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The Pilates Method by Kay Twiddy

Updated: May 20, 2021

Pilates is the exercise most recommended by physiotherapists as it is excellent for injury recovery, improving posture and to heighten sports performance.

A Brief History

The Pilates Method of body conditioning was developed by a German-born gentleman, Joseph H. Pilates. Born in 1883, little is known about his younger years but it is believed that he was a rather sickly child. His desire to strengthen his frail and sickly body inspired the development of his body conditioning method and led him to become a gymnast, diver and skier. During his internship on the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom during World War 1, he continued to develop and began teaching his body conditioning method. In the latter part of the war he worked as an orderly in a hospital with patients who could not walk. Using bed springs to support their limbs, the patients’ recovery was significantly improved and this was the early development stages of apparatus like the Cadillac, Reformer and Wunda Chair which are still in use today.

“Change happens through movement and movement heals.” – Joseph Pilates

Joseph and his wife Clara later immigrated to the United States and opened their ‘body-conditioning gym’ in New York City almost a century ago in 1926. It is interesting to note that originally 60% of those training with Pilates were men.

Joseph and Clara continued to develop and teach the Pilates method which steadily gained in popularity, with many well-known celebrities of the day visiting the studio. This wonderful method of body conditioning has now been in use for nearly one hundred years and has stood the test of time while many other exercise fads have come and gone. It has gradually evolved and integrated current bio-mechanical thinking while still holding to the original principles put forward by Joseph Pilates all those years ago.

"A few well designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence are worth hours of doing sloppy exercise or forced contortion" - Joseph Pilates

Pilates Principles

Joseph Pilates originally gave his method the name Contrology which sums up the essence of the Pilates Method, a unique system of stretching and strengthening exercises focusing on training the mind and body to work together toward the goal of overall fitness.

Following are the principles on which the Pilates Method is based:

Breath – Pilates believed that breathing is the most important part of exercise. It’s vital in the activation of the core.

“Breathing is the first act of life, and the last… above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” – Joseph Pilates

Concentration – focusing your mind on the movements means you get the most out of the exercise and it improves the mind-body connection.

Centre – this is your powerhouse, your core. The foundation from where all your strength to move comes.

Control – this engages complete muscle groups which means you get more out of your exercise.

‘If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.’ – Joseph Pilates

Precision – It’s important to have fewer good quality movements over large quantities of sloppy movements

“It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s how you do it” - Joseph Pilates

Fluidity – this principle of continuous and smooth movement helps to increase your strength and stamina

Debbie Cameron Physiotherapy offers Covid-compliant Pilates classes online via Zoom, or with a tech host at our Centenary Medical Centre practice. These in-practice classes are for those who aren’t comfortable working Zoom, or would prefer a little more accountability in way of showing up for a class.

The Pilates instructor is physiotherapist Kay Twiddy, and the tech host is physiotherapist Megan Fryer.

The following classes are on offer:

Ladies’ Classes

• Monday 5:00 pm in the practice or via Zoom

• Wednesday 8.00 am beginners’ class in-person or via Zoom

• Wednesday 5:00 pm beginners’ class in-person or via Zoom

• Friday 8:00 am via Zoom or with tech host

Men’s Classes

• Tuesday and Thursday 5:15pm via Zoom


Via Zoom

• 1x weekly class = R300/month

• 2x weekly classes = R500/month

At Centenary Medical Centre

• 1x weekly class = R350/month

• 2x weekly classes = R600/month

Enjoy a Pilates’ class either in the comfort of your own home or in the beautiful gym area of our Centenary practice. For more information, to book classes or for an assessment call 031 765 8898.


Blount, T., Mckenzie, E., 2001, Pilates System, Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.

Siler, B., 2000, The Pilates Body, Penguin Group.

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