SOME PRESS REPORTS
18 May 1996.
Allan Menezes runs Sydney’s celebrity-infested Body Control studios, where he and other deadly serious types practise a puritanical, eat-up-your-choko-it’s-good-for-you form of exercise based on the Pilates method.
19 August 1997.
Think of yoga, but throw in some springs, levers, straps and weights, and you have the Pilates Method, a puritanical form of exercise practised by the likes of Greta Scacchi, newsreader Mary Kostakidis and Premier Bob Carr. Allan Menezes, who runs the Body Control studios in Sydney, says the method is beloved of dancers, excellent for rehabilitation and relaxation, and achieves, similarly to yoga, long-term health benefits and the “leaner, longer look”.
“You’d drop a jeans size in a couple of months if you came in three or four times a week,” says Menezes. “But the aim is more to strengthen and stretch the body, without adding bulk.”
18 October 1998.
The Pilates exercise method has captured the imagination of thousands.
Says leading Australian practitioner Allan Menezes: “You can still have a great backside in your 70s, because Pilates will give it to you.”
23 November 1999.
Pilates first came to Australia with Allan Menezes in 1986. He now runs the largest Pilates company in the world, with three studios in Sydney and two franchises.
“We’ve had at least an eight-week waiting list for the past six years,” Menezes says. “It’s going through a popular phase now. From what I’ve heard, it’s extremely popular in America and Europe, and when you look in virtually any magazine like Tatler and Harpers, there’s an article on it. People used to say, ‘oh, you’re a ballet dancer’, or ‘you must have a back injury’ when they heard you were doing Pilates. Now people do it more for fitness.”
24 November 1999.
Its Hollywood devotees are said to include Courtney Cox, Madonna, Vanessa Williams and Sharon Stone. The man who brought pilates Down Under 20 years ago, Allan Menezes, also has a client list that reads like Who’s Who.
Past and present clients include comedian Barry Humphries, actresses Greta Scacchi, Georgie Parker and Peta Toppano, SBS’s Mary Kostakidis, triathlete Marc Dragan, musician Suze DeMarchi, politician Bob Carr and former New South Wales first lady Jill Wran.
(Sydney). 17 December 2000.
The biggest fitness craze sweeping Australia is Pilates. Developed in the 1900s as a system of strengthening, stretching and flexibility by physical therapist Joseph Pilates, Madonna, Sharon Stone and Uma Thurman are giving it 21st-century appeal. Allan Menezes, owner of Pilates Body Control Studios in Sydney, counts Greta Scacchi and Bob Carr among his followers, with up to a five-month waiting list for the rest of us. “It’s gone absolutely berserk,” he says, currently training 80 instructors to keep up with demand. New Yorkers are taking it a step further with a trend called Yogilates – hatha yoga meets Pilates.
(Sydney, Australia). 29 September 2002.
So, you’ve got sloped shoulders, a tummy that hangs out and a butt that sticks way, way out… You’re in good company. “Everyone’s got bad posture,” says Allan Menezes, creator of Athletic Pilates. And he says the culprit is computers and television. “People are not getting out enough, they’re getting exceptionally lazy, and so are their kids. Simply by having better posture you’ll feel more stretched, and one of the key benefits is abdominal control,” he says. “If your abdominals aren’t in control your back will take a beating.”
(Queensland, Australia). 6 October 2002.
“A few well-designed movements properly performed in a balanced sequence are worth hours of doing sloppy callisthenics or forced contortions,” says Menezes, who has taught Bob Carr, Greta Scacchi and Georgie Parker, and athletes such as Nicole Hackett. Menezes promises the technique will get rid of the lower stomach bulge “that is the bane of many women”.
(Sydney, Australia). 11 May 2003.
A few years ago nobody had even heard of Pilates; now it’s everywhere. This DVD is part of a series created by Allan Menezes, managing director of Pilates Institute of Australia. It will leave you aching, but it’s fun and Menezes says you will see changes in your body after just 10 sessions. Available from www.pilates.net or call 02-8920 2622
(Queensland, Australia). 25 May 2003.
The founder of the Pilates Institute of Australasia is Allan Menezes. He has produced a best-selling 58-minute video entitled Pilates for Beginners. With 25 easy-to-follow exercises, it is a great way to learn in your own home.
“Actors like Sharon Stone, Courtney Cox, Patrick Swayze, Madonna and Julia Roberts use Pilates for their on-going fitness regime, ” he says.
(Melbourne). 11 June 2003.
An exercise program that began in a World War One internment camp is taking Australia by storm
It’s fashionable and it’s good for you. Throughout Australia, the boom in the Pilates exercise program shows no sign of slacking off.
Allan Menezes, who opened Australia’s first Pilates studio in 1986, attributes its popularity to Hollywood.
“It’s huge now. It has surged in the past three or four years in Australia, and five to six years ago in America,” Allan says.
(Sydney, Australia) 29 June 2003.
Aussie Pilates Pre-Natal (VHS – $34.95)
This video workout by Allan Menezes is a good way of combating the pain and discomfort of pregnancy. It includes a basic pilates routine to help flexibility and breathing, maintain muscle tone and best
(Sydney, Australia). 13 July 2003.
Aussie Pilates Pre-Natal (VHS – $34.95)
Pregnancy can be uncomfortable and even painful. This video includes a basic Pilates routine that will help flexibility and breathing, maintain muscle tone and reduce back pain. It should also help improve posture, so you’re not hunched over with the weight of the baby. Menezes is gentle and encouraging. He’s the managing director of the Pilates Institute of Australasia so he knows what’s what when it comes to Pilates.
1 November 2003.
By: Kelly Baker
So you’re stuck at a desk all day. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your fitness. Kelly Baker explains how to use your desk-bound time to stay in shape
There’s no doubt having a job has its positives, but if it’s a desk-bound position, there’s also a downside. Sitting at a desk all day can be bad for your waistline. Worse still, it can be bad for your muscles, tendons and nerves. And in extreme cases it can cause deep vein thrombosis (the life-threatening blood-clot condition that can develop on planes) and repetitive-strain injury, caused by overusing one set of muscles, tendons or nerves. Think typing or holding a phone.
A good way to avoid these conditions is to take regular breaks. So make sure you get out of your chair for five minutes roughly every half an hour. During your break, do a quick lap of the office, or knock out a few squats or stretches. If you really want to stay in good shape, you can even do a mini-workout right at your desk.
Don’t know where to start? Well don’t worry. Hayden Ozcan, a sport physiologist and podiatrist, and Allan Menezes, the founder of the Pilates Institute of Australasia, have put together this in-office routine. It’s easy to follow, and effective.
1 THE TOE TAP
Aim – To maintain ankle mobility, and promote blood flow to the legs and thighs.
Position – Sit upright on your chair, making sure the backs of your thighs, your bottom and your back are all well supported.
Description – With your feet close together, raise both heels off the floor. Tap your toes, and let your feet slowly creep forward. Return your feet to the same position by toe-tapping backwards.
Technique tip – Tap the floor in short, sharp moves. Try not to rock in the seat, and don’t over-stretch and force the movement.
Frequency – Complete exercise (that’s out and back) 10 times. Do this three times a day. If you’re sitting in the one position for hours on end, try and toe tap at least every 90 minutes.
2 ALTERNATE TOE RAISES
Aim – To maintain ankle mobility, work the shin and calf muscles, and promote blood flow in the lower body.
Position – Sit upright on your chair, making sure the backs of your thighs, your bottom and your back are all well supported.
Description – Raise the toes of your left foot up off the floor. Raise them as far as you can while keeping your heels flat. Then slowly let your toes drop back to the floor. Repeat for the right leg.
Technique tip – Maintain upright posture, relax and control your breathing. Don’t force the toes – past a comfortable position, and don’t rock in the chair.
Frequency – It can be done fast or slow. If you can, do 10 slow toe lifts (two seconds up, two seconds down) on each leg, and then 10 speedy ones (up and down in one second). Repeat this exercise every one to two hours of constant sitting.
3 ALTERNATE LEG RAISES
Aim – To maintain knee mobility, work the quadriceps (front thigh muscles) and hip muscles. Also, to work your stomach muscles, and promote blood flow.
Position – Sit upright on your chair, with the backs of your thighs, your bottom and back well supported.
Description – First raise your feet up off the floor – try for 10cm. Hold this position for two seconds. Stretch your left leg as far as you can. Hold this position for two full seconds. Return your left foot to its starting position. Hold here for two seconds, and then rest both feet on the floor. Repeat for your right leg. If you find it difficult to stretch your legs out, perform the first step only.
Technique tip – Use slow and steady movements. Keep your upper body steady.
Frequency – Do five leg raises on the left, and five on the right. Do this exercise at least once a day, but preferably two to three times a day.
4 BEAUTIFUL BACK STRETCH
Aim – To stretch your upper back and sides.
Position – Sit upright in your chair with hands resting on your thighs.
Description – Place your right hand slightly below your navel. Reach towards the ceiling with your left hand and then, bending your elbow, bring your hand to rest on your left shoulder blade. Take a breath in, breathe out and then stretch the left elbow over to the right-hand side while pressing your left hip into the chair. Hold for 10 seconds, or as long as is comfortable, take a deep breath in, breathe out and return to your starting position. Swap sides, and then repeat.
Technique tip – Breathe steadily and deeply. Correct breathing will enable you to stretch further and for longer.
Frequency – Perform this stretch three times on each side. Do this three times a day if possible.
5 THIGH STRETCH
Aim – To stretch out any kinks in the quadriceps, and increase the blood flow.
Position – Stand to the side of your desk with knees slightly relaxed.
Description – Rest your right hand on your desk for balance. Lift your left foot off the ground, pull your heel to your bottom, and hold it there with your left hand. Press your left knee towards the floor (this will stretch the front of your thigh). Keep the pelvis tucked in. This will alleviate strain on the joints. Hold for 10 seconds, and then swap sides.
Technique tip – Keep the leg you’re standing on slightly bent. This will help you stay upright. Ensure the knee of the leg you’re stretching is pointing towards the ground, and not out in front of you.
Frequency – Stretch each thigh three to five times. Do this exercise at least once a day.
6 INNER THIGH TONER
Aim – To create gorgeous upper thighs, to increase blood flow, and to save time by sneaking in a workout during office hours.
Position – Sit upright in your chair with both feet resting on the ground, with your knees together.
Description – Take a tennis ball, and place it between your knees. Once it’s secure, squeeze the tennis ball as hard as you can. Keep the pressure on for 10 seconds, and then release. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Technique tip – If you don’t have a tennis ball handy, use your fist. It’s just as effective.
Frequency – This exercise seems deceptively simple but, in fact, it will give your inner thighs an excellent workout. You can do this exercise as often as you like.
17th October 2004
Get long lean muscles Firm, flat abs, long, lean muscles – all achievable at home? I’d like to see that
By Linda Drummond.
Even though it was developed over 80 years ago, Pilates is an exercise for this millennium. We’ve seen it on TV, heard celebs rave about it… but what exactly is it? Based on a series of exercises that precisely and concisely exercise the key muscles in your body, Pilates builds long, lean muscles and a strong core.
The basis of Pilates relies on the strengthening of your core muscles, the area from the bottom of the rib cage to the pelvic floor. By strengthening your core you’ll find that you’ll stand taller, have fewer back problems and as a rather delightful side effect – you’ll develop a flatter tummy and a leaner waist. That’s because with Pilates, your body is in motion and your mind engages with your muscles to make it a Complete body and mind workout.
Allan Menezes is the founder and managing director of the Pilates Institute of Australasia and combines his knowledge of physiology with a love of Pilates. Menezes stresses the benefits of Pilates spilling over into life and says that it’s about more than just an hour-long class, “The main benefit of Pilates is to your spine,” he says. “As Joseph Pilates said, “You’re only as old as your spine”.”
walk this way
Menezes says that the awareness of your body that Pilates brings can have an abundance of benefits such as helping you to sit better at your desk, walk better and look better. “Even the simple manner of walking can be improved. Many people walk and lock their knees before their feet hit the ground,” Menezes says. “But if they keep their knees slightly bent and have a bit of a spring to their step they’ll find they’re working their buttocks as they walk – and it’s much better for their backs as well.”
take a deep breath
Because Pilates is all about control and paying attention to what your body’s doing, one of the first steps is getting your breathing right. So give this a try. Stand up straight and lengthen your torso. Hold your hands flat against your ribcage underneath your chest and take a deep breath through your nose. Feel your ribcage and lungs expanding – your abdomen should feel like it’s filling with air. Now breathe slowly, making sure that you completely empty your lungs – even those pockets down in the corners. That’s controlled breathing the Pilates way.
Megan Lawrence, 26, from Fitzroy in Victoria, took up Pilates at the urging of a friend who’d used Pilates during and after her pregnancy. “I’ve always had lower back problems and sitting in front of a computer every day just made it worse,” Lawrence says. “Pilates really made my spine more flexible and after the first class I felt a huge difference – the pain decreased dramatically. Now I’ve been doing Pilates for nearly two years the pain is gone, and can’t imagine missing a class.”
Menezes agrees, “I took up Pilates because I had a back injury from playing rugby and nothing seemed to work. After six weeks of Pilates classes the pain disappeared.” If ever his workouts slip, Menezes says the pain can start to return so he’s constantly studying new methods to strengthen the spine and prevent back problems. Menezes stresses the importance of good technique – and finding a qualified instructor too.
Pilates is a classic of the “no pain, no gain” genre. Such concentration is required that studios are often kept silent, with no music, and free from distraction.
For all the 400 to 500 Pilates exercises (are there are about 10 variations on each), the stomach is held in tightly and the shoulders kept relaxed. “When you are told to sit up straight as a child, you tend to put your head up and raise your shoulders without lifting your stomach, and we often take this bad posture into adulthood.”
Pilates exercises are subtle but highly strenuous. Concentration is needed to ensure you are breathing correctly, keeping your stomach clenched, shoulders relaxed and the rest of your body in position. Each movement should take five seconds breathing in and another five seconds breathing out, with 10 repetitions, and can be advanced for higher performance.
An instructor, who coaches on technique, is dedicated to each student.
21 January 2020.
Having developed his method of physical fitness from the 1920s onwards, Joseph Pilates wrote several books, including Return to Life through Contrology and Your Health, and he was also a prolific inventor, with over 26 patents cited.
Its arrival in Australia, and the southern hemisphere overall, was pioneered by Allan Menezes of the Pilates Studio in Chatswood, NSW.
Menezes was born and raised in the former British colony of Rhodesia in southern Africa and, at school, excelled in various disciplines. Later, while at university in Canada he suffered a severe lower back injury in a rugby game and experienced chronic daily back pain for two years from this single episode. While completing his Masters thesis in London he came across one of the city’s first Pilates studios that was offering a free 30 minute class to gather new business. After the very first session Menezes felt his back stretching like never before and knew this would fix his pain.
Having asked to, and been accepted, as an instructor, two-hour daily workouts, seven days a week for two years followed. After six months Menezes the back pain disappeared and he returned to playing squash at a high level (with a later confirmed herniated disc in his lower back).
As he now recalls “in the early days, there were no training courses in the (Pilates) Method. One learned from practical application and experience.”
After working for Alan Herdman, the originator of Pilates in the UK and Europe, Menezes emigrated to Australia and opened Sydney’s first studio (the Body Control Pilates Studio) in 1986.
His first clients were members of Sydney Dance Company, the Australian Ballet and many ballet and other dance students and models as well as business people around the Studio’s central location in the city’s CBD.
Menezes then completed the world’s first Pilates Training program with the Institute for the Pilates Method in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
Then followed a demand for training courses and the first Pilates courses commenced in the early 90s. This was followed by a requirement for Pilates studio equipment, which the Pilates Institute of Australasia (started by Menezes) supplied together with the training courses.
A bestseller, “The Complete Guide to the Pilates Method”, then followed in 1998, with the book becoming a training manual for Pilates instructors worldwide, especially in the USA and the UK through two major Pilates training companies.
It also became one of the exercise prescription manuals for the Degree in Osteopathy at the University of Western Sydney.
Menezes then focused on national training for the fitness industry in Pilates for the general population as fitness program, as well as physiotherapists and other practitioners in Pilates for rehabilitation.
Among his many successes there are numerous athletes, including Marc Dragan, Australia’s first professional triathlete, who was told his triathlon days were over after a back injury. Menezes got Dragan back to major competition when all others had given up.
Over the years, Menezes has trained many Pilates instructors who have opened their own successful studios around the country and internationally. His clients have included many actors – Greta Scacchi, Peta Toppano, Georgie Parker, Caroline Goodall, Barry Humphries – as well as Lucy Turnbull and Jill Hickson among others.
With the explosion in Pilates, many courses, studios and ‘gym Pilates’ opportunities have sprung up around the country.
While welcoming the growth, Menezes advises “the quality of instruction is paramount.
“Many are getting injured by Pilates and yoga as there are many instructors who are jumping on the band wagon of popularity. It is imperative that the public request to see where their trainers received their qualification and how long it took them to achieve it.”
Looking forward, he adds “Pilates will continue to grow in popularity, especially for the baby boomers who are now showing sign of wear and tear with many having knee and hip replacements. Having a Pilates practitioner who understands the mechanics involved in working with these conditions, using a variety of Pilates and other equipment, will get them faster on the road to recovery.
“Pilates has come a long way in 100 years. My prediction is that it will still be around in another 100.”