Complete specific

At Complete Pilates we use Mindbody for our booking system. Mindbody is a great app for your smart phone that means you can control your appointments directly from your phone. Instead of going to our website to book appointments, you simply load up the app and add us to your favourites. From here you can schedule new appointments, modify existing appointments, pay for new sessions or cancel bookings. It can also add your booked appointments directly into your calender for minimal fuss!

If you cannot find us on Mindbody please make sure that you are typing ‘COMPLETE-PILATES’. The ‘-‘ may be your missing link!

At Complete Pilates we operate a 24 hour cancellation policy. If you cancel after this period you may still be charged the full amount for your session.

At Complete Pilates we are flexible and do not have a timeline on your block purchases. If you need to suspend your sessions for any reason, we request that you let your instructor know and we will do our best to carry these over.

There will never be more four people in any studio class.

It is easier for our instructors to see your movement in tighter fitting clothes, however this should be anything that you feel comfortable in so any fitness clothing is great. We do ask that you wear a pair of clean socks when working in the studio for hygiene reasons and non-slip socks are available to purchase in the studio.

Each site is based within a gym and has full access to changing rooms and showers with lockers for your belongings. Please bring a padlock for a locker and be aware that to do our bit for the environment you may need to pay for towels. You can bring your valuables into the studios with you and place these in one of the cubby holes provided.
Prior to your first session we request that you fill out our new patient form which you can find here. If you have any injuries or concerns please let us know beforehand by contacting us and we will be happy to discuss these with you. Please arrive at least 5 minutes prior to your session to allow you to change or lock away your valuables if necessary.

General questions

Pilates sessions are normally one hour, or 55 minutes long. This gives you enough time to check in with your instructor, work all the different muscle groups and do some mobility exercises.
Pilates is a low impact exercise which is great if you are struggling with injury, are pregnant, or just need a change from your normal impact regime! It is a great adjunct to any weight training programme as it focuses on stability and control rather then global power. As a result it is also amazing for posture.

The health benefits of pilates include greater muscular balance, improved stability, increased flexibility, improved body awareness and co-ordination, improved breathing mechanics and increased concentration. It is great for prevention of injuries and also early and late stage rehabilitation.

If you are looking to build power then Pilates would not be your go to exercise. If this is your goal then a strength based programme with weights is better suited. Try going to the gym instead and using more body weight and dumbbells or weights machines. Just remember to get an appropriate induction and always work towards your goals. There is not necessarily any reason you need to lift heavy.

This depends on you, what you are looking for and the reason you want to do it. Mat Pilates is very accessible as you do not need expensive and large equipment. However, if you have an injury it is much harder for you to break down movements here. On the mat you have to control your whole body weight, know where you are in space and try to correct it. This is obviously very tough, so can present a good challenge if you are looking for more fitness classes. Reformer Pilates is more expensive but for injuries it is amazing at correcting biomechanics. The springs offer both resistance and assistance so can also be used if you are partial or even non weight bearing. In general though, it is just great for you to move!

Pilates is a low impact weightbearing form of exercise which can also improve muscle strength, flexibility and balance. If you are doing mat pilates some props can offer a form of resistance. On the equipment this is provided by springs.
The simple answer is yes. It is a low impact form of exercise which uses a variety of positions, including upper and lower limb weightbearing.
There are two main types of pilates, mat and equipment. Mat uses gravity and your body weight to challenge you and can be much more accessible as well as cheaper. Equipment based uses larger machines such as reformers which provides resistance from springs.
The best way to ensure this is to see an instructor for 1:1 sessions to get individual attention and advice appropriate to your body and your goals. If you are worried that you are not doing Pilates properly try taking some 1:1 sessions. This will help you to understand the movements better so that you can improve your practice.

You can do if you want but you would need to vary the training to ensure that you are focusing on a variety of muscle groups. It is key that your body has variety as this ensures that you get the most out of your work outs. Try and mix it up with cardio and gym based programmes. This will help you develop every system in your body and will stop your body getting used to one thing.

If you struggle to pick up movement or have an injury starting Pilates 2x per week is better, ideally spreading them out rather then having consecutive days. This ensures that you will understand and your body will remember the movements. If you are adding Pilates to a current workout schedule this may be enough to support your training. The best thing you can do is ask your instructor.

Pilates is safe to do daily. However, if you want to do exercise every day it is recommended that you do a mixture of cardio and resistance based training. By mixing up your training your body does not become used to it so is constantly challenged and will develop accordingly. Try some gym based exercise or a HIIT class to give you variety.

In general an individual with no injuries or problems should notice a change to their body in 12 weeks if doing around 2-3 physically active sessions per week.
As our founder Helen O’Leary can advocate, more and more professional athletes and performers are using Pilates to help them improve their biomechanics, increase their flexibility, reduce the risk of injury, and add variety to their training programme. Pilates can be a great way of enhancing your current training plan and our instructors are more then happy to discuss your programme with any personal trainers or coaches.

The great thing about pilates is that it is for everyone at any level, especially if you are doing 1:1 sessions. Equipment pilates can be really assistive and help you to build up strength over a period of time safely. It can also be linked with other forms of activity to support your movement.

Most studio’s will offer either beginner group classes or a 1:1 offer for new clients. Take a look on the studio’s website as it should be clear which is best for you. However, if in doubt, simply call the studio and ask! This will also give you a feel of what the studio is like.

The great thing about Pilates is that it can be tailored to everyone. If you are very active and also enjoy the gym, Pilates can be a fantastic adjunct to ensure stability and optimal mechanics. It can also be a great recovery tool from a heavy workout. If you do not currently exercise a lot, Pilates is a great way to get your body moving again as it creates strong body awareness and alignment.

The reformer is the most recognisable piece of Pilates equipment. The use of the springs can be assistive or resistive. This means that if you have an injury it can support you but if you are looking for overall strength it also does this. It offers all the benefits of Pilates including promoting flexibility, increasing co-ordination and body awareness, balance and overall strength. The reformer is designed to promote eccentric muscle contraction which means that the muscle works through its full length as it resists the force of the springs. This is why Pilates is known for getting longer and leaner muscles.

If you practice Pilates regularly it will help to change your body shape. It works with the stability muscle system which helps you with better posture. This gives you the appearance of losing weight as you are carrying yourself better. It improves muscle strength or tone, balances out muscle activation and helps you move with ease.

There are lots of different reformer machines on the market. If you are looking to get one for your home, try to find one which you can stand upright if needed to make space. These quite often also have wheels which make them more portable to move around. However, be careful as most of the time these are additional to the cost! If you do not have a space which is dedicated to it, try to find a light, portable machine. Also look out for how long the warranties are and whether they are easy to get serviced. The final thing to think about is how you are going to get it into the room in your house! Do you need to build it yourself? Are there stairs? Is there space? Make sure you problem shoot first.


This depends on the reason for your back pain. If you speak to most spinal surgeons they will suggest one or the other. Generally, if something isn’t hurting your back or causing your pain that is a good place to start. If you have been doing group classes try some 1:1s to make sure you are moving correctly. Otherwise, if you are unsure then go and see a Physiotherapist who will give you a full assessment and can point you in the right direction.

Weight loss and strength training

Pilates is a safe and great way to get your body moving if you have not been participating in regular exercise without putting undue stress through your body. However, some studies have shown that neither Yoga or Pilates significantly changes your body composition. The best results for this is other methods of training such as Cardio workouts. However, Pilates does such a good job at strengthening your stability system it signficiantly reduces the risk of injury that impact or weighted exercises can create.  Importantly you must be eating a balanced and nutritious diet to get the best results.

Pilates will significantly increase your abdominal strength and endurance and can also be used to strengthen upper and lower limbs as well as working on postural awareness and stability. However, if you are looking at improving your overall muscle strength, weight training in the gym is best for this. This is because to increase muscle size you have to expose it to more load then Pilates can offer, particularly mat Pilates. Some group Pilates classes will include weights and combine it with common gym exercises but a typical Pilates class will not. Try combining a variety of exercises to get the best results.

Pregnancy and post-natal

As you get further along your pregnancy then it is recommended that you do not do heavily loaded abs exercises, including a plank. These can increase the risk of getting an abdominal separation (diastasis). There are lots of other exercises you can do safely and if you are lifting weights then your abs will be working anyway!

Great exercises to do at home which are safe for all trimesters include:

1) Pelvic tilts. You can do this in sitting with the hands behind the thighs. Exhale and roll down a little into a pelvic tilt. Inhale and come back to sitting.

2) Mermaid in sitting. You can sit cross legged or on a chair with arm support. Exhale as you bend sideways, letting the bottom elbow bend for support. Inhale and breathe into your ribs to let them expand and then exhale to return to sitting. The other arm should go over your head, palm down.

3) Spine rotation. Again this can be done in sitting on a chair or on the floor. Exhale as you rotate to look the whole body round to one side. Inhale to hold and exhale to relax into it. Return to the middle and repeat on the other side.

4) Cat / Cow. On all fours on the mat, exhale and tuck your tail bone underneath you to curve your spine upwards. Inhale and open your sit bones to go the other way.

5) Quadruped. On all fours on the mat reach the opposite arm and leg away from each other making sure you do not curve your spine. Return to the centre and then repeat the other side.

Pilates can be a fantastic adjunct to your pre and post natal care. Recent research from the Journal or Sports Medicine and Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada (January 2019), have shown that participating in a variety of exercise, both cardio and resistance based, reduces the likelihood of complications during birth as well as pregnancy. They are now recommending it as a prescription rather then a recommendation. You will have to alter your training a little as you move further through your pregnancy but unless you have contraindications you should stillbe able to exercise.
Your abdominals work as much as is needed in order for you to achieve a certain movement. As you move further through your pregnancy your abdominal muscles naturally stretch to allow room. Sometimes this means that you start to notice a gap or doming during exercises. If this is the case you should avoid specific  abdominal exercises in case it gets worse. You should also avoid lots of crunches or resisted abdominal work as you move further through your pregnancy.
The most important thing is not to try and lose it too quickly. Try to get into healthy eating patterns rather then just snacking all day and defiitely do not crash diet! You need energy to make sure you are coping with the demands that a new baby requires. This will also help you lose weight at a steady pace. Stay well hydrated and start moving around as you feel ready to. For some women this happens sooner then others. If you can try to walk around but if you are getting pain or any pelvic floor weakness with urinary leaking then seek advice early!
The new Canadian guidelines 2019 say that 150 minutes of exercise a week spread over at least 3 days significantly reduce the chances of pregnancy related problems. They are now recommended a variety of exercise as a prescription rather then a recommendation. Start with this! However, if you get any problems seek medical attention. Also make sure that you are working with instructors who are appropriately qualified.
Yes. It is recommended that you do approximately 150 minutes of a variety of exercise a week if you have no contraindications. Ideally you would find an instructor or class where they understand pre and post natal care as you do need to avoid some exercises as you move through your pregnancy.

Back pain

Unfortunately yes, but so can anything. The important thing is  to know why you are getting the pain and if there is a structural reason for it or if it is just the way that you are moving or sitting. If you are in a  class and getting the pain, talk to your instructor and potentially try some 1:1 sessions to help you with your form.
Yes if it is done correctly with someone who understands  what is happening. If you have sciatica and have had it for a while then you should seek medical  attention prior to a pilates appointment. This can be with your GP or a Chartered Physiotherapist. They will be able to assess you properly and determine why you are getting sciatic referral. If they think it necessary then they will also refer you on to a specialist. Remember that nerve pain can feel better when it is moved but can then get worse afterwards so it is really important to understand what is happening and why you are getting the pain.


The most important thing is to understand what the problem is. Getting an accurate diagnosis will make sure that you do not aggravate the problem or turn it into a long term issue. Ideally, consult your GP who is likely to refer you to a Physiotherapist or Specialist. You can get an ultrasound scan and may be directed to an MRI depending on the problem. Avoid impact exercises such as HIIT classes or running as this may aggravate it. Try using a bike with a slightly higher seat as this will keep the knee moving. Once you have consulted a clinician they will be able to direct you which exercises to do and to avoid. Just remember that exercises should not make it worse.
Complete Pilates is a great place for you to come if you are suffering from an injury. We have instructors who are qualified Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists and Osteopaths who will assess you and lead your programmes to ensure that you are progressing as quickly as possible. We are part of Complete-Physio which give us options for clinical physiotherapy, osteopathy and soft tissue massage if we think you require extra assistance. Please ensure that you make us aware of any injury by contacting us and we will place you with the best qualified instructor to ensure that you progress at a quick pace.

London Specific

Try and find something which is close to either your work or home. The more convenient it is the more likely it is that you will go regularly. Try not to travel too far as this means that it is more likely you will stop before you see the benefits
If you are looking for 1:1 sessions in zonal London prices can range from £60  – £200. Classes can start from £10 for mat and £15 for equipment based. Most studio’s will offer a discount for new starters and a lot also do promotional events throughout the year.
There are lots of amazing Pilates instructors in London. These range from fitness to rehabilitation so it depends on your needs. The best thing you can do is look at the instructors training to see the level of expertise. As there is no governing body in Pilates setting a baseline standard, qualifications can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 years. Try to find someone who has a good standard of training. However, it also comes down to personality so you may have to try a few different studios.