by Chris Hocking – director of Pilates Body Awareness, Est. 1987
Having started my Pilates training in the late 1970s with Alan Herdman, setting up my own independent school in 1987, I found and still find myself unconvinced by a need to conform to later schools of thought as to what constitutes the correct teaching of this technique. I can only teach what I believe to work.
Due to my initial training by the founder of UK Pilates and the early successful establishment of my own school, I have been free to research, make connections, filter, curate and dismiss… using only material of the highest efficacy and integrity to furnish the PBA 5 tier system of therapeutic training. Result …a long established school of Pilates tuition for Pilates afficianados from all walks of life, people willing to work hard, concentrate 100% in class, attend regular tuition, appreciate change and progress.
Our week-day evening and Saturday classes for adults are now housed in the Academy Mews Dance Studios in Camden and as an outcome of ‘restrictions creating solutions’ we have evolved a class content strategy to cover the great richness of material collected, put through the PBA filter and refined over 32 years of the school.
Grounding this process is anatomically precise, thorough, careful Level 1 Beginners’ tuition at one end of the spectrum and strict adherence to the forms of the original Classical Matwork Sequence of Joseph Pilates, evolved circa 1940s-70s, taught at PBA Level 5, at the other end …and yes, one does have to be in fantastic form to participate in this Level 5 material.
As the PBA syllabus is extensive, we now have designated week day classes specifically covering the rarer aspects of the syllabus, others covering graded progression from Levels 1-5 plus Extension classes, Pilates Days and Week-end Intensives covering yet more special work.
You might be wondering how PBA Matwork ended up acquiring so much material, such a range of movement sequences and applications and all in the name of Pilates tuition.
My formative dance training was in London at a time when Joseph Pilates had only been dead a decade.Teachers, contemporary with and often students of Joseph Pilates, who had also studied directly and danced with with the great names of the early ground breaking European and American Contemporary Dance forms, were still alive and actively teaching. London had money to spend on the Arts and vocational training. The great wars with their destruction and maiming and the subsequent counter culture of ‘body beautiful’ were only a few decades past.
The atmosphere was electric and alive with ideas from both East and West. Tai Chi was taught as part of the syllabus at the London School of Contemporary Dance as was Pilates, one of the greatest of East/West therapies. Graham was still active creating her controversial mega theatrical productions re-interpreting the Greek Myths. Indian dance was finding not only a supportive London audience but also its fusion forms allied with Western aesthetics and rhythm and Feldenkrais infused contemporary dance was finding not only a market for classes but again funding for performance. Top sports people were flocking to the London Pilates studios in a quest for healing beyond Western physiotherapy. Yoga embedded by the great guru migration of the 60s was educating and qualifying it’s first Western teachers, 3 of whom, direct students of guru B.K.S. Iyengar, became my yoga teachers for the first 20 years of study.
We trained and danced within a greater rather than lesser cultural reference. A technical problem for a dancer could equally have its solution from Eastern thought and practice as from mainstream thinking. We were taught to be open minded, to accept a variety of approaches and to explore. So this broad perspective started then…in that era… and has stayed with me ever since helping me to help others.
Christine J Hocking Founder and Director of PBA Est 1987
Today PBA still offers tuition at 5 levels of complexity and physical demand. We also focus on a great collection of stretch, mobility and remedial work using the wall, chair and table/ballet barre Wednesday evenings, the Standing Section, a fusion of Pilates and another conditioning/movement/dance form of the era, the Horton Jazz Technique, and these two really do merge well, Thursday evenings progressing into ‘The Pilates Dash’…fast tough Pilates requiring aerobic fitness for the second class of the evening.
Our long established Classical Workshops give our stronger students experience of Joseph Pilates original Matwork sequence, 35 tough exercises with names such as Open Leg Rocker, Boomerang, Double Leg Kick, Seal, Saw, Swimming, SwanDive.
The Weekend Intensives tend to take biomechanical issues as themes e.g. the problem of stiff shoulders, of tight hip flexors, of poor spine mobility etc and the Extension Classes, held Wk 1 of the Xmas and Easter breaks, cover themes such as The Foot Class, Deep Relaxation, Handstands, Partnered Stretches etc.
We also run 4 pre-term Pilates Days a year for a great way to get back into training after one of our seasonal breaks. We run 4 terms, of 10 weeks duration, each year.
For more information about what PBA has to offer please see our website.
and if you still have unanswered questions or need advice please text school director on 07881 494212, sorry phone calls cannot be taken, or email
We hope you enjoyed reading this and it has enthused you to start Pilates training.
Team PBA

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