45 minutes’ CPD: Learning by Oneself

Pilates for the Hips & Knees with Karen Grinter

Karen's Q&As

Bum Lift – Explaining Core 

Sorry…I didn’t cue as I would in class, which I should have done at least once for those of you who haven’t seen previous broadcasts.  The way I cue is – Close the back passage, close the front passage, pull in the lower ab wall, pull in upper ab/ribs.  I spend quite a bit of time with new clients explaining all this.  Essentially they get used to doing the sequence – depending on the exercise its in varying degrees of effort.  So more load likely to go to the lower back, more engagement of those areas of muscles.  I work with a woman’s health physio and that is how she cues her patients, we use other ways more graphically if required and depending on the audience. Nuts to Guts is a great cue for men as is Lift the Crown Jewels.  Personally I don’t mind what I use as long as it resonates with the clients and they understand what to do.

Ana wobbling around with leg in the air!  

We would reduce the range of motion on this exercise, cue the core (as previous answer) and give her loads of feedback that she can take away with her to practice at home.  I also encourage them to exercise in front of a mirror so they can see exactly what is happening and learn to correct it. I would hope with homework done consistently we should see improvement in stability and increase of range..but only if they do their homework.

Clams and Modified Clams and exercising lying down!

I totally understand your reasoning for doing things standing as that’s where we have the issues.

However there are limited ways to do things standing and if balance isn’t great they spend more time trying to balance and not fall over and less time getting stronger with good control.   Those two side leg lift exercises are actually really strong – and don’t forget you are also working against gravity in a different plane.

The movements are not huge, but they are very focussed onto the hip/head of femur and quality of movement.  I’ve used them with many elite athletes as well and they really don’t enjoy them, but they DO like the results they get.

A variety of exercises in many planes of movement is my preference, these do get things started though and allow more standing work to be done with better control.

I hope that helps everyone.  I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone has.


Pilates is more regulated that it was when I first started teaching, however the difference in quality of teacher training is huge.  I hope this will help give you a bit of background.


This is the governing body for most exercise qualification in the UK.  So they draw a line in the sand and say “this is what you need to know to be a Level 3 Pilates Teacher”.  So any training provider has to meet that criteria.

Body Control Pilates – who I trained charge £3400 for the Level 3 Mat course. Quite a commitment to anyone who wants to train to teach Pilates.  You attend 13 days of formal tuition in London, you have to pass a practical exam to start your supervising teaching period, your supervising teaching is done with various teachers around the country, you book in and teach their clients with continual assessment.

It is expected that you do roughly 50 hours of supervising teaching – if you are ticking the boxes, it could be less, if you are needing more help it could be more – its ‘when you are ready’ not when you have done the 50 hours!

You have to do a 3 hour theory paper, at the end of your supervising teaching hours you go to London for your sign off class.

By the time you have the qualification, you should be well versed in the basics of Pilates,  be able to TEACH, not just shout instruction to people, be able to correct alignment and give feedback to clients to help them help themselves AND probably spent another £1000 on travel and hotels to get it.

It takes around 6 to 12 months to achieve this. Here is a link to the BCP stuff on this.  http://www.bodycontrolpilates.com/shop/uk-national-standard-l3.html

However if you don’t want to spend that amount of time or money, you can do online study anatomy and physiology, attend a mat workshop day, do another anatomy online study and a few other assessments on line and you will have exactly the same qualification as me at a fraction of the cost, time and most certainly knowledge.  No help in learning to teach, picking up poor movement patterns, alignment etc.

Clearly there is huge disparity in what course providers are offering.

All I can say is – do your research. Find out who is teaching near you, where did they train? What further training have they done?

I also have a  Level 4 Low Back Pain qualification, Level 4 Bone Health qualification and a few others I have probably forgotten.  I approached a local spinal surgeon who was very helpful to me and he invited me to sit in his clinic with him.  I was there all day.  Then I watch him doing a spinal cage op, discectomy and decompression and facet joint injections.  It was really good to see the other side of my clients ‘back pain journey’.  He’s refereed to us since and we have many many clients who have come from local health professionals.  I had much of the knowledge thanks to him prior to the Level 4 course.

Many teachers may well be afraid to get in touch with you – after all you are the experts and we are not! So do reach out to them.  They will be so happy to have your endorsement, however I do understand that you need to be happy with them.  Are they going to look after your patients or break them?

Level 3 is the very basic qualification they should hold – find out who they trained with and then check out that training provider – what kind of training are they offering – distance learning and online papers? Or more formal?

Level 4 are speciality based courses, Low Back pain, exercise post breast cancer, pregnancy, osteoporosis, heart conditions etc.  A good teacher should be doing these to further their knowledge and stay up to date with current best practice.  Sadly again though, these courses can differ hugely.  My Bone Health course was 2 days of training followed by a case history with a 6 week lesson plan, which took a few months to work through.  I could have done an online course for £40 though!

Karen’s a member of Body Control Pilates and has maintained her training by taking their courses over the years. If you’re interested in learning more about her credentials or finding a similarly trained Pilates instructors near you, copy this link into your search bar to access the Body Control Pilates website: www.bodycontrolpilates.com