8 Steps to Success When Teaching Pilates in a Gym

Group of women doing Pilates exercises.The versatility and accessibility of Mat Pilates means that as an instructor you can offer classes in so many different venues, from church halls to dedicated studios and of course almost every gym will have Pilates on its class timetable. I have always loved teaching Pilates in gyms for several reasons.

  • Variety of Clients- Teaching Pilates in a gym means that you will experience a wide range of clients exercising for a variety of reasons, with different preferences and needs. It is never boring as each class presents different challenges. It is a fantastic way for a new instructor to gain experience and confidence.
  • Bringing the Method to Everyone- Joe Pilates wanted Pilates to be available to everyone and by having Pilates classes on gym timetables, the Method is open to everyone and anyone. Some clients stumble into the class as it just so happens to be on at a time that suits them, some attend under misconceptions of an "easy" class or a "flat stomach". After the class they often remark on how different it was from their expectations and how they underestimated how completely worked and energised they feel.
  • Financial Although you may earn more money teaching your own classes, working in a gym offers a reliable income as you will receive the same rate regardless of how many people turn up. So even during those uncertain periods of the year, summer and Christmas, you are a guaranteed a level of pay to depend on.
  • Simplicity- Teaching in a gym means no admin, no marketing worries, no collecting payments, no worrying about leases, taxes, bills- life is simpler!

There are some challenges to bear in mind though!

  • Pack them in!- Whereas in many dedicated studios or your own classes you can limit numbers, often in clubs the limit is the size of the room! So instead of having 8 clients, you may have 40. Personally, I love the buzz of a large class but it is not for everyone and you need to ensure the expectations of the class are crystal clear to both the club and the client. It will not be a class for fine tuning technique and addressing injuries rather a balanced class which focuses on flow and movement, ensuring safety of course.
  • Open to All- You will often be teaching range of abilities and ages from an absolute beginner to an experienced client, from a 4 month pregnant lady to a 70-year-old man and so you need to plan and prepare for a mixed level class and be ready to adapt further if needed.
  • Just a Class- It can be frustrating for some teachers if the clients are not passionate about Pilates. Not everyone will be concerned about correct technique or interested in committing to regular classes.

So here are 8  tips to success,

  1. Arrive early to meet and greet any new comers or beginners
  2. Verbally screen the class and then observe their movement in the prep phase so you are ready to adapt exercises later in the class.
  3. Take time to observe the class as a whole.
  4. Be clear and concise in your cueing and directions
  5. Don't over talk technique but still be safe
  6. Constantly offer adaptations and rests
  7. Always start and finish on time as there may be other classes scheduled directly after yours.
  8. Remain professional to the gym-remember you are part of a team.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!