Getting the most out of Online Classes

Lockdown has really opened up the online world, with gyms reopening are you ready to go back or are you loving online? Personally I love the convenience of online classes and the chance to access workshops I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. There are now so many different ways to access Pilates and fitness classes online. They vary in price, platform and the way they are taught, so which is the best option for you?

Having taught Pilates online throughout the Covid-19 time and having also attended a number of other people’s classes throughout this time too here is my run down on the options.

Live Streaming vs On Demand:

  • Live streaming really does make you feel you are part of something and it can make you attend! If you have it scheduled in your diary and the class is live then there is more of an obligation to be there (albeit on a screen).
  • On demand is fabulous if you have an ever changing schedule, are working around a family or just want to catch up in your own time. In my classes we’ve had children join in, pets and even my chickens made an appearance.
  • Ideally you probably want the luxury of both options. A live streamed class that you can attend if you are able but if you can’t make it then the option to watch it on demand. 

Seen vs Hidden:

  • Having a platform where the instructor can see you can be so very valuable. There are a couple of ways this can be done. A large class will mean you get the interaction but it won’t be very personalised. You will get the buzz and fun still.
  • A small class where you can be seen will mean the teacher can ask you if you have any injuries, adapt the class to suit you, offer corrections and technique adjustments and converse with you. A lot more like being in an actual class. 
  • As a teacher being able to see people brings me joy! As much as I love teaching online I really like to be able to converse with the people I’m teaching and alter the class to suit them as we go. Being able to see how people are moving shows me what needs to be worked on so I can plan this in for subsequent classes. 
  • There can be a real community from Zoom style classes. The chatter before and after connects you together and builds those friendships. Building on this a facebook/whatsapp group can be used to continue the chatter between classes. I’ve actually found lockdown has lead to seeing more people from classes I don’t normally teach and for more connection.

Screen and Access:

  • It can be handy to think about where you are going to do the class and how you will watch it. Your phone screen is handy when you are travelling or not at home but really too small to see the detail. Having a tablet, a laptop or linking to the TV is better.
  • Space to exercise safely can be an issue. There have been some amazing creative solutions over lockdown. Think about an outside space, driveway, kitchen, bedroom floor. 
  • Get your own equipment. Whilst you can adapt and use things around the house it makes it a nicer experience to have your own mat, band and head cushion. It’s like getting new workout clothes, always makes you enjoy your workout more.

The classes from Pilates with Priya are aimed at moving you forward in your Pilates journey, helping you move better and release tension and pain from your body. Therefore we like to be able to see you and get feedback, but you also get our classes on demand for later too. You will often see our teachers up close to the screen getting a clear view or asking how things feel. It is not about just exercise but technique and lockdown has shown that you can achieve that through a screen. Whilst it is always nicer to be in person with some creativity you can get the benefits online too. 

If you would like to join us then please do get in touch. I have 3 tiers of monthly membership starting from just £10 a month.

The New Normal?

Whilst lockdown has been a tough, it has also been a time of innovation and learning to work in new ways.

Online classes have been popping up everywhere with versions where you can see all the particpants and versions where you cannot. It’s been a time to try new things or go old-school back to things you used to enjoy. A time to slow down the pace and a time to reflect on what is important.

I’ve felt so very lucky to be able to run classes online, it has brought me a lot of joy to be able to see my class members online each week and to chat to them. It has also been pretty exhausting to adapt to new ways of doing things, so I’m super proud and thankful to everyone in our studio for doing this and for sticking with us whilst we worked it out.

To be honest I wasn’t convinced online classes would work, how can you correct people over the internet? It turns out that if you are creative it can work well and for some of our classes such as the postnatal ones I think it works better for some people. Whilst I will always be a lover of being hands on with people and seeing people face to face I can see that online classes have their benefits too.

Benefits of online classes:
– Able to join from wherever you are, you don’t have to be local, it is lovely to welcome back people who had moved away and welcome new people.
– Safety in terms of physical health.
– You can do it in your PJs!
– No travel.
– You don’t have to be in a certain room, you could be in the garden, the park or anywhere as long as you have your phone with you!
– No need for childcare.

 

Problems with online classes:
– Lack of space and equipment. It has lead to some creative solutions with baked bean cans, pairs of tights and using childrens bedrooms. Where there is a will, there’s a way!
– Not wanting people to see you in your homes. I totally understand this, but also I promise once you have done it you will realise people really are only watching the teacher.
– Internet access and technology glitches!
– Having “helpers” so you don’t get the peaceful class you would like.
– Harder to follow over a screen.

Whilst group classes online are not for everyone, I totally understand that being able to see each other in your own homes is not always ideal, it has opened the doors for those with children or those who have moved way who want to join in. For me, it has been lovely to see all the pets and children joining in! I like to be able to see people whilst they do pilates so I can offer correction and teaching tips.

The future for us right now will continue to involve some online classes, I imagine these are there to stay. This time is a time for you to decide what works best for you. So if you are enjoying the online classes and do not feel the need to come back to the studio as soon as it is possible, we will be supporting that. If you know you need to be in the studio to get away from the house, then we hope to support that with limited numbers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you have found online classes and what that sweet spot is with online and in person?

Online pilates classes

We have moved ONLINE

It’s been a whirlwind turnaround but I’m super proud and pleased to say that although sadly the studio is physically closed we are not actually closed! Our classes are running online in a variety of ways. Pilates is a fabulous way to destress, clear your mind and keep moving during this tricky time. I know from the kind messages I get that it is keeping a lot of people going right now.

After a week of testing the technology from the studio and almost getting on top of it, lockdown hit and now all teachers are teaching from their homes. Which means you still get to see your favourite teacher but it may look and feel a little different. What we are finding is teaching online is quite intimate. We get to see you in your home, you get to see us in ours and its kinda nice. You can come to class in your PJs, with your children, pets or your favourite drink.

Plus, if you miss your actual class, not to worry as right now to help us all through this time, you get full access to all the classes that are taught in the studio, on a catch up basis. So you can log into our studio facebook group and view them there, or most classes are also being added to the membership portal. All for the usual monthly price of one class.

If you have any friends who have wanted to try Pilates then this is a great time to do so and they can be based anywhere! We will have some induction sessions running online and then they can join the normal classes for £35 a month or have access to just the membership portal for £10 a month.

30 Sessions to a New Body?

There is a well known and loved quote from Joseph Pilates himself that in 30 sessions you will have a new body. I sometimes think that this quote gets taken out of context and leads to people expecting a beach bikini ready body from 30 pilates sessions. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but doing Pilates once a week for 7 months is not going to do that.

So was Mr Pilates wrong? No, I don’t think so, but I think he had a different emphasis on this. I think he was meaning 1-2-1 sessions rather than group classes, he used a lot of equipment including the reformer and cadillac. I think he would have been expecting homework to be done between sessions and I think his style of teaching would have demanded you continually work on your posture and core daily.  Let’s face it, 7 months working in this way and you should be seeing great results.

This is not to say doing a weekly Pilates class isn’t beneficial. More of the point to highlight is that a weekly class is only 1% of your week and what you do the remaining 99% is key. So making Pilates a regular part of your day is the key. This doesn’t have to be a full hours workout, but more taking 10 minutes to focus on a few target exercises and keeping your posture high up the list of priorities in your day.

If you can manage a regular 1-2-1 session then this will also step things up a gear for you. I always notice that I work harder and see greater benefits for my own Pilates practise and body when I have regular 1-2-1’s. These don’t have to be weekly, I have clients who book in monthly for a reformer session to get that extra input and encouragement. Taking your Pilates from the mat to the equipment can show you where you need to focus your efforts. I’ve recently found that although I can do a roll up on the mat with ease, when I do it on the box on top of the reformer I struggle to get segmental work through one part of my spine. Cue a lightbulb moment and lots of focused stretching, segmental moves and practise.

So this post is all about encouraging you to take your Pilates out of the studio. Find some moves that you know you need to work on. The moves that you struggle with or the ones that you know help your body. Get your focus onto your posture and your everyday movements. Then you will really start to see the changes.

The 3 top benefits of postnatal pilates.

It strengthens your core and fixes your body. This is HUGE NEWS. Mums are lifting, bending, rotating, reaching, rocking, pushing and feeding babies. A whole lot of work and strain on the body. The core is made up of the abdominal muscles, the back muscles and the pelvic floor. This cylinder provides the support for the rest of the body to move. After carrying a baby in your womb for 9 months there has been quite a strain on the core. Your abdominals have been stretched and may have stretched apart slightly (diastasis recti). Your pelvic floor muscles have been supporting a heavy load and then may have helped push a baby out. Your lower back muscles will need supporting and strengthening as your baby grows and gets heavier. This is where Pilates has been invaluable for me and it fixes me weekly. Yes there are plenty of other fitness classes you can do postnatally, but a specialised postnatal Pilates is the one you want to do FIRST. It provides you with the foundation that you need to rehabilitate your body after pregnancy and labour. If you do not strengthen your core and get your posture sorted then later along the line you could suffer set backs and problems such as leaking and abdominal separation that doesn’t heal up. If you have this issue come see me for a 1-2-1 session.

If you have pelvic floor issues then you need to be on my pelvic floor workshop.

There are a couple of ways we work on core strength in classes.

Firstly BREATHING. It is something we all do all of the time but breathing using the diaphragm will help the core work in synergy. The Diaphragm, abdominals, back muscles and pelvic floor are all involved in breathing. Try this out:

1. Place your hands around your ribcage. Inhale feeling the breath come into your ribcage. So your ribs move out to the side, your back expands, your chest expands.

2. As you exhale, breath out with pursed lips, feel the tummy come in, the lower back tense and try to get right to the end of your breath to feel an tension in your lower abdominals and a lift in your pelvic floor.

3. Practise this for 5-10 minutes and it really can help, plus it relaxes you 🙂

All the Pilates moves are layered on top of the breathing. It can take a while to get the breathing at the right time and in the right way but suddenly it will click.

It reconnects you with your body. As a mum your primary focus is on your gorgeous baby. There is less time for you to look after your own body and this can get pushed down the list of importance. However your postnatal period is an important time of recovery for you.

A postnatal class can teach you how your body feels when you do certain movements. I know I can be busy rushing around all day and then suddenly in a class I realise my shoulder is out of alignment or my hips ache. It makes you focus on your tummy and pelvic floor, an area many mums don’t want to connect with post-birth. Let’s  face it things are changed in or bodies but it is something to embrace and work to strengthen rather than to avoid. A class also means someone else also has a look at how your body is functioning, which can give you valuable insights and reassurance.

I myself go to classes so that someone who knows my body can give me feedback and push me further. We all need someone who knows us well to watch out for us.

It is you time. Our postnatal classes are run with a creche. I love babies, but having taught with one crawling around the studio, going under and over me… I know how distracting it is to doing the moves correctly. You tense up in order to ensure baby is safe which then means you do not get the full benefit from the class and exercises. You listen to their noises and not your body.

We’ve found over the years that having a creche away from the studio works best. Then the mums are not listening out to their babies, they aren’t all in the studio freezing each time a  baby makes a noise, working out if it is theirs, if so do they need to go to baby. It takes trust on the part of the mum, but James has been running our creche for 7 years now and has seen an awful lot of babies in that time. If he can’t cope and needs a mummy, he knows when to ask.

So if you are thinking about trying a postnatal class I would highly recommend you try Pilates. Yes I am completely biased, but I am also proof that it works. Having had 3 babies, I have rehabilitated each time with Pilates. It works.

Children’s Pilates is Starting!

Pilates with Priya: Children's Pilates Classes

 

After much nudging and poking from my own daughter and other mummies, I’ve finally taken the plunge to put on a children’s Pilates class. My own girl loves Pilates and often asks to come into a class. She actually really gets the concept of it and it helps her move more, stretch and slow her busy mind down too.

Theses classes will be focused on partner work, posture, stretching, functional movements and chilling out. Mindfulness is the buzz word right now, we will be using body movements in a calm, flowing way to relax the mind and hopefully the children will really benefit from this and sleep well!

Get in touch if your child would like to come along.

Pilates for Dancers – Dance Circle Day.

What an honour to be asked to teach at the first Southampton Dance Circle Day on May 30th 2017. This was an event run by local dance teachers, all working together to put on a great event for any children in their dance schools and in the local area. I love the collaborative nature of this, the non-competitiveness and the sheer passion the teachers all have.

Pilates is well known to have amazing benefits for dancers. Joseph Pilates himself worked dancers and in fact for a while Pilates was taken over by the dance world. So without a doubt Pilates can help children in dance too. I was excited and slightly nervous to see how a Pilates class would go down in a day of other exciting dance classes. I was part of an amazing line up including: Ballet/Contemporary with Louis McMiller (Royal Ballet Grad), Contemporary with Amy J Ireland, Musical Theatre with Sarah Evans (recommended by West End Star Ricky Rojas), Tap with Viki (trained with Tap Attack), Hip Hop with Cesa Hijo de Lalan.

The children there were a pleasure to be with. The older ones really worked hard and I could see them taking what I was saying on  board. I was able to push them quite hard and they even posed nicely for the local paper!

Pilates with Priya: Dance Day Pilates

The middle group of children had the definite mid afternoon slump session and so Pilates was great for them as they got a little lie down and some super stretching was done.

The tiny ones were super cute to teach, I could have cuddled them all! At the end of a very busy and active day a few were almost asleep but they gave such concentration to the class, I was super impressed.

Dance day pilates 2

Thankyou so much for asking me to come along and teach, I hope the children enjoyed it. Some of the feedback that I have heard so far is it made some of them feel all calm and relaxed, which is a good thing in my book! Maybe we should add in some mindfulness next time too.

Next Dance Circle Day is October half term. I know I will be booking my girl on it.

If you are interested in a Children’s Pilates class then do get in touch, we are launching one soon!

Pilates at Riverfest

May bank holiday weekend is festival weekend. Well in Southampton anyway. Whilst Common People had all the big names over on the Common, our local park, Riverside Park,  had it’s own first festival called Riverfest. This was a wonderful event that brought together so many from our local community and worked to highlight our local businesses, science, arts and celebrate our river and park.

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 1

With music from many bands (my fav being the Southampton Ukelele Jam), puppet shows, stalls, cafe’s, spoken word, fruit and vegetables, scientific experiments, boating, whisking (swapping of items you no longer need), yoga and of course, pilates.

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 2

This was the first time I’d taught Pilates outside. I’d often thought about it, Pilates in the Park sounds fabulous, but a studio with a comfortable floor, mirrors and easy access to equipment is always easier! We bundled some mats up into our pram and set off to the park with the whole family to give it a whirl. Setting out mats on the grass instantly attracted lots of children, so I actually ended up teaching quite a few small people. It was so nice to see them get involved and enjoy it, showing their parents what to do. I think we need a children’s class added to our studio timetable now!

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 3

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 4

The event had a real community spirit to it. It was lovely to see so many people (about 4,000 attended) come along, lots we knew, lots who knew who we were. It showed the local talent and amazing businesses we have.

So would I teach Pilates outside again? Totally YES. It obviously presents its challenges, but it was such a beautiful setting and so nice to be in the fresh air doing our thing.

 

What to look for in a good Pilates class

Pilates is such an amazing form of exercise, in fact I would call it a lifestyle and something that everyone needs to be embracing. Like all things there are a lot of variations on a theme out there and a lot of different types of classes around, some amazing, some less than good. Whilst I am certainly a fan of variety and keeping it fresh, there is also the need to make sure the class you are going to is teaching you correctly and that it is actually Pilates (if that is what you want to be doing).

Pilates with Priya: what makes a pilates class great

So here are my thoughts on what makes a great Pilates class:

  1. Check the qualifications of your teacher. Have they got a Level 3 Pilates qualification. Ask them how long it took them to qualify. If it was just a weekend then there is something wrong! A decent Pilates qualification takes time and more money than you may expect to complete, it involves course work, theoretical and practical exams and ongoing training. I do several courses a year and am continually learning through reading, practising and watching others teach. They should also be attending some sort of class or pilates 1-1 session themselves regularly to improve their technique.
  2. A small class is key. Too many people and you will not get that individual attention and help from the teacher and can end up doing the exercises wrong. I take a maximum of 8 people in my classes. I started out being asked to teach large classes in sports halls, I had to stop as for me it just wasn’t pilates, there was no way I could correct and watch everyone.
  3. Is it safe? You should have to complete a medical form of some sort and be screened for any health issues, injuries, muscular problems, back issues, pregnancy etc. It is important to keep your teacher up to date on your health.
  4. The venue – for me this is important. Is it lit well enough so you can be seen, the teacher needs to see your body to be able to correct it. Mirrors are a big bonus as they help you see your form and help your teacher see everyone easily. You don’t want to be a in large hall, miles away from the teacher.
  5. The teacher – are they approachable and do they explain things well? If you don’t understand, can you stop them and ask? You should expect to be corrected either verbally or through the teacher moving your body. If you don’t like their approach or manner it isn’t going to work in the long term.
  6. There are many Pilates bodies and variations out there now. Body control Pilates, Stott Pilates, Pilates Foundation, to name a few. Whatever class you go to, Pilates is meant to be controlled, fairly slow, there should be plenty of emphasis on posture, on the technique, on using the right muscles and on the breathing. If you end up in a fast paced class it isn’t necessarily not Pilates, but it may not be appropriate for a beginner.
  7. Is the level set right? Beginners thrown into an established class can make it hard to pick up the technique and hard for the others in the class who may have to slow the pace down. Learning the technique and basic principles is key in Pilates, so a beginners course or a 1-2-1 session first is a good idea before joining a regular class.
  8. Does it progress you? Doing the same exercises week in and week out is not going to challenge you, after a while your body will adapt and you will plateau. Having fresh challenges and harder exercises to do as you improve is important to help you improve and to keep your interest.
  9. Is there a passion and enjoyment in the room? If there is a good vibe then it is likely that it is a good class. A teacher who loves to share their knowledge, wants to help you understand it, cares about how you are feeling and will give you homework, extra helpa and chat afterwards is a good indicator that it is a good class.
  10. Do you feel good after the class? Pilates shouldn’t hurt – well not in a bad way! You may have slighly sore abdominals, legs, arms or bums but not to the point it is really painful. Many of our clients will say they feel lengthened, like they have worked but also they feel more relaxed.

So when you are looking for a class, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have a good nose around the persons website and social media, it can tell you a lot about that teacher. Expect a teacher to ask you lots of questions about your body and to correct you with their hands and voice. Small classes with teachers who are known to know their stuff are the way forward.

 

Pilates in Pregnancy, it’s a must.

I’ve been lucky enough to teach antenatal pilates for 4 years now and in that time I must have worked with over 250 ladies. I’ve also used pilates myself through 3 pregnancies and it has helped keep me strong, shown me which parts of my body needed working on and enables me to keep working and being a hands on mum throughout. The comments we get from some of our ladies are:

“If I miss a class I really notice the difference”

“My hips and pelvis ache less and I can feel the difference Pilates is making”

“Classes help to keep me strong and relaxed during pregnancy”

“I always leave feeling better than when I arrived and with exercises to use in the week”

 

Pilates with Priya: Antenatal Pilates class

 

Antenatal Pilates offers multiple benefits including, developing your natural corset to support your back and baby, helping with the changes to your posture, pelvic floor education, breathing technique, toning the muscles and, thus, helping in weight management. Practising Pilates on a regular basis can improve posture, alleviate backaches, and, ultimately, help with labour and delivery. It can even help the baby rotate in the optimal position. I tend to have a format where I use a mixture of functional exercises that help in daily living, for example moves you will need to bend, lift, rotate, get to the floor, release stretches for the areas I know get tight as pregnancy progresses, core strengthening exercises and some move to help in labour and for baby positioning.

CAT

Lets look at some of the changes that happen in pregnancy:

1. Breathlessness:

There is around 15-20% increase in oxygen consumption during pregnancy. The breathing rate will stay the same, but an expecting mum will breathe more deeply each time. The changes in the blood vessels caused by the hormonal changes together with the changed position of the ribcage and diaphragm may make a mum-to-be feel breathless at times.

The breathing we use in Pilates helps make an expecting mum’s breathing more efficient. Focusing on breathing in an antenatal class also has a relaxing and calming effect which can then be used in labour.

2. Muscle, ligament, joint and postural adaptations: 

Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on muscles, ligaments and joints. There can be more movement, stretching and instability. A safe pregnancy pilates class will help you exercise within a safe range of movement and strengthen the supporting muscles. It can really help with conditions such as SPD/pelvic girdle pain.

3. Core Strength:

Pilates exercises focus on core stability, and pelvic stability. This obviously helps keep the abdominals strengthened  but it also can help keep your pelvis in good alignment and reduce pelvic girdle pain.

4.Posture:

Pregnancy affects posture as the centre of gravity shifts. Some women adopt a posterior pelvic tilt (tucked under) with a flat lower back, whilst others adopt an anterior tilt (bum stuck out) with an increased curve in the lower back. Either way it is not helpful for the body. Knowing about neutral posture will help you correct this in day to day life and pilates will provide you will a range of exercises to strengthen the right muscles.

So if you are pregnant, antenatal Pilates with a specialist teacher is a MUST. If you can’t get to a class or want something to use in between sessions check out my specialst Bump to Birth DVD.