Pilates with Lily Baker

Pilates with Lily Baker ~

28 March, 2022

The Dao Does… Pilates with Lily Baker

Lily Baker is a Pilates instructor, Primary School Teacher, and content creator based in Sydney. Lily is the founder of an online platform called The Pilates Project or TPP for short. TPP is a female-focused, online destination that curates content around the pillars of movement, wellness, and community. Through equipping women with the tools, resources, and confidence to take control over these areas of their lives, her hope is to assist women in finding inner love and a greater sense of self-acceptance.

Thank you for your time, Lily, for sharing your knowledge about all things Pilates. What inspired you to become a Pilates instructor?

Thank you so much for having me! It’s truly an honour. Pilates has been part of my life for such a long time now, it feels strange to think of a time when it wasn’t. My love of pilates began when I was a teenager and it’s been a consistent love affair since then. After years of dedicated practice, I made the transition from client to the trainer in 2017 after the opportunity arose for me to begin my instructor training. How many times are we told when we are younger, “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life?”’ This sentiment rings true for me as instructing combines the two great loves of my life, teaching, and movement. For those who perhaps don’t know me, along with my instructing commitments and running the TPP platform, I am also a full-time primary-school teacher. Whilst in very different domains, I find there is a lot of crossover between my work as a Pilates instructor and my work as an educator. I feel I have both a responsibility and an opportunity to make people feel valued, seen, respected, and treated as an individual. I often think back to how excited fifteen-year-old Lily would be if she could see what I am doing now. Sharing my passion for Pilates and having the ability to instruct is a privilege that I will never take for granted.

Please tell us about your platform The Pilates Project, what was the inspiration behind its conception?


The Pilates Project, or TPP for short, is my absolute heart in a platform. The Pilates Project is a female-focused online destination that centres around the pillars of movement, wellness, and community. Through equipping women with the knowledge and skills to take greater control over these domains within their lives, my hope is to inspire a commitment to self-love, to respecting one’s body, to education, and to authenticity above all else. Conceptually, TPP has been through a few twists and turns since its conception but above all, I’ve always been inspired by and committed to the notion of charity, education, and authenticity. I wanted to create a platform that brought my passion for education and Pilates together. I’d like to think of TPP as a women’s health resource of sorts, bringing together a wealth of information through varying practitioners and modalities. TPP is a way for me to give back to my community in a meaningful way and I am really looking forward to integrating a greater charitable element into the platform later this year.

Pilates is a wonderful form of movement which I regularly recommend for my patients to begin with. What are the health benefits of Pilates?

I believe that Pilates is truly one of the most transformative practices that you can do for your body,  due to the inherent mind/body connection that Pilates encourages. The benefits are boundless but a few of the main ones would be a greater sense of bodily awareness and control, a deeper connection with your core, greater strength & mobility, improved balance, and posture.

How regularly do you think a person should go to Pilates?

There is no ‘one size fits all approach.  This is dependent upon so many factors including your body, other forms of exercise you may undertake, financial constraints, and so forth. Beginning with two to three classes per week would be a great starting point in terms of establishing strength, flexibility, and endurance. From there, you might like to progress to four sessions a week and challenge yourself by attending varying class styles or incorporating forms of equipment into your sessions.

What is the difference between Mat Pilates and Reformer Pilates?

This is a great question and one that I get asked fairly frequently! Both are incredible forms of movement and will reap similar results in terms of body awareness, improved strength, balance, and posture. Mat Pilates is performed on a mat (surprise surprise) with your body weight providing resistance against gravity. Mat classes are traditionally body weight-based and may incorporate equipment such as resistance bands, the magic circle, a small ball, wobble boards, or ankle weights. In comparison, a reformer Pilates class takes place on a reformer machine, which looks like a bed (torture device) that offers resistance via a spring and pulley system. The reformer acts as a ‘support system’ for the body and adds resistance to Pilates movements via the springs.

Do you recommend a client, to begin with learning the foundations of Pilates through Mat Pilates and then advance to Reformer Pilates or can you start Reformer Pilates as a beginner?

There is no right or wrong way to begin Pilates. You can absolutely start Reformer classes as a beginner and most studio spaces will offer specific beginner or introductory style classes. These classes are programmed at a slower pace and are designed to help you become familiar and confident with using the reformer. I will say – using the Reformer can feel super wacky, to begin with, and I think it takes between 3-5 classes to feel confident using the machine. Also – don’t be afraid to ask questions –  your instructor is there to assist you! If you’ve had experience with mat classes before, you may find your transition to Reformer Pilates more easily than someone with zero Pilates experience, as I find there can be a fair bit of cross-over between the language used and the exercises incorporated.

It is often assumed that when trying Pilates, one needs to know how to activate their pelvic floor to begin Pilates. Is this the case or should women investigate their pelvic floor with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist if necessary rather than in Pilates.

I am so passionate about Women’s Health and I think that the Pelvic Floor is an area of mystery for many women. In summation, the Pelvic Floor (PF) is the area between your sit bones (the bones under your bum) and your public symphysis (the bony part at the front of your pelvis). The PF forms the base of your core and is made up of muscles that act as a hammock to support your pelvic organs – your bladder, bowel, and uterus. Your PF plays a major role in assisting bladder & bowel function, maintaining continence, and sexual function. I have quite a few friends who are Women’s Health Physio and from chatting to them, I’ve come to realise that one of the biggest conceptions is that all females should be focused on strengthening their PF. In many cases, women may actually unknowingly have ‘tight’ or ‘overactive’ PF muscles and their focus should be on relaxing them rather than strengthening them.
Earlier this year I saw the incredible Bronwyn Jones at the Sydney Pelvic Clinic at Bondi Junction for a Pelvic Floor Assessment. Whilst I didn’t have any ‘symptoms’ I was concerned about, I was super curious to gain a deeper awareness of my own body and a greater understanding of my own PF. Just as is the case with many women, I discovered that my PF is slightly overactive and that my focus should be on performing exercises to relax rather than strengthen.
Women’s Health Physios have such an incredible wealth of knowledge and I would highly recommend connecting with one, even if you don’t feel you have any symptoms you need investigated –  we love preemptive care! You might still be wondering how a Women’s Health Physio can help you – if you’re experiencing lower back/hip pain, leaking of any kind, heaviness in the PF,  vaginismus, pain during sex, or looking for support in your Pre/Post Natal journey – that’s a cue to seek advice from a specific Women’s Health Physio.

What would you like our readers to know about Pilates?

As a Pilates instructor, these are the things that I don’t care about:
●       Your body type
●       What kind of activewear you wear
●       How ‘fit’ you are
The things that I do care about:
●       Making you feel comfortable and supported throughout the class
●       Modifying the class to ensure it suits you and your body
●       Encouraging and uplifting you

●       Making sure you feel proud of yourself and your body

Pilates is for everyBODY!
Lily Baker (TPP) interviewed by Elizabeth Cullen