Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the PMA?
- Is the PMA a credentialing agency?
- What’s the difference between PMA certification and a license?
- What’s the difference between a ‘certification’ (as offered by the PMA), and a ‘certificate’ (the result of teacher training)?
- Is the PMA’s Pilates Certification Program accredited?
- What is the NCCA?
- What should I know about NCCA accreditation?
- What agencies could accredit Pilates schools?
- What is CREP?
- What is USREPS?
- What is ICREPS?
- Does the PMA offer teacher training?
- Does the PMA have legal authority?
- Is the PMA an accrediting organization? Does the PMA accredit, recognize or endorse?
- What sort of entity is the PMA?
- Who governs the PMA?
- Is the Pilates profession regulated?
- What does a professional association do?
- What is unique about the PMA as a professional association?
- What are the fundamental components of established professions?
- Is PMA certification required for PMA members or Pilates teachers generally?
- What are the PMA’s Teacher Training Summit meetings about?
What is the PMA?
The PMA was formed in 2001, and is currently 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.
- A Certifying Agency, with the only NCCA accredited certification program for Pilates teachers. The program administers the only third party, legally defensible competency exam for Pilates teachers. The PMA is committed to establishing professional standards and promoting continuing education for Pilates teachers.
Is the PMA a credentialing agency?
Yes. As certification represents a credential, the PMA Pilates Certification Program is a credentialing agency. The PMA Pilates Certification Program is the only accredited certification program for Pilates teachers that administers an exam that leads to 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 for comprehensive Pilates instruction, independent of any particular school.
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).
What’s the difference between a ‘certification’ (as offered by 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.
Is the PMA’s Pilates Certification Program accredited?
Yes. The PMA’s Pilates Certification Program is accredited by the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies).
What is the NCCA?
The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), formerly called the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). The NCCA Standards were created in 1977 and updated in 2003 to ensure certification programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification industry. By demonstrating compliance with NCCA Standards, the PMA Pilates Certification Program joins an elite group of more than 100 organizations representing over 250 certification programs, including ACE, ACSM, NATA BOC, and NCSF that have received and maintained NCCA accreditation. More information on the NCCA is available online at www.credentialingexcellence.org/ncca or by calling +1 (202) 367-1165.
What should I know about NCCA accreditation?
- NCCA accreditation validates a large number of allied health, bodywork and fitness certification programs, including the PMA’s.
- Holding the PMA’s NCCA validated credential gives the individual credibility and recognition in their industry and in the outside world.
- IHRSA recommends that member clubs hire teachers that hold NCCA accredited credentials like the PMA's.
- Holding the PMA credential will increase opportunities for job placement in clubs that follow IHRSA's recommendations.
- The PMA credential is the only third party NCCA accredited certification in the Pilates industry.
- NCCA accreditation validates professional certification programs (including the PMA’s), and sets the standard for how certification programs should operate.
- Certifications validated by the NCCA (like the PMA’s) are sought after by professionals, governmental and non-governmental agencies and the general public.
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)
There are a number of other agencies that accredit schools. As these agencies would not be able to review the school’s Pilates training content, it would be looking at stability, policies and procedures, systems, and so forth. This is called an ‘institutional’ accreditation. No Pilates school would be able to obtain accreditation without first being licensed by whatever department regulates vocational training in their specific municipality.
What is CREP?
CREP is the acronym for the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals (pronounced C-REP). CREP is comprised of exercise certification organizations in the U.S. that have certification programs accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) - the recognized standard in the U.S. for validating the assessment of professional competence. CREP’s mission is “To secure recognition of registered exercise professionals as health providers, in order to make structured physical activity accessible and safe for all.” CREP advocates for exercise professionals that hold NCCA-accredited certifications on issues that pertain to regulation, access and scope of work.
Current member organizations of CREP include:
- American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- Cooper Institute (CI)
- National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
- National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
- Pilates Method Alliance (PMA)
As a member of this group, the PMA Pilates Certification Program identifies the Pilates Method as distinct from other fitness methodologies. This identification educates others in the fitness industry and the general public. Learn more at www.crep.org.
What is USREPS?
USREPS is the acronym for the United States Registry of Exercise Professionals (pronounced U-S-REPS). It is an internationally recognized US registry, or database of exercise professionals that hold certifications that are accredited by the NCCA. The registry is maintained by CREP. USREPS will assist in credential verification. Employers, regulatory bodies and consumers can verify current NCCA-accredited certifications through USREPS. USREPS will display all of the current NCCA-accredited certifications that an individual holds through all the member organizations. Through a united voice, USREPS will collaborate with established international registries, supporting the portability of the PMA-CPT credential on a global level. Learn more at www.usreps.org.
What is ICREPS?
ICREPS is the acronym for the International Confederation of Registers for Exercise Professionals (pronounced I–C-REPS). It is an international partnership between registration bodies around the world that register exercise professionals. Confederation members include:
- Australia Fitness Australia
- Belgium BReps.be
- Canada NFLA/ANLCP
- Ireland REPs Ireland
- New Zealand REPs
- South Africa REPS SA
- United Arab Emirates REPs U.A.E.
- United Kingdom REPs
- United States of America USREPS
ICREPS is a membership-based organization. Its members all operate independent, competency based registration systems for exercise/fitness professionals. ICREPs members collectively register almost 250,000 individual exercise professionals. ICREPS has also produced a global matrix that maps each ICREPs member’s registration levels against the others, which provides a clear pathway for exercise professionals considering moving countries. Learn more at www.icreps.org.
Does the PMA offer teacher training?
No. The PMA is not a Pilates school; it does not offer foundational training for Pilates teachers. However, once per year the PMA’s Annual Meeting offers a wide range of mat classes and continuing education workshops taught by members of the Pilates community.
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 PMA has no regulatory authority to watch over or police the Pilates field. The PMA does seek to protect its own trademarks and logos, and will request that anyone using a PMA trademark or logo inappropriately stops doing so. 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 its website. PMA members and PMA 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.
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 maintain a Registry of Schools. Pilates schools that have applied and met the required criteria may be included in the Registry of Schools. The PMA does approve continuing education workshops for PMA CECs (continuing education credits).
What sort 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, 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. The PMA’s tax returns are available at www.guidestar.com.
- The PMA has operated successfully as a ‘not-for-profit’ corporation since its inception in 2001.
Who governs the PMA?
- Board of Directors governs the Professional Association
- Certification Commission governs the Certifying Agency
Is the Pilates profession regulated?
No. At present, the Pilates profession is unregulated. However, the PMA community is working to develop self-regulation through its Pilates certification program and the development of PMA’s programs generally. Note: Self-regulation, and governmental regulation can coexist harmoniously.
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 such as the Annual Meeting (conference) and promotes initiatives such as Pilates Day, Pilates 4 Youth, Heroes in Motion®, Pilates is Health, Research, Registry of Schools, the Teacher Training Summit, and more.
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.
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, which is time limited and subject to renewal
- Accreditation of the certification program
- Continuing education requirements
- A code of conduct and ethics
- A defined scope of practice
- Disciplinary procedures
- A clear distinction between training organizations and certifying agencies
- Industry-specific accreditation of academic programs
Is PMA certification required for PMA members or Pilates teachers generally?
No. You do not have to take the PMA certification exam to be a PMA member. You can be a PMA member, OR PMA certified, OR both! The association is working to build a critical mass of Pilates teachers who do have PMA certification. And, some employers request PMA certification as a condition of employment, particularly as the certification program was NCCA accredited in 2012.
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
What are the PMA’s Teacher Training Summit meetings about?
Summit meetings explore the educational landscape of the Pilates field. The intention of the exploration is to create opportunities for educators to impact the growth of the Pilates industry through cooperation, organization, and commitment. The first Summit was held in Dallas, TX in 2009, and explored the difference between certification and assessment-based certificates (this distinction is explained above). At this meeting, the delegates proposed the creation of a Registry of Schools, and suggested the required criteria. The second Summit meeting was in Vail, CO in 2011. At this meeting, delegates reviewed the survey data that the PMA had collected from 20 Pilates schools regarding the content of their training programs, in an effort to determine a minimum template for comprehensive Pilates teacher training programs. The delegates found that some of the questions used to gather the data needed to be refined, so they broke into groups to work together, making suggestions on how the questions could be improved. The third Summit meeting was held in Miami Beach, FL in 2013. This Summit continued the work begun in 2011, and focused on presenting new survey data collected from a much larger number of Pilates schools, with the intention of agreeing upon a minimum template for comprehensive Pilates teacher training. The PMA worked to include 100 schools from around the world in the data gathering process. The fourth Summit meeting was held in San Diego, CA in 2014. As a result of research and deliberation in the preceding year, definitions of the terms “observation”, “self-practice”, “student teaching”, and “supervision” were proposed. Delegates representing 75 schools provided feedback, their suggestions were incorporated, and the definitions were ratified for inclusion in the minimum standards template.
- To assist with transferability of credits
- To assist with program design for those establishing new programs
- To serve as a guide for the public, and for potential trainees, to understand what is taught in a given school
The fifth Summit will take place in Hollywood, FL, June 9 – 12, 2016. The results of a final gathering of data during 2015 regarding the distribution of teaching hours across the minimum standards will be presented, in order to update the minimum standards template. The group will also work on the phase-out of the Registry of Schools, to be replaced by an “approval” system for Pilates schools. All involved in Pilates teacher training may attend and participate, regardless of whether or not they are PMA members.
Do you have general questions about the PMA?
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