Pilates is a physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates, who was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880.

As a child Pilates suffered with various ailments such as rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever.

To overcome his health issues, he devised his own system of exercise. He did this by drawing upon his own life experiences; from his time in the circus, as a war time fitness instructor and influences from the world of ballet.

His guiding philosophy was that achieving good health means that the whole body, both mind and spirit, must be addressed. One of the outcomes of his work was the development of a series of 34 mat based exercises. Some of the exercises used specially designed equipment such as the ‘Reformer’ or ‘Wunda Chair’ and others which are mat based. The 34 exercises now form the basis of Mat based Pilates classes.

Please see the full list of exercises here.

All of Pilates exercises can be done at various levels from easy to the more difficult and most have preparation exercises to enable you to build up the required muscle strength and coordination to be able to do them.

Once the lower levels of the exercises have been done correctly you should then progress and add more difficulty as appropriate. All exercises can be adapted or props used such as blocks or towels to enable correct alignment and for you do the exercise safely and correctly.

Joseph Pilates original work can be seen in his book ‘Return to Life Through Contrology.’ 


To recieve a free copy of my Pilates for beginners handout please e mail me at fiona@pilatesinexeter.co.uk             


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Pilates follows core principles where emphasis is given to undertaking movement with precision from a strong and stable centre. There is also focus on working in a controlled and careful way with consideration given to the breathing.

Pilates is a great way to increase your general health and wellbeing as it can help you to improve:

  • Strength

  • Flexibility

  • Mobility

  • Balance and Coordination

As a physical fitness activity Pilates is a great way to maintain muscle mass, flexibility and range of movement around joints.

As we age it’s a great way to improve and maintain an ideal body alignment and posture. Breathing in a controlled way along with the focussed activity is also good for relaxation.   

Pilates is generally considered a safe form of exercise for most common orthopaedic conditions. The gentle and controlled movements are kind to joints and many of the exercises mirror those prescribed by Physiotherapists.

Please note that Pilates instructors cannot diagnose any conditions but can work with your health care provider recommendations to provide exercises that are ideal for your posture type or condition. 

To find out more, discuss your individual requirements please contact Fiona. 

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"It's the mind itself which shapes the body."

"A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy 'calisthenics' or forced contortion."   

"If you spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young."  

"In 10 sessions you'll see the difference, in 20 sessions you will feel the difference, and in 30 you will have a new body."

Joseph Pilates