An Interview with

Susan Douglas, founder of The Douglas Method

Article in the Konect Directory, Livingston and Calders editions, February 2014 

Susan Douglas is all that you would expect a Pilates instructor to be: full of energy, fit, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about her work...except that she is absolutely not your typical Pilates instructor at all.

In fact, as she explains to me, she calls her classes “Pilates classes” so that people know approximately what type of exercise it is. But after more than 20 years in the fitness industry and with many qualifications under her belt, she has developed her own exercise method which she is in the process of copyrighting as “The Douglas Method." 

Susan Douglas 

So what is different about The Douglas Method and why is Susan doing this rather than teaching standard Pilates classes? “I love getting at the root cause of people's problems, be it a niggling back pain, limited movement, or anything else preventing you from living life to the full. I found in all the years I did Pilates training that the 'one size fits all' approach wasn't working for a lot of people and problems were going unsolved. So while the Douglas Method uses, and develops, Pilates, it also integrates a number of other techniques. It is much more about meeting people's health and fitness goals rather than slavishly following a pre-defined set of exercises.”   

Susan is well-qualified to develop her own method: after an early career as an aerobics instructor, massage training and personal fitness training, Susan worked for the Pilates Institute for several years, travelling to London, South Africa and Germany to deliver their syllabuses to new Pilates instructors. But she became unhappy at some of the things she had to teach: Her own passion for fitness, knowledge of anatomy and physiology and years of experience told her that some of the moves are not good for everyone and may even be harmful. Moreover she was very concerned that it was possible for people to set up as Pilates instructors with very little training or anatomical knowledge and to be simply delivering a syllabus but without the understanding required to tailor it to individual client's problems. Anyone who has participated in group exercise will be familiar with instructors saying things like, “if it hurts to do this exercise on your hands, do it on your elbows.” Susan though prefers to get at the root cause of why you might find it painful to do an exercise a certain way. And nine times out of ten she has found she can identify and fix it.

Her classes of Douglas Method exercises have been running locally now for around seven years, and while it is a constant journey of discovery (she is always refining her method based on experience) she has never looked back. And her track record speaks for itself, with many satisfied customers including some who have managed to avoid surgery by using Susan's exercises.

Susan is so enthusiastic about The Douglas Method results that she is even working on a programme to train and license other Douglas Method Instructors. Officially launching The Douglas Method Training School will involve writing a handbook, getting the Method endorsed by National Qualifications Awarding bodies and endorsement by a medical body. “I'm not so good on the paperwork though,” she laughs, “so it might take a while!”

So, moment of the end of our conversation I explain to Susan that I've got a niggling pain in my back preventing me from doing crunches properly. After watching me attempt a crunch and identifying what position I am in when the pain kicks in, Susan shows me some stretching exercises to do to relieve the muscle responsible for the problem. It works, and the next crunch is smoother and almost pain-free!

When she is not running her classes or doing personal fitness sessions, Susan can be found with her horses near home in West Calder.

See more on the Douglas Method plus schedule of local classes at Susan's website or call Susan on 07704 216645