The best Pilates studios in Canberra

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Grant Sutherland

Grant Sutherland, co-owner of Hawker Place Physiotherapy and Pilates, one of Canberra’s most recommended Pilates studios in Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

First devised by Joseph Pilates as in the early decades of last century, Pilates is now loved by millions the world over. Initially created to rehabilitate injured athletes and dancers, it has now evolved to suit all ages and fitness levels. As a form of low-impact exercise, Pilates aims to strengthen muscles whilst improving postural alignment and flexibility.

Indeed, the diverse appeal of a Pilates in generally is one of the core reasons driving its popularity in the region. Not only does it cater to all; it is also available in a variety of styles and aerobic levels. The sheer expanse of movements is enough to keep even the most avid fitness buff interested and challenged.

Pilates also offers a myriad of health benefits. Not only is it a fabulous addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; it strengthens, tones, and balances the body holistically. Pilates can also work to address those little niggles and get your body back on track.

Available in mat, clinical, classical or reformer styles, there is plenty on offer to cater to your individual needs. As with any exercise the hardest bit is often simply getting started. With many studios and instructors on offer, finding your best fit can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best Pilates studios in the Canberra region below.

What makes a great Pilates studio?

The best Pilates studios are a wellness sanctuary for clients, allowing them to improve their health and fitness at ease. Led by experienced and passionate instructors they challenge both novices and aficionados alike. Here are some considerations to keep in mind while evaluating potential studios:

  • Qualified, experienced, and passionate. Pilates is a specialised exercise program that takes years of practice and theoretical knowledge to master. At a very minimum look for a studio with diploma qualified instructors. Moreover, instructors with a background in fields like physiotherapy are also advantageous, demonstrating a broader knowledge and skills base. Along with qualifications experience in Pilates is also vital. Incorrect movement and poor form can aggravate existing injuries or even cause new ones. Instructors should be hands-on, correcting and adjusting alignment as needed. Finally, look for a studio that is operated by a passionate team – their enthusiasm and dedication make all the difference.
  • Style suited to your need. Pilates enthusiasts are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to classes. Typically, there are four key strands each with their own benefits. Those looking to address specific injuries or physical needs may find that clinical Pilates is best. Others who prefer more general exercise may like the body weight movement that mat Pilates provides. Conversely, those seeking a challenge or quick results may find equipment led reformer Pilates attractive. And others looking for a combination of mat and equipment may gravitate to classical Pilates. Either way, consider your preferences and evaluate a studio’s ability to deliver them. Each may have an area of specialisation which is also worth exploring. And, if possible, opt for a trial class to ensure the style is suited to your need.
  • Cost to class size equation. When it comes to Pilates classes, size matters. From private lessons all the way up to twenty per session or more, each has its benefits and draw backs. Those who are new to a style, or the regime altogether, may benefit from personalised instruction in a small class. Others who have been practising for years will be comfortable working independently on a reformer with a large group. Cost will also play a role, and where possible prioritise value. So, when it comes to the cost versus class size equation, consider your needs and weigh up accordingly.
  • Convenient. One of the best ways to start – and stick – to your new Pilates regime is by selecting a studio that is convenient. Location, class times, and access to things like parking or public transport are always important. So too is proximity to home or the office. To truly integrate Pilates into your schedule, opt for a studio that ticks the boxes as far as convenience is concerned.
  • Flexible class delivery. There will always be times where attending a class may be cumbersome. Interruptions like business trips, unwell family members, or the need to prioritise other things all impact our schedules. The best Pilates studios will recognise this, and factor in flexible modes of delivery. Things like virtual classes and online programmes are incredibly beneficial, providing the flexibility to exercise at a time of choosing.

The best Pilates studios in Canberra

Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Back in Strength

Back in Strength has been holding Pilates classes in its large, fully equipped studio for more than 10 years. After a thorough assessment, personalised programs address issues and get clients pain free and reaching their goals.

The range of classes include reformer, classic, and clinical; with special needs like pre and post-natal also available. Qualified instructors provide innovative solutions to client needs, developing awareness of and recruiting core muscles and progressing to advanced exercises. The result is a strong and stable body. Instructors regularly review and assess client progress.

More than 60 classes are offered at Back in Strength each week, Monday to Saturday. Some classes can be claimed on private health or through certain health third-party payers.

Carrie Paine wrote on Riotact, “Back in Strength at Deakin is fantastic! It’s a safe and supportive environment for the young and not-so-young, fitness fanatics and casual exercise enthusiasts, as well as anyone just wanting to gain strength and flexibility.”

Pilates Centre Canberra

Pilates Centre Canberra offers studio and group classes. With outstanding teachers and delivery, this is a safe place to work out. All instructors are passionate, motivating, knowledgeable and members of Pilates Alliance Australasia.

Studio sessions use the full range of Pilates equipment. Individualised programs are private (one instructor, two students) or semi-private (one instructor, four students). They are versatile and great for overall body conditioning, including flexibility, strength and mobility. Studio sessions are also loved by for those who are pregnant or post-natal and those needing rehabilitation, spinal pathology management or other systemic and structural condition management.

Group classes (maximum five people) use Pilates Reformer machines and focus on alignment, flow and strengthening the body as a whole. Matwork classes are group style (maximum 10 people), run on mats and use small equipment like fit balls, rollers and magic circles.

Elise Murphy wrote on Google, “Such different approaches to Pilates but amazing in different ways.

Hawker Place Physiotherapy and Pilates

With over 30 years’ experience, Hawker Place Physiotherapy and Pilates provides the highest standard of care in a safe, friendly and professional environment. Hawker Place Physiotherapy and Pilates recognises the unique long-term benefits of clinical Pilates for building strength and physical awareness, as well as for injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Hawker Place Physiotherapy and Pilates is dedicated to providing clients with the best available care, tailored to specific physical needs and capabilities. Specialising in clinical Pilates, all instructors at Hawker Place Physiotherapy and Pilates are qualified with the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute.

The practice requires a one-on-one assessment before you start your classes. This is so highly-trained staff can properly assess personal needs and familiarise clients with Pilates before they start. Small group and individual lessons are available.

Andrea Hotchkiss wrote on Riotact, “Hawker Place Physiotherapy and Pilates has wonderful, professional staff led by Grant Sutherland. They have in-depth knowledge about each person and are therefore able to assist everyone, no matter age, flexibility or past or current injuries.”

Pilates Alive

Pilates Alive, a boutique studio, is led by Esther Mooney who has 20 years’ experience teaching Pilates to a range of ages and abilities, supporting clients to increase stability, agility, mobility and strength. Esther holds a post-graduate certificate in the Pilates Method and belongs to the Australian Pilates Method Association. She works with dancers, athletes, those suffering injuries and chronic pain, those in rehabilitation, and pre-natal and post-natal clients. Private, group and online sessions are available.

Elysium Studio Pilates

Elysium Studio Pilates supports clients to look and feel great in a safe, effective way. That includes improving mental and physical wellbeing. Classes are designed around everyone’s likes and fitness levels, including Matwork, Reformer, Circuits and Semi-Private. Pregnancy Pilates classes are also available.

On Google, Fiona Joiner wrote, “I was worried I would be too unfit or uncoordinated but Elyse tailors exercises … I’ve already lost a bit of weight and am toning up. My lower back pain is improving too.”

If you’re looking for more articles on improving your physical health, you might like our articles on the best yoga studios in Canberra, the best physiotherapists in Canberra and the the best dietitians Canberra has to offer.

Your experience with Pilates studios in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the Pilates studios listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of Pilates?

Pilates is an effective and beneficial workout for all body types. It focuses on isolating muscle groups, improving endurance and flexibility, and building a strong core. For these reasons, Pilates helps you maintain a good posture, use your muscles and joints carefully, and exercise safely. It also helps improve your strength and muscle tone.

How is Pilates different from yoga?

One of the biggest differences between Pilates and yoga is equipment. Yoga is all mat-work whereas Pilates also uses equipment. Another difference is that yoga focuses more on flexibility. Pilates also concentrates on strength and conditioning. Finally, Pilates is not fundamentally spiritual like yoga is.

Can I do Pilates with an injury?

This depends on the type and severity of the injury. Pilates can help with some injuries, depending on what the injury is, how bad it is and how recent it is. The important thing is to talk to your doctor or health professional, as well as you Pilates instructor, on what you can safely do.

Is Pilates hard for beginners?

Like all forms of exercise, it's important to start at the right level and progress from there. If you’re just starting out with Pilates, join a beginner class. Also talk to your instructor so they’re aware you’re a beginner. Don’t push yourself too hard. The last thing you want is to injure yourself and not be able to get back to those Pilates classes you love.

How much does it cost to go to Pilates?

Different studios charge different prices so it’s best to head to websites or call studios to discuss what they charge. Many factors are at play, including the size and style of studio, location and how much equipment it has. The number of classes you attend will also affect price. Some studios offer discounts or package rates.

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Back in Strength in Deakin. Brilliant team, awesome facilities and support!

Hannah Riddell6:11 pm 12 Sep 20

Definitely Back in Strength in Deakin! The studio is in a great location and offers many pilates classes for all ages and abilities. The staff, from the receptionists to the physio’s, are friendly and helpful. I love Back In Strength!

EMBRACE is the Ultimate! Their Pilates classes and all their instructors are amazing but it’s the the.incredibly welcoming and uplifting environment of Embrace that truly makes it Canberra’s best Pilates studio. I have been going there for years and had times I’ve walked in feeling low and left feeing lighter and reminded there are good people in the world.

Ben Wilkinson3:34 pm 12 Sep 20

Back in strength in Deakin with Anne and the team!! They are all physiotherapists, so know exactly what they are doing . They offer a great variety of classes and create personalised programs so the exercises you do are catered for you specifally. You can also claim on private health which is great.

Leonie Casey8:36 pm 11 Sep 20

Embrace has my vote. Have had nothing but encouragement – even when starting as an absolute gumbie who needed help with all kinds of set up. The answer to my, “ I just can’t do it.” Is always, “You can’t do it – YET” A friendly and encouraging atmosphere.

carolynsmith10:33 am 11 Sep 20

I love Elysium Studio Pilates in Wright. Elyse is a great instructor and it’s a very comfortable environment. As a physio I have recommended lots of people come here. It helped so much with my back pain during pregnancy and is now helping me regain my strength after having bubba! Highly recommend 🙂

Wellbeing Pilates Studio in Bungendore is the bomb. Great instructors, friendly atmosphere, focus on rehab and always great fun. They also have a great online presence so you Canberra types don’t even need to drive the 35 minutes to Bungendore (but I recommend you do)!

I think Club Lime in Belconnen have Pilates Groups and you can pay a casual entry fee instead of a membership.

Canberra Dance Theatre, over near ANU, (type it into google for the website) have a pilates class, they tend to be on the pricey side though.

ANU gym runs a number of “hybrid” classes which you can attend casually, and even if you end up joining it is still pretty cheap. (Their list of people who can join is really open, basically you just have to claim to have been to an Australian uni at some point in your life I think). I really like the Les Mills Body Balance classes, they are a mixture of tai chi, pilates, and yoga, and I find them a little more interesting than straight yoga, which starts to bore me after more than a few lessons.

There is the place in O’Connor – reasonably good – Cockle Street

barking toad8:05 am 10 Feb 09

ffs – another coffee thread!

Do Yoga classes that is

Om Shanti in Griffith do classes.

There is yoga at Turner Seniors Centre on Tuesday nights at 6.00 – you don’t have to be a senior either, but it is like stepping back in time to about the 50s in there.

Don’t know if it’s still too far south, but I can recommend Life Personal Fitness at Kingston.

I started going there for gym sessions when I was preparing to hike the Inca trail – I survived the Inca trail, a lot of which I put down to the training. Since returning my goals changed so I do a gym session and a Pilates session each week. Sessions are pretty small, typically no more than 5 people and a programme made up for you personally.

My housemate goes to the Bradden mob:

They have intensive courses and all kinds of stuff from what I can understand.

Call Despina as she is really into it.

mrs astro just started a yoga class in miller st, but only because the school in lonsdale street near cornucopia’s times didn’t quite work with her hectic schedule ; ) they seemed ‘quite good’, was the report

– and i’d suggest otherwise you consider the posture and flexibility classes, through anu sports union. can’t recommend them highly enough.

I go to Yoga Mandir in Braddon and it’s excellent! They like you to enrol in a whole term but you can go along to one of their open sessions to see if you like it first.

I also hear there’s an excellent pilates place in civic somewhere, but I can’t remember exactly where it was. Sorry that’s quite unhelpful.

But if you decide to give yoga a go I can recommend Yoga Mandir

Mrs nifty used the AIS fitness centre on a casual basis.

A friend speaks highly of Esther Just from Pilates Alive.

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