The pilates and yoga training debate: what type of training creates competent teachers? (Discussion)

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Author: Shirley Archer
Date: July-August 2003
From: IDEA Health & Fitness Source(Vol. 21, Issue 7)
Publisher: IDEA Health & Fitness
Document Type: Article
Length: 4,664 words

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With classes ranging from "Disco Yoga" to "Aquatic Pilates," today's consumers can find some version of yoga or Pilates, whether they live in small, quiet towns or giant urban centers. Participation is expected to increase, owing to consumer appeal and mounting medical evidence that mind-body exercise can promote health. Pilates and yoga are among the fastest-growing activities, according to the IDEA Trendwatch.

It's no surprise that yoga and Pilates are topping growth charts for fitness facility activities. According to American Sports Data (ASD) Inc., most participants are females aged 35 and above, the same demographic group with the most growth for health club memberships (IHRSA/ASD Health Club Trends Report). It's reasonable to project that this group will push future demand for mind-body programs.

For consumers, however, the prevailing environment is "Buyer, beware" when seeking a qualified yoga or Pilates trainer. Inexperienced consumers have little guidance for evaluating an instructor's competence. Neither do fitness managers trying to decide how to hire or train staff. Can fitness staff be adequately trained during a weekend course? Is it necessary to hire a yogi or Pilates veteran with 10 years in the ashram or studio? What level of training is appropriate for instructors in the fitness setting?

While confusion reigns, compelling reasons require that we focus on the issues. Yoga- and Pilates-related injuries and insurance claims are on the rise among the IDEA members he insures, observes Jeff Frick, program manager and CEO, Fitness & Wellness Insurance Agency. An increase in reported injuries is natural as any activity grows in popularity, simply because of the greater volume of participation. At the same time, injuries need to be minimized to ensure consumer participation and to protect businesses from costly lawsuits. Further, if the industry fails to regulate itself adequately, it runs the risk of government regulation.

"It is important for the industry to step back and think about a long-term approach," believes Peter Davis, CEO of IDEA Health & Fitness Association. "It is a real risk if consumers are getting injured or having bad experiences. It's important for the growth of the fitness industry that customers have high-quality experiences and that fitness professionals come up with self-regulating standards."

This article explores the issues so you are adequately informed about the debate.

HOW TO DEFINE COMPETENCIES ACROSS DISCIPLINES?

Some tension in the debate regarding uniform standards of teacher training and certification arises because neither yoga nor Pilates comes from the fitness industry, but both are popular in club settings. Consumers, looking to fitness facilities to serve all their interests, request mind-body programs. Clubs want to increase member satisfaction and enhance retention. Many health and fitness facilities find that adding successful programs also attracts new members. Regardless of whether people think these programs belong in fitness or not, health club yoga and Pilates programs have arrived.

Although yoga and Pilates represent divergent movement styles with different philosophies and training objectives, they are both mind-body exercise disciplines that require specialized training. Pilates is a modern mind-body discipline created...

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