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Posted by on Jun 22, 2013 in Becoming a Teacher, Body & Mind, Business & Education, Freelance, Owning a Studio, Stress | 0 comments

State of Mind – Still Busy

State of Mind – Still Busy

Since the last blog State of mind 2 fast I have taken the time to find solutions to slow down my life, be more efficient, less tired and have more time.  Impossible – right? well apparently not,  actually there are people out there who live like that ;).

I spoke to folks around me, reached out to a few professionals to seek advise and two words have repeated over and over: mindfulness and goal setting.

Mindfulness is (source Wikipedia)

bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, it involves paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, and/or involves a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is.

..but more on that in the next blog, today is all about goal setting.  The most important thing to remember is, that a bit like with practicing Pilates or any other regular activity, unless you are very motivated and goal orientated you you are unlikely to succeed by yourself, at least initially.   You will need outside help and possibly the support of your friends.   Join local classes (best doing it with a group of people with similar circumstances) or find a programme on the internet.  My sources are The Personal Success Academy and Be mindful online.


Armed with a handy tool like the goal wheel you set up your main goals and rate them from 1-10, where 1 is not good and 10 you are exactly were you want to be in that aspect.  Next, based on the result of the goal wheel you set up goals to improve on the low scoring aspects of your life.  The goal wheel can be used for many different sets of goals, it can be your life goals, work goals or project goals.  The best practice is to start global and then break them down.  Here are some helpful tips from the Personal Success Academy:

  1. Goals must be written down – A goal that is not written down can easily become a vague notion a fantasy or a dream. If you think it, ink it (or type is in this day and age!) and this will engrave them in your subconscious.
  2. Talk about your goals – make yourself accountable to not just yourself but your friends and family or anyone else who may be able to help keep you on track and keep you in a positive frame of mind.
  3. Goals must be measurable – how will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? To set a goal without at least one measure of its achievement is like planning a journey without a destination. Establish a way to measure the outcome.
  4. Assess and review your goals regularly – re-visit your goals regularly to make sure that you still have them in your sights and that you are indeed on track to achieving them. Make this a habit.
  5. Goals must be specific – break down your goal until they became actionable and achievable within the next 24 hours. You should be able to describe your goal in a sentence that is clear and specific. For example a goal of wanting to see the world is too vague.
  6. Goals should be positive – although the subconscious is amazingly powerful, it is unable to distinguish between positive and negative. Concentrate on positive thoughts to help you make the difference when setting out to achieve your goals. For example, focus on what you stand to gain so – “I want to give up smoking” becomes “I want to enjoy the health, freedom and wealth of being a non-smoker”. Avoid the negative use words like “I do not want to fail my French language test” as that keeps the notion of failure in your thoughts, positive language will help keep you on track. “I will pass my French language test with 70% or above”.
  7. Celebrate achieving your goals – when a goal is achieved remember to congratulate yourself and celebrate your achievement!

“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” – who said that??

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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Becoming a Teacher, Body & Mind, Business & Education | 0 comments

State of Mind – 2 Fast!!

State of Mind – 2 Fast!!

I have realised recently that my mind is racing all the time.  I go to sleep thinking what I need to do and I get up in the morning remembering what I was thinking last night.  It’s not that I don’t write it down, I do, on the iPhone, on the paper and then I rewrite it again so it is imprinted on my brain and I won’t forget.  Of course, I do forget some, simply because my mind is so busy and yes there are reminders you can set up on your iPhone but.. is this normal? .. running like a hamster in it’s spinning wheel.. kids, family, work, work, exercise, clients medical forms, contraindications, diets, friends, hair, nails, appointments, dinners, shopping, reading, blogging, posting, updating, thinking, organising, CPD’, oh yes and be a woman too … OMG, just stop and stand still girl!

It’s not that I don’t enjoy it but this 2 Fast State of Mind comes at a cost:

– I can’t sleep which means my body and mind are not getting the necessary amount of rest to regenerate to work properly

– Because my body and mind are not getting what’s needed my efficiency is declining, my health is declining, my ability to cope with the previous is declining

– I am irritated, tired and unable to recharge my batteries for longer than a day

Stephen R. Covey, author of  ”7 habits of highly effective people” said: on their death bed no one has ever said ‘oh I wish I spend more time at the office’! It is so true in pursue to provide the loved ones with everything they need, in pursue of personal an professional success we forget what counts the most – the people we love who live with us, next to us and in our hearts and spending time with them everyday is what counts the most.

It’s time to clear my head hard drive and make some space! Cut down on the noise!  From today I am going to think of a plan … or not think at all, lol, I’ll let you know next time ;)

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Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in Pilates, Repertoire | 0 comments

Pilates Matwork Repertoire – The Hundred

Pilates Matwork Repertoire – The Hundred

The Hundred exercise in Pilates got its name because you hold the exercise for 100 counts.  In classical Pilates matwork repertoire you start your session with The Hundred to warm up, get your breathing strong and your blood oxygenated.  It strengthens your abdominals, develops trunk stabilisation and stimulates coordination.

Point of caution: Work at your own pace and if your neck feels strained do not continue.

Start Position: Supine with your knees bent, imprinted spine, inner thights connected.  Place your arms by the side of your body maintaining sense of space underneath the armpits, palms down.

Movement: Inhale to prepare – Exhale, lengthen through the back of the neck, contract abdominals and flex the thoracic spine as you reach and hover your arms over the floor; simultaneously extend your legs and pump your arms energetically up and down in small movement; Inhale for five pumps and Exhale for five pumps.

Checkpoints: Maintain stability throughout to avoid upper back tension, avoid overly tucking the pelvis, initiate movement of the arms at the shoulder joint, not elbows, emphasise downward motion of the arms, draw your abdominal in on contraction as opposed to appearance of ‘popping belly’.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: whiplash, cervical, shoulder and lumbar issues (i.e. disc herniation, bulging disc, prolapsed disc), groin strain, osteoporosis.

Initially, the Hundred started from supine position and legs extended and the movement would be to lift the legs from the centre, maintaining pelvic and shoulder stability.  As that proved to be too difficult the adaptations followed.


1) Head and feet on the mat, focus on breath and shoulder stability

2) Feet on the mat with upper body flexed, focus on breath, shoulder stability and abdominal engagement with imprinted spine

3) Adaptation 2) but with legs in tabletop position

To finish hug your knees to your chest, release the head down to rest or progress to the next exercise.

VIDEOThe Hundred

Special thank you to Anoushka Boone of Pilates in Motion Studio for providing supporting materials and feedback.

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Posted by on Apr 7, 2013 in Business & Education, Owning a Studio | 0 comments

My Journey from Pilates Teacher to Studio Owner

My Journey from Pilates Teacher to Studio Owner

The thing about changing career midlife is that, usually, it will be to something you love.  That is exactly what happened to me, at the age of 35.  I gave up managing restaurants and retrained as a Pilates Teacher.  For the first time I found my niche.  Of course, when one’s dream comes true another starts to form immediately!  I started to dream about having a warm, light and large studio with a character and so began my search for a suitable premises.  Six months into my search I gave up on ‘light and large’ and just wanted a chance to see any premises.  A year into my search I realised that it  just wasn’t going to happen. Due to the need for a change of use (if a premises has previously been used for offices for example, a change of use is required), dimension requirements and financial restrictions it didn’t seem possible that I would ever find anything suitable. I could see my dream falling apart.

Fortunately, someone told me about an option of hiring a property consultant specialist who, for a fee, finds the property for you.  My hopes & dreams returned.  I met the lovely Lloyd Harris and gave him all my specifications.  A few months and many property visits later, I have found my property, even if it doesn’t necessarily look like it at the moment… (pictures attached)

There is still one obstacle: the dreaded change of use, for which, depending on the council, one has to wait from 4-9 weeks:( , nothing is quick.  Its a very tricky situation as I cannot commit to the lease until I know I have been granted the license and on the other hand I am expecting the Landlord to wait for me all this time without a guarantee of a tenant.  Frequently, one would be asked to pay a non refundable deposit to the Landlord to wait, but it will be a loss if the license is not granted.  What is a new entrepreneur to do? Risk it or not to risk it?

Anyway, while we wait for the license to ‘Pilates on’, there is some work to be done; some legal and some dirty!


To be continued……………


‘change of use’  – when leasing a commercial propery in the UK one has to trade under an appropriate License ie retail would be R1, restaurant A3, etc they will have different requirements in terms of what is required of the property and the person/company who uses it.  Here is a government guide

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Posted by on Nov 3, 2012 in Interviews | 0 comments

Interview with Liz Chandler, Pilates Foundation teacher.

Interview with Liz Chandler, Pilates Foundation teacher.

liz-e1365342013256-150x124At the end of the summer I had the pleasure of meeting with a lovely Pilates Foundation teacher, Liz Chandler.  I went out to meet her at her studio, Pure Moves in Frome, Somerset.

How did you start your Pilates journey?

The first time I heard of Pilates I was 19 years old. I was dancing and was encouraged to take up Pilates to enhance my practice, but it was very expensive those days and I never did.  While finishing my dancing degree at  UCLA I had a teacher who would do Pilates exercises in her class, we would do spine rolls, hip rolls and all kinds of other stuff that I didn’t know was Pilates until much later on when I started practicing myself, so all this time I was doing Pilates without realizing it!

At 27 years old I was having a serious back problems, I was already living in UK and here through Swindon Dance Agency I did a workshop on Pilates for dancers. Subsequently, I sought out a Pilates teacher to do classes with and I found Suzanne Scott in Somerset.  With her wonderful teaching she help to rehabilitate me and more, I was able to move my body in a new ways.  Had I listened to my first dance teacher and started Pilates earlier on I would have been a much stronger dancer.  Impressed by the benefits of Pilates, I decided to do the teacher training. At this point, I was teaching dance at a City College and Bath University, I’ve always been adjusting and looking at bodies, so it felt like a natural progression for me to become a Pilates teacher myself.

You have been teaching for many years now, are you thinking of becoming a teacher training provider?

No.  I have been asked that in the past but this is not what I am interested in, right now.  I love doing professional development workshops because I love researching new topics for my own stimulation and benefit and I enjoy sharing that with others.  I am told I am really good at articulating how an exercise should feel and teach it in such a way that people get the maximum benefit from it.  Those could be good reasons for becoming a teacher trainer. On the other hand I have a young son and I love to travel, I don’t want to be constricted by a long term commitment.  Also, together with a friend of mine, who is a yoga teacher, I am involvedin organising and running of  overseas Pilates retreats.  We share a passion for movement and we both love to travel.  So far we have successfully completed two Pilates/Yoga retreats and it was an amazing experience.  In the beginning, the Pilates teachers want to stick to Pilates and Yogi to yoga but as time passes watching those two groups integrate and enjoy both practices, is very rewarding.  I would frequently hear a very positive feedback from the yoga teachers, how Pilates helped and improved their practice.


How often do you run the retreats?

At the moment twice a year.  This year we have each added a third one, separately.  Mine is coming up 20-27 October in Spain.  It’s a Pilates, slash walking, slash stretching with blend of yoga and tai-chi event.  I am really looking forward to it.

How is the retreat structured?

The classes go on throughout the week, plus they are optional ‘talks’ on bringing Pilates into your every day life, small themed workshops.  The retreats are designed to suit teachers and public so everyone can find something that interest them.  I bring in my vertical and functional workshops too.  However, if you don’t feel like doing anything you can hang out by the pool and soak up the sun.

Coming back to your teaching, you are know for providing vertical workshops for the elderly, what made you go in that direction?

I am very passionate about working with older people.  It stems from my experience from my 20s when I spent lots of time providing movement workshops to the elderly in LA, some chair bound.  It was very special and uplifting experience.  At the university, I studied the Alter method, which is a lot like Pilates and those were my initial classes for older people, later I integrated it with Pilates.  I have successfully run community classes for almost 18 years and received millennium grants for about 8 years, to support my project.

How do you combine it all: running a business, a home, being a mum and a wife..?

I didn’t open Pure Moves Studio until my son was 8, it took me almost 5 years to find the right place.  It all happened after the release of my DVD for over 50s.  In retrospect it was the right time.  It would have been difficult running a large studio while raising a young child, I was already doing my training and teaching dance while he was a baby which took a lot of sacrifice.  Luckily, I had a lot of support, even tough I do not have my family here I have a lot of good friends and a very supportive husband.

From a business point of view do you find your life to be more organized now that you have the studio?

No, I was always organised even when running my classes but I love to have a space to come to that is dedicated to movement, it creates its own atmosphere.. Teaching in village halls and hired spaces can be difficult, cold and dirty.  On the admin side running a business is tough, now I have couple of people helping me out, so its a bit easier but I still ending up doing some admin myself, its crazy!  If feel very fortunate and having the studio is worth the work.

Last year you have given a workshop at the APPI conference, can you tell me more about it and how it came to be?

Last summer (2011) I received a phone call from the APPI; they were referred to me through the Pilates Foundation, which was very flattering.  They decided that they wanted their conference to be completely and totally inclusive of all the organisations.  They wanted to attract teachers to attend and the best way to do that was to invite lecturers and teachers from different organisations.  It was a huge honor to represent the Foundation.  I was very nervous.  Luckily, I had been to the Royal College of Physicians many times for the Body Control Development week.  I could picture the rooms.  I thought of the room I wanted to be in and I got it! It was the smaller and more cosy room.

The title of my workshop was Progressing Function and Essentials in Pilates.  The reason I chose that topic was because I’d already been doing my vertical workshop, I’d done my gait workshop and I was very interested in function however I wanted to something I hadn’t done before.  ‘Essentials’ is a very big title, it can meant many things but it wasn’t the principle it was the essential movement and patterns that we see in Pilates that I wanted to address.  The patterns that we keep seeing recurring, whether they be to do with thoracic flexion, coming up in the C-curve, so I wanted to talk about ways to improve that, the queuing and handling, how to get that thoracic cue right or how to make sure when people know how to stabilise in sidelying work, whether that be from your sidekick series.  If you teach these things from the very beginning, the very essential stuff, in the oyster, not allowing people just to cave in on their side or whatever, you’re teaching the essentials from an early stage, people will progress quicker through strength. So it was looking at those essential movement patterns that recur in Pilates and how to teach to improve them in the early stage and then show in the workshop how they progress and how it makes them easier to progress to an advanced level and then once they get it and understand it, they’ll be able to achieve the advanced exercises more readily, quickly and technically.


The workshop was full and was received very well.  I received a lovely email from Glen Rivers, inviting me to come back this year again.  This year I will be talking about spinal flow, about getting the spine flowing more and getting more articulation in the spine in all movements not just flexion and extension, but also in side flexion and rotation. Looking at rotation and not just rotating around the middle Ts but getting rotation around the whole spine, and looking at spirals to achieve that as opposed to just looking at seated and standing rotation. It’s just really about evolving those upper thoraces and looking at how you can create spiral throughout the whole circle and also through the pelvis. Suzanne Scott uses a term called flossing.

Last question Liz, what is your favourite Pilates exercise?

Well I have two, if I’m allowed: Swan – that extension.. I just love to help people improve with that. Extension is so important, and to see someone finally achieve a Swan and achieve the sense of opening i

s very gratifying. My favourite one to do for fun is the open leg rocker, it’s fun and challenging and brings a smile to my face!

Liz, thank you so much for taking the time to see me.  You have a beautiful studio, with a garden I may add – we are actually sitting in the garden, in the lovely sunshine! Looking forward to seeing you at the APPI conference and Pilates Foundation workshops.

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