Archive for category Pilates

Meet Pilates Instructor, Kayla Douglas

Hailing from WA with a background in contemporary dance, Kayla Douglas is the freshest face at The Alignment Studio. Introduced to Pilates after a shoulder injury derailed her dancing in 2018, she is a passionate proponent of the method – both for pre- and rehabilitation – obtaining her teaching qualifications in 2020.

Inspired by a range of movement modalities, with a part-time role as a choreographer, Kayla brings a unique perspective to Pilates teaching. Read on to learn more about her instructing journey and how she lets her hair down when off the Reformer.


Yes! Training to become a professional dancer from a young age meant that taking care of my body was (and still is) imperative for longevity in my career.


Two weeks out from my first professional dance performance, I ended up with a SLAP tear in my left shoulder, which meant I was unable to perform. It was devastating.

I was introduced to Pilates through my rehabilitation journey. I came out the other side stronger and way more attuned to my body than I had ever felt before. I was eager to become a Pilates instructor to help others alleviate their pain and discomfort and guide them to discover their full movement potential.


Getting to know my clients. I find great fulfilment in witnessing my clients’ journeys – watching their confidence grow as they cultivate a sense of security and empowerment within their own bodies.


I draw inspiration from a diverse range of movement modalities and somatic practices. My approach is enriched by my background in contemporary dance, with the integration of elements from Kinstretch, Franklin Method, Yoga, TRE, and so on.

I have no expectations for a client when they walk into the studio. I’m here to meet their body where it is today and guide them through their personal journey.


That it’s only for young, fit women. The amazing thing about the Pilates method and the equipment Joseph Pilates created is that it can be accessible to anyone. Through the use of springs and various small equipment, exercises can be adapted to provide support or intensify the challenge, rendering them customisable to each individual’s needs.


My two favourite pieces of Pilates equipment are a match made in heaven. I use the doublar recharge balls to release tension in the muscles adjacent to my spine and then the spine corrector to facilitate fluid articulation between each vertebra. As Joseph Pilates once said, “You are only as young as your spine is flexible.”


Variety, compassion, and consistency. Each day, I aim to engage in some form of movement. Some days, that looks like a professional dance class or tackling the more advanced Pilates repertoire. And, other days, it might look like taking a walk while listening to a podcast or doing release work and stretching.

I prioritise listening to my body’s cues and responding accordingly, adapting my routine to meet its changing needs. 


Outside of teaching, I love climbing, cheap Mondays at Cinema Nova followed by a little treat next door at Brunetti, sharing a meal and playing board games with friends, listening to records and engaging with live performances and music.


At the end of the day, I turn to Yin Yoga to help me unwind and prepare for restorative sleep. The postures, breath work, and humming mantras help to tone the Vagus Nerve, an important regulator of the ‘rest and digest’ response. Of course, cuddling with my cats Maurice and Maeve also helps me to relax, too.


Tucked away in a corner of my brain is a whole lot of knowledge about films. I am practically IMDb.

Book an appointment with Kayla online, or call reception on 9650 2220.

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What Is Reformer Pilates? Everything You Need to Know

While fitness trends come and go, Reformer Pilates is here to stay. A favourite with celebs like Kate Hudson and Miranda Kerr, Reformer Pilates is hailed for its core-strengthening, muscle-lengthening benefits. But it’s about far more than that!

A tool in the arsenal of many professional athletes and dancers, Reformer Pilates is also an incredible practice to rehabilitate the body and tackle niggling, recurring injuries. With the guidance of a skilled instructor (and medical clearance), it can even help you prepare for and recover from childbirth.

Wondering where to sign up? Here’s everything you need to know about Reformer Pilates before getting started.


Reformer Pilates is a Pilates method that uses an apparatus known as the Pilates Reformer. While the equipment might look odd at first (and the name might sound a little daunting), don’t be put off! Beloved by Pilates devotees, the Reformer is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment, whether you’re rehabbing an injury or wanting a head-to-toe workout.


An image of pilates reformer machines in melbourne.

Invented by the German Pilates Method founder, Joseph Pilates, in the 1920s, the Reformer machine was – true to its name – built to ‘reform’ the body. This piece of specialist equipment consists of a bed-like frame with a sliding platform or carriage and a system of springs, pulleys and ropes. The carriage moves on wheels back and forth within the frame, with the adjustable springs at the foot of the bed creating varying levels of resistance.


Where do we start? Safe and low impact, Reformer exercises are beloved for their ability to improve core stability and muscle tone – without adding bulk.

Regular use of a Reformer machine improves posture, flexibility, motor control, range of motion, muscular imbalances, balance, endurance and concentric and eccentric muscle control. While helping prevent injury and assisting with pain management.

It improves spinal mobility and trunk stability and strengthens the core and pelvic floor. The core activation and control required also help to improve body awareness, as Pilates breathing helps to down-regulate the central nervous system and help alleviate stress.


Reformer Pilates is performed on the Reformer machine while a Mat Pilates class takes place on – you guessed it – a mat. In Mat Pilates, you use your weight for resistance, whereas on the Reformer bed, this is achieved via the pulleys and weighted spring system. By changing the springs, the level of tension can easily be altered for different exercises and modifications made for different bodies.

While both workouts are great, the Reformer offers added versatility for targeting muscle groups. From legs-in-straps to jackrabbits and mermaids, the machine facilitates a greater number of exercise combinations and body positions. In a typical class, you can expect to complete a series of exercises seated, on your back, on each side, kneeling, on your stomach (e.g. on a Pilates box atop the Reformer), on your toes and flat-footed.

However, the machine can also be used within a rehabilitation setting in Clinical Pilates sessions, with exercises tailored to your injury or movement inefficiencies.


An image of two women doing pilates in melbourne.

If you want a complete workout that will strengthen and tone from top to toe and improve your posture, fitness and flexibility, Reformer Pilates is for you.

Taught in the correct environment by a qualified Pilates teacher, Reformer Pilates can benefit all bodies. Low impact and ideal for both injury rehabilitation and prehab, it helps individuals of all ages and physical fitness levels enjoy a fun, challenging and rewarding movement practice.

Depending on the exercise, the moving carriage and springs can provide both assistance and resistance. Because of this versatility, Pilates Reformer machines can equally facilitate a novice or advanced practitioner.


Absolutely! This style of Pilates is suitable for inexperienced and advanced students alike. Your studio may offer a dedicated beginners course to introduce you to the apparatus, exercises and Pilates principles like neutral spine, core activation and breathwork.

But if not, your teacher can tailor exercises to meet different fitness goals and skill levels and provide specific exercises to assist with injury rehabilitation.


Reformer exercises educate the whole body to work integratively. They’re great at both strengthening the larger muscle groups (e.g. triceps) and challenging smaller, often under-utilised stabilising muscles (e.g. deep core muscles).


By adjusting the springs, you can make it more or less difficult to move the carriage. So, lower resistance is easier, right? Well, yes and no. Less spring tension will make the carriage move more freely, but your stabilising muscles will get a stronger workout.


When getting started, it’s a good idea to start with 1-2 sessions a week as your body adjusts – and you learn to activate muscles you never even knew you had! Once you’re more familiar, 2-3 sessions are generally recommended to achieve optimal results.


An image of a studio of reformer pilates melbourne cbd where two women are doing reformer pilates.

There is a wide range of moves and stretches that can be customised to accommodate various fitness levels and goals. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Footwork: Footwork involves sliding the carriage back and forth using the feet while maintaining proper alignment. It helps warm up the body and engages the lower body muscles.
  • Leg Circles: Leg circles target the hip flexors and challenge core stability. Participants perform controlled circles with one or both legs while lying on the carriage.
  • Hundreds: This classic Pilates move involves rhythmic breathing and pulsing movements of the arms while holding the legs at different angles, engaging the core and improving circulation.
  • Rowing Series: Using straps and handles, participants simulate rowing motions. This exercise targets the upper body, including the back, shoulders, and arms.
  • Bridge: Similar to the yoga pose, participants lift their hips off the carriage while engaging the glutes and hamstrings. This exercise strengthens the posterior chain and improves hip mobility.
  • Teaser: A challenging exercise that involves lying on the back, extending the legs, and lifting the upper body into a V-shape. Teaser engages the core, hip flexors, and lower back muscles.
  • Mermaid: The mermaid involves sitting sideways in the z-sit position with one hip against the shoulder rest, lengthening one arm overhead and laterally flexing the spine. This graceful move enhances spinal flexibility and strengthens the oblique muscles.


If you’re interested in trying Reformer Pilates, start by finding a qualified teacher. This type of workout involves specific techniques and adjustments that are best learned under the guidance of a certified instructor. So look for a reputable Pilates studio, gym or fitness centre with Reformer classes on the schedule.

Studios and physiotherapy clinics are often best as the classes are generally smaller (ours have a maximum of four students), with more personalised attention. And in some studios, classes may even be taught by physios.

Keep an eye out for beginner or introductory classes as well. These classes typically focus on fundamental exercises and proper alignment and are great for getting you used to the apparatus. Make sure you mention any injuries, medical conditions, or physical limitations so your teacher can support you and provide modifications to ensure a safe and effective workout.


Provided you’re training with a certified Pilates instructor, Reformer Pilates can support your recovery. The key is to always inform your teacher, follow their instructions and make modifications as needed. It’s also important to stop if you are in pain or something does not feel right – you’re the best judge of your own body’s limits.

Pilates sessions are considered safe during certain phases of pregnancy and as part of your post-natal care. However, you must seek clearance from your doctor and inform your teacher so adjustments can be made during the class.


Performed on a moving Reformer bed, Reformer Pilates is a safe, challenging and versatile workout that can be adapted to suit most individuals’ goals and physical condition. With a distinctive combination of controlled movements, concentration and mindful breathing, it’s your go-to for improved posture, balance and core strength. And it can even help you prevent future injuries and promote a sense of calm.

Although the first steps might seem challenging, the benefits – from greater muscle endurance to decreased stress – are significant. And with the support of a qualified teacher and a commitment to regular sessions, you’ll be well on your way to reaping the rewards.

Follow the link to book a Melbourne CBD Pilates class.

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Meet Pilates Instructor and Physio, Nursah Dikmen

Born in Türkiye, physiotherapist Nursah Dikmen is the latest addition to The Alignment Studio. Arriving in a festive Melbourne on Christmas Day, Nursah started by limbering up clients as a Pilates and corporate yoga instructor before joining our team of physios after obtaining her local registration.

Previously running her own practice, Nursah takes a holistic treatment approach, with complementary training in a range of movement disciplines including Pilates and yoga. Experienced in treating musculoskeletal injuries, she has a special interest in pelvic floor rehabilitation and sexual health therapy and will bring a breadth of knowledge in these areas to the Studio.

To learn about Nursah’s path into physiotherapy, her secret talent and what to expect in her clinical Pilates classes, read on.

Why did you decide to become a physio?

Since I was a child, I’ve always had an innate sense that I should pursue a career in healthcare, and I was always so keen to understand the stretchiness and movement capacities of the human body. During my final year of high school, I decided to pursue studies in physiotherapy as the anatomy lessons in biology captivated me.

And why did you choose to be a Pilates instructor, as well?

Since human nature is biopsychosocial, one of the most important things for me throughout my working life has been the holistic approach. Combining manual therapy with clinical Pilates has given me great results with my patients.

How long have you been interested in movement?

I was only 6 years old when I first realised how stretchable my body was. I could easily do moves that most of my friends weren’t able to do, which made me happy as a child. I started to do ballet when I was 7, and to do yoga at the age of 14 which enabled me to maintain the same level of stretchiness in my body till my adult years.

When did you move to Melbourne?

I arrived on Christmas Day 2022 and couldn’t have picked a more vibrant time to move to the city! The streets were bustling with life, illuminated by an array of sparkling lights.

What excites you about working at TAS?

Being in a beautiful clinic surrounded by highly qualified and incredibly helpful colleagues, as well as kind and appreciative clients. Being able to walk to my favourite restaurants and coffee shops in the CBD is also a bonus!

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I lose track of time when I’m in the clinic working with my patients and I consider myself extremely lucky to have found that passion in life.

Do you have special areas of interest in physiotherapy?

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy and its connections to the musculoskeletal system, the diaphragm, internal organs and even the cranium. No system in the body ever works alone, never gets injured alone and never heals alone. Therefore, the best approach for any kind of chronic pain is to observe the body closely as a whole.

What’s the most common misconception about Pilates?

That you have to exercise fast in order to gain muscle mass/lose weight. The seemingly effortless moves are often the most challenging as they require lots of control, leading to a slow burn!

What’s unique about your teaching style?

When designing Pilates flows, I aim to add new exercises that challenge both the body and mind. I particularly enjoy incorporating twists into moves because, when combined with proper breathing techniques, this massages the internal organs. This creates a holistic exercise experience that benefits both the physical and mental aspects of the body.

Do you have a favourite move on the Reformer?

If I had to pick, I would say ‘Skater’. I particularly enjoy moves that focus on balance, core activation and mobility at the same time.

My approach to wellness includes…

Having fun and living in the present moment in whatever you are doing! Above all, pay attention to what your body is telling you.

What do you love doing in your spare time?

I love preparing gluten-free desserts using nourishing ingredients. It’s even better when I can share this experience with a friend over a cup of coffee. This is a great way for me to unwind and relax after a long day. Besides eating, playing tennis.

My secret talent is…

Playing the violin. It took me a while to build up the patience to get through the nasty sounds at the beginning, but violin is something that I lose myself in now.

Book an appointment with Nursah online, or call reception on 9650 2220.

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8 Common Pilates Myths – Busted

We hear a lot of Pilates myths at our Melbourne physiotherapy and Pilates clinic. From thinking Pilates is yoga minus the meditation (it’s not), to assuming it’s not much of a workout (wait ‘til you try it!), many people seem to have the wrong idea.

So, to sort the Pilates fact from fiction, our highly skilled instructors have taken time to break down some common misconceptions. Here are 8 Pilates myths, and the real truth behind them.

1. Pilates is just for women

The suitability and benefits of Pilates is not biased towards women. The Pilates Method was originally created by Joseph Pilates – a gymnast, boxer and a military trainer who had a ‘strong’ physique even towards his later years.  Originally a more male-centred practice, Pilates became an integral part of conditioning for dancers. This brought a surge of a greater ratio of female instructors, which changed the modern perception of the practice. However, this is evolving – Pilates is now incorporated in a lot of rehabilitation and injury prevention programs for elite athletes. Recently, Times Magazine featured an article listing many male celebrities and athletes who have incorporated Pilates into their lives. Chris

2. Pilates is easy

One of the most common Pilates myths is that it’s easy, or ‘just stretching’. Pilates, when done with correct technique, can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I danced for 10 years and still find Teaser on the Reformer harder than a lot of my ballet moves! Luisa

3. Pilates isn’t a ‘real’ workout

Pilates is indeed a real work out. You are working out every muscle in your body including the deepest muscles that often get neglected in a ‘gym’ work out. It’s not always the most obviously hard looking exercises that are the most challenging, and a tiny adjustment can make a huge difference by increasing the challenge of the movement. Luisa

4. Pilates is only for rehab

Another Pilates myth that persists is that the movement practice is only for rehabbing injuries. Not true. Pilates is a completely adaptable practice based on the needs and goals a person presents with that day. Utilising a variety of equipment, a movement/exercise can be challenged accordingly with spring resistance, playing with base of support/balance, orientation relative to gravity, coordination, etc. This is why Pilates is part of an elite athlete’s practice, even when they are out of an injured state. Chris

5. Pilates is the fast-track to a 6-pack

Many people have heard that Pilates gives you a stronger core – which it will – but this doesn’t just mean giving you a flashy 6-pack. If you come to class expecting a 6-pack in a few sessions, you’ll probably be disappointed. However, what you will achieve with Pilates is improved alignment and organisation of your ribs and pelvis, greater pelvic stability and therefore improved posture.

All of this means that the parts of your deep core – which includes your transverse abdominals, pelvic floor, internal obliques, multitudes and diaphragm – will be able to do their job more effectively. Not only do these deep core muscles work like a corset to draw your waist in and give you a flat stomach, they’re the most important muscles for reducing most back pain and other postural complaints.

As for those rock-hard abs? Pilates can definitely play a part by strengthening your entire core, including your deep core as well as your 6-pack! Why work only one muscle group when you can work a whole bundle at once. Luisa

6. Reformer Pilates is harder than mat

Both Reformer and Mat Pilates can be equally challenging. With Mat you don’t have the feedback of the Reformer or the resistance of the springs to work with or against which can actually make the class more challenging for some. For instance, hypermobile bodies may benefit more from the feedback given by the Reformer. With Mat Pilates, you are only working with your own body weight and gravity which may be more challenging for clients who struggle with their proprioception (knowing where their body is in space).

The benefit of Reformer Pilates is that each exercise can be adapted for the individual by increasing or reducing the tension on the springs or adjusting the footbar and headrest height. Often clients who haven’t enjoyed Mat Pilates will find Reformer Pilates more enjoyable, but it is very much dependant on the individual. A mixture of both Mat and Reformer will challenge your body in a multitude of ways. Luisa

7. Pilates is the same as yoga

This is another common Pilates myth. Pilates and yoga do have similarities in their movement approach, particularly in drawing importance to a harmony of strength and mobility. However, as yoga is essentially practiced on a mat, it is not adaptable to many injuries and pathologies in the way that Pilates can facilitate with the use of equipment. Additionally, yoga is traditionally taught in large group classes with everyone performing the same movements (sometimes with a couple of modifications added for each movement).

On the other hand, Pilates, particularly in a Studio environment, allows for movements to be adaptable and tailored to a person’s short and long-term goals. Chris

8. You can’t injure yourself in Pilates

Though all instructors at The Alignment Studio have a full comprehensive certification, this unfortunately isn’t the case across the board as the Pilates Industry is not fully regulated. Therefore, an instructor who has only done a weekend course cannot be expected to safely modify movements based on certain injuries and pathologies. In addition, when a class is too large (eg. more than 8 students*), an instructor does not have the ability to tailor, modify and spot every single person in the room. Often, when Pilates is taught in a gym environment, the emphasis of a class leans more towards working hard and getting a ‘burn’ rather than facilitating a safe, informative and educational movement experience. Chris

To experience the benefits of Pilates for yourself, book an Express Reformer or Studio class at our Melbourne CBD Pilates studio.
* We intentionally keep our classes small (maximum of 4 for Reformer and 3 for Studio) to ensure a safe and supported practice.

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7 Things to Always Do in Reformer Pilates Class

Whether you’re just discovering the joys of Reformer Pilates or a long-time devotee, a new year is the perfect time to remind yourself of some of the dos and don’ts. As well as ensuring your back and neck are protected and keeping you safe from injury, these essential steps will enable you to get the most from your workout. Easy to do and simple to remember, here are seven things to always do in Reformer Pilates class!

1. Listen to your Pilates Instructor

While you might want to keep up with the rest of the class, it’s important to work within your own limits and at your own pace. Form is crucial in Pilates, so never substitute the perfect C-curve to race through reps. Not only will you miss the benefits of an exercise, you’ll put yourself at risk of unnecessary injury.

2. Work at your own Pace

While you might want to keep up with the rest of the class, it’s important to work within your own limits and at your own pace. Form is crucial in Pilates, so never substitute the perfect C-curve to race through reps. Not only will you miss the benefits of an exercise, you’ll put yourself at risk of unnecessary injury.

3. Use Your Breath

It’s easy to hold your breath when you’re concentrating or working hard, but remember that breathwork is a foundation of the Pilates method. The correct use of breath helps to initiate movement, prevent tension and engage the right muscles, while increasing your range of motion. In Reformer Pilates, you will therefore be instructed when – and how – to inhale and exhale, coordinating your breath with each exercise.

4. Tune into your Body

While challenging yourself and testing your physical limits is generally a good thing – and the key to progress – don’t ignore any pain or real discomfort. Nobody knows your body like you do, not even your Pilates teacher. So, make sure you’re tuned into your body and listen to any warning bells.

If something doesn’t feel right, stop immediately. Tell your instructor and they will be able to advise on any necessary adjustments to the exercise.

5. Dress for Comfort & Movement

You’ll likely work up a bit of a sweat in a Reformer Pilates class, so dress in comfortable, breathable clothing, like a fitted singlet with moisture-wicking tights. As you’ll probably be moving through inverted positions, try to avoid loose t-shirts which can get in the way. Instead, stick with stretchy, form-fitting fabrics that won’t hinder your movements.

6. Wear Grippy Socks

While you can go barefoot on a Reformer, socks are a requirement in most studios. For starters, they’re hygienic – helping to prevent the spread of fungal foot infections. Grippy socks in particular also help to provide stability on a moving carriage.

7. Embrace the Shake

Quivering like a leaf? Don’t fight the Pilates shake – embrace it! Whether it’s your inner thighs during legs in straps or your abs during those dreaded 100s, shaking in Pilates is a sign of muscle fatigue. And it’s part and parcel of becoming stronger!

While it’s common among beginner Pilates students, and can be a bit disconcerting, even Pilates pros get the shakes. One great thing about Reformer Pilates? There are a number of variations for each exercise, meaning you can up the intensity – and bring back the shake factor – as you progress. To try a Melbourne CBD Reformer Pilates class, book now.

Image Source: Shutterstock

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Pilates and Private Health Rebates – What’s the story?

Looking to lengthen, strengthen or rehabilitate your body and wondering whether you can claim private health rebates for Pilates? Due to recent regulatory changes to Natural Therapies cover, the answer, unfortunately, is no. As of 1 April 2019, Pilates—alongside yoga, naturopathy and reflexology—is no longer rebatable under any private health insurance extras policy.

Don’t despair, however, as you may still be able to receive rebates for active group physiotherapy sessions that incorporate Pilates techniques. Confused? Let us explain how it works.

Changes to Natural Therapies cover

Recent government reform to private health insurance has seen the removal of 17 items previously listed under Natural Therapies. As well as Pilates, therapies including homeopathy, naturopathy, reflexology, iridology, shiatsu and yoga have been removed from extras policies.

The changes came into effect 1 April 2019, with the Department of Health stating there is insufficient evidence of the efficacy of the excluded therapies.

Clinical Pilates & Private Health Rebates

Prior to April, you may have seen advertising around physiotherapist-led Clinical Pilates classes. Where private health insurance rebates were previously available for these sessions, this is no longer the case. Benefits can no longer be paid for any session consisting solely of Pilates exercises, regardless of who is delivering it (instructor or physiotherapist).

However, therapeutic group exercise classes that incorporate Pilates equipment and exercises may be claimable—provided the classes are taken by a physio and certain criteria are met. Our Clinical Pilates and Rehabilitation program has been specifically designed to meet all criteria.

Clinical Rehabilitation & Private Health Rebates

While pure Pilates is excluded, the Department of Health does consider “an insurer may lawfully pay benefits if a physiotherapist, providing services to a patient within the accepted scope of clinical practice, uses exercises or techniques drawn from Pilates as part of that patient’s treatment as long as the exercises or techniques are within the accepted scope of clinical practice.”

We offer this form of evidence-based therapeutic group exercise at The Alignment Studio. Drawing on Pilates principles, our Clinical Pilates & Rehab classes are claimable under private health physiotherapy cover. These active rehabilitation sessions:

  • are designed, structured and led by a physiotherapist
  • are conducted only following a comprehensive individual physiotherapy assessment with each client
  • are highly individualised, meaning each client has a personalised program tailored to their biomechanics, pathology and unique movement goals
  • allow clients with injury, pain or dysfunction to engage in a dynamic and personalised rehabilitation program
  • include the use of Pilates techniques and equipment (for example reformers, magic circles, foam rollers, spine correctors)
  • require regular reviews to monitor progress and therapeutic outcomes
  • are the safe way to benefit from a clinically-appropriate movement practice

To get started on your rehabilitation journey, call us on 9650 2220 to discuss our QuickStart Clinical Pilates Program. Or, if you are interested in Pilates classes in Melbourne CBD (non-rebatable), check out our Express Reformer and Studio Pilates classes.

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