Life & Living

Health & Fitness

Chantel Heath

INSTAGRAM: @chantelheathfitness

I’m a 41 year old mother of two & Personal Fitness coach. I work one to one, in person & online with clients aged 18-80. My specialisms include pre & postnatal training, cancer rehab, pilates, & GP exercise referrals. I run fitness classes online and in person in the Suffolk Coastal area. I am also a Mental Health First aider.

Pilates, 2023’s big fitness trend?

If you watch This Morning, you may have heard that Pilates is expected to be the biggest fitness trend of 2023. But what exactly is it?

The origins of pilates go back over 100 years, so it’s hardly new! Joseph Pilates began developing his method originally called ‘Contrology’ as a teenager in the late 19th century to help cure himself of the many physical ailments he suffered as a child such as rickets and rheumatic fever. Fast forward a few years and he was working with doctors, using his methods to rehabilitate disabled and injured residents in the WW1 internment camps.

By the mid 1920s he had set up a movement studio in New York where his methods quickly became popular among dancers to help with cross training, injury prevention and even rehabilitation.

In simple terms pilates exercises are intended to promote strength, stability, mobility and better posture by focusing on muscular effort that stems from the core muscles (the muscles surrounding the torso).

Although pilates exercises will cover all areas of the body, there will usually be an emphasis on the muscles of the hips, back, pelvic floor, abdominals and glutes. Pilates will often be performed on a mat, but can also utilise various equipment such as bands, mini balls and reformer machines.

Some of the main principles of Pilates include:


This means bringing awareness to the area of your body between the lower ribs and pubic bone, as this central region is the core of all pilates exercises.


To get the maximum benefit from each exercise, you must focus with your full attention.


For muscular control your movements should be deliberate with conscious control. We use intention, not momentum.


Maintaining awareness helps to make each movement precise. This means focusing on correct alignment and positioning of each body part.


Many of the pilates exercises will coordinate movement with the breath, as this is an integral part of engaging the core muscles and controlling the movements.


In pilates we aim to perform the exercises in a flowing, fluid motion.

Is it the same thing as Yoga?

The short answer is no. While some of the movements and exercises may look similar, that’s where the similarities end. Generally speaking, yoga is a much more holistic approach, focusing on connecting universal consciousness and human consciousness through the physical practice of yoga which alongside the actual exercises may include meditations, chanting and deep breathing practises to promote relaxation. There are many different types of yoga though, and not all will include the spiritual and meditiative element.

Pilates on the other hand, is purely a physical fitness system. It is based around Joseph pilates original 34 mat based exercises and uses precise movements along with the principles mentioned above to increase overall strength, mobility and stability.

Why should I do it?

Relief from aches and pains.

Strengthening the muscles of the core helps to improve posture. This in turn can then help to relieve some of the muscular tension that can build up throughout the day in our backs, legs, and shoulders when our posture is not as good as it could be!

Injury prevention.

Because pilates helps to build strength, as well as increasing mobility and stability it’s a great addition to any workout routine. If you’re a regular exerciser already it can help to ward off potential overuse injuries that can occur from repetitive exercises such as running or cycling. If you’re someone just looking to improve your overall health, it’s a great way to strengthen your whole body.

All you need is a mat!

Although there are classes that use all kinds of equipment such as reformer machines, all you need to
get started is a comfy mat. While you can book yourself onto a class locally, there are literally thousands of pilates classes available online to suit all levels and abilities.

Can anyone do it?

I work with clients who use wheelchairs, have had hip/knee replacements, are unable to get down onto the mat, are suffering with spinal injuries, the list goes on! The point is pilates is so adaptable. The main principles of centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow can be applied in all sorts of positions. If you are unable to work from the traditional mat based position, you can even do pilates standing or sitting on a chair. There are modifications available for each exercise to suit individual abilities and requirements.