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The unexpected academic benefits of Pilates

By Kathy 09 Apr 2019
Class of 6 doing pilates in exercise studio.

I was introduced to Pilates two years ago, and since then, haven’t looked back. It has been one of the most essential benefits to my health and wellbeing and has helped me to better handle the stress and anxiety I experience.

What is Pilates?

Pilates was invented by a German man named Joseph Hubertus Pilates, who looked to the classical Greek ideal of establishing a balance between body, mind and spirit in order to rectify his own asthma and other health concerns. Since then, the Pilates business has entered the fitness mainstream and has become a crucial training addition to elite athletes all over the world. In 2005/06, there were 125,000 Australians (0.8% of the total adult population) who participated in Pilates (

How I got started

When I attended my first Pilates mat class, I couldn’t stop laughing on the inside about how uncoordinated I was. I was not flexible and felt useless. Two years later, I’m loving it. With the help and support of the girls at Pure Pilates and Wellness Studio in Toowoomba, I am doing exercises now I would have only dreamt about in the past, and am stronger both mentally and physically.

What Pilates can do for you

Attending a class takes your mind off your everyday activities because your focus is on the muscle groups you are working on. You are not thinking about what happened yesterday, or what’s happening later on in the day. Your mind is totally focused, and you walk out of the studio feeling taller, stronger and ready to take on the world.

How Pilates can help you perform better during exams

Last semester, I kept to my exercise regime and did my Pilates class at 5.30 in the morning before my exams. Keeping this routine and having the opportunity to do Pilates helped me feel the best I have ever felt going into an exam room. I felt relaxed and confident.

Image of girl doing Pilates.

After perusal time, I had a moment of panic when I thought, ‘My goodness, I can’t remember any of this information!’ Thanks to my Pilates training being so fresh in my mind, I took a moment to take a drink of water and do the breathing exercises I do in my Pilates classes, then away I went. Remembering to do these exercises helped me to find a moment of inner calm that relaxed my brain and allowed for all the information I’d been studying to come rushing back. The best thing was that I walked out of my exam feeling good about my answers!

Image of girl doing Pilates.

As Joseph Pilates, the inventor of the exercise, said, ‘To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of your capabilities in all walks of life, we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limit of our ability’.

I have found Pilates has helped me develop my mental and physical strength and wellbeing, which, in turn, has helped me better manage the stress and anxiety I experience on a day to day level, but especially during exams. My only regret is that I didn’t find out about Pilates when I was younger

I have now introduced it to my daughters and they love it just as much as I do.

Image of girl doing Pilates.

NB: I would like to thank Ellen of Pure Pilates and Wellness Studio, for allowing me to take these photos of her.  

If you’re looking for other ways to manage stress or anxiety, or feel like you may need additional support, contact the USQ Student Health and Wellbeing team to learn about your options. If you’re feeling creative, we have created 3 adult colouring designs that can help relieve stress, so why not give them a go?

Author profile image of Kathy