Featured New Teachers Teaching Skills

Go From Teacher Training To First Class With Confidence

Many of my students that go through Pilates teacher training finish their courses and get started practicing. Then they realize that they learned so much that they don’t know where to begin. So when teacher in training Mary Cobb came to me with suggestion for how she organized her study time, I had to share it with all of you!

You’ve completed your first Pilates teacher training course.


My first course was with STOTT PILATES® on the reformer. Now that my in-course hours are done, I need to also complete additional self-guided study. For my program I need to complete 40 hours of physical review, 25 hours of practice teaching, and 10 hours of observation.


Gulp So Much To Study

You’ve just done a ton of work learning new vocabulary, anatomy, and over 100 pilates reformer exercises – not to mention navigating your way through breath patterns. It can feel like a lot of information, but these practice hours will help solidify all the new concepts you learned in class.

Here are some tips about what to do when teaching your first class.

Remember, teaching is an opportunity to practice what you’ve been studying!

Always introduce yourself to each new client and learn your client’s names. This personalizes the experience and allows you to give targeted cueing.


Make sure you are aware of any injuries and offer modifications where you can.

Write out your programming before class. Include your warm up and 18 reformer exercises. You will probably only get through half but this way you are over prepared.

Stott Pilates Books

The warm up should last about 10-15mins. Warms ups on the mat first are a great way to begin. Keep in mind that clients who signed up for a reformer class usually want to get on the reformer as soon as possible.


Writing out a script for each exercise is a really helpful way to make sure you’re covering the 5 Basic Principles. This will help you memorize the 5 Basic Principles and find a way to apply them to each exercise. This will also help you from sounding too clinical the first time you teach.


Always ask for permission before giving a client a tactile cue. Some folks just don’t like being touched.


Play around with imagery and find a few ways to visually describe what you are looking for in an exercise. What makes perfect sense to one client, may not click with another. Some clients may like the anatomical cues, but others may understand an imagery cue better – i.e. squeezing a blueberry between the scapula during retraction.

BlueberryFocus on using short, simple language to get the initial movement of the exercise out. As your clients continue with reps of the exercise, add in information about the movement such as; where the movement is initiated, whether to square off shoulders and hips, imagery to encourage abdominal engagement, and what the breaths for that exercise should be. By layering the information, you’re giving yourself time to make each point.

Make sure you tell people about when and where you’re teaching next. Social media is a great way to market yourself and let friends, family and future clients know what you’re up to. This will help you build a client base. For example, record yourself doing an exercise and post it online with some tips on movement and information about how to take a class with you.

Social Media For Pilates Class

Remember, you’re learning as you go. It will only get easier from here.

I come from an acting background, so my biggest tip is to convey confidence. Even if you don’t feel confident in getting the words out yet, act like you do. Just think to yourself, ‘What would a Pilates instructor do?’

If you behave like a pilates instructor, people will treat you like one.

After all, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

Good luck in your teaching!

Mary Cobb Reformer

  • Avatar
    November 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Hello! Thank you for sharing all of this helpful information. I am going through the Stotts certification process for Intensive Reformer currently. I’m about halfway through my teaching hours, finished with practice and observation and just doing extra now. I’m concerned about the postural analysis portion of the exam…I don’t seem to have time for this in my practice teaching. I introduce basic principles to all of my new clients and build them into all exercises, but I always hesitate to do a postural analysis on new clients mostly because I feel it’s my weak point. Can you recommend any resources other than the material in our manuals? I have not found any solid videos on YouTube that are particularly relevant to Stott either. Thank you in advance for any guidance.

    • Holly Furgason
      Holly Furgason
      December 19, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Emm.
      Sorry for the delay. Thanks for the question!
      I would recommend that you audit the Postural Analysis day of a course. Most training centers allow this and it would be a great review. Also you could schedule an hour with an Instructor Training to review this information. Perhaps you could even share the time with another student preparing for their exam.
      If you look in the Support Material Manual, you’re just trying to systematically go through the check list.
      Let me know if I can help with specific issues! Good luck with your studies.

  • Avatar
    February 3, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Hi Holly,
    This is a great post since i’ll teach my first class in a few days (“don’t panic, don’t panic!”)… 🙂
    May I ask you where to find those muscles flashcards? Many thanks!


  • Avatar
    September 12, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Hello! I am in the middle of my Basi Comphrensive classes! Where and how should iI start studying all this information!?

    • Holly Furgason
      Holly Furgason
      September 17, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Michelle.

      Congrats on almost completing your comprehensive certification! That will be a huge accomplishment!! Yay!
      Are you teaching practice sessions to friends and family? Are you teaching as an apprentice at a studio? Usually this is how you begin organizing your class structure and build teaching confidence. Let me know your situation and I can offer more specific suggestions. XO

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