Dear Brooke,

I LOVE PILATES! I think I want to get certified but I’m not sure where to start – does where you train make a difference?

-Gabrielle, New York, NY

Hi Gabrielle,

My initial answer is an automatic and resounding YES! But I am going to elaborate as best – and diplomatically – as I can. Here are the top three things to look for in a training program: As direct a lineage to Joseph Pilates as possible (I believe Romana’s Pilates is the only one with a first generation teacher running), a minimum of 600 hours in the program in order to create a real foundation for the lifetime of learning ahead, and a program that teaches the entire system (all apparatus) and not a segregated version of the method (i.e. mat only, reformer only, etc). Ask a lot of questions about the program and also try some sessions at the studio to make sure that the teachers are giving you the workout that you expect and the courtesy you deserve. It’s important that the studio atmosphere is one in which you will want to be spending a very large part of your next year and possibly many more to come.

If you want an example of how I run my program you can find information on my site

Best of luck to you!



15 Responses to Dear Brooke,

  1. Siri Galliano says:

    Dear Brooke,

    Outside of Romana’s certification course,
    Ron Fletcher and Lolita San Miguel, considered
    by contemporary Pilates enthusiasts, are first generation teachers who offer certification.

    More important I would ask anyone wanting to be
    a teacher, is, why? Can you really make a living?
    Is the market flooded in your city? Interview
    10 teachers and what percentage are doing well?
    Do you want to work for someone else or own your
    own business and do you have any ecperience in
    business? More studios are closing every day.

    Better to be a physical therapist or a doctor.

    Siri GAlliano

  2. Melissa says:

    I took the Stott Pilates Intensive mat course and absolutely loved it, it was very educational and gave you many options on how to adapt moves for every posture issue and all levels. I definitely got brain overload but it was worth it.

  3. Tori says:

    I don’t think the “direct lineage” is of utmost importance. I employ teachers that are trained by 1st generation and some that are not. Power Pilates, Authentic Pilates, Romana Pilates, STOTT PILATES, and Pilates Associates of Central NY. Everyone of my instructors (8 of them) are superb. I think you need to get as much information as you can: make sure comprehensive instruction is offered (at least 600 hrs), make sure the trainers are experienced and talk to people who have been through the training. Take classes and private sessions from them if ou can.

  4. Art Fishman says:

    I agree with brooke. I took a series of instructor courses at Power Pilates for the mat series, I did not understand the whole concept or the love that comes from a direct linage.
    I spent 4 years under Romana, Sari, and Jerome at the Romanas pilates program. It was the best time of my life.
    Romana infuses you with her love and enthusiasm.
    Sari brings a developed inclusive understanding as to why each exercise is done and how it relates. Jerome brings humor, technical understanding and a knowledge of the flow of the system. I can’t write all of the wonderful instructors from all of the USA and the world that make the experience so wonderful and make your life seem so fulfilling.

    Lastly, as to becoming a doctor or a physical therapist. A couple of years ago, at a international conference in Las vegas, Anthony Robas introduced us to a family from India. They had made a life in NJ, and their son had a debilitating muscle disorder which was crippling him. They went to doctors and physical therapists who gave up on the young man. He came to Anthonys Pilates studio in Princeton, where he literally crawled to the equipment. He could not lift his leg when he started at 9 years old. In Las vegas, Anthony had him do a full Intermediate mat exercise and he walked to the aparatus. The family could not praise Pilates and Romana and Anthony enough for what their child had achieved.
    it made all of us feel humble and excited as to what we have learned.

  5. I am a second generation teacher, who studied with Romana in New York in the 1990’s and went through the 600 hour New York Pilates Studio (R) Teacher Certification Program. I agree that lineage is important as it provides a sense of history and spirit(much missing today) as well as the classical technical aspects of the Method; and that a certification program should be comprehensive and at least 600 hours. Check out to see the quality of the instructors actually teaching the main aspects of the training program. Many programs offer seminars and continuing education courses but do not even name the instructors for these seminars. Thorough investigation is required before entering any program and it is imperative and I repeat imperative that the prospective instuctor train with a few of the most comprehensive programs before deciding and try at least one with historical lineage. For further information about the New York Pilates Studio (R) Teacher Certification Program visit

  6. Dear Brooke and Friends,

    As a physical therapist for over 20 years, and a “2nd generation” certified pilates teacher trainer (Romana), I share my passion with both physical therapy and pilates! The integration of both in my practice has proven overwhelming results over the years, and appreciated by many patients and doctors.

    I believe that a traditional foundation is key. The teacher trainers should have experience with first generation teachers, know their anatomy, and be capable of understanding how to provide information to students about common medical conditions/ailments, including contraindications for exercise and modifications or variations. Clearly it is beyond the scope of practice for pilates instructors to conduct “evaluations,” though an understanding of an appropriate medical clearance should be a part of the program. Keep It Simple Safe!

    Continuing education and practice allows for versatility and creativity with the delivery of the method to your clients, and I encourage this beyond my certification program. I learn something every day….

    I say, go for it! Be a physical therapist, doctor, or pilates instructor. These days with the state of our healthcare system, the baby boomers may be needing to do more Pilates!!!

    Melinda Bryan, PT, Director
    The Pilates Studio of Los Angeles

  7. Olivia Keister says:

    I wanted to add my two cents because I struggled with the same question and coming across such varying opinions about where to study. There are some obvious reg-flags about programs such as a ‘do-it-in-a-weekend’ sort of approach that need to be avoided. I went to the Kane School for my mat work and wanted to do all the training there, but couldn’t see having the time and funds all at one time (I am also an actor)when I discovered STOTT offered the equipment in modules. I was warned ahead of time by people that STOTT was ‘very anatomy based’, so I went in hoping the knowledge of biomechanics I got from Kane was good enough. It was better. STOTT is good, but I think it’s very corporate and the discussion never seemed to extend beyond corporate perameters established by STOTT’s founder Moira Merrithew. Having said this, Moira Merrithew’s approach is extremely intelligent, she is extremely intelligent, the courses are a solid, with a solid road map of choreography, however, I learned so much about bio-mechanics and anatomy from the Kane School that I value having done both. STOTT does not accept any other mat certification and if you want to be fully certified with them you must do all of their courses. Another benefit is that there are STOTT training centers everywhere in the world!

  8. Erika Lawler says:

    It seems to me that this is a common debate within the Pilates community. I feel that different personality types fit well with different training programs. A love of Pilates comes from a true, deep understanding and belief in the princepals, not from the program that you study with or only passed on by one person. As instructors it is important to remember that providing safe, effective training is our main focus and our client’s feeling on success is our ultimate goal.

  9. Joy says:

    We need to keep in mind that what we are talking about is Pilates. Pilates is named for a person. It is NOT just a “style” of exercise, it is a method, originally called Contrology, that was developed by a MAN – Joseph Pilates. It only makes sense, then, that the strongest foundation is through a training program that has an established lineage back to its origininator. Otherwise, you are not learning Joe’s Method, but an altered version or perception of his intention.

    I would compare Pilates training with Dance training in that the best dancers – in nearly any dance style or discipline – most often have a strong foundation in classical Ballet.

    There is no way to logically defend altered versions of Pilates unless you first know the traditional, authentic, classical method AS IT WAS INTENDED (or as close as we are able to learn that through a first generation teacher such as Romana or Sari). In my opinion there is no defense of teaching other methods unless you have first studied with Romana and THEN gone on to try something else like Physical Mind, Stott, West Coast, etc. Only by having the proper foundation do you have the ability to accurately assess the true value and worth of these altered methods and modular approaches to training.

    Pilates was a Man – it is not just a form of movement. He created art in motion and in order to understand it properly we need to do whatever we can to get as close as we can to the direct lineage and the accurate teachings and history of the person. There is really only one way to do that……

  10. marylyon516 says:

    Hi Brook,
    I couldn’t agree more. Romona’s is the best, but,
    we are not all fortunate to just fly out to N.Y. for training. I have been getting lessons frequently from Romona girls in Illinois for the last 7 years and during that time able to get a variety of reputable certificates on the way. Clasical Pilates is taught pretty similar in many programs I really do not see much difference in Romona’s and Peak Pilates. One big difference is Romona’s stopped encouaging anatomy knowledge. The elders are not going to be around forever. I highly recomend getting lots of lesson, practice, read their books , view DVD’s and go to seminars to see what’s out there and what works for you as a student and you as a teacher.
    Thank you Mary Lyon, Chicago

  11. Tessa Coker says:

    What is this? An East vs West civil war? I am English and puzzled. My Pilates educator explained that essentially it is Eastern US purists, while the West has evolved. According to her any one of the first generation who were taught by the Man himself could say “Joe taught me this way” and they could all be different and adapted for that individual student’s needs. I say look for the results, look beyond the Method. If Joe were still alive I feel sure he would have progressed with science and evolved his method. When I first trained in Exercise to Music in the mid-eighties (London YMCA) we kept our low backs glued to the mat, never did straight leg sit ups, when standing tucked the tail and softened the knees (weight training too). Most of Pilates and Yoga would have been considered contra-indicated, a buzz word at the time! Science is alive and regrettably Joe is dead but I bet he would have had something to say about all this bickering among his acolytes… It’s just not Pilates.

  12. Jennifer Leight says:

    A very important question, however, there is no easy answer. As a fitness instructor I found a Romana teacher 10 years ago and began my own training through PhysicalMind 9 years ago. I agree that if I had not had a classical beginning, there would not be as much depth and breath to the work as I was taught. However, I am able to continue my education through the PMA and other weekend experiences. It is extremely important to know the reasoning behind Joe’s exercises as well as the intention and who they are applicable to. I have met and studied some with all the Grand Masters (they do not care for the term “elders.”) Some teachers I have met have gone through the Harvard of Pilates (The Pilates Center Boulder) and are amazing, others who have gone through the same exact program have no clue how to apply it. Bottom line, be professional, be ethical, and CARE. I know we are in a recession but if you do anything strictly for the money it will show and the clients will know. Do your research and take your time. It is worth it!

  13. I live in Los Angeles and was classically trained under Jill Cassady who studied with Ron Fletcher and then with Romana in NYC.
    My feelings about training programs that I see as a teacher and studio owner is that we should be more concerned about the “weekend” programs and short courses that truly do not give the teacher enough education about the concepts, exercises and depth of understanding in how to progress a client, how to work with an individual and not give a ‘one size fits all’ to everyone.
    We all have our reasons why we like the style that we choose to train and teach in and it sometimes does feel like an “us and them” divide.
    A comprehensive program whether East or West Coast coast style seems to be more important- as more so called pilates teachers are teaching incorrectly, and injuring people, in gyms more than ever

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