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Pilates instructors come from wide-ranging ages, stages, and backgrounds. Pilates as a career can be attractive to many different people. In part, because the schedule and demands can be highly varied according to what is a fit for your own life. Some trainers teach many classes and private lessons at a single studio and keep consistent hours day to day. Other trainers have diverse hours to accommodate second jobs or the demands of parenting. There are successful trainers anywhere from under 20 to over 70. There are men and women. There are trainers of all different body types and sizes. There are trainers with a background in dance, gymnastics, and sports, and those who never had a strong connection to a movement system before Pilates. There are trainers who were already physical therapists and fitness professionals, and some who came out of completely unrelated fields.

What they all have in common, is that at some point they learned what Pilates could do for people’s bodies, got excited about it, and wanted to share it with others. In short, Pilates can be for anyone. These are the personal stories of some of our MOVE Wellness instructors sharing what inspired them to pursue Pilates as a career. We hope you might find your own inspiration in their experiences.

Pilates instructor trainee Sarah in a teaser position

Sarah is a former gymnast who was studying to become a nurse when she realized that the combination of her scoliosis, and the demand placed on her body from nursing were causing her excruciating pain much of the time.

Sarah: “I first got the idea in my head just from hearing about Pilates. I just kept hearing that it was good for bodies. As someone who was injured all the time that really appealed to me. Living in a small town in a rural area, there weren’t really any Pilates classes near me. I finally found some online and then some more by traveling a little further a field and finding MOVE in Ann Arbor. Once I was doing more Pilates and immersing myself in the training I was hooked into the idea of becoming a trainer. It just made my body feel so much better.”

MOVE Founder Elaine with a client

Elaine is the owner of MOVE in Ann Arbor. She is also an accomplished Pilates teacher and Instructor Trainer. When she first considered becoming a Pilates trainer 20 years ago she was looking for the next step after years of training as a dancer and dance teacher. 

Elaine:When I  first started doing  Pilates, I realised I was doing something really hard that was getting me fit, and it also gave me so much joy. It struck me that this was so different than what we often think about working out: that it’s something you “have” to do, as a duty or a chore. It made me want to help people understand their bodies the way I was learning to understand mine. I took the leap to becoming a trainer when someone I knew let me know that she was starting a Pilates teacher trainer program locally. Suddenly I had available, accessible training and I enthusiastically signed up.”

MOVE Trainer Davy with a client

Davy is a former Gymnast and Peace Corps volunteer.  She started her Pilates training back before she had kids, when she was working 50+ hours a week at a corporate job.

Davy:  “A friend of mine from work was going through the Pilates teacher training, so I first heard about it from her. I was not fulfilled in my corporate job. When I first started Pilates teacher training, I thought that I would be doing it as a supplement to my corporate job, something to help me feel more fulfilled.  It was when I started having kids that I decided to make a change professionally. I felt I needed a job with more flexibility that would allow me more time with my family. When I was younger I was in the Peace Corps and it was there that I become passionate about Health Education. It’s always been my goal to get back to that, and teaching Pilates has allowed me to do that. I still believe that being a Pilates teacher is a great supplement to other professions.”

MOVE Instructor Trainee Kenny on the Reformer

Kenny is a father and also works full time as a lawyer. He has had a  long time passion for Yoga, and started training as a Pilates teacher after talking to his friend Elaine, a Pilates instructor trainer.

Kenny: “A conversation with Elaine inspired me to delve in further to what had previously just been curiosity. I started reading more about Pilates, and soon realized that it’s more than just exercise. I joined the teacher training program because I wanted a new challenge. Even though my first movement passion is Iyengar Yoga, Pilates training seemed like  it would be a more time efficient way to become a movement teacher. It also seemed to me that Pilates would be appealing to more potential students. And then there was a course available that I could feasibly fit into my busy schedule. I had originally thought that I would just do the mat course to start. I then realized that although the timing is never perfect, it made sense for me to go ahead and do the comprehensive course all the way through.”

MOVE Trainer Lauren on the Reformer

Lauren is a lifelong ballet dancer/student who had just finished graduate school and had a new baby when the idea of becoming a Pilates teacher first crossed her mind.

Lauren: “I had just finished my graduate degree: a Master of Science in Geology. As I applied for jobs in Earth Science I feared that with a baby and a full time desk job I would no longer have time for my other great passion in life: dance and movement. Oddly,  I was first inspired by the personal trainers on the show The Biggest Loser (which is kind of funny because I really don’t like that show at all for so many reasons, and don’t at all condone or support the methods they used.) I was, however, jealous of the trainers’ jobs.  What appealed to me was that their job seemed to involve a combination of passion for movement and connecting with people one on one to support their growth. The body shaming and the yelling I could do without. 

I didn’t take my own thoughts too seriously at first; it seemed impossible that I would change careers before I’d even begun the one I’d just trained for. But ultimately, while I loved my new baby with all my heart, the prospect of sitting at a desk all day with no time to dance after was utterly depressing to me.  I began at first just playing with the idea by googling Pilates training programs. I was surprised to find a training program available just blocks away from my house. I soon scheduled to meet with Aimee McDonald at The Movement Center in Ann Arbor. She kind of laid out my future for me in that first meeting, presenting the teacher training program,  followed by apprenticeship and hopefully teaching professionally after that. To me this felt like serendipity. I’ve been happily teaching and training ever since.”

MOVE Instructor Trainee Mary

Mary is a retired VA worker. She worked in patient safety, and had a desk job for 40 years before embarking on Pilates teacher training.

Mary: “I started taking Pilates 15 years ago from my neighbor who had just opened a studio. I was recovering from breast cancer at the time and was happy to find exercise that felt safe and effective. More recently I ended up deciding to do the teacher training program. At first I didn’t think I could do it, it didn’t occur to me that I was the type of person who could be a Pilates instructor. But I was looking for something challenging that I loved to do with my retirement. A conversation with Elaine (from MOVE ) made me feel like I could do it.”

MOVE Instructor Trainee Sylvia on the ladder barrel

Sylvia is a PT who recently moved to the US from Costa Rica when her husband got a job in Michigan.

Sylvia: “In my PT clinic we would often send patients to do Pilates training and it was then that I saw how effective Pilates could be. I always wanted to do Pilates teacher training but working full time I couldn’t fit it into my schedule. When my husband got a job in the US I could no longer work as a PT, but this gave me a lot of time all of the sudden in which I was able to do the Pilates training courses.”

MOVE Trainer Jane at the barre

Jane is a mother of two, a ballet dancer, and former ballet teacher. She was teaching ballet and waiting tables for a living when when she  first considered becoming a Pilates instructor.

Jane: “I was teaching ballet and wanted to diversify what I was able to offer students. At first I was just thinking about teaching Pilates to ballet students. As a ballet teacher and a waitress I usually had to work late. After I had kids, I realized I needed earlier nights. That’s when I started to consider teaching a more diverse population of Pilates students. I had just finished my teacher training when I ran into Aimee McDonald who let me know that they were hiring instructors at MOVE. Soon I was working there several hours a week. Eventually I felt comfortable giving up my waitressing job. Now I just teach Pilates and don’t teach ballet  anymore, which makes sense for me and my life right now.”

Tony was approaching his 40th birthday and  training as a runner to improve his health when he decided he needed to kick it up a notch. After researching various fitness options, he found MOVE Wellness and decided to give Pilates a try.

Tony: “I began my fitness journey back in 2014. Fitness was something I had always struggled with and I wanted to take control. I started with running, and then some biking. By the end of 2014 I ran my first two 5Ks. In the beginning of 2015, I decided I wanted to add something new to my workout routine. After a few months of research I found MOVE Wellness Studios and Pilates. My first private session was such an eye opener and in August of 2015 I decided to become an instructor. I like to create workouts that are not only challenging but fun as well. Because who doesn’t like to have fun, right? I believe doing something that you enjoy gives you the best opportunity to succeed. I am so happy and proud to be part of the amazing team at MOVE Wellness Studios. I am looking forward to being able to help others reach their fitness goals and live healthier lives.”

Think a career as a pilates instructor might be for you? Learn how to become a pilates instructor in our Frequently Asked Questions blog post, and get answers to your own questions at Talk and Train, our open studio event to preview the MOVE Instructor Training Program on January 15th at 6:30 p.m.