Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up For Pilates Teacher Training

Episode 15

There are so many different aspects to a teacher training program that can make or break the experience for you. But where do you start? What questions are important? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Tune into this episode of The Pilates Exchange to discover the crucial questions to ask to ensure your Pilates teacher training experience is inclusive and representative of your values. Jump in to hear Hannah explore several questions she wished she had asked at the beginning of her training journey. Although this conversation is mostly tailored to the Pilates world, it will definitely apply to other teacher training certifications. Take what you want and apply it as you need it! Tune in as Hannah gets into the nitty-gritty of what has the power to boost or hinder your experience! Enjoy. 


Key Points From This Episode:


  • Hannah brings insight and intent to the topic of today’s episode.
  • Asking about prerequisites: is the certifying body interested in your prior experience?
  • The type of Pilates certification that is being offered: Classical? Contemporary?
  • Ask about the language the certification is being taught in.
  • Inquire whether the teacher training is recognized by a certifying agency (is it accredited?). 
  • If diversity and inclusivity are important to you, make sure to check with the program including the “special populations” demographic. 
  • What type of language is being used: how do they talk about bodies and other humans?
  • Are you able to do the exercises depending on what body you are in?
  • Ask about what the course includes: mat exercises or a comprehensive course (with all the equipment).
  • If the course includes equipment, make sure to inquire about which equipment pieces are included.
  • Does the course teach you how to teach: with practical teaching tips and opportunities to practice? 
  • Does the program offer support in helping you find a teaching position?
  • Do they offer a basic understanding of the business of teaching?
  • Seek advice regarding financial aid, including scholarships or work-study offers.
  • Important questions to clarify with work-study programs.
  • Does the course include a comprehensive test at the end, and ask about test details? 
  • Ask whether there are continuing education requirements for that specific certification. 
  • Be aware of money grabs to maintain the legitimacy of your certification.
  • Does the program offer support from the program’s teaching team and are there learning materials available?
  • How is access to all the equipment in a comprehensive training program scheduled? 
  • What to ask if you are considering purchasing your own equipment, observing classes at different studios, personal practice hours, and how they approach assisting.
  • Find out more about student demographics, teacher policies, and how they are being inclusive in their studios.
  • Unforeseen circumstances and the program’s policy about missing a day.
  • Who are the teachers teaching the program, and ask yourself if it’s a good fit for you personally.
  • Are you able to talk to former or current students, or have personal conversations with the lead trainers?
  • What’s included in the education (anatomy, physiology, exercise-based, etc.)
  • Are you able to look at the program’s ethical values and philosophy statements?
  • What is the scope of practice offered with the course?
  • Is the program up to date with the latest scientific-based research? 
  • Seek out information regarding their cueing policy and how they approach teaching tactile cues. 
  • Are you able to ask questions in the training program and do they answer questions respectfully? 





[00:00:00] HT: If you value diversity like we do, you may want to seek out a program that values diversity as well. Otherwise, you may end up with all trainees that are like upper, middle-class white people. Is that important to you?


Welcome. Stick around if you want to learn about the art and philosophy of beautiful movement mixed with evidence-based exercise science. We’ll be having tough and inspiring conversations with other coaches, experts, artists, and athletes. Our goal is to challenge myths, explore concepts, and engage in healthy debate, as we dive deep with intrigue and curiosity. 


I’m your host, Hannah Teutscher. I’ve been teaching dance, Pilates, and yoga for over two decades. What I’ve learned is that movement can be the joy that integrates us all together. When we can trust and express ourselves through our bodies, we are unlimited in our ability to change ourselves and our communities for the better. We, as movement teachers and coaches, have the power to help people experience this for themselves. Okay, everyone, let’s dive in. Exchanging ideas and changing people’s lives one session at a time. This is The Pilates Exchange. 




[00:01:21] HT: What we’re going to do today is go through some of the questions that I wish I had asked at the beginning of my teaching journey. I did a lot of different certifications and all sorts of different things. Not just in the Pilates world, but in different fitness, and yoga, and just all sorts of different things. I’m trying to tailor this through to the Pilates world, but it is definitely going to apply the other teacher training certifications. What I’m trying to do is offer you some ideas that you should, I would ask now. Years later, these are the things that I would probably consider asking teacher training certifying bodies.


I don’t know if the way that I’m saying them today are is the appropriate way, is the language that I would use, but it’s the concept that I think you should be considering and ask it your own way. I wish that I had asked this. Some of these questions, I even had in the back of my head. Because I started so young, I was scared to ask them. I was scared because I was worried that I would seem pushy. I was worried that they wouldn’t accept me as a student. I was worried of a whole bunch. I’m a people pleaser, so I was worried that they wouldn’t like me. But to get the most out of your teacher training programs, you’re going to be paying a lot of money and you’re investing. So it’s your time, it’s your effort that’s going into that. You want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of that program at the end of it.


Here’s some of the things that I’m going to ask you to consider researching. Some of this is going to be clear on some of their marketing programs already. It’s going to be clear on their website. If not, then you need to dig a little bit deeper. It will save you so much. I mean, some of these things were really devastating to me when I didn’t know them going into it. We’ll talk a little bit about like all my work-study thing. Oh God. It just – it sucked. Like there was just things like, I invested so much time because I didn’t have the money doing work-study. At the end of it, helping this entire program run. And the end of it, I wasn’t given a certificate, no recognition that I had done it because I hadn’t paid for the certificate. I had just paid with my time and my effort. That was a bit of a bummer, but these are the questions that we’re going to get into so that you are more prepared than I was.


What we’re going to be talking about is mostly in Pilates today. But I think that many of these questions can also be applied to bar teacher training or yoga teacher training. Take what you want and apply it as you need it. As we go through these, they are in no particular order. Some of them will kind of lead into the other ones, and I might backtrack a few times because they’re all sort of interrelated. I just want you to get the general feeling of what I would be asking at this point in my life, and also how we structure our teacher trainings to make sure that our students are getting the most out of them. 


One thing that I would ask is, are there any prerequisites? Meaning, do you need to be a certain age? Do you need to be a – how long have you practised? That’s also, I think really interesting to ask them. Do they accept anyone if they’ve never had any Pilates experience? Or is there a minimum of six months or a year? I think it’s really interesting to see how that bar is placed. I think that you can learn how to teach Pilates and not have a background in Pilates, like maybe it’s coming from somewhere else. Maybe you’ve done yoga, and then you’re moving over into the Pilates world. But it is interesting to find out like if that certifying body is going to be interested in your prior experience. Because then, that also gives you an idea of what are your classmates going to be. It’s not even the level, it’s just what you could expect also from your classmates.




Here’s a big one. What type of Pilates certification is being offered? What I mean there is like, in the world of Pilates, there’s the more classical or there’s the more contemporary. The classical Pilates is more true to the original method developed by Joseph Pilates. The classical Pilates teacher training programs are going to adhere strictly to the original controlology. Gosh. I messed that word up. But more as original as possible to the order, to the way the exercises could look like.


Contemporary Pilates is going to be a more modern interpretation of the method. It combines maybe those original exercises, and then it’s going to take an account into recent medicine, recent science, what is the biomechanics, and exercise science.? How has that evolved and how does that inform the method at this point? I’m not saying that classical Pilates does not do that, but it just has a different focus in their teacher trainings. 


That is just important to know what you’re getting into. There’s no value on that. I’m not placing a value on it, classical or contemporary. Chris and I are in the contemporary world more. Classical Pilates is also fantastic when you are the student and you’re deciding which one. I think is important to know what those differences are. Equally important is, have you done both of those methods? I would really, really encourage the person that’s looking into it to take a few trainings in classical, and take a few in the more contemporary world, and see how that feels on your body. Do you like that? Does it make sense to your brand the way that it’s being presented? Because that’s also going to really affect if you’re enjoying your teacher training and what you’re getting out of it.


I know one person in our circle of friends that had no contact with classical before, had only done contemporary and then signed up to a classical training certification because it was more convenient. She was miserable. She didn’t even finish it because it was just not what she was expecting to what her previous experience was. So it’s really just depending on what you’re looking for, and being getting clear in that I think is really important. 


Another question would be, what language is it taught in? I know that seems really funny. Like, this is an English podcast, but we live in Germany. This is a very important question for us. Is it going to be in the English language? Is it going to be German? Is it going to be a mix of those? Do you have support in a second language if you needed it? If English is your second or third language, is there going to be resource materials that would help you out? Or would you prefer to do a teacher training in your mother language? That’s really up to you. But I think it’s a good question, especially if you’re not in an English-speaking country there. In our case, in Germany, when you’re doing a multi-language certification program, it can be really interesting. Especially if you’re going to be teaching in two different languages that you learn the skills of the cueing into different languages. But it does mean that time is going to be spent helping with translations, and there might – if you’re not fluent in both of those languages, then you might be missing out a little bit here and there because it is hard to keep track of what everyone is paying attention to in that moment. So just an interesting question.


Is the teacher training, is it recognized by a certifying agency? Like here, we have the Deutsche Pilates Verband. We have like the German Pilates Federation, there is PMA in the States, the Pilates Method Alliance. Is your teacher training accredited by them? If not, why haven’t they decided to credit with them? There’s a lot of different – if you’re new to the Pilates world, there’s a lot of different ideas about this. Again, I’m not placing any value on it. I think it’s just interesting for you to know.


I have never in all of my 20-something years of teaching Pilates at this point, I’ve never been asked if I’ve been part of a Pilates Method Alliance or associations. Is it really necessary? Is that a money grab on their side? I know that personally, for our teacher training programs that we have even stricter policies or standards, let’s say. Standards for our teacher training than what’s outlined in some of these other certifying bodies. Sometimes there’s teacher trainings that will do the bare minimum just to have that certifying body say that they are accredited.




There’s a lot of different stuff that goes in there. So why don’t you ask those questions like, are they recognized by PMA, or whatever country you’re in, whatever that organization is? If they are not, why have they chosen not to? Because I think that will also give some valuable insight into the ethics of that school. What standards do they have? Why? And you get a better feel for what they’re also going to be teaching you in their program.


Now, this is a question, this next one I’d be asking. I don’t know how you would probably word it, but something that I’ve just noticed that I probably wish it had been a little bit different in some of the certification programs I did. But is it inclusive? What types of bodies are being represented? Either the teaching materials or how they’re going to be – yes, giving you cues to teach and modifications to teach. Something that goes around in Pilates is, is this concept of – I’m going to use air quotes here, “special populations.” What is a special population for them? What are they going to be teaching about? For me, special populations should – like, I know so many teacher trainings that don’t include pregnancy, pre and post-pregnancy. They’ll make you pay extra to learn about that. But that is part of the human experience. I don’t know why that’s not just a basic thing to be included. 


Same thing with injuries, sometimes that’s included as like a special population. Even the basic stuff of like, how do we heal from an injury? What about pain? What do you do when a client is in pain? Older populations, younger populations. For me, personally, that’s just part of the human experience, and that should at least be touched on. But there are teacher trainings that won’t go into any of that at all. And knowing what is going to be included in your program, I think is super interesting. If your main goal eventually is to be teaching Pilates at a retirement home, and you’re not going to get even the basics about maybe an older population, that wouldn’t be very useful for you. So maybe that’s something to be asking.


Oh, here’s one. How do they talk about bodies? Now, this, this might be a hard question to ask before you go into it. But I think you’re going to get a sense of if you had a personal conversation. I’ve been hanging out with other teachers in training programs, and the way that they talk about other humans is atrocious. I think you’d be able to pick up on that before you entered into it. But the way they talk about bigger bodies, older bodies, differently abled bodies, it’s super important as you go in there. Because if your teacher is not able to be respectful behind closed doors to all bodies, then you know that their training, the way that they’re going to be teaching is not respectful in front or behind those closed doors.


You won’t be able to get the information that you need if there’s already a hint of, let’s say, sarcasm. That’s what I encountered. There was this sarcastic way in one teacher training, the male trainer was talking about bigger bodies, and offhand comments, which made me feel super uncomfortable. Well, that person just – if they would just do more yoga, then they wouldn’t have that problem. It was a ridiculous situation. It still pisses me off. I wish I had felt empowered at that point to say something, I didn’t. How do they talk about bodies? It’s important. Also, with it, is it inclusive? Inclusive also for me looks like, are you going to be able to do the exercises depending on what body you are in.




I know another person that signed up for teacher training and she has a pretty, pretty serious back issue that will just mean that she’ll never be able to perform some of these advanced exercises. She signed up for this teacher training, and in order to pass the test, she needed to be able to perform all of the advanced exercises. For me, personally, I don’t think it’s necessary to be able to perform all the advanced exercises. I want to be able to teach them. That’s what we do. We teach you how to teach them. If they’re not – I don’t think it’s necessarily inclusive when all bodies, because not all bodies will be able to do all of these advanced acrobatic exercises. Maybe that’s also something to be asked if it’s a requirement for you to do that. And if you are not able to do those advanced exercises, what happens to that certification? Maybe like, are you going to be able to pass the test? What if halfway through, you get injured, are you still going to be able to pass that test after you’ve invested all that time and money into it? I think it’s an interesting point to ask.


For Pilates, is it just the mat exercises or is it a comprehensive with all of the equipment? When we’re talking about all of the Pilates’s equipment, what exactly does that include? Is it just reformer? Is that for them equipment? Is it Reformer, Cadillac, and chair? Is it a spine corrector? Is it [inaudible 0:16:28]? All of these different things can be included or not included? So just knowing what you’re getting into. Also, when you do say a comprehensive Pilates training, and it’s with all of the equipment, what are you, the potential teacher, what would you like to be teaching with it? Are you intending on opening your own studio and buying all of that equipment or not? Many, many Pilates studios don’t have access to all of that types of equipment. Is it important to you to understand the entire methodology from all the different pieces of equipment, the toe corrector, like all of that? Or is it not that important to you? 


Again, there’s no – I’m not putting a judgment on that. It’s just going into it with open eyes. Sometimes, I’ve seen a teacher training – Pilates teachers training programs that will say, “Add on certifications as you go.” You’ll start with a mat certification, and then you need to get certified on reformer, and then it’s Cadillac so that they do different layers of that. But each time, you need to be taking different tests. Or can you test out at the end of each, let’s say, certification or each module? Or do you take a certification of the very, very, very, very end, after you’ve learned everything? All of those extra add-ons, how much do they cost? Okay. We’re going to get into that in a couple more moments.


There are some big certification programs that require you to continuously add on. Each certification is going to be hundreds if not thousands per module. For you to be thinking that you’re going to go in and get all of the information on one time, what information are you actually getting? I even know a couple actually that will – they’ll teach you maybe basics, and they’ll teach you some intermediate stuff. Then, for advanced exercises, you need to pay more for that, and you need to go back and do a separate certification for that. So just being aware of what you’re getting into. 


Another question is, how do they teach you how to teach? Do they teach you cues, how to choose cues, how to look at exercises, and what’s going right or not so great in a body that’s in front of you? Do they teach you how to choose which corrections to give and why. Not only that, but do they give you opportunities to try that out so that you’re being – that you’re getting feedback on your teaching skills during it? I personally find that super interesting, and actually imperative to have those types of skills. Before you get your certification, you get thrown into the teaching world. If you haven’t had time to really practice, then it’s just sort of being thrown into the wolves. It could be really uncomfortable if you don’t know all of those skills. Is that part of the teacher training or not?


Maybe another thing to ask is, do they offer you support in helping you find a job? Do they have other contacts? Do they take a look at your resume, or maybe even have a letter of recommendation, or have ideas of where you can be looking for jobs? That might be interesting. Not necessary, but it might be interesting. Is there a list? Do they have a, let’s say, on their website a list of all of their certified teachers, and where they’re located in the world? In that, do they also give you a basic understanding of the business of teaching? Is that going to be covered?




There’s a lot of different ways to teach. Is it going to be freelance? Are you going to be owning a studio? Are you teaching online? Is it hybrid? Is it just in a studio? Are you teaching in a gym or a Pilates studio? Are you teaching – is it going to be personal training or group, a group training? Do they give you an idea of just basic business education and basic business models? I don’t think it’s within the teacher training probably to give you all of the business education there. But do they have resources? Do they have ideas of where to point you out, or just a basic overview? So that when you are finished, that you have some ideas of how you’re going to start making money.


I mean, all Pilates teacher training, I mean, it is a financial, and it’s an investment. So being able to make that money back and more than that is going to be really important. Are there jobs available at the studio that’s offering the teacher training? If so, are they clear about how they’re paying their teachers? Speaking about money, if you are in financial need, do they offer scholarships? Do they offer work-study? If they do offer work-study, whatever that is? Is there a contract that goes along with it? How much work is expected of you giving into the studio? If you’re doing work study, do you still get a certificate?


I know that I’ve been burned in the past, I did a work-study program, where I was working so much to help run this teacher training, doing the cleaning, and helping with some computer stuff. At the end, even though I completed everything, I didn’t get the piece of paper, because I didn’t pay into the program. That’s definitely something to ask if it’s work study. Because we do know that Pilates teacher training is a financial investment. Do they offer payment plans? Are they offering scholarships? If it is a scholarship, what is it based on? How are they doing their screening process for the scholarships that they are offering?


Again, absolutely, in no order here. But is there a comprehensive test at the end of it? Is it going to be a written test? Is it a written test and a teaching test? Do you submit feedback from your teaching? What happens if you fail the test? How many times do you get to retry it, retake that test? Under what circumstances can you retake that test? How long do you have to retake the test? If the test is a requirement, which I do think it’s important. I know, no one likes to take tests. But I think that, for me, it’s a sign that you have the understanding to finish that. 


I do know that there are there are training programs out there that as long as you pay, and you show up to a certain amount, that they’ll give you the certification at the end of it, anyways. I personally would like the standard of teaching to be high, so written tests is always good. If you can’t take a written test for whatever reason, what other types of modifi- not modifications, but how are they going to be inclusive? Can you do that, an oral test? What kind of assistance would you require to take that test? Are they able to provide that for you?


A complete comprehensive Pilates course with all the equipment is probably going to take one to even two years for all of the equipment and all the exercises, Is that time that you can commit to? Is that time that you can set aside for the learning that is required for that? Do you need continuing education to maintain your certificate from that certifying body? I believe in continuing education.




[0:24:47] HT: When I started teaching, I felt underprepared and overwhelmed. I needed to learn how to plan my training so that it made sense, but I wasn’t sure what was working and what wasn’t. So many teacher training programs leave out the actual art and business of teaching. This is why we created Train the Trainers. Train the Trainers is designed to give you the tools you need to create a powerful learning environment for your students, gain access to the vault of our collected knowledge where you can learn everything we have to teach you, whether you are a freelance teacher, or a studio owner. Get constructive feedback on your teaching with actionable tools you can apply immediately. We can’t wait to be part of your teaching journey, and to help you grow in your business. Welcome to Train the Trainers. 




[0:25:35] HT: But pay close attention if that certifying body, if that brand is during a clear money grab, with every extra add-on to get more money squeeze, more money out of you to maintain the legitimacy of your certificate. Will they recognize continuing education may be from another source or not? Is it important to you, potential teacher, that you are maintaining that certification with that particular brand? We personally have decided to take any education that we feel is going to help our students. So we have not maintained that any specific brands of their education because, for us personally, it makes more sense to continue to learn wherever we feel is either interesting to us, or it’s going to be helpful, and or it’s going to be helpful for our clients. But there are some certifying bodies that are going to say, you need to continually take either tests every year, every two years, or that you need to continue education within their brand. It’s all things that you just need to be asking, again, without any judgment on them.


How much support do you get from their teaching team? When are they available? Is it going to be just email in between? Post-program, when you are done, are you going to be able to also have contact with them if you needed support or if you had questions? What kind of learning materials are provided? What’s already there? Is it on-demand stuff? Do they have extra videos for you? Do they have lists of resources? Are you going to have to buy extra books that are required? Do they give you workbooks, PDFs, handouts? Are you printing them out on your own or are they providing it for you? Again, no right or wrong answers, but you need to know what you’re getting into before you get into your program.


If you’re doing a full comprehensive program with all the apparatus, do you have access to all of the reformers, and the Cadillacs, and everything else all the time? At what hours can you practice? Like say, they let you use the studio, but at what hours? Sometimes Pilates studios that have teacher training programs will open up the studios in their off hours. Is that going to work for your schedule? Are you going to need to rent their space from them? Is that already included? What are the rental fees for them? Do you get your own keys to the studio? Or is it clock-in, clock-out type of thing? If you don’t have access to that equipment, are you going to have it on your own? I know way too many people that went in and they did this wonderful teacher training program, and they’re going in on the weekends, they’re travelling to go get this information, but then they go to their hometown, or their home village, and they don’t have access to the actual equipment, and they haven’t yet decided if they’re going to buy their own equipment.


If you’re buying your own equipment, be aware of those costs. It is very expensive. Sometimes it takes months for things to ship over to you. Are you going to be investing on your own for your own practice? What brand of equipment are you going to be buying? Is it going to be the same as the equipment that you’re training on? Are you able to do your observation hours in that particular studio if you’re doing it? Are you going to be able to observe different classes? Because, I think, part of any good teacher training program, observation hours are necessary. Are they requiring you to do it only with that particular teacher? Or do you have observation hours with other studios? Do you know any other studios that would allow you to observe classes? A lot of us will allow other teacher mentees to come in and observe classes. But as a courtesy, we ask that you take some classes so that you are also investing in our studio. Because, of course, if you’re paying thousands of euros or dollars in a different studio, and then you expect to come over to a different studio, and just observe, and get basically free education there. Some studios do that as a courtesy, some not. Some external studios will look at it as a potential teacher for them.




There’s a lot of different ways, no right or wrongs there. But all those observation hours, how many are required of you? How are you going to fit them in? Can you do it online? Must it be in a studio? When you’re doing these observation hours, are you having to fill out a form about it? What are they required? Do you just need to show up and sign something that you’ve done it? Or are they going to ask you for a little bit more insight into what you’ve been observing? Your personal practice hours, I think should be also required. But it is important to ask, how many are they expecting from you? How many personal practice hours? How are they going to be recorded? Are they on your own or in a different studio?


Sometimes we’ve just signed off on people. They’ll come in and take classes as part of whatever program, and we’ll just sign initial that we’ve seen them do their practice. Does it all have to be in that certain brand? If it’s classical, does it have to be classical, or contemporary? Or can it be a mix of different things for your personal practice? When they say personal practice, does that mean just on your own practicing so that you have the responsibility of doing it? Or would they like you to be in different class settings? 


Included in that question, I would ask, there are some teacher trainings that will say, you have to do your personal practice, but it has to be personal training with their teachers. If that is the case, how much does that cost? How many hours of personal training do you need to do with them and what is the additional cost on top of that? As we’re talking about practice here, do you have the opportunity to practice teaching? Under what circumstances is that? Is there someone going to be watching you and giving you feedback on your teaching? Or is it just that you’re thrown out there, and you have to say that you taught somewhere? Do they look in and give you any ideas on how to make your classes better? Or is it really just saying that you did the teaching? 


Same goes with assisting. Are you able to assist your – I don’t really like the master teacher, but are you allowed to assist their classes, observe their classes? Do they allow you to teach one or two exercises, and under what circumstances? Is that assisting happening?


Another question. Gosh. I have so many questions. We have so many, many questions. I think it’s just really, like these are the things that are going to make or break your experience, and opening your eyes to these types of things, then you know what to expect, and not be disappointed after paying all of that money to go into it? Here’s another one. What is the demographics of the students that are in there? If you value diversity, like we do, you may want to seek out a program that values diversity as well. Otherwise, you may end up with all trainees that are like upper, middle-class white people. Is that important to you? What are their policies? What are the teacher policies in there? Is diversity important to you? How are they being inclusive in their studios?


Okay. What happens now if you need to miss a day? Like something comes up, there’s an unforeseen circumstance that comes up, an emergency. What is their policy on missing? How do you make up work in there? There’s things that happen. I mean, we just are getting out of the pandemic. What happens if COVID happens? What if there’s something else that happens? Is there a reasonable time extension allowed for you and what is that policy? Have they even thought about that? Do they seem – even if they haven’t had that in the past, does it seem like they are going to be reasonable people in that circumstance? What is the timeline? 


I do understand, if the teacher training program is supposed to be in one year, and you’re asking for a five-year extension, I don’t know if that’s really fair also for them – to expect that from them. What is the policy? Do they have one? What do you think would be also fair and reasonable for you?


This next one might be, it might be silly, but I don’t think it is. Do you know the teachers that you’re signing up in this program for? Have you had classes with these teachers before you do the teacher training? Do you respect their teaching work? Do you respect the ethics? Do you have a personal relationship? Do you like the sound of their voice? That’s a whole another thing? Are they engaging? Are they boring? Are they funny? Are they – is it a good fit for you personally? Only you are going to know that. I think that it is such a big investment of your time, energy, and money. I would hope that you like the people that you’re training with. There’s too many times that potential teachers are rushing into this certification because there’s been a really good sale on it. We got really good slick marketing friends. That there’s a lot of marketing, there’s big, big engines that go into that. Are you getting sucked into a marketing strategy just because they have a sale on something? Or do you really like these people and feel like you can learn something from them?




Another question might be, can you talk to former students? If they don’t want you to, that might be a potential red flag. Can you talk to the past graduates if they have any? Or if it’s a new teacher training program, can you talk to just some regular students from there so that you get a sense of what they’re thinking if you’re not currently taking classes with those teachers? Can you have a personal conversation with the lead trainers of the teacher training program? Are they empathetic to you? Do they seem knowledgeable? Sometimes, depending on the layout of the teacher training, the main person that you think you’re going to be training with, they might not be handling all of the training and might be led by assistant trainers.


Now, if that is the case, who are you going to be working with? Do you like these people? How much contact hours do you have with the, let’s say, the master instructor in there? Again, I hate that term, I just couldn’t think of anything better right now. But how many contact hours do you have with them? 


Question number 1,025. I actually have no idea. I didn’t list them all. What is included in the education? Is it anatomy? Are they just going to have you memorize where muscles are and what they do, or is it functional anatomy? Is it physiology? Is it just exercise-based? What kind of are you getting into? Are they making Mr. Pilates a guru? Do you have to follow everything that he said ever? Or are they paying attention to biomechanics and how things have evolved during time? In that, I would definitely ask, can you view a syllabus of the training? What are the modules that you’re going to be getting in there? Can you take a look at their ethics values and philosophy statements?


I mean, we have that laid out for our teachers. But is that important to you? I think it might be, so can you take a look at that? Do they have a diversity and inclusion policy? In that, do they also have a scope of practice policy? Do they teach it? Some teacher trainings are going to be trying to say that you need to –you could rehab all of these different injuries? Is it a rehab-based Pilates course? Is it being taught by the appropriate medical professionals? If so, still, what is the scope of practice of the things that you’re going to be allowed to do? If you’re not a physical therapist, if you’re not a doctor, should you be giving medical advice? What is that scope?


Now, scope of practice is super important because I saw one place that was not only – it was Pilates and yoga, but they were putting people on – they were pretending like they had a nutrition background. They don’t. I don’t know what they did with the nutrition, but they were putting their clients on low, low, low, low-calorie diets, like 800 calories or less. And they were prescribing diet pills so that they could get that Pilates body or that yoga body. This is why scope of practice is really important. Do they recommend any special diet that’s part of it? Are they trying to have nutritional pills, or supplements or take these vitamins? What is on their website? What’s in their webshop? Do they have a little shop in their studio and what are they selling? Do you believe what they’re selling? Is it a good thing or not? Where’s your ethics along with them?




Also, let’s just talk science. Are they up with the most recent science? What are the studies that are being done? Do they even believe in science? Look, we just got through this big – wherever you’re at in sort of the thought process, but we got through this big, hard time throughout the entire world, and there’s a lot of science deniers in there. I am personally pro-science. What do you believe in? Are they following medical studies? Are they paying attention to how the research has evolved? Are they making changes to that? I’ve seen a few different places where they said that Pilates, and yoga, and barre will cure certain diseases, that it will give you complete immunity. Yes, exercise helps your immune system, that’s for sure. That we can prove. But does it cure you of different diseases? Does it make you completely immune to infectious disease? No, that’s complete and utter BS. 


Pay attention to what these different teacher trainings are saying about that kind of thing. What is their policy on cueing? Are they going to teach you tactile cues or physical cues? Are they going to be teaching you where to touch clients, and how, and what is the – is it trauma-informed? Do they let you know that sort of information? Do they teach you that information? Is it a requirement? Are your teacher’s hands going to be all over you?


I was at one yoga teacher training, and man, that particular teacher, he would say things like, “Don’t fight against me, breathe into it, and you won’t hurt yourself.” We all know that. That is just mixed – it still bothers me. What is their policy on there? Are they going to be teaching you tactile cues that make a difference? What are your feelings about it? Are they necessary? But do you need to know them, anyways? I don’t know. It’s a whole bunch of – we’ll do a whole podcast just on tactile cues, because I think it’s an important subject because they’re really prevalent. You should know how to do them well, and it should come from a place of understanding the entirety of the subject.


Teachers, do you feel comfortable with the person that you’re training with, putting their hands on your body? Are they respectful? Can they do it in a respectful way? I’ve had a couple experiences where it was not respectful. Yes, that goes for classes, but definitely in teacher training, because you’re going to have a very close relationship, hopefully, with these people. I have in the past heard about places that have certain body types where they want their teacher trainees to be. I think this is pretty horrible, but you should know that going into it. Like, are they going to say only hire people that look a certain way? Are they only going to train you if you are able to do the advanced exercise, or if you look a certain way, look strong enough, or look fit enough, if you look healthy enough in their eyes? 


I’m being provocative with the way that I say this, because I think it’s really nefarious sort of things going on with a few schools that I’ve seen in the past. What does that entail? Are they being clear with that? What sort of language are they using? Is it inclusive? Is it body affirmative? I feel just so passionate about this, because I think that there’s so many teacher – I think so many teachers go into this wanting to make a difference in people’s lives. We have a big diversity problem in the Pilates world, that it tends to, because it’s very expensive program, and it’s very insulated, that we need to be looking for more teachers with different body types, different abilities, different looks.


We believe that teachers should represent all of humanity, and it’s better for your business. It’s better for your classes, it’s better for the students if there’s more diversity. You can really see in a teacher training program if they’re inclusive or if they’re not. We personally feel that this is really important. Is it one of your values, and asking, and finding out, is it one of the values of the studio that you’re doing it with? 


Ooh, another one that I’m just thinking about now from a different experience that I had. Are you allowed to ask questions? Now, I don’t know how you would ask this before you go into the training, but I guess you’ll probably just by asking these questions before, you’re going to have a good sense if you’re going to be able to get more information. But how do they respectfully answer? Are you just being shut down before – if you have a difference of opinion?




I do remember, I was part of a different yoga teacher training, and I had asked a question about something that I didn’t feel so sure about if that was the right way to do it. I can’t even remember what the situation was exactly. I just remember the response of the teacher was so dramatic about, how dare you ask me. I’ve had more experience than you. It was that sort of thing that came back to it, and I was shocked. I felt so belittled. I probably could have picked up on that beforehand when I had done this training. It was an advanced teacher training for yoga teacher.


Looking in hindsight, I could have picked up on that before I went into it, but I didn’t. I wasn’t aware of it. I was just going for the, “Oh, well, he’s going to teach me all of these advanced moves, and I need that certification.” But it turns out that he was just a super jerky type of person, and he may be good at doing some advanced moves, and I did learn some stuff in there. But the overall treatment of people was real crappy. Do you feel free to ask questions? Are you going to feel empowered by the answers that you’re getting? Is there healthy debate that’s going to be respected?


Any Pilates course, even if it’s a comprehensive course is just going to be the beginning. It’s the beginning of learning, and we want to look for as many different, as big as we can make that. But you’re still going to have to be learning afterwards. That’s actually a mark of a masterful teacher, is that you’re always going to be the student, you’re always going to be learning more, and thirsting for that language. Actually, the best teachers are always the best students. 


Knowing that going in before you start your program, you’re not going to graduate and know everything, it is the beginning. But having the best first start would be so helpful. It’ll be better for your feeling being prepared as you leave that certification. It’ll be better for your business, no matter how you decide to do it. If you’re going to be freelance, if you’re going to be opening your own studio. It’s just going to be better the more knowledge that you have in there, and you’re still going to be continuously learning through all those years. That’s going to take time, it’s going to take your experience, it’s going to take seeking out where your interest lies. Do you want to continue in a different vein? Are you going to learn more about nutrition later? Is that interesting to you? Because that won’t be covered in a Pilates teacher training.


Is it going to be learning more about neuro conditions such as stroke, and Parkinson’s, and multiple scope? Is that where your passion lies? Then, there are fantastic trainings out there for that. All of that probably won’t be covered in your teacher training, but it will be something that you could explore later. It’s not that you go into teacher training, and it is a university course. It’s the beginning of a wonderful career that can accompany you until – for the rest of your life if you’re interested in that. It is really beautiful. I love my job. I love it, love it, love it. It’s just so exciting. 


I hope that this gives you a little bit of an overview of the questions that I had wished I had asked maybe at the beginning of different certifications that I’ve done. 




[0:49:17] HT: Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. A great cost-free way of supporting us and the podcast would be to give us a five-star rating. You could also look down into the show notes and grab any one of the free resources for teachers. I hope to see you next week on The Pilates Exchange. Happy teaching, everyone.



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