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Tel: 01306 500 181


A brief history of Pilates and Pilates as taught by physiotherapists

The concept of ‘Pilates’ was originally developed by Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) who devised a series of exercises focusing on posture, balance and working the ‘core muscles’ (predominantly abdominals) to strengthen and tone the whole body and provide the basis for working other muscles correctly.

For many years this method of exercising has been used to great effect and developed further by different groups - most famously perhaps by ballet and dance schools - where it became very popular in America before becoming the chosen method of training for celebrities. This traditional method of Pilates, because of its use in training for athletes and elite sports or dance persons, is often unsuitable or can be difficult for people with no history of exercising or with musculoskeletal problems. The name ‘Pilates’ was never held under copy write, hence there can, even in the traditional form of Pilates, be a huge variation in the way it is taught and in the exercises themselves.

Pilates type exercises have also been used in the world of physiotherapy and sports medicine in many different guises. They have increased in popularity greatly in the last 20 years or so, following research by physiotherapists that indicated that Pilates type exercises may be helpful in the prevention and rehabilitation of low back pain. There has also been a growing body of anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of Pilates type exercises in strengthening and improving abdominal muscles and improving balance and posture.

Modified Pilates for physiotherapists are Pilates type exercises that have been especially designed to be safe and suitable for beginners and people with musculoskeletal problems. These exercises have appropriate and challenging progressions to meet the needs of the individual.

Postgraduate physiotherapists are trained to ensure that a full working knowledge of anatomy and musculoskeletal pathology underpins the teaching of exercise prescription. Furthermore, physiotherapists who practice the teaching of Pilates maintain a level of continuous professional development (CPD) which ensures they remain accredited, up to date with new research and that they update their skills regularly.

What are Pilates exercises and how do you start?

Pilates exercises as taught by physiotherapists are a series of exercises designed to focus on the ‘stabilising’ muscles in the body. We have different types of muscles in the body. Broadly speaking they can be divided into movement muscles or ‘mobilisers’ and stabiliser muscles (ones which activate close to a joint to maintain posture and correct position). If we do not use our stabiliser muscles correctly then it is possible that our movement muscles may become tighter and shorter to try and compensate. Stabiliser muscles include muscles around the shoulder blade and neck, as well as the ones that can be referred to as the ‘core’ muscles; the lower abdominals, pelvic floor and some of the buttock muscles.

Modified Pilates teachers often refer to the ‘five key element’s of Pilates. These are:

Pelvic position

Ribcage placement

Head and neck alignment

Scapula/shoulder blade placement


Once these basics of posture are understood, the correct ‘activation’ of the lower abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles can be achieved more easily. As a physiotherapist teaching Pilates it is important to encourage people to keep this optimal position throughout the exercises; some of which additionally challenge coordination and balance.


Leatherhead classes:

(St. Mary and St Nicholas Church Hall, Church Road, Leatherhead, KT22 8AY)

School term times

Intermediate level 2:
Mondays 9.45am - 10.35am

Intermediate level 1:
(biased for those with balance or musculoskeletal problems)
Mondays 10.45am - 11.35am

Dorking classes:
(St. Josephs RC Church Hall, 2 Falkland Grove, Dorking, RH4 3DL)

School term times

Intermediate level 2:
(moderately dynamic standing based Pilates)
Tuesdays 9.30am - 10.30am

Intermediate level 1:
(suitable for all)
Tuesdays 10.30am - 11.30am

(dynamic standing pilates with cardiovascular/HIT component)
Thursdays 9.30am - 10.30am

Intermediate level 1:
(suitable for all)
Thursdays 10.30am - 11.30am

For more information or to enquire about class availability please call Helen on:
01306 500181
or email:

For more information or to enquire about class availability please call Helen on:
01306 500181



For class times and locations please see right hand column.

One-to-one sessions available on request.

(block of 8 classes)

(block of 8 classes)

One-to-one sessions circa £50

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