I often hear from those considering our teacher training programme how they want to teach pilates because they are truly passionate about their practice. Often times, they have experienced injury as a result of repetitive strain from years as a gym bunny or long distance runner and pilates helped them get back to their activities of daily living, without pain. They often have full-time jobs in the corporate world and are looking for a change of life-style and pilates seems like a great fit with the added bonus of helping others.
They are so caught up in the exciting and glamorous dream of a “change of pace”, they often overlook the very non-exciting and non-glamourous reality of what it means to be a pilates teacher. While they are very passionate about their own practice, practicing pilates itself is not a paid activity, for sure. You will always be your “favourite client” (thank you Shari Berkowitz), but you’re only going to be your client’s favourite pilates teacher if you excel as much in teaching others as you do in your own practice.
Assuming you have a demonstrated proficiency in practicing pilates, you need to consider what it means to be a teacher. Experience gained from being a student many years in studios all over the world, as well as my now current position as being director of a successful pilates training facility in the centre of London, has taught me that excellence and dedication to one’s own practice certainly is an important factor in being a successful teacher. Unfortunately that same commitment does not always carry over into delivery to clients. I’ve included a few points below to consider before you quit your day-job in the quest to be your own boss.
You’re going to work long hours. Pilates is a leisure activity - we work when others are at leisure and this isn’t always at convenient hours. It’s typical to start a day early with classes or lessons before our clients go to work and to work late in the evening after they are done for the day (usually with a few hours unbooked and unpaid in the middle of the day when our clients are at work). Most teachers who support themselves on their teaching income, work 6 days a week.
You have to hustle. You want to be your own boss? You’re going to need to get your own clients. Yes, it is true that word of mouth is a great marketing tool, but you first need the “mouths” coming to you, to gain any kind of client base to support your new way of life.
You have to be consistent. Love to summer with your family on the coast? While you may think that your clients will stick around while you’re on summer break, if you are in a competitive area, they will simply go elsewhere and you will have to start again when you come back. If you have to find cover or cancel classes often, it is clear to everyone that teaching pilates isn’t a profession for you, it is just a hobby. And while you may still be a fantastic teacher, your income will only be consistent when you are.
Continuing education is expensive but a necessity. Successful teachers are the best students. Being curious and inspired is what helps to keep our teaching (and practice) fresh. Taking lessons yourself is also a form of continuing education - our teaching is always informed by how we move.
- People are weird and amazing. If your current position isn’t a client facing role, you may want to spend some time in a studio covering reception hours to understand if working with the public is for you.
I advise everyone looking to start our teacher training programmes to spend some time putting together a comprehensive business plan before you get started. Teacher training is expensive - you’re preparing for a new profession, knowing how you’re going to get a return on your investment makes it easy to focus on the important task of becoming a teacher and will help you get more out of your programme of choice because you know how you’re going to apply your newly gained knowledge.
We’ll be looking at what you should include in your business plan with my next post.
Any seasoned teachers out there have any advice of things you know now that you wished you knew before you started teaching? I look forward to hearing from you!
New on our teacher training schedule - Summer Teacher Training Mat Intensive and Fall Teacher Training Reformer Intensive, designed for more advanced practitioners or teachers from other providers who want to bridge to Balanced Body. Apply here.