The location is easy to find with very clear signs outside and a stairway up to the studios. A receptionist at the desk takes your name and directs you to the correct room. Pilates for Beginners was in the Daffodil room right next to the reception area. The Daffodil studio is fairly small making sure the class sizes remain at 12 or under so the teacher can aid all students as and when they need it. It has mirrors, a couple of plants and some quiet music on making it a very calming space.
In this Taster session lead by Abi we had mats, blocks for our heads and a resistance band. We started off standing feet hip-width apart, Abi went through the breathing technique in Pilates of breathing into the sides of your ribcage whilst keeping your pelvic muscles to belly button engaged or ‘zipped up’. Alongside these two aspects to keep active in our mind we must also keep our ribcage engaged with our core and not let it flair up and open at the same time as keeping the shoulder blades pulled down our backs. I had forgotten just how much there is to think about in Pilates just when standing and breathing so it’s great to have that reminder just to be aware of it throughout the class. We do some gentle arm work and rolling down the spine, finding where the stretch is and just breathing into those muscles to relax and a balance exercise on one foot and then the other all the while inhaling to prepare, exhaling during the hardest part of the movement and inhaling to return to our base posture.
Then we move to laying on our backs on the mats with our heads on the blocks, Abi comes around to check that everyone has the right height block, and she changes mine for a lower one. From there we do sit up preps (which involves a lot of core and makes me feel rather unfit). Spine roll ups where we were lying on our backs with our knees facing the ceiling and feet planted firmly on the floor in parallel with our hips, slowly peeling up from coccyx all the way up to upper back/shoulder blades one vertebrae at a time and then back down again several times. Then hugging our knees into our chests to release any tension. Next we use the resistance bands holding it around one foot, circling that around whilst trying to keep our backs and bums flat on the mat and then swapping to the other foot. We then find our way into all fours, hands under shoulders and knees under hips, one foot is lengthened out behind us and then slowly pulsed up to when we can feel it in our bums! Then we swap legs and do it on the other side. I’m finding this takes a lot of concentration to keep exhaling as my leg goes up and inhaling as it comes down AND still thinking about staying ‘zipped up’ in my core.
To wrap up the session we lie flat on our backs and step by step work through our bodies from toes to head making sure to release any tension and soften into the mat. We make our way back up to standing from a crouching position rolling up through the spine one final time. One more balance exercise simply rising up onto the toes and down again a couple of times and coming to a gentle close. Abi thanks us and welcomes questions should be have any. I’m feeling stretched, strengthened and focused for the day ahead after that and I’m hoping to returned for more.
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