Curvy Bodies: Pilates for Scoliosis

Do you work in Allied Health as a Pilates Instructor, Osteopath, Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist? Do you regularly see clients with Scoliosis and would like a better understanding of this condition and how you can help them? Given 3% of the population are affected by Scoliosis, the chances are you will eventually have a client present to you with this condition, if you haven’t already?

My name is Helen New, I’m a Principal Practitioner of The Pilates Method, Owner/Manager of two Pilates studios, a Faculty Educator for National Pilates Training and for the last 9 years have been specialising in Scoliosis. I’m currently the only Authorised Scolio Pilates® Practitioner in Australia and I want to share my expertise & passion for treating clients with this condition with more Australian practitioners. 

Scoliotic spines need to be worked differently.

Scoliotic spines are not symmetrical (stating the obvious right!) and yet so many instructors I meet still work their clients bilaterally in all their work.  When there are muscular imbalances in the spine (sometimes quite significant), it doesn’t make sense to load that body evenly.  Why not?  Because the “bossy muscles” on the convex side of the curvature will take on more of the work and get “bossier” and the muscles on the concave side won’t have a chance to strengthen.

I often hear instructors say they thought they could work the body evenly as long as they “stretched the tight side last”!  But which side is the tight side? A client with an atypical 3-curve scoliosis will have a lumbar convexity to the left and a thoracic convexity to the right. If I take that client into lateral flexion to the left, their lumbar will lengthen out but I’ve just increased their thoracic curvature…So how is that smart? And I also need to take into account the rotation that’s happening in the spine. Confused? Understandable! It’s a complicated condition but one that as movement practitioners we need to understand better.

Client case study.

The following pictures are of my client Tess. I detected her Scoliosis when she was 11 years old. At that time she had Cobb angles of 50 degrees in her lumbar and 45 degrees in her thoracic. She was told that she was out of bracing range and spinal fusion was recommended. Given her large curvature at onset, it was predicted that it would increase quickly and significantly.

Most recent X-ray of a client presenting with Scoliosis. The film shows a lumbar Cobb angle of 51º and thoracic Cobb angle of 53º .

Helen New working with a client, Tess, with a scoliotic spine.

Tess has attended regular sessions with me since then but she still hasn’t had surgery! She will be 20 next month. During her teenage years (that delightful time around Year 9) she wasn’t very diligent with her exercise program and her curvature increased to the low 60’s.  Once she made a consistent effort to commit to her exercise programme, we have reduced these numbers again and her most recent x-ray taken in February this year showed her Cobb angles to be 51 degrees in her lumbar and 53 in her thoracic. 

Pilates can help clients with Scoliosis

I see a huge variety of clients for Scoliosis, ranging in age from 10 years old through to 70. Some have small curves, some have large curves, some have pain, some don’t!  But what they all have in common is they leave my studio standing taller, breathing easier and if pain is a factor when they walked in, it has usually gone (or at least subsided) when they leave!

If you’d like to better understand how to work with scoliotic clientele, I’d love to see you at my upcoming workshop “Curvy Bodies – A Deeper Look at Scoliosis”.

Helen New - Faculty Educator with National Pilates Training


Helen New

Adv. Dip. Pilates, Dip. Prof. Pilates. Inst.,Dip. Teaching (Dance), Cert IV. TAE

Helen New is a Faculty Educator & Presenter for National Pilates Training, as well as a continuing education Short Course Presenter. Helen is also a Principal Practitioner of The Pilates Method, Owner/Manager of Precision Pilates studios in Parkdale & Windsor and is currently the only Authorised Scolio Pilates® Practitioner in Australia.

A heartfelt thank you from Katrina Edwards – Here’s to taking charge of our own physical health and mental wellbeing, today!

Katrina Edwards, Aligned For Life & National Pilates Training 2018

Trekking through the wilderness in Tasmania with my family recently was a perfect end to an extraordinary year, reflecting with each step, a reminder of how cathartic bush walking is – even with the rain, snow, hail, wet feet, aching shoulders, heavy pack. My life on my back and beside me for 6 days, space and time, lots of laughing, dad jokes and teenage tantrums, mud and more mud! How good did the porridge taste and the endearing company of pademelons ,wallabies, echidnas and skinks…aaah so good for the soul and topping up the tank.

Physical challenges were met every minute of every day as we traversed for 70 plus kms over 6 days. The feeling of achievement upon completing is met with huge sighs of relief! Encouraging our children that this is what it is all about, getting through even when you think you can’t, and pushing the boundaries, experiencing hardship, building resilience and getting back to basics.

Life for me is about meeting my own personal expectations, continuing to lead with honesty, passion and integrity, being true to myself and sharing that with everyone I meet. Looking for possibilities and creating opportunities is what gets me out of bed each day. Sharing my passion for mental health and physical conditioning and continuing to surround myself with people that think the same.

I have an amazing crew to thank…my colleagues at Aligned for Life Pilates and National Pilates Training who choose to partake and who believe wholeheartedly in who we are and what we stand for. My new colleagues at the Australian Ballet School who have welcomed me with open arms. Lisa Pavane (Director) who has given me the opportunity to continue. Melbourne city football club players, health team and especially Andrew Mckenzie for believing. And lastly my family. My Dad who is a legend and still to this day inspires me, my mum for setting me up for this adventure I am on, my children Isabella and Rory who are my greatest gift…oops, have just lost it…hang on while I grab a tissue…how lucky am I. And my husband what a great 22 year partnership.

Thanks to all who have supported us this year and we look forward to your company again in 2019. Over the break share your knowledge with family and friends, encouraging each and everyone you meet to take charge of their own physical health and mental wellbeing. Teach them a little of what you know your favourite exercises that set up your day.


Here‘s to a very Merry Xmas and a happy and healthy 2019!






How Hanging Helps Prevent Falls & Wrist Fractures

Kath Banks and Bev Jackson have been working together for some time now in falls and fracture prevention. Now you can learn excellent preventative techniques too!

In this weeks video Kath and Bev are sharing with you an exercise to help strengthen the hip to help us walk more freely and minimise the risk of falling.

“The wrists are a vulnerable area for fracture so we need to

ensure the bones and the muscles around the area are very strong.”

“Strengthening the hip flexors helps with gait so that we can clear our feet when walking and avoid falls.”

If you want to connect with Kath or to find out more about Aligned for Life Pilates and National Pilates training email kath@alignedforlife.com.au today!

Kath Banks and Bev Jackson combating osteoporosis together!

Kath Banks and Bev Jackson have been working together for some time now and their hard work is paying off in combating osteoporosis!

In this weeks video Kath and Bev are sharing with you one of the exercises to help strengthen the hip to help us walk more freely and minimise the risk of falling.

“With osteoporosis and low bone density we need to ensure that we’re minimising the risk of fracture”

“This means that we need to make sure we’re prescribing exercises that don’t make the bones vulnerable”

If you want to connect with Kath or to find out more about Aligned for Life Pilates and National Pilates training email kath@alignedforlife.com.au today!

Conditioning for DANCErs 2017 dates annouced

We’re excited to announce the new “Conditioning for DANCErs” short course where you will embark on a journey covering aspects such as Conditioning Exercises, Efficient Dance Skills, Teaching Practice, Injury Prevention and much more!

Watch the video with voice over by Paula on the importance of conditioning for dancers.

Learn more

Jump for Joy Part 2 – Pilates for Osteoporosis Minimising the risk of fracture

Did you know With 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 experience an osteoporotic fracture?

It’s time we increased our knowledge of this disease as there is a strong chance many of our clients will fall into this population.


Jump for Joy Part 2 – Pilates for Osteoporosis: Minimising the risk of fracture

This workshop explores the development and diagnosis of osteoporosis, who is at risk and the volume of people affected. Programming strategies will focus on minimising fracture through the application of indicated and contraindicated Pilates repertoire with a focus on falls management and an understanding of possible fracture sites. The program will have a heavy matwork focus, so will be relevant to both matwork and studio Pilates instructors.

• What is osteoporosis & osteopenia?
• Pathophysiology and epidemiology, including bone remodelling and risk factors of the disease
• Diagnosis – understanding DXA Scores
• Bone fracture risk management and falls prevention
• Ability to apply Pilates repertoire for clients with osteoporosis with an understanding of indications and contraindications.


Suitable for –  both studio and matwork qualified Pilates Instructors.
Assessment will include –  practical observation throughout the workshop and a short pop quiz.


: 2pm – 6pm

Date: Friday October 21

Location: Level 4, 370 Little Bourke St Melbourne

Continuing Education Points
PAA PDPs = 4 pts APMA CECs = 4 pts


Download the Jump for Joy Part 2 flyer for more info.

Numbers are limited so booking is essential.

Book now via the Mind Body Online website or email katrina@alignedforlife.com.au

More of the right customer, more income, more time for you

Now you can have even more clarity in your business with the “Clarity in Business” one on one coaching program run by none other than Business Clarity & Communications Coach Sandy McDonald!

Sandy is a business clarity and communications coach, online marketer, author and TEDx presenter. She is the founding director of Get It Right Online and Why You Must Blog and founder of Australian charity, CreateCare Global.

Watch this video for a succinct explanation of how Sandy McDonald can help you take your business to the next level…

In the “Clarity in Business” program you will embark on a journey covering aspects such as ‘Clarity of Purpose’ to ‘Content and Connection’ and everything in between!

Sandy believes that without clarity not much can be achieved. Together you will work on the clarity of your purpose and your business principles which will expose a clear intention for your marketing and communications. When you are clear on your purpose, principles and story that s when you can be coherent with your message on and offline.

Here are two testimonials from Katrina and Kerrie who’s businesses have been helped immensely through the guidance of Sandy and her “Clarity in Business” coaching.

As a successful business owner of 13 years, I needed to redefine my soul purpose of the business in order for me to launch forward into the future with confidence. It is through Sandy’s guidance and peeling back the layers of what drives me in my life, that I have managed to declutter the thoughts and ideas that have been congested in my brain and find clarity to the marvels in my head.   Formulating strategies to build strength in my principles to move forward for future opportunities has been one of the most inspiring and rewarding  journey I have taken so far in my career

– Kerrie Murphy, Director & Principal Teacher at Infinity Pilates

I began private coaching sessions on a fortnightly basis with Sandy. One of my highlights for 2015.  We started with digging deep to figure out  “What is it we do and why? Discovering the purpose for Aligned for Life Pilates and separately for National Pilates Training. Sandy suggested I write. Which I do daily. Getting thoughts down on paper not analysing, not deconstructing until the pen stops. During this writing process the purpose for both organisations was revealed.  I quickly felt attached to the purpose and took ownership. This was an incredible moment for me.  A turning point and I’m still feeling the momentum that was created from that point of gaining clarity around why I do what I do.  I haven’t looked back since. Along this journey with Sandy we mapped out the 6 guiding principles for both organisations and I now align those with how I communicate and function daily.  I am rewarded daily. I am excited about the next stage for me personally with you.

– Katrina Edwards, Founder & Owner of Aligned for Life Pilates & National Pilates Training

See Sandy in her talk at TEDx Melbourne below:

The start date for this program is up to you as these sessions with Sandy are privately booked based on availability.

Download the flyer here for “Clarity in Business” and contact us via katrina@alignedforlife.com.au today!

Painful Clients THIS Saturday July 23rd with Kath Banks

In this workshop Kath provides you with an overview on Chronic Pain.

Chronic or persistent pain is a very real and debilitating condition. The goal of this workshop is to provide Pilates practitioners with a better understanding of pain, the development of chronic pain, and how this affects a person physically, socially and psychologically. A bio-psycho-social approach is essential in the treatment and management of chronic pain, so this workshop explores how this can be integrated within the Pilates method.


With an increased understanding of pain, we can then explore the utilization of the Pilates repertoire in the management and treatment of chronic pain. This information can then be passed onto clients, enabling them to have a better understanding of their own condition, which is vital for self-management.


Assessment will include a short practical assessment and pop quiz. You will need to be a fully qualified Pilates practitioner as this workshop will be at a continuing education level.
Kath Banks (Advanced Diploma Pilates, Bachelor of Applied Science (human Movement), Cert IV TAE) is the owner of Aligned for Life Pilates Moonee Ponds, a lecturer for National Pilates Training and a consultant for Maribyrnong College Elite Sports Conditioning program. Kath’s specialty areas include postural analysis, rehabilitation & pregnancy. To further enhance her understanding of the body (in particular clinical conditions and rehabilitation) she has commenced her Masters of Clinical Exercise Science & Rehabilitation at Victoria University.

Join Kath and other great instructors in your field this weekend for “Painful Clients” working with Chronic pain and be able to help your clients with their debilitating chronic pain.

DATE & TIME: Saturday, 23 July 2:00pm– 6:00pm

COST: $190


Book now via the Mind Body website

or contact Kath Banks kath@alignedforlife.com.au

Earn CECs and PDPs with Deborah Lessen

Deborah Lessen’s programs in Australia provide PDPs with PAA and CECs with the APMA. Completion of programs will allow for CEC accrual at:

  • Tribute to Carola – 3 PDPs / 3 CECs
  • Pre-Pilates Techniques – 3 PDPs / 2 CECs
  • On the Reformer – 6 PDPs / 6 CECs
  • Teaching Strategies – 3 PDPs / 3 CECs
  • The High Chair – 6 PDPs / 6 CECs

Deborah Lessen is an outstanding leader in the international Pilates industry, an extraordinary presenter, and our direct lineage to Carola Trier.

Ms. Lessen is a founding member and Immediate-Past President of the Pilates Method Alliance, serving on the Board of Directors since its inception. She was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the PMA Pilates Certification Exam. She is also the editor and a contributor to the PMA Pilates Certification Exam Study Guide, and Chairperson of the PMA Certification Commission.

A former professional dancer and teacher, she was trained to teach the Pilates method by Joseph Pilates’ first protégé, Carola Trier. Ms. Lessen founded the Greene Street Studio in 1983, which nurtures a broad base of clients in the Pilates method for general conditioning, performance specific training, injury prevention, and post-rehabilitation. As co-defendant in the federal trademark infringement action for use of the name “Pilates,” Deborah rallied the community to oppose the action. The Pilates name was made generic in a sweeping victory in November, 1999. The victory party in New York City was the launch of the Pilates Method Alliance.

In recent times Deborah has worked to create her own beautiful range of Pilates apparatus based on the original equipment she worked with at Carola’s and that Mr Pilates instigated. Her ‘High Chair’ is developed from the original wheelchair creations of Joe Pilates and is a unique and magnificent addition to the Pilates equipment options.

Read more about Deborah and these programs here for
Sydney, MelbournePerth.

Aus Pilates method CEC         Pilates Alliance Aus

It’s not too late for you! Mid year intake still open, apply today!

That’s right, it’s still not too late for you to make a decision and change not only your life but the lives of those around you too by applying to our certificate and diploma courses.

Contact Katrina Edwards on 0414 645 455 or katrina@alignedforlife.com.au today.

Read on to find out what it’s like to train with National Pilates Training through the eyes of our Diploma of Pilates Instruction graduate, Seamus Balkin…

Course Name: Diploma of Pilates Instruction
Graduate Name: Seamus Balkin

  1. Why did you decide to do the course through NPT?

    “I had Katrina recommended by an old Pilates instructor of mine (Andrew Baxter) who has previously worked with Katrina years ago. It looked like a good solid and thorough course and very professional. It was more than a weekend workshop and I wanted a detailed and thorough course. And that’s what I found!”

  2. What did you love about the course and NPT?

    “I loved the knowledge of all of the instructors and that they were all very giving of their time and skills and the detail that they went into while covering all the information in a way we could understand. There was a lot of knowledge and wisdom that they imparted to us. I really liked that NPT were able to adjust the level of delivery to the individuals in the course. It wasn’t a one size fits all method of teaching. They were able to adapt to all different learning styles. I loved the interactive style of the course as well.”

  3. What did you do before you decided to change your career path?

    “I was doing work in LED lighting and energy dealing with carbon trading and compliance around energy efficiency. I needed to change what I was doing as it wasn’t working. I was also doing some sales and I didn’t want to be doing that. I am in the process of transitioning from this career to teaching Pilates full time.”

  4. How have you found the course overall?

    “It’s been quite reinvigorating for me in general, not just because I’m doing exercise, also because I’ve been able to tap into a different part of myself. It’s been a really positive experience for me to do this which has been completely different. I had to be very present and focused with everything we were doing at the time and I really loved that. When teaching Pilates you have to be very present and focus in on the person I am teaching and that has been a great learning for me. I can take this skill outside of my Pilates teaching also which has been wonderful.”

  5. What was it like to be part of NPT?

    “I felt like I was learning to help people and met a great group of people whom I was able to grow alongside while becoming an instructor. It is a close knit community of people in a very positive environment. Walking in there is like a breath of fresh air a lot of the time. I cant speak highly enough of the positive environment they create. Katrina is someone who is very much focused and committed to sharing the philosophy of positivity. It cultivates a willingness to share each other and help and help peoples bodies better. A really great culture.”

Seamus in action doing a Hanging Back Variation on the Cadillac below…great form, control & strength!

If you are thinking of making a change in career or adding to your current skill set, then we would love to hear from you!

Contact Katrina Edwards on 0414 645 455 or katrina@alignedforlife.com.au today.