Why pilates
To answer this question I really need a whole book. Pilates over the last 10 years in Australia has become popular in gym’s as a ‘matclass’; with personal trainers as they train up ‘your core’; with physiotherapists following on from specific deep abdominal muscle research (Transverse Abdominus TVA  TrA) as individual treatment / exercise and in ‘physiotherapy – led’ Pilates small group classes.
There seems to be a definite fusion or perhaps blurring of where pilates stops and starts and where ‘core’ training starts. So let’s start at the begining with Joe.
Who was Joseph Pilates
This link takes you a nice overview of Joseph’s life and work.  The rather scary picture is one of many that shows him working with his ‘clients’ in his New York studio.
His single minded dedication to the perfection of his “Principes” is evident in the traditional “Pilates Method”thE8ZJ4ND0
These principles:reformer arm/back work
….all form parts of a complete ‘Mind- Body’ workout. Many say (I think Joseph did too!) that he was ahead of his time using the precision of each movement to obtain optimal control through concentration and a deep focus on the breath to connect postures into flowing movements both on the mat and various apparatus.
Pilates and me
I became interested in Pilates exercise in 2000-1 when it was first becoming quite popular as a class ‘mind body exercise’ in the fitness industry. I had an increase in young female patients who were presenting with low back pain and pelvic torsion problems which were directly related to their new ‘Pilates Mat classes” at their local gyms.
Having always been a bit of a gym junkie, completing my ‘fitness leader’ training in 1998 and helping teach “high/low” exercise classes at my gym; I decided I needed to know more about Pilates and set out on my Pilates training.  I completed the Physiotherapy “Clinical Pilates” level 1-4  training and then went on in 2005-6 to a more intensive training with Polestar Pilates here in Sydney.
In the last eight years I have been fortunate enough to combine, fuse and develop my own interpretation of how Pilates based exercises can fit safely into the treatment and training  of women of all ages.

I would like you to have a look at this collection of videos which describes really nice the correct alignment and Pilates ‘set up’ for the  pelvic and shoulder girdle in various body positions.


For your back.
Thoracic and Lumbar spine

Pregnancy Pilates studio and mat
These videos are useful in demonstrating variations of ‘ Pilates type’ exercises. remember to always work in your best spinal posture with deep pelvic floor and deep tummy TVA activation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQUXttiw2yk&app=desktop combining 4 point kneel and Yoga
lots more to come… For some clients parts of this video may be too advanced, but the idea is to show that you can still do lots of work in your pregnancy with correct supervision.
The following is a short article I wrote for Michelle Kenway on her website.

7 Pilates Studio Exercises You Need to Know About
Pilates and Pelvic floor dysfunction
Pilates studio exercises use specific Pilates equipment to perform a wide range of Pilates exercises. The traditional equipment developed by Joseph Pilates comprises: The Cadillac (or trapeze table), The Reformer, the Wunda Chair, Low and High barrels and a variety of small apparatus.
Studios offer individual and small group exercise sessions that usually involve a ‘tailored’ exercise program to suit the client’s needs. Some Pilates studios and gyms offer ‘Reformer classes’ where multiple, low to the ground or ‘allegro’ reformers are used and clients all work together.
The Pelvic floor muscles are part of our ‘Deep Core’ muscles and can be difficult sometimes to activate and maintain in a co-ordinated way when we add in the more demanding mat and studio exercises.
Studio equipment based Pilates exercises can be an excellent way to assist and control some of these more demanding mat exercises. All the exercises listed below are great if you are able to maintain your pelvic floor muscle lift and breathe control.
The following exercises have been chosen because they are commonly taught, and often in ‘group reformer classes’..


1. Supine Arm series

2. Standing side split series

3. Long stretch series

4. Quadruped

5. Reverse Abdominals

CADILIAC (trapeze table)

6. Rolling down

7. Teaser prep

1. Supine Arm series

Supine arm series
This exercise is performed lying on your back on the reformer with legs in ‘table top position. Hands are holding the  reformer straps and a series of arm pulling exercises are performed.  The ‘tabletop’ position is a difficult position for some clients to maintain.  The added load of moving the reformer against spring and body weight resistance may overload the IAP  (Intra abdominal pressure) and cause downward pressure on the PFM (pelvic floor muscles)


2. Standing side split series

standing split series

This exercise is performed in standing sideways.  The standing legs ‘open wide’ position may be too much of a challenge for some clients.  They may brace and bear down with IAP (increased intra- abdominal pressure) onto their PFM (pelvic floor muscles).




3. Long stretch series

long stretch series

This exercise combines upper body and core strength, similar to the mat push up. The carriage movements will alter the intensity of this challenging ‘Core’ exercise. This exercise position into ‘plank’ may cause raised IAP ( intra abdominal pressure) beyond the strength of the pelvic floor muscles.




4. Quadruped


This exercise is performed on all 4s and is a great progression from lying on your back, to hands and knees. The carriage is moved out and in by using coordinated movements that challenge the trunk and upper body strength.  This all 4s position is often used in Pilates exercise and is an excellent alternative to sitting when gaining awareness and control of the PFM.  However the resistance of the springs, outward distance of the carriage and speed are all factors that may overload the PFM.




5. Reverse Abdominals.

reverse Abdominals

This exercise facing the head end of the reformer uses the movement of the hips and knees on the carriage to strengthen the Rectus Abdominus (six pack)  In this PFM ‘aware’ position of 4 point kneeling; the whole trunk is working. Care must be taken not to overload the PFM in an attempt to ‘work’ ‘six pack’.




6. Rolling Down.

Rolloing down -cadillac

This exercise performed on the Cadillac is an assisted abdominal roll down using springs and a bar to help support the trunk movement.  Care must be taken not to hold the breathe and lose the PFM connection on the concentric rollup phase of the exercise



7. Teaser Prep

Teaser prep

This mini roll-up on the Cadillac uses the push through bar and springs to assist the chest raise. abdominal pressure).  With the exception of the long stretch series these studio exercises if modified correctly can be used to assist clients with pelvic floor dysfunction.




If you think any of your exercises may be too demanding for your PFM seek help from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist working with your Pilates teacher .

At our Northbridge and Wynyard physiotherapy rooms http://www.sportsfocusphysio.com.au/contact-us/northbridge/ we offer studio sessions. You will have an individual  assessment and 3 follow up individual sessions to understand and learn your program. You can then start your program in the studio with a maximum of 4 people at any one time. Each client has their own program and the Physiotherapist works with all 4 clients individually throughout their 1 hour group session, moving constantly to each person, correcting, teaching and demonstrating movements .

Now lets have a look at some of the beginners matwork exercises



This page is a work in progress….more coming soon !

 Posted by at 9:15 am