Clinical Pilates

What is Clinical Pilates

clinical-pilatesPilates is a full-body exercise system that emphasizes core stability, strength, control, body alignment and awareness. Clinical Pilates is a specialized form of Pilates, with individually designed programs based on an assessment of your problems by a qualified Exercise Physiologist. Participants then perform mat-based exercises as well as exercises on specially designed equipment.

Its principles promote efficient movement patterns and specific recruitment and utilization of core and stabilizing muscles. The exercises can challenge people at any age or fitness level, from the beginner to high-level sporting athletes.

As a result, Clinical Pilates is ideal for:

  • maintaining general health and well-being,
  • fitness and strength training,

  • rehabilitation and recovery from injury,
  • preventive measure to avoid further re-injury.


Initial Clinical Pilates sessions involve a thorough assessment with our Exercise Physiologist in order to determine which exercises are appropriate to prescribe for your body, and to tailor your Clinical Pilates program to suit your needs, abilities and goals. After initial one-on-one sessions, you will be able to progress to small group or mat classes.

Note: An initial assessment is not mandatory but is advised. Term-by-term classes and casual classes are available.


What are the benefits of Clinical Pilates?

  • Improved posture, balance and motor control
  • Better dynamic core stability
  • Improved muscle tone and increased flexibility
  • Improved general mobility and condition
  • Improved body awareness
  • Abdominal toning and strengthening
  • Relief of tension and fatigue
  • Safe post-natal strengthening and toning
  • A feeling of physical well being

  • Strength training
  • Enhanced sporting performance
  • Improve bone density
  • Increased overall fitness
  • Reducing pain and discomfort
  • Safe management of back pain
  • Rehabilitation of injuries
  • Correct poor body mechanics that underlie injuries
  • Prevention of future re-injury

What is the difference between Clinical Pilates and Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise method which uses specific floor and equipment-based exercises to condition and train the body’s deep stabilizing muscles. These core muscle groups include the abdominal and back muscles, as well as the pelvic floor and hip muscles. The purpose of training these muscles is to provide stability, strength and control to the lower back, pelvic and hip joints, upper back, neck and shoulder regions.

Pilates specifically enhances stability, movement, alignment, and breathing. It simultaneously works the body and relaxes the mind.

Clinical Pilates is a specialized adaptation of traditional Pilates which is blended with modified physiotherapy techniques. It is offered by a trained Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist or Clinical Pilates instructor. Clinical Pilates is an evidence-based technique which can improve balance, increase core muscle and spinal stability, enhance performance, and assist with recovery from injury and rehabilitation. Whilst back pain, neck pain, and a variety of sport injuries frequently benefit from a Clinical Pilates approach, many other musculoskeletal and other conditions can also respond favourably. Another potential benefit of Clinical Pilates is that it may reduce the risk of back, neck, or other sports injuries.

Clinical Pilates uses floor-based exercise programs together with spring-loaded resistance machines to allow you to develop superior muscle control, improved balance and mobility, and better posture. The end result is improved functionality and efficiency, and reduced pain.

Can I get the same benefits as Clinical Pilates by doing Yoga?

Pilates and Yoga can complement each other well yet they are not the same thing nor do they yield the same results. One of the main differences is that Clinical Pilates and yoga practice have very different aims. Clinical Pilates is more specifically targeted at rehabilitation from injury, reducing pain and preventing future injury.

Pilates originated as a series of exercises developed to improve muscle strength and core stability. Today it is used as a way of rehabilitating injury, movement re-training and a fitness tool. Pilates can help with all aspects of movement in any given person’s life, as its purpose is to balance muscle imbalance and increase strength and muscle tone.

Clinical Pilates is dynamic in movement and is highly adaptable and customizable to an individual. Our Clinical Pilates programs are individually tailored and are backed by an Exercise Physiologist.

In Yoga there is no explicit focus on rehabilitation from injury and Yoga instructors do not receive any specific training for therapeutic work. Yoga is more about greater connection with the body, holding poses, stretching and concentrating on perfecting similar or repeated movements though mind-body awareness.

What should I expect in my first Clinical Pilates session?

All clients will need a minimum of one 1 on 1 appointment with our Exercise Physiologist before commencing group classes.

This involves:

  • Detailed health history questions, postural assessment, muscle strength tests and orthopedic tests.
  • Establishing the goals of therapy and understanding any underlying problems that may influence the exercises given.
  • Developing a program specific to your needs, with outcome measures to monitor your progress.
  • Learning the basic techniques before commencing a group class.


A second and/or third appointment may be necessary to work through the program and to become familiar with the Pilates exercises and use of the equipment, before commencing group classes.

Depending on the aims of your therapy and the level of skill with exercises, there are 2 options to continue your sessions:

  1. Continue 1 on 1 with your Exercise Physiologist, as you might during a regular treatment.
  2. Move into a small group (7-8 max). Both are supervised by our Exercise Physiologist.

It is recommended that your progress is re-assessed at appropriate intervals so that your program can be optimized. This ensures you obtain the maximum benefit from your Pilates exercises. Re-assessment will require an individual session.

What should I wear, and what should I bring?

Come dressed in comfortable workout gear. Pilates is often performed in socks or bare feet. If you would prefer to keep your shoes on, let your practitioner know. Your practitioner may ask you to bring shoes in for standing or balance work if this is indicated.

We recommend that you bring a bottle of water, as well as your own towel for hygienic purposes.

I don't have any injuries or problems; can I still do Clinical Pilates?

Definitely. Clinical Pilates isn’t just for the person who presents with pain or injury. It’s also suitable for the healthy or highly mobile person who wants some individual Pilates coaching, similar to personal training, to help improve their personal Pilates practice, improve functional movement and fitness, or just for general health and wellbeing. Your instructor will discuss your personal exercise goals with you at your initial Clinical Pilates assessment and outline a suitable program.

How many Clinical Pilates sessions do I need to attend?

The number of sessions you need to attend is variable depending on your personal goals or level of presenting injury or health issue. Some clients may grasp the fundamentals very early on and may wish to move into a group class for general exercise. Others may require regular ongoing sessions depending on their level of body awareness or physical capabilities. Often, clients may combine one clinical session with two group classes per week to improve quality of movement and increase their fitness. It’s always best to discuss your needs with your instructor. Or ask yourself: How dedicated am I to improving my health?

Do I need a referral to do Clinical Pilates?

No, but it may help. If you are coming in with an existing injury/illness which has been diagnosed by a health professional such as your GP, Chiropractor, Osteopath or Physiotherapist we find a referral letter briefly outlining your condition and your exercise goals can help us to plan the most suitable series of exercises for you. The more information we have, the more successful your sessions may be.

Will I feel exercise pain (delayed onset muscle soreness) after doing Pilates?

There is a good chance you may experience some DOMS as a result of doing Pilates. Aside from concentration on firing the deep stabilizing muscles, we also seek to challenge your big prime mover muscles which can lead to you feeling that oh so good/bad muscle exercise burn during class and those great aches for a couple of days after. This often happens if you’ve done an activity you aren’t normally accustomed to or have really pushed yourself in class. DOMS will always resolve themselves in time, but the process can be sped up by doing moderate exercise the day after a big session or by getting a massage soon after exercise.

I already do another form of exercise. Should I stop if I want to do Pilates?

Not unless you really want to. Pilates is great on its own as regular exercise but it also easily compliments other forms of exercise by helping to improve your self-awareness, strengthen your core and improves biomechanics (the way your body moves). People who do a combination of Pilates and yoga often see an improvement in their yoga practice as their joints become freer and easier to stabilize during challenging poses. Runners and cyclists can feel an improvement in their chosen sport as they learn to better track their hip/leg/ankle motions to reduce problems such as ITB syndrome or Achilles Tendinopathies.

I'm pregnant. Can I do Pilates?

Pilates is usually safe to do in pre/post natal situations where the client has already been doing Pilates, does not present with morning sickness, low blood pressure, advanced pelvic instability, a history of miscarriages or advised not to do any exercise by their physician. Pilates in general helps you to activate and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and transverse abdominus muscle which supports your stomach and lower back. Both are very important to maintain during and after pregnancy to reduce pelvic and lower back pain, and may help the recovery process.

Talk to an instructor to see how you can join a small group prenatal class. Smaller groups mean more attention, which is safer for you and your baby.

How many people will be in my class?

So you get the most out of your Clinical Pilates program, we make sure there are never more than eight people in a class. Individual sessions and smaller groups are also offered, and are a great place to start or as a refresher for more experienced clients.

When should I start Clinical Pilates?

If your main goals are rehabilitation orientated, it is best to discuss this with your current practitioner or Exercise Physiologist. If your goals are health is performance oriented, the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll feel the difference!

Can I claim Pilates on private health insurance?

If you are unsure whether you are covered for Clinical Pilates, please contact your private health insurer to see if it’s available on your extras or visit Hicaps to see if your health fund allows instant rebates on the spot.

For Group Pilates classes we advise that you contact your individual health fund to enquire about their specific needs for Pilates rebates.