What it takes to become a Pilates or GYROKINESIS®teacher

Recently, I attended a course lead by one of the experts in the GYROKINESIS® Method field, Kathy van Patten. She was sharing stories of “the old days” when she was training Pilates teachers. I found her comment interesting and showed insight into a conversation circling around the studio as of late.

She mentioned that 20 years ago there would typically be 25-30 people taking a mat certification and about 10 people each year working on a comprehensive certification. Today, studio owners and teacher training see less than half of those numbers at current training. I’ve experienced this shift first-hand in my 16 years in the field (as compared to Kathy’s glorious 40+).


The decline in the number of teachers pursuing certification does not reflect the need for this type of work, certainly. There is always a need for this work- it will never go away. So, why the change when every day there is an overwhelming need we have to awaken our vitality, move well and develop/ maintain a balanced healthy body? Simply put, it’s a lot of work! It’s a pretty significant commitment to get through it! Many clients are surprised to know what it takes to become a new teacher. Did you know that your studio instructor has a baseline commitment of over 600 hours in their training to be a junior staff member? This means that they have learned over 500 exercises and countless modifications and variations on each one, observed hundreds of sessions being taught and put in hundreds of hours of personal practice time. For the purpose of comparison, to earn a master’s degree you usually need to complete from 36 to 54-semester credits of study (or 60 to 90 quarter-credits). This equals 12 to 18 college courses. A bodywork certification (Pilates, GYROKINESIS® Method, Myofascial Release, Alexander Technique, etc) are all comparable to a master’s degree! Not to mention, after earning a certification, an instructor must stay current in their work through continuing education and develop their skills even further to avoid burnout and meet the daily needs that surface in our workplace, which is, of course, the studio environment. So what we have in a teacher is a committed, intelligent, organized, a student with good values such as love, (support for others) and steadfastness to work steady and stay at it. How does someone decide to become a teacher? An instructor often comes from being a client themselves or they have had their own experience in their personal practice and they have a need to support it. Sometimes they are looking for a new direction, career transition or supplemental income in a career. They are committed people who keep a high level of follow-through and work ethics. Those are the people who daily work with you in your session, who open that extra slot to get you into the schedule sometimes to their own detriment, that is the person who helps you learn how to create even hips or jumps for joy when you have your big “A- HA’s” in class. That is the person who knows and supports your journey to realizing your potential. Wow! No wonder I prefer the studio environment to work and practice because it is filled with these super people and clients who value what they receive. A win-win all the way around! GYROKINESIS® GYROTONIC® GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with their permission.