About me

Retha McManus.I am a movement therapist and I use the Pilates method and Yoga as my two main methods to restore and improve movement and relieve chronic pain. I am a classically trained in Pilates and have done extensive training in Germany, Ireland, Italy, the UK and New York.  In 2011 I finished my Yoga teachers training in Rishikesh, India, and qualified in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. I am also a qualified physical therapist (neuromuscular therapist, NMT) and ran my own clinic in Dublin for 7 years.  During my time abroad I also worked with the world acclaimed Riverdance Company as a physical therapist in their home theatre and on their world tours including Ireland, China and Korea, and completed my MSc. in Exercise and Nutrition Science at Liverpool University, UK. Applying knowledge and experience from all fields, I have achieved great results with a broad spectrum of clients including professional dancers, athletes, musicians and people suffering from chronic pain, including back, shoulder and neck pain, fibromyalgia, MS, arthritis etc.

The Methods //back to top

At the Welgemoed Pilates studio the main methods which are used to restore / improve movement and relieve chronic pain are:

  • The classical method of Joseph Pilates practiced on all the classical apparatus.
  • Yoga: Hatha (Iyengar influenced)Ashtanga Vinyasa flow

The Welgemoed Pilates studio uses a variety of Iyengar props (wall ropes, bands, bricks etc.) and follow Iyeangar’s guidelines to assist and refine each asana.

Yoga teaches awareness and control to body and mind and that is what the method of Joseph Pilates is rooted in. Both methods are rich in depth and should be taught in their integrity, honouring the core principles.

The Pilates Method //back to top

The History of Joseph Pilates //back

Joseph Pilates was born in a small town in Northern Germany in 1883. As a young child he suffered from many ailments such as asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever which were the motivation for his quest to obtain good health and physical fitness. He studied both Eastern and Western forms of exercise, including martial arts and Yoga and later on achieved some success as a boxer and gymnast.

As he was working in England later on, he became interned during WWI along with other German nationals in a camp and began devising his system of original exercises which later became “Contrology”, it was the birth of his method. He was then transferred over to the Isle of Man and performed a nursing role and worked with many internees who suffered from wartime diseases and injuries. He began devising equipment to rehabilitate them by taking the springs from beds and designing exercise apparatus for the bedridden – he was determined to heal with movement. In 1918 millions of people died from influenza worldwide, tens of thousands in England. Not one of Joe’s followers succumbed even though the war camps were hit the hardest!

After WWI Joe returned to Germany but left in 1926 for New York as he was not happy with the political developments taking place. It was en route to New York that Joe met his wife, Clara who became an integral part in teaching his method.

Upon arriving in New York they opened up a gym in 8th Avenue in the same building as several dance studios and rehearsal spaces. It was this proximity that made “Contrology” such an intrinsic part of many dancers’ training and rehab work and many were sent to Joe to be rehabilitated. It was also during this time that Joe refined his method and all his studio apparatus and became a friend and teacher to such renowned dancers/choreographers as Ted Shawn, Jerome Robbins and Martha Graham, the latter even incorporated some of Joe’s exercises into her students’ lessons.

Joe died at the age of 87 after a fire broke out in the studio. His wife Clara continued to teach for another few years until his protege and successor Romana Kryzanowska took over the studio again in 1975.

What is Pilates? //back

Pilates is a system of strengthening and stretching exercises designed by Joseph Pilates (1883 – 1967). He studied Eastern and Western styles of exercises and developed a whole set of apparatus to perform his exercises on. His method consists of over 500 exercises! He realised the importance of engaging one’s mind to control the body and not just to perform empty choreography – concentration creates a deepening awareness of movement and oneself.  Although the matwork repertoire consists of only 34 exercises, matwork classes on their own have grown in popularity due to convenience, costs and a group class environment, similar to yoga. However, practising only matwork does not nearly give the full experience of this amazing method!

The HTMC is equipped with all the Pilates apparatus, designed and manufactured by Basil, NYC. Basil is one of the finest craftsman and manufacturers in the industry and continues to supply apparatus of the highest quality. The HTMC is equipped with the following apparatus:

  • Cadillac
  • Reformer
  • High Chair
  • Wunda Chair
  • Ladder Barrel
  • Spine corrector
  • Small barrels
  • Ped-o-pull
  • 2 Tower / Wall units
  • Mats


Why is Pilates different everywhere? //back

There is no consistency of Pilates because there is no control over the Pilates name; it can be used by anyone regardless of their qualifications! Pilates was declared generic (like gymnastics and ballet) in the early ’90s in the States after a long court battle to protect the name and trademark the method was lost. It was led by one of the largest apparatus manufacturers, Balanced Body, who were going to encounter major problems in their industry if the name became trademarked.  The consequences of those events were bitter sweet – Pilates studios became popular worldwide, but since there is no regulatory body, the integrity of the method became lost – from the actual exercises to the shape and standard of the equipment were changed or even completely newly invented by individuals and companies as they pleased and / or did not study or understand the full method. Yet they keep on using the Pilates name! Ultimately, Pilates deserves the same protection as the Feldenkrais and Alexander Techniques.

Why Classical Pilates? //back

Classical Pilates, as taught in the HTMC, keeps the integrity of the method, honouring the core principles and stay true to the work of Joseph Pilates – the entire reason why the method became popular and has proven to be safe and effective in the first place.The method is rich in depth and consists of over 500 exercises – it is structured into a beginner, intermediate and advanced system and is a safe and effective way for everybody to get an individually tailored workout.Joseph Pilates called his method Controloy – The Art of Control, and he laid down 6 core principles which have to be honoured during practise:

  • CENTERING – Explore and understand the importance of initiating movement from a stable source (core)
  • CONTROL – Control movement paying full attention to all details in positioning and sequencing
  • CONCENTRATION – Perform the exercises with the correct mindful intent and focus
  • PRECISION – Focus on the details and optimal alignment of the body as a whole
  • FLOW – Not only the fluidity and efficiency of movement, but learn the importance of the transitional aspects within each exercise and the total system
  • BREATH – realise the importance of fully exhalation to stimulate correct breathing – flow with the breath!


Who will benefit from Pilates? //back

The Pilates method is for everybody! But it has proven to be especially rehabilitative and bring relief in sufferers of:

  • Chronic low back pain
  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Weak abdominals and back muscles
  • Hip and knee pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia, chronic myofascial pain (cmp) and symptoms of cmp such as headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Repetitive strain, e.g. wrist problems, carpal tunnel syndrome etc.
  • Repetitive hamstring injuries, especially in athletes such as rugby and football players
  • Poor posture
  • Poor balance and co-ordination

The Benefits of classical Pilates //

The results and benefits of this discipline are for body and mind:

  • Efficient movement and increased core strength
  • Increased strength, flexibility and range of motion of joints and muscles
  • Relief of chronic pain
  • Increased stamina and concentration
  • Increased coordination
  • Rejuvenation
  • Improved posture and balance


What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates? //back

The main difference between Pilates and Yoga is that Pilates is practised on an array of apparatus and Yoga is practised on a mat. The apparatus gives one support and resistance at the same time, whereas doing Yoga, or the matwork in Pilates, only relies on the body and no support. In effect, one can say that Pilates is moving Yoga with resistance. The matwork in Pilates resembles many Yoga postures in motion: Yoga is static, Pilates is movement, and movement in itself, is very healing.

Hatha Yoga //back to top

Hatha Yoga has existed in India for over 4000 years and is the basis of all Yoga. In the West Hatha Yoga is also known as gentle Yoga and is mainly known for physical postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). In the last century other (modern) types of Yoga, such as B.K.S. Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa (P.Jois), Bikram (hot yoga) etc. have stemmed from Hatha Yoga.Benefits of YogaOver the last 10 years, a growing number of research studies have shown that the practice of (Hatha) Yoga:

  • increases strength and flexibility
  • improves metabolism and aids digestion
  • helps to regulate blood sugar levels, especially in sufferers of Diabetes
  • helps with stress management – reduces muscle tension and anxiety levels
  • improves sleep and concentration
  • may help control physiological variables as blood pressure, respiration and heart rate
  • improves overall exercise capacity, health and wellbeing


Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow //back to top


The distinct feature of Asthtanga is the precise sequence of asanas which are practiced energetically, dynamically and fluently, connected by ujai breathing. Apart from all the above benefits of Yoga, Ashtanga, being physically very challenging, increases stamina, strength and endurance, working the body’s aerobic system and helps the body to detoxify and cleanse.

Where Bikram or hot yoga relies on external heat to raise the body’s temperature, the primary Ashtanga series works with breathing and movement to raise the body’s temperature. It has a similar effect of increased (internal) body temperature which allows a deeper practice of the asanas and increasing perspiration.