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The Team

Meet the Team


Gillian Duggan
Owner/ APPI Pilates Instructor (fully certified)

Gillian studied at the University of Ulster, graduating in 2000. Gillian worked her junior rotations at Manchester University Hospital Trust, and had part time hours with Manchester City Football Club sports injury clinic.

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On returning to Northern Ireland in 2002, she held several health service posts in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, laterly holding a senior post in Orthopaedics at The Ulster Hospital Dundonald. Gillian most recently worked at a busy private practice in Belfast from 2004 to 2015 when she and Sonia went into partnership together, and has continued adding to her knowledge within the physiotherapy field. She has attended foot orthotic courses and trained locally for a certificate in Spinal Manual Therapy through Curtin University Western Australia. Amongst her further training, she has gained instructor levels 1 – 3 in APPI Pilates, and at present takes 11 classes a week including AnteNatal and Mother and Baby classes. Gillian is mum to three boys and is also a keen distance runner and can often be seen running with a buggy at the Park Run on Saturday mornings.

Sonia McCay
Owner/ APPI Pilates Instructor (fully certified)

Sonia graduated in physiotherapy from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh in 1995, and spent several years working in the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh gaining valuable experience in a variety of clinical specialties.

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Sonia was physiotherapist for the Scottish Ladies Hockey Union for three years from 1995 and also looked after the Ulster Schoolboys rugby squad in 2001. A year working in Australia provided further clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings. Sonia moved home in 2000 when she started work at a busy private practice in Belfast until 2015 when she went into partnership with Gillian. A special interest in pilates has led Sonia to the belief that it forms an integral part of the rehabilitation of spinal and sports injuries. Sonia trained in Pilates with the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute (APPI) and is a certified Pilates instructor. She has also completed specialist training in ante & post natal Pilates, Pilates and the theraband, Pilates and the gym ball and advanced level Pilates. In addition to physiotherapy, Sonia currently runs 11 Pilates classes a week as well as one to one Pilates sessions. She is the proud mum of two children and enjoys an active lifestyle with her family.

Denise O’Hagan

Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist/ AACP Acupuncture accredited. Denise graduated from the University of Ulster Jordanstown in 1995 and spent four years working as a Junior Physiotherapist in Belfast City Hospital.

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Throughout this time she also worked in the private sector as part of a team of Physiotherapists, Podiatrists and Orthopaedic Consultants in a busy Sports Injuries Clinic. In 1999 she gained promotion to Specialist level when she joined the Physiotherapy Musculoskeletal (MSK) Team in the South and East Belfast Trust (latterly the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust). Denise has accumulated a vast knowledge of the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries which she has gained through her work with numerous sports teams across various disciplines including IFA Premier League Football, Gaelic Football (at club, county and provincial level) and International Netball (NI Ladies Under- 19s). She has also travelled internationally with a number of sports teams including the Irish Deaf Football Team (Deaf Olympic Games, Rome 2002) and the NI Ladies Senior Football Team (Algarve Cup, Portugal 2003). Denise has also been practicing acupuncture for 20 years and has been a fully accredited member of the Association of Acupuncturists in Chartered Physiotherapy (AACP) for that period of time. In her spare time Denise is an avid fell-runner and orienteer. She has also completed the London Marathon on two occasions (2004 and 2010) as well as numerous half-marathons, Mountain Marathons and other long-distance endurance events.

Kathryn Sloan
Kathryn Sloan
BSc (Hons) MCSP

Kathryn graduated from Northumbria University in 2001 and spent two years working as a Junior Physiotherapist in Northumberland. She then took a career break from the NHS to do voluntary work in Kenya for a year where she worked at a child care centre for children with disabilities.

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Kathryn returned to her post in Northumberland for a further year before moving to Sheffield Children’s Hospital as part of the respiratory team treating children in PICU and the surgical wards. In 2006 Kathryn moved to Northern Ireland to return to full time study completing a Masters in Theology at Queens University Belfast, through Belfast Bible College. Towards the end of her studies she also worked part time for the adult respiratory team in the South Eastern Trust. Kathryn returned to Africa with an NGO in 2009 working in a government hospital for two years. She returned to Northern Ireland in 2011 to get married and has since been blessed with four children. In 2011 Kathryn took on the role of Paediatric Respiratory Physiotherapist in the Northern Trust where she was involved in setting up the service to train and support parents and carers of children with complex needs, alongside running difficult asthma clinics with the Paediatrician. In 2015 Kathryn was one of the first Physiotherapists in NI to complete a PG Certificate in Medicines Management allowing her to be an independent and supplemental prescriber within her specialist area of respiratory. After the birth of her third child, Kathryn choose to leave the NHS in order to focus on raising her young family. Having experienced the benefits herself of Physio-led Pilates through Belfast Pilates and Physio she decided to complete the APPI Matwork courses level 1, 2 and 3 in order to help others experience the benefits of Pilates.

Jane Carson

Jane graduated in Physiotherapy from the University of Ulster Jordanstown in 2000 and worked as a junior physiotherapist in the Mater Hospital initially and then the Royal Hospitals gaining a wide variety of experience in many clinical areas including orthopaedics, respiratory and musculoskeletal.

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It was in the Royal she developed a special interest in neurological conditions and was appointed as a Senior 1 Physiotherapist in The Regional Neurosciences Unit in 2005. Jane had already been participating in Body Control Pilates classes and as she found the exercises beneficial to many of the patients she treated she completed the APPI 3 basic matwork courses in 2008/2009. Since then Jane’s interest in Pilates has grown and she continues to use it within her NHS post, now in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and in teaching classes here at Belfast Pilates. She continues to develop her Pilates skills through courses including APPI ante and post natal, advanced matwork and reformer on the mat using the Pilates band. When not working in the NHS or taking Pilates she is a busy mum of two.

Penny Graham
Penny Graham

Penny has been qualified for over 16 years, 14 of which have been in the speciality of Women’s Health, now more commonly referred to as Pelvic Health.

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Penny offers assessment and management options to treat a number of conditions such as Urinary Incontinence, Bowel Incontinence, Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Penny is also able to offer the ‘Mummy MOT’ post natal assessment. This is a comprehensive assessment which can help to identify any potential areas requiring targeted rehabilitation following childbirth and/or provide reassurance to women who may have concerns..

Karl Donaldson
Karl Donaldson

Karl is a Chartered Physiotherapist, graduating from the University of Ulster in 2014. He has trained under the Australian Physiotherapy & Pilates Institute (APPI), completing all Pilates matwork levels and is a fully certified Pilates instructor.

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Karl’s interest in Pilates developed following a complex hip surgery, where he was able to use Physiotherapy-led Pilates to help rehabilitate himself to a full recovery.

Karl has worked previously in private musculoskeletal / sports injury clinics, in an educator role within a business occupational health setting and with a variety of sports teams & individuals playing at club to national level.

Karl is currently a member of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports & Exercise Medicine (ACPSEM) & has completed multiple post-graduate CPD courses to enhance his knowledge and further develop himself as a health professional, including; kinesio-taping, soft tissue therapy and exercise & performance rehabilitation courses.

Karl is a registered Nutritionist on the Sports & Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr) & British Dietetic Association (BDA) having completed a Master’s Degree in Sports & Exercise Nutrition in 2019.

Karl is also a certified strength & conditioning & tennis coach, with 15 years of coaching experience. He is a keen tennis player, having won numerous tournaments at Ulster and National level, including the Ulster Championships at U18, U21 and at senior level. He continues to play competitively when he can in tournaments throughout Ireland.

He feels his personal experience as a sportsman & coach, his training in the APPI method alongside his other qualifications allows him to provide a holistic approach to client care and help individuals reach their goals.

Rachel Norwood
BSCs (Hons) MCSP

Rachel graduated from The University of the West of England in 2006 and has 11 years experience as a clinical and sports injury related physiotherapist.

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After graduating she worked and continued to train in the private sector at a spinal clinic in Lisburn. Developing her personal interests in health and sport fitness she has also worked at two leading fitness centres as a circuit coach and onsite physiotherapist. Continuing her involvement in sports injuries she has provided physiotherapy treatment, preventative injury rehabilitation protocols and on pitch first aid to Ards Ladies Rugby Club. In the last 8 years Rachel has worked in a busy Private Practice in Belfast where she developed her knowledge and interest in the Musculoskeletal and sports injury field through the use of cutting edge physiotherapy. She gained specialist knowledge in spinal and pelvic injuries alongside biomechanical assessment and extended her service to her clients through massage therapy and carrying out domiciliary based treatment for high functioning neurology rehabilitation, house bound clients and for those with severe multi-pathology based injuries.

Recognising the benefit of specific core strengthening exercises in rehabilitation and prevention of injuries inspired her over the last 4 years to advance her studies in Pilates and she has now completed instructor levels 1-3 in APPI Pilates and specialist training in ante and post natal Pilates. On a personal level she has been able to resolve, through Pilates, a severe pelvic and spinal injury. Without Pilates she would have been left with chronic multi sited problems and her journey to recovery would not have been an incredible success allowing her to return to all her sporting interests stronger and with improved performance, postural awareness and increased endurance. Outside of work Rachel is a keen wall climber, enjoys all outdoor pursuits and is a fitness enthusiast. Her love of animals has led her to volunteer at a local dog rescue shelter and she is passionate about developing her knowledge/attending courses in to mindfulness, relaxation and meditation.

Aisling Hutchinson

Aisling has a genuine passion for movement and loves to take on new activities from rock climbing to rowing and even tried her hand at aerial silks with the Belfast Community Circus. In between rowing up the Lagan and hanging from a trapeze, Aisling discovered Reformer Pilates and fell in love.

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It was this love for Pilates that ultimately led to a daring career change from Law to Physiotherapy and she has never looked back! Now a fully qualified Physiotherapist, Aisling balances working full time with the NHS and teaching Pilates here and Belfast Pilates and Physiotherapy.

Aisling is APPI and Progressive Pilates Academy trained in both mat and Reformer Pilates and has been teaching Reformer for a few years.
You will find her in the Reformer studio on Wednesday mornings at 7am and on the mat on Saturday mornings from 10.20am to 12.30pm, usually with a shot of coffee or two.

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