With over 10 million people participating in Pilates today, there's no wonder personal trainers are jumping at the chance to certify. By adding Pilates to their current repertoire, they can retain more clients, keep their interest in "personal training" or "one-on-one" instruction and make more money in a method that is growing in popularity every day.

"Pilates is one of the fastest-growing forms of exercise that people of all ages, fitness abilities and levels are turning to for mind-body exercise," says Moira Merrithew, Executive Director of Education at STOTT PILATES. "Ambitious instructors, who obtain professional instruction and expand their knowledge base to include special populations covering the de-conditioned exerciser to the very fit, become very marketable."

A Pathway to Success

The key to making the shift from the gym to the Pilates studio is quality education. Instructors are able to cross-promote their multifaceted training abilities and implement new and exciting fitness skills into their clients' regimens. They also have the opportunity to increase their client base with their newfound expertise by offering core strength, functional fitness and muscle conditioning through effective mind/body exercise.

Pilates has become a top choice for fitness instructors because it has no age barrier or fitness requirements. This method of exercise produces longer, leaner muscles, improves postural alignment, increases core strength, balance strength and flexibility, heightens body awareness and prevents injury. Pilates is not as stressful on the joints.

"Pilates is a kinder, gentler exercise for your body with all of the benefits of strength training," adds Moira. "It is a method of exercise for everyone - from the athlete to special populations such as rehab and pre- and post-natal exercisers to the active aging. You can reach a broad range of clients and ultimately touch the lives of more people."

Increase Your Earnings

Group exercise instructors are amazed at the increase in working hours they can actually put in consecutively by teaching Pilates. You can teach three to five hours of one-on-one or group Pilates sessions in a row. The transition from group exercise to Pilates can be quite natural considering all of the continual verbal cues in this format of teaching. According to the June 2007 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal, mind/body exercise is the most popular form of fitness programming in today's clubs.

Pilates instructors also enjoy the fact that this contemporized form of exercise allows them to cater to a wide range of clients. Specific programs are now available for athletes, rehab and prenatal clients, new moms or moms-to-be and the active aging.

Pilates is the perfect modality for rehabilitation from a sports-related or other injury. When a Pilates practitioner trains a client with a knee injury, the body is seen as a whole, and the movement patterns are designed to strengthen from the deep stabilizing muscles to the large mobilizers, integrating the mind/body connection throughout.

Much of the growth in the areas of equipment-based exercise is due to professional trainers gaining knowledge of and confidence in the results they are achieving with their clients. "Facility owners are realizing that high-quality equipment and programming equals increased membership retention, and at the same time, instructors are increasing clientele 10-fold," adds Lindsay G. Merrithew, President and CEO of STOTT PILATES.

Where to Train

People who are interested in certifying in Pilates are often not aware of their options for professional instruction, programming and long-lasting education. However, there are many high-caliber licensed training centers around the globe to assist in the process.

It is important for anyone looking for good instruction or certifications to seek out organizations that provide in-depth knowledge and practical programming options to teach effective group or personal training programs to clients of any age or fitness level - from post-rehab patients to elite athletes.

Watch out for "one-time" weekend programs that don't require apprenticeship hours or proper qualifications of the attendees' skills before giving them a certificate. Many of the people teaching these one-weekend certification programs possess little to qualify them to do so. The most well-respected certification programs specific to Pilates include observation, physical review, practice teaching, written and practical exams.

"Most credible organizations adhere to standards of operation that ensure consistent delivery of programs and services for those wanting to pursue a career in this exercise method," explains Mr. Merrithew. "We help develop successful career paths for instructors to keep up with the market's demand."

Remember, most clients seeking any new form of exercise or training methodology tend to ask around their gym or club for verbal "references" of trainers. Therefore, it's in the best interest of those wanting to certify to research the various organizations that offer certification and examine how comprehensive their courses and programs are. High-caliber Pilates certification shows clients and employers that instructors are well-qualified professionals who align with top organizations in the industry.

"The fitness world is a hot industry right now, and new advancements seem to pop up every day," adds Mr. Merrithew. "Instructors need to be patient with their learning and understand that quality education goes a long way when trying to obtain new clients. Customized workouts are always in-demand, and in Pilates, those instructors who tailor their teaching approach to working with all walks of life, fitness abilities, ages and levels are the ones who are going to be able to address the varying demands of the marketplace."

Kerrie Lee Brown is the Vice President of communications for STOTT PILATES (www.stottpilates.com). For more information and a list of STOTT PILATES courses near you, click here.