What is Pilates?
Pilates is a method of exercise devised in the 20th Century by Joseph H. Pilates, an early “exercise physiologist”, who believed in the principles of Centering, Control, Flow, Breath, Precision and Concentration. Pilates is a form of exercise that emphasizes the quality of movement, alignment, stability and attention to what the body is doing and optimal movement patterns, in order to achieve pain-free, stable, strong and long musculature. Joseph H Pilates believed that mental and physical health are interrelated and mutually inclusive, and it is through the mastery of body and mind control that optimal health can be achieved.
The method was originally designed to rehabilitate injured soldiers while they were bedbound and Joseph Pilates attached springs to their beds to allow them to maintain fitness while recovering. Pilates later started using the above principles with dancers and performers in New York City and many of the movements within the Pilates method mimic dance techniques.
Body Tone Pilates is a specialised form of exercise devised to combine traditional Pilates exercise methods with spring-loaded equipment (reformers) and floor exercises to improve body control, awareness, strength, endurance, tone and balance. Pilates focuses on strengthening the “core stability” muscles, such as the deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, that act as the support system for our spine and pelvis. Increases in core strength can lead to a reduction in low back and neck pain and improved body posture, movement and function.
Do I need an assessment before starting?
If you are interested in our physiotherapist-run exercise sessions it is imperative that you undergo an hour assessment with one of our physiotherapists. During this session, the physiotherapist will assess your functional movement patterns, deep stability muscle activation using diagnostic ultrasound, specialized physiotherapy tests, and assess muscle lengths and strengths to best determine your level of fitness and to help the physiotherapist formulate an individualised program targeting your individual needs. This is a chance for you to discuss any areas of pain or dysfunction with the physiotherapist so we are fully aware of anything that may be affected by physical activity.
Even if you have no current or previous injuries, but you are after a tailor-made program, these assessments are important to enable the program to target any muscle imbalances or strength/flexibility deficits in your body to help you achieve your desired goals.
If you have no previous or current injuries, and you are not currently pregnant or have recently undergone surgery and you have previous Pilates experience on the reformers, you can come in and join our Body Tone Fitness Pilates classes without undergoing a physiotherapy assessment. However, if you are interested in these classes and you have currently or in the past had an injury of any sort, then it is compulsory to undergo an assessment first before joining the classes. This is so that the physiotherapist can teach you proper techniques so that you achieve the best outcomes and avoid the potential for injury due to incorrect postures and techniques.
Do I need to have done Pilates before?
No, you don’t need to know anything about Pilates to undertake our Body Tone Fitness Pilates program. The instructors will take you through how to set up the equipment, correct breathing, posture and core techniques and how to perform each individualised exercise in your program as part of your one-on-one sessions. You can do as many of these sessions as you like before entering the class environment and we encourage you to do these to increase your confidence and self-sufficiency during classes.
If you are interested in joining our Body Tone Fitness Classes or Matwork class, we recommend undergoing a one-on-one session first to get familiar with the equipment set up and techniques, even if you have no injuries.
Will physiotherapist-run exercise sessions help to rehabilitate my injury?
Q Pilates is a group of physiotherapist-run clinics, combining our extensive knowledge of injury management and the Pilates exercise method helps us to rehabilitate through exercise multiple different sorts of injuries.
We recommend that you gain clearance from your treating physician, physiotherapist, chiropractor or coach before commencing an exercise program with us and you must only choose the physiotherapy-run exercise classes for individualised, prescribed exercises. Not all exercises will be beneficial for all types of injuries and conditions, and in fact, if applied poorly by untrained instructors, exercise has the potential to aggravate an injury.
The focus of physiotherapy-run exercise classes is on maintaining perfect posture while strengthening the deep and superficial muscle systems. The inefficiency or poor use of these muscles in coordination tends to lead to injury and pain, hence, teaching you how the muscles work to support the joints is the key to rehabilitating any injury or pain, no matter how chronic.
I am pregnant, will physiotherapy-run exercise be suitable for me?
Physiotherapy guided sessions are one of the best ways to exercise during pregnancy, as it is low impact and focuses on deep stability and postural muscles to help accommodate for the changes to the body during pregnancy. Unless your obstetrician has recommended that you do not exercise, it is important to keep fit and strong to not only maintain a healthy body to nourish a healthy baby, but also to counter the effects of pregnancy on the body, maintain strength for labour and to enable quicker recovery of the pelvic floor, core, abdominal and global muscles post-natally as well. Our Pilates Physiotherapists have training in Women’s health physiotherapy and are well-qualified to understand the changes to the body during pregnancy and the influence these changes have on exercise capacity.
The physiotherapist-run exercise sessions are the only classes suitable for pregnant or newly post-natal mothers, as these allow us to make the necessary changes to the exercises as the pregnancy progresses and tailor the program to your individual needs.
It is also recommended to return to physiotherapist-led exercise as soon as possible after giving birth. Once cleared for exercise from your obstetrician, women can start very gently from around 4-6 weeks post-partum. Even earlier than that, it is important for women to start working their pelvic floor muscles and some very gentle Pilates moves. Our Women’s Health Physiotherapy sessions are ideal for learning what to do in the first 2-4 weeks post-partum, before commencing classes again.
See our physiotherapist-run exercise sessions and pregnancy blog post for more information.
Will exercise be hard/easy enough for me?
Physiotherapist-run sessions and Body Tone Pilates can be exponentially scaled up or down depending on your current exercise capabilities. From extremely light to extremely difficult, we use hundreds of different exercises to create our individualised programs.
Our physiotherapist-run exercise classes are ideal for people who have injuries or are after an exercise program that is specifically tailored to their exercise needs, be it high level or low-level exercises. It is important to be open with your Physiotherapist if you are finding the program too difficult or not challenging enough, and we can change the program so that you feel you are working at an appropriate level.
We recommend doing an initial assessment if you are injured, or if you would like to make sure you are working at the right level for you. We also encourage anyone with pain to choose the physiotherapist-run exercise sessions to ensure that you work more closely with a physiotherapist, who will understand the level of exercise that will be appropriate for you.
Our Body Tony Fitness Classes are our most difficult and challenging reformer classes available and these classes are undertaken in a group setting where all participants are performing the same exercises. Therefore these classes are suitable for people who want to work hard and challenge themselves as far as possible.
Can I claim Private Health on physiotherapist-run exercise classes?
Q Pilates is run by fully qualified physiotherapists and during your assessment and one-on-one sessions, it is possible to claim physiotherapy rebates. This is because the physiotherapist will assess your outcomes and apply exercise therapy as a treatment modality, with re-assessments following each session.
For the Baby & Mama Exercise Classes, it is possible to claim “group physiotherapy exercise” if you have this cover under private health.
How often should I be exercising?
We recommend undertaking the exercise in some way, shape or form around 3-4 times per week. This may include 1 session in the studio on the equipment followed by 2 or 3 sessions at home. Your Q Pilates physiotherapist can prescribe you a home exercise program to undertake at home for the best benefits. We have available to purchase, therabands, exercise balls and other Pilates equipment if you require these things.
Why is the physiotherapist watching me/touching me while I exercise?
At Q Pilates, our physiotherapists will use visual, verbal and tactile cues to allow you to perform the exercises with perfect technique to optimize the benefits to your body. Research has shown that “tactile facilitation”, or touch, is the best way for the physio to give you feedback on how you are performing an exercise, to assess whether you are activating the target muscle effectively and to help you switch on a muscle if it is not working. We believe that one of the most important principles of Pilates is controlling the technique of an exercise.
How is physiotherapist-run exercise different from gym exercise?
Pilates principles of control, alignment, breathing and body awareness can cross over into performing gym exercises too. However, instead of pumping out reps and sets of plates/ dumbbell/ body weight exercises, Pilates exercises are performed at a slower and more constant pace for longer endurance sets (eg 20-30 repetitions). This is to encourage control and endurance within all muscle groups.
From a physics perspective, using springs varies from using “weights” because a spring will change its kinetic energy dependent on how far it is pulled out and therefore, is not under a constant and unchanging amount of load or force. This causes the body to have to constantly adjust to the imposed demands of this changing load. Also, working out on moveable equipment adds an extra stability challenge, forcing the body to have to recruit deeper stabilizing muscles (core) to keep the body in the correct position.
Will this kind of exercise help me lose weight?
Increases in lean muscle mass through resistance training can increase the metabolic rate and energy consumption, which is important for weight loss. However, resistance training and exercise sessions are not enough to achieve decreases in BMI and subcutaneous fat. It is important to combine this type of exercise with healthy eating and cardiovascular exercise.
Does physiotherapist-run exercise sessions help osteoporosis?
Along with dietary and medical management of osteoporosis, resistance training is important in improving bone density and osteogenesis (bone-building). This is achieved by placing the body under varying directions and amounts of load-bearing to encourage bone growth or to maintain bone density. Pilates Exercises, especially those involving spring resistance, place multi-directional loads on the skeletal system to encourage this bone loading process. Q Pilates Physiotherapists are trained in osteoporosis management and will often include traditional “weights” exercises in programs of people diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Will Body Tone Pilates improve my cardiovascular fitness?
Pilates exercises are traditionally not considered cardiovascular because the body will rarely experience breathlessness during the exercises. However, with muscle loading, the circulatory and oxygen demand within the working muscles causes the body to require deeper breaths and increased breathing rate. Therefore the harder the exercise and the larger the muscles being worked, the higher the oxygen demand is. You will find that certain exercises can encourage some slight increases in breathing rate and therefore, small amounts of increased cardiovascular fitness. It is important to continue walking/ running/ swimming/ cycling etc to maintain or improve cardiovascular fitness.
I am after long and lean muscles, not bulky muscles. Is Body Tone Pilates right for me?
Pilates has been long-hailed for its ability to produce long, lean muscles without causing bulky muscles. This is because the exercises are performed at a lower resistance for a longer and slower amount of time than traditional “strength” exercises at the gym. Strength training (eg low reps, high resistance) brings about hypertrophy and bulking within the muscle fibres. Pilates also uses deep AND superficial muscle systems to achieve a more balanced musculature.
What ages can attend Pilates?
At Q Pilates we have age ranges between 13-80+ years old. Our physiotherapist-run exercise sessions can be tailored for all ages and abilities and is a perfect way to exercise throughout life’s different ages and stages.
We do require that all our participants are at least 13 years old as it is important for children to have enough understanding of the principles and the equipment to perform the exercises safely.
The age limit for Bodytone Pilates is 15 years old.
Ouch, my muscles are sore after class, why?
DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is a sign that you have worked your muscles to the point where they have been forced to form slight breaks to allow new muscle fibres to form for increased strength (aka hypertrophy). This is known as the overload principle and is an important part of improving a muscle’s ability to cope with the load demand. Most people enjoy this feeling of having worked hard to the point of being sore, however, it is not necessary if you would prefer not to be sore after class. You will still see the benefits of Pilates even if you don’t feel muscle pain the next day.
Generally DOMS will peak on the second day and unfortunately not much helps to alleviate the soreness apart from further exercising to pump out excess lactic acid. Research has found that stretching can help momentarily but doesn’t shorten the duration of the DOMS pain. We find that heat, stretching and further gentle exercise is the best thing to cure DOMS.
I have other Co-Morbidities/ Injuries, can I still do Pilates?
At Q Pilates Brisbane, we encourage anyone with injuries or health issues to stick to our physiotherapist-run exercise program to ensure they are getting a program specifically tailored to their individual needs. In terms of injuries, Pilates is often a perfect way to exercise in an environment that is safe and rehabilitative.
If you have health issues affected by exercise (eg heart, lung, thyroid, epilepsy etc), we prefer if you have medical clearance before commencing a program. We will ask specific health questions in your initial assessment to help us gauge exactly where your body is functioning at the moment to ensure optimal safety while performing the exercise.