For many, Pilates is simply a group class in a gym or church hall where they lie down on a mat for an hour, wiggle about a bit and go home. The fact that there was some bloke called Joseph Pilates who invented all this stuff nearly 100 years ago isn’t that important. For some of us Pilates nerds, however, Pilates is a lifestyle, an intelligent form of exercise and our insurance policy for life: how well we move now and in the future, and whether we remain active, pain free, and mobile.
For me, ‘Proper’ Pilates is a PRACTICE, it’s not about performing the exercises perfectly, it’s about continued learning and improvement with the knowledge that each day will bring something different. It is a SYSTEM of exercises designed to bring about life-long vitality, health and functional movement longevity, balancing the body and developing uniform strength, stability, flexibility and stamina: and this system involves ALL the equipment, not just the mat. You practice, you get better and as you improve you progress through the exercises and the equipment.
Studios that utilise the large equipment with supporting mat-work and teach the Pilates method might not even have a Pilates group mat class. For those of us who have never experienced anything other than Pilates on the mat, this might be a complete surprise and a long way from what you’ve come to expect of Pilates. The Pilates class in the gym or church hall is often taught by teachers who have a basic qualification to enable them to teach a form of fitness Pilates only on the mat. This limited level of training means they can charge next to nothing and lead 20 people through some basic movements, a bit of stretching and call it Pilates. This watered-down version of Pilates is designed to suit large groups of people and so that gyms can offer ‘Pilates’ classes to their members. This isn’t a criticism, it is just a fact. It is still a form of exercise and you’re still moving, which is great, but IT IS NOT PILATES.
If Pilates was just a group exercise class, much like BodyPump or Zumba, then this wouldn’t be a problem. The problem arises when the medical profession, physiotherapists and others recommend Pilates to their patients. The patient Googles Pilates in their area, finds a church hall or simply goes along to their own gym, and joins in. Sometimes they’re lucky, sometimes it’s all fine, but mainly they come away disappointed and/or injured and definitely of the opinion that Pilates is a bit crap.
I’m not great at blowing my own trumpet or putting myself out there, but Pilates, when it is done right, helps people achieve amazing things that they normally wouldn’t have dreamed possible. People come to me because I’ve helped their wife stop wetting herself when she runs or their uncle reduce their golf handicap or their best friend’s dog improve his flexibility to pee further up the lamppost, and they want me to help them too. My goal with my clients/students is to empower them to ‘fix’ themselves, to move better and to reach whatever goals they have – from better sporting performance to getting a few hours per day that are pain free. The ability to do this, however, has taken years of continuous learning and financial and personal cost.
I travel to attend my own Pilates classes and private sessions weekly and monthly, with Rosalie at Breathe Pilates in Sheffield, and Holly Murray and her team at Pi Pilates in London. What I learn there I bring back and teach to you guys and the other teachers here. I am also undergoing ANOTHER teacher training programme – 600 hours of self-practice, observation and attendance at classes and privates with senior teachers in London, which involves the associated cost of getting there, paying for the sessions, accommodation, transport and being out of the studio. This is a far cry from the £800 qualification that the church hall teacher has in their pocket!
What you get when you come here is those 11 years of my experience teaching, the hours and hours of continued education I’ve done/am doing and which I then pass onto you and the other teachers. All the teachers here now have trained and continue to train with me, and we are all headed in the same direction – proper Pilates!
Over the last five years I’ve tried desperately to give everyone what they want. To be the Pilates teacher that they expect, to offer classes at times and sizes that they’re used to at a price that was as close to the ‘competition’ as I could get it without starving. I’ve tried to combine this contemporary idea which everyone knows and expects with moving towards a more traditional true Pilates method, but it isn’t sustainable. I am an all or nothing kind of woman – either I am a professional Pilates teacher with a real Pilates studio or I’m not.
We aren’t a church hall, we aren’t a gym, we don’t offer a watered down version of something that needs to be taught as a system in order for it to do it’s job. Joseph Pilates was ahead of his time, he was a genius, and changing his method to suit ourselves is just not what it’s all about.
So although it has taken five years, we are finally getting to the stage where we can call ourselves a “PROPER” Pilates studio 😊 The investment in time, education and equipment at the studio is entirely FOR YOU. To provide YOU with the very best Pilates experience that we can. My mission and that of this studio going forward is to uphold the Pilates method, work with the system and provide everyone who comes through the door with the best Pilates experience that we can.