It may not be the case in other parts of the world, but in my midwestern corner "no one" really knows what Pilates is. Sure, they have heard of it. They see it on the schedule at their gym, see it mentioned in magazines and have maybe tried a few classes or DVD's. But when I tell people that I am a Pilates instructor I often get the feeling that they either have no idea what I do or that they think I stand in a room and bounce on a stability ball and get paid for it.
I overheard a fellow yoga student describe Pilates as "yoga done so fast that it becomes, like, Pilates."
My chiropractor asked me if Pilates was Yoga using resistance.
So this is what I deal with on a daily basis. It is not commonly known that it takes hours and hours of practice and studying over the course of several years to be a truly professional Pilates instructor. That there are people that spend their entire lives, and savings, to travel and learn and cultivate their teaching. Sure, you can take a one-day course and a big-box gym will probably hire you. But what you will be teaching will NOT be Pilates.
Pilates is not even really Pilates. It is a form of movement called Contrology that was created by Joseph Pilates in the early to mid-1900's. Joseph, along with his wife Clara and Romana Kryzanowska, cultivated the work. Designed to rehab soldiers from World War I, Contrology became used to help strengthen and rehab ballet dancers in New York City, as well. It really is a fascinating history that has been described so well in many places:
Summary of Joseph Pilates and Contrology
More about Joe
Unfortunately, the disconnect is often caused because the word Pilates can take on just about any form. In 2000 a Supreme Court case ruled that the name/word Pilates could not be trademarked, which means that many instructors and equipment can carry the Pilates name and have no ties to the sophisticated science that is true Pilates. More on the court case here.
In order to correctly teach Pilates you have to understand anatomy, not only of muscles but of movement. You have to be able to watch a body in movement and figure out what needs to change in order for it to move more efficiently. For a chiropractor or massage therapist to NOT know what true Pilates is, to me, seems like a cardiologist not knowing what a neurologist is.
If you do not know what Pilates really is, I urge you to find out. It is not just about sculpted abs. It is about learning to move properly, learning to breathe correctly, teaching the mind and body to work together and to become aware of the movement of your muscles.
I have had the honor of working with a couple instructors that trained with either Joe or Romana. Their teaching, attitude and the stories they tell are amazing. My hope is that some day it will be commonly known how hard true Pilates instructors work to learn and maintain the method.