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Becoming a STOTT PILATES® instructor: Ace the exams and find a job

Become an Instructor - Ace exams and find a job

In this blog series, Becoming a STOTT PILATES® Instructor, we’ll be following Paige Schuman as she progresses through the STOTT PILATES Certification Program.

If you want to know how long it takes to study for the STOTT PILATES practical and written exams, just ask Paige Schuman, who recently completed her training at the Merrithew® Corporate Training Center in Toronto.

“You should start studying the day you begin the course. When they give you practice time, take advantage of it. Look back through the manual, memorize and understand those exercises in your body. Otherwise, when you’re studying for your final exam, you’ll be lost— you won’t remember what exercise you learned when,” she says.

Paige in Swan Dive pose on Ladder Barrel

After finishing her 100 practice teaching hours in December, six months after she started the program, Paige spent a month studying for the exams at home “as if it were a full-time job.”

“I studied every day. I reviewed the manuals, watched the DVDs, practiced the repertoire at home and quizzed myself with anatomy flashcards,” she says. “Sarah Jarvis, a Lead Instructor Trainer at the CTC, also hosted two small group sessions to review the repertoire and all of the modifications for STOTT PILATES Matwork Level 1 and Reformer Level 1.”

STOTT PILATES practical exam

On the day of her practical exam, Paige woke up early and tried to have a calm and restful morning, arriving at the studio 15 minutes early.

“The practice teaching hours do a great job of preparing you to work with a range of clients. During that time, you’re exposed to different personalities, body types, strength levels and injuries.

“Being able to apply and adapt my knowledge during practice teaching helped me feel more confident and prepared for the practical exam, where I had to assess and guide a new client (a fellow student) through the repertoire. I tried to approach my practical exam as though it was just a regular private client session.”

Admittedly with an examiner in the room asking intermittent questions, nerves are also something you’ll have to contend with and control.

Paige in Teaser pose on Ladder Barrel

“The biggest challenge for me was keeping my explanation and assessment of the STOTT PILATES Biomechanical Principles within the allotted timeframe. If you go over time for one section, then it’s just a domino effect. You also need to be prepared for the Instructor Trainer to ‘spot check’ your knowledge, so that’s when they ask you to teach a few additional exercises on each individual piece of equipment to test your knowledge of the entire repertoire.”

Since Paige was doing her full certification, she had to teach her client Essential, Intermediate and Advanced exercises for Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Stability Chair, Ladder Barrel, Spine Corrector and Arc Barrel, all within two hours. She was evaluated on her postural analysis, explanation of the Biomechanical Principles, programming skills, ability to cue, correct, modify, knowledge of content, teaching manner and energy, and rhythm and pacing.

View the Exam Assessment Guide

“I was completely spent by the end. There’s so much to think about during the practical exam, it felt like the equivalent of working with four clients condensed into two hours,” she says.

“My examiner, Lead Instructor Trainer Leslie Wall, gave me such valuable feedback, I left the exam feeling like I had so much more to think about. My mind was racing. The exam itself was a learning experience!”

Paige side-stretching on Barrel

STOTT PILATES written exam

Paige wrote the written exam three days after her practical. It consisted of 60 multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and matching type questions, as well as muscle and anatomy identification questions. It took her about an hour and a half to complete, but there’s no time limit.

“My recommendation is to go back to your Functional Anatomy Course and review the anatomical position, anatomical terms, muscle origin, insertion and action, and really understand concentric, eccentric and isometric contractions for the exercises.”


“It’s about more than just memorization— you need to understand the essence of the movements, what the muscles are doing when for each exercise.”

Looking for work as a Pilates instructor

After receiving the great news that she passed both exams, Paige is now on the job hunt as a newly minted STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor.

“Merrithew® and STOTT PILATES are recognizable names in the industry and that goes a long way. Studio owners who’ve gone through the STOTT PILATES program know how rigorous it is and so they know what sort of quality of education you have. I think that opens doors,” she says.

Being certified also gives you some added perks, including special discounts on equipment and accessories, access to training opportunities and career-building resources, and a listing on Merrithew’s Instructor Finder website.

Paige working on Ladder Barrel

Here are 5 tips for landing a job as a Pilates instructor:

  1. Connections go a long way. Talk to other students and instructors, visit studios you want to work at, try out their classes and chat with the studio owners about teaching opportunities.
    “Usually the studio owner will meet you in person first and then they’ll get you to take them through a short workout as part of the interview process,” says Paige, who worked as a barre instructor.
  2. Set up a professional social media profile or website so studio owners can find you and see how you present yourself.
  3. Keep your schedule open and flexible when you’re just getting started so you can offer to substitute teach other instructors’ classes.
  4. Check out the Instructor Job Board on the Merrithew website where you can search for opportunities at facilities around the world.
  5. Get listed on Merrithew’s Instructor Finder web page.

Read the other articles in this series:
Becoming a STOTT PILATES instructor: Find your passion
Becoming a STOTT PILATES instructor: Make a commitment
Becoming a STOTT PILATES instructor: Advance to the next level

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