Lee’s story

In 2008, I was involved in an MVA which resulted in me breaking my lower back, fracturing my neck and re-injuring my right knee. At the time, I was told that I probably would never walk again.
After 3 lots of major spinal surgery, numerous falls (one of which resulted in me breaking my right ankle in 3 places), months in hospital and Rehab etc. I was finally sent home in a complete body brace, leg brace and neck brace. My legs didn’t work all that well, my right foot had foot drop and I suffered from severe neuropathy in both feet. Initially, I was given some gentle physiotherapy, massage and hydro pool therapy which helped with the pain but really did nothing to strengthen me or help me regain my independence. I was, however, walking again but with great difficulty. I bounced off the walls of the hallway in my home and walked around like a duck. This had become the norm for me and I thought I was going to be this way for the rest of my life.

In 2010, after being repeatedly prompted by my daughter (an Osteopath and Pilates Instructor in Melbourne), I started looking into Pilates. My Neurosurgeon’s secretary suggested I give 3 Degrees Pilates Studio a try which was then based in Sandy Bay.
And so began a six year relationship with Peta Titter – my Pilates instructor with a wealth of knowledge about trauma impacted bodies from her years of training and working as an Intensive Care and Emergency Nursing Sister. Peta made it her business to give me back my independence, my self confidence and some normality of life.

The first day was hard as I wobbled like a drunk into the studio and was thoroughly assessed by Peta. I had lost so much muscle tone and had practically no core strength. An exercise program was planned for me and we slowly started working on core issues. I saw Peta twice weekly and as time passed we both saw healthy progress with my damaged body.
All the braces were now gone, I was walking with the assistance of a walking cane, I was driving, even doing a few household chores. Slowly, my core strength improved, my muscles regained some definition and I began to feel like the woman I had once been.

Peta and her team adjusted my program as required. All the girls were caring and patient as sometimes there were setbacks which required a rethink regarding my exercises. I was also given back up exercises I could do at home.
It is now 2016. I walk really well, feel confident again, I’m independent and life is pretty good. I continue to do my Pilates religiously and have recently moved to the mainland requiring me to say an emotional goodbye to all the special team at 3 Degrees Pilates.

Every day I give thanks for the day I met Peta and her dedicated team and became part of the 3 Degrees family. Would I recommend Pilates and Peta to others with trauma impacted bodies? In a heartbeat! Even those that don’t have medical problems can only benefit from this mind and body strengthening modality we call Pilates”

Pilates Keeps Me Active!

It was during an evening walk that I found 3 degrees Pilates studio. Initially it was curiosity that encouraged me to make the first phone call for an assessment by Peta, now six years later Pilates has become an important part of my life.
I have always been active, enjoying dance, aerobics, cycling, walking and swimming, taking on each activity with a passion. However, as I age my bones have started to creak and osteoporosis has crept into them. Earlier this year I needed a hip replacement. Peta and her team took up the challenge to ensure I was in the best ‘shape’ I could possibly be in. They focused my program on ensuring my hips, pelvic floor and core muscles were as strong and flexible as possible. This not only helped me physically but mentally to be ready for the operation.
When I finally told family and friends that I was to have an operation – most did not realise that my hip was in such disrepair! I was also able to keep up with most of my favourite activities.

I have Peta and her team to thank for working with me prior and post operation, which has meant a return to normal activities with a positive mind and strengthened body. I have found that Peta and her dedicated team of instructors bring their own unique skills to the studio whilst continuously demonstrating a genuine interest and care for their clients. The day I found 3 degrees Pilates was a indeed serendipitous!

The Benefits of Gentle Mobilisation

As a nurse I have seen many ulcers through my career. When I moved into Pilates I thought that was the last of the ulcers. Last week one of our older clients had a fall and we encouraged her to come in for gentle mobilisation, it had been about 2 weeks since the initial fall.
When she fell she knocked the front of her shin, the skin was not broken but the area was swollen and looked angry and oedematous, it looked like a wound about to break down.
As we were getting her to do some gentle leg and foot work, I could not believe the improvement in the vascularity to the area and the decrease in swelling. I took some before during and after photos and you can see the amazing difference!

The general recommendation is to elevate these types of wounds, and I have seen the difference in drainage around the area this creates.
BUT seeing elevation WITH gentle mobilization just blew me away! I know that it is really hard when people have falls and that they are sore and lose their confidence. The first reaction is to rest, but the difference this gentle exercise created is amazing and a great reason to make sure people keep moving.


New pregnancy exercise guidelines – no more singing while you exercise!

I think I need to get out more!  It is sad to say but I was so excited by the release of the new Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) guidelines* on exercise and pregnancy.

So what do the new guidelines mean for us in the studio? 

Well the reason I am so excited the changes support what we have been advocating for years.

The first thing to note is that the statement by SMA is only aimed at women going through a bulk standard pregnancy with no complications, and to consult your health care provider (GP, OBGS, midwife or Physio) about physical activity during and after pregnancy. Which is as always sound advice!


The key changes to the current recommendations are:

  1.      An increase in the amount of aerobic activity recommended (now 150 – 300 minutes per week!)
  • During this aerobic activity you still should be able to talk (12 -14 on the BORG’s scale), with a special note that you should not be able to sing. Maybe I have been doing it wrong all these years and should have been trying to belt out a tune!!
  1. Types of exercise recommended
  • Brisk walking/jogging/running (see my thoughts on running below), Cycling but only on a stationary bike, and swimming.
  • The SMA have suggested moderate to vigorous exercise, which I find confusing as if I did vigorous exercise I would not be able to talk which is saying a lot! They also have said that every minute of vigorous exercise is equal to 2 minutes of moderate exercise.
  1. They have included light weights (I assume they are referring to hand weights) and resistance bands.
  1. As expected they have included the reasons not to exercise such as ruptured membranes and many other pregnancy complications.
  1. The other new addition is to avoid wide leg squats, lunges and unilateral leg exercise, anything that places excessive shearing or force on the pubic symphysis. Exercises which we have been avoiding in the studio for years for our pregnant clients!

At first I was shocked that they had put forward jogging as safe, but if you read the statement in full it states that there is actually no evidence to either say it is safe or not.

So really ladies, common sense should prevail, your pelvic floor is already under increased strain just with that extra baby and baby weight, why put it under further strain? We only get one pelvic floor please look after it!  Experts advise not to bear down or strain when you go to the toilet as it puts your pelvic floor under too much pressure, so why run? There are lots of other types of exercise you can safely do during your pregnancy.


What about exercises using weights?

The SMA have now stated that anything that increases abdominal pressure is considered unsafe and have made a strong statement in regards to weight lifting being contra indicated during pregnancy.

This is great news as there have been lots of images of pregnant weight lifters giving people the impression it’s a safe exercise for pregnant mothers.
The amount of times I had to argue with people about this point as people say, “they did it before they were pregnant so they can do while they are pregnant.”

What about exercise during the post partum period?

I was quite disappointed in the lack of guidance for the post-partum period. I truly believe this is one of the most neglected areas around the whole giving birth process and we get so many women come into our studio who have injured themselves during this period as they have not been guided correctly.

Hopefully research and guidance for this will come in the next version of the guidelines. Until then we will continue to recommend safe exercises for our clients during pregnancy and the post partum period!



* The last update from the SMA guidelines was in 2014

Welcome to our blog

In our current society there is immense pressure for women and men to fit a certain image, both externally and internally. For women especially where there is a lot of expectation to maintain a certain figure before, during and after pregnancy, it is enlightening to discover that there is a form of exercise that puts the emphasis on reconnecting your mind with your body, and on improved body functioning, not on image. An exercise system that focuses on what your body needs and wants in the moment, something which changes depending on the stage in your life, the time of day, how well you slept the day before, or what you’ve done at work that day. An exercise that responds to your individual unique bodies, facilitated and encouraged by instructors that have the appropriate experience and training. The exercise method I’m referring to is Pilates.

Pilates was originally developed by Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany in 1883. He was reportedly a frail child, but went on to excel physically and was an avid diver, gymnast, skier, boxer, circus performer and self-defence instructor. When interned on the Isle of Man during World War I, Joe continued to develop and refine his ideas around health, the body and mind. He referred to his exercise system as contrology and used his methods to rehabilitate the injured and keep other internees fit. On moving to America Joe continued to share his method and knowledge with others, particularly in the world of dance. By teaching others about Pilates and training new instructors along the way, Joe has enabled the evolution of the Pilates Method in to the loved and diverse exercise method it is today, with worldwide participation. Pilates is a system of physical and mental conditioning that focuses on balance, flexibility, strength, coordination, core stabilisation, breathing and postural alignment. It is now recognised as a leading practice in medicine and rehabilitation, for athletes and the general population from all ages and levels of fitness and health.

At 3 Degrees Pilates, all of our instructors are passionate about educating our clients about their bodies and how to build better physical and mental functionality. We come from backgrounds as diverse as nursing, medicine, psychology, yoga, massage, graphic design and hospitality and love sharing how Pilates has influenced us and our clients in our daily lives. However, we want to be able to share our knowledge, experience and enthusiasm further than the studio. Our solution? Starting this blog! We hope to be able to bring you up-to-date and informative information on a wide range of topics relating to Pilates, health, wellbeing and life matters. We also plan to bring you motivating stories from our clients, as well as guest posts from respected professionals in the health sector. We would love to hear your feedback as well and if there are any topics you would really like to read about, let us know and we will see what we can do! Happy reading!

Why we don’t do planks or take both feet in the air in our mums and bubs classes

We all want to feel good about our bodies, including after giving birth. The pressure on new mums to look pre-pregnancy fit and toned is incredible. For some of us, pregnancy has been a frustrating time when we have had to wind down our running, strength training, mountain biking and other activities. We are looking forward to getting active again, for our bodies and for our headspace, brains and mental health. There are so many exercise programs, classes, books, online courses for mums trying to get their pre-pregnancy tone and fitness back by doing things like planks. But unfortunately not many health and fitness instructors deeply understand and respect the changes during pregnancy and the post-partum period.

“Can I do planks and crunches after giving birth once my doctor gives me the 6 week all-clear?”
Well yes, it might be possible but it’s probably not the best exercise for your body after 40 weeks of tremendous change. There will be time for planks, we promise, but first we need to address any internal issues like diastasis recti, pelvic instability, postural changes.

Most women are aware of avoiding tummy work like stomach crunches during pregnancy and after giving birth, but it seems that having your legs in the air or planking is not commonly addressed. The reason we avoid these positions during pregnancy and in the post-partum period is because the strain on your rectus abdominus (six pack muscles) of having your legs in the air can further separate a diastasis, and it also puts an incredible amount of downwards pressure on your pelvic floor. Yes we want to work your pelvic floor but it has just been through a tough time, and we want to avoid any further strain. It is important to keep loading of these areas within safe limits. Try doing a pelvic floor lift standing – how well do you do? If your pelvic floor can’t adequately lift yet solely under gravity, then loading it up further with exercises could be unsafe. You would not start skipping six weeks after you broke your leg, so why put your pelvic floor and stomach muscle under unnecessary tension?
Remember that when the pelvic floor is overloaded, the ligaments of pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, bowel) can take the strain and become stretched, leading to organ prolapse, which is much more common that you think.
Immediately after you have had your baby your stomach muscles and pelvic floor are not in the condition to plank. Chances are you tummy is pressing out instead of lifting in and up and other tissues (like ligaments) are working harder to compensate. So it kind of defeats the purpose of planking in the first place, in fact sadly some mums find they create further issues by jumping into certain forms of exercise before their body is ready.

“We can also design programs that will strengthen and challenge you whilst looking after pelvic floor.”

Your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles are keeping your pelvis together, whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean delivery your pelvis still got ready to give birth, the ligaments softened and in most cases the baby engaged. Your pelvis enlarges to get ready for delivery. All of these changes do not instantly resolve six weeks after giving birth, but the good news is that you can work on it, even if it has been months (or years!) since your baby arrived.
Being kind to your body and using correct techniques will allow you to rebuild your core muscles from the inside out. There are so many other exercises that are safe for your body and will achieve the same goals. Remember we only get one body, look after it.

What can I do?
The good news is that at 3 Degrees we specialise in working with women to help repair and tone their cores safely, both in our studio classes and in our Mums and Bubs and Mums without Bubs mat classes.
We can assess your diastasis recti, and help you to work to close it, or help to improve your pelvic stability so that you no longer have SIJ or pubic symphysis pain.
We can also design programs that will strengthen and challenge you whilst looking after pelvic floor.

Finding freedom from inflammation – Katie perseverance as she faces Rheumatoid arthritis

I was diagnosed with Rheumatiod arthritis (RA) when I was 34 years old and my second child was 8 months old. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease with an unknown cause and no cure. My body attacks itself, specifically my joints and it targets the lining of the joints which causes inflammation, pain and damage to the joint. I went from being a happily married Mum of 2 and nursing part time, to someone with acute pain, multiple treatments occurring and a life faced with RA and very certainly an unknown future.
I started Pilates at 3 Degrees Pilates approximately 7 years ago after a recommendation from a good friend. I went in with really no idea if this would help my arthritis or not, but I was trying everything I could to try and find something that eased the pain and made life a little easier. My RA was not typical and generally I had one side more affected than the other. I also varied with my symptoms in that one day I could not walk very well and then next I could not lower my baby daughter into her cot. I was commenced on some fairly horrible medications and even though they did help, the past 8 years have been a rollercoaster of steady times and challenging flares when meds would need to be altered and adapted. The medications helped to a degree but certainly did not make me pain free or more mobile much of the time. My one stability in all this that has helped me beyond words, has been Peta and her team at 3 Degrees Pilates.

It would be one of my supporting and ongoing treatments that Peta has adapted to me and how my body is affected by the RA. In the times when I am having a flare up and horrible pain, releasing my joints and muscles has really made a massive difference and when I have been feeling better, we strengthen my body for the next flare which will inevitably appear. Peta and her staff have worked out for me what helps my body and also are continually bringing new exercises into the mix to see if they help. The support from 3 Degrees Pilates has been such an amazing help to me during the past 7 years and I really believe that I would not be where I am today without them. I feel like they really see me and make a real effort to understand what I am going through and together we work towards to goal of making my life a little less painful, more active and definitely improving my outlook for the future.