Woman practicing Pilates at home with a foam roller

What are the benefits of practicing pilates at home?

Woman practicing Pilates at home with a foam roller


Regular Pilates practice has huge benefits for our health, mind and body including:

  • Improved flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone, particularly of your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks (the ‘core muscles’ of your body)
  • Improved muscular control and stabilisation of your spine and limbs
  • Better posture, co-ordination and balance
  • A safe way to rehabilitate or prevent of musculoskeletal injuries
  • Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing
  • Better concentration
  • Greater body awareness
  • A way to relieve stress and promote relaxation both physically and mentally

Pre-pandemic, most people would traditionally attend Pilates classes face-to-face whereas, now many people have discovered the benefits of attending on-line pilates classes  from the comfort of their own home.

Investing time and effort into building your health and fitness continues to be absolutely vital. With new hybrid ways of working from home, practicing Pilates online means that you have immediate and convinient access to quality teaching.

What advantages are there of practicing pilates at home?

There are lots of reasons why practicing Pilates online might suit you more than a face-to-face class.

Life can sometimes be busy and hectic, so exercising at home will save you the time of travelling to and from a class. You can practice pilates whenever you like, no matter the time of day (or night), so you’re not tied down to the specific time the class you like is running. Essentially, practicing at home is far more convenient and when something is more convenient, the more likely we are to make it a habit!

Availability in online class is also never an issue … you can learn with the instructor you like the most without having to put a reminder in your diary to book into the class before it gets too full. It’s often less expensive then face-to-face classes and you’ll also save on travel costs too.

Some people just prefer to exercise in the privacy of their own home, without any feelings of self consciousness about the way they look when practicing. You might like the idea of being able to try out a new exercise without worrying about making mistakes at first in front of others and being able to go at your own pace, without any no pressure to keep up with others around you or to push yourself beyond what is comfortable.

Many people enjoy working without any distraction concentration or focus and being in control, able to pause and rewind the class to try an exercise again, have a break or take a drink. With an online class, there’s no rush and you won’t have to miss out on anything. You can do part of the class and then stop and return to it at a later time. The power is totally in your hands and if you want to relax on your mat at the end of the class, that’s totally up to you.

How do I get started?

The first step is to find a place in your home where you can exercise comfortably. You will need enough space to place an exercise mat (or towel) and to be able to move your arms and legs freely. You do not need much equipment to get started. A mat and a small head cushion (or you can use a folded up towel) will be everything you need. As you progress through your pilates journey you might want to invest in a few inexpensive pieces of small equipment like resistance bands, light weights or a soft ball to increase the difficulty of the exercises but you don’t need any of this to start with.

Here at Pilatesfit our Online pilates classes are all run by physiotherapists. We demonstrate and talk you through the key safety features of each exercise carefully to reduce any risk of injury and ensure you are confident in the movements you are undertaking.

We run a variety of classes from beginners to intermediate, older adults, pregnancy and postnatal, so everyone can find a class suitable for their needs and we offer a free 7-day trial without any commitment.

If you have any questions please contact us on 01223 914140 or e-mail us on enquiries@vineryroadstudios.co.uk.

Hope to see you online soon,

The Pilatesfit Team!

What’s the best exercise for strengthening the buttock muscles?

If you’ve been to one of my classes you’ll already know how much I love exercises that target your ‘glutes’.

These are the muscles of your buttocks that give vital support to your pelvis when you’re on your feet. They work when you lift your leg out to the side or out behind you and they’ll help you get out of a chair more easily.

The biggest cause of weakness in the glutes is down to sitting for long periods of the day as most of us do and you are even more likely to have weakness in your glutes if you suffer from persistent back pain.

One of my favorite exercises for strengthening the glutes are squats and here are my top tips for good technique:

  • Hinge through your hips- start the movement by moving your tailbone behind you
  • Keep your trunk upright and your shoulder blades drawing down and backwards
  • Hold your knees in line with your toes and keep your weight in your heels
  • Your gaze should remain forward but lower slightly as you squat so you keep the length through the back of your neck.
  • Lower and rise at a constant pace

If you have any issues with your knees, try placing a small ball between your thighs to help with better positioning of your knees during the movement and work within a comfortable range.

For more ideas about exercises to strengthen the glutes and prevent knee pain click here:

An exercise to improve knee pain

Runners Knee

For painful hips or problems with bursitis click here:

Bursitis and gluteal tendon pain

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Best Pilates smoothie!

You need some energy to get the most out of your Pilates class but it’s not much fun doing a roll up on a full stomach.

So here’s a great smoothie recipe I make all the time. The oats are slow release carbohydrates and the almond milk is a great source of protein. Don’t be put off by the idea of the spinach- you really can’t taste it and even my seven year old will ask for a glass when I’m making a batch:

Pilates Energy Smoothie

1 -2 handfuls of spinach leaves
1 handful of blueberries
1 apple
Half a carrot
1 small banana
35g oats
2 tbsp milled flaxseeds

You can add a little maple syrup if you like a slightly sweeter taste, then top up with almond milk and blend. I hope you like it!

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Osteoarthritis stretch

Pilates for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis physiotherapy in Cambridge

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis affecting our joints.

It’s sometimes called ‘wear and tear’ arthritis but I think this is a misnomer as joint wear is a normal consequence of daily activity. Osteoarthritis actually develops when our joint repair processes are insufficient to cope with the stresses and strains passing through them. So it’s probably more accurate to call it a ‘wear and repair’ problem.

Pain, swelling and limited joint movement can all be features of osteoarthritis and although there’s no magic bullet a combination of exercise and lifestyle changes, including medication, can significantly reduce pain and help you to continue your normal activities.

Pilates is ideal form of exercise for people suffering with osteoarthritis as it’s low impact and focuses on muscle strength, control, posture and precise, aligned joint movement.

Here are three of our favourite pilates exercises for osteoarthritis of the spine:

Scissors level 1

Exercise for osteoarthritis

  • Breathe in to prepare.
  • Breathe out to tighten your abdominals gently and float up one leg to 90 degrees
  • Pause and breathe in
  • Breathe out to lower your leg again and repeat on the opposite side – 8 times each side

Pelvic tilts in kneeling

stretch for the lower back

  • Breathe out to tuck your tailbone under and curve through your spine
  • Hold and breathe in
  • Breathe out and relax your spine and draw your shoulders into the back of your body
  • Hold and breathe in – repeat 10 times


Physio exercise for osteoarthritis in Cambridge

  • Breathe in to prepare.
  • Breathe out to curl up your tailbone and ‘peel’ your spine bone by bone away from the floor
  • Breathe in to hold and stretch the front of your hips
  • Breathe out to sink through your breastbone and melt down into your lower back, tailbone coming down last – repeat 8 times

A programme tailored to your own specific movement restrictions and weaknesses will give you the best results and physios who teach pilates are experts at modifying the exercises to offload sore, stiff joints to allow everyone to enjoy the benefits.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions,

The Pilatesfit Team!

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Core strengthening exercise for scoliosis

What causes scoliosis & the best pilates exercises for this condition

Types of scoliosis

Having a ‘scoliosis’ means that part of your spine curves sideways.

For most people this is picked up when they are a child and although you might be concerned that you could have prevented it from happening, this isn’t the case. Scoliosis isn’t caused carrying a heavy school bag, slouching or sleeping on your side. In fact, it’s not caused by anything you may (or may not) have done and we don’t actually know why it develops in some people rather than others.

In some cases, the sideways curve may be very pronounced and treatments such as a brace or surgery might be recommended by a scoliosis specialist. For lots of people, however, having a scoliosis doesn’t cause significant pain or health issues and once you have stopped growing it’s unlikely to get any worse.

How pilates exercises can help scoliosis

You can’t reverse the curve in your spine with pilates exercise but a targeted programme can teach you how to release tight areas of your spine, improve your awareness of alignment and strengthen the internal muscles that support and control your spine.

A good place to start is to learn how to tighten your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. In fact, this is the same for everyone (scoliosis or not) and here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Finding your pelvic floor

Rest position for practising pilates

Lie on your back with your knees bent and a slight curve under your lower back. Breathe in to prepare, breathe out slowly and tighten your pelvic floor muscles by imagining you are stopping yourself from passing wind.

Step 2: Finding your deep abdominal muscles

Forget about your pelvic floor for a moment and this time as you breathe out, tighten your deep abdominals by drawing your tummy muscle away from the line of your trousers slightly.

Step 3: Tighten your pelvic floor and deep tummy muscles together

Breathe in to prepare. As you breathe out, slowly tighten your pelvic floor and deep tummy muscles to the halfway point between completely relaxed muscle and tightening them as hard as you can. Hold at this halfway point for three breaths. Repeat 8 times

Stretches for scoliosis

Cat/ Camel

Spinal mobility stretch for scoliosis

Kneel on all fours. Breathe out and tuck your tailbone under, curving your spine. Breathe in and hold. Breathe out and lift your tailbone, drawing your shoulders into the back of your body. Breathe in to hold. Repeat 10 times.

 Side stretch in kneeling

Side stretch for the spine

Kneel on all fours. Move your tailbone to the right and look back towards this side, stretching your side. Move your tailbone to the opposite side to stretch the other way. Repeat 5 times each side.

Tips: you can increase the stretch by moving your feet as well as your tailbone.

Strengthening exercises for scoliosis

Swimming level 1

Core strengthening exercise for scoliosis

Kneel on all fours. Tuck your tailbone under slightly and draw in your pelvic floor and lower abdominals. Breathe out to slide one foot along the floor away from you, without moving your back or pelvis. Breathe in to slide back again and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat 10 times each side.

 Single leg stand

Balance on one leg

Stand up and place your fingertips on the bony points at the front of your pelvis. Take your weight onto one leg, keeping these bones level and hold for 10 – 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Not all pilates exercises will be recommended and some actually may be uncomfortable, so it’s important to understand how to make your own individual adjustments if you are planning to go into a class.

A physiotherapist or pilates instructor specialising in clients with scoliosis will be able to write you a programme of ‘self-corrective’ exercises specifically designed for your particular type of curve.

Give us call if you have any questions.

The Pilatesfit Team!

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

An exercise to improve neck pain

A lot of patients tell me their neck and shoulders get really tight and knotted’… sound familiar?

It’s a really common complaint and you can spot the cause a mile away – poor upper body posture!

Rounding of the upper back with the shoulders rolling forward and chin poking out in front increases muscle activity in the neck and upper shoulder muscles. Over time strain accumulates in these muscles and sore spots develop.

Massage and other treatments like acupuncture can help to relieve your symptoms but this will only last for so long unless you work on your posture.

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Non-specific mechanical low back pain - Cambridge Physiotherapy advice and exercises

Clinical Pilates for low back pain

Non-specific mechanical low back pain - Cambridge Physiotherapy advice and exercises

There are many people who experience back pain which can’t be attributed to a particular structural injury or disease process even with a scan. The medical term for this type of back pain is ‘non-specific mechanical back pain’.

So what does this actually mean?


Your spine is wrapped in multiple layers of soft tissue (muscles, etendons, ligaments, fascia), so it’s not always possible to isolate a specific structure which is the cause of our pain. This doesn’t mean that your physio doesn’t know what is wrong with you and it can still be treated.


Your lower back pain comes on, after or during doing, certain movements or combinations of movements. It’s generally consistent, predicatable and may get worse during the day or during the course of a working week.

Low back pain

Pain which is localised to your lower back and doesn’t spread into one or both of your legs. There should be no changes in your bladder or bowel habits, loss of sensation around your groin, back passage or buttocks or feeling that your can’t control your legs in the usual way (if you experience any of these symptoms urgent medical advice is recommended).

What does it mean to be told you have ‘acute’ or ‘chronic’ non-specific low back pain?

Different types of pain can be classified according to the length of time you have been experiencing symptoms.

Acute pain means that you have had symptoms for up to a couple of weeks and it often triggers protective muscle spasm, so you might have difficulty moving properly during this phase as well as being in pain.

Following on from the acute phase, when the protective muscle spasm starts to settle you will move into the sub-actute phase of healing. You may still experience pain which restricts you from doing some of your usual activites but you might be starting to feel like you can move a bit more easily again.

If you have been in pain for 3 months or more, this would be called chronic or persistent pain. It’s associated with changes in the normal nervous system response, meaning that although some healing has been completed your nervous system continues to respond to information coming from your back as if there has been a recent injury.

What exercises are recommended for non-specific mechanical low back pain?

Clinical Pilates exercises are often recommended for back pain.

This programme will help relieve pain in the majority of back conditions and improve mobility. You’ll gradually be able to move more freely as you move through the acute phase into the sub acute phase, so remember to move within a comfortable range and don’t push into sharp or persistent pain:

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Stress and anxiety - improve soft tissue healing

Reduce stress and improve soft tissue healing

Stress and anxiety - improve healing and reduce pain

Did you know that being mentally ‘stressed’ has an impact both on your experience of pain and your capacity to heal from an injury?

You might remember school biology lessons and the ‘fight or flight’ response we all have  when we encounter a threatening or stressful experience. This is an evolutionary chemical reponse in your body – to improve your chances of survival – where resources are diverted to essential systems such as your senses, hearing, heart, lungs and muscles, giving you the ability to either fight or flee depending on the circumstances.

However, we have not evolved much physically in the brief time we have been on earth, so our chemical processes don’t know that the reason we are now stressed is because of a deadline at work or a relationship break-up. We just go through the same experience as being faced with a life-threatening situation and because we rarely fight or run away at work, the chemicals in our system aren’t broken down by immediate physical activity, so the process doesn’t switch off quickly the way it is supposed to.

A prolonged fight or flight response increases all nervous system activity, including pain signals (like turning up the volume on a radio). Combine that with the effects of increased muscle tension and a minor pain condition can cause major levels of pain, if you are stressed or anxious.

A prolonged response also shuts down all non-essential systems, like digestion. So we don’t heal as quickly because we don’t absorb and break down the nutrients from our food the way we should.

So to reduce pain and improve your healing capacity, we must take practical steps to manage the physical responses of stress (if those things triggering stress can’t be eliminated). Here are some of our practical tips to help:

  • Sleep – improved sleep quality and quantity helps to reduce stress hormones. Our recent blog post with tips for improving sleep strategies can be read here.
  • Diet – this doesn’t mean going on a diet but it means improving the quality of your food. Poor food quality can be stressful for your digestive system. Click here for ways to improve your nutrition and help with soft tissue healing.
  • Exercise – there is extensive research that suggests that exercise will reduce the chronic stress hormones your body produces. Exercise also helps to improve your sleep and mood. Click here for a free 7-day trial of our online Pilates.
  • Remedial massage – a deep tissue massage will help lower your blood pressure, your heart rate and stress hormone levels. Please contact us for further information if you are local, our experienced remedial massage therapists will be able to look after you.
  • Meditation and mindfulness

Don’t hesitate to contact us for any other advice,

The Pilatesfit Team

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Balance exercises

Pilates for Parkinson’s Disease

Stress and anxiety - improve healing and reduce pain

It’s been over 200 years since James Parkinson wrote ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’, which is considered the first medical documentation of a condition affecting the brain that we now call Parkinson’s Disease.

For most people the cause is unknown (idiopathic Parkinson’s) but it often affects one side of the body first and it’s more common in men than women.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

There are four main symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease including:

  1. Bradykinisia – which means slowness in movement
  2. Rigid muscles
  3. Poor posture and balance
  4. Resting tremor (uncontrolled muscle movement) – this is usually in one arm but not everyone will have this symptoms. In fact up to 30% of people with Parkinson’s will not have a tremor

How is Parkinson’s Disease treated?

Medication and targeted exercise programmes are the mainstays of treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

Here our some of our favourite exercises to improve posture, balance and strength:

Leg lifts with or without support

Strengthening exercises for the buttocks

Squeeze your buttock muscles and lift one leg out behind you, keeping your knee straight and your body upright. Repeat 10 times each side.

Outer hip strengthening exercise

Balance on one leg and lift your other leg out to the side, keeping your leg straight. Repeat 10 times each side

Balance work with or without support

Balance exercises

Hold on for support if you need to and rock your weight forwards into the balls of your feet and backwards towards your heels. To make it slightly harder you can go up onto tip toes at the front of the movement and lift your toes at the back. Repeat 15 times.

Upper back strengthening

Upper back exercise

Lie on your front with your hands by the side of your head and elbows bent. Draw your shoulder blades down your back and follow the movement with your upper body and head, so that your forehead hovers just up off the floor. Try not to push with your arms or hands to work your upper back muscles. Repeat 15 times.

Shoulder stretch with a resistance band

Shoulder strengthening exercise

Hold an elastic resistance band between both hands. Slide your shoulder blades down your back as you raise your hands overhead. Breathe in to prepare. Breathe our to bend your elbows and pull on the band. Breathe in to raise your hands again. Repeat 10 times.

With Parkinson’s, the best outcomes are achieved by those who start exercising early on, when they are first diagnosed.  It’s also well known that the symptoms of Parkinson’s are very individual, so no two people are alike. An experienced physiotherapist will be able to identify the main issues and prescribe a tailored exercise programme specific to stage of your condition and your symptoms.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!

The Pilatesfit Teamm.

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Perfect Your Plank

Plank exercises are a great way to work on your core and glutes and many people love doing them because you can feel these muscles working very hard, very quickly. However, it’s easy to do a plank incorrectly which can cause an injury and at the very least means you won’t get the maximum benefit.

Issues with technique range from the way you enter and exit the plank position to where you place your feet and hands and the way you hold your body when you are in a plank.

Here’s our ‘how to’ guide for perfecting your plank:

Start position

Start on all fours with your knees underneath your hips and your hands the same width as your shoulders. Walk your hands forward a pace in front of your shoulders. Tuck your toes underneath.


Hover your knees just up off the floor so that you are balancing on hands and toes, your shins should be parallel to the floor. Push forwards, straightening your legs until your shoulders are directly over your hands and your body is in a straight line.

Perfect your position

The most common mistake we see is when people bend at the hips so that their bottom is sticking up into the air. So you might need to lower your hips slightly, tuck your tailbone under and clench your buttocks to perfect your position.

Make sure elbows are slightly relaxed and not locked fully straight and keep your chin gently tucked in so that your head carries on the straight line of your body.

To move back out of the plank don’t be tempted to collapse down onto the floor. Instead, reverse the initial action by bending your knees again until they are under your hips and lowering them down.

Plank challenge

If you want a bit more of a challenge try lifting one of your legs off the floor by a few inches while you are in a plank. Keep your knees straight and make sure that your pelvis stays level.

Have fun and don’t hestitate to get in touch if you need to.

The Pilatesfit Team!

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.