Founded by Estela Cabral and Maria Marques
Estela and Maria's Merrithew Certifications
STOTT PILATES® Cadillac, Chair & Barrels, Matwork & Reformer, ISP, RMR1, RMR2, Total Barre®, CORE™, ZEN•GA® Equipment
In the world of health and fitness, the mentality that mind-body exercise can support rehabilitation is becoming increasingly common. This growing movement can be attributed to many health and fitness professionals who have worked to share their knowledge and experience of combining exercise modalities such as Pilates with physical therapy to help clients recover from injuries, surgeries and more. Estela Cabral and Maria Marques are two of these professionals. In this Studio Spotlight, the co-founders of PiTZ—Pilates Training Zone in Aveiro, Portugal, share their insight on building a successful business by combining mindful movement with physical therapy.
The early days
“Ever since I finished university, I’ve been exposed to Pilates in some shape or form,” Estela said. “Throughout my time at school, I was really only doing it for myself and at the beginning I couldn’t even make it through the whole hour! But, I was fascinated by Pilates and only wanted to learn more.”
“Coming from a background in physical education and sports, I was very curious about rehab and postural correcting,” Maria said. “When I took my first Pilates course I didn’t even know what Pilates really was at the time, but when I began my course in physiotherapy it all started to come together. Then I met Estela and completed my first course in STOTT PILATES training in 2008.”
Estela also completed her training in STOTT PILATES in 2008. Then three years after working at the same studio together, they decided to rent out a small space in a nursing home and begin their own practice.
“It was also at the same time I began med school!” Estela laughed.
A booming business
Since 2011, Estela and Maria have provided clients a differentiated service in the evaluation and treatment of movement disorders, using Physiotherapy, Pilates and more recently, Redcord® methods and techniques.
After rapidly growing and moving to a bigger facility in 2016, the studio offers over 80 lessons a week in a range of programs such as Pilates, Pilates for Kids, Total Barre, Rehab and Pre-and-Post Natal. Estela and Maria also cater to a wide range of clients from those recovering from injuries and surgeries to elite athletes, those looking to stay active and healthy and many others.
“Pilates has changed a great deal in the last five years and it’s becoming increasingly popular in Portugal,” Estela said. “All sorts of clients are now looking for more preventative exercises that correct their posture and support a healthy life as they age.”
“The Pilates for Kids program in particular is turning out to be pretty popular, along with the Pre-and-Post Natal,” Maria said.
As Estela and Maria worked on growing their business, they increasingly noticed clients embracing the idea that Pilates and physical therapy worked very well together.
“People who have learned anything about Pilates also seem to know a great deal about rehab,” Estela said. “STOTT PILATES’ methods and practices have helped us choose and modify exercises for clients based on their medical conditions, and explain it in a way that’s relatable to them.”
In addition to their extensive educational backgrounds, both Maria and Estela discovered how well Pilates can serve as rehabilitation through movement in their own experiences.
“I’ve always loved physical activity, but I suffered numerous injuries over the years and needed to practice something safe,” Maria explained. “Pilates gave me the ability to do that, and now I love sharing that experience with others through teaching. It’s so rewarding to watch clients leave the studio with a smile on their face.”
“One of the main reasons clients come to us and others want to work with us, is because of our health and medical backgrounds”, Estela said. “People are beginning see physical therapy as being more than manual therapy—it’s rehabilitation through movement. Now, we have a number of doctors from various specialties who recommend their clients to us after a surgery for rehabilitation.”
Education is the future
Like many professionals in health and mindful movement, Estela and Maria are constantly working on updating their education to ensure they have the latest knowledge, tools and resources in rehab and exercise science to serve their clients better.
“I can see it becoming increasingly important for instructors to have rehab,” Maria said. “We’ve attended then STOTT PILATES Injuries & Special Populations (ISP) courses and many workshops focused on post-rehab over the years and there’s been many changes and updates.”
“Education is crucial in this line of work,” Estela added. “We’re working with the local university in addition to teaching courses in our studio. We’re especially looking forward to taking Instructor Training courses like Total Barre and Fascial Movement.
More about Estela and Maria
Prior to founding PiTZ, Estela worked as a physiotherapist and Pilates instructor for several different companies and independently. She has also taught anatomy and physiology. In 2015 she became a Certified Neurac® Practitioner and Redcord® Instructor. Recently, she received her Masters in Physiotherapy Sciences from the Faculty of Human Kinetics in Lisbon. In addition, she earned her M.D. degree by concluding her Masters in Medicine from the University of Minho.
Maria carries a bachelor degree in Physical Education and Sports Sciences as well as Physiotherapy license from Aveiro University. She is also a Redcord Instructor and Certified Neurac Practitioner. She’s currently attending her Masters in Physiotherapy and collaborating with Aveiro University teaching therapeutic exercise to physiotherapy students.
To learn more, you can visit the Pilates Training Zone website.