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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 Apr 27, 2013 in Reviews, Workshops, Workshops and Further Education | 0 comments

Pilates on Tour 2013

Pilates on Tour 2013

Balanced Body certainly know how to put on a show.  I went along to the reception on Friday to mingle with other Pilates teachers and the organisers of the event.  It really is a unique gathering as the teachers that attend are from all different schools of training and around 30 different countries. This is unusual in itself, as we Pilates teachers tend to stick with our training bodies to a greater or lesser degree and therefore bump into the same people at the workshops and conferences that we attend.  Being a teacher can also be a bit of a solitary occupation unless you work in a studio with other teachers, so it’s a great social event.

For the benefit those of that don’t know Balanced Body is a company that manufactures and supplies Pilates equipment and they also have their own education programme. They are based in the US and take their tour all over the world.  Pilates on Tour 2013 in London is the 3rd one in the UK but the 58th in the world.

Pilates on Tour is probably the biggest Pilates conference in the UK and they bring the lot with them, equipment and teachers. There are many fantastic workshops to choose from over the weekend and some pre conference workshops too  where you can get get more specialised training, for example, Core Align with Portia Page.  Highly respected teachers present a great variety of workshops from both the UK and USA. Its great chance to get pick up hints & tips and new ideas.

The Balanced Body crew are a generous bunch and there are a few freebees up for grabs, DVDs, Mats, bags & pens.  At the reception, snacks and soft drinks, wine & beer were all available.  You can also buy equipment as a discounted rate as well as books and DVD’s.

For information about future tours please click on the link.

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Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in Body & Mind, Business & Education, Freelance, Owning a Studio, Pilates | 0 comments

Music in Pilates Classes

Music in Pilates Classes

Do you play music in your Pilates classes or studio?

I can see why one would want to play music.  It might help you to wind down from the events that came before class, work, family, etc.  If your’e doing a fairly tough routine the music can really have an impact on creating the push that one sometimes needs.  I know if I’m at the gym I have to have some music to spur me on.  Whether that’s because I find the gym such hard work (dull), who knows?  In a Pilates studio set up it can be quite a pleasure to glide up & down, doing your footwork to some music and often gives you a chance to settle in your body.

Personally I don’t have music in my matwork classes. Firstly, it’s just another thing to carry along with mats, balls, etc.  But mainly because I find it distracting. I remember going to a class when I first began practicing Pilates, I was lying on the mat listening to the music, then I found myself moving in time with the music, Over the weeks and months I was getting to know the album – knowing what track was coming up next – maybe a track I didn’t like so much, maybe one I loved and was looking forward to hearing.  All these thoughts distracting me from what I was doing!

I don’t have music in my studio at home either although I could do easily enough but again I find it a distraction.  Having said that, the studios I regularly go to for my own self practice, play music and I’m happy to listen to it but it only sits in the background for me if it’s something I like.  If I don’t like it, I notice it too much and it would be rude to go and turn off someones else’s music!

Then there’s the legal stuff.  You may need a music licence, I should change that to you WILL need a licence if you play any recorded music, whether it’s in the radio, CD or TV. You may,in fact, need 2 licences PPL & PRS!  The idea of the licence is to protect the copyright of the artists and they collect and distribute the fees on behalf of record companies, artists, composers, songwriters.

If you play music in a public place and/or in any way connected to your business, you will need a licence. What constitutes a public place? If it’s outside of the home and with people other than family & friends it’s a public place.  How much does it cost?  This is difficult to define as it depends on many things, such as the building you are in, the number of classes or people you teach, the size of your business.

However, if you really want to play music in your classes or studio there is an alternative and it’s known as Royalty Free music.   It’s not free music, just free from royalties.  To find out about this do a search on the internet.

What happens if I play music but do not have a licence?

“Where a business or organisation requires a PPL licence but does not obtain one, they will be infringing copyright and may ultimately face legal proceedings. Those proceedings would not be a debt claim; instead they would be in respect of copyright infringement liability. Legal proceedings are very much a last resort, but unfortunately are sometimes necessary. A court can order the business to pay its outstanding licence fees plus PPL’s legal costs and issue a court order known as an injunction to stop the business playing recorded music until this is done”.  Copied from the PPL website

For more information on whether you need a music licence or not please click on the link contact

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Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in Interviews | 0 comments

Interview with Elizabeth Larkham

Interview with Elizabeth Larkham

Last year I had the great pleasure of meeting a truly inspiring teacher, Elizabeth Larkham.  Here’s what she told me.

The first thing I notice when Elizabeth greets me on the train ( where we agree to meet on our way to a workshop in London) is her beautiful voice. Soft and calming.  You could imagine her able to diffuse any situation with her voice alone!

Can you tell us about your family?

I was born I Austin, Texas my mother is Canadian and my father from Idaho, even though I grew up in Texas where there’s a southern drawl the strongest audible influences are from my mother’s family. I am the eldest of five. Home was bustling and chaotic and I learned to calm my self and others, with my voice.

Where do you live?

I live in Mill Valley, 2 towns north of the Golden Gate bridge, in a pine forest. It’s 25 minutes to the studio where I work in San Francisco. It’s a very beautiful commute. No traffic lights.  It’s great to be close to such a metropolitan area yet go home to the quiet of the woods.

How did you become involved with Pilates?

I started Pilates when I was 29. Which is very old for so many people starting Pilates now. They may be fortunate enough have instruction much younger, as a child or teenager and then develop into a natural career as  a teacher.  I was very grounded and academic and studied hard at High school.  I think I took refuge from the chaos around me.  I loved Ballet. I loved Ballet more than anything. When I was 15 I had a really severe knee injury from playing a game like soccer, for girls.  There was no rehabilitation and I had bad surgery that would never be done today.  Yet, I had such a strong love for dance that I found it again. I trained in Ballet rigorously and this really formed part of my rehabilitation later on.  I was really anchored in Dance and I did my undergraduate work at Stanford and taught dance and did some other things for 5 years.  I went back to Stanford, in computers and education and put myself through graduate school and worked in Educational software.  When I was working there, a Pilates centre was started up in St Francis hospital Dance / Sports medicine centre. That’s where it began.

I had been taking care of this knee injury for a long time without any benefit form the medical community.  The doctor in charge, who founded this centre, Dr James Garrick, had a look at my Xrays and looked over his glasses at me and said’ Don’t you ever stop doing Pilates with a knee like this. You have to stay strong’!  Which brings me where I am today.  ( when in London, Elizabeth stays with Alan Herdman) In fact,  Alan Herdman opened his studio up early for me at 6.15 this morning so I could work out for an hour and a half, putting myself together before beginning teaching for the day.

What is your favourite Matwork exercise?

My favourite mat exercise is the advanced exercise, high kneeling side kick series. It’s so unrelenting and unforgiving in terms of strengthening gluteus medius, developing the lateral hip stabilisers in conjunction with core stabilisation in all three planes.  I’m a real fan of that bad one!  It’s always difficult.

Another one of my favourites, for therapeutic reasons, is my own version of single leg kick.  I find it provides a lengthening across the deep front line and superficial front line ( Thomas Myers – Anatomy trains) across the illiacus, strengthens the hamstrings and gluteals, lengthens along the front of the thigh, which seems to put my knee right.

Those who know Elizabeth will know she loves equipment! When she is on tour with Balanced Body, they know to take a whole range of equipment for her! I asked what her favourite piece was.

I love using equipment.  I like the discs for balance, challenge.and stability.  I also use them with the Wunda chair.  I recently did a class for Pilates Anytime using the baby arc which I adore and it is so easy to transport and is so adaptable.

How did your work with the veterans come about?

I mention how rewarding this work must be and Elizabeth is clearly emotional about this.  She says.

I was working with a client who had survived a six story fall. She had numerous injuries including a prosthetic leg and had also recently given birth, so we had a lot to deal with. Not the usual client you get in your Pilates Studio.  I would have to think about a new way of working. I came up with movement sequences that benefitted her.   Then about a year later, I was with some colleagues from Balanced Body visiting and observing the work being done at the US Naval Medical Center San Diego.  I realised the sequencing programme work I had already been doing with my client would really be of benefit to the recovering veterans.  But we really had to think out of the box, as there was such a range of injuries, (termed ‘polytrauma’, meaning patients that have more that one physical trauma).  The movements are largely based on Pilates exercises and we use a whole range of equipment.  It is regarded as one the most comprehensive Pilates programmes for polytrauma clients in the world.

Thank you Elizabeth, for talking to us at

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Posted by on Nov 25, 2012 in Interviews | 0 comments

Interview with Madeleine Backlund of Backlund Pilates, London

Interview with Madeleine Backlund of Backlund Pilates, London

Madeleine Backlund, founder of Backlund Pilates, began her teaching career in 1992.  She has been at the forefront of Teacher training under the Pilates Foundation UK since 1997.  She was born in northern Sweden and has lived here in the UK since 1972

We got the chance to meet Madeleine at her Pilates studio in Fulham, West London.  He is what she had to say!


How did you discover Pilates?

I suffered from SI-joint dysfunction back in the early 80’s. I was living in New York at the time and got invited to try a Pilates class.  I went to a fantastic trainer who had this equipment, Reformer, Cadillac and chair and by taking classes with him we manage to sort my back out and strengthen my core.   I came back in 1984 and I was totally sold on Pilates and I didn’t think there was anything like this in London.  Then I found and advert in Harper’s and Queen about the Pilates instructor Dreyas Reyneke. This led me to Alan Herdman who continued teaching me Pilates for the next 5 years.  I decided to train with Trevor Blount in 1989. After my training at Trevor’s Studio I worked for him for 2 years and then I opened my first studio in Harley Street in 1993- 98  then  Hampstead 1998 -99. Then,  from 1999 onwards here in Fulham, SW London

What did you do before Pilates?

Well, I’m a qualified nurse but I never worked as a nurse here, only in Sweden.  I did all kinds of jobs when the children were small, I worked as a receptionist, I worked in Phase Eight.  I worked as a rep. I was a full time mum for many years; building a home and bringing up my children

Who inspires you?

At the beginning of my career Julian Littleford, Rael Isacowitz,  Romana in New York, Gold’s Gym and a girl called Cathy Murakhami and of course Alan Herdman as my first teacher here in London. These people made a mark on me.  Not to forget the many amazing instructors that have had the pleasure and fortune to work with over the past 20 years.

What about the future?

For the last 3 years I have been working towards providing my teacher training course.  This has now been endorsed by Skills Active. I am running my studio with 2 staff and also managing my Treatment Room here at the Studio where we offer alternative treatments; Massage, Osteopathy, Cranio-Sacral therapy, Reike etc..It is a full time job and more.

What do you to do keep in such great shape?


Obviously I do my Pilates, not every day.  Strict half an hour before my morning shift, 3 times a week.  Then I do one good long session on a Thursday or Friday afternoon.  I do lots of walking but apart from that, I’m not a swimmer, I don’t play tennis. I don’t have a car so I walk or march everywhere!.. I am also in love with ball room dancing…….

I used to go to to this really amazing advanced mat work class up in Covent Garden run by Miranda Bass, who is a great energetic teacher and it was fun to be taught by a different instructor.  Nowadays I don’t seem to have time venture out of Fulham during my busy week. I like to go find interesting work shops to go to that aren’t necessarily Pilates based, but always to do with healthy living and movement.  I thrive on studying and further educate myself…

What is your favorite Mat work exercise?

Hmm… Roll Over as well as Jack-Knife, I like the challenge to the spinal flexibility and the stretch in hamstrings and lumbar area… just love stretching the spine plus the focus of the ‘lifting’ of the ‘tush’, really gets those lower abs.

What is your favorite on the equipment?

Favourite equipment exercise is The Cadillac ; Springs and Trapeze…And the Push through bar…All the lovely stretches that this offers you…Cat, sitting, kneeling, standing..etc Roll downs …Bottom loaded sit ups and top loaded sit ups..etc..

What about food?

I’m have a very healthy diet, low calories, high fibre.  I spend a lot of time in South East Asia so I am totally addicted to that cuisine.. I am quite good at Thai stir fries and am pretty much a veg and salad lover.. Plus fish once a week and meat once a fortnight.

What do you do to relax?

Entertaining, being with friends, dancing,  reading, travelling, film and theatre,

That’s my chill out time.

What is your astrological birth sign? 

Scorpio with a Leo ascendant!




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