PMA Quick Facts

What is the PMA?
Is the PMA a credentialing agency?
Is the PMA an accrediting organization? Does the PMA accredit, recognize or endorse?
Who governs the PMA?
What type of entity is the PMA?
What’s the difference between PMA certification and a license?
What’s the difference between a professional ‘certification’ (from the PMA), and a ‘certificate’ (the result of teacher training)?
Is the Pilates profession regulated?
Does the PMA have legal authority?
What does a professional association do?
What is unique about the PMA as a professional association?
What is the value of 3rd party certification?
What do we mean when we refer to the PMA ‘certification program’?
What agencies could accredit Pilates schools?
What are the fundamental components of established professions?
Is PMA certification required for PMA members or Pilates teachers generally?

What is the PMA?

The PMA was formed in 2001, and is both:

  • A Professional Association, created to support and unite the Pilates community. Its mission is to foster community, integrity, and respect for diversity; establish certification and continuing education standards; and promote the Pilates method of exercise.

and

  • A Certifying Agency, that has established the only third party, legally defensible, comprehensive competency exam for Pilates teachers.  The PMA is committed to establishing professional standards and promoting continuing education for Pilates teachers.                                                                          

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Is the PMA a credentialing agency?

Yes, as certification represents a credential, the PMA is a credentialing agency.
The PMA administers a professional certification exam, resulting in a professional credential. PMA certification demonstrates to the public, as well as to others in the profession, that a teacher meets an established standard of competence and safety.

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 Is the PMA an accrediting organization? Does the PMA accredit, recognize or endorse?


No. The PMA does not accredit, recognize, approve, assess or endorse Pilates teacher training programs, Pilates studios, equipment, books or products.
The PMA does approve continuing education workshops for PMA CECs (continuing education credits).     

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Who governs the PMA?

Board of Directors               governs the        Professional Association                                                    
Certification Commission     governs the        Certifying Agency

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What type of entity is the PMA?

PMA is a ‘not-for-profit’ organization

  • This means the organization is not privately owned.
  • The PMA is governed by a board of volunteer directors who are elected by the membership.
  • Programs are administered by a salaried staff.
  • The purpose of a not-for-profit is to achieve its goals, not to make profits for owners or shareholders (as there are none).
  • A not-for-profit organization may generate surplus funds. However, if any profits are made, they must be reinvested into PMA programs.
  • The phrase ‘not-for-profit’ describes a corporation with a particular tax status granted by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service – the US’s tax collection agency).
  • If the PMA did not operate within its mission as defined by the IRS’s ‘not-for-profit’ guidelines, heavy fines would be imposed on the PMA, and the IRS and the State of Florida (where the PMA is incorporated) would both rescind (remove) the PMA’s ‘not-for-profit’ status, and the organization would be taxed as a ‘for profit’ corporation.
  • Not for profit’ corporations must be financially transparent; anyone may request copies of the PMA’s tax returns at any time.
  • The PMA has operated successfully as a ‘not-for-profit’ corporation since 2001 when the corporation was established.               

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What’s the difference between PMA certification and a license?

  • PMA certification is voluntary and non-governmental.
  • Licensure is mandatory and governmental (there is currently no license for teaching Pilates).                                                      

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What’s the difference between a professional ‘certification’ (from the PMA), and a ‘certificate’ (the result of teacher training)?


"Certification" (associated terms/concepts: "credential", "third-party certification exam")

Certification is a voluntary process by which individuals are assessed against predetermined standards for knowledge/skills/competencies and granted a time-limited credential. The primary activity in certification is assessment, and the assessment process is independent of a specific course of study or any education/course/curriculum provider.

Continuing education is always required to maintain a professional certification in good standing.    

"Assessment-based certificate program" (associated terms/concepts: "teacher training", "school", "education program", "syllabus leading to an exam based on that syllabus", “vocational training”)

An assessment-based certificate program is a relatively short, non-degree granting program that provides instruction and training to aid participants in acquiring knowledge/skills/competencies and designates that participants have passed an end-of-program assessment derived from the learning/course objectives. Although assessment is an integral part of the certificate program, the primary purpose of the program is to provide instruction and training.

Continuing education is never required to maintain a "certificate" or "diploma" which is the result of the teacher training.                          

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Is the Pilates profession regulated?


No. At present, the Pilates profession is unregulated. However, the PMA community is working to develop self-regulation through professional certification, and the development of PMA’s programs generally. Note: Self-regulation, and governmental regulation (if it were to occur), may coexist harmoniously.                                                     

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Does the PMA have legal authority?


No. The PMA is an association of Pilates teachers. It is not an arm of the law or government, and does not have legal authority. It does not receive government funds to operate.

The only authority the PMA has is in relation to its own members or certificants, whose relationship to the PMA is voluntary. PMA members and PMA Certified Pilates Teachers agree to follow the PMA Code of Ethics and Scope of Practice guidelines.  

The PMA has a set of Disciplinary Procedures outlined on the website. Members and certificants may be censured by the PMA if they are proven to have violated these guidelines and refused to repair the violation. This represents an aspect of self-regulation, which provides the public with greater assurance that PMA standards are being upheld by its members and certificants.  

The PMA Ethics Officer and Ethics Committee review Ethics Charges that may be made against PMA members and certificants. Ethics Charges may be made by PMA members, PMA certificants, and members of the public; in other words, by anyone.                                                                                                                          

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What does a professional association do?


A professional association . . .

  • Establishes professional identity
  • Creates community
  • Builds unity & a global perspective
  • Facilitates communication
  • Pursues aims & objectives
  • Produces events and programs: Annual Meeting (conference), Pilates Day, Pilates Youth Program, Registry of Schools, Teacher Training Summit

The association is the engine that drives all organized industry development activity.                                                           

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What is unique about the PMA as a professional association?


The PMA is ‘Pilates specific’ – it establishes a professional identity for Pilates teachers.
The PMA’s position is that:

  • Pilates is a distinct, unique discipline, sufficient unto itself.
  • Pilates is not a sub-set skill of a personal trainers or group exercise instructors.

Note: In other professions, among other things, professional associations have facilitated cooperative interactions among schools, and the development of organizations specific to training and accreditation. In the PMA’s case, the work of the Teacher Training Summits could someday lead to the development of an entity, (separate to the PMA), to accredit Pilates schools.

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What is the value of 3rd party certification?

Professional certification:

  • Sets a common standard of competence for professionals
  • Sets a standard that is not specific to any school
  • Represents a professional-level certification that is taken seriously 

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What do we mean when we refer to the PMA ‘certification program’?


The phrase ‘certification program’ encompasses all of the following:

  • Creation of the PMA’s Pilates Role Delineation Study, and its upkeep
  • Panels of Pilates teachers who write questions for the certification exam
  • The certification exam itself
  • The maintenance and refreshing of exam questions
  • The online practice test
  • The PMA Pilates Certification Exam Study Guide and its upkeep and translations
  • The PMA Certification Commission and staff members who work in certification
  • Translations of PMA Study Guide and certification exam
  • Offering of paper and pencil tests
  • The PMA’s relationship with its testing company and accrediting agency

The ‘certification program’ means everything that goes into the creation and maintenance of this area of work.

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What agency accredits professional certification programs?

The appropriate agency to accredit the PMA’s professional certification programs is:

  • NCCA (National Commission on Certifying Agencies)
  • NCCA accredits the certification programs of ACE, ACSM, NATA BOC, NCSF and 250 more.
  • The PMA has applied to have its certification program accredited, and the application is currently being reviewed.
  • Accreditation will raise the status of ‘PMA Certified Pilates Teachers’ in the professional world, as well as the general reputation of the PMA and its credential.
  • The PMA certification program was created and managed following guidelines set forth by NCCA from the outset.

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What agencies could accredit Pilates schools?

At present there is no Pilates-specific school accreditation agency. For the time being, if a Pilates school wishes to become accredited, it could approach agencies such as:

  • ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training)
  • ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges)

. . . or a number of other agencies. As these agencies would not be able to comment on the program regarding its Pilates content, it would be looking at professionalism, policies and procedures, systems, and so forth.

No Pilates school would be able to get accredited without being licensed by its state’s Department of Education.

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What are the fundamental components of established professions?

The model for mature professions is well established and has several fundamental
components. The essential components of a profession include: 

  • A specific body of knowledge
  • A membership association exclusive to the profession
  • Standardized third party credentialing of practitioners upon entry into the profession
  • Accreditation of the certification program
  • Continuing education requirements
  • A code of conduct and ethics
  • A defined scope of practice
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Self-regulation
  • Research
  • A clear distinction between training organizations and certifying agencies
  • Industry-specific accreditation of academic programs

The PMA has supported the development of most of these components. We now need to support and build upon these foundations.

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Is PMA certification required for PMA members or Pilates teachers generally?

No. However our association is working to build a critical mass of Pilates teachers who do have PMA certification.

Note: While the PMA is non-governmental, and PMA certification is voluntary, the PMA may require PMA certification to participate in certain PMA programs.

For example, PMA certification is required:

  • To be a PMA conference presenter
  • To be a PMA CEC provider
  • Of a school’s Program Director, for a school to be included in the PMA’s Registry of Schools 

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