There’s a massive misconception that Pilates is slow-paced and gentle and generally for women. This could not be further from the truth. Yes Pilates is great for injury rehab but a tough class can be just as challenging as a session in the gym. The truth is a Pilates session is often more beneficial than a general gym session or a jog.

Men can achieve the following benefits from attending Pilates.

Sport Performance

If you participate in sport Pilates will significantly improve your performance. This is demonstrated through professional athletes who have used Pilates to take them to another level, examples include Tiger Woods in his prime and Andy Murray. Below are some of the skills Pilates can improve;

  • Balance & Co-ordination – Pilates involves balance, control, core stability, and co-ordination. This helps massively while participating in sport.
  • Strength and Power – In order to generate maximum amount of power and strength you need to be stable through your core. As you can generate more from a stable base.
  • Concentration and Focus – To compete at the highest level you need to be able to concentrate and focus. Pilates forces you to pay attention to how your body is moving and your breath at the same time. You need to concentrate on good form and ensure your engaging the right muscles.

Strengthen your core

Your core is made of a range of muscles that help to support your spine and torso. All movements are originate from the core, if the core is weak or unused it becomes dependant on the larger more dominant muscles, while the smaller stabilising muscles go unused. Overtime this can lead to poor flexibility and range of movement and increase risk of injury. Pilates promotes core activation leading to more stable and powerful movements.

Improved posture

Bad posture is becoming more and more common as technology improves. Every Pilates exercis  in some way relates to improving posture, reducing general  aches and pains and reducing the risk of long term injury.

Spinal mobility

A stiff spine is the root cause of so many back injuries, any good Pilates class will look at taking the spine into different ranges of movement which will keep the back and spine in good health.

Develop neglected muscles

All muscles in the body have an action and purpose. However our current lifestyle means some muscles are used much more than others causing imbalances which either led to injury or inefficient movement.  A big part of Pilates is to focus on the muscles we do not use as much and to lengthen the muscles that become short due to our lifestyle.

So if you’re man and have never tried pilates I challenge you to give it a try!

Dynamic Reformer Pilates.

Catchy name, right? But what does it actually mean and does it accurately describe this relatively new kid on the block in the Pilates (and indeed fitness) world?

Also, as a method of training does it deserve its place alongside the more traditional form of the method?

The answer to the first question is, well, yes and no. The second question? That gets answered with a resounding ‘hell yes!’ (at least in my book).

Let me explain by examining the words that make up the name and applying them to the original Pilates method. It is also worth pointing out that Pilates as a practise is by no means restricted to the use of the reformer, I’ll just be examining the method as it pertains to the reformer in this case.

Classic Pilates is by definition ‘Dynamic’ in that it comprises a series of free-flowing exercises with an emphasis on precise technique, breathing and above all control. No surprise that Mr Pilates coined the term ‘Contrology’ to describe his work.

The original method has been practised in various forms for over 100 years. In fact, the very first iteration of a ‘Reformer’ (Just google Pilates Reformer and you’ll instantly get a good idea of what this contraption looks like and what it does) was a hospital bed with old bed springs attached, which Mr Pilates used to help patients on his ward recover from illness (he was at the time serving as a POW in a hospital on the Isle of Man during the great war).

In short, traditional or Classic Reformer Pilates (CRP) is awesome. It is a unique system of exercises devised by the eponymous man himself and borne out of a desire to help his fellow human. Cool.

So, given the above explanation we could be forgiven if we thought the name ‘Dynamic Reformer Pilates’ (DRP for short) does the original method a slight disservice. However, I think we are much better served by heeding some age-old wisdom and not judging this book by its cover (or name).

The real question is, why should we be open to embracing it as a method? I’d wager that many of the purists in the Pilates world would much rather we didn’t. In fact, I’ve often heard / read that DRP is just ‘not pilates’ for varying reasons. Of course, I humbly beg to differ. 1

Here’s why.

DRP (practised correctly)2 incorporates many of the elements that make the classic method great – namely precision of movement, focus on breathing and control – and incorporates certain key exercises used in the classic repertoire.

It is also performed on a Pilates reformer machine, just like the classical method.

It is also dynamic and in addition allows for certain exercises that may more commonly be performed in a gym setting or circuit class to be incorporated into its repertoire. Think squats, lunges, planks, press ups, hip hinges and the like.

So, what’s the difference between the two? Should you do one over the other?

As one of my favourite actors put it (Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Reloaded if you must know), ‘the problem is choice.’

Broadly speaking, I see the main differences between the two currently to be in the areas of setting and aim.

Please note that one method is not better than the other, and they deliver many of the same things to varying degrees. The key thing to bear in mind is that they just have a different focus and therefore a slightly different offering. Depending on your reason for taking up Pilates in the first place you may find one of them to be more beneficial for you.

Differences in Aim:

DRP as a method has a focus skewed more towards fitness, muscular endurance + cardiovascular conditioning. CRP as a method on the other hand will typically focus on controlled strength and mobility (often for rehabilitative or corrective purposes).

But surely you can still develop your overall level of physical fitness with CRP you might ask? Absolutely, but it won’t be the main focus of your practise.

Likewise, can you begin to correct muscular imbalances with DRP? You certainly can, you’ll just have to be comfortable with pushing yourself a bit more on the cardio and muscular endurance front whilst you do.

Differences in Setting:

In a DRP class in London you will most likely find yourself in a room with several other people, sweating up a storm as you perform exercises on your reformer. The atmosphere in the room will typically be energetic, in most cases aided by an upbeat soundtrack with the volume UP.

In a CRP class, you will most likely find yourself also on a reformer, potentially also with several other people, possibly getting a little bit of a sweat on, but usually to a more serene soundtrack or perhaps none at all (save for the cues delivered by your instructor).

As you can see, both methods aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, I see them as hugely complementary. I also believe that each one can be a gateway to the other.

For example, if you want to begin to develop your body awareness and start to correct a few imbalances but you know you won’t do so unless you’re satisfying your craving for sweating and ‘feeling the burn’ at the same time then a DRP class is probably the place to start for you.

Similarly, if you want to really drill down into the precision and nuances of each exercise to develop strength, mobility, and really get in touch with how your body operates (or should operate), then a CRP class might be a better place to start.

As I said before, the methods are in my view complementary and I would advise trying both to see which works better for you. Even if you pick one and stick with it for a while you’ll find changing things up every so often to be hugely beneficial. If you’re a seasoned DRP aficionado, you’ll find you might learn some different exercises and ways to perform the ones you already know in a CRP setting – you can then take this knowledge back to your DRP class and reap the rewards.

By the same token, if you’ve got your strength, mobility and technique honed through continued CRP practise, you’ll be in a great position to add some DRP classes to your routine and challenge yourself in a different way.

Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best.

Happy training,


1. In case you were wondering how I feel I’m able to give my humble opinion, here’s a brief run down of my experience with DRP and CRP. I have been instructing DRP (and CRP in some settings) in the UK for over 10 years and have delivered over 12,000 hours of classes and private sessions. I was initially trained by one of the first practitioners to bring this evolution of the classic method to the UK and have been at the forefront of its development over the past 10 years (the majority of which at arguably the largest DRP studio chain in the UK). For the classically minded bods out there, I’ve trained with APPI and Polestar Pilates and (hopefully I’ve explained this enough already) I’m a big fan of CRP as well!

2. I could go down the rabbit hole on what I feel constitutes ‘correct practise’ but I’ll save that for another time! One thing I will say is, make sure you do your research before trying out your first class (whether its DRP or CRP). In an ideal world, you want an instructor with multiple fitness / allied health qualifications and at the very least 2 years’ full time experience in class based instruction. Also, make sure you ask the company you intend to hand over your money to if they’ve put an in-house training and evaluation program in place and how long the training period is for their instructors (ask for total hours of training, not weeks as this can be misleading). The answer they give you will tell you if they’re serious about the quality of instruction their trainers provide and if they are operating with ongoing quality assurance in mind.

Small Group Training (SGT) at SW1 Fitness consists of a maximum of 3 people. SGT has really grown in popularity over the years as consumers look for smarter ways to train and stay motivated. Many people struggle to train alone and rely on a Personal Trainer to stay in shape but for most access to a Personal Trainer is a luxury.

Here are 5 reasons you should join one of our SGT Reformer Pilates or HIIT sessions at SW1 Fitness:

Save Money – Receive the motivation personal attention and support of a personal trainer but for a third of the cost. We have identified that personal training is still a luxury so why not access expertise for less money.

Social – People love to exercise together and Market research has shown you are more likely to work harder in a peer group.

Fun – Training in a small group or with friends is fun and interactive. Often training alone can be un-inspirational and boring which leads to inevitably dropping off from your programme.

Results Driven – Your session will be focused towards your end goals just like a personal training session. Get more from your workout in less time.

More Focused Attention Than A Class – Many classes offer a generic, non focused workout where the instructor doesn’t remember your name. In a Small Group sessions are specific to your needs and prescribed to maximise results.

Training at SW1 is a unique Fitness experience. We offer tailored Reformer Pilates and HIIT sessions which challenge you to be your best every time and at the fraction of the cost of traditional Personal Training. Our passionate Personal Trainers ensure each SGT sessions is a varied workout leaving you feeling energised and zest book a session todayhttps://www.sw1fitness.co.uk/book-class/

Pilates and Back Pain

16th August 2016
What To Expect From Reformer Pilates Class

Back pain is a very common in modern day society. The introduction of technology has meant less manual labour jobs and more jobs that involve the use of technology meaning more time is often spent in front of a computer screen. As a result of the countless hours spent sitting means many individuals often suffer from poor posture and flexibility leading to back pain. This can easily be remedied with the correct training and stretches.

Below are 3 examples of the expertise on offer at SW1 Fitness to help elevate the pain often associated with back problems:

1) Spinal mobility: Many often sit down for hours in the same position, however movement of the spine is vital for back health. In every pilates session, the spine is taken through all the planes of movement, to keep the spine healthy and mobile.

2) Butt work: Glutes are an essential muscle as they bare the weight of the back. Weak glutes are the route of various back issues. At our studio, we look to work your glutes in every session to ensure a good solid base for your back.

3) Hamstring flexibility: Tight hamstrings is also a common reason for back issues. When hamstrings are tight they pull the pelvis into an anterior tilt placing more pressure onto the back leading to pain so stretching the hamstrings is a must.

Do you suffer from back pain? Why not give pilates and go and see if it can offer you the relief you’re looking for: https://www.sw1fitness.co.uk/book-class/

Pilates: Reformer Vs Mat

24th July 2016

Reformer Pilates is superior to mat based Pilates as the repertoire of exercises available is greatly increased providing far more variety. The exercises usually work muscles through a large range of motion which is ideal for building and toning muscles as well increasing stability through the joints. Reformer Pilates works more areas than mat-work as mat-work is mostly core whereas reformer works the entire body and can be advanced using the variety of spring settings available on the reformer pilates bed.

What To Expect From Reformer Pilates Class

reformer pilates bed machine

The Pilates reformer is a traditional piece of Pilates equipment which looks like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys. The origins of the Pilates reformer date back to the original Pilates studio in New York in the 1920’s and was designed by Joseph Pilates himself.


Many people are quite scared of the reformer when they first see it as it looks quite intimidating and almost medieval. Put any fears you may have aside because after just one or two workouts on a reformer and you realise what a versatile and effective piece of exercise equipment it is.

reformer pilates bed machine

There are five springs, using only one or two of them can provide a gentler resistance depending on the exercise and the muscle being worked. While adding five springs can provide a much heavier resistance. This means that the intensity can be varied considerably from one person to the next, making it an incredibly versatile piece of equipment to use as a workout or rehab tool and is also suitable for a very wide range of people.

Pilates for Runners

24th July 2016
Pilates For Runners Julian Thomas

Weather you like going out for casual jogs to keep fit or you run competitively Pilates has major benefits for you. One of the core principles of Pilates is to improve posture, this will help you move more efficiently and reduce the risk of injuries due to parts of the body being under and overused. Pilates has a direct influence on your running ability by improving core strength and the movement patterns of the body. You will also look a whole lot better in the process.

How does this improve my running ability?

Improved posture

By improving your posture through Pilates your running becomes more efficient, your spine is elongated and you’re able to use less energy to cover the same distance.

Controlled breathing

Breath is also a key principle of Pilates, the concentrated and controlled breathing involved with Pilates allows you to expand your diaphragm, learn how to control your breath and supply the muscles with more oxygen blood.

Improved core strength

The core is the center of the body and all movement is generated from the core. By improving this area all movement associated with running become easier and require less effort.

Reduce the risk of Injury

When running over a period of time your hip flexors, knees and lower back are just some problem areas you may face. Below is a list of just some of the ways Pilates can help.

– Mobilise and strengthen tight hips.
– Loosen muscles associated with lover back pain i.e Hamstrings, Glutes
– Your spine is also mobilised which is a key factor for back health
– Strengthen and stretch the glutes which help support the knee
– Stabilisation of the joints including ankle and knees.

If you run and think Pilates could help you, why not book a private pilates session today for just £20!

What To Expect From Reformer Pilates Class

A lot of people have no idea of what to expect from their first Reformer Pilates class and that’s understandable…

I’ve been teaching for almost 3 years now and I’ve seen hundreds of new people come into a class and their reactions are always different. Some are excited, some are nervous and some are just really curious about what on earth these springy beds will do to them!

For me, it’s the duty of the trainer to make your feel as comfortable as possible and optimistic about the upcoming session.

On your first Reformer Pilates class at SW1 Fitness, you will be taken through the foundations of the reformer bed, how it works, the different spring options, how to change them and the many positions you may take when using the bed.

After this short explanation the class is ready to begin. Before every exercise I will let you know your spring options (beginner / intermediate / advanced) depending on your current experience and how the exercise needs to be performed and the muscles you should be feeling.

As Pilates is about repetitions and control, there is no need to rush your exercise position and movements.

After your first Reformer Pilates class, you can expect to feel stretched, toned and mobile with your posture opened and you may even be breathing easier from loosing up the chest. I’m not going to lie, the class is challenging for all levels, you will feel the burn and can also expect to ache for a few days later but it will be worth it and you’ll be excited to come again.

Reformer Pilates is something everyone should experience at least once and what makes it so great is that it can be tried and beneficial regardless of your current fitness levels or physical ability.

I hope to see you in a private class very soon. If you’re feeling very keen why not book a class today!


After training nearly every week for 15 years exercise has become part of my lifestyle.  Football, heavy weights, athletics, boxing, long distance running, you name it and I don’t mind participating. However Pilates has been a revelation, it’s totally different to other forms of exercise but is just as important or even more important. It works the smaller intricate muscles we don’t usually work on making me stronger in my larger movements ,  it helps improve posture so my movement is more effective and efficient and it also helps connect my mind and body so I can engage my deeper core muscles. Im a much better all rounder by taking part in Pilates. I lift heavier, run faster and my posture is now so much better.


I can not recommend this form of exercise enough!


17th April 2016
HIIT Image


HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is an intense training technique where you perform short bursts of maximal anaerobic effort followed by short recovery periods. This type of training elevates and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.

Here’s 3 reasons to HIIT it hard:-

  1. Increased Metabolism- HIIT starves your body of oxygen creating an “Oxygen Debt.” To pay this “debt” your metabolic output is accelerated up to 48 hours after your workout creating an Afterburn effect! Within the Fitness Industry this is commonly referred to as EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption.)
  2. Time Efficient and convenient- You can fit an intense 20 minute HIIT workout into your lunch break at work with colleagues in the boardroom. No longer do you need to set aside huge chunks of your diary for long dull gym routines.
  3. No equipment? Use your body- HIIT focuses on elevating your heart rate and maintaining levels of high exertion. Whole body exercises such as Burpees and Jump squats are guaranteed to get your heart pumping for a more effective workout.

One form HIIT is Tabata training developed in Japan by Dr Izumi Tabata. It’s easy to remember 20 seconds of maximal effort followed by 10 seconds rest and repeat for 4 minutes. Try these simple effective Tabata workouts here! Happy training!