Adapting to Online Pilates

It has now been 10 weeks since I moved my much loved Pilates classes online! Where does the time go??

I have taught 20 Pilates classes to over 360 clients!! Each class usually has a minimum of 15 clients every session which is fantastic for a small business like mine.

I never anticipated the amount of interest I would have received for my online classes but I am so grateful. It has been a great way to stay connected with my clients, some of whom I have known now for 3 years and feel are like my little Pilates family. It has also allowed me to create and build some lovely new connections.

Here are some reasons why I LOVE the online teaching method:

  • To be able to connect and build a huge new client base from all across the world. I have had clients join me from the USA, Finland and France so far.
  • Working from home has been such a refreshing time and it definitely helps not having to lug 15 sets of mats and Pilates equipment up two flights of stairs at my usual studio.
  • No commute from my NHS work to the Pilates studio! I would usually spend an hour in my car during rush hour in order to make it to my classes so this has been a much welcomed change!
  • Being able to participate in the classes a bit more myself. As an instructor, I would spend a lot of time walking around the room and modifying positions or levels of exercises for my clients. This is not required as often online so I have been able to use the classes as my own little workout too.
  • Building on my creative skills. I no longer have the luxury of keeping my classes interesting with various pieces of equipment, I now have to work with minimal equipment or none at all. It has been great fun creating classes that are varied each week but still maintain the Pilates principles.

And, some things I miss with face to face teaching:

  • Being able to tailor the exercises to everyone’s needs. As a Physiotherapist, it is my role to recognise when to regress or progress someones exercise and this is very difficult to do online, especially with a busier class. It is now up to the client themselves to judge when they are ready to push themselves a bit further.
  • Everything going online means a lot more time spent at a computer, learning to use new technology and replying to a lot more emails, although I am happy to pay this small price to stay connected with everyone and continue to do what I love!
  • The ability to catch up with all my clients and have conversations about our weeks / family etc. Being online can take away the social aspect of a class which is what I loved about it. Like I said, some of my clients I have known for years and I miss the chats we would have before and after class.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has joined in my classes or helped me with the process of setting the classes up and promoting them. Also, a huge thanks to my patient husband who has joined in the classes more recently!

You can sign up to the classes here.

Looking forwards to seeing you all on the mat again one day x


Pilates Success Stories

I was recently asked by the world-renowned Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute (APPI) to share my Pilates success story and my journey to developing my Pilates company.

You can view the full blog post here, including all Physiotherapists involved.

I started off teaching Pilates with a large Physio led Pilates company in Edinburgh for 2 years which helped me grow my confidence as an instructor.  I then set up my own business, Centre Focused Pilates, 1 and a half years ago. I am now based in the West End of Edinburgh, teaching within a beautiful Victorian townhouse.  I teach two mixed level classes a week on Tuesday evenings. I run pop-up Pilates classes every few months and I teach taster sessions at various Edinburgh festival events.  My full time role is as an MSK Physiotherapist for the NHS where I try to use Pilates as an adjunct in my practice almost daily.

As a Physiotherapist, I was aware of the Pilates principles and had experienced clinical Pilates sessions in the workplace but had done no formal training.  I have always loved exercise and going to the gym but I had never really experienced Pilates until I suffered with low back pain, which led me to a physio led class and inspired me to do my training.  This was a completely new venture for me and I am so glad it came across my path.

I completed my first Matwork training in 2013 and the others in the years following. I then went on to do my Ante-natal and Post-natal training with the APPI in 2016. I then completed my Matwork certification exam in 2018. I knew the APPI had a brilliant reputation for their commitment to staying up to date with current research and applied this to their training.  I had attended various different Pilates classes as a client myself and preferred those led by a physio as they were delivered well and their knowledge showed through in their teaching.  This is something I aspired to and it pushed me towards training with the APPI.

Now my classes hold 12 people, and both classes are fully booked most weeks. I tend to have quite a wide age range from mid 20s to late 60s and mostly female. In the future I hope to expand my business and offer a wider variety of classes. I have recently completed Barre Pilates training and I am also qualified to teach Ante-natal and Post-natal Pilates.  Who knows, one day I might open a studio in Edinburgh.

When I first tried Pilates, I had no idea that I would eventually become a teacher myself and I never saw myself as a teacher when I was growing up but as cliché as it sounds, it really has changed my life. Teaching Pilates is more than just making people do exercises or get fit. It really is a lifestyle. Clients leave feeling brighter and more connected to themselves. Teaching Pilates doesn’t feel like a job and it’s a great addition to my role as a physio.  I also love living out of a sports bra and leggings most days!

If you want to change your life and fall in love with Pilates then do not hesitate to try a class! Enquire here.


1st Birthday

Today is the day!! Centre Focused Pilates is now 1 year in business, what a journey it has been.

I started my Pilates training 6 years ago and I have worked with some amazing teachers over those years. They have taught me, not only how to develop and teach a great class but how to inspire others and keep inspiring myself. A special thanks to Laura and Tess from Pilates Plus Physio who offered me my first job as a Pilates instructor. They provided me with the tools and training that shaped me into the style of teacher I wanted to be. Stepping out on my own this past year was an exciting challenge and I knew I had nothing to lose if it didn’t work out. I anxiously taught my first class at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre to a class of enthusiastic clients, all of whom have stuck with me ever since! I am so grateful for their commitment and dedication, it has been lovely to see them progress over the year.

When I was trying to figure out what to write for this blog, I done what most people would do and googled it. I came across similar blogs with most of them speaking about what they had learnt in business and their highlights. So, here are my lessons/growths/struggles of the year, some more glamorous than others!

  1. I have grown in confidence and self belief. I would describe myself as a self-doubter and I always look for encouragement from my friends and family! At first I dragged my family to all of my classes because I was worried no-one else would turn up or they would be put off by a quiet class. Now I don’t mind if the class is quieter, I appreciate the people that are committed to attending each week and dedicating their time to practising Pilates. My classes now run at a consistent number and I don’t worry about having a quiet class anymore! Sometimes it is a nice break from the madness of life.
  2. Time management. I have wasted a LOT of time thinking about what I should be doing rather than actually formulating any sort of plan. I attended a study day recently that had a presentation on business development – something I have no background in. It has taught me that I definitely need to seek help when I need it from the right people to help grow my business. Luckily my sister is very business driven and successfully manages a large venue in Edinburgh, her advice and help with basically every process has been incredible.
  3. Instagram and Facebook posts. This is something I never thought about in much detail before, and probably still don’t think about in as much detail as I should. My goal for year 2 is to research this more and figure out ways to improve the quality of my pictures and videos. Instagram has really helped in the development of my class plans – there are thousands of inspirational Pilates instructors who post the most creative and beautiful photos and videos. I love going on Instagram to find new ideas each week!
  4. I live in leggings and sports bras 7 days a week! It’s great!!
  5. The amount of admin required to run a business!! WOW, who knew there would be so much to do?? Class planning, note keeping, book keeping, accounts, emails, newsletters, advertisement, flyering, website updates….and many more!! It is exciting though and I enjoy doing each and everyone of these things. Here’s hoping my enthusiasm continues!

To anyone reading this who is thinking of starting up a business of their own – GO FOR IT! Change isn’t easy. Nothing stays the same. You have to try new things and be willing to change in order to succeed. I can’t wait to see what this next year will hold! Keep your eyes peeled for new classes and new class plans.

Sonya x


Hen Doo meets Pilates!

30th May 2018

I was so grateful for this lovely bunch of girls booking a Pilates class with Centre Focused Pilates for their hen doo in Edinburgh. They all done brilliantly, some beginners and some with previous Pilates experience. We worked on the mats with the ova ball, with a focus on the glutes throughout. They can now go off and indulge over an afternoon tea guilt free 🙂

Doing something like Pilates on a hen doo is a great way to bond with each other and send the bride-to-be off in an energised, feel good mood.

If you would like to book a Private event similar to this then please contact me here. I provide everything for the class, including the mats, small equipment and music.

hen doo 1hen doo 2hen doo 3hen doo 4



International Pilates Day May 5th 2018

Image result for international pilates day

Happy Pilates Day everyone!!!

Pilates instructors from around the world celebrate this day to be thankful and grateful for Joseph and Clara Pilates who introduced us all to this extraordinary opportunity. Becoming passionate in Pilates has definitely been life changing for me. I have noticed a complete change in my body and the way I view exercise and injury. The body works in weird and wonderful ways and not one size fits all but I believe Pilates is something that everyone can enjoy.  I have been lucky enough to share my journey through my instagram page and meet fellow instructors from around the globe.  I am inspired each and every day by their talent and motivation.  So, let’s all come together and appreciate this day and what it signifies.

On Tuesday 8th of May, I celebrated with my lovely Pilates class. We had some healthy snack bars and mineral water to rejuvenate ourselves after class. Take a look at the pictures below.

See you on the mat 🙂



My Go To Exercises

My Go To Exercises

I thought I would share some of my all time favourite exercises that I tend to use a lot in my classes and at home for self-practice.  I have decided to narrow my post to 4 exercises but honestly, the list is endless.  The exercises chosen are diverse enough that you can use them from beginner to advanced by changing the level of the exercise, adding equipment  or combining it to form a sequence. Each exercise provides its own challenge but also has its own role in targeting specific muscle groups and the control of specific movements.

Push ups

This can be done resting on your knees (as shown) or on your toes.  It is key that you keep your elbows drawing in to your side as you lower down in order to protect your shoulder from injury. This exercise should be felt in your triceps and chest. Only lower down as far as comfortable and engage those abs to maintain your neutral spine.


A staple exercise for anyone practicing Pilates.  This exercise really engages your deep abdominal muscles and the more you do the more it burns!! Focus on controlling your centre in neutral as your legs lift and lower to table top pose.  Your table top position is where your hip and knee are both at 90 degrees. Remember to start with the level that works best for your body.


I enjoy this exercise as it incorporates the whole body. You should start with your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips with a neutral spine.  As you float your leg up into full extension imagine lengthening your toes away from the body.  Keep the core muscles engaged and a gentle squeeze on your glutes.  Watch out for any pelvic rotation or extension in your lower spine and keep your elbows soft.

Shoulder bridge

If you have ever been to a Pilates class then I guarantee you have done this exercise before. This is designed for spinal articulation and strengthening of the glutes and hamstrings. To begin tuck your tailbone in and slowly peel your spine off the mat bone by bone, rolling up through the spine.  Hold at the top, keeping your knees hip width apart. As you begin to roll down imagine lowering one spinal bone at a time. Relax your tailbone as your pelvis touches down. A nice variation to this is to take your feet a little further forwards and you should feel it more in your hamstrings.

If you do decide to try any of these exercises then make sure they feel comfortable to your body.  If you experience any pain or discomfort then please consult with a trained Pilates instructor or a health professional.

Most importantly – enjoy!!


Sign up now!


Healthy Mind Healthy Body

Healthy Mind Healthy Body event

What a fantastic event we all had at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre!! The event started with a nutritional talk with Dr Gregorio Torchia of Nutripanda, followed by yoga sessions with Edinburgh Community Yoga and Pilates with myself, Centre Focused Pilates :). We also had delicious vegan food samples from the Edinburgh Beetroot Café. The event was finished off with Vanessa Skelton Sports Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy who made us all feel better after all our working out!

Have a look at some pictures below 🙂



Pilates for Men


Pilates is for men too? whaaat?
The common myth I hear all the time is that Pilates is only for women. This could not be further from the truth.  Pilates was first introduced by a male; Joseph Pilates. He spent his childhood battling rheumatic disease, asthma and rickets and was determined to become physically healthy. He done this by creating his own system of exercise – Pilates. He started off teaching Scotland Yard detectives in self-defence but due to unfortunate circumstances he was imprisoned in Germany during the first world war.  He began to teach physical exercise programs to his fellow compatriots, using springs and the camp bunk beds.  Following this he returned to Germany and taught the German Police Force. He then migrated to the USA and set up a studio with his wife which grew in popularity.

It appears over the years that this popularity has taken the interest of women and less men.  From experience I think most men believe Pilates is ‘easy’ or ‘stretchy’ or just too slow paced. It might be intimidating if they don’t feel as graceful or flexible as their female partners (my boyfriend would agree with this). These things come with practice and dedication to the craft and each of us are still working at this in our own way.  Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say.

Pilates for men can provide countless benefits for your body and mind, more than just stretching and breathing.  I try to remind myself that the best swimmers are those that swim with their core, the best runners are those that use their control and stability and the best weight lifter is one that can combine it all. Many male clients may not want to lie on a mat and use their body weight for exercise.  They may prefer to lift weights, so as an instructor seeing a client 1:1 this can be challenging to break down.  I try to make Pilates as functional as I can to their specific activity or sport and as a physiotherapist, I am able to incorporate Pilates into nearly every patient’s exercise program and try to adapt the exercises to their individual needs.  This is where 1:1 Pilates is useful or small group settings so you can get to know each clients goals and level of ability.  It is easy to feel swallowed up in a large class setting, which may be another reason males feel put off.

I hope that this inspires more males to take the plunge and book into a class, no matter what your sport, level of strength or experience. Remember, Pilates was created by a man for MEN and women 🙂

Joseph Pilates once said; “In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.”



Ante-natal Pilates

If you are an expectant mother to be then ante-natal pilates is for you. The aim of the class is to help maintain core strength and stability to support you throughout your beautiful pregnancy. Exercise during your pregnancy can provide a lot of benefits but as instructors we know it can be daunting starting a new class.  Whether you are a complete novice right up to elite athlete, pilates can help you. There are, of course, contraindications to taking part in exercise and if you have any concerns over this you can discuss this with your GP and class instructor.

Some of the key benefits are; pelvic floor muscle training, deep abdominal muscle training, posture re-education, gluteal strengthening, scapulothoracic training, and helping to maintain your mobility.  This will help prepare you for your changing body throughout the pregnancy, during the birth and whilst caring for your baby.

The classes will introduce you to other expectant mothers and it is a great way to socialise and share stories. Group classes are great as they are usually a small group size which allows the instructor to monitor your technique and encourage progression. We can utilise small equipment such as, exercise bands, ova balls and pilates circles.

I hope after reading this you feel inspired to attend these classes.  As Joseph Pilates once said; “every moment of our life can be the beginning of great things.”  You are bringing a beautiful baby into this world, enjoy every moment of your pregnancy in the healthiest way you can xxx

Blog, Uncategorized

First blog post

Hello thanks for taking the time to come along and read my first little blog post :).

I was introduced to Pilates in 2013 at my local gym as a way to improve back pain. I was in my fourth year of University studying Physiotherapy, being exposed to a long list of patients suffering similar problems and I wanted to find a long term solution to help them through it. I started my Pilates training through APPI (Australian Physiotherapy Pilates Institute) and have completed all levels from Beginner to Advanced. I have also trained in ante-natal and post-natal Pilates for any lovely ladies who are expecting or planning a little one in their life :).

I love Pilates because it can help EVERYONE. Our core is our powerhouse and I believe we should dedicate our time and effort into improving it every day. It’s not always easy to implement but every day that I succeed in this is a good one. As they say, all you need is love (and Pilates).

Please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message for any advice.

Sonya x