Now is the Time – Integrate Pilates into Health Care

Polestar educator and affiliate Kate Strozak BS, NCPT, LMT discusses the benefits of supporting the integration of Pilates with the current healthcare system.
Changes in health care has been a topic of conversation for as long as many of us can recall. Specifically with the more recent changes in medical reimbursement, health care providers face increased challenges in making ends meet. What many physical therapy clinics and rehabilitation centers have realized is that by integrating Pilates into their practices that it not only serves their patient populations for the better but it also helps to generate cash revenue to help off-set the reductions in insurance reimbursement for their health care service. This revenue generation occurs when Pilates is offered as an in-house service to their patient population. There are many models of Pilates integrated into health care settings but there are key factors that are of utmost importance. It is paramount to have instructors who can meet the needs of a very diverse clientele in terms of their conditions, health histories, and goals. Instructors who would like to work within these models need to have above average knowledge in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and biomechanics. This demand on instructors is one of the reasons why our health care network in the Chicago area has aligned with Polestar Pilates for the educational standard of our instructors. Instructors need to be comfortable in recognizing red flags, communicating with physicians and therapists, and knowing the protocol for assessing and reassessing clients throughout their programming. In this model, Pilates is an integral part of what we call the “continuum of care”. Once a patient has been discharged from physical therapy, there needs to be a continuation of their movement education in order to progress them further from their injury. In typical physical therapy settings, a physical therapist is often restricted in seeing a patient only to the point where their function has restored and their pain has been managed. Expanding the dynamic function and resiliency of a patient’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems can save the client from reoccurring pain or further distress.
Pilates is particularly suitable for addressing the body as a whole thereby lending dynamic, full body conditioning in addition to the restoration of optimal function and mechanics.
Once a client has transitioned to Pilates programming, the Pilates instructor communicates with their health care team in order to keep the client safe, help them progress appropriately and recognize the red flags that would warrant a referral back to their therapist. This is the continuum of care where patients benefit from Pilates integration into their health care.
To make Pilates a part of the continuum of care, it is helpful to introduce Pilates during the stages of rehabilitation under the care of a physical therapist.
If Pilates is the approach that would be most beneficial to a patient, a therapist introducing a patient to Pilates during therapy sessions is ideal. In this case, it is then necessary to have physical therapists and/or physical therapy assistants trained as Pilates instructors. The next step is to have high caliber instructors who either work for or who are contracted by the clinic to offer Pilates training to patients. To complete the cycle, it is then important for there to be open lines of communication between the health care team and instructor. Depending on the relationship that has formed, some instructors will communicate regularly with the therapist regarding the patient/client’s Pilates sessions or they will check in if they have questions or concerns. As the client finishes with their Pilates training, it is a professional curtesy to thank the therapist for the referral and give them a summary as to how far the patient progressed. Many models exist which help to integrate Pilates into health care settings and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some ways in which this collaboration can take place can be extremely low cost and based upon referrals. Other ways include developing in house Pilates programming that in addition to benefiting patients, also helps the sustainability of the clinic. Regardless the model of choice, this approach benefits each participant in the fold: patients/clients, health care providers, and Pilates instructors.
Become a Pilates Instructor with Polestar and Kate Strozak!

Reader Interactions


  1. Hello!

    I am a Polestar trained physical therapist working in a hospital based outpatient clinic. We are trying to get our post rehab program off the ground. Some of the issues we are finding is getting support from leadership to invest in training employees. Is there any objective outcome data to support the collaboration of Pilates and Physical therapy? I have my personal outcome measures available which most recently have increased to one of the highest in the company. I would like to think that my Pilates training is the reason. We also have very strong support from referral sources referring to me but because we don’t have enough trained staff members, I cannot handle the volume of patients being referred. We need creative ways to tie in revenue generation into our investment – the only language leadership responds to. Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated!

    • Hi Mary,
      I couldn’t agree more with you pertaining to my personal experience all these years using Pilates as my primary modality for therapeutic exercise. We have been working on a green light program to get therapists in a department trained to a point that they can have significant outcomes as well even thought they might not choose at this time to be fully trained as a Certified Pilates Teacher by the PMA or comprehensively trained. Let us know if you are interested in a collaboration with your department. I am sure we can make a strong case for full integration into the rehab department and I am available for a phone conference if you like.
      Keep up the good work and positive influence, document it and write up paper or a blog, we would love to publish it.

      • Thank you so much for reaching out Brent! I think a conference call on the topic would be very beneficial. Let me reach out to my leadership to see if they are interested and to give them an opportunity to ask questions related to program development. I think it would be great to hear about what the hospital systems in Florida are doing. We are currently merging with an Ohio based hospital system which has a post rehab Pilates program. I’m cautiously optimistic that we can gain some objective data from them to assist with investing in our employee education and have more Pilates credentialed therapists.

  2. I worked in a hospital based wellness center with sports medicine, physical therapy and an exercise physiology department in 1989, we shared the same floor. One of the P.T.’s was able to bring a reformer into her dept. but it never took off. The bottom line from the hospitals perspective was revenue, it didn’t matter how much knowledge, research or training she had.
    Times have gradually changed but I still get Doctors and P.T.’s telling their patients to stay away from Pilates. I have worked in my community creating open communication with doctors and P.T. ‘s and have found several receptive and some just not interested or working with patients that have been injured in a gym group Pilates class, it’s all a matter of education.
    I’m grateful for the work Polstar has done and the progress they’ve made for the community. Thanks Brent!

    • Hi Dianne,
      It is unfortunate how misinformation and perception can skew the value of meaningful and successful modalities like Pilates, Feldenkrais, Gyrotonic(R), yoga and other movement forms that can greatly enhance rehabilitation practice. It is also a financial burden due to learning curve to a large organization. It has been my experience, that a project like this really needs a strong leader in the profession to spearhead it. There are a number of great models in rehabilitation who are using Pilates successfully in the hospital. In Miami alone, four major medical facilities are using Pilates for rehabilitation; The Miami VA hospital, Baptist hospital Rehabilitation, University of Miami Health and Mercy Hospital Rehabilitation.

      I am always open to meet or talk on the phone to any rehabilitation manager pertaining to the benefits of Pilates in their department and the return on investment.

      Keep up the good work and keep the hope.


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