trained? At a minimum, comprehensive training includes all of the primary Pilates apparatus (Reformer, Mat, Cadillac/Tower, and Wunda Chair).

6. Do you practice the Pilates method for yourself? If the answer is no, look elsewhere. 

For information about our Pilates offerings in Atlanta, contact us

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Jessica Gowen

VP Performance Development
Jessica Gowen leads the performance side of Activcore as Vice President of Performance Development. She works at the Activcore studio in Atlanta, Georgia, located just 2 miles from Emory University. A passionate entrepreneur, Jessica joined Activcore to further develop professionally as an industry leader in the Atlanta area, and to grow her online performance offerings on a national scale. 


Gyro What? Understanding the Gyrotonic Expansion System

When Activcore and CORE merged earlier this year in Atlanta, we introduced a new movement method to our suite of services: the Gyrotonic Expansion System®. This system has two parts: 1) Gyrotonic® exercise which is performed on specialized equipment, and 2) Gyrokinesis® work which is performed on a chair and/or mat.‍ If you’ve been at Activcore lately, you might have seen the equipment in our back room. The Gyrotonic® equipment uses a system of weights and pulleys to simultaneously offload body weight, similar to the Redcord suspension system.


Integrating Physical Therapy and Fitness Training for Better Balance!

Balance is something often taken for granted until it is gone. Whether you suffer from a sudden physical injury or simply notice that things you used to do are getting harder over time, losing your balance can affect your quality of life. In some cases, it can even shorten your life.


Balance from the Ground Up: Start with Your Feet!

Did you know that each of your feet has 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments? And you have more than SEVEN THOUSAND nerve endings in each foot? The foot provides both important structural support for our balance and a ton of subconscious information for our brain about where we are in space and how to organize our movement.


A Court Ruling That Would Forever Change the Course of Pilates

On October 14, 2022, The New York Times published an article titled “The Fight for the Soul of Pilates.” The story was on the front page of the paper’s print edition style section the following weekend. It was a huge amount of visibility for the Pilates community. The topic? A new copyright-related lawsuit filed in federal court.


How to Assess the Qualifications of a Pilates Teacher

A few weeks back, I shared my take on the Pilates copyright lawsuit that is being heard soon in federal court in New York. Parties on both sides of the lawsuit claim to want to protect Joseph Pilates’ work and legacy, albeit through different mechanisms.


Creating 2023, Part 1: The Year End Review

The new year is right around the corner. Have you carved out time to set your intentions for 2023? ‍The last week of the year is my favorite time to reflect and to cast a vision for how I want the new year to look and feel. More than simply reflecting and dreaming, I like to use this time to create a plan for the year ahead. 


Creating 2023, Part 2: Setting Intentions (rather than resolutions)

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? If so, how successful are you in maintaining the resolutions you set? ‍According to, the statistics aren’t encouraging. After 1 week, 25% of people have already dropped their resolutions. After a month, about a third of people have given up. And at the 6 month point, roughly half of resolutions have been broken.


Creating 2023, Part 3: New Habits and Next Actions

The new year is just days away. Have you completed a review of 2022 and set your intentions for 2023? The last step in actively creating a 2023 that's aligned with your purpose and priorities is identifying habits and small actions that will support moving toward your vision of the year ahead.


Boost Your Bone Health with Kettlebell Training

As a Performance Specialist at Activcore, I frequently get questions from my clients about bone density and ways to improve it (or at least maintain it). Building strong, healthy bones is essential for overall well-being and longevity. While traditional weightlifting has long been associated with bone-building benefits, Kettlebell training offers a dynamic and effective alternative.


Recovering from Shoulder Injury: How Pilates and Gyrotonic Exercise Can Help

Shoulder injuries can be debilitating, hindering our daily activities and compromising our overall well-being. Mindful exercise methods like Pilates and the Gyrotonic Expansion System® are a helpful addition to physical therapy. Both approaches focus on strength, balance, breathing, stability and mobility. But they differ in their principles and techniques.