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A new year, new changes and a new you with The Pilates Pod

“One size does not fit all”  (Michelle, owner of The Pilates Pod)

Known originally as Contrology, Joe Pilates’ method is the art and study of control. 

Control over the mind, breath, centre (powerhouse) and the whole body to create balance and a uniformed body that is strong AND flexible all over.

We have LOTS of new exciting changes to the studio for 2018 so grab a cuppa and read on…

Pilates is a journey. Your own journey.  Joe never had “levels” in his sessions as every one works at their own level. You had your 1st five sessions as a new beginner to the studio, then you had a lifetime of individual work, journey and progress working around the studio on all the apparatus in an open studio with just Joe or Clara around to help assist and give you one more exercise to add to your routine when they felt you had earned it.

How we start here at The Pilates Pod

We don’t leave you quite as alone as Joe did. Start with the fundamentals of the studio system. In the fundamental system, you will start learning the Intro exercises, orders and transitions of Matwork and Reformer (the bread and butter of Pilates) as well as introducing you to the arm springs work, roll back bar and wall endings with hand weights.

We’ve got 2 Intro Packages for new clients  to do this. You can buy each package once. (if you are already an existing client, and you have never experienced a full studio session, you can also take advantage of each one of these packages, once.)

  • Semi Private Group (up to 4 people) 3 weeks Unlimited Studio sessions £60 (3 weeks from your 1st session) For healthy bodies, or those with general aches and weaknesses.
  • Individual Private Training:  3 x 1:1’s £120 (to use in 2 weeks from your 1st session) The recommended route for “all eyes on you”, or for anyone suffering with back disc issues, joint pain, neurological issues, or specific issues surrounding pelvic floor, c-section or abdominal separation.

Where to go after the basics?

Every BODY is different, every mind too! Some people pick things up quicker than others, some people’s body responds easier than others. It doesn’t matter! What matters is YOUR journey, your progress. It’s not a race. Pilates is about learning your orders and transitions for matwork and reformer,  as well as practicing the exercises themselves and getting it deep inside the body. If you are working through specific issues, you should stay with 1:1’s, otherwise We recommend that everyone as much as possible follows 2 -3 sessions a week, pre books them in to ensure consistency and includes:

  • Semi Private Pilates Studio Apparatus class.  With up to 4 people per session, these classes are the true Pilates experience. Using resistance from the springs and matwork combined as well as an opportunity to correct your individual needs using the whole system from barrels, spine correctors, pedi pole, toe corrector, foot corrector, magic circles on top of those exercises found in the fundamental levels. Plus it gives you a chance to be more independent than 1:1’s, for the best result.  If you have been doing 1:1’s for a while now and aren’t dealing with specific issues, maybe it’s time to switch to semi-private. If you have been doing Mat or Reformer independently, give these classes a go.
  • You can find even more of these classes for 2018: Mondays 2pm, alternate Mondays 6pm, Wednesdays 8pm,  Thursdays 10.30am & 7pm, Saturdays 12.15pm and Sundays 11am.
  • OR Private Training 1:1’s, Duets or Skype sessions.

PLUS a weekly one of these to fine tune one aspect of Pilates…

  • Matwork. Using no resistance except your own body weight, this can often feel the most challenging if the body is too tight in some areas, too weak in others, to support and perform the exercises with control, which is why the Reformer and small props helps give you this balanced body. Some small props may be used now as required. It’s really easy to learn and do at home between studio visits, but remember matwork is only 2% of the full Pilates system, so do use apparatus as often as you can!
  • You can find these classes for 2018: Mondays 9.30am, 7pm & 8pm, Tuesdays 8pm, Wednesdays 9.30am (Gentle Flow Mat) Wednesdays 7pm, Thursdays 8pm, Fridays 10.15am, Sundays 10am.
  • Barrels & Matwork. Using the small barrels and spine correctors, your body will restore its natural curves and alignment with the help and support that the curves of the barrel provide. Your Matwork & Reformer exercises will be enhanced, challenged and given support in order for you to learn and fine tune your Pilates. A perfect antidote class to modern life ill posture and tight hips/rounded shoulders.
  • You can find this class for 2018:  Fridays 12.15-1pm
  • Pilates with Small Props. A CHANGE to the old Pilates with Props circuit style class. This new class will be performed all together more like traditional matwork classes rather than a circuit, but every week will use many of the small props found in the studio, both contemporary and classical from fitballs, magic circles, poles, mini balls, rollers, hand weights, flexi-bands, toe correctors. Matwork with lots of small toys! No large apparatus will be used in this class like Reformer, Pedi Pole, Spine Correctors and barrels.
  • You can find these classes for 2018: NEW TIME Saturdays 10am, Sundays 10am.
  • Reformer Pilates. If Matwork is the butter, Reformer is the bread. These two systems that Joe created are the only ones with orders to them. Just as you would practice the finer deeper work of Matwork in a full 55 min class, this is the same but on Reformer.  The springs are what make the change to people’s bodies and create a lift in the spine; better, faster and more efficiently than matwork alone. Only 2 per class, you work at your own level and order.
  • You can find these classes for 2018: Mondays 12.45pm, Tuesdays 6pm, Thursdays 9.30am & 6pm, Fridays 6pm.
  • Jumpboard Reformer Express. The jumpboard provides a soft platform in which you jump and bounce off whilst laying down. Add an express workout for your cardio levels and fat burning for those short on time, or in perfect addition to a regular class before or after. Not suitable for pregnancy or anyone with weak core, bad backs or new.
  • You can find these classes for 2018: Wednesdays 9am and Fridays 5.30pm.

Our door is open…..

By popular request, we’re opening our studio doors to you for 2018 at special times every week in which you can come in to practice by yourself. These “Open Studio” sessions give you an opportunity to come into the studio, work with the apparatus, matwork and small props. Whether you feel like stretching, working hard, geeking out on one particularly exercise or particular piece of apparatus, it’s all up to you. An instructor will be present but this is NOT a led session. A teacher will only be present for safety not for asking questions or advice. Please do be respectful to this and to other clients present in the room for their workouts to keep noise to a minimum. This is a time for yourself to workout,  a chance to come more often, workout with others, for your own practice, your way, with our studio, our equipment. We ask that you show up on time but feel free to leave quietly whenever you like within the 55 min slot. You are responsible for your own safety, modifications and for the equipment during these times. You must only use apparatus if you know how to use it and must sign a declaration form from Michelle before attending your first session. Min 5 sessions must have been attended on mat or on apparatus before you attend.

Open Studio Matwork £7.50 – Matwork only with small props. Up to 55 mins. 6 spaces .
Times available during 2018:
Mondays 2pm. Tuesdays 6pm. Wednesdays 8pm. Thursdays 9.30am, 6pm. Fridays 3.30pm, 6pm. Saturdays 9am. Sundays 12.00
Book here.

Open Studio Apparatus £15 – All the toys big and small in the studio inc Reformer, small barrel, spine corrector, foot corrector, toe corrector, pedi pole etc. Up to 55 mins. 2 spaces 
Times available during 2018:
Mondays 8pm. Tuesdays 8pm, Wednesday 7pm,  Saturdays 10am, Sundays 9am.  Book here.

To help you with your Open Studio workouts, we’ll be running Pilates Playground workshops every month. In these workshops, we’ll be taking a close look at a couple matwork exercises, and a couple of exercises performed on one piece of apparatus. We’ll geek them out, understand them, play with them, practice them, learn how to and how not to do perform them. You can then add them into your routine when you next come to the studio, or just use them as helpful tips and tricks. We strongly suggest you attend these as often as you can, or book a 1:1 instead if you cant make it. Fee £20 for each workshop, class credits cannot be used as payment.
The next Pilates Playground will be:
Saturday 6th January 9.15am-10.10am with Michelle.  It all starts from the feet!
A look at some of the feet on the bar work taken from the Reformer and the Foot Corrector. Essential places to start for everyone to connect their “feet to the seat” as well as particular useful for those with neurological issuess, limited foot mobility and strength.  Book here.
Sunday 4th February 12.00-12.55pm with Ellen.  Arm Springs. How the arms are rooted into the shoulder joint and how the shoulders are connected to the back body is so important. We’ll look at the arm spring series, some exercises on the Reformer and adding hand weights into our matwork. Book here

 

 

I’m having a baby! What to expect in the 1st Trimester and exercises to help

Congratulations! You’re having a baby! 

Well, me too, so snap! This is my second child, my first is 5 years old and now I am 19 weeks pregnant with number 2, so I know what you’re going through.
baby on board
What’s the 1st Trimester of Pregnancy 
0-12 weeks of early pregnancy is known as the 1st trimester and a time to establish a routine. Every woman’s body is different and each pregnancy is individual. 
The focus for exercise in the 1st trimester establishing a good routine that will see you through your whole pregnancy, to help you stay active and strong in pregnancy, because let’s face it, it is hard work on your body and for a looooong time! But even more importantly, what you do now during pregnancy, sets up good preparation in your body to help you give birth naturally, with an ideal alignment of baby inside you and with to make the “job” a little bit easier. (she laughs at the word “easier”)
It’s also about pre working on returning to shape and recovery after baby is born, as the investment you make now in your body will help facilitate  this time later to be that little bit easier too.
Early pregnancy is not the time to work too hard. You may be feeling tired, sick, have some weight gain, an increase in the need to go to the loo, breasts become larger and more tender and hormones are all over the place. Avoid overheating in exercise, don’t worry about working out too hard, things may be a struggle for you at this time even though you don’t have a huge bump yet. It’s a time to realise what’s going on in your body is pretty major and amazing and listen to it.  In these early days, baby is doing it’s important forming so let’s give it some thought and chill out a little more on the vigorous stuff and start being mindful of the creation inside you, your changing body and respect the changes.  The 2nd trimester is the time where you can up your efforts so leave that for then.
Creating a good awareness focus on your pelvic floor muscles is key right now. They take a lot of strain over 9 months of pregnancy with the weight of a growing baby, as well as that extra effort during natural delivery. Learn what the pelvic floor muscles are, how to keep them both strong and flexible. We need the “bounce” in our muscles as well as the tightness so remember it’s not all about pulling up, up up down there!
Keep your movements controlled, slow and mindful, remembering to support the lax ligaments that occur in pregnancy from the hormone Relaxin by strengthening the muscles and ligaments that support around the joints.
Pregnancy is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool either! It’s a demanding effort on mum, and you need to be strong, active and healthy to cope with the demands. So although it may feel like a time to sit back, eat tubs of icecream and attend antenatal exercise classes where you only breath and then eat cake, come on ladies, invest in yourself! Strong and supple legs, back, core and pelvic floor are the order of the day so let’s keep active moving forward in our pregnancy… more on that later in our 2nd Trimester blog.
The stages of a baby
What exercises are good for the 1st Trimester?

Natural alignment of the pelvis– important for facilitating a correct birth position and so you know a benchmark of the “norm” when later it naturally starts tilting forward.

Extension of the thoracic spine– you want to work on extension of the (mid-upper) thoracic spine for later prevention of the inevitable roundness that occurs, to support the weight of the growing breasts, to maintain a good upper body alignment and to help with lower back support. This area becomes increasingly stiff as the lower back becomes more mobile.

Flexion of the lumbar spine and oblique strengthening– gain mobility of the lower lumbar spine to strengthen and stretch the back muscles. It’s important to learn how to activate, strengthen and stabilize with the deep abdominals known as the Transvere Abdominisius, along with the Obliques, which helps prevent the destablisation of the rectus abdominus which may cause abdominal separation known as Diastasis Recti, and to help stablise the pelvis and aid with lower back ache.

Focus on pelvic floor toning and stretching– the pelvic floor muscles need toning and stretching to work naturally as a support system against the weight of a growing baby bearing down on them. This is important during pregnancy, to assist and guide baby out in delivery and to regain their control after, helping to avoid those little “leaks” that can be common. Pelvic floor muscles should be worked with breathing exercises and functional movement so it’s not about just squeezing your bits aka Kegel, but making them work during normal movements like a squat.

Breathing– breathing is great as a relaxation tool  and will not only help you engage your deep ab muscles and pelvic floor, but help you relieve stress and stretch tight mid back muscles. As baby gets bigger inside you, your organs get squashed, and the added hormones too, make breathing a little bit harder to do, so focusing on your breath is a great way to bring back some focus to this area.

Finally, it’s often nice to get out and meet other mums to be. Doing a specialist prenatal Pilates or yoga class during your pregnancy will get you to meet other like minded women, who can share support with how you are feeling and in our classes, the ladies make friends and often have babies around the same time so you’ve got an instant network of new mummy friends! Please note we only recommend continuing with Pilates in your 1st Trimester if you have been doing so before you became pregnant. Otherwise, wait for your 1st scan, check all is ok with the baby and with your pregnancy and join in from 12-13 weeks.

Oh, it’s ok to eat the occasional tub of icecream too! (mine’s the salted caramel one!)

Look out for part 2- The 2nd Trimester…….coming soon!

Written by Michelle Smith
Owner, The Pilates Pod and mum of 1 (and a bit!) kids!
www.thepilatespod.co.uk

The man, the legend and his creation

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”

Do you buy that? Smart words you might think?  These are the words of Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates method. Except back in  the 1900’s when he devised this fantastic system of movements, it was called “Contrology” (only later becoming Pilates after his death)

So let me just get this right… Pilates was created by a man?
How many men do you know these days who do Pilates or even less, how many teach it? Yet the system was originally created by a man and taught to hundreds of men. And not just “a” man, Joe was a man’s man!  A cigar smoking, beer loving, womanizing, man!

Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) always claimed that he was far ahead of his time with his system of exercises and he was right. In the early 1920’s he started his first studio in New York City, but today Pilates is known internationally as a key staple exercise and movement programme. Not a fad that came and went, not a wishy washy airy fairy exercise, not something that didn’t make you break a sweat, but a system of carefully controlled (hence the name Contrology) flowing movements designed to return you to life. It’s no wonder then that his (second) book in 1945 was named just this “Return to Life through Contrology”  (his first book was “Your Health”)
These days the Pilates method is taught and practiced by millions of smart cookies all over the world, who’ve cottoned on to the fact that this Pilates thing will make your back feel strong, your whole body feel toned, your vitality and energy increase, make you stand taller, walk and move easier….. basically it will make you feel fan dabby tastic!

Joe based his concepts for Pilates on having a balanced mind, body and spirit and took some of his inspiration from the early Greeks. He studied scientifically and experimentally into what upset the balance of these things.  Sleep, posture, stress, technology all played a part in his research.  You might not even know that much of Pilates work was outside of the actual exercise system we now know and love but that he also had his views on how we should sit on a chair, sleep in our bed, and built furniture to help us get this balance.
He believed in correct breathing being the basis of it all, as it is in life. Adding in body movement and mechanics, spinal flexibility and physical education.

Quite simply Pilates is a method of exercise designed to bring about balance in your body through strength and flexibility. If the body is restored to balance, it can move effortlessly without strain.  Most of the time, we are completely unaware of these stresses and strains being added to the body, causing us to be out of balance. Until it’s too late and the injury sets in to the point of letting us know about it. An ache or niggle here, later leading perhaps to more pains and a trip to the osteopath or doc.

Sure, doing Pilates will, as Joe wanted, return you to life and restore your imbalances once you have them. But imagine if you will a life where doing Pilates meant you didn’t get the imbalances in the first place?! That’s what’s it’s all about. It’s functional, basic movement. Strength training, flexibility training, body balancing.

You can (and should!) use it to help your sport improve, to get you out of back pain, to prepare your body for motherhood, to deal with the physical demands on a young developing body, or to managing the issues we face as we get older. It’s perfect for everyone; male and female alike.

In Pilates we refer to a “two way stretch” That’s one of the really cool things about it, you are always focusing. As one part of your body strengthens, the other side is stretching. Imagine in a gym, you’d have to use two machines for that. In Pilates, just the one exercise will do both! As your body becomes stronger, it also becomes longer = flexibility and strength! Winner!

We focus on the inner workings of the body, what some refer to as the “powerhouse” or “core.”
The deeper muscles of the body can’t be seen but can still be felt, and it’s these smaller postural muscles that help us with proper alignment whilst we go through our everyday movements. An imbalance in these muscles means we can’t work as efficiently, we are more likely to injure.  Time off work, time off the sports pitch, time off picking up the grandchildren for a cuddle. Do you want that?

But it doesn’t stop there! Pilates is a full body exercise. You use your brain to move your body so it’s great for the grey matter! You simply don’t have head space to think of the shopping when you’re doing Pilates, so a natural stress reliever.  We also use the limbs; our arms and legs, so you’ll be getting them stronger too.

In fact, Pilates as a class may help you in the studio, but just think of the all the benefits it gives your whole life outside the class room! For a full Pilates experience, you should also be using the equipment such as the “Reformer” to really condition the body, but it’s so easy to start with just you and a mat, anywhere, anytime.

And what’s not to like about that?! Just be sure your teacher knows a bit about what they are talking about!

For more information on Pilates, check out www.thepilatespod.co.uk