Teacher Spotlight- Charli Hilton, founder of And Breathe Pilates

Charli Hilton, founder of And Breathe Pilates, is a Pilates teacher with a specialty in chronic pain. Charli teaches Mat & Reformer classes , chronic pain recovery programmes, and pain workshops.

How would you describe your style of teaching?

I like to keep it flowing as I try to create a moving meditation for the class. However, I’m also pretty technical. This is more to develop people’s body awareness mindfully. My style varies slightly depending on who I’m teaching. For example, I strike a balance between my ‘authentic’ style and finding the burn for the gym classes I teach.

My favourite style to teach is a slow pace, really controlling the moves, and finding work in the slow movements. I have a connective tissue disorder, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), and slow, controlled movements are crucial in developing the correct strength and stability needed for people with naturally unstable joints (i.e. hEDS).  

What is your client base like?  

The 121s I teach are specifically for chronic pain recovery, these people are usually between 35-70 years old. But in my classes I have a complete mix of clients, of all abilities and all ages. It’s pretty fun being able to have 20 year olds working out with 70 year olds! I also teach a few sports clubs (running, cricket) and corporate classes.

Do you have a favourite client base and if so why? 

My passion is working with people with chronic pain. Sessions can be very emotionally challenging but any improvements, from the tiny shifts in pain, to huge breakthroughs are so rewarding. It’s why I love my job.

Additionally, the mid-morning classes I teach at the gyms have built up a lovely community. They’re not rushing to a 9-5 job, they have more time to chat, and appreciate the small attention to detail I give within my cues. The dream!

What is your most favourite move and why?

Side Kick Kneeling – it’s expansive, lengthens my typically tight quads, and is always humbling. Although I also love a basic shoulder bridge. It is grounding, calming to the nervous system, and the variations provide a great way for any level client to improve their stability.

What is your least favourite?

Rocking. It makes me feel like a dead weight attempting give my internal organs a beating.  My clients express similar views too…

How are you setting yourself apart in the industry?

I combine Pilates with my science background to create a mind-body approach to chronic pain recovery. Using brain science, nervous system education, and emotional expression techniques, I teach others how to help themselves out of chronic pain.

This means my work is not 100% Pilates however, the Pilates aspect plays a huge role; in calming the nervous system, regaining confidence in movement, developing strength, and refining body awareness. All of which are important life skills too!

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?

Overall, seeing people walk out of a class or session looking so much lighter, happier, and more mobile than before they came in is an amazing feeling.

Then specifically for my chronic pain clients, the most rewarding aspect is teaching someone how they can help themselves out of pain. A few of my recent clients have transformed their lives in only a couple of months. This excites me to my c*re.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Running a chronic pain recovery programme which uses a mind-body approach. Pilates will be the movement element to the programme and a way to help people find confidence in movement again. I also plan to partner up with physiotherapy groups to expand my current workshops on chronic pain/illness.

Additionally, I hope to be teaching classes specifically for people with hEDS. Exercise is the only medicine for this condition and Pilates is THE best exercise for people with hEDS.

If I’m allowed 1 more wish, then it’s to have a space in my home to teach mat and reformer 1:1s. Though this is probably closer to a 10-year plan with London house prices…

If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?

Try not to guess how clients are feeling or what they’re thinking as you teach them – it’s near impossible! Most people look bored, confused, or angry when they exercise. Trust that they are pouring all their attention into focusing on your cues and the moves. Or just thinking about their dinner…

PLUS, you can’t please everybody.

You can connect with Charli at

Website: www.andbreathepilates.co.uk
Instagram: @andbreathepilates
Email: info@andbreathepilates.co.uk

If you are looking to become a Pilates Teacher and have any questions, please contact me.

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