President’s 2020 AGM Report

Wow what a year this has been!! Where to start??

This has been a huge year for the PAA, Conference, Natural Therapies Review and then COVID-19.

Our committee and staff have been really busy advocating to government, working on projects to support members and businesses, navigating the ever-evolving restrictions and keeping members and the community up to date.


PAA conference 13-15 Sept 2019

After much planning the year got off to an amazing start with the Conference at the ICC Sydney (that seems such a long time ago and in another time).

This was our largest ever conference and a great success.

237 delegates gathered for the Welcome mat class set against the spectacular backdrop of Darling Harbour

39 presenters – Cara Reeser, Sherri Betz and Moses Urbano anchored the conference along with 36 great Aussie presenters (mostly PAA members) sharing their passion, skills and knowledge of Pilates and related business subjects.

90 hours of workshop sessions and 12 hours of classes

The Meet, Greet Shop event featured the talents of our community in the Lip Sync competition.

The atmosphere for the entire weekend was fantastic! We have already received the most wonderful feedback about the warmth and friendliness of the event and the overall feeling of community spirit – it’s such a great opportunity to connect with enthusiastic, like-minded Pilates buffs! We have to mention the food, the ICC catering received so many compliments, everything was delicious and beautifully presented- the bar is now set very high.


PAA Membership

Membership Figures

Current members – 607

16% increase in members, mostly from introduction of free student membership

Members have faced business and financial challenges during Covid however it is precisely at this time that you realise that the industry is stronger and our voice is louder together.

Member Survey Jan 2020

The PAA Member and Industry Survey results provide valuable information on our member base and the industry to guide the committee in its planning and direction. The feedback helps us improve services and identify needs and projects.  This reflection and the PAA to continue to be relevant, grow and support members in the changing industry landscape.

There was a great response rate for this survey – close to 50% of membership.

Top 3 reasons for being a PAA member were

  1. Professional recognition as a Pilates instructor/ teacher (respect/credibility/validation) 44%
  2. To support recognition of Pilates as a profession 14.22%
  3. Stay current with education, skills and knowledge/professional development 10.55%



As Covid-19 started to take hold in early March the PAA shared information and resources to be prepared, and cleaning and safety for staff and clients. Just when we thought we were prepared,

PM Scott Morrison announced national shutdowns which included all gyms and recreation facilities which, in turn,  included Pilates studios. This dramatically changed the way we were able to service our clients and deliver sessions and classes overnight. That lead to months of studio closures and a transition for many to online delivery of sessions and classes.

PAA Covid-19 Information Hub

A dedicated Covid-19 website page was created which soon became a whole section, focused on bringing accurate up to date information for all states on ever evolving restrictions.

This centralised hub for official information and resources includes:

  • official website links for govt updates and individual state guidelines
  • financial support information for individuals, businesses, employers and employees
  • Jobkeeper and Jobseeker allowance links and information
  • business resources and links for help available
  • resources for teaching online
  • resources for mental and physical health and wellbeing

 PAA Member Support Plan

announced on 31 March provided:

  • 3 month extension to all personal memberships
  • 3 month extension to BMS insurance policy
  • Removed the limit for online PDP’s
  • Removed the membership requirement for First Aid while studios were shutdown.

PAA also provided access to

  • FREE PDP workshop by VP Chris Lavelle- Reformering your Mat- 2 PDPs

Advocacy for reopening studios and return to work for Pilates instructors

PAA engaged an Advocacy consultant to consolidate and direct our efforts to educate and engage with Government Departments to get Pilates studios reopened and instructors back to work. We worked with other associations, including Fitness Australia to ensure our message was being heard and the differences between a gym and Pilates studio were being considered.

Communications with:

  • Health Ministers, Departments of Health – State and Federal level
  • Chief Health Officers
  • Sport and Recreation Ministers and their Departments
  • Industry and Small Business Ministers and their Departments
  • Premiers and their advisers
  • Initiated a member call to action to support PAA by contacting their local and state politicians
  • PAA Pilates Industry Impact survey results provided key data to support our case

Member and Community Support Events

To support and assist members navigate the challenges of the past 8 months the PAA coordinated and ran

  • 8 webinars
  • 3 panel discussions
  • 5 surveys
  • Ongoing updates via newsletter and social media
  • Toilet Paper Challenge for Pilates Day #toiletpaperpilateschallenge

We received great feedback on these events and many emails of thanks from across our community.

PAA Member Forum

We launched the PAA Member Forum on 30 March to create a space for community interaction, to support each other through the Covid crisis and discuss challenges, share information and help find solutions. The closed Facebook group is a member only source of information direct from PAA and for discussion on everything Pilates and Pilates business, for questions facing instructors and studio owners. The forum now has over 200 members and more joining weekly.

So drop in and say hi and connect with other members from across Australia and help support each other. If this year has taught us anything it is that sometimes all it takes is a kind comment or helpful reply to build a strong community and know we are not alone.


Expanded Member levels

There has been a growing gap between education and career paths for Pilates instructors in Australia and opportunities for working instructors to join the PAA as a member.

We have been working on reviewing and developing membership levels which will better recognise current employment areas and reflect the broad scope of the Pilates profession. After much discussion and consultation the new membership levels are set for release on 30 November.

The new membership levels will increase/boost the PAA’s growth and saturation within the broader Pilates industry and landscape.

This year we have worked with associations specialist, Belinda Moore to guide us towards a more progressive membership offering across the industry, to better recognise current employment areas and reflect the broad scope of the Pilates profession. As part of the ground work we undertook focus group discussions with identified segments to better understand the needs of the different segments. These member discussions and insights informed the development of our 2 year Organisational Strategic Plan and solidified the review of membership offerings.

Progressively, the PAA aims to move to a more inclusive community based membership model to encompass the broader industry and develop and facilitate connections within the membership and across the industry. This will provide a community hub for members and providers to interact.

Lockdowns and studio closures have emphasised the importance of community within our industry and the new model we are moving towards supports and enhances this aspect for members.

Changes to Membership Levels

Membership Level Review

Associate Member General will be phased out and we will introduce Friends of PAA. All current members will be redirected to most appropriate membership for them.

Associate Student membership will simply be renamed Student membership with no changes

Mat membership will be renamed – Group Instructor membership and extended to include qualified reformer instructors from PAA approved courses.

Full membership will be renamed to Professional Practitioner membership to reflect the higher education levels of Diploma and Advanced Diploma, current level descriptors will remain the same (Level 1-Principal Trainer)

Graduate Level 1 will be retired and existing GL1 members will be migrated to Professional Practitioner – Level 1. The first year of discounted membership will still apply when upgrading from a Student member.

A new level of membership will be introduced – Studio Instructor membership

Studio Instructor membership will be open to comprehensively trained instructors from courses that meet PAA criteria. Individual instructors can apply and have their training assessed against the PAA criteria. The Education committee is currently working with key training providers not already recognised by the PAA to map their course content to PAA criteria.

Studio Membership will be phased out and reimagined as a Business upgrade. (for launch 2021)

Corporate Membership will be introduced for studios to cover part time instructors who work 1 shift at 1 studio (less than 5 hrs week). There will a discounted rate and PDP requirement halved. (for launch 2021)


Natural Therapies Review

Background: After finally acknowledging that the research which led to the removal of Pilates from eligible health fund rebates was flawed, the Federal government agreed to undertake a new review.

Pilates was included in the first tranche of natural therapies with rolfing, tai chi, yoga, naturopathy, western herbalism & shiatsu.

As a stakeholder, the PAA was invited to submit research showing evidence that Pilates was effective in dealing with pathologies.

On the 21st of February 2020, 424 studies were submitted, covering a range of pathologies:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Arthritis (Juvenile Idiopathic)
  • Breast Cancer
  • Breast cancer-related lymphedema
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Neck Pain
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes

  • Dysmenorrhoea
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Falls Risk in the Elderly
  • Haemodialysis
  • Hypertension
  • Low Back Pain
  • Mental health
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders in Children & Youth

  • Scoliosis
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s
  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (Stress urinary incontinence)
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Postmenopausal Osteoporosis
  • Temporomandibular Disorders
The studies, which are of varying size & varying quality, will be reviewed by researchers who have been employed to determine which should be included in the evaluation.

As part of the process, the committee is currently working out which outcome measures should be used to evaluate the research.

With the Health Department being swamped with issues with Covid-19, the original timetable has been set back several months. A new lead has been appointed to the Natural Therapies Review – Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd as Professor Brendan Murphy is now Secretary of the Department of Health.

Successful results of our pushback

The PAA research subcommittee has been working with the NTREAP committee member representing Pilates, Dr Penny Latey. It has been necessary to push back on many issues that have arisen. Here are just a couple of areas where we have been able to influence the direction of the review.

  • Removing the requirement for studies to be double blinded.
    When testing pharmaceuticals, the giver & the receiver of the treatment (eg a pill or vaccine) don’t know if they have the real thing or a placebo. It is not possible to replicate this with Pilates. How can you teach Pilates without knowing you are teaching it & how does a person do Pilates without knowing they are doing Pilates?
  • Changing the requirement for seven outcomes across all pathologies to seven outcomes for each pathology.Whilst reducing pain & disability are outcomes for many studies, favourable outcomes for something like incontinence are very different to those for Parkinson’s.

Assuming the evaluation of the research shows that Pilates is effective, there will still be several steps to be undertaken:

  • Change in legislation to allow health funds to again include Pilates as a rebatable service
  • Health funds to include Pilates in their calculation of premiums. This is done around October/November for release on April 1 the following year.

Therefore, we anticipate, if everything goes according to plan, that the earliest rebates would be reinstated is April 2022.

We would like to thank Dr Latey for her tireless work & commitment in serving on the NTREAP committee.


PAA Organisation Strategy

In conjunction with our association consultant, the PAA has developed a focused strategy addressing concerns unique to the Pilates profession and common to members. Consolidating and fine tuning our previous strategy and focusing our attention on the key elements to achieve the PAA’s Vision and Mission.


For the Pilates method to be recognised as a professional & valued health care & fitness discipline


To advance the interests of the Pilates method & its member professionals

Organisational Goal:

To transform the PAA into a responsive, member driven organisation, within two years

Strategy Summary



Advocacy Moving Forward

Covid-19 has raised many challenges for the industry. Govt restrictions and studio closures have impacted studios and teachers and caused us all to rethink how we can survive and thrive in this changing environment. The classification of Pilates studios under indoor recreation facilities has highlighted many issues of being categorised with gyms who have very different operating procedures and conditions.

PAA believes education is key to differentiating Pilates studios from gyms and aligning more with allied health. Education of the different types of Pilates, the structure of classes/sessions, the diversity in Pilates offerings from fitness to rehab.  Plus education on the differing levels of training and qualifications of Pilates instructors and teachers across the industry.

The Pilates Promotion project is underway and will be launched in 2021 and will provide resources for members to share and use to promote Pilates and the profession.

Advocacy is an ongoing process, it takes consistency and continuous steps. Change takes time and a consistent focused effort. Just as we all tell our clients. It takes strength in numbers and unity of purpose.

The PAA will continue to represent the united voice of our profession along the road to recognition. Our united voice is stronger, louder and has more impact the more instructors we represent.

Conference 2021

Our 2021 conference planning was well underway when COVID hit. With our focus firmly on surviving and reopening for our members, we pressed pause on arrangements to see what this new reality brings in the new year. We WILL have a conference in 2021, however we don’t know if it will be face to face,  virtual or hybrid. Time will tell what is possible and we will remain flexible with our plans. Your feedback and input from delegate and member surveys have provided a solid base for our planning. We have a reinvigorated conference sub committee ready to rise to the challenge.

PAA Meetups

Just as we were about to host the first meetup in Hobart the first round of Covid restrictions came into force. This one was cancelled and PAA Meet up plans were put on hold. As we move into 2021 we will revisit how we can best run/host these community events. The challenges of the past 8 months have exposed an underlying need to belong, to be part of something bigger and to support each other. We are stronger as one and we grow ourselves by supporting others.

Pilates instructors are social beings and we crave connection and meaning, for many of us that is why we do what we do. 


Recognising the work and dedication of the committee

We have a great team, hard working, and passionate. We all want our members be recognised as professionals and see industry grow and prosper.

Robyn Rix, Treasurer and Chair of Research sub committee, for all her time and efforts collecting collating research studies and her ongoing liaising with the NTREAP

Chris Lavelle, VP and Chair of Education sub committee, for the ongoing review and assessment of a steady stream of PD workshops and individual member PD approvals, plus developing the criteria for expanded member levels.

Felicia Darbyshire-Pirie, Secretary and Advocacy committee, for leading the Pilates Promotion project and contributing to the many education projects.

Darren Vizer’s passion was fired up with the second Victorian lockdown and he has worked on advocacy for Pilates and studios in Victoria.

Bruce Hildebrand  has seriously raised the bar and upscaled several book reviews into video for the newsletter and helped supported Victorian instructors during lockdown.

Karen Goh has boldly stepped in to any breach that arose as we worked on projects and our Covid response.

Thank you all for your passion and continued efforts to build and support our community and industry.

Retired Committee Members

This has been a difficult year for us all with the new demands restrictions have imposed. Thanks to Susan Cottrell, Lisa Jackson, Kirsti Viitala and Ella Wong who have stepped down from the committee over the past year as their situations changed and their businesses demanded their attention.

We thank them for their work on the committee, for their insights and perspectives that have helped us shape and direct many of our projects.


Sharan Simmons
PAA President

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