How Much Do Pilates Instructors Make + 5 Tips to Earn More

Aug 21, 2018 · 10 minutes to read

A 2016 Statista study estimated that nearly 9 Million Americans are loyal Pilates devotees. In fact, a survey by Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) showed that Pilates students spend as much as $2,000 per year on private Pilates instruction (PMA, 2016). For Pilates group classes, students are willing to spend on average between $1,000 and $2,000 per year (Statista, 2016). This information leads one to believe becoming a Pilates instructor may be a fabulous way to earn a solid income with the potential for long-term success.

Average Income of Pilates Instructors

Average Pilates Instructor Hourly Rates

According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a certified U.S. Pilates Instructor with less than 20 years’ experience is $33.13 per hour. This is a nationwide average for full-time teachers and not specific to certain regions or cities. Indeed.com further reports the full range of Pilates instructor compensation can go from $15.80 per hour all the way up to $50.00 per hour.

A little less than half of all Pilates instructors teach less than 20 hours per week (PMA, 2016). For part-time instructors, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) states the average national rate comes in around $24.49 per hour (ACE, 2010).

Keep in mind, Pilates instructor salaries vary based on many factors such as certifications obtained, years of experience, geographic location, and specializations. For example, most of the higher hourly rates and annual salaries are earned by certified Pilates instructors with over 5 years of teaching experience. The lower hourly rates are usually for Pilates instructors with less than 1 year of experience.

As you expand your knowledge and skill set, you will be able to charge even more for your Pilates classes.

These averages reflect all experience levels, from entry-level to advanced.

Los AngelesDallasChicagoNew York
Average Hourly Pilates Instructor Rate$34 – $46/hour$35 – $38/hour$24 – $37/hour$36 – $46/hour

Average Certified Pilates Instructor Salaries

The average gross salary for a certified Pilates instructor is approximately $68,910 annually.  Payscale.com reports that more experienced certified Pilates instructors in the U.S. can make 27% above the average rate (Payscale.com, 2018). This equates to an average gross salary of $87,515 annually.

That’s an additional $18,000 in income simply because you have more years of teaching and are staying abreast of Pilates trends through continuing education. This additional pay certainly illustrates the benefits of keeping up with your craft. Not only will your continuing education and dedication benefit your Pilates students but also your chequebook.

On the flip side, if you are a newly certified Pilates instructor then you can expect to make about 12% less (or $8,269 lower) than the average gross annual salary. If you put in the effort towards ongoing training, it’s only a matter of time before you will be able to earn more pay.

Los AngelesDallasChicagoNew York
Gross Annual Salary (5 or more years of experience)$105,664$95,097$79,248$108,305
Average Gross Annual Salary* (1-4 years of experience)$83,200$74,880$62,400$85,280
Gross Annual Salary (Entry Level, Less than 1 year of experience)$73,216$65,895$54,912$75,047

*based on 40 hours per week

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Pilates Industry Statistics

If you are fortunate enough to become a full-time employee of a fitness center or Pilates studio, find out if you are eligible for any benefits. The majority of Pilates instructors (about 82%) do not receive any type of benefits including medical insurance, maternity leave, or paid vacations. However, you may want to consider negotiating these additional benefits as part of your employment package. It will not add money to your hourly income, but it will reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. The good news is the Pilates industry is starting to see a slow uptick in organizations offering instructors such benefits.

This is the percentage of Pilates instructors that were able to negotiate benefits as part of their employment contract:

  • Medical Insurance – 18%
  • Dental Insurance – 14%
  • Vision Insurance – 11%

Even if you are not an employee of the fitness center where you work, be aware of any continuing education funds the organization may provide. It’s been reported that 33% of Pilates instructors working under 1099/contractor status are still eligible for continuing education reimbursement. This is a very beneficial perk that will not only save you money but also help pave the way for future career advancement. Be sure to check with the gym or studio where you teach to find out if they do have an educational fund available!

Another important factor to consider when looking at pay rates in the region. You can see from the above charts that hourly and salary rates vary between cities. This is to be expected and is a common occurrence with all jobs. Cost of living has a huge impact on how pay rates are devised. Areas in the country that have a higher cost of living tend to pay Pilates instructors more to keep up with the rent, food, and utility expenses.

How to Earn More as A Pilates Instructor

Maybe you are just starting a Pilates teaching career or maybe you’ve been teaching Pilates classes for a decade. No matter where you are in your profession, there are definitely ways to earn a higher salary.

Below are 5 tips to get you started thinking about how to make more money.

1. Specialization

Once you have been teaching Pilates for a bit, it will be worthwhile to pursue advanced education in a speciality track. The ability to offer specialized instruction will set you apart from other Pilates teachers. It will also drive new students to you that have a specific focus or need. Finally, Pilates specialization will give you the opportunity to charge more money.

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.

Here is a list of Pilates speciality tracks you may want to consider studying:

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

2. Certifications

The most lucrative certification is a comprehensive certification which prepares you to teach both Pilates equipment and mat exercises. This type of certification increases your earning opportunities.

According to the 2016 PMA “Pilates In America” survey, instructors are not as competent in teaching the below Pilates machines. If you are able to expand your knowledge and master the below equipment, you will have yet another opportunity to earn more money.

  • Ladder Barrel: 26% of Pilates Instructors Are Not Trained
  • Spine Corrector: 29% of Pilates Instructors Are Not Trained
  • Pedi-Pole: 58% of Pilates Instructors Are Not Trained

3. Purchase Liability Insurance

For only a few premium dollars per day, you will be able to purchase professional liability insurance. The minimal cost of the insurance is great considering how much money it can save you down the road. For example, if a Pilates student files a civil lawsuit against you because poor teaching technique, incorrect advice, or another negligent act lead to injury, you will be able to afford the legal defence and possibly cover a judgement without dipping into your business account.

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.

If you decide to submit a business proposal to guest teach or host a special Pilates event, the organization you apply to will certainly require a Certificate of Insurance (COI). This COI must show in-force liability insurance. The organization you are pitching services to will want to be sure you have coverage in case of any liability issues. If you don’t have liability insurance, your business proposal will most likely end up in the trash can.

BizInsure offers easy online quoting for liability insurance. This way you can have a better idea of the cost you’ll need to budget..

4. Referrals

To increase your pay, it makes sense to increase the number of Pilates students you work with throughout the year. Where do you find these new students? Well, a great way to hook-up with new students is by exchanging business referrals with a complimentary business. Examples of great Pilates referral partners are nutritional counsellors, physical therapists, massage therapists, fitness trainers, karate teachers, acupuncturists, and chiropractors.

Remember, if you follow our earlier advice and become specialized in a certain category then another Pilates instructor can be a great referral resource too. Let’s say your Pilates instructor friend, Samantha, has a student that is now pregnant with her first child. Samantha is not trained to instruct neonatal students. However, Samantha can refer this student to you for assistance over the next nine months. That’s extra income!

To get started with a referral partner, simply give their office a call, send an email or stop by when they aren’t too busy. Provide business cards and a brochure or flyer detailing your experience and services. In return, grab the referral partner’s information too so you can return the favour.

5. Host Pilate Workshops

Invite your current students to attend an evening or weekend Pilates workshop. Encourage your students to invite at least one friend or neighbour that you haven’t worked with before. You can even join forces with other fitness experts such as a yoga instructor, running coach, or nutritionist. Together you can share the minimal costs to host the workshop and share the responsibility for organizing the event.

Workshops are a great marketing tool that actually earns you money! This is because you can charge a premium attendance fee for sharing your time and know-how.

You only need to develop workshop materials once but are able to host the same workshop a few times a year. A lot of the marketing for the event can be done through word-of-mouth networking, as well as social media. This keeps your overhead costs low.

As a bonus, you can also sell additional materials to your workshop attendees. For example, you and your co-hosts can develop an e-book, supplemental program materials, or workout clothes (T-shirts or hats) that can be sold during the event. It all comes down to more marketing and ultimately more money in your pocket.

The overall career possibilities for Pilates instructors seem endless. As we previously explained, full-time Pilates instructors earn on average around $33.13 per hour. Their earning power can even go as high as $50.00 per hour. Plus, the Pilates industry is beginning to see more instructors negotiating additional benefits such as medical, dental, vision, and paid vacation days. The most successful Pilates instructors take several key steps to increase their financial security and improve their opportunities. The key steps we discussed are: specialization in an area of Pilates instruction like spine care or pre/post-natal,  earning a comprehensive certification for both mat and machine exercise, purchasing liability insurance to protect your future and win job bids, develop referral partnerships with other health industry members such as masseuses and chiropractors, and hosting Pilates workshops as a marketing tool and a as a way to generate extra income. If you use our key takeaways to outline an action plan for your Pilates dream and work the plan, then you are certain to find success.

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– American Council on Exercise (October 13, 2010) “2010 Fitness Professional Salary Survey” [Online] Available from: https://www.acefitness.org/about-ace/press-room/press-releases/997/ace-announces-results-of-2010-fitness-professional-salary-survey
– Indeed (August 2018), [Online] Available from: https://www.indeed.com/salaries/pilates%20instruct
– Payscale (August 2018). [Online] Available from: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Pilates_Instructor/Hourly_Rate
– Pilates Method Alliance (2016) “The 2016 Pilates In America Study”, [Online] Available from: https://www.pilatesmethodalliance.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3821
– Statista (August 2017), [Online] Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/191616/participants-in-pilates-training-in-the-us-since-2006/

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