PNWP Spotlight: Road to Becoming a Pilates Pro

by Leslie Braverman on April 6, 2016

Pilates at PNWP is a different experience than any other gym, fusion fads, or other Portland Pilates studio. Our instructors cleared STOTT PILATES certification hurdles and acquired deep experience before joining us. Here’s what it takes to get here:

side lying chair (3)

Pacific NW Pilates is, first and foremost, a Pilates studio. It’s also a school. Each year, PNWP Education accepts 15-20 students into its intensive training program (220 hours class time) to become STOTT PILATES® instructors. The entry point is a 20-hour functional anatomy course followed by a 40-hour mat course.

Students go deeper with level-one  specialty equipment courses on the Pilates Reformer,  and Cadillac, Chair and Barrels. Finishing courses include level-two equipment curriculums, and concentrated focus on Rehab, and injuries and special conditions.

The path to becoming a fully certified STOTT PILATES Instructor is challenging. Each student is interviewed and accepted based on their prior experience with movement or fitness, and posseses a desire to understand Pilates at a deep and exhaustive level. Over the last 15 years, PNWP Education has graduated more than 200 students at various teaching levels and qualifications. (Not every participant completes the training or crosses the finish line to becoming a full-fledged Pilates instructor.)

Students practice teaching Leg Pull Front in a Pilates Mat course at PNWP.


Many applicants decide to become a teacher after experiencing Pilates. They love it. It made their life better. They want to share their experience with others. They open themselves to change and new possibilities.

The time is right. They made space to learn something new. The kids are out of the house. Their job isn’t satisfying. They’re ready for a new career.

They want to learn about Pilates in a more in-depth way. They are accepted into an intensive and well-respected program—like ours.

Melanie Byford-Young tells and shows a student how the foot and ankle should move in an exercise on the Pilates Stability Chair.


The next step is to register for courses and arrange life to meet the demands of in-class hours (usually on the weekends) and homework. Every hour of class time requires another two hours of personal time to absorb the material. Students must complete assignments, observe classes, do physical review and practice teach.

They are required to understand the fundamentals of anatomy as it applies to movement and bio-mechanics. Anatomy provides a common language to describing movement, and a structure for examining favorable and faulty muscular recruitment patterns.

Students need to learn hundreds of exercises, modifications and variations. They learn to feel exercises in their own body, examine how others execute movement, and develop a keen capacity to communicate through words, touch and imagery.

PNWP Education students are asked to squeeze their fists to experience what a muscle feels like after it has been clenched too hard and then released.

PNWP Education students are asked to squeeze their fists to experience what a muscle feels like after it has been clenched too hard and then released.


It’s hard to be a beginner. There is lots of material to learn. Many students are overwhelmed. Anatomy may be a new language. Teaching movement may not come naturally. Detecting good and bad movement patterns may be unfamiliar.

Becoming an expert at anything takes dedication and the discipline to practice. After a student completes course hours, choreography and teaching concepts need time to marinate. Students need a safe environment to make mistakes and receive feedback.

Katherine Brown cues a student to round her back.

PNWP Support and Guidance

Home to 22 certified Pilates teachers and specialty Pilates equipment, PNWP studio is a place for community and learning. Every week we host more than 45 small group Pilates classes and 250 private lessons. PNWP Education students are invited to observe expert instructors in the studio. Students are also given complimentary access to studio equipment. Students form study groups and teams to practice teaching.

There are two parts to the exam: a written and a practical teaching portion. In an Exam Prep Workshop, students review anatomy, basic Pilates principles and teach as if they were being examined.


Most importantly, a Pilates teacher needs to be passionate about their teaching and have a desire to learn more. Passing the exam is just the beginning. Exceptional teachers combine their skills, intuition, knowledge and experience to work with a wide range of individuals. Every client is unique.

Accomplished Pilates professionals add to their knowledge base each year and refine their skills through continuing education and personal training.

Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. PNWP is a powerful resource for any new or seasoned Pilates professional. Are you ready for a change, either with an expert instructor or a yen to become one? Call now. Come in.

Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call Brette for details: (503) 292-4409.

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