The Real Meaning of Pilates Master Instructor

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Master instructor is a term that is becoming quite commonplace in Pilates teacher advertising. When I think of a master teacher, I think of a wise old Zen master or at least someone who has many, many years of being an expert in their field. The Merriam-Webster dictionary makes it a little easier to be a master, citing definitions such as: "an artist, performer, or player of consummate skill" and "a worker or artisan qualified to teach apprentices." One would hope that a Pilates instructor calling him or herself a master teacher would exhibit these qualities, but there is no guarantee.

Pilates Master Teacher Is a Marketing Term

At this time in the Pilates world, "master teacher" is popular a marketing term. It may very well refer to someone with master level experience, but there is no standardized master teacher certification program or credentialing body overseeing the use of the term.

That doesn't mean there aren't many master level Pilates teachers — there are. For example, most people agree that the Pilates Elders are master teachers, and there are many others. But the bottom line is that excellent Pilates teachers may or may not call themselves master teachers, and so-so teachers may market themselves as ​masters.

Advanced Pilates Teacher Training

There are also a number of advanced Pilates teacher training that use the term master as part of their descriptions. These trainings usually require participants to have already graduated from a comprehensive Pilates instructor training program. Then again, there are plenty of specialized post-graduate programs that don't happen to use the term master. If you are interested in an instructor with an advanced education it is still best to ask directly about the extent of their studies.

Finding Quality Pilates Instruction

It is not necessary to take classes from a "master teacher" to get quality Pilates instruction. There are many fine Pilates instructors who can take you a long way in your practice before you need a master teacher.

If you are new to Pilates, my advice is to review the tips for finding a good instructor. Familiarize yourself with what Pilates certification means. Talk to as many people as you can about their experiences with different instructors. You can do some research online and via social media. Yelp has ratings of Pilates studios and instructors, as does Angie's List.

Once you find a class you think will meet your needs, give it a few tries. You will know if you are in the presence of a master.

For a deeper look at Pilates classes, instructors, and certification, read these articles:

  • Pilates Instructor Certification Basics: Learn about the differences in Pilates certification. These include Pilates mat certification that ensures the instructor knows about Pilates equipment, and professional certification, including advanced training, sport-specific and rehabilitation training.
  • Issues in Pilates Instructor Certification: A trademark battle resulted in the word Pilates being made a general term for the method of exercise, rather than proprietary. See how this has had an impact on certification.
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