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Transcribed from @purepilateskl Instagram Live Q&A with Holly Murray, Director & Teacher Trainer of Pi Academy's Comprehensive Teacher Training program



Holly: Let me just give you an overview. So the program is made up of four components, and part of it is the in-person training, which we are setting up as a 12-day intensive in KL in your beautiful studio. That’s where we run through a lot of content. There’s a little bit of practice time, but a lot of it is assimilating a lot of the exercises that Mr Pilates created, which Romana then shaped and formed her way. It essentially takes you from Intro (how you introduce the Method), to Progressions (how to progress the method), and then how to challenge the Method. So we cover that in 12 days.

Once the 12 days are completed, you then begin the apprenticeship piece. And really, that’s where the deep process comes from. That requires showing up in the studio to practice the work that you have observed through the 12 days. It will mean taking sessions, because there’s no point if you don’t have it in your body. And this can take years of training. I remember when I did my training program, I couldn’t do a great deal of exercises, but overtime I developed that practice. You can really only really become a strong teacher when you embody the method yourself, so that’s very important.

So the apprenticeship piece includes observation, self practice, practice with the other apprentices on the program, taking lessons with you, Jessie, or other local Classical teachers.

And the final part is the test out component. There are four test outs throughout the program, and they are not viewed as “pass” or “fails”. Everyone gets so wrapped up in that. We are just checking if you are filtering the right information, are you really representing the information that was delivered on those 12 days? And if not, it’s not a big deal. It’s literally like, “hey, you know what? You’ve got this piece really well managed. This piece is lacking, and before you go too far down that road, let’s work on that, bring that back in and then move forward again”. But as much as I say that the test outs are processes to invigorate teaching skills, it still is quite a traumatic moment for a lot”. [laughs]

Jessie: But it’s important and useful to get that feedback along the way

Holly: It’s really important. And going through the test out part is the leveling up. It’s the part that sets the bar. You have to get over the bar, and that’s always challenging, but once you’re over it, “Phew!”. And you’ll embrace it.]

Jessie: So really, the 600 hours is a rough guideline.

Holly: Yes, so it’s the 12 days, and then I would say it’s about a 450 hour practice piece. Added on to that, we have a really in-depth online platform with a lot of additional content to absorb and observe. So there’s deeper parts on the breath, foot placement, powerhouse actions (it’s the word Romana used to describe the muscular actions going on). So in total, I would say the whole program is about 600 hours.


Holly: So it’s not an option through us. And it’s simply because it’s not really the way the method works. The method is a holistic approach, a 360 approach. So from day one a client comes into the studio, they will work on the Reformer, on the Cadillac, on the Wunda Chair if needed, or barrel if needed.

It’s not a linear approach. We don’t just launch people onto the Reformer and say “Right, now that you’ve mastered the Reformer, now move on to the Cadillac”. It doesn’t work like that. Mr Pilates created these jigsaw pieces to help support the clients’ progress. And some people need different pieces of apparatus to find the missing links in their bodies.

So for me, my body works very well on the Cadillac and barrels as I come with a stiff frame in my makeup. But if you are hypermobile and flexible, you need the Wunda Chair and Magic Circle. And you need that from Day 1, they are not separate entities. So, in the end, everybody needs everything. So no, we don’t work with Reformer training, then Cadillac training.


Holly: That’s a great question. It’s two fold. The test outs are at 100 hours, 300h, 400h and 600h. The 100h test out is how you teach an Intro session to a brand new client who’s never done Pilates before, never been into the studio. The 300h is Progressions, how do you now take that client and progress them. The 400h is Advanced ‘challenge’ level.

And then we bring it back down again to multi-level teaching at the 600h test out. Can we teach simultaneously an Intro client and a Progression client together? Because at the end of the day, that’s the bulk of your teaching, and we want to make sure you are not limited as a teacher to teaching 1:1s. With multi-level teaching, you can maximize capacity in your studio. Plus, in a way, it’s a little closer to how Mr Pilates taught in his studio. He didn’t just single out 1:1. He delivered his information to you in maybe 5 sessions, and you were then just left to practice. And when he saw you improve in your practice, he gave you another exercise. So we try to mock up that principle as best we can.

All the test outs consist of a written and a practical. And the written isn’t handwritten, it’s all drop-down multiple choice. Some of it is light anatomy. It’s not heavy anatomy. You don’t need thorough, in-depth anatomy knowledge in order to be a good Pilates teacher. In fact, sometimes it can inhibit because you get caught up in what muscle is doing what, and that’s not what the method is actually about. The method is a movement practice. So you can have a relevant conversation with a physiotherapist if you need it, if someone is coming to you from a referral.

Very important in the training is we teach the method in this holistic approach, but we also teach you how to teach. So I’m looking as part of the test out for verbal skills, hands on skills, what is your presence (ie how are you around people). Because you can know the method well, can execute it well in your body, but that doesn’t make you a great teacher. It’s the balance between getting really clear and confident on what the method looks like and feels like in your body, and then who you are as your teacher. And we work on both those skills.


Holly: [laughs]  With passion!

Jessie: [laughs] Lots of working out!

Holly: Listen, I’ve had people come onto the program here in the UK who have had years of practice and work in the studio, and said “I want to go deeper”. And then I have people who also have worked desk jobs and just want a career change, and haven’t done much practice. And those guys, I say to them “You can come on board, but you have to put the time in to practice”.

Because what I want is for a baseline where we’re on a training program so that when I go “Hey, let’s look at short spine”, the group doesn’t go “I don’t know what that is”. It doesn’t matter how that’s executed in your body, and I’m not expecting any teaching skills. It’s so that when I bring up an exercise, it’s not complete rabbit in headlights. We don’t want the brain to move away from being able to listen to the rich content, and have this little panic set up about “I don’t know that exercise”, and that’s where the mind sits. It’s about putting in as much practice time as possible, and getting as comfortable in a studio as you can, so that when we arrive on the 12-day, it’s not a whole new territory.

Jessie: It can get overwhelming.

Holly: It can be really overwhelming. On this London course at the moment here, I have two guys where this is very new for them, and I knew on the weekend it felt a little like that for them. But I have to say, they just got on with their self practice after and they’re getting comfortable. So yeah, the more comfortable and more familiar you are around the studio, the more you will get out of the weekends.

--> Get in touch with Jessie to discuss an apprentice training package or to visit the studio.


Holly: I try to work as flexibly as I can. It would be a 30% deposit, and then we set up a payment plan based on what each individual thinks. I’m open to that. We just set up a direct debit or a standing order. Just have that conversation with me, that’s really it.

Jessie: Got it. The payment is directly to Pi Academy, so anyone who has questions about this can get in touch directly at


Holly: Once the training program starts, it would just be like “Oh, we’re doing great” or “Oh, we actually need to chat about this”. And we can definitely talk about that, potentially a couple of calls when everyone is together in the studio is really helpful.  I’m here and ready and available. It’s what I love doing... the sharing and getting people up-skilled. Yeah, there’s plenty of access. We do have teachers’ classes you can join online too. There’s ways about it.

Jessie: And as the local host studio, you would come in here for your self practice, and I would get everyone in regularly to work with each other. It’s not like the learning and access stops right after.

Holly: Yeah, and you know what, we can set up a time in your studio where everyone comes in. I can give a session or set up something unique. That’s the value of being in an intimate program. We can tailor things for folks if needed.

Jessie: And I have to say the online portal is great as well. It’s very structured so you know how to move through this process, and it has plenty of materials you can repeat over and over, so that’s very useful.

Holly: Yeah, I’ve had good feedback. Before, everyone used to have to come to the studio and I would have to deliver that content in person. It took a lot, even here in the UK people had to travel from Bristol, from Scotland and so on. It meant that they had to show up twice a month. I thought I would record it. That content has always been there, it’s just now on the portal. And you can self-pace through it.

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