By using this site you consent to the storing of cookies on your device to improve your experience, personalize content, optimize your shopping experience and assist in our marketing efforts. View our cookie policy

Pilates and passion: A studio owner’s community healing and wellness journey in Japan

Read this blog in Japanese (日本語版はこちら) >

Chihoko Kotera’s passion for people stands as a beacon of inspiration and is the driving force behind her work as a STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor and manager at B PILATES in Japan. Her commitment to empowering individuals on their wellness journey helps guide them to become their best selves.

Pilates and passion bring wellness to this Japanese community

Chihoko’s heart for people

Initially, Chihoko worked as a petrochemical researcher, but inspired by her family's athletic background, she decided to switch careers. Influenced by her desire to help her family improve their athletic performance and prevent injuries, she became a gym instructor. This marked the beginning of her journey to promoting physical wellness as a personal trainer.

After spending years as a personal trainer, aiding clients with special needs, Chihoko recognized a common trend - individuals often visited the gym per doctors' instructions to engage in post-rehabilitation exercises following short-term treatment. However, many of these individuals joined the gym without having fully recovered. This resulted in them experiencing ongoing pain and anxiety, as they remained uncertain about their exercise objectives, which muscles to target and the correct techniques to use.

Among her clients were individuals struggling with injuries, recovering from surgeries and experiencing reduced joint mobility, which restricted their ability to train effectively due to the pain. Despite having experienced discomfort, these clients persisted through rigorous workout sessions, unaware that these efforts were causing more harm than good. This issue deeply concerned Chihoko and led her to consider whether there was a safer and more effective approach to fitness.

Journey to discovering Merrithew® and STOTT PILATES education

Chihoko's concern for her clients' well-being motivated her to explore and ultimately identify STOTT PILATES as the perfect alternative to other forms of exercise. Reflecting on her journey, she said, “I found STOTT PILATES to be the most knowledgeable, safe and effective in terms of anatomy and biomechanics. Its ability to accommodate a diverse range of individuals, from athletes to post-operative rehabilitators and its extensive array of programs were also highly appealing.”

Becoming a STOTT PILATES Matwork & Reformer Certified Instructor was no easy feat, but Chihoko was determined to succeed. Over the course of three years, while juggling her job, she completed the STOTT PILATES Intensive Program. However, she didn't stop there. She also initiated conversations with executives at B-Fit, the fitness club where she was already working as a gym instructor, about establishing a Pilates studio. She conveyed to them that combining Pilates with traditional training would have a greater impact on clients and that there would soon be a Pilates boom in Japan’s fitness industry.

True to Chihoko’s prediction, the Pilates boom is here! Many Japanese are turning to Pilates for its emphasis on body awareness, flexibility and core strength, which aligns with traditional Japanese values of holistic health and well-being. Japanese celebrities and athletes are not left out as they are embracing Pilates for performance improvement and maintenance. Also, there is a growing interest in Pilates equipment such as the Reformer and Cadillac, as Reformer Pilates is a growing trend in Japan.

MD-4457K-2 Blog 832x468_03

With her STOTT PILATES certification completed and the fitness club executives on board, the final hurdle was deciding which Pilates brand to trust in equipping the studio. It was crucial to partner with a tested and trusted company that could effectively meet her clients' varying needs and Chihoko found that in Merrithew as B PILATES is currently outfitted with Merrithew Reformers and equipped with Cardio-Tramp® Rebounders, Arc Barrels, Rotational Disks, Toning Balls, Mats and more.

“We researched various machines extensively before deciding to go with Merrithew. The brand stood out for its exceptional sturdiness and precision, and its range of large and small equipment offers a diverse array of exercises suitable for our clients' varying needs. Also, with a wide selection of coursework and workshops available, I can continue learning and evolving to better assist my clients,” she said.

Stories of recovery and wellness

Since opening the B Pilates studio in December 2023 and introducing Pilates classes to her community, many have embraced the practice, especially those familiar with the method.

In recounting stories of people who have experienced recovery and wellness through her classes, Chihoko is happy with the progress being made. One of her clients, who had suffered from stiff shoulders and headaches, experienced such significant pain relief after just one session that she now attends the class weekly. Another client, who suffered from urinary leakage after undergoing surgery to remove anterior segment cancer, was relieved to find that the issue had been resolved as a result of doing Pilates. By maintaining proper posture and focusing on his breathing, he effectively engaged his pelvic floor muscles, which resolved the leakage. He now continues Pilates lessons with the goal of improving his overall posture.

MD-4457K-2 Blog 832x468_02

Chihoko did not fail to introduce Pilates to her family of athletes, who originally inspired her to become a fitness instructor. One of her family members, a baseball player plagued by knee and heel injuries, and broken elbows from years of intense training, found relief through Pilates. He improved his ability to transfer pressure from his lower body to his upper body, resulting in better use of his shoulders and eliminating strain on his arms, thus preventing a recurrence of his elbow injury. Additionally, he improved the function of his hip, knee and foot, alleviating his knee pain. He could finally play baseball without experiencing pain, improve his overall performance and prevent further injuries, all thanks to Pilates.

Pilates is rapidly gaining momentum in Japan, with new studios emerging nationwide, primarily to cater to its aging population. With this growth in mind, Chihoko aims to continue furthering her studies, thereby equipping herself to provide the proper support for those who visit her studio. Additionally, she hopes to preserve the sanctity of Pilates in Japan, ensuring that mindful movement will continue to be loved in Japan for years to come.

Follow Chihoko and B PILATES on Instagram to stay updated and book your session today.

We’d love to feature you!

Get in touch with us at to share your story with the world.

Related posts