Development of a Pilates teaching framework from an international survey of teacher practice

Moira Lewitt, Lesley McPherson, Marisa Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Pilates is used increasingly in a variety of clinical settings. However, there is lack of clarity in the literature as to what is meant by the term. Teachers incorporating apparatus based on the designs of Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) into their practice refer to themselves as Comprehensive Teachers, and this group divides itself further into Classical and Contemporary practice. The aim of this research was to explore the meanings of these terms with Comprehensive Teachers and to develop a framework that reflects current views and practice.

Online international survey of Pilates Teachers through closed Facebook forums. Open questions were used to elicit views of the definition and practice of Pilates, and how standards should be set across the sector.


Of 109 participants, 35% were based in the UK and 32% in the USA; 48% identified as Classical teachers, 32% as Contemporary, 5% as both and 15% as Matwork instructors. A thematic analysis of the qualitative data revealed agreement on the scope and content of Classical and Contemporary Comprehensive Pilates, however the discourse indicated there might be stereotyping about each other’s practice. Classical teachers, for example, spoke of their own practice as authentic while Comprehensive teachers used terms such as strict and inflexible for Classical practice. However, members of either group may incorporate both Classical and Contemporary approaches within their practice. We have designed a Pilates Teaching Framework to take into account the types of apparatus, the types of exercises and the order in which the exercises are executed.

A framework that emphasises Pilates teaching rather than teacher practice is proposed for consistency and clarity when describing Pilates in professional and public contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-949
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
Issue number4
Early online date7 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019


  • Pilates
  • health promotion
  • qualitative research
  • movement therapy


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