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Monday, January 25, 2010

Which certification would you look for in hiring a new Pilates instructor?

Today's post comes courtesy of an email I received from an individual looking into certification programs. The question of course is.....Which certification you would look for in hiring a new Pilates instructor? What a loaded question.

Finding the right certification program can be tricky. Becoming a Pilates trainer is both costly and unbelievably time consuming. It's like going back to school all over again. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that just aren't cut out for it. Right off the bat I would cancel out any programs that claim you can be a Pilates trainer in a weekend because you just can't.

When I became a trainer this was going to be my full time job. I wasn't messing around. At this time, there were only two studios in Michigan and not many people knew what Pilates was. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to be an apprentice and work along side other experienced trainers where I was able to co-teach and learn everyday in a hands on environment. I was there everyday taking classes, teaching, reading my manuals and doing my own self workouts. The studio prided itself on giving challenging and disciplined workouts but we could also cater to individuals that might have physical limitations. It took months but in the end I am so thankful for the experience and everything that I've learned. Eleven years later and a lot of hard work I'm proud to be able to own and run my very own studio.

In picking a training program I would go with something as close to an apprenticeship as possible. Getting feedback daily from someone experienced is key. Before committing to a program I would take classes from the trainer and make sure that you have a positive experience and enjoy the workout you are receiving. Try and see if the clients that come through the door are life long and committed. Make sure your trainer is professional and will make time for you during your training.

As far was which certification programs I would look for in hiring a trainer? I don't rely heavily on the merit of certification programs. I can't believe I just admitted that! Let me explain. I am partial to a classical approach but I have learned many great things from being exposed to other methods. Knowledge is power after all. I live in southeast Michigan and Stott is the most popular certification course in my neck of the woods. Over time I have gotten really tired of all the different methods out there claiming that my method is better than yours because of x, y and z and blah, blah, blah so I don't get involved in much of that. Some people like apples, others like oranges.

I think that great trainers are few and far between and you should cherish them when you find them. You need to have so much knowledge on the exercises and on anatomy of movement but you also have to be able to relate to your clients. Things I have seen other trainers do over the years just baffle me. Some have strayed so far from the method that you can't even call what they do Pilates. They show up late for their appointments (if at all), talk to much during their clients workout, don't have their workout game plan done before their clients come in... and the list can go on. After completing a certification program you will be dealing with not only many different body types but different personalities as well. You need to be both professional and nurturing towards people and this too will take time and experience to learn.

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