Joseph Pilates was passionate about the benefits of learning how to breathe efficiently. He said:

“Before any real benefit can be derived from physical exercises, one must first learn how to breathe properly. Our very life depends on it.”

Breathing for Pilates

In Pilates, breathing is one of our basic principles. We practise lateral or thoracic breathing. This is to encourage the expansion of the lower ribs into the sides and into the back. The breathing patterns specified for each exercise are to facilitate movement and aid stability. Effective use of the breath can also help the mind to relax, focus and recharge.

Breathing to Relieve Back Pain

With persistent back pain, muscles often feel tense and tight. A breathing exercise, such as breathing in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11, can calm the nervous system so as to relax tense muscles and prevent sudden spasms of back pain.

Breathing for Insomnia

If you suffer from poor sleep, a deep breathing trick can help. A US expert recommends the 4-7-8 method to help you relax and fall asleep. The trick is breathing in for four counts, holding for seven seconds, then exhale completely for eight counts. Repeat these steps two and four times. Read more in this breathing trick can induce sleep article from The Telegraph.

Update to post first published 25th April 2017


The first basic principle is alignment, which refers to bringing your body into its ideal posture, where your joints are in their optimal position in relation to each other and your muscles are doing the minimum amount of work to hold them there.

Without good alignment, you risk extra wear and tear on your joints and extra aches in your muscles which may tire from overuse or become weak from lack of use.

When performing our Pilates exercises, we focus on starting in and then holding good form as we move, so as to reinforce the correct alignment of our joints and retrain our muscles to maintain that alignment.

results in perfect posture when sitting, standing or walking…

Joseph Pilates

Basic Principles

Different Pilates schools have different sets of guiding principles. Joseph Pilates himself used six. I prefer to start with these three, which are easy as easy to remember as ABC, they are:

Joseph Pilates used six:

  • Precision
  • Breathing
  • Centring
  • Control
  • Coordination
  • Flowing Movements

He did not mention alignment, but I like to think this is covered within the principle of precision. The instructions in his book Return to Life through Contrology are certainly precise, as are his directions that they are to be followed faithfully to acquire physical fitness.

…exercises that produce a harmonious structure we term physical fitness reflecting itself in a coordinated and balanced tri-part unity of mind, body and spirit.

Joseph Pilates

I certainly agree that it is critical to perform Pilates exercises with correct technique in order to gain the benefits of doing them.

Pilates celebs: Charlize Theron

In a recent article The Diet And Beauty Secrets That Charlize Theron Lives By, Charlize admits to being a Pilates junkie, saying: “It’s totally changed my body.”

When it comes to physical activity and cheat days, she says: “I’m always calculating my activity. If I haven’t been moving a lot, I can’t eat a lot. Or maybe it’s a cheat day. But I’m honest with myself.”

Read the article in Marie Claire.

Support your Local Instructor

Instead of your Joe Wicks, Les Mills On Demand, latest Celeb bandwagon, Peloton, go find the instructors who support you week in, week out.

  • The instructors who ask how your day’s been…
  • The instructors who ask how the kids/family are…
  • The instructors who give you help and advice at the drop of a hat…
  • The instructors who slip your song choices into class for you…
  • The instructors who remember your name and connect with you in class…

These are the people who matter.

These Celeb fitness trainers; I guarantee they’re not struggling to keep their business afloat. They’ll be paid by clicks, likes and subscriptions to pre-recorded in bulk classes.

Support your local instructors like they’ve supported all of you at one point in your fitness life.

Reposted from #supportsmallbusinesschallenge

Thank you to all those who have supported me by continuing to attend class throughout lockdown.


Survey Responses 2021

Thank you for completing the brief survey included with your annual renewal forms. I’ve collated your responses in this post. I’ve paraphrased your answers to keep them anonymous.

The average difficulty ratings that you gave for your classes were:

Monday 9.15am5.7
Monday 6pm7.0
Monday 7pm6.0
Monday 8pm6.6

You said that the benefits you get from attending Pilates classes include:

  • A lifeline throughout Covid lockdown
  • Improved core strength
  • Improved posture
  • Retaining flexibilty and strength
  • Helped with balance
  • Me time!
  • Able to lay Prone
  • Back more comfortable, less or no pain
  • More toned muscles
  • Relaxation
  • Recovery from major surgery
  • More supple, less painful, and more mobile hip joint. 
  • Feel-good factor
  • Regain strength and mobility after injury
  • Flatter tummy
  • Friendship!

You said that your reasons for doing Pilates and what you want to achieve over the next 12 months are to:

  • Keep my back healthy
  • Prevent back pain from repetitive work
  • Become more toned
  • Build strength
  • Continue to improve core strength
  • Do the full mat routine without a break
  • General health and fitness
  • Get better at the exercises
  • Greater flexibility
  • Help with hypomobility
  • Help with weight loss
  • I enjoy it
  • Improve balance
  • Improve my running
  • Improve posture
  • Increase stamina
  • Maintain bone health and reduce the risk  fractures
  • Maintain strength, flexibility and balance (no degeneration)
  • Work on pelvic floor exercises
  • Re-building strength (post injury)
  • Stay active
  • Stay pain free
  • Support my joints

Pilates celebs: Twiggy

In July, 1960s fashion icon Twiggy, told Lorraine Kelly on Good Morning Britain, that facials every six months, Pilates and looking after her children and grandchildren helped “keep her together.”

I’m doing Pilates, which I love but I’m not that high maintenance

Viewers shared Lorraine’s amazement, saying Twiggy looked incredible her age.

Read more from the Daily Mail article about Twiggy.

Quote: I was getting stronger…

My ability to do the exercise routine slowly but continuously improved from session to session. I was getting stronger. I was moving better, and my posture was improving. I was enjoying the feeling of wellbeing.

John Howard Steel, from his book Caged Lion

Books: Caged Lion

Caged Lion is a book by John Howard Steel, who knew Joseph Pilates personally.

It tells the story of how John started doing Pilates, then called Contrology, and how he got to know the man himself. When Joseph Pilates died, John was part of a small group who kept the exercise method alive. At the time, it was performed buy just a few devotees, but now the Pilates method is practised by millions all over the world.

The book is a fascinating read, part autobiography and part-biography. It tells us about John’s involvement in Pilates over six decades and gives us the history of Joseph Pilates, the man, and how he came to develop his exercise method and invent the studio equipment, largely unchanged today.

The book also describes the unique attraction of the Pilates Method, the power that it has to change lives and keep its devotees practising into their eighties and nighties.

I found it a fascinating and entertaining read and highly recommend it. You can buy the book from amazon or elsewhere.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a term that has come to be used for general heel pain. There are over 40 conditions which might cause heel pain, but only some of these are due to damage, such as tearing, fraying or crushing, to the plantar fascia. This is the thick tissue that runs underneath your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes. Typically, the pain is worse in the morning, gets better as you move around and then comes back later in the day after a period of inactivity.

You may be more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you:

  • recently started exercising on hard surfaces
  • exercise with a tight calf or heel
  • overstretch the sole of your foot during exercise
  • recently started doing a lot more walking, running or standing up
  • wear shoes with poor cushioning or support
  • are very overweight

Successful treatment depends on getting the correct diagnosis of the underlying cause. Things that might help are:

  • ice, arch roll, calf stretch, arch rise
  • steroid injection, ultrasound, low level laser, ECSWT (shockwave), surgical release
  • acupuncture, footwear changes, orthotic insoles, diet, supplements
  • mobilisation, strength and conditioning exercises

Pilates can help with the later as it aims to ensure good alignment and balance mobility and strength, not just of the foot and ankle joints, but of the whole of your body. Specific exercises for plantar fasciitis might be:

  • foot and ankle stability
  • foot shortening
  • plantar intrinsic strengthening
  • calf flexibility
  • general flexibility
  • proximal strength

This information was taken from a recent workshop that I attended by Ian Sadler and the NHS website. For more information and to visit Ian’s specialist biomechanics clinic based in Norwich, go to

Click to find an NHS podiatrist.