From the humble and studied beginnings of Joseph Pilates’ exercise program, developed in a World War I internment camp in England, the Pilates programs have grown into an industry. Joseph Pilates’ original studies involved years of research, virtually unrecognized in his lifetime, but now world-renowned. So famous and detailed were the works of Joseph Pilates, Pilates instructors today require certification to ensure you’re getting the real thing.
There are two major classifications of Pilates certification. Pilates mat certification requires a thorough knowledge of Joseph Pilates’ exercises, including rehabilitative and sports related training.
The other classification is the Pilates certification in equipment. Although there is no standardization in the available certifications, there are several”watchdog” organizations dedicated to maintaining the standards of excellence set forth by Joseph Pilates.
Certification as a mat instructor does not require as much training as that of a Pilates certification in equipment. The Pilates certification in mat instruction unfortunately allows for more ”wriggle room” than the equipment certification. While a Pilates certification in mat instruction covers all the basic exercises, there is no requirement for time spent studying the methodology. One instructor may be well above the crowd in knowledge, while another may have only a cursory knowledge and level of skill. Pilates certification as a mat instructor may involve little more than a weekend of course work.
There are two reliable sources online to help you locate a qualified teacher: The Pilates Method Alliance (www.pilatesmethodalliance.com) and the non-profit Yoga Alliance group (www.yogaalliance.org). These organizations are dedicated to preserving the integrity of Joseph Pilates’ findings, with searchable databases of qualified teachers in your area. Both of these organizations offer information and tips on finding a qualified instructor and judging the relative quality of a Pilates certification.
The Pilates certification for equipment is far more difficult to obtain, usually requiring at least a year of studies in the Pilates method. Pilates certification in mat training is most often a prerequisite. Certification in Pilates equipment involves a basic level of knowledge in anatomy, physiology and the specific equipment used in Pilates exercises. Knowledge of the various apparatus and modifications are also required.
Some certification programs divide the areas of knowledge in stepped degrees, studying each piece of equipment as it pertains to different population groups. Some programs are quite sophisticated in their scope, requiring as much as 900 hours of study on the part of the student.
If you’re looking for a Pilates teacher, be aware of the diversity of certification programs and the lack of standardization. Contact the organizations named above to hook you up with a qualified instructor.