Pilates Standards in the UK, EU and beyond

What do I need to look out for?

For many years (since 2005 in fact), the UK has had a national standard for Pilates, known colloquially within the industry as ‘Level 3 Pilates’. It sets the minimum requirements in terms of skills and knowledge that a teacher should have to teach Pilates matwork. Increasingly, however, concern has grown that the Level 3 standard does not place enough emphasis on students becoming familiar with the exercise repertoire, whether through teaching or in their own body; and that not enough emphasis is placed on contact hours and teaching practice. These are vital for ensuring that someone is absolutely ready to teach when they qualify.

In response to this, and also in recognition that the UK Pilates industry needs its own voice when lobbying the government or key public organisations, leading training providers in the UK formed a new not-for-profit body in early 2021. This is called the Society for the Pilates Method (SPM). Body Control Pilates is proud to be one of the three Founders of the SPM.

Its overriding mission to uphold the quality of Pilates education and teaching in the UK and, to this end, it has adopted new standards for matwork and studio apparatus, leading to a Comprehensive qualification. These standards were developed with, and are overseen by, PD:Approval, a leading international agency in the development of occupational standards and quality assurance.

The Body Control Pilates matwork teacher training course meets this new standard, which means that upon qualification you will receive two certificates: one from Body Control Pilates and one from PD:Approval, signifying that your qualification will have a wide international recognition.

If you want to work in fitness clubs in the UK, you may also be asked to hold a ‘Level 3 Pilates’ qualification. More than 95% of our teachers work outside the traditional fitness industry, running their own classes, or teaching in studios or physio centres, for example. We can offer you a Level 3 certification as an additional element when you come to take your assessments for the course – this will involve you taking some additional, separate assessments. ‘Level 3 Pilates’ certificates are awarded by Active IQ, our Awarding Organisation for this purpose.

Body Control Pilates has an established history of leading the industry in the development of standards, whether that was by being the first specialist Pilates training provider to receive formal approval against the UK national standard for Pilates when it was introduced; by being the first in the industry to develop and launch a ‘Level 4 Pilates’ qualification; or by being invited to chair a group tasked with developing a European Union standard for Pilates.

Whilst there is no formal worldwide standard for Pilates, what we offer is, as mentioned, one of the most internationally accepted qualifications in the industry. This is underlined by Body Control Pilates having teachers working in over 50 countries around the world. Please contact us if you need more information. The new SPM matwork standard has a much wider international recognition than the previous Level 3 Pilates standard but our advice remains that, if you are likely to want to teach around the world, you train with one of the more recognised international names, of which Body Control Pilates is certainly one.

Once you are qualified, we offer a Level 4 Pilates optional qualification that teachers. It is focused much more on the biomechanical considerations related to the teaching and progression of clients. It is not needed to start teaching Pilates.

Whilst many teachers go on to attend the Level 4 Pilates courses and complete the assessments, a majority of others choose to focus on more specific, yet vitally important, qualifications that may be more immediately relevant to their present and future client base. These include Back4Good Low Back Pain, Pregnancy, Bone Health (Osteoporosis), Older Clients and Children – these are often grouped under the category of Special Populations. New standards are being drawn up for these by The Society for the Pilates Method.