Updated 07 July 2015

Pilates 'should be regulated'

Pilates as a stand-alone method is in danger of disappearing into the general morass of a fitness workout, the SA Pilates Educators and Professionals Alliance (Sapepa) warns.


Pilates as a stand-alone method is in danger of disappearing into the general morass of a fitness workout,  the South African Pilates Educators and Professionals Alliance (Sapepa) warns.

Sapepa has been established to preserve the integrity of the Pilates tradition and to uplift the standard of the industry as a whole, and is made up of top South African Pilates educators and concerned Pilates professionals.

"For the past few years, we in the Pilates industry have been involved in attempts to create national regulations and service quality standards for those who wish to offer Pilates in this country," Sapepa says in a press release.  "Regulating the industry is one way to guarantee that the standard of Pilates offered to the exercising public continues to embrace both the original teaching of the man Joseph Pilates, and the new work that is constantly evolving.

"As the popularity of Pilates has grown, and in order to meet the demands of a public anxious to experience what has now become a generic, household name, the lines have begun to blur.  What began as an exercise modality only taught in specialised Studios by professionals who took years to qualify, Pilates is now mass marketed.  With an exercising public, and all too often the health care profession unaware of the difference, Pilates as a stand-alone method is in danger of disappearing into the general morass of a fitness workout.

'Every person's body is different'

"True Pilates treats every person’s body as different, with different postural problems, movement patterns and specific limitations. In order to reap the specific benefits Pilates offers, exercises need to be prescribed more individually.  This is not possible in large classes, such as those being taught in the chain fitness facilities. Instructor training is equally specific and needs to be acquired and recognised  as a stand-alone qualification which evolves through from basic Matwork to a wide variety of specially designed equipment. 

"Unfortunately, watered-down versions of this highly specialised training produces watered-down results negatively impacting on the Pilates industry as a whole.  We find this situation unacceptable , and it’s for this reason that we feel that  since Pilates is an exercise technique distinct from any other training method, Pilates requires regulation which is distinct from other training methods.  To lump Pilates with general fitness does the method a disservice.

Sapepa's mission is for Pilates to be regulated by an independent Pilates body, aligned more with the health professions than the general fitness industry, and it is therefore opposed to the inclusion of the Pilates Industry under the Fitness Regulations Act, as this would contribute to further loss of its specific identity and its valued traditions, and be seen by the public and medical professions as just another Fitness modality."

- Adapted press release of the South African Pilates Educators and Professionals Alliance (Sapepa), January 2012


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