RIP Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Like most Pilates teachers and other physical therapists, I am fascinated by the human body, how it looks, the way it works and how it moves.  For this reason I love the photography of Ren Hang, which celebrates the beauty, strength and fragility of the human form.  Sadly Ren Hang died this week at just 29 years old.

Championed by Ai Wei Wei, and talked of as China’s answer to Ryan McGinley, Ren Hang’s photography is often highly explicit, featuring nude group and solo portraits of men and women often contorted into highly performative positions. Not models, but his friends, and increasingly, his fans, often shot in his tiny high-rise apartment.

To pay tribute to his work, here are some of my favourite photographs by Ren Hang…

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang

Such a sad loss…



Pilates Inspiration – Yuzuru Hanyu


I mentioned figure-skating in my last Pilates Inspiration post about pole-dancing.  Here’s Olympic Men’s Figure-Skating Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan with his record-breaking Short Programme at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.  See how many of the eight principles of Pilates – core strength or centering; alignment; breathing, i.e. using the breath to drive and control the moves; co-ordination; relaxation, i.e. only using the muscles needed to execute a movement, allowing others to relax; flowing movement; stamina; concentration – you can spot in his performance…


“Pilates Not Painkillers the Best Cure for Backache”


Last Friday’s (3rd February 2017) edition of The Times ran an article with the headline, Pilates Not Painkillers The Best Cure For Backache, based on the latest research by Manuela Ferreira and a team of scientists at the George Institute in Sydney.

For those who missed the article by The Times Health Editor, Chris Smyth and who don’t subscribe to The Times online, below are the key points from it…

Taking drugs for back pain is largely pointless, an overview of research has concluded. Anti-inflammatory pills such as ibuprofen are widely used as a first choice for patients with lower back pain. However, scientists found that they made so little difference that most people would not notice the effect. Exercise is usually recommended instead, which for some patients could include Pilates, yoga or stretching.

With paracetamol previously shown to be ineffective and opiates of little help, the findings mean that there is no good drug treatment for a condition that affects one in ten people.

Manuela Ferreira of the George Institute in Sydney, senior author of the study, said: “Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is commonly managed by prescribing medicines such as anti-inflammatories. Our results show anti-inflammatory drugs actually only provide very limited short-term pain relief. They do reduce the level of pain but only very slightly, and arguably not of any clinical significance.”

Her team analysed 35 trials involving 6,000 patients using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), of which ibuprofen is one of the most common, for conditions such as back and neck pain and sciatica.

Female skeleton in Pilates position

A study in 2015 found that back pain had overtaken heart disease as the biggest cause of years spent in ill health in Britain. Gustavo Machado, another of the researchers, said that sufferers “are taking drugs that not only don’t work very well, they’re causing harm”.

Recent guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended drugs such as ibuprofen to control pain. Dr Machado said that those guidelines should not be ripped up but warned that drugs should only be prescribed after taking the risk of side-effects into account.

He said: “Patients with back pain should consider an exercise programme to help them manage their condition, eg aerobic exercises, strengthening/stretching exercises, Pilates, yoga, core-stability exercises.”

The Nice review concluded that exercise and psychological therapy appeared to be the only effective treatments. Acupuncture is now considered no better than a placebo.

Dr Machado said that patients were being encouraged to have tests and surgery that often did them little good because doctors failed to get to the root cause of their pain. “This is definitely a result of poor management, where patients are not properly assessed using evidence-based care,” he said. Stephen Ward, the consultant who led the development of the Nice guidance, said: “No drug seems to be the answer for back pain. Can they help in the short term? Probably, a bit.”

He said that averaging all patients risked masking significant benefits for some people and pointed out that only 4 per cent of those taking NSAIDs experienced side-effects. John Newton, of Public Health England, said: “Being overweight and physical inactivity are two causes of back pain that we can all do something about. Eating a good diet, moving our muscles more and raising our heart rate all help to prevent musculoskeletal problems.”

To close, a back-related track (okay, it just happens to have the word back in the title!)…Arctic Monkeys covering Tame Impala…double treat!


New Friday Morning Pilates Class

Good news!  To meet the growing demand for morning Pilates, from the 24th February Embody Pilates will be running a new class at 10.30 on Fridays at The Wellbeing Studio in Clevedon.

This will bring the number of Pilates classes on the weekly timetable to twelve as follows:

Mondays: 12.30-13.30 and 19.00-20.00
Tuesdays: 18.15-19.15 and 19.15-20.15
Wednesdays: 10.15-11.15 and 11.15-12.15
Thursdays: 12.30-13.30, 18.00-19.00 and 19.00-20.00
Fridays: 09.30-10.30 and 10.30-11.30
Saturday mornings: 10.00-11.00

Plenty of choice then to help you find a Pilates class to suit your lifestyle.

If you’d like to secure a place on the new Friday morning Pilates class at 10.30, or to check availability for the other sessions on the weekly schedule, please contact me.

To close, here’s a classic Friday-themed track from The Easybeats…