The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Sarah Artha Negara loves to dance — so much so that when deciding on a major at Long Beach State University, the San Mateo resident chose dance.
But a long bout with mild scoliosis almost derailed that passion.
That is, until Negara discovered Pilates.
“That’s what drew me to become a Pilates instructor,” Negara said after discovering the exercise allowed her to be pain free. “I decided I have to do this for the rest of my life and how wonderful would it be to be able to share this gift with other people.”
Negara is the founder of the Pilates Instructor Certification Program at the College of San Mateo established in 2011. The program prepares students with a quality Pilates education at an affordable price.
“[The] program is very comprehensive,” said Negara, who is currently the lone instructor of the program. “I cover the technique, pedagogy, history and theory behind Pilates.”
Negara’s program provides students with an opportunity to earn three certificates: Pilates Mat Instructor, Pilates Mat and Reformer Instructor and Comprehensive Pilates Instructor. Additionally, the PICP partners with Balanced Body and Pilates Method Alliance and students are given the opportunity to earn a Balanced Body certificate and PMA certification as well.
“Depending on when students are available to take courses it may take one to three semesters,” Negara said. “Biology or anatomy is required. If someone is working, however, they may choose to take a longer period of time.”
Graduates of the program currently work at more than 20 Bay Area locations including community centers, fitness centers and in higher education, at both Skyline College and Stanford University.
“I started working immediately after my first certificate, at the San Mateo Athletic Club,” former PICP student Sybille Draper said. “And after I finished my second one, the reformer, I also started working at the YMCA, the Jewish Community Center in the city and just started getting hired at Equinox as well.”
Draper holds certificates in all three areas of Pilates as well as through Balanced Body.
“I think the experience you get while in the program is what makes it,” Draper said. “Every time I finished one of my certifications I felt really confident I was able to teach it.”
Pilates is a growing field and the ability to start this type of program at a community college benefits students because there are so many financial restraints on the economy. According to Negara, a typical comprehensive certificate program typically costs around $4,000 and CSM’s PICP program, without factoring in college fees, costs between $300 and $700.
“I think with the Pilates program … it was so affordable to do it through her,” Draper said. “And once I met Sarah she’s just an awesome teacher.”
The Pilates Instructor Certificate Program has been so successful that the college has decided to offer new certificate programs this spring and fall to include a Yoga Certificate Program, Personal Training Course and Group Exercise Certificate Program.
“We have the San Mateo Athletic Club that we share our space with at the college so we get some students who are already employees who are looking for continuing education programs,” Negara said. “As long as students come in and they have a passion for it then they’ll do the work and the time that’s needed in order to gain the skills necessary to be successful.”