Pilates: How to Choose the Right Instructor
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(ARA) - The Pilates Method, developed in the 1920s by Joseph H.
Pilates, is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility and
strength for the total body. The Method consists of a series of
controlled movements engaging the body and mind, performed on
specifically designed exercise apparatus and supervised by
extensively trained teachers.
Over the past few years, the Pilates Method, once
used mainly by dancers, has been discovered by legions of devoted
fans, from celebrities to soccer moms. With this growing popularity
comes the issue of locating a reputable instructor. So many fitness
centers and trainers have hopped on the Pilates bandwagon, it is
more important than ever to make sure that the instructor you choose
is comprehensively trained to teach the Pilates Method.
“Comprehensively, competently trained and
knowledgeable instructors are the essential elements to realizing
one’s potential and enjoying the process of learning Pilates,” says
Kevin Bowen, president of the Pilates Method Alliance, a nonprofit
alliance dedicated to advocating high educational standards for
Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous
benefits including increased lung capacity and circulation through
deep, healthy breathing; strength and flexibility, especially of the
abdomen and back muscles; and coordination, both muscular and
mental. Posture, balance and strength are all enhanced. “Pilates
teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills
over into other areas of life,” says Bowen. “It is really the only
mind/body practice native to the United States,” he adds.
While Joseph Pilates began developing his ideas
in a WWI internment camp in England, it wasn’t until after he and
his wife Clara moved to New York following the war, that he opened
the first Pilates studio. Pilates devoted his adult life to
fine-tuning and proselytizing his method. With his emphasis on
extensive training, Joseph Pilates would probably not be impressed
by the influx of “quickie certifications” available for would-be
instructors wanting to be trained in a weekend or two. He worked at
length with his own instructors, allowing them to assist and then
finally teach after sometimes as long as two or three years of
“While excellent training programs exist in the
marketplace today, some are clearly condensed and homogenized,
producing less than adequately qualified instructors,” says Bowen.
He offers the following guidelines for choosing a qualified Pilates
* How long have the instructors been teaching
* Are the instructors trained through a
comprehensive training program?
* Did that training program require a written and
practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours?
* How many total hours were spent in the training
* Does the instructor have any other movement
related teaching experience?
* What is the instructor’s or studio’s philosophy
and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries and
* Does the instructor or studio teach the full
repertoire of Pilates on all pieces of apparatus?
The Pilates Method Alliance’s Web site has a list
of members, all of whom have completed rigorous training programs;
you will also find information on the history of Pilates, and much
more. Visit the Web site at
www.pilatesmethodalliance.org. You can also reach the Alliance
toll-free at (866) 573-4945.
Courtesy of ARA Content