What is Pilates?
Pilates is a method of exercise that stretches, strengthens, tones and balances the body. It is not only invaluable as an exercise regime itself but also important as a partner to professional sports training and all kinds of physical rehabilitation.
Whether it is used for strength, flexibility, injury prevention or to maintain a good physique, this innovative system of mind-body exercise will transform the way you feel and the way your body looks and performs.
Rather than performing many repetitions of each exercise, Joseph Pilates preferred fewer, more precise movements. This requires proper control and form and focuses on engaging the "Powerhouse" - the abdomen, lower back, buttocks and upper thighs - to support or strengthen the movement of your spine, whilst enabling freedom in the movement of the rest of your body.
The History of Pilates
Almost a century ago, German born Joseph Pilates developed this incredible method of body conditioning that we know today simply as "Pilates".
As a young boy living near Dusseldorf, Joe studied body building and gymnastics to strengthen his frail physique. This early interest in fitness became the foundation for his authentic system of physical conditioning.
During World War 1, after Joe had emigrated to England, he was interned in an enemy alien camp on the Isle of Mann and it was here that he introduced fellow prisoners to his fitness regime. Joseph Pilates created a method of movement using the mind to control the muscles.
With the war behind him, Joseph arrived in the United States, settling in New York City. He opened a studio near Madison Square Garden close to the boxers he trained. By the 1940s word of Joe's system had spread. Injured professional dancers flocked to see him to learn the Pilates Method and aid recovery. Then actors and socialites followed.
For over 30 years, Joe taught at this studio until his death in 1967, at the age of 84. His wife Clara, who had worked beside him since he opened his studio, carried on his teachings until her retirement in 1977 at the age of 90.
One of their most devoted students was a lady called Romana Kryzanowska. At the age of 17, whilst studying at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet, she suffered an ankle injury and was taken by Balanchine to see Joseph Pilates. The classes cured her injury and Romana went on to study with and work for Joseph and Clara. It was their desire that Romana continue to teach their original, authentic method. And this she did.
I trained as a dancer for 17 years during which time studied at the Arts Educational Schools in both Tring and London. However, when college was over I hurt my back causing injury to several discs and my pelvis and I could no longer perform the movements my body had always been used to doing. It was many years later that I remembered a conversation with my ballet teacher. She had been working in Canada in the 1980s and had been impressed by a system of exercise she had seen being taught there, called Pilates. At that point it was relatively unheard of in the UK.
I took my time to find a proper teacher. One who had been taught to instruct thoroughly and knew the original method of Pilates. Fortunately an American lady who had trained at The Pilates Studio in New York was living and working over here while her husband was stationed in the UK. From the first lesson, I was on the road to recovery. It was unbelievable. And that was it – I had to learn as much as I could for myself but also I had to learn to be able to teach it.
The Pilates Studio of New York had a vitally important link to Joseph Pilates and that was Romana Kryzanowska. She taught and trained there, working from all her years of experience and from “Joe’s” archive materials.
To qualify for the first part of the training, I had to complete 75 hours study in the Pilates studio. Next I went to Holland to attend a 12 day intensive taken by Romana. After completing this, I was allowed to go ahead with 600 hours of apprenticeship, with exams in the studio and on paper every 200 hours. This all had to be completed at a recognised Pilates Studio, so I spent 400 hours training in Holland and then went to New York City for the final 200 and the concluding exams. It was incredible to be taught and tested again by Romana and also her daughter Sari Mejia Santo. I qualified to teach at the end of September 2001.
To become an instructor through The Pilates Studio, you must learn to teach the FULL method, on all of the equipment. You qualify to teach the complete system, not just one or two aspects of it.
On returning to the UK I set up my own business, teaching people from all walks of life. Young and old, fit and unfit. I was lucky enough to be asked to teach the benefits of Pilates to the whole team at Worcestershire County Cricket Club and also individual players who played at County and International level. From this came the opportunity to work with the then physiotherapist for the England Cricket Team and he and the England and Wales Cricket Board sent players from England's team to see me.
I love my job. Seeing the difference Pilates makes to people mentally as well as physically is a joy and knowing that it works through my own participation is something I would love other people to experience too.
Group mat classes are currently taking place in Torridon and Shieldaig.
Or, you may prefer a home visit at a time to suit you. This could be for just you or you could enjoy the company of your friends and spread the costs between two or three of you.
One-to-one lessons on Pilates equipment are available in Torridon.
Sessions are one hour in duration and are tailored to your specific needs.
No show at pre-booked Mat classes are non-refundable.
Cancelled private sessions without 24 hours notice will be charged for in full