About Pilates

The Pilates Method was developed in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates (1880-1967), who opened the first Pilates studio in New York in 1926. Pilates first came to the UK in 1970 and nowadays it is becoming increasingly more popular with the general public, professional sportsmen and women, and celebrities. Pilates is a philosophy of movement, based on a thorough understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. The Pilates Teacher uses this knowledge to create a comprehensive exercise programme for each client, with the aim of restoring balance to the body and improving functional movement patterns. It is this holistic approach that sets the Pilates Method apart from many other forms of exercise. Osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists and GPs are now recommending Pilates as one of the safest and most effective forms of exercise, particularly as a remedial technique for those suffering from back problems and other injuries.

Pilates is suitable for everyone regardless of age, ability or experience. Whether you are elderly or young; stiff or flexible; an office worker or an athlete, Pilates can help you to improve your posture, body shape, movement and performance. It can improve mobility, balance, coordination, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and confidence. Many people find it helps them to relax and relieve stress, increases their energy levels, or gives them a feeling of well-being. It is also extremely useful for pre- and post-natal women, although most group classes are not appropriate during pregnancy unless it is a specialist class. If you have a serious injury or other special needs then you will probably require private classes. Minor injuries can usually be accommodated in group classes, but please speak to us first if you are unsure.

Pilates is a subtle form of exercise that requires great concentration. By performing precise, controlled movements you can increase your self-awareness, enabling you to re-educate your body to move more efficiently and use less tension. Pilates is not an easy technique to master, as it requires you to coordinate your breathing and movement (often the biggest challenge for beginners). It also requires you to focus on several different body parts simultaneously, and this takes practise so do not expect immediate results. Try not to be discouraged if you find it difficult or confusing at first. With perseverance, most people master the basics within a few months and soon feel much more confident about their movement. It is an extremely rewarding form of exercise because it causes subtle but profound changes to your body, which can stay with you for the rest of your life. Pilates focuses on strengthening the deep "core" muscles of the body (particularly the abdominals and pelvic floor), which helps to prevent injuries and leads to better alignment and greater ease of movement in everyday life.

At Bodywise Pilates we have experience of working with pre- and post-natal women, and with people suffering from numerous different injuries and illnesses, including: osteoporosis, arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinsons disease, cerebral palsy, sciatica and other neural problems, high and low blood pressure, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), scoliosis, slipped discs, hernias, diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles after pregnancy), pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain, spinal fusion, spinal fractures, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, hip and knee replacements, and hyper-mobility. Pilates Foundation teachers are trained to the highest possible standard and our courses are much more thorough than other teacher-training organisations.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What should I wear?
    Anything soft that doesn't restrict your movement and that you feel comfortable in (e.g. tracksuit trousers or leggings and a t-shirt). Tight layers are preferable so that the teacher can see your body more easily! You need to have bare feet or wear socks for matwork classes - shoes are not allowed in the studio. Socks are compulsory for studio classes upstairs. If you forget to bring socks then these can be purchased from reception. Please do not wear jeans, belts, buckles, toggles, or bulky jewellery such as watches, bracelets and rings etc. They are inappropriate for Pilates because they can hinder your movement, cause injury, or damage the mats and other equipment.

  • Do many men do Pilates?
    As you may have guessed, Pilates is more popular among women, although it is becoming increasingly more popular among men as a way of alleviating back pain, preventing injuries, and increasing core strength or flexibility. At Bodywise Pilates men account for around 15 % of our clientele, and we hope this figure will continue to increase!

  • Do I need to bring anything?
    No you don't - mats and all other equipment are provided at the studio (although you can bring your own mat if you prefer).

  • Where can I buy Pilates equipment?
    You can buy grip socks, toesox, small soft exercise balls, therabands, spiky massage balls and other massage tools at the studio. If you would like to buy your own mat we recommend the "Fitness Mad Studio Pro mat": go to

  • Can I do Pilates during pregnancy?
    Pilates is excellent for pre- and post-natal women, but you must be in a specialist class. It is not advisable to start Pilates during the first 3 months of pregnancy, so wait until your 12-week scan before signing up for the ante-natal class. Please let your teacher know as soon as possible if you are already attending a regular class when you become pregnant (you should usually be able to continue with your normal class until you reach 12 weeks).

  • What is the difference between matwork classes and equipment classes?
    Matwork classes only involve you and an exercise mat (plus some small equipment sometimes) and they are therefore a more convenient and cost-effective way to learn Pilates. You also benefit from the social element of exercising with others, and you can easily practise the exercises at home. Equipment classes take place on large pieces of special apparatus involving springs and pulleys, so that the teacher can control the amount of resistance you are working against. This means that it is much easier to feel the correct muscles working, and because classes are much smaller the teacher can closely monitor your progress, so you are likely to improve much more quickly. Although the teacher will try to give you some individual attention in a group mat class, you need to take more responsibility for your own progress in group classes. Private classes enable the teacher to tailor the exercises to your specific needs, giving you a personalised exercise program that will help you to progress much more quickly. Joseph Pilates initially taught his students solely on the equipment he created, as the physical results of this on his students were so remarkable. The matwork exercises came later. At Bodywise Pilates our matwork classes are limited to a maximum of 10 participants. Equipment classes can be taken as a private, shared private (2 people), or group studio class (up to 4 people). We recommend that you start with matwork classes if you have never done Pilates before. But if you have a serious injury or a specific problem you want help with, then we recommend private classes, at least initially. If you would like to attend studio classes in a group, you must attend a minimum of one private class on the equipment first.