Saturday 15 October 2016

Should we be left to our own devices? The beneficial effects of Pilates & Physiotherapy working together following post operative surgery.

Guest Blog written by Gordon Ellis

As an established Chartered and State Registered Physiotherapist ( I would like nothing better than to state how good the NHS is regarding postoperative rehabilitation.

I have never been in any doubt that I am fortunate to live in a country where I can receive a healthcare service that is provided 24/7, and in many instances this is delivered to a high standard. It's also not my purpose to discuss the quality of that service as a whole, qualifications, experience and knowledge base that the NHS as a service provider delivers.

The concerns and issues (which are of my opinion) are directed towards the following - post surgery variables that restrict or hinder patients from full recovery.
These being;

  • The limited time availability health care professionals are given to administer therapies
  • Poor systems in place
  • Poor verbal and administrative communication
  • The increasing volume of population attending hospital
  • People living longer and associated age related conditions
  • The dictation of finance creating what seems a bigger priority than health
  • The lack of programs and systems that give patients clear detailed guidelines on the do's & don’ts that they need to follow postoperative surgery
  • Clear detailed exercise regime that they can follow, which has been clearly demonstrated and explained, and more importantly, fitted around their surgery and them as an individual.

I often hear the phrase 'best practice', surely this means best practice at this moment in time or as far as we know? It’s of my opinion related to many the above reasons, and from speaking to numerous patients who are dissatisfied with their postoperative rehabilitation package, or should I say the lack of one, the quality of aftercare suffers.  In fact, on many occasions has ceased to exist, and I wonder have we now got a ‘health’ service or a 'medication prescribing service’, when surely the answer is activity, correct movement and motivation.
When a person leaves hospital after a surgical procedure the post-operative care, in my opinion, should address the full biopyschosocial aspect of recovery. To have the patients’ full body and systems fully functioning to as close to what normal is for them. To discuss this in depth would take far too long, so I want to focus on one aspect, "the beneficial effects of Pilates working alongside physiotherapy in the functional rehabilitative phase".

May I point out that I'm not a Pilates teacher, nor do I practice it myself, however, I do see the significant beneficial effects that Pilates gives to enhance patient recovery, when delivered in conjunction with physiotherapy.

As an experienced healthcare professional in sport, working as 1st Team Physiotherapist in the Premiership for many years, and with sports teams abroad. I also have extensive experience in setting up and running courses and programs for patients with MS, spinal injuries, stroke recovery patients and cancer patients. You not only see injuries/illness from onset you also see the condition tested in their active daily living, or witness them being tested at a very high level on a continuous basis in sport, demonstrating the sustainability needed of the body part in question to cope with demands.

If we were just to look at the knee and hip joints on their own, so many times we witness a reoccurrence of problem or the patient reporting reduced functionality, or more so, another part of the body breaking down due to overwork, in particular the stress placed on the lumbar spine. Therefore the early intervention of Pilates exercises, working alongside the advice and rehabilitation plan of a Chartered Physiotherapist, makes sense.

Once the patient had been confirmed clear of the risk of any post operative infection or contraindications, and under the guidelines of the patients’ consultant/GP, we can then work through the phases of non, partial and full weight bearing exercise.
The main areas to be focused on being to; 

  • Establish full active and passive range of movement to the joint affected, 
  • Decreased inflammation and any post operative pain, I
  • Increased elasticisticity of the musculature that is in contracture or spasm, 
  • Increased dynamic stability of the musculature around the operative joint, 
  • Increased neural pathways to the musculature that supports the joint, 
  • Increased patients functional movement, increase balance, coordination and proprioception, 
  • Recognition of atrophy (muscle wastage) to the specific muscles surrounding the post operative joint also the muscles working in synergy to work the joint or work as fixators to work the joint. 

All health care professionals will realise that the above is not a full list but a good framework to build on.

We must remember the importance of re-evaluating the patient on every appointment or class, it shouldn’t be set in stone nor taken for granted, that a patients progress will go in a linear direction, and allowances should be made for the different and changing pathology as time progresses. We need to keep an awareness that patients need guidance, some will not have the motivation or the understanding that the exercise regime is a vital requirement, others through ignorance, may do too much.  It should also be noted that along with, the consultant, doctor and Pilates teacher, they all work alongside the Physiotherapist to inform and educate the patient on what their trauma was, what was done and how they need to take on board responsibility for their future.

We need to remember the importance of good blood flow to the area, which brings oxygen to the tissue, the beneficial effects of hydration and nutrition, also body weight management and control, the psychological motivation and guidance the patient requires, hydrotherapy where possible, hence the need for a structured plan which has a full body measured assessment at the start, a goal to achieve at the end and structured measureable benchmarks along the way; to keep the patient, physiotherapist and Pilates

I firmly believe, having worked with good Pilates teachers over many years, and researched the method in depth, that Pilates working with Physiotherapy can and does play a major role in a patients quicker, safer recovery with less chance of reoccurrence of re-injury.

Working with a Pilates teacher I would expect them to advise, educate and where needed, correct patients with their breathing techniques, body alignment, improved posture and control, to create a stronger framework and foundation.  As well as instilling confidence, a better sense of well being, improving self-esteem, working towards reducing stress, anxiety and depression within the sessions as a result of increased activity.  However, always remembering, as we all should, never to step beyond the level of their qualifications and experience, seeking the correct advice where applicable. The patient should as a result through participation, reduce isolation issues, and feel improved confidence physically and mentally. The Pilates teacher working with the patient within a supportive class setting or one to one, in a session that is structured and safe - where the patient feels listen to with care and empathy.

The Pilates teacher constantly creating an environment that motivates the patient, creating clear meaningful but objective plans, goals that are constantly being reinforced through demonstration, explanation and correction where needed.

As with all our articles, we must stress the importance of keeping close contact with the patients consultant or GP, so that nothing is left to risk and everyone is kept well informed. Once the program is completed always contact the patient 3-6 months following completion to establish how beneficial the service was, to gain vital information to help inform and enhance the ongoing program.

If you would be interested in finding out more about our Pilates and Physio post-op programs, please contact us.

Sunday 9 October 2016

Why movement is medicine, and THE best exercise for your body.

Hi All

As a Pilates and movement instructor I see lots of people who have got problems with their joints or muscles and need help.  I work with physiotherapists and between us we can usually get people moving pain free again.  When you go to the doctor and you say have a kidney problem, the doctor will likely give you pills with strict guidelines on when to take them, how many to take etc., but when the doctor prescribes movement they will probably just give some vague - 'you need to do Pilates' or 'take up a sport' prescription.  

Well we need, as a society, to take movement as a medicine seriously.  It is one of the best pain killers that there is, movement will also lower your blood pressure, increase your circulation to certain areas, increase your metabolism, lower your body mass and lower your stress levels (along with many other things), so why don't we do it more?  We also need to understand (just as in medicine), not all movement is good for the joints or certain conditions, and not all movement is the same - just as in pharmaceuticals certain movements will make you better and certain movements will make you worse.  So a scatter gun approach to movement, especially when you have an existing issue, might not be beneficial at all.  I get a lot of people coming to me with injuries because of the exercise that they were doing, on top of an existing condition.

In today's society movement has become synonymous with exercise and fitness, this should not be the case at all.  'Exercise' is what we started to do because as a society we weren't moving enough, if you move there is no need to 'exercise'.  Often 'exercise', and I'm talking accelerated heart rates, short bouts in a gym type exercise, can be detrimental to health in the long-term particularly for the health of the joints and the long-term function of the adrenal glands.

So what should I do then?  In her book 'Alignment Matters' Katy Bowman, who is a bio mechanist, states that, 'if you want to see dramatic improvements to chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, and Type 2 diabetes, then you should be stretching for twenty to sixty minutes every day, then follow up the stretching with a light, easygoing fifteen minute walk, two to three times a week.'

What movements you should/not be doing;

1. Walking - us humans really are designed for walking, and when I say walking, I'm not saying a gentle stroll around the block, I'm talking about long walks 10 miles at least at a medium pace.  Obviously this is probably not achievable in modern life - so just as much walking as you can fit into your day, and at a brisk pace.  
Also I don't count walking on a treadmill as proper walking - your body needs correct traction, and the push back from the hip/glute's - the moving belt on a treadmill replaces this action.  
You need to be walking everyday, yes everyday, for at least 20 minutes at a brisk pace.
So get outside!!

2. Anyone with degenerative changes in the knees, hips and spine should not be running, jogging or jumping!  These activities will increase the rate of degeneration in the tissues and will lead to greater risk of disk damage, osteoarthritis etc.

3. Most 'exercise' is fad driven!  Find yourself a good instructor who knows the science behind the movement, and can 'prescribe' you exercises that are good for your condition and will help improve it.

4. Research has shown that consistent, lower intensity movements (walking, Pilates, Yoga) demonstrate greater long term decreases in body fat than high intensity and joint-damaging high-impact exercise sessions.

So there you go, 'Dr Jill' can prescribe exercises to you!  
So dig out your walking boots and get out, it's a beautiful world outside. Enjoy!

Jill x

If you would like to book a session with Jill she can do 1-2-1 sessions, if you have any pain which restricts you from walking then contact her and she will advise the best way forward.

Saturday 1 October 2016

The link between Physiotherapy and Pilates when addressing Spinal Injury.

Today we have guest blog from Gordon Ellis from; Gordon spent 12 years a 1st Team Physio at Sunderland AFC, and he also was physiotherapist to His Highness the Crown Prince of Dubai - to name but a few of his roles!  He now has his own practice in County Durham, and I work closely with him as a Pilates instructor to ensure the best outcomes for our patients.  Find out more at his website at the link above.

Here is my personal view, explanation and in-ways education, to patients/clients who suffer with spinal (back) trauma or spinal injuries. 

Patients are usually referred for a course of Pilates as they are at that stage of functional rehabilitation recovery that the musculature surrounding the injured area, or the damaged muscle/tissue, requires further intervention by way of dynamic stability, to promote postural stability and improved function. In many cases the patient will self refer as they feel they need what Pilates offers.

Around our body there is an ongoing equation taking place between mobility and stability of joints; with the joint stating it requires range of movement and the musculature stating it needs to create stability and fixation for its movements, and postural support. One of the many systems working alongside this is our nervous system, with reciprocal innovation taking place (the interplay of muscles being stimulated or relaxed, for our posture and support). For good joint function there has to be balance between them all. It's well documented that the more functional a joint is through increased range of movement, stronger stable musculature, increased neuromuscular communication, the more chance it will have to repair. 

There are also associated problems that come with spinal trauma such as referred symptoms into the limbs, compensatory effects, atrophy (wastage) of associated muscles that work in synergy with the spine, decreased cardiovascular/respiratory function - as a result of inactivity throughout the pain and decreased functional capability period; and without question decreased communication of the nerves or nerve trauma, not to mention the psychological and social demands these injuries create. 

It has to be stated that Pilates is neither a replacement for treatment or a resolve from the spinal conditions. In many cases the trauma still exists even following post operative surgery where through time, scar tissue, adhesions and degeneration take place.

An experienced Pilates teacher will discuss a patients case history with the Physiotherapist, and where possible, the patients GP or consultant, establishing the contraindications (what not to do, or is dangerous to do) whilst working alongside each other in their fields of expertise to:

1) Preserve the rest of the body's functions.
2) Prevent the clients condition deteriorating.
3) Promote to full recovery without reoccurrence where possible.
4) Create an on going management plan with the Physiotherapist and Client. 
5) Educate the Client as part of a multidisciplinary approach to the nature of their condition in tandem with a home exercise program, that seeks to support through a bespoke set of exercises that are visually demonstrated and verbally explained, to obtain the correct technique, administering the intensity through reps, sets, time, duration etc.. that's at the clients correct stage of recovery.
6) Keep the Patients GP updated & work with their advice.

Both Therapist and Pilates teacher should periodically review the patients progress but also obtain regular feedback from the individual to ascertain if the program of treatment, therapy, exercises are achieving what there purpose is. It also gives valuable information for all parties for future patients. 

In summary it is important that the Physiotherapist/Patient acknowledges and understands the value of Pilates though its ability to retrain and develop musculature in a controlled safe environment, with the added benefits to bring awareness of correct breathing techniques, postural control, relaxation and create strong muscular foundations to the rest of the body, to say but a few. 

The Pilates teacher/Client must also acknowledge and understand the value of periodical and on going reviews/ treatment/rehabilitation from the Physiothetapist to identify any new problems and catch them early or maintain the ongoing cellular pathology related to the condition.

Without the above being put in place and kept to we run the risk of not only reoccurance, but more complicated spinal trauma emerging".
Gordon Ellis ( September 2016)

Sunday 25 September 2016

Struggling to lose weight? Why calorie counting alone will not work.

Hi All

As a fitness professional I'm always getting asked what's the best way to lose weight, or how do I get rid of fat, and over the years I've done quite a bit of research and qualifications on the subject. 

There is an ongoing debate between experts as to whether calories are the reason we store fat or if hormones are the reason.  The truth is both matter when it comes to trying to lose weight that it's a bit of both - you must have a calorie deficit (that's just pure physics - the first law of thermodynamics and energy balance); and you must also have your hormones in balance - otherwise you will always be fighting a loosing battle (something that the likes of big weight loss companies count on, as they are setting you up to fail, in my opinion).


Just like a doughnut and a chicken breast may have the same amount of calories in them - each of those will send different signals to the brain; the chicken will send signals that give you a better sense of well being and will enable your body to function better physiologically.  The doughnut will send a signal to your body that it is not getting any nutritional value and will activate hormones that send further signals that you need to continue to eat.  

See where the difference lies, not all calories are the same and it's because they make your body react in different ways. Hormones are chemicals (we're doing chemistry now!), if you can balance your hormones you will eat less without being consciously aware of it, and the calories will take care of themselves (I hate calorie counting!) - this is the key difference between fat loss and weight loss.

Not all calories are the same! Calorie counting will not work alone,

What are hormones?
The word 'Hormone' come from the Greek 'horman', which means to arouse or excite.  Your hormones play a critical role in many of the bodily processes that keep you alive and healthy, such as building new muscle and bone, digesting food, and maintaining hydration and blood sugar levels.  

Here are some of the key hormones that you need to thinking about when it comes to losing weight;

Insulin - this is the storing and locking hormone, high insulin levels will assure that any excess calories will be stored as fat, whilst inhibiting the body's ability to release fat.

Ghrelin - This is the hormone that makes your stomach rumble.  It affects your body hour by hour, as ghrelin rises hunger signals are sent to the brain, the levels fall immediately after a meal.  It's cyclic during the day, so it's what makes you want to eat at regular times.

Leptin - This is the hormone that controls your hunger on a day-to-day basis.  Some people become leptin resistant - they will eat and eat as if they are starving, this is why some people become morbidly obese; their bodies never receive the message to stop eating and start burning.  

Testoerone & HGH (Human Growth Hormone) - these are hormones that send signals to the brain to be lean and muscular - we all want a bit of these ones!!  

There are a lot more hormones that influence appetite, saiety and fat storage or fat burning.  

Finding out how to stimulate the hormones that you want to work is key to getting the body  to burn fat - remember to want to burn FAT from the body, not take energy from muscle.  When you go on a low-calorie diet your body will take the sugar out of the muscles, and your hormone balance will be all wrong, this is why almost everyone who does a low-calorie diet regains their weight once it is lost within 6 months - 1 year; 66% gain even more fat than they had to begin with. 

So, if you are struggling to lose fat and feel that you are in a constant battle with your weight, then your hormones are probably the key that you're not considering. 

It's all about balance! :)

Jill x

Sunday 18 September 2016

How the Principles of Pilates can change your life!

Hi All

I've been teaching and practicing Pilates for many years. One of the things that always strikes me is that it's not really about the actual exercises that we teach that makes Pilates a great program, but it's more to do with the principles that we apply to EVERY exercise that we do which makes it great.

The 'Principles' are what sets Pilates apart from all other exercise systems, and if adhered to, make Pilates the most effective and efficient training method.  These Principles can be applied to any other sport or exercise that you do but we can also bring the principles into everyday life, and into all of our other activities that we do every day.

So what are they? - Depending on what/who you read there are up to 9 principles, Joseph Pilates did not directly write them down, so there is no concrete agreement, but they are basically the following;

Centering - this is bringing the focus to the centre of the body where all movement originates from.  Joseph Pilates called this the 'Powerhouse', or what we now call the 'core' - this is the area that incorporates from the pelvic floor, up through the abdominals, obliques, multifidus up the back and transverse abdominus (the body's natural corset).  All movement flows from the centre out to the extremities, allowing a safer more efficient movement, and strengthening the abdominal area.  
No movement should be attempted before the core is properly engaged.

Control - All Pilates exercises are performed with the utmost control (no flinging randomly in our classes!), this helps minimise the risk of injury and creates better results.  All of our exercises come with clear instructions as to which muscles to use (and which ones not to use) - attention to detail is crucial. 

Concentration - this is the mind/body connection, bringing awareness to the muscles that are working and attention to the movement that is required.  This is why Pilates can sometimes feel frustrating to beginners, as there are many different instructions to focus on for each movement - it can take years to perfect some Pilates exercises. A good tip is to close your eyes when exercising which allows the brain to focus entirely on the body and brings an awareness to the feelings and sensations.  We often live too much in our heads - thinking, planning, analysing, that we become unaware of the sensations through our body until it's too late.

Precision - this is where we focus on alignment and placement of the body.  Every exercise has a precise movement whilst keeping the body in it's true alignment.  We focus on correct posture and good alignment whilst carrying out the exercise which improves the body's overall movement in everyday life.  No floppy feet or hands - everything is engaged and has a purpose, you should always know where your body parts are in relation to the universe!

Breath - The most important of them all?  Joeseph Pilates said 'Even if you follow no other instructions, learn to breathe correctly'.  In modern life, our breath is too shallow, Pilates believed that forced exhalation was the key to full inhalation, and that as the oxygen enriches the blood all of the body's cells are awakened.  Every movement in Pilates has a specific breath pattern and timing - effective breathing can help to lengthen the abdomen, broaden the upper back and helps train the correct muscle recruitment for everyday core strength. The most common thing for beginners to say is, 'the breathing is the hardest part!' - which it is!

In Pilates we practise 'Thoracic or diaphragmatic breathing', which is the practice of pulling in the abdominal muscles whilst inhaling and exhaling - thus protecting the spine. Also exhaling deeply encourages the deep core muscles to engage.

Flow - All movements should be performed with a flowing movement - there should be no beginning and no end.  Movements are not held static (unlike yoga) and should be a continuous and even flowing movement. 

Today we hear so much about 'mindfulness' and 'being in the moment', when you practice Pilates you have no choice but to be fully concentrating - you wouldn't be able to do it if you weren't, a proper Pilates class with a good teacher should fly over - you will be fully in your body and aware of every movement and nuance, it's like a moving meditation.  

know that I always say this, but EVERYBODY should practice Pilates, and I get more and more convinced of this every week!  I sometimes hear people say that Pilates is just a fad, my answer to that is - when is it a fad for your body to be free of pain, moving beautifully and feeling good?  I don't think those benefits will ever go out of fashion!

Which is the most important of the above Principles?  They all have a place and are as important as each other.  Try applying them to your everyday life - I'm still to learn the principle of 'control' when presented with a bar of chocolate - but we can't all be perfect!!

:)  Jill x

Sunday 11 September 2016

The best piece of gym equipment you'll ever own!


We've all seen those adverts on QVC and the like, for the 'best piece of gym equipment you'll ever own', and 'buy this fancy gadget and you'll have great abs' - how much of that stuff is actually gathering dust in your garage?  Be honest....! 

The truth is most of us already own the best piece of equipment or can find it for free, and it's available in all homes without any further payment's your floor. 

Newton's third law states - 'every action has an equal and opposite reaction' therefore when you are standing on the floor you are exerting a force against it, your own body weight is being pulled down by gravity and the floor is pushing back with equal force. Thinking about where gravity is in relation to your own body parts is a major part of my job as a Pilates instructor, I'm always thinking about what adjustments can be made to make an exercise more effective, and it's usually about using the downward pull of gravity and using bodyparts to push/pull against it.

The human body has six hundred muscles, and full stability of the joints gives us the ability to use all of those muscles.  However, the lack of movement required for modern day living has left us with some joints being massively overused whilst the rest of the body is dormant and inert.  This means that not all of our bodily systems are being maximised, and disease will ensue.  Aristotle would say that, under sub-optimal conditions, one's spirit and life force would be unable to express, and he'd probably be right.

In today's society we spend too long with our joints sitting at right angles, the 90°hip/knee ratio - have a think about how long you spend in this position - it's probably hours a day!  Get out of it, get off the couch and onto the floor.  You don't have to do any formal types of exercise on the floor, just sitting on the floor gives time for our joints to articulate into new positions, and get out of old ones.  This then gives the body chance to stretch off overused muscles and strengthen new ones, it feels good - give it a try!

No need for expensive gym equipment, and if you did want to learn some more excellent ways to use your own bodyweight against gravity on the floor, then come along to one of my Pilates classes and I'll show you how!

Jill x

Sunday 28 August 2016

How to get the shape of your life!

As a Pilates teacher I get a lot of people coming to me saying 'I'm so out of shape', and it got me thinking - can your body ever be 'out of shape'?  'Shape' by definition is the form of an object as opposed to its colour or texture, therefore what creates form through the human body?

It takes time for an illness or injury to become apparent.

Unless you've had an accident or illness your body doesn't just suddenly change its form or suddenly become weak, it's created over a long period of time by incorrect movement/loads and not using/strengthening the correct muscles.  You don't just suddenly wake up with a bad back, the weakness in your body has been there for a long time - it's just the damage that the weakness has created is now starting to make itself known, imagine a door constantly banging on its hinges it might take a long time but eventually the door and frame will begin to show signs of deterioration from the constant incorrect use.

Your shape is a reflection of your movement and eating choices over a long period of time, your body is like clay - it is shaped by the environment in which you live and work, the forces that you place upon it and the food which you put in it.  

If you want to change your shape, then you have to change your lifestyle.  

Just like you don't suddenly wake up with a bad back, you don't wake up as a 70 year old and suddenly are able to do Yoga, to have strength, flexibility and endurance you need to build these up over a long period of time.  Your muscles naturally weaken as you age, therefore building up strength in your 30's and 40's is an investment into your future self.

How do you see yourself in the future?  Weak, inflexible and in pain?  

Start now, it's never too late.  Start moving more - walk to the shops rather than drive, climb stairs rather than take the lift, take frequent breaks from sitting down - incorporate more movement into your life and you will start to feel the benefits.  Don't think of exercise as hitting the gym for an hour a day twice a week as a good use of your time, especially if the rest of your day is sitting at a desk, driving home and then sitting in front of a TV, all you'll probably do is injure yourself. 

'Walking is man's best medicine' - Hippocrates

Biomechanically your body is designed to move, it needs movement just as much as it needs oxygen or nutrients - possibly more.  

Science is just discovering how much our bodies require movement on a cellular level, and how much disease is created by lack of movement (possibly more than bad diets), a sedentary lifestyle will soon be viewed as damaging to the health as smoking.

So, can you be out of shape?  No you cannot - you can be weak, inflexible and carrying too much weight, but your body is the perfect shape for you and your environment, just like human bodies have been since the dawn of time, so technically, you're already in the shape of your life!

Jill x


I always include a lot of  'Primal' moves into my classes, and everyone is loves them - as they are what your body is designed to do and they feel good!  But the best primal move of all is walking - so get out in nature (not on a treadmill) and enjoy a good walk and fresh air - it's good for the soul, and you can always hang from a few trees!  
Get in touch if you want to join a class or book a 1-2-1.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

How I left my Government job and became a Pilates Instructor!

For those of you that know me as just your friendly Pilates instructor, what you probably don't know is that I spent 15 years as a Performance Analyst for the Children & Family Courts.  Yes, I used to be a right geek - and I can write a pretty mean spreadsheet (nested 'if' statements the lot!) and provide you with a complete set of management statistical tools.  I had a very well paid and secure job, and one that I mostly enjoyed.  So what made me give up the security of a Government job with a good pension and all the perks of holiday pay and sick pay, and turn to the unpredictable-ness of self-employment?

It was a big risk, that is for sure, and I know many of you face the same dilemma.  What advice can I give any of you who are in a similar position, well I've been having a think and have come up with the following;

1) Reduce your risks as much as possible, get the right qualifications/certifications in what you want to do before you quit your job. Make the investments in equipment and training whilst you've got a steady stream of income, it's much harder to take it from your profits once self-employed.

2) Start off small, I just started with one evening class, and waited to see how it grew.  You will soon learn whether your proposed business is a viable option, if it is you will reach a tipping point - whereby you either stay as you are or take the leap and jump in.

3) Don't ever think it will be easy!  People only see the successes, they don't see the hard work of building websites, marketing, failures (yes, you'll have a few), building a client base - these things take time, years even - you just have to keep plugging away.  Duncan Bannatyne said in one of his books, that he would never invest in anyone who still held onto their regular job, because they didn't show the faith to invest in themselves, so why should he?  I agree with him, when it's your own business you have to make it work, you have no choice.

4) It's a roller coaster of emotions, owning and running your own business is not the same as working for someone else.  It belongs to you, and you have to try and not take things personally if someone doesn't like your product or service.  You can't please everyone, and you sometimes have to develop a very thick skin.

5) You will know in your heart if it's the right thing to do, and the right time to do it.  You have to get them both right, it might be the right thing but not the right time and vice versa - get them both aligned and the force will be strong!  Imagine where and what you want to be doing in 5 years time.

Is it worth it?  Most definitely!!  I'm now around most days for the school run, I get to see my kids much more - especially during the holidays....challenging at times, but fun most of the time.  I don't earn half as much as I used to, but you learn to live within your own means - did I really need as many clothes (I could live to be 100 and still not have worn all the clothes I have in my wardrobe)?  You have to reassess the important things in life.

I love my job, I get to work with and teach some amazing people, people who come through the door in massive amounts of pain, or are stressed, tired and just having a bad day - come to my classes and leave feeling rejuvenated and generally better about themselves.  People start to be able to walk taller, straighter and free of pain. What better way to spend my days than making people feel a bit better about themselves?  And teaching people that they have been given an amazing thing, their own body....I teach them to view that as a gift and something that should be treasured and nurtured.  I believe that movement is medicine, and everyone should learn how to move correctly and then move more!

So, if you're in the same predicament, weigh up you options and if the Universe is telling you something, then you should listen!

Jill x


If you want to come to any of my Pilates classes in Durham (Langley Park or Willington) , workshops or retreats - then you can check out my website

Saturday 20 August 2016

The Olympics and Pilates - which of Team GB practice Pilates?


I don't know about you, but I am loving watching the Olympics 2016.  Seeing people who have made massive sacrifices to their lives for that one moment is just amazing to watch.  I did actually get up at 2am last Saturday to watch Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Jess Ennis-Hill; and I loved the two Brazilian gymnasts who on Sunday won silver and bronze medals behind Max Whitlock - it meant so much to them.

Anyway, whilst I was watching, I started to wonder how many of Team GB practice Pilates as part of their training program, so after a quick search on trusty Google, here are a few of the results;

1. Andy Murray - he did amazing, winning his 2nd Gold medal.  Loved how he put down John Inverdale (John asked him how if felt to be the first person (tennis player) to have won 2 gold medals - to which Murray replied - 'Serena and Venus have 4 each' - oops!).  Anyway Andy Murray is well documented to have credited Pilates with getting his back injury sorted after back surgery.  He still includes it in his regular training plan, along with a lot of flexibility work.

2. Bradley Wiggins - Sir Brad uses exercise balls and Pilates to keep his muscles resilient and keep his core strong.  

3. Tom Daley  He incorporates a wide range of disciplines into his training program including Pilates, Meditation and Ballet - all of which he has credited with him falling back in love with his sport.

4.Laura Trott - The top cyclist says that core work is very important for holding the position on the bike and preventing injury.  She regularly incorporates planks, side planks and exercise ball work to strengthen her abs.

So although Pilates is not technically a sport, it's not hard to see why so many successful athletes incorporate the system into their training programs.  Pilates focuses on alignment, balance and centre using deep core muscles - it's hardly surprising that it's the 'backbone' (ha!) of many sportspeople. When you regularly practice Pilates your strength creeps up on you, and you don't really notice it, as it is gradually built up via specific building blocks, it's only when you stop, and the aches and pains start to return - you realise how much good you have been doing for your body.

But you don't have to be a top class sportsperson to do it, you can do Pilates at any level - just make sure that you join a class with a suitably qualified instructor.

If you want to join my classes, then get in touch via the link below;

Hope to see you in classes soon!  

Jill x

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Core Strength - what Rowing has taught me about Pilates.


Recently I was convinced to give rowing a try.  I train some awesome ladies (who are of a certain age), and they are absolutely some of the fittest people I've ever met - they are great examples of 'if you don't stop using it, you'll never lose it!'  Anyway they've been asking me for a while to give rowing a try, and finally last week I got round to it.

I absolutely loved it!  Firstly you are on the river in Durham, which is just beautiful, it's so peaceful and calm (when the wind isn't blowing that is - but that's a whole different story!), and you are concentrating so hard on getting your rowing technique right, that you forget about the stresses and strains of life, and the 'To do' list.

As a Pilates instructor, it's made me realise why all of the top athletes practise Pilates as part of their training plans.  Here are some of the reasons I was thankful that I do Pilates;

1. Getting the instruction to 'engage my lats' - I knew exactly where and how to do this.

2. 'Less is more' - I say this all the time in my classes, as it's not about the big movements, it's about focusing on engaging the smaller muscles, it often doesn't look like we're moving much at all. The same goes for rowing - the harder you try to row the slower the boat goes; relax and stop overthinking then things seem to work - strange that!

Me in action!
3. Core strength, oh my word, was I pleased that I've got this - not only does it massively affect the balance of the boat.  But if the movement comes from the core, then it makes less work for your arms and legs - thereby you have more strength and control in these muscles.

4. Balance - you certainly find out whether you have this.

5. Flow - in our classes we get into the flow when we have the control of the movement combined with the breathe - same in rowing.  This also makes us concentrate more - so great for switching off the mind!

6. Breath - I believe that the most important thing in any exercise program (and life!) is breath.
Joe Pilates said, 'if you learn one thing from Pilates, learn how to breathe' - this is absolutely true.  Every single person that I've ever taught Pilates to, when they first start say 'it's the breathing that's the hardest part' - it's so hard to breathe properly, and when you don't breathe properly you will never be able to engage your core properly and you will always hold onto tension.  As I always say there's a reason they teaching pregnant women how to breathe to give birth - strange that they don't teach anyone else!

Having said all of the above, I'm still aching especially in the glutes!

What I've learned or been reminded of is how beneficial Pilates is, not just for your everyday life, but for any sportspeople out there - YOU SHOULD BE DOING PILATES.  Not only will it help prevent injuries and improve your performance;
but it will help you to gain better control of your core, thereby releasing and allowing the big superficial muscles to do their job.  Your balance will improve as will your posture, and if you can learn correct breathing techniques then you will truly harness your Core Strength.

I'm in a quad for the first time tonight - I'll let you all know how I get on.....

Jill x


If you want to join our Pilates sessions, or if you'd be interested in 1-2-1 or small group sessions for your particular sport, then get in touch via our contact form -

Sunday 7 August 2016

Summer Pilates Workout

I know that there are some ninja's out there, and I'm getting a lot of requests for a simple set of exercises to keep you moving whilst your away on your holidays.  So here you go, do these and they'll keep your spine mobilised and your core strong;

Warm Up - some big movements focused on the big muscle groups

Squats - 8 x normal, 8 x pulses - 2 x sets

Roll Downs x 4

Onto Mat - Shoulder Bridge x 8 with breath

Toe Taps  - x8

Single Leg Stretch  x 8

Scissor Legs x 8

Onto side - Torpedo x 8, then x8 pulses

Oyster - x8 with x8 pulses

Do the other side

Onto all fours - Table Top x 8

Onto front - Dart


Cat Stretch
Glute/Piriformis Stretch

Enjoy!!  See you all back in classes soon. Jill x

(This program is for people who have been attending classes previously.  Any exercise program should be supervised by a professional, or you should seek medical advice before you begin).