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Pilates Teacher Training: How to Get those Hours IN!!!

Joining a Pilates Teacher Training Program is a HUGE deal and full of excitement! Pending the program you join you'll likely need to do a certain number of [self-guided hours] to get your certificate.

People would ask me how I got all my hours in when I was working ~50 hours a week and had a family. A couple years back, I wrote down my top tips and am sharing them with you today!!!

First, what are self-guided hours??

The self-guided hours are how you build your skills to become a confident and successful teacher. The more hours you do the more confident you'll be when you start working for yourself or for a studio.

Self-guided hours typically include observation, practice, and teaching. You do these hours on your own and log them. You should have a set number of hours that are required based on the program you enter. These hours are not included in program costs, but are essential to the process.

If you want to know more about what these hours are or what they entail - continue reading.

If you know what the hours are - skip down for my tips to get those hours in!!

Self-Guided Hours Overview

~ MOVE ~

Private/Semi-Private Sessions - you move and learn.

  • You move and learn 1:1 with a teacher or in a small setting of 2-4 clients. I believe that at least 50% of the hours should be Private Session, so you can learn 1:1 with a teacher and hone in on your practice. *Ask for homework!

Classes - you move in a group.

  • These are more accessible price-wise, but the nice thing about classes is the teacher may give more variations and modifications throughout a class to accommodate a larger group. You may get to try new things (and then put them in your teaching tool box).

Self-Practice - you explore the work on your own. You are not guided by a teacher.

  • These hours are meant for you to practice the order, try new variations, or even talk yourself through the work. It's your time to play and try things out, so you understand them before you teach them.

Those who practice regularly make the best teachers!


Observation - you watch teachers teach.

  • You see how a variety of teachers cue exercises and safety.

  • You see how they use their voice and how they use tactile cues.

  • You see how they lead a class of varying levels and how they use variations or modifications throughout class.

  • It may also be your chance to learn the order.

*I find that it's best if 30-50% of these hours are done in a studio. It minimizes distraction while putting you in the room to see clients move. Virtual observation can be more accessible because they can be done at any time, but I also believe that any virtual observations should be classes where the trainee can see clients moving instead of observing a teacher cue + move at the same time. My last note on observations: aim to observe at least 10-15% of your hours as Private sessions. It helps you see the difference between 1:1 and class settings.


Practice Teaching - your time to practice your words!!! and more!! Also,

  • It's your time to try different variations and props with your practice clients to see what works and what doesn't for different client types.

  • You typically practice teach on those you know.

    • They know you are learning and there is a mutual agreement that you are working together to help you become the teacher you hope to be.

  • It's your time to get comfortable teaching both 1:1 and with a few clients, so you'll be ready to teach in a studio (if you choose to).


1 - Figure out your most attentive time of day

  • This was my time to observe my online hours.

    • I know that I am most attentive early in the morning or any time before lunch.

  • Make it a date for yourself.

    • Set yourself up with a coffee and your notes handy!

    • Find a place where you can snuggle up with your pup (or cat) and a cozy blanket - anything to help you focus.

Setting up a comfortable space to focus can help you be more attentive.

2 - Remember: A little bit goes a long way

  • I did observations in 1 - 2 hour blocks.

    • Any more than that at one time and I started to lose focus (and started thinking about everything I wasn’t doing in my home life)

  • I also did a lot of 30 minute self practice times instead of a full 50.

    • I had to do a few more self sessions overall to complete my hours, but I was able to get time in after work for ME (my trainee hours) and then my family.

FUN NOTE - I built my program to have self practice as 30 minute increments instead of 50 because it helped me get my hours in while still being able to dedicate time to my family.

3 - Find your most productive time of day - this should be your movement and/or teaching times!

  • Teaching hours - great during your productive time because your brain is already ready to do all the things and you’ll likely be on fire with your clients - and ready to teach and learn!

  • Practice hours - practice during your productive time and your brain will continue to be productive longer because you are feeding your body and your mind positive thoughts and feedback.

4 - Color coding and spreading the love [plan, plan, plan]

  • I am a nerd for color coding calendars. I had a yearly planner and I had a weekly paper list - both were matching colors based on

    • Observation Hours [red]

    • Self Practice Hours [blue]

    • Privates/Classes [purple]

    • Teaching [green]

    • Workshops [pink]

I used Frixion erasable pens, so I never “ruined” my planners.

  • Yearly planner was for overall planning and I was able to keep a visual count of my hours easily. I used it to write in practice clients and keep their information handy.

  • Weekly was posted on my fridge with the family schedule, to ensure I was keeping ahead of everything for everyone. I could easily see a conflict and figure out how to rearrange.

    • I also created my weekly schedule one month in advance. Included school events, birthdays, and other things that might come up.

5 - Schedule around your kid’s schedule [if you have them]

  • If you work all day you might think you “can’t” do your time during the week after work, but if you know when your kiddo(s) are “doing their own thing” and don’t need you - you can plan to do "your own thing" at the same time.

  • I only allowed myself 2 skipped bed times a month (if I were at the studio)

6 - Don’t make it all business all the time.

  • Make sure to schedule in some breaks/days off.

    • This will relieve your stress and help you continue to more forward with a positive mindset instead of dreading deadlines or whether or not you are on schedule.

7 - Celebrate your wins. All of them. The small ones and the big ones.

  • You made time for self practice? WIN

  • You did an extra hour of observation? WIN

  • You learned how to cue an exercise with a little bit of ease? WIN

8 - Don’t over-schedule yourself on any given day - you might be setting yourself up for failure.

  • Being consistent in small bits may be better than a few long days per month. You’ll already have long weekend days when it’s workshop weekend


A little bit goes a long way when paired with consistency.

I was able to get my hours in by being consistent and doing small bits of hours throughout the week.

  • I found small chunks of time in my schedule that I was able to use for observation, practice, or writing out the order.

    • For example: I would take 15 minutes of my lunch break one day a week and try and write out the mat or reformer orders. I would also take time before bed every other week to visually see myself going through the order when I was gearing up to test out for Advanced Mat.

  • I also scheduled in some break days here and there to ensure I could make other plans.

Know your family’s schedule and schedule around it, so you don’t feel parental guilt.

  • I made a monthly schedule and put everything we had going on as a family on the schedule. I took bed times into account and then added my training time into the schedule. I also chatted it over with my partner to ensure we were on the same page and knew each other’s expectations. By doing that, I knew I could be there for my family and still stick to my goals and do what I enjoyed (without guilt).

If you are thinking of entering a Pilates Teacher Training Program and are unsure if you can commit due to the Self-Guided Hours, I hope I've given you some ways to incorporate training hours into your life!

If you are interested in my Classical program infused with Accessibility & Creativity - CLICK HERE!!

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