Mareile Paley is passionate about movement. Thus, Pilates emerged in her life as a natural way of expressing body movement. In addition to being a Pilates’ teacher, Mareile has a degree in graphic design where she worked before deciding to dedicate herself to the practice of Pilates.

From graphic design to the Pilates world

Born in Germany, Mareile Paley has always felt like a global citizen, so from a very young age she decided to leave her homeland. After she graduated in New York, she packed her bags and moved with her husband to the mountains of Pakistan, where she found opportunities to work as a freelancer graphic designer.

After several years of freelancing and travelling across the Asian continent, she ended up in Hong Kong with a full-time job. “For the only time in my life I worked four years in regular employment as an art director. Then I got pregnant and started to reflect that being a freelancer was nice - all that freedom, as well as the trips and adventures. So, I got back to my freelance life,” she told me.

Meanwhile, by pure coincidence, she found Pilates. “I fell in love with the method during my first class in Hong Kong. I practiced Pilates throughout my first pregnancy and it definitely helped me to get back into shape quickly afterwards.”

However, when she wanted to return after the baby's birth to her favourite physical exercise the studio was closed. “It didn’t exist anymore. I was looking for a different studio, but I couldn’t find one at the time. Instead, I found Pilates teacher training and I thought wow maybe I can become a Pilates teacher and then I don’t have to be working for corporations making flyers that end up in the trash. That’s how I became a Pilates teacher, not because I was looking for a change in my career but because it seemed something interesting to do”, she said.

Over 10 years running Pilates retreats

Twelve years ago, when Mareile started working as a teacher, Pilates retreats weren't as common as they are now. Back then, while yoga retreats were starting to emerge, Pilates retreats did not exist.

The idea came up almost randomly. In 2009 “I was sitting at a bar with a friend of mine who was the editor for a wellness magazine. Her job was basically attending yoga retreats in exotic places and then writing about it. I jokingly suggested that she should send me on a Pilates retreat and that I would write about it for the magazine. She said “yes”!

However, “at that time there were no Pilates retreats, you couldn't find them anywhere, but I found a lot of venues instead and decided that I was going to organise my own Pilates retreat. So, in 2010 I hosted and ran my first retreat in Bali and to my surprise I had 15 people join - it worked out and it was amazing”. That's how her company, Life in Movement, started and for 10 years Mareile has hosted Pilates retreats all over the world, from Mexico to Sri Lanka and beyond.

A new concept in Portugal

After years of visiting the world’s most beautiful wellness locations, Mareile decided to move to Portugal with her family, in order to give birth to the ‘Center for the Art of Life in Movement’ (CALM) a regenerative wellness hotel project that combines Pilates with sustainable tourism.

The new facilities will be built in Palmela – a village in the district of Setúbal. “We spent a lot of time in the Algarve at first, but I think overall what we like about this area is that it feels like a very authentic place. I like the fact that when I go to a supermarket people speak Portuguese. We can practice our Portuguese and get to know the old ladies and the stories they have to tell”, she said.

CALM will be an exclusive retreat centre just 30 minutes from Lisbon, in the Serra da Arrabida – a place she fell in love with after a six-months road trip search “for the perfect place to live” throughout the country. While Mareile has already built a strong team for CALM and has the support of the local municipality, she is still looking for the right business partner to co-create that dream with the same passion as her.

If you would like to know more about Life in Movement’s 2022 Pilates retreats and teacher training (offered in Portugal and Greece) or want to follow the development of CALM, Portugal’s first Pilates Wellness Retreat, please have a look at and