Stretch Pilates


Regular stretching provides many benefits. It releases muscle tension, brings relief to painful joints, improves flexibility and reduces injury. But if you don’t enjoy stretching, try Pilates. The eccentric exercise programme — focused on core strength  — may just bring back the joy of stretching for you.

In a 1962 interview with American journalist Robert Wernick, Joseph Pilates (1883 – 1967) said he discovered the benefits of stretching when he was interned at Knockaloe on the Isle of Man in World War I (1914 – 1918.)

Pilates was a German, living in Great Britain at the time. He was interned due to strong anti-German sentiment during the war. He spent three-and-half years as a prisoner-of-war on the Isle of Man, off the coast of Great Britain and Ireland.


“It was the cats which did it,” Pilates told Wernick. The interview was published in Sports Illustrated.

Pilates recounted life at Knockaloe. The prisoners were becoming weaker by the day, and were in low spirits. In contrast, the cats though “skin and bones” like the fellow prisoners were “lithe and springy.”

It made him wondered: “Why were the cats in such good shape, so bright-eyed, while the humans were growing every day paler, weaker, apathetic creatures ready to give up if they caught a cold or fell down and sprained an ankle?”

Pilates said the answer came to him that the cats were always stretching:

“When they have nothing else to do, (they were) stretching their legs out, stretching, keeping their muscles limber, alive,” he said. Pilates discovered stretching not only improves your health, but also puts you in a better state of mind.


Pilates began to work on “an orderly series of exercises” to stretch “all human muscles.” He tried the exercises on fellow prisoners at Knockaloe. For injured men who could not get out of bed, he invented the reformer, a moving bed made of springs. The springs were believed to have come from bed mattresses.

Today, the Pilates reformer is the most iconic equipment for core training, and the use of springs as resistance is a distinctive characteristic of Pilates exercise.

The springs — as they are stretchable — not only stretch the muscle, but also allow the muscle to lengthen and work in a bigger range of motion. Exercises which contract the muscles in length are known as eccentric training. So if you have chronically tight muscles, that don’t seem to improve with static stretching, try Pilates. Exercising with springs can help stretch and strengthen the muscles eccentrically, so that they don’t stay tight and short.


The concept of “core exercise” did not exist until the 1980s. You would not find the words, “core exercise” or “core muscles” mentioned in earlier literature or text. Yet before the world knew about the existence of core muscles, Joseph Pilates was espousing the importance of abdominal muscles. In the 1962 interview, he said:

“By exercising your stomach muscles, you wring out the body, you don’t catch colds, you don’t get cancer, you don’t get hernias. Do animals get hernias? Do animals go on diets?”

“Look at a cat. Look at any animal. The only animal that doesn’t hold its stomach in is the pig.” Pilates said.

The technique of drawing the stomach in —  as modern research shows — is how you would activate core muscles, and make them work. Pilates did not mention the word “core,” but many of the core exercises practiced today are Pilates exercises. 

Using core muscles to centre and control a stretch, provide a reference point for the stretch, so that the joint being stretched always stays in alignment with the next joint and the trunk. A core-focused stretch improves body alignment and joint stability.


In an anecdote on the importance of abdominal muscles, Robert Wernick wrote Joseph Pilates would greet all new students, including him with a challenge to step on his stomach. 

“Step on me,” the 80-year old Pilates asked Wernick. He hesitated.

“Don’t be afraid,” Pilates said.

Gingerly, he put one foot on Pilates’ belly and one foot on his chest.

“You see,” Pilates said. “It is easy.”

Robert Wernick met and interviewed many famous personalities in an illustrious career spanning 50 years. But he kept the picture of himself standing on the stomach of Joseph Pilates. Writer Harry Kollatz Jr. remembered seeing the picture in his apartment in 1995. He continued to practice Pilates throughout his life.


A prisoner-of-war camp is an unlikely birthplace of Pilates, an exercise phenomenon which we are still discovering the benefits. Yet it was the experiences of war and imprisonment that Joseph Pilates found the benefits of stretching. Stretching helped the body cope and overcome extreme physical and mental stress. The cats became the inspiration for the exercise.

If you don’t enjoy stretching, Joseph Pilates invented the reformer and other equipment to make stretching easier. Stretch and strengthen your muscles eccentrically with the help of springs. Become more flexible and improve your core strength and alignment.

Start today. Select from below the programme that best suits you:

Stretch Pilates Programmes

Bespoke Pilates

Pilates 1-to-1

There are many benefits to stretching. Stretching relieves muscle tension, relieves painful joints, improves flexibility and reduces injury. If you have tight muscles or feel inflexible, try Stretch Pilates 1-to-1. What you will receive:

  • A personalised Pilates session to stretch and strengthen
  • Particularly helpful if you have specific tightness and want to focus on the area/s
  • Enjoy the different ways to stretch, while improving your core strength
  • Improve sitting and standing posture
  • Go slow on exercises you find difficult, speed up on exercises you find easy; exercise at a pace that suits you: good for beginners
  • Access to Rehabilitation for pain relief, manual therapy is included in the session at no extra charge. See Rehabilitation for more details

Sign up for a trial today

 (65) 6996 4396 or sign up below

Share the joy of Pilates

Pilates Duet

You want to try Pilates, and share the experience with a loved one or friend. Our sweetheart sessions may just be the answer:

  • Strengthen and stretch in a programme designed for you both. Find a better match between your need and interest, and the exercise
  • The exercises will also address specific aches or pain you have; avoid injury
  • Flexible timing to suit your schedule, so you rarely miss a session; improve with regular practice
  • Build lean muscles, get back into shape
  • Improve your sitting and standing posture; experience less aches and pain
  • Option to top-up for a 3rd person, a loved one or friend, to join you in class; pay per use

Sign up for a trial today at  

(65) 6996 4396 or sign up below.

Pilates Group

We’re growing BIGGER in terms of floor space to offer you more Pilates classes, but are staying SMALL in terms of class sizes. What you will receive:

  • Enjoy a 55-minute workout to strengthen core muscles, stretch and strengthen the body
  • Available in the morning and lunch time, take a quick break from your busy schedule to reset and re-align the body
  • Or join the evening or Saturday classes to stretch, strengthen and recharge after a long day
  • Take it slow with the Reformer class, or pick up the tempo and burn calories with the Mat Flow or Dance class
  • Exercise in a small class ratio of about 4 – 6 participants to 1 instructor; receive the attention you need; good for beginners

Sign up for a trial today from $60* only

*T&Cs apply.

Core Exercises for Active Ageing

Pilates Group Gold

If you are 65 years old and above, the Gold class is designed to help you stay active & pain free. What you will receive:

  • A low-to-moderate exercise programme of 55 minutes on the Pilates reformer and other Pilates equipment to strengthen & improve stamina; exercise at a pace comfortable for you
  • A small class ratio of about 4 participants max. to 1 instructor, good for beginners
  • Strengthens big muscles of the body, as well as the smaller, stabilising muscles such as the core and pelvic floor muscles
  • Experience less joint stress exercising on the reformer
  • Improve balance, reduce the risk of falls
  • Stretch & improve flexibility, reduce joint stiffness

Due to the small class size, slots are limited. So don’t wait, reserve your slot today.

Sign up for a trial at $60* only


*T&Cs apply.

 (65) 6996 4396 today or sign up below:

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    My Strength and Calm

    Thank you for your excellent classes. I find my strength and calm in your classes.
    Jenny H

    Really like the Pilates class, better flexibility

    I really like the Pilates class because May explains it very well. As such, I can actually do the exercise quite easily. At the same time, I can feel improvement in my flexibility. I hope she continues teaching the class at NUS.

    Any stiffness always get relieved

    I always leave every Pilates session feeling mobile and supple. Any stiffness and other related conditions, that came with a desk-bound job, always get relieved. It is because May’s approach to exercise is holistic. Clients are more aware of their everyday movement when they get to practice the movement in the sessions; the emphasis on connecting the breath and mind is also important. I wish there were more like her in the industry! I miss my sessions when I’m away.

    Each week I walk away with a smile

    Just completed my 6th Pilates session and I feel great. I have really noticed the difference already. I am feeling stronger and fitter from my sessions. The care, precision and attention, that May provides, has allowed me to make quick progress and to concentrate on my posture, core strength and flexibility. I love attending my reformer session and each week I walk away with a smile!