In Conversation with Helen O'Leary at Complete Pilates

We did an interview with Helen O'Leary, founder of the Pilates studio, Complete Pilates. As always we were curious to hear about her view on Pilates and much more.

Helen is a Physiotherapist and clinical Pilates instructor based in London. Helen set up Complete Pilates with an aim of providing high quality clinical Pilates with a focus on helping develop and implement more objectivity to Pilates.

Below Helen is sharing her view on Pilates, health and more. 

In my spare time, I love to be outdoors and spend time with my closest friends and family. I love traveling and would be perfectly happy hiking and camping anywhere I can. "Not all who wander are lost." It is from J.R.R Tolkien who wrote these words in a poem. I love to wander through nature and also to sit and let my mind wander. This is how I am my most creative and calmest.

Right now, I am in the process of completing further training in oncology as I feel that this is an area which is not given enough rehab support both privately and through our NHS. The focus tends to be on the day up to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but there is a lack of help and awareness regarding how effective exercise is with this patient group.

Pilates to me is a form of exercise which is suitable for literally anyone. It can help people from immediately post-surgery, during and after illness, all the way through to fitness. It is a great way of giving people the confidence to move as it can be so assistive and really helps create body awareness.

The perfect Pilates outfit is something you can move in! For me I love wearing leggings (high waisted preferably) and a fitted top. Wearing close fitted clothing means I can see myself move.

To teach I love a bridge on the reformer. It has no contraindications to the movement and I know that I can teach it to anyone without them having problems. But to do it, myself, then it is definitely a mermaid on the chair!

Pilates it so amazing "because it works muscles you never knew you had". Everyone uses this phrase. This is really cliché, but is definitely true.

You don’t have to do a HIIT workout to feel you have worked hard. Pilates is a mindful exercise, where there is so much to think about, and it really does give you time away from your normal daily stresses. It also makes you feel better! You can work really hard, doing not very much, and come out feeling tired, but also more mobile and more in tune with your body.


My physio head says power is strength + speed. This is unfortunately something I do not believe Pilates gives you truly. Although you can progressively load in Pilates there is a point where most people do just need to go into the gym and add load. However, if I look at this more broadly, power is also control. For Pilates this is control over your body, breathing, mind and movement.

Pilates to me is also smile and laughter. We are really focused on working towards peoples goals, whether this be to put on a sock, or be able to run a marathon. Because we work with a lot of clients who are injured, we believe that rehab shouldn’t have to be serious but can be fun. As well as being able to help people move, we should also be able to educate and answer any questions, and have fun with it!

A beautiful body to me is something which helps you achieve the things you want to. Everyone’s goals are different and we can be creative in how you go about achieving them.

The body is an amazing thing which is constantly changing and adapting to life. We just need to help it.

Everyone’s goals are different and we can be creative in how you go about achieving them. But the body is an amazing thing which is constantly changing and adapting to life. We just need to help it.

(Updated article 2020-02-27)

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