Recently, a lot of clients have asked us “What is the difference between Physio Pilates (Clinical Pilates) and other types of Pilates at gyms, big groups classes, people’s houses etc.?”


The major difference is the extent of knowledge and training that a Clinical Pilates Instructor has – which allows them to modify, adjust and choose safe and appropriate exercises for the individual.

A qualified Physiotherapist has a four-year university degree to become experts in anatomy, body function and injury management. They have then completed extra post-graduate training in Clinical Pilates. This training is only available to Physiotherapists, because the expert knowledge of anatomy and body mechanics is assumed and required.

Qualifications for a typical Pilates Instructor varies, as it is not regulated. Some may have a Personal Training certificate or others training may consist of a weekend course.

Both forms of Pilates are great ways to improve strength and flexibility. However, regular Pilates does not consider an individual’s injuries, history, pathologies and specific physiological needs. A trained Physiotherapist will complete an assessment and then supervise a clinical Pilates class, whereas an instructor for regular Pilates only recommends a generalised program. The specific choice of Pilates exercises that you do is the difference between a routine that works and one that doesn’t.

Suitability / safety

A fit and healthy person with no injuries or medical conditions that exercises regularly can benefit and enjoy a typical Pilates class just as they can safely participate in a most gym/ personal training/ circuit classes.

An individual with medical conditions, injuries, is pre or post natal or hasn’t exercised in a while will be safer in a Physiotherapy based class. As activities such as Yoga and Pilates are often perceived as gentle, it surprises a lot of people that we often treat injuries that occurred in these types of classes.

For example, for a person with back pain due to a disc bulge, there are certain Pilates exercises that a Physiotherapist would avoid. For back pain due to a different issue, such as a joint sprain, those exercises would be fine and different exercises would need to be avoided. Only a Physiotherapist has the knowledge to make this clinical judgement.

Similarly, Clinical Pilates is great for Pregnant women. However, there are some exercises that can increase risk of prolapse, pelvic floor issues, abdominal separation or place the baby at risk. A Physiotherapist has a thorough understanding of which exercises to avoid ensuring safety.


Cost varies for different classes. Generally a Physiotherapy based class will be more expensive to account for the smaller group sizes and the higher level of expertise of the Physiotherapist.

However, if you have Private Health Insurance, a Physiotherapy based class will generally work out cheaper as they are claimable, whereas other types of Pilates are not.  This is because Physiotherapy based Pilates is recognised as an evidenced based, proven method to treat injuries and enhance function.

If you have any further questions or are interested in joining our classes, please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic.


Cherise Garner
Physiotherapist at Corio Bay Sports Treatment Clinic Colac