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. 
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