Pilates Gift Cards

Gift boxes

Suitable for all present-giving occasions, we have Embody Pilates gift cards available to buy as follows:

  • £10 gift card to treat someone to one group Pilates class
  • £40 gift card for one private Pilates session
  • £50 gift card for six group Pilates classes
  • £80 gift card for two private Pilates sessions
  • £120 gift card for three private Pilates sessions

The recipient of the group Pilates class gift cards can choose to attend any of the group Pilates classes that take place on the weekly schedule at the studio in Clevedon.  The private Pilates sessions can be arranged at a time to suit the individual and can take place either at The Wellbeing Studio, or at the recipient’s home if they live in Clevedon or the surrounding area, whichever is the more convenient.

Below is the front cover of the gift card…

Gift Card Front

And this is what it says inside the card…

Gift card inside left Gift card inside right

To treat a friend or family member to one or more Pilates sessions at Embody Pilates, you can either buy a gift card from Melissa when you next attend class, or alternatively, email Melissa using the contact form with details of what kind of card you’re interested in purchasing. The card will be hand delivered if you live in Clevedon.  Alternatively, if you would like the gift card sent to you or the recipient, a postage fee will be added to the final cost.  Payment is either in cash, by bank transfer or via Paypal.

Pilates, the gift that keeps on giving…


Pilates Inspiration – Butoh

Imre Thormann - Butoh

Few things demonstrate the eight principles of Pilates* in action so effectively as the slow, hyper-controlled movements of Butoh, a form of Japanese dance theatre.

Below, videos of arguably two of the best Butoh dancers in the business. The first is Swiss dancer, Imre Thormann performing at Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Shiga, Japan. The live music is by Swiss jazz pianist, Nik Baertsch and his band Mobile.

The second video is Sayoko Onishi’s solo Butoh performance piece, Animal Science.

* Eight principles of Pilates: 1) concentration, 2) flowing movement, 3) co-ordination, 4) alignment, 5) core strength or centring, 6) breathing, 7) control and 8) relaxation (by which we mean performing a movement using only the muscles needed to execute it, allowing other muscles to relax and thus working the body at optimum efficiency.

Sayoko Onishi - Butoh

A Guide to the Gluteal Muscles

Kim Kardashian by Jean-Paul Goude

Inspired by Kim Kardashian’s controversial photo shoot with legendary French photographer Jean-Paul Goude, this week’s news item is a guide to the gluteal muscles, what they are, how to determine if they’re weak or inhibited and why, the impact of weak or inhibited gluteals on the functioning of the body, and how to improve their strength and ability to activate.

What are the gluteal muscles?

The gluteals comprise three muscles which make up the buttocks: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.

The function of the gluteal muscles:

• the gluteus maximus extends and rotates the thigh laterally
• the gluteus medius and minimus abduct and rotate the thigh medially

How to tell if the gluteal muscles are weak or inhibited

An inhibited muscle means the muscle is not firing properly (the neural signal is not reaching the muscle) and a weak muscle indicates the muscle is firing normally (not inhibited) but is lacking strength.

One way to determine if the gluteal muscles are inhibited is to ask your physio or a fully qualified Pilates teacher or fitness instructor to perform a prone hip extension test. This involves lying on a table face down and, keeping the leg straight, lifting it up off the table. If on lifting the leg the knee significantly flexes, or if a “dipping” is noted in the lumbar spine, indicating lumbar extension, the gluteal muscles are inhibited.

Similarly, if a lack of coordination is seen when walking backwards (when sober!), this indicates the gluteus maximus is weak.

the gluteals in an active person and a sedentary person

The cause of weak or inhibited gluteal muscles

If you spend long periods of time sitting in a chair then the front of the hips, the hip flexors and psoas, become short and tight, while the back of the hips, the gluteal muscles, become long and weak. In time the body forgets how to use the gluteal muscles because it will divert the neural signal intended for them to a stronger muscle close by in order for this to work instead. If the neural system is now asking less powerful muscles to perform the task that requires the potential power of the gluteal muscles, this is likely to lead to injury.

The impact of weak or inhibited gluteal muscles

Weak or inhibited gluteal muscles can result in overactive hamstrings, low back pain, tight iliotibial bands (ITB syndrome) and patello-femoral pain (runner’s knee).

Without a strong gluteus medius to align the femur, knee and ankle, you are likely to over pronate your feet, which can lead to plantar fasciitis (heel pain), achilles tendinitis and shin splints.

The gluteus medius holds the pelvis upright as we stand. When it is weak the piriformis has to compensate and as a result the piriformis gets bigger and tighter, which may cause piriformis syndrome.

Pilates Clam

How to get the gluteal muscles to function correctly

The following Pilates exercises will help activate and strengthen the gluteals:

• Spine curl
• Bridge
• Superman
• Clam
• Charleston
• Side lift
• Double leg kick back
• Flipper, sometimes called Bottom Burning Beats (!)

Stress and Back Pain


Having back pain can cause a great deal of stress for the sufferer, but what about the other way around? Could stress be a primary cause of back pain? Dr John Sarno, Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine believes the answer is yes. He has coined the phrase Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) to describe stress-related back pain.

The pain is not imaginary, rather the result of very real physical problems which are being impacted upon by emotional factors.

How does stress cause back pain?

Dr. Sarno’s theory is that patients who do not deal with their stress and anxiety, unconsciously push them out of their awareness and into their unconscious. This unconscious tension starts a cascade of changes in the body including:

  • Constriction of blood vessels throughout the body;
  • Reduction of blood flow to the muscles and other tissues of the body;
  • Decrease in oxygen in the muscles and tissues of the body;
  • Buildup of biochemical waste in the muscles.

This cascade of events then causes:

  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle spasms
  • Back pain

Back and neck pain

Diagnosing stress-related back pain

A thorough physical examination will rule out any serious spinal disorders or structural causes of pain such as a degenerative disc.

The symptoms of stress-related back pain are similar to fibromyalgia and include:

  • Back pain and/or neck pain
  • Diffuse muscle aches
  • Muscle tender points
  • Sleep disturbance and fatigue

In many stress-related back pain cases, patients complain of experiencing the pain from just “moving around”.

Stress ball

Treatments for stress-related back pain

The two most common ways to treat back pain caused by stress are the psychotherapeutic approach and the multi-disciplinary approach.

Through psychotherapy, the patient is encouraged to process the unconscious negative emotions, e.g. anger, fear etc, and acknowledge to themselves that the back pain is a result of unconscious issues.

Most doctors use the multi-disciplinary approach, which combines therapies and exercise disciplines like Pilates to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and environmental issues the patient is dealing with.

Sand passing through a hand

Information source for this news item: Spine Health