Why a physiotherapist makes a great Pilates teacher

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Joseph Pilates used his exercises, known as ‘Contrology’, to rehabilitate individuals after injury, working both with soldiers during world war 1 and from his New York studio after 1926. The success Pilates teaching can have in rehabilitation differentiates it from other forms of exercise and links it with physiotherapy practice. Here we explore why the knowledge and clinical skills that a physiotherapist has makes them perfect Pilates teachers – enabling you to achieve the most from a one-hour session at our clinic.      

Classical or Clinical Pilates?  

Following the death of Joseph Pilates in 1967, the Pilates method branched into two separate directions, the first is Classical Pilates. This approach closely follows the teachings of Joseph Pilates himself and is good for rehabilitating and training at advanced levels but is often too advanced for the remedial or general population. We must remember that Joseph Pilates in his New York fitness studio used his classical teaching to rehabilitate dancers, athletes, acrobats and entertainers, supporting them to maintain the extreme physical fitness that their bodies needed. If these advanced moves are performed incorrectly by the general population, this approach can cause more harm than good. In contrast however, a remedial or clinical approach to Pilates is much safer and is appropriate for any level of fitness. This approach is advised for people with a medical condition, back pain or an injury. The problem with clinical Pilates is that it can appear boring if it is not adequately explained and understood. Many people simply give up with the technique as they do not appreciate how working with small movements at low levels can be beneficial. Realistically, everybody needs to begin with the lower levels in order to understand the main principles and then you can progress safely. What we find in clinic is that many people have previously given up on Pilates because they do not understand how to progress or cannot see the link between exercises. People also often do not understand what the exercises are trying to improve. Typically, we see people either pushing too hard to try to achieve a classic movement, or simply staying within their comfort zone by settling with the basic movements. Unfortunately, either way you will not be achieving the most from the Pilates method. For Pilates to give maximum benefit it must be understood, and then you can benefit from a blend between both approaches to teaching.

The importance of understanding  

In our Pilates sessions our physiotherapists explain each exercise so that you can understand what you are trying to achieve, it is important to be know the focuspoints of each exercise so that you can progress from the movements. We help you to understand the method for each exercise, and importantly make Pilates appropriate to your needs.  Our physiotherapists teach in a way that allows you to understand how correcting one exercise will enable you to move on to a more difficult movement. You will be working towards the original Contrology examples, but without having to achieve this advanced level. From experience we know that if you understand the requirements of each exercise, then you will start to understand which components you may be struggling with. With our support you can then select the exercises that you need to improve to address these areas – and together we can build you an exercise plan to do at home to support your in-clinic sessions. Our clients soon find that achieving higher levels becomes easier, because Pilates makes more sense to them. 

Using advanced clinical reasoning and skilled observation to teach you as an individual  

At KTB we understand that individuals will find different aspects of each exercise difficult. For example, if mobility is your weakest area, no matter how much abdominal strength training you do, you will still not be able to control the advanced movements until you have improved your flexibility. Our physiotherapists recognise that it is necessary to give everyone the most beneficial exercises from the Pilates repertoire to help them as individuals – and we are skilled at doing so. Because physiotherapists see mechanical pain every day and are trained and experienced in assessing and correcting the posture and muscle imbalances we can observe, correct and prescribe subtly and effectively. This is important as if the purpose of the exercises is not adequately explained and your technique is not checked then you could be doing the movements wrong and this could make your problem or pain worse.  

Clinical reasoning, observation skills & exercise prescription  

Physiotherapist’s receive advanced education in anatomy and exercise prescription throughout their degree programme and after graduation with ongoing continuing professional development. They are also highly skilled in observing movement and identifying poor movement patterns. A physiotherapist will understand the nature of the injury or problem you are presenting with. They will therefore be able to modify the exercises to ensure they are appropriate and the most effective for your needs. The Pilates sessions at KTB are planned utilising clinical reasoning and Pilates experience so that you get a balance of strength and flexibility exercises which complement the class of the week before and the forthcoming week. Each exercise will be put into a class for a desired outcome and our Physiotherapists will know lots of other exercises that achieve the same outcome. They therefore can give alternatives within a group session if necessary, without causing a disturbance or any embarrassment. 

Pilates at KTB will help benefit everyone whether you are working at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level. The only difference will be your starting point and the level you are hoping to achieve. We work with individuals with chronic conditions to manage their pain, and elite athletes looking to improve sport performance at international level. Throughout this learning experience you will become more aware of your body and will start to understand why certain daily activities may be causing pain or how particular movements, either within sport or your daily life, may be improved through Pilates. Pilates at KTB allows you to rehabilitate, exercise and move in the most effective way for you.    

 “At KTB we utilise our professional physiotherapy knowledge and experience to exceed your expectation of a Pilates session”  

To join our physiotherapist led classes or book a 1:1 Pilates session at KTB call 01322 55 22 99 or book online: