Industry Insider: Pilates Drop Out

Teachers with Injuries

This is a tough one to write. 

For the past three years I have run a Pilates Teacher Training program out of my New York Studios. With each small group we have ushered through the intense 30-week course, there has consistently been one trainee who simply can't make it through. Despite our vetting process and continual assessments, one student often finds him or her self unable to complete the training and ultimately drops out.

Not necessarily in the early days either. If I told you that we once had a student who completed the 600-hour training but failed to attend her practical and then dropped off the grid, would you be surprised? It happened.

In the hopes of helping all students looking to transition into the profession and maybe some studios too, let me outline a few practices and warning signs that should offset any training upsets and keep programs and trainees on track to a successful completion.


It should go without saying that the phrase “be prepared or be prepared to fail” is key.  

  • Review all materials related to the program. Are there clear expectations in the materials? What is expected of you? Is it realistic given your current schedule and lifestyle? Be honest.
  • Speak to graduates. Ask if you can schedule a meeting with an instructor who has completed the program.  Ask what the most challenging aspects of the program are.
  • Get assessed. If the program doesn’t do so automatically ask to book a lesson so you can be assessed for readiness? The teaching team should be able to determine how ready you are to enter a rigorous Pilates training program. If you aren't quite there yet, back up and get to work so you can be fully prepared come the next start date. The biggest warning sign that you will struggle is a lack of experience in your own body. You want to be ready to teach not struggling to learn moves for the first time when you enter a program.
  • Ask someone for a recommendation. Ideally someone in the teaching field. Tell them to be completely blunt and ask them to share it with you. If you are comfortable or if required provide this to your prospective program.  With everyone on the same page about your areas of strength and possible weaknesses, you should be armed and ready when challenges arise.


The transition from student to teacher is profound. Being good at something has nothing to do with teaching it. Investigate answers to the below questions before signing up for any program.

  • Make sure there is ongoing support. Is there an open door policy? Ideally there is a team of individuals that provide back up for every apprentice. Find out your program's infrastructure for trainee support.
  • Accountability is key. Ask how the program will keep tabs on you? Are they tracking your progress? Do they track their own progress with surveys or other tools? A lack of personnel to support the teachers in training is a warning sign for any incoming apprentice.
  • Is there a chain of command or a single point of contact? Is this someone you can speak with ahead of time to see if you communicate well with them?


As trainees enter the robust middle phase of training, teaching takes center stage.

You'll be practice teaching a lot. Working one on one is tiring and challenges you to get results from your clients regardless of the myriad conditions you encounter. It's exhausting and simultaneously fulfilling. These are the time frames that trainees explode with excitement. However, this is also the time when the realities of teaching become clear. Clients present with difficult physical challenges. The responsibilities of making gains can be overwhelming. Frustrations of students can weigh heavily on teachers and derail training.

  • Client management is a reality. Is there support for your practice clients? Who is in charge of them? Who handles scheduling and issues. You may be a terrific teacher but administration is another world entirely.
  • Self assessments are key.  Ask yourself why you started. What's the end goal?  Which clients do you enjoy most?
  • Explore your end game. Find out if there is any Career Planning available. You may become disenchanted with the studio where you train. There are many options for qualified teachers. The realization that you no longer want to work at this particular studio is a warning sign that you should ignore. There is a right studio and a right fit for your talents. Start looking.


By the end of training, confidence may soar or sink. There will be those trainees that shine and some that must work harder than most. Where ever you land remember that the moment of graduation is simply a snap shot in time. You have years before you and your development is constant.

Pilates training is hard and it should be. No one should be allowed to handle another human body without thorough training. Fitness professionals have a tremendous responsibility to pursue the most robust possible training and to enter the field with dedication and commitment. There will be times when it seems insurmountable Your job will be to hunker down and push past it. It could be the very next day that a student looks up at you and says “ oh my god – I DID it!” – and you can bask in the glow of your hard work.

For information about the Real Pilates Teacher Training Program visit

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