Pilates Physiotherapy Service, Hoys Physio Coffs HarbourPilates was first started in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, who formulated a method of strengthening certain muscle groups in different positions and with different resistances. Pilates has evolved into a comprehensive method of exercise focused on correct muscle activation patterns, correct posture and appropriate breathing. It is used as a rehabilitation tool to assist and prevent injuries and can be performed on the floor (mat-work) or using specialised Pilates equipment.

Individual Assessment

The individual session is for all people who are wanting to start in either the matwork or equipment classes who haven’t participated in any previous Pilates with a Physiotherapist or haven’t seen one of our Physiotherapist recently to be taught the basic principles of Pilates.

If you have participated in our BounceBack course or core stability classes you can start the matwork classes without an individual assessment.

The individual session is a 30-minute assessment with Suzie Ammann, one of our Physiotherapist’s who has been trained by the Pilates Institue of Queensland. This includes an assessment of your lower back and any injury that is recent or relevant to the Pilates classes. During the session, you will learn the importance of appropriate posture and how to find the neutral position of your spine as well as breathing properly while maintaining that position.

You will also learn about the muscles that are important in Pilates including the transverse abdominals, pelvic floor, gluteal and lower trapezius muscles and how to correctly activate them. Having this extra information will increase your knowledge of the principles of Pilates and allow you to better understand why we do certain movements during the classes. All this information is summarised in a handout and you will be started on some basic exercises which will be further built on in the classes. Part of the individual session is identifying your goals for Pilates so that even though it is a group setting, you own personal goals are the focus.

Matwork Classes

A matwork class is a 60-minute class that incorporates muscle activation and strengthening combined with appropriate breathing and stretching on the ground. The exercises vary from week to week with the ultimate goal of progressing the exercises as you become stronger and improve your ability to perform the movements correctly.

During the class varying positions will be used, including standing, lying on your back, tummy, side and kneeling in order to strengthen muscles in different positions and use gravity to our advantage. If any particular position is uncomfortable or painful you will be provided with an alternative, pain-free position.

Additional equipment including swiss balls, resistance bands, chi balls and magic circles maybe used to progress certain exercises and add complexity. The classes are limited to 6 people so that the instructors can monitor each person and correct any positional or activation faults.

After your initial assessment you will be placed into the appropriate level. The Matwork classes are divided into three different levels:


Most people will start in a beginner class which has a focus on technique and control. The beginner classes aim to ease you into the Pilates system in a way that won’t aggravate your injury or symptoms. Beginner classes incorporate the principles of Pilates and aim to build a basis of strength that can be build on in the higher levels. `


Intermediate classes are suitable for people who have had previous experience with Pilates or people who have started in beginners and have progressed into a more challenging class. Intermediate classes involve more repetitions, more strenuous positions and require a higher level of balance and coordination. This class is appropriate for people who have developed a good understanding of the Pilates principles and can demonstrate these principles in a faster pace class setting.


Advanced classes are appropriate for people with sound technique and are injury-free. This class is suitable for relatively fit people, athletes and heavy manual workers. The class is designed to be challenging however still maintains the core prinicples of Pilates.


These classes include the use of specialised Pilates Equipment including a reformer and trapeze table which will further challenge your deep core muscles and posture control in more positions then in a mat-work class. Pilates equipment uses the principles of Pilates combined with different resistances and slightly unstable positions to facilitate recruitment of the stabilising muscles in order to increase overall strength. The verstaility of the Pilates equipment, means these classes are suitable for everyone regardless of injury. The equipment is highly beneficial for those who struggle to get on and off the floor and thus aren’t appropriate for matwork classes.

Trapeze table (Cadillac)

Trapeze table or Cadillac- PILATES MASTER
Trapeze table or Cadillac. Photo from Pilates Supplies Australia.

A trapeze table  includes a firm table with a trapeze mechanism over it that allows the addition of springs with varying strengths to facilitate and progress exercises. It is used for general strengthening as part of a rehabilitation program as well as for advanced Pilates movements.


Pilates Reformer
Pilates Reformer

A Pilates reformer is made up of a sliding carriage that is suspended on a smooth gliding track within a rectangular frame. Different resistances can be added to the sliding carriage to target certain muscles groups for a more specialised rehabilation program. The reformer allows the stabilising core muscles to be challenged while also allowing the range of motion of your legs and arms.

Conditions Pilates is good for:

  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pelvic floor weakness and incontinence
  • Headaches
  • Upper and lower limb muscle and joint injuries
  • Post surgery
  • Generalised muscle weakness
  • Improving posture and balance

Benefits of Pilates

  • Improved spinal posture
  • Improved strength of postural and core muscles
  • Increased joint and muscle flexibility
  • Improved body awareness
  • Injury prevention
  • Heightened body awareness
  • Improved balance, coordination and circulation

Being experienced physiotherapists we have a depth of knowledge of pathology and treatment which we use in conjunction with the recent evidence -based research to formulate one of the most effective and safe exercise programs, in small groups.

Small groups ensure a safe environment with personal attention to allow modification and progression to suit individual needs.

An initial one on one assessment is undertaken to further ensure that you:

  •  understand the concepts of the program
  • the anatomy of the core musculature
  • be confident during the classes that you are contracting the core muscles appropriately; and
  • to identify your potential postural issues and movement dysfunctions.

This provides us with the information we require to analyse your movement thus ensuring an appropriate program is designed for you. The most significant issues identified will be reassessed at various stages of the program to provide you with feedback on your progress in achieving your identified program goals.

What does a Pilates Mat class involve?

The Mat class is an 8-week course of 45 minutes duration.  It involves a warm up, main exercise section and cool down. The exercises vary and progress each week over our 8-week term.  The exercises can include a variety of postural positions including standing, lying on your back, side, tummy and kneeling, in order to strengthen a wide range of important muscles groups.

We sometimes use additional small equipment including gym balls, foam rollers, resistance band and magic circles to progress your exercises, keep the sessions varied and maximise your benefit.

How many people are in each class?

There are a maximum of 6 people in the class so that you can have attention from your Physio trained Pilates instructor at an individual level. It will mean you will have minor adjustments made to master the form and we can also change exercises so that you can keep attending Pilates even if you are carrying an injury.

What are the main benefits of joining a mat class?

This class is a great introduction to Pilates and its many benefits include improving spinal mobility, core control, posture, balance and flexibility.   You will come away feeling stretched and as though you have activated muscles you never even knew existed!

Who is this class appropriate for?

This class is suitable for those that have a good understanding of the basic principles of Pilates and can confidently activate their deep core.  It is designed as an intermediate level class to challenge people in various postures, working both the upper and lower body, along with the core.

What does this class involve?

The Equipment class is designed with a 5 minutes group warm up followed by a 7-station circuit format – participants will get to use the Reformer, Trapeze Table, Wunda Chair, Barrell, Bosu and small equipment such as the Magic Circle and Foam Roller.  At the completion of the circuit there is another group cool down – all led and directed by your Physiotherapist & Pilates Clinician.

What are the main benefits of joining a Pilates equipment class?

The Equipment class is perfect for those wishing to improve spinal and general flexibility, balance, posture, (in both sitting and standing), and also to progressively build their deep core strength.  As you are working on various equipment, your posture and control is challenged constantly.  A great follow up from the Mat class, and one that participants can partake in despite injury.

The Clinical Reformer is probably the most well-known piece of Pilates equipment. It allows the full range of exercises to be performed from the floor or upon the reformer. It uses different spring resistances to make the exercises vary from beginner to advanced level. The Long Box, Bar, Jumpboard and straps can be utilised also to make things easier or tougher as well as varying the spring resistance.

The Fitness Reformer is similar to our existing Clinical Reformers but offers a safer option for standing exercises done on the lower lying reformer. With a sturdy adjustable bar and colour-coded springs it makes adjustments quick and simple.

The Trapeze Table is what others may call the Cadillac and is where the circus comes to Pilates! Instead of flying high, it uses swinging bars to guide your movement in a controlled fashion with a range of springs. Whether you are just starting out or a Pilates enthusiast, we can arrange this wonderful treatment tool to give you a controlled, challenging, yet pain-free workout.

All Pilates sessions are run by Physiotherapists and incorporate the use of the Reformer, Trapeze, Wunda-Chair and Barrel. Each client receives a programme best suited to their prior exercise or experience making our Pilates sessions suitable for those recovering from injury or just wanting to add to their exercise programme.

Physiotherapists study muscle and joint anatomy and physiology, therefore they have the expertise required to effectively prescribe Pilates for people with and without pain or injury. Pilates with a Physiotherapist improves core stability to help manage and prevent low back and neck pain, enhances postural control, body awareness and flexibility, helps to reduce the risk of pain or re-injury and strengthens and tones the muscles. Pilates is also a great way to exercise before and after pregnancy.

Regardless of whether you are recovering from spinal surgery or trying to build better stability to improve your running, your exercise is tailored, graduated and reassessed to ensure you reach your goals

We offer a choice of private sessions and group sessions, all conveniently located at our Sawtell and Jetty practices.

Pilates with a Physiotherapist entitles you to claim your sessions under “Physiotherapy” and “supervised group classes” with your private health fund.

You can benefit from the immediate private health insurance refund using our HICAPS machine.

Our Pilates Equipment classes will always remain small (up to 4 people) to offer a personalised service and tailored programme to meet your needs.

Pilates in the true sense, is an exercise practice formulated by Joseph Pilates in the 1920′s. These days, “Pilates” is the general term used to cover a broad range of core control exercises that are performed not only on specialised apparatus but also on the floor. The aim is to improve mobility, flexibility and strength so the body can perform more efficiently. It is also used as a rehabilitation tool to treat many common injuries such as chronic low back pain and neck pain.

Some common symptoms of people who suffer from poor “core stability” include:

  • Recurrent, niggling injuries. Especially on the same side of the body
  • Recurrent low back pain
  • Pains that appear to come out of nowhere or after doing very little
  • Tightness and pain through the neck and upper back with prolonged sitting. Eg working long hours at a computer.
  • Injuries that appear with an increased training load.
  • Incontinence (poor bladder control)

If you are one of these people, it may be worth getting it checked out by a physiotherapist

YES! Pilates is suitable for both men and women of all ages and all abilities.

If you choose to do a studio classes, the program is specifically designed to meet your needs and address your concerns and or injury/s. These programs also take into account any precautions that may need to be considered for you to safely exercise. So, no matter what your injuries are, there is always something you can do.

Remember that if you have health problems (especially heart problems), it is important to seek advise from your Doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

Some of the benefits of pilates training include:

  • Strengthening deep postural muscles to help stabilise the spine
  • Improvement of postural symmetry, thus decreasing wear and tear resulting from uneven stresses on the intervertebral joints and discs.
  • Increased flexibility, which can improve joint range of motion
  • Functional retraining to promote integration of core stabilisation with extremity movement
  • Improved body awareness (Bernado, 2007)
  • Improved quality of life (Cruz-Ferreira et al.,2011)
  • Decrease falls risk
  • Functional rehabilitation for return to work/ sport

Initial Consultation (45 minutes; individual)

On your first visit to the clinic, you will be introduced to your clinical pilates instructor. At Hoys Physiotherapy, all our instructors are accredited physiotherapists. We have a thorough understanding of musculoskeletal injury treatment through pilates& we will work directly with you to develop an optimal program to get you functioning to the best of your ability.

Your first pilates session will include the following:

  • Discussion of previous injuries
  • Discussion of functional limitations
  • Objective assessment of joint range of motion & functional activities
  • Muscle strength assessment
  • Core muscle assessment
  • Introduction to basic pilates exercises& breathing techniques
  • Reassessment of functional activity after performance of pilates exercises
  • Goal setting
  • Establishing a bias direction & side for further programming

Subsequent Pilates Sessions (45 minutes; max. 3 people per session)

After a treatment bias has been selected, your physiotherapist will work through your program with you over the duration of the session. The focus of these sessions is quality of movement & movement dissociation. Technique will be corrected as required so you obtain maximal benefit out of your sessions. Each session will consist of matwork as well as equipment-based exercises on the reformer, trapeze table & barrel. Upon completion of your session, you may also be given some exercises to practice at home.


Every 4-6 weeks, your physiotherapist will reassess your functional limitations & objective outcome measures in order to monitor your progress. You & your physiotherapist may also set new goals to keep you motivated.


What should I wear?

You should wear something you feel comfortable exercising in (eg. leggings/shorts & a T-shirt). You should also wear a pair of socks. We sell non-slip pilates socks at reception.

What should I bring?

You will need to bring a towel & a water bottle. It may also be helpful to bring any recent scan results to your initial consultation.

Do I need previous pilates experience to participate?

Not at all! The benefit of our individually-tailored pilates programs is that we can target your specific program to your experience & fitness level.

How many times a week should I come?

That is up to you. Somewhere between 1-3 times per week is standard.

How much does a session cost?

An initial pilates session costs $89 & subsequent 1on 1 session cost $87, or group classes cost $20. You may also claim your pilates sessions through your private health insurance.

Can I still participate if I have a current injury?

That depends on what type of injury you have sustained. As your initial pilates consultation is individual, your physiotherapist will assess your suitability & if needs be, certain exercises or patterns of movement can be avoided to prevent onset of pain.

Do I need an individual assessment or can I just start the classes?

You can start in the matwork classes without an assessment if you:

  • Have previously completed BouceBack with us
  • Have previously attended Pilates with a Physiotherapist
  • Have seen one of our Physiotherapists recently, and they have taught you the basic Principles of Pilates