I have been in this business long enough to remember when I avoided saying I was a Pilates instructor. For the few who knew what Pilates was, I did not look like one of those celebrity Pilates instructors but for most people Pilates was mysterious and I was ill-equipped, and insecure in my abilities, to stand strong in space of clarity. “It’s a little like fitness” “ a little like Yoga…”
Now, Pilates itself stands strong in a space of clarity and as a wellness modality unto itself. A modality that optimizes movement potential and helps clients do all the things they love to do well, do longer, and with physical proficiency. The value proposition to the client is now well understood, which makes the need for instructors, qualified instructors, who see the potential of Pilates as a profession greater than ever.
In a prior blog, we explored the earning potential of a Pilates instructor. Here, let’s discuss what it means to be a fully recognized profession. Our student population is growing, diversifying, and expanding the boundaries of practice. Prior to the pandemic the average student taking Pilates teacher training coursework was 35-57, mostly women, and were returning to the workforce post children or exploring training as a second/third career. There was very little diversity in persons and socioeconomic status, and the aspirations ranged from being able to teach clients inside a small home studio, to teaching inside a studio part-time, to becoming a studio owner of a physical space.
Today, the age has skewed younger, between 25-45, still largely women. We are seeing more diversity in the student makeup in both persons, bodies, and also in professional aspirations. There is a rise of Pilates professionals, for whom teaching Pilates is the goal. Practices are not only limited to in-person inside a physical space, but with virtual options, all manner of client interaction, classes, and teacher training can now be found online.
During the pandemic, we all wondered and feared this would negatively impact in-person teaching, conferences, and studios. The opposite has been happening. The virtual is fueling independent instructors, studios are thriving and growing, conferences are sought after, and the client is asking for Pilates. Many studios are also being opened by business forward operators seeking to leverage the professional gains and create business opportunities and strategies around the brand that is Pilates. Like-minded health professionals are joining in the ‘movement’ and seeking various avenues of education including physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and osteopaths.
This is a moment, an opportunity, for the whole of the Pilates community. The past is meeting the present and the future is open to possibilities. We can all now stand solidly in the space that is Pilates and own the space we stand in!
With all this growth comes a word of caution. Pilates is sought after not because it is like…fitness, yoga, tai-chi, or anything else. It is sought after for what it uniquely brings to the mind-body training environment. So as we all grow into our professional persona, let’s make sure we bring with us the essence that is Pilates, we root in the foundations of sound practice, we place value in the education process, and above all, we infuse the love of movement into the world.
Being a profession means we can be heart forward in practice and make a very good living doing so. It means we can make a difference to our client’s lives and be good businesses in our communities. It means we can continue to drive the positivity around Pilates and grow personally and intellectually through our chosen profession and practice, Pilates.