Happy Easteriness!

Easter is coming and the rabbit is getting fat…or something like that.

Here is our Easter 2018 Pilates class timetable…

  • Maundy Thursday
    • 1230-1330
    • 1800-1900
    • 1900-2000
  • Good Friday
    • no classes
  • Easter Saturday
    • no classes
  • Easter Sunday
    • no classes
  • Easter Monday
    • no classes
  • Tuesday 3rd April
    • 1815-1915
    • 1915-2015

To close, one of my favourite songs about chocolate…



Japanese Core Warmer

With the ‘Mini Beast’ bringing fresh snow warnings for the UK this weekend, it seems we’re not out of the woods yet where Winter 2018 is concerned.   That’s fine by me because I’ve just discovered haramaki, the traditional Japanese core warmer.

Haramaki means “belly warmer” and is the modern manifestation of a form of armour worn by samurai in Japan.  As you can see from the above photograph, it’s basically a stretchy tube which fits around your waist.  Think boob tube but for your belly.  I’m not selling this to you, am I.  I’ll try harder.

In Oriental medicine, the kidneys are seen as the organs that store our vital core energy (ki, qi, chi), and they are quite vulnerable to cold.  Wearing a core warmer helps to preserve heat thus supporting your immune system in warding off winter colds and flu.  Take a look at the thermo image below (click for a larger version) which shows the impact on body heat retention of wearing a haramaki versus other forms of clothing or covering…

Aside from keeping the body warm, the other key benefits of wearing a haramaki are:

  • improved digestion
  • improved blood circulation,
  • support to the lower back,
  • relief from menstrual cramps.

I bought two haramaki from a Brighton-based business, NukuNuku (the name means “warm and cosy” in Japanese) – a thin cotton, Lycra one, which I tend to wear next to my skin, and a thicker, woolly one with bamboo fibres, which I wear outside of my clothes and under my coat.

What I like about them is they keep me warm without the need for lots of bulky layers.  The thin, cotton haramaki is great when I’m teaching Pilates –  avoids me exposing bits of bare flesh when I’m performing the exercises.  The thicker one has proved essential in helping me warm up quickly after swimming.

When I resume open water swimming in Spring, I’m sure they’ll be invaluable in helping me recover from exposure to the cold water.  In fact I plan to wear both at the same time…not while swimming obviously(!)

Here’s another favourite Japanese export.  I am definitely ninja (not geisha)…


Changes to the Class Timetable

The Wellbeing Studio is undergoing building work next week from Monday 19th February to Friday 23rd February inclusive.

During the day when the builders are working, it seems there will be a great deal of noise, especially on the Monday and Tuesday when a wall is being knocked through. Similarly, as most of the work is taking place in the entrance hallway, access to the studio during the day will be compromised, meaning clients would have to come in through the fire exit door at the rear of the studio. Finally, there is likely to be dust and dirt to contend with.

Based on the above, I’ve concluded that the studio next week during the day is not a place for people to practise Pilates in a peaceful and relaxing environment. With regret I have therefore decided to cancel all the daytime classes. This means the following sessions will NOT now run:

– Monday 19th February at 1230
– Wednesday 21st February at 1015 and 1115
– Thursday 22nd February at 1230
– Friday 23rd February at 0930 and 1030

I’m very sorry to let people down by cancelling classes and for any inconvenience this may cause, but I hope you understand that this situation has arisen without much time for me to prepare for it in the way I would have liked.

The evening classes next week will run as normal as the builders will have finished work for the day well before the classes begin, the front entrance will be accessible by clients and any mess in the studio and hallway will be cleared away as much as possible.

I’ve been assured the building works will be completed and the studio operating near normally from Saturday 24th February.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during the building works at the studio.

On a happier note, Garbage are playing Bristol in September…

Back Pain Myth Busters

In a feature on their website, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has dispelled some common myths about back pain, providing details of what the latest evidence says is best for your back.  Below are the main points from the feature.  To read it in full, including references to the research studies which back up the claims, click this link.

Myth One – Moving will make my back pain worse

Although it’s true that some movements can be uncomfortable when you have back pain, it is well-established that returning to movement and work as soon as you are able, is better than bed rest for aiding recovery and preventing recurrence.

This is not a new concept by any means, but the unfortunate misconception that rest is better than movement continues to endure, due in part to the complex nature of pain.

Myth Two – I should avoid exercise, especially weight training

Exercise is generally accepted amongst all respected authorities to be the best way of treating low back pain in both the acute and chronic phases.

Studies have shown great benefits of various types of exercise, including high load resistance training.

Interestingly, no one type of exercise proves to be better or worse, so simply do what you enjoy and can tolerate. Gradually build up as your confidence and ability improves.

Myth Three – A scan will tell me exactly what’s wrong

There is a large and growing body of research that shows that not only do results of scans correlate poorly with symptoms in people with Low Back Pain, but also that most people without Low Back Pain have changes on scans and x-rays that do not cause any symptoms at all.

For these reasons and more, imaging alone isn’t capable of telling us exactly why someone is experiencing pain.

Of course this does not mean that all MRI scans are irrelevant in all cases, but it does mean that they are not always necessary or helpful. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that in some cases, having a scan can make situations worse.

Myth Four – Pain equals damage

The level of pain experienced is very rarely proportional to the amount of injury sustained to the back. Pain is far more complex than this as pain levels are a reflection of how threatened a person perceives themselves to be. For example, past experience, general health factors, beliefs, sleep and exercise levels as well as psychological wellbeing, all play an important role in how much pain each individual might feel.

The above myth busters were developed by a working group of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy members comprising representatives of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, the Physiotherapy Pain Association, the consultants’ group and physios working in the NHS and the private sector.

To close, here’s Nils Frahm playing the piano with toilet brushes…no, really!  If you get the chance to see him live, grab it with both hands…


Physics Meets Core Strength

Katya Jones and Joe McFadden performed an Argentine Tango on Strictly Come Dancing last night, which closed with an amazing dance move – Katya (wearing heels!) sank slowly backwards to the floor, supporting Joe’s entire body weight mid-way, before levering him to his feet.  Impressive core strength.  I’m not sure if either of them does Pilates, but as a professional dancer it wouldn’t surprise me if Katya Jones does.  Her colleague and fellow professional dancer on Strictly, Karen Clifton definitely does Pilates.

Here’s the whole dance, or just skip to 01:30 when the show-stopping dance move starts…


Christmas 2017 Class Timetable Changes

Oh to be free to dance in the snow in your pants!

So, yes, Christmas is coming and the nut roast is getting fat. Embody Pilates will be taking a break over the holiday season from Friday 22nd December to Tuesday 2nd January inclusive. This means the last class before I break up (not literally) is the 1900 session on Thursday 21st December and the first class back is the 1015 session on Wednesday 3rd January.

For those most affected by the changes to the timetable, you’re welcome to book into one of the other classes taking place in the week running up to Christmas and in the week after New Year.

To close, a track from one of my albums of the year, St Vincent’s Masseduction.  Ooh those boots!  I’ll pass on the rest of the outfit, mind…