Branded Content, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

[Material World x Breathe Pilates] Nipped In The Butt – Tan Lili

Okay, first of all, the error in the headline is intentional; former sub-editor Lili knows the word should be “bud”, not “butt”. So why did she choose to paint such a horrifying picture of getting bitten in the backside?And what does that have to do with Pilates? Read on.

Ever since I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease six months ago, I’ve been living with lower back pain. It isn’t as serious as it sounds, really. On most days, the pain is bearable, if not negligible. But when the pain flares up because of something I did – which would make me wonder, belatedly, about my masochistic tendencies – it really hurts.

My doctor suggested I go for physiotherapy but, alas, my bank account doesn’t agree. I was also rather sceptical about how effective physiotherapy would be, what with the minimal movement involved. Or so I thought.

During my private Clinical Pilates session at Breathe Pilates last week, I had my first taste of what physiotherapy entails. My friendly physiotherapist goes by the name of Jon, who’s also an accredited rehab trainer and corrective exercise specialist. The session kicked off with Jon asking me questions about my back condition, then he had me do some easy stretches and bends while he analysed my movement, from which he gathered my upper back muscles were stiff and that I relied heavily on my lower back.

Next, Jon got me to lie down on the Cadillac, which is this monstrosity of a Pilates machine:


After some prodding and more bending, he managed to pinpoint the source of my lower back pain. Turns out, my back condition is a result of my very weak right gluteus medius. Yes, my butt muscles. To prove his theory, Jon made me do some basic tests, all of which showed the rigidity of my right gluteus medius.

Some simple bends to analyse my range of motions.

Some simple bends to analyse my range of motions.

Now that we’ve isolated the source of my problem, we moved on to the therapy. Using the resistance band on the Cadillac, I did a series of stretch exercises on my right leg. The tightness I felt while stretching was uncomfortable but still tolerable.

Breathe Pilates 3

And then came the last exercise: I pulled my right knee towards my chest, and Jon applied pressure on my leg to further loosen up my hip muscles. I dare say I have a high pain threshold, but the moment he did that, I nearly cried. Don’t expect Jon to take pity on you, because even when I was wheezing and whining, he pressed down even harder. By the time that was over, I was a perspiring, trembling mess.

Next, Jon moved my right leg again. Where it was inflexible a while ago, my right leg had a markedly wider range of motion this time around. He also had me do the same basic stretches and bends that I did at the beginning. Before, when I did the backward bend, Jon noticed I relied solely on my lower back muscles to do the work. After the therapy, however, I engaged my upper back muscles as well, which lifted the strain off my lower back. Colour me impressed!

The session ended with Jon giving me some homework – I have to regularly do three simple moves that help loosen up my hip.

One of the moves I have to regularly do at home.

One of the moves I have to regularly do at home.

With their team of healthcare professionals, like Jon, and their all-rounded approach to health and wellness, they look into your underlying medical conditions before coming up with an appropriate movement therapy that best suits your needs. After just one session, I experienced first-hand the effectiveness of clinical Pilates – though I truly wanted to cry at one point. But as they say, no pain, no gain!

Classes, from $31 each, are on a one-to-one basis and up to five in one group. Breathe Pilates is located at #09-33 Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive; and #02-05/06/07 Tides, 217 East Coast Road. For more information or to make an appointment, call 9835 5683, email, or visit

Breathe Pilates worked with Material World for this post for a review of Breathe Pilates. All opinions are author’s own.