Pilates benefits clients with severe mental illness - COFIT-19

Update: House in Motion nominated for the CZ Zorgprijs 2022!


Pilates benefits clients with severe mental illness - COFIT-19

Patricia Velasquez, co-owner of Body-Stream Pilates & More in Utrecht, in addition to a full schedule of classes and the challenges of recovering from the pandemic, took part in a project with researchers from the Utrecht Medical Center (UMC). Sport coaches interested in working with people with severe mental illness (SMI) were recruited and trained by a psychiatrist and a psychomotor therapist.

The project, called COFIT-19, consisted of two lessons of Pilates and/or fitness each week in groups of 4 - 6 participants via videoconferencing. After a 3-month period the results showed the following: patients who followed online Pilates mat classes and/or fitness 2x per week showed significant improvement in physical and psychological quality of life in the intervention group compared to treatment as usual. They also had the feeling that they were seen and that they belonged to a group!

As a result of this study, Lisanne Koomen, psychiatrist in training and PhD student at the UMC wrote and published the study in 2021.

Patricia Velasquez and her business partner, Alexander Bakker, still continue to help mentally ill patients balance their bodies through Pilates. They organize it through House in Motion, a project that emerged after the 2-year pandemic. House in Motion offers online classes to patients with SMI. Patients can register for free and take online Pilates classes in the comfort of their own home. The project is a first step to start doing sports outside and eventually subscribe to a gym or a Pilates boutique.

Patricia and her team are grateful to be able to share the passion of Pilates with SMI patients - allowing them to move safely and feel at home in their bodies again.


Patricia Velasquez has been invited to teach Pilates workouts in congresses like "Leefstijl in de psychiatrie" and "Leefstijlgeneeskunde in de spreekkamer" and in events like Socialrun. She hopes for a better collaboration within medical staff and Pilates teachers in order to help people change their life habits and move in a healthy and safe way.

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