During a Pilates session you will be working in a variety of positions to challenge your core stability in different ways. Before you start moving you should check that you have a good starting position, with your core engaged and your joints in line and symmetrical.

Semi-supine position is the beginning for exercises such as the One Hundred, Scissors, Criss-cross and Bridge. Here is a check-list to find your perfect Semi-Supine:
  • Start lying down on the mat, your focus on the sky (or ceiling!) above you
  • Knees bent, feet hip-width distance apart (distance between your hip bones), fairly close to your buttocks
  • Hip bones and pubic bone in the same horizontal plane, imagine placing a pint glass on your pelvic area and it won't spill
  • Make sure your back is neither arched nor pressed hard into the mat, you should instead have a natural, small curve under your lower back enough to post a small envelope through
  • Back of the neck long (imagine you're holding a peach under your chin - don't let it drop, don't squash it!)
  • Shoulder blades melting into the mat, travelling towards your hips
  • Arms lengthened by your side, palms facing up (or down if you feel you need more support)
Start breathing with your Pilates breath...
  • Breathe in to prepare and imagine lengthening your spine even more (but don't let your shoulders come up to your ears!)
  • As you breathe out, engage your corset muscle and lift your pelvic floor (more on this later on the blog)
That's it! I'll write more about each position and the different exercises as I go along. Please feel free to send me comments or questions and let me know how you get on with it.

Photo by Shawn Zehnder Lea
Breathing is something we do all the time, without thinking. If we stop, it's not good! Most of us are not even aware of our breathing so it is useful to occasionally take a moment to think about this wonderful thing that is so simple and keeps us going.

When we breathe in, oxygen comes into our lungs and from there it's distributed to every part of our body. Muscles need oxygen to generate energy and move, so it's really important that we breathe fully throughout any kind of exercise, avoiding holding our breath. When you breathe out you expel the used up air, and the action of breathing out helps you stabilize while you're making an effort (e.g. lifting a leg, or curling your biceps)

In Pilates we use a technique called lateral or thoracic breathing, breathing into the ribcage rather than into your abdomen or chest, so we can maintain a mild contraction of core muscles. We also aim to coordinate breath and movement, to create an even flow.

To start increasing your breathing awareness you can practise this simple 2-minute exercise:
  • Lie down on your back with knees bent, feet hip-width distance apart, shoulder blades melting onto the mat. Place a towel under your head if you feel any tension in your neck
  • Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth
  • Try to start breathing in a rhythmic pattern, e.g. 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out. Don't worry about exactly how many seconds, just find what works for you to fully expel all the air and then fully fill your lungs with fresh air
  • While you do this, think about what's happening: is your tummy expanding? or maybe your chest is lifting? or both? is there any tension in your body? Try 'breathing into' any parts of your body that are tense
  • Breathe intentionally and as rhythmically as possible for a few breaths
  • Place your hands on your lower ribcage and try breathing so that your ribcage expands like a balloon, air filling your torso sideways and filling the space under your armpits
  • Breathe into your ribcage for a few breaths
  • You're done!

As well as private Pilates sessions I am currently also teaching regular sessions at these clubs:
  • Nuffield Health in Brondesbury Park - Tuesday 6:00pm (mixed level)
  • Nuffield Health in Battersea - Thursday 7:30pm (upper mixed level), Sunday 11:30am (upper mixed level)
  • Sunstone Women in Stoke Newington- Monday 6:15pm (mixed level), 7.15pm (beginners)
If you are a member of one of those clubs, pop in and say hello! If you're not a member you can take advantage of one of their summer offers to try their clubs for a little bit less before the sun finally runs away from us for good...
Two female joggers on foggy Morro Strand State Beach
Photo by Mike Baird
For some of us, having a friend who shares your objectives to achieve a stronger, healthier body can help us stay motivated and improve the efficiency of our Pilates workouts.

How does it work?
  • A fitness buddy offers encouragement and support to stay on track with your Pilates sessions. They help you feel "you're not alone"
  • Learning Pilates technique with someone else gives you both the chance to discuss what you've learned between workouts, and practise with each other
  • During the workout, you can use each other as models to get a different view on an exercise on top of the instructor demonstrations
  • It's harder to skip a session when there's two of you to make the decision to 'slack off'
  • After the workout, you can both have a nice, relaxing friendly chat
  • Finally, I am now offering Pilates Focus for two sessions, which means you both get to save a bit of money as well!
Take a look at my classes and prices to find out more.

Until August 31st, get a 50% discount on your first Pilates Focus for you or Pilates Focus for a group session!

Summer is a good time of the year to start a new Pilates programme. Why? We often wait until January to start a new fitness regime, but then it's cold and rainy and even getting out of bed is a struggle, and so we give up after a few weeks because it's all such hard work.

If you're not going away this Summer, a Pilates session by yourself or with a small group of friends at your own home or office can be just the thing to make you feel good and create a little oasis of health in your busy life.

Research by UCL says it takes 66 days to form a habit, that's only two months, or 10 Pilates sessions. Contact me to find out more or book your first session now to get started!