What is Pilates Pilates is an incredible form of full-body exercise focusing on functional strength and flexibilty. It aims to train the body as an integrated whole, increasing mobility, strength, core control, and body awareness in a balanced fashion.

History of Pilates Pilates is named after its creator, Joseph Hubertus Pilates, who developed the exercise method in the 1920’s. Joseph was born in Germany in 1880 and suffered from many health conditions including asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. His ailments inspired him to dedicate his life to fitness in order to cope with his conditions. He later moved to New York City where he established his exercise method – then named ‘Crontology’, which later became the more well known ‘Pilates’. 

Who can do Pilates? Everybody! Pilates is an accessible form of exercise regardless of age, fitness level, or gender. It is suitable for various complaints and medical conditions as the exercises can be adapted to cater to individual needs. Modifying exercises is done by adjusting the resistance used, positions assumed, and the number of repetitions performed. 

What are the benefits of Pilates? Research suggests Pilates is an effective form of exercise to help reduce chronic low back pain, offering greater improvements in decreasing pain and increasing function. Further, it has been observed that Pilates improves flexibility, dynamic balance and muscular endurance and is an effective form of exercise that can improve muscle mass. Improving spinal strength and mobility, muscle endurance and tone means we can enjoy improved posture, healthy joints and reduce body aches and pains. Pilates facilitates injury prevention and physical rehabilitation which also helps to improve our wellbeing. Importantly, when performing weight bearing exercises, it can contribute to improving bone density. Lastly, working out and having a good time while doing it relieves stress and tension, improving our quality of life! 

How is Pilates performed? Pilates is a series of repetitive movements designed to strengthen and mobilise the body’s joints and muscles. Different exercises target different muscle groups ranging from the ‘core’ (abdominals and pelvic floor), glutes and legs, lower and upper back, and arms. Often one exercise will require multiple muscle groups and trunk stabilisation working together so it is an effective way to activate and strengthen the body efficiently. There are a few differences in terms of how it can be performed… 

MAT Mat pilates can be done without equipment, working against gravity and using different angles of the body to increase the challenge of an exercise. Sometimes props are used (such as hand held weights, stretchy bands, and balls) to provide external information to help switch on particular muscle groups or increase the resistance to improve strength. 

REFORMER As seen in the image, reformer pilates uses a piece of equipment that people can lie, kneel, or stand on. It has springs which act as resistance and ropes which can be pulled. Similar to mat pilates, a series of repetitive movements are performed. Each exercise will target specific muscle groups and aim to get joints moving in particular directions. 

CLINICAL Clinical pilates is a bit of a mix of different pilates exercises, either on the mat, reformer, or other equipment, that is tailored to the individual. It is an excellent opportunity to work the body in a way that addresses your particular musculoskeletal complaints. The benefit of clinical pilates is that the program is designed specifically for you and your complaint, every exercise can be modified to meet your needs, and you are supervised by one of our osteopaths or physiotherapists who will make sure you’re performing the exercises correctly. Sometimes, after a period of doing your individual program and you’ve overcome your particular aches or pains, moving into a more general group pilates class is a great option to keep challenging your body on a regular basis. Most modifications can still be made in these group classes, so if you’re still struggling with a few niggles, you will be looked after! 

reformer pilates barwon heads

What type of pilates should I do? (Mat, Reformer, 1:1?) The type of class you attend is dependent on your individual needs. If unsure, our practitioners who teach pilates can do a 30 minute pilates assessment consultation to help decide which class is appropriate. If you have a specific injury that requires additional attention, a 1:1 session is usually recommended. If you are looking for a general strengthening and mobilising workout, a studio reformer or mat class is perfect for you! 

How often should I do Pilates? The creator, Joseph Pilates, recommended the exercise method be performed up to 4 times per week. However, with our busy lives these days that may seem unachievable. Even 1 class per week makes a difference and you’ll likely start to notice less body aches and pains (but maybe a bit more ‘post workout’ soreness!)

Where do I sign up?! Visit the 13th Beach Health Services website here to book into a mat or pilates class or call the clinic on 03 5254 2668 to have a chat with our receptionists to find out if you need a pilates assessment consult and/or some 1:1 sessions before you attend a group class. 

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