Polestar Graduate – Now What?

Now that you’ve completed your Pilates teacher training program, it’s time to consider in which environment or context you want to teach. There are many different ways to use your education. We’ll mention a few of the most common paths forward for a Polestar graduate. Mara Sievers, NCPT

Teach at an Established Pilates Studio.

 You’ve already got a head start. The Polestar training is highly regarded in the Pilates world. Begin by sending the studio owner an official job application with a resume. Being a Polestar graduate will already give you an advantage and respect in their eyes. Most studio owners will want to see you teach a class or a private lesson.  If you’ve practiced at the studio before, then you’ll already be familiar with the environment and the studio’s typical clientele, and you’ll have an idea of what the owner is looking for.

Are they working with mostly young, fit people, or is the majority of their students among the older population, probably with movement restrictions or limitations? Knowing this will help you teach a session that matches the focus of the studio.  

If you apply at a studio that’s new to you, I would recommend inquiring beforehand about the fitness level of their student base and the type of classes they teach (mat, reformer, circuit, or other).

Plan on arriving an hour to 30-min early to familiarize yourself with the equipment, for instance:

  • How does the reformer foot bar work?
  • Do the springs have colors or are they all the same?
  • Do the colors represent the same tension as on the equipment you learned?
  • Look at the website and find out if they teach mostly group (reformer/mat) classes or teach mostly privates.

Knowing this before your demo will mentally prepare you and make sure that you teach in a way that’s a good fit for the studio and its students. 

If you get hired by a studio, you will either be paid as an employee – in which case the studio pays your taxes, but you might receive a lower hourly fee – or as an independent contractor, in which case you might earn a bit more, but have to put aside roughly 15-20% percent of your pay towards taxes.  (On “Selecting a Studio“)

Open a Private Practice or Home Studio

 If you have an unused room at home, you could turn it into a Pilates studio, as long as you don’t mind strangers coming to your house. If most of your students come to see you twice per week, you will only need fifteen people to fill your schedule. I wouldn’t recommend teaching more than six hours per day five days per week to avoid burnout. Since you don’t need a large student base, word of mouth might be all you need to fill your schedule. If you decide to put up a website, make sure not to display your home address, just as a level of safety. Having a home studio saves you the time of traveling to a studio. You will be your own boss and have to pay your own taxes.   

Rent Space By The Hour or Month

 If you don’t have enough room at home, you could begin by renting space by the hour in a dance or yoga studio. In this case, you won’t be able to keep your equipment there, but you can teach group mat classes, just ask your students to bring their own mats. Over time, you could purchase inflatable balls, foam rollers, therabands or magic circles and bring those with you to the class each time. If you are able to rent space month-by-month from a physical therapy or massage therapy office, you might be able to keep a reformer, reformer/tower, or a chair there. That obviously depends on the size of the space you rent, but it might work wonderfully for private lessons.  The benefits of renting by the hour is your low overhead, low commitment level, and cross referrals between the two businesses.

Open Your Own Studio

 The difference between having a private practice and opening a studio is the goal of immediately or eventually hiring other teachers.  If this is your dream you must be aware that you will be having two different jobs, Pilates teacher and studio manager, unless you have the means of hiring a manager from the start. You can outsource a lot of tasks that you might not be comfortable with, such as bookkeeping, marketing, cleaning, or admin work, but this means you’ll have to teach more hours to afford to pay those contractors. Teaming up with another teacher might be a great way to open a studio and share the overhead of rent, internet, website, etc. (Consider a Polestar Franchise!)

Work for a Clinic, Physical Therapist’s Office, Hospital, Senior Center or Similar Environment

 Many health care institutions are recognizing the benefit of Pilates training. You might be able to convince them to work with their patients. Each company will handle the collaboration differently, some might be able to put you on their payroll, some might offer you their space for free, but you might have to handle payment yourself. If you are passionate about a certain group of people, i.e. the elderly, people with certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s, or multiple sclerosis, don’t be shy. Approach the hiring staff at the place you would like to contribute to and inquire about the possibility of a collaboration.

Being proactive will always pay off. You will want to consider getting specific training or continuing education in the field where you want to work.  While we’re on the subject of cross-referrals: we Pilates devotees know firsthand about the power of the method, but many health care professionals who haven’t experienced high-quality Pilates yet might be cautious about referring their patients to you. I would recommend you invite practitioners of related fields to you for a free private lesson so they can experience the power of Pilates in their own body. They won’t doubt you anymore once they “get it.” 

Unemployment – What’s That?

I asked myself recently “has anyone ever heard of an unemployed Pilates teacher?” To be honest, my experience has been quite the opposite. If you are an empathetic, compassionate, skilled, and passionate Pilates teacher, you will soon find out that instead of worrying about too little work you’ll worry about not being able to keep up with the amount of interest. 

Pilates is here to stay. The more people discover Pilates, the more likely they will continue practicing, especially into their later years.

Even for you as a teacher, Pilates is not a career with a deadline. You’re never too old to teach Pilates. On the contrary, just like wine gets better with age, the more you teach, the better you are prepared for whoever comes along, and you’ll be able to help them see lasting results from their practice more quickly.  I would go as far as to say: instead of investing tens of thousands of dollars in a college degree with the dire prospect of unemployment due to an oversaturated market, invest a fraction of that money in a good Pilates training and you’ll have a job for life.

Mara Sievers NCPT, is a Polestar practitioner and the creator of Pilates Encyclopedia

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