Exposing the True Cost of Pilates Instructor Certification

Aug 21, 2018 · 9 minutes to read

Do you enjoy teaching? Are you comfortable talking to big groups? Do you have a nurturing personality? Have you ever been a coach or a tutor? Are you looking for a flexible schedule? Is working weekends and nights okay? There are many practical aspects of working as a Pilates instructor which you will need to consider. Once you’ve thought everything through and have a plan, it’s time to begin the Pilates certification process.

How Much is a Pilates Instructor Certification?

First, define your ultimate goal. You must decide if you want to teach group mat classes or train students on Pilates equipment. Maybe you want to do both. You also must decide how much you would like to earn as a Pilates instructor. From there, you can determine the certification program that will help you meet these goals.

If you simply want to guest teach the Thursday night Pilates class at your local gym, then you should be fine in securing a mat certification. However, if you dream of opening your own studio or becoming a full-time instructor, it’s usually recommended you go for the comprehensive certification. This certification will prepare you to teach the mat class, as well as all Pilates machines. Sure, it will mean more time and money to get a comprehensive certification, but it will pay off in the long run.

Certification normally costs between $100 and $300 for a basic mat. This certification program can be completed in less than 40 to 50 hours or at most 12 months.  You will go over all the basic mat movements, along with the corresponding modifications. At the end of your mat certification, you will be required to complete a written exam and a teaching demonstration.

A comprehensive Pilates certification has a more expensive price tag of $3,000 or more. Finishing this program will take about 500 hours of training and student teaching. Remember, a comprehensive certification provides the opportunity for you to offer more skills to your students and, therefore, charge more for your services. Having such a broad set of skills will certainly mean earning the money you invested and then some.

Keep in mind, many of the certification organizations do offer payment plans for tuition and fees.

Several of the certifications programs will want you to do some hands-on student teaching in their studios. To do so, you’ll have to purchase Pilates instructor liability insurance. This will be mandatory for you to teach in the certification studios. Most professional liability policies are about $500 to $1,000 per year. You may even be able to find a liability policy that’s a little less expensive.

Related: Guide to the Best Personal Trainer Certifications

Types of Pilates Instructor Certification Programs

There are dozens of Pilates instructor certification programs available. You will notice they fall into two different categories: classical or contemporary. The classical technique stays true to Joseph Pilates original teachings. Contemporary technique blends newer movements into the classical teaching style.

Many of these certification programs will require you to complete prerequisites before beginning their courses. You will want to gather all the pre-requisite information when trying to decide which program is best. You’ll also want to consider the schedule for the certification classes. Does the program match your personal schedule? Will you need to travel to finish your classes? Are you required to be an apprentice under a certified instructor?

You may want to talk with your favourite Pilates teacher to find out what program they followed. If you enjoy the teacher’s style, then it may be best to do the same certification program and technique they followed. You should also get other tips and recommendations from your favourite instructors and fellow Pilates enthusiasts. It helps to have an insider’s perspective on the process of certification.

Below is a list of the most popular certification programs nationwide (Ogle, 2018). Hopefully, the information provided will be useful to you in your research of the best certification program for your future.


  Program Description Technique Style Certification Hours Cost
Balanced Body Education Offers training in modules that can be taken independently over time. You can get the benefit of training with various instructors in different locations. Contemporary 500 Average
Body Arts and Science International (BASI) Training is offered over a three to six-month period and can last between three and six intensive weekends depending on the dates and location. Contemporary 500 Average with payment plans
Polestar Pilates has a strong rehabilitative component to their educational training. Contemporary 452 Above average with payment plans
PhysicalMind Institute offers separate mat certification as a prerequisite for the equipment courses. Contemporary 500 Less than average
Romana’s Pilates This is one of the most traditional classical Pilates training programs. Classical 600 Above Average
Stott Pilates Comprehensive certification is mat and reformer. Other equipment is another 165-hour program. Contemporary 310 Less than average
Peak Pilates Comprehensive instructor training in three levels. Each level covers mat and equipment with increasing depth. Contemporary 500 Average
Power Pilates Five-weekend intensive programs with 24 hours of weekly meetings. The program takes six to nine months to complete in New York City or six to 12 months to complete elsewhere. Classical 600 Average
Ron Fletcher Program A year-long program that includes training such as Fletcher towel work and percussive breathing. Contemporary 500 High
Core Pilates, NYC Offers six intensive weekends plus monthly review meetings. Classical 500 Average

 It’s important to remember what makes for a reputable certification program:

  • 500 hours of training for a comprehensive certification
  • Training modules that take place over many months
  • Pilates certification requires at least a year of study and hundreds of hours of apprenticeship
  • Recognized by Pilates Method Alliance

PMA Certification and Advanced Training

In addition to receiving your teaching program’s certification, you can certainly pursue a Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) certification as well. The Pilates industry is unregulated and, therefore, a PMA certification is not required. It is certainly positive to receive the PMA’s stamp of approval. Most instructors get hands-on experience teaching before they begin studying and preparing to pass the PMA exam.

To obtain your PMA certification, you will sign up for the Internet-Based (IBT) test. The fee for IBT is $295. You will receive a list of dates, times, and locations where the exam can be taken via computer. Once you secure the PMA certification, you will need to take continuing education courses and renew your PMA certification every two years. There is a renewal fee of $150 plus the cost of your continuing education courses. Initial continuing education courses usually start around $150 and go up to $500 per class.

Remember, continuing education for your professional designations is normally an income tax expense (deduction). Check with your tax specialist for verification.

After completing your basic mat or comprehensive certification, you can also study advanced coursework that will provide you with a specialization.

If you specialize in an area, it will expand your teaching opportunities and increase your base pay by as much as 27%. Examples of speciality tracks are:

  • spine care
  • pre/postnatal
  • cancer survivorship
  • orthopedic concerns
  • scoliosis
  • osteoporosis
  • athletic performance

Most Pilates speciality niches are focused on assisting fitness professionals (i.e. competitive athletes) while another specialization is designed to support physical therapy and repair.

Certified and Ready for Business

The final step in your dream of teaching Pilates is to secure a professional liability insurance policy. Most studios will stipulate the need for your own liability insurance. Plus, you should have a liability policy anyway to protect your business and personal assets from any malpractice allegations. The legal fees alone could dry up your savings and credit card limits.

By paying a minimal premium (usually a few dollars per day), you could potentially save yourself millions of dollars in the long-run. Also, by having liability insurance, you will be more likely to get gigs for various community centers, health clubs, gyms, and Pilates studios. Without professional liability insurance, you will be excluded from many teaching jobs.

Fitness centers usually require Pilates instructors to have liability insurance because accidents can happen, and claims are filed. The fitness center wants to be sure you will be able to cover the costs if something does go wrong.

For example, a Pilates student named Henry takes your weekly mat class at the local 24-hour fitness center. After six months of coming to class, Henry begins having severe shoulder pain. He believes this shoulder pain is from your Pilates class. Furthermore, Henry believes your poor instruction is the cause.

Henry decides to file a claim against you for the medical costs needed to alleviate his shoulder pain. Henry has visited his family doctor a few times and had an x-ray taken, utilized prescription pain relievers, met with a chiropractor twice a week for 2 months, and now he sees an orthopedic doctor for relief. The medical costs for Henry currently total around $20,000. At this point, Henry is not sure if he will eventually need shoulder surgery and physical therapy which could easily cost over $30,000. Henry also expects you to pay for his attorney fees too.

As you can see from this example, Pilates liability insurance would certainly be an asset in dealing with such a claim. It would provide the financial means to legally dispute Henry’s claim. If you were to lose the court case and be instructed to pay Henry, your liability insurance would absorb the cost of this claim. This means you would not be expected to take the money from your business funds (or personal funds) to pay for such a claim. Liability insurance is obviously a valuable asset.

Another bonus: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows the premiums for a liability plan to be deducted as a business expense. This will help you save on your income taxes.

Now that you know the steps to take, it’s time to get started on your Pilates instructor training. Over the next decade the fitness industry, including Pilates, is expected to steadily grow by ten per cent. You should feel reassured there will be plenty of room for long-term career growth and financial security. Plus, you’ll be teaching people how to gain mind-body strength. How many people can say they get paid to do something they truly enjoy?


Ogle, Marguerite (February 16, 2018) Pilates Teacher Comprehensive Certification Programs [Online] Available from: https://www.verywellfit.com/pilates-teacher-training-programs-2704317

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