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Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in Beginners, Body & Mind, Featured, Pilates | 0 comments

Pilates: A Good Exercise for Every Desk Employee

Pilates: A Good Exercise for Every Desk Employee

Working in an office environment poses certain health risks. Sedentary desk jobs can cause back pains, muscle aches, and joint problems. There is an increasing number of work-related illnesses because people ignore these symptoms and fail to remedy it. Aside from physical illness, working in an office can also cause stress. Office pressures such as a looming deadline or a demanding boss are damaging to the mental health. A good way to help the body fight and cope against these ills is by practicing Pilates.

The Risk: Office Desk Job

Studies show that prolonged sitting can disrupt metabolic functions resulting to increased cholesterol levels. That is why people living a sedentary lifestyle are at risk of heart-related problem. Bad and rigid posture can also hurt the muscles and bones around the back and neck. Here are a few of the health problems that office workers often suffer from.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – People often suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because of too much. The repetitive action of their hands can cause damage to the nerves, muscles, ligaments, and bones in the wrist. The illness can cause pain, numbness, and itching to the affected area.
  • Lower Back Pain – Prolonged sitting can injure the spinal column and lower back muscles. It is the usual reason for absences by older employees. Aside from prolonged sitting, bad posture can also cause backaches. These factors can create stress in the muscle and bone areas in the lower back that will also affect other parts of the body.
  • Joint Pain – Being stationary for a long time will decrease the efficiency of the joints. A particular joint, the hip flexors, will experience tightening and shortening if they remain static for too long. This will create stress and pain on the lower region of the body.
  • Stress – Work-related anxiety is recognized as a medical condition that can have long term consequences. It can lead to debilitating illnesses such as stroke, fatigue, and restlessness. Common factors that result to stress, are deadline, workload, management, colleagues, and even the physical environment.

The Solution: Pilates

The most practical solution for this problem is to allot a time for exercise or an active recreational activity to give the body the necessary strengthening that it needs. Pilates is a popular form of exercise that can help in strengthening stabilizing muscle cores. These muscle cores are responsible for providing the correct alignment of the spine. It is a form of physical therapy that stretches and strengthens major muscle groups while promoting good body balance. Here are some of the significant benefits of Pilates.

  • Increases Flexibility – Pilates enhances spinal flexibility. The spine should be able to curve and twist smoothly. There are Pilates’ moves that rehabilitate and increase spinal movement.
  • Strengthens Core – One of the main targets of Pilates is to increase abdominal and torso strength. It trains the body so that the core muscle groups will coordinate efficiently.
  • Decreases Stress – Stress is a chemical imbalance that is often characterized by fatigue. Through Pilates, the body would be able to take more pressure and be more resilient against external influences. It is proven that Pilates is effective in coping with anxiety.
  • Promotes Correct Body Posture – Pilates help in increasing awareness towards body posture. The exercise teaches correct body posture for sitting, walking, and standing. It provides a more intrinsic appreciation towards different parts of the body.

Exercise is necessary to create a more balanced lifestyle, and Pilates is a good start in living and promoting a healthy and meaningful work life.


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Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Beginners | 0 comments

The Wonders of The Pilates Overball

The Wonders of The Pilates Overball

The Pilates overball is a wonderful adaptable small piece of equipment used to enhance Pilates exercises.  We commonly use it for alignment and to assist or challenge in a whole host of Pilates exercises but it also has another fabulous use; It’s my favourite travel companion, apart from my husband of course!

The overball comes in a variety of colours and sizes and It can be fully deflated and carried in my handbag or hand luggage. My travel companion is bright yellow and 7 inches in diameter.

Once I board the plane, I semi inflate my beloved overball and it goes behind my head or neck or wherever needed to make the travel a bit more comfortable.  The overball really comes into its own once we reach our destination.  I don’t know about you but I always find sunbeds a bit uncomfortable, with the overball tucked behind your head and under your towel it’s perfect.


Great for when you want to do a bit of reading or fancy a snooze and really comfortable.  You’ll find yourself nodding off in no time at all.


Obviously, you don’t want to over do it on your holiday but if you feel the need to do a little bit of something, try a few bridges/spine curls with the ball in between your knees or some pre Pilates exercises like open book. You can even do some thoracic release with the ball in between your shoulder blades and some neck stretches with the ball behind your head. The beauty of the overball is that you can inflate it to just the right amount for you.  Don’t leave home without yours!

Video: Pilates Exercises – How to Use an Over Ball

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Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Beginners, Body & Mind, Pilates | 0 comments

Lost in Space – Adventures in Proprioception

Lost in Space – Adventures in Proprioception

Question: Close your eyes.  Imagine you are an astronaut  in the middle of a space walk.  You can’t feel anything through your space suit.  Your headlamp goes dead and you can’t see the Earth, moon or space station. What do you do?

Answer:  You call upon your proprioception, or sense of where your body is in space and in relation to other parts of your body.  This “Joint Position Sense” allows us to stay balanced and move without engaging sensory perception, such as visual, auditory or tactile clues.

Proprioceptors are composed of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in muscle and joint supporting ligaments.  Astronauts endure intensive conscious mental and physical training until their bodies and minds subconsciously habituate each scenario.  Practice makes permanent for astronauts and everyone else.

Astronauts can then also seek out visual, auditory or tactile clues to better understand their position in space and to act on them.  They can move their body to see objects, listen to the sounds of the space station or instinctively reach for their tether to grab it and move back to the correct position.

Let’s have another adventure.  Imagine you are standing in your Pilates class.  Close your eyes and then “stand correctly.”  This is very similar to your astronaut adventures.  Your proprioceptors will remember how many times you have stood correctly before and your joints will begin to stack in-line, with neutral pelvis and good balance.

Luckily you and others can open your eyes and solicit both auditory and tactile cues and feedback in order to learn the correct start positions and Pilates exercises.  Once you have learned these exercises you can further challenge your proprioception with small equipment such as the soft ball and foam roller.

There’s one other adventure.  Very often our hectic and stressful lives ignore our body’s needs.  Our proprioception diminishes almost to the point that our bodies and minds feel completely disconnected.  Pilates helps us to concentrate, relax, align and breathe deeply.  The lengthy and weak tethers connecting our mind and body become stronger and shorter until our body and mind are the same.

This is the Pilates Journey.


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Posted by on Jun 9, 2013 in Beginners, Featured, Owning a Studio | 0 comments

Fifty Shades of Grey – Introduction to Pilates Equipment

Fifty Shades of Grey – Introduction to Pilates Equipment

In my previous years of teaching when a new client walked in to the studio, they would look around and say – ‘oh dear, this looks like a torture chamber ‘- I am sure all teachers have heard that a few times.  However, these days when the client walks in they mostly say – ‘oh this looks like the Red Room of Pain from Fifty Shades of Grey’ (:o).  I have to say, it’s a great ice breaker though.. ‘you read Fifty Shades of Grey, did you, hmm.. all of the books… oh have you, all in one day! lol’ – common ground established.  Of course, I had to read it myself to make sure I knew what the clients were referring too ;).

We can safely say that walking in to a Pilates studio, for the first time, can be overwhelming so here is a guide to most commonly used Pilates equipment.  Below, you will find a gallery of pictures including the Cadillac, Reformer, Ladder Barrel, Small Barrel and Wundachair.

Further, I will dedicate a separate blog to each of the apparatus including brief description, variations, makes, pictures and so on .  To keep it simple just for now, I have used images from the BalancedBody Pilates site only, but when introducing pieces individually I will add other manufacturers.  Most commonly purchased at the moment are: Stott, Balanced Body, Peak Pilates, I have found something called Align-Pilates, Gratz Pilates (considered closest to the original designs of J Pilates).  Since the equipment is mostly produced in the US, here in the UK this means a bit of a hassle getting it into our studios but things are getting easier.

History tells us (Origins of Pilates) that J Pilates designed most of his pieces based on a hospital bed, while he was in the prison camps during WWI.  He built the frame, added the springs and bars to effectively aid the recovery of those injured through exercise, even if they were bed bound.

The equipment manufacturers are getting more and more innovative with the machines: developing, modifying, evolving to make it safe for us to use, more practical, better looking; safer and more efficient for the clients to use and enjoy.  In fact, you can pretty much coordinate your studio equipment in style, colour and space i.e. the leather upholstery comes in many colours, the equipment can be purchased in the most simple form for new, small studios (at home) and developed over time, like the Reformers with detachable tower.

Do you think you have the best looking Pilates studio or do you think the one you take your classes in, is? – send us pictures for our gallery, we love beautiful studios! (

Next time … The Pilates Cadillac.

Reformer Tower

Reformer Tower, Allegro 2



Cadillac (Trapeze Table)



Basic Reformer

Ron Fletcher

Ron Fletcher Reformer by BB


Baby Arc

Baby Arc


Wall Tower

Wall Tower

Toe Gizmo

Joe’s Toe Gizmo




Foam Arc

Balanced Body Foam Arc

Ladder Barrel

Ladder Barrel

Pilates Barrel

Pilates Barrel

Ladder Barrel

Ladder Barrel




Reformer and Cadillac Combination

Reformer/Cadillac Combination








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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Beginners, Body & Mind, Featured, Pilates | 0 comments

Pilates – Mindfulness in Movement?

Pilates – Mindfulness in Movement?

“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning is complete co-ordination of body, mind and spirit”. Joseph Pilates


What is Mindfulness?

Have you ever turned on the television to watch a program and then become distracted by thoughts about your day, problems, life, etc and realised you haven’t seen or heard anything of the program you sat down to watch?

Or had a conversation with a friend but halfway through realise that you haven’t been listening and can’t remember what they said?

Or driven somewhere on ‘autopilot’?

Or ‘switching-off’ to a person, noise, etc?

Most of us have done this at one time or another and they are great examples of being ‘mindless’.  When we are mindless, we are not concentrating on the task in hand, our mind is elsewhere.

So what is mindfulness?  Mindfulness can be described as being in the present, being in the moment or just ‘being’.  It is focusing your mind on the here and now, not thinking about what to have for dinner later, or that piece of work you need to get finished.

Being mindful allows us to tune in to what it is we are doing.  It allows us to experience every moment fully.  It allows us to experience every moment using all of our senses; seeing, hearing and feeling every moment.

Pilates and Mindfulness

Pilates is a series of slow, defined exercises carried out on both the mat and resistance equipment.  The exercises should be performed correctly, taking the time to establish the technique rather than rushing through them.

Everyone who participates in a Pilates class knows just how much there is to think about; breathing, alignment, using the right muscles and relaxing the others, listening to the instructor and so on.  This can feel a little overwhelming at first but it is normal and will get easier as the body learns the new ways of doing things.  When you are thinking of all those things, you are in the moment, living it and doing it – there is no time to think of anything else!  However, by the end of your class, you will feel energised and calm.

The breathing method used in Pilates exercise encourages relaxation and has been shown to improve mood and decrease anxiety.  Using the breath will activate and energise the muscles and as you bring your attention to your body, you will be able to execute the movements precisely, with control and mindfulness.

A Mindful Pilates Exercise

  1. Sit tall, lengthening the spine.  Have the feeling of your weight dropping down your seat bones and the crown of your head lengthening upward.  Place your hands around the lower part of your ribcage towards the back.
  2. Inhale through your nose, focusing your breath to your back and the sides of your ribcage.  You will feel your hands being gently pushed out as the sides and back of your ribs expand.
  3. Exhale through your mouth ensuring there is no tightness through the jaw.  As you exhale, you will feel your back retreat away from your hands as the ribs compress.  When you exhale, ensure that you expel every drop of air from the lungs and try to keep the abdominal muscles contracted.
  4. This time, as you inhale imagine that you are taking the breath to the left side of your lower back and ribcage.  What did you feel?  You will find that the left side expands more as your focus and awareness has been taken to that area.  Repeat this on your right side.

This simple exercise shows just how much control we have over our body when we are mindful.  What else can we achieve by incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives?

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