Mat Matters

Joseph Pilates was fond of quoting from Schiller: ‘It is the mind which builds the body.’

While he was held in an internment camp on the Isle of Man during WW1, Joseph Pilates taught the exercise techniques he had developed, to many of the 23,000 men interned with him. He invented his own unique apparatus, which we now call the Reformer, from manipulating the springs of his dormitory bed.

However, when a Reformer is not available – it is a large and expensive piece of equipment, so you don’t find them everywhere – Pilates exercises may be performed equally well on a mat.

Pilates exercises build the body’s core strength and improves your posture.

Each exercise is built around eight principles:


Flowing movement

As with the Reformer, so on the mat: emphasis lies on the unity between mind and body, while the focus is on the quality of the movement, rather than on the number of repetitions. Pilates exercise programmes are designed to eliminate weaknesses and bad habits and to challenge bodily strength, through a series of stretching and conditioning exercises.

A refreshing mind-body work out

By focussing on proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment and concentration on smooth flowing movement, you will become in tune with your body, learning how to control your movements and able to put the knowledge to work in your every-day life. Learning to breathe will help you to manage any stress you may carry.

Develop a strong core and give yourself flat abdominals and a strong back

Pilates mat exercise helps you to develop a strong core, or centre of the body. Your core consists of the deep abdominal muscles, along with the muscles closest to the spine.

Gain long, lean muscles and flexibility

Conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles, while Pilates elongates and strengthens the muscles, improving muscle function, elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.

Create an holistic , evenly conditioned body, improving performance and preventing injury

Pilates conditions the whole body, right down to your feet. No muscle group is over- or under-trained; instead, the entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, resulting in better performance in sport or daily living activities. Again, having a strong, balanced body will protect you against injury.

Learn how to move efficiently

The practice of Pilates trains several muscle groups at once, through smooth, continuous movement. By developing proper technique, you can retrain your body into safer, more efficient patterns of motion, invaluable for injury prevention or for rehabilitation after injury. You will also develop good practice for sports performance, good posture and optimal health.

Pilates is gentle

Many exercises are performed in sitting, lying or kneeling positions. The exercises are low impact and partially weight bearing, which is why the practice is so often used as a tool in injury rehabilitation.

The challenge

Pilates is a versatile and flexible exercise system that can be tailored to the individual to allow for a range of difficulty, ranging from beginner to advanced.

Get the workout that best suits you now; then increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves.


I also run mat Pilates classes at the following venues and times:

Wednesday, 5pm

The Grove, Bradmore Park Road

Hammersmith W6 0DT

The Grove

Tuesday, 10.15 am

The Corner House 102-104 Shepherds Bush Road

Brookgreen W6 7PD

The Corner House

I do a pilates class once a week with susan. I was worried theclass would be too difficult for me but the process has actually been
brilliant. The best one best result is a better understanding of what I am doing and why. This has enabled me to practise at home as I can hear her words in my ear!