What Makes a Good Pilates Teacher

Feet in reformer loops, legs pressing together, bent and up to the ceiling with pelvis off the carriage.

Written by Beth Sandlin

October 27, 2020

There are central tenets of what qualifies a person to teach Pilates but that doesn’t necessarily make someone a good teacher. That’s why every Pilates Instructor should explore this question, “What Makes a Good Pilates Teacher?”.

What makes a Pilates session a positive and supportive movement experience for someone goes beyond the Instructor knowing anatomy, the exercises, breathing patterns and all of the technical aspects of Pilates. 

The journey of a Pilates Instructor varies depending upon the Certification Course someone took, how long they’ve been teaching, continuing education, the clients they work with and other personal factors. It’s the personal that needs to be examined more because it is the Interpersonal Interaction with clients which can make the session feel supportive and encouraging. 

This isn’t to devalue the education, observation, student teaching hours or testing that takes place, this is all extremely important. It’s to say there’s more, there is always more. And when you shift from the Pilates exercise perspective to a human perspective, this can help you and your clients. 

I won’t even tell you my full definition of what makes a good Pilates teacher because I want your answer to be your own. Though I will give a little hint…. what made me a “good” Pilates teacher is being more authentic to my story, honoring other life experiences and views, taking advice with a “grain of salt”, getting away from Pilates Perfection, leaning into exploration beyond typical Pilates conversations and continuing education, and using a Trauma Informed Approach. All of this came after my initial Pilates Training that served as the Springboard to explore this question.

One of the beautiful and challenging aspects of this exploration is you’ll have a slightly different perspective of what makes a “good” Pilates teacher at different stages in your career. I think of Alison B Marsh with Pregnancy Pilates Impact and how when teaching Pilates Instructors about pre and post natal work, it’s more than teaching the contraindications and how to keep a client physically safe. She also speaks to body image with this population and how to support clients with body changes that occur with pregnancy. She could have left it at the mechanics and science of the physical changes, but she knows that there is so much more support needed to help Pilates teachers and clients.

I encourage you to listen and learn from your experiences and others, which is how Alison created a more in-depth coursework for Pregnancy and how I created the Trauma Informed Pilates Approach Continuing Education Course. 

Some questions you can ask yourself when exploring the question, What Makes a Good Pilates Teacher?

  • What have been your positive experiences as a Pilates student, what specifically made them positive?
  • When did you feel supported by a Pilates Instructor (and give specific examples)?
  • What words, feelings or emotions come to mind when you think of an ideal Pilates session?
  • Now the hard question… What are Pilates experiences that didn’t feel safe or you felt ashamed or frustrated with? 
    • What would have been the difference to make them positive rather than negative?

I encourage you to take the time to work through these questions and continue to take thoughtful exploration with, What Makes a Good Pilates Teacher.

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