Self care is the new buzz word. Personally I love it. It is something I know I need to do more of. I work my body hard in the week running from clients to classes to clinics. I don’t always build in enough time to relax, never mind time to look after my body in the way it needs, but I’m working on it. One of my new years aims was to have a spa day this year. My older girl actually laughed when I said that… as in “that won’t happen mummy”, but thanks to a lovely friend turning 30, I’m booked on a spa day with some girls – YES. Jokes aside, I am totally lucky that I teach Pilates and can incorporate some self-care into the sessions I teach. Pilates has been shown to help with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety – why? It centres and focuses the mind in a similar way to mindfulness. I swear Pilates keeps my body working and my mind sane. Here are some tips on how you can make self-care part of your Pilates lifestyle.
Seen by some as a luxury (including myself for many years) I’m not meaning that spa aromatherapy style massage (though bring that on too). Instead it’s the the dig deep and release the tight areas kind of massage that helps fix your body. We all get certain, recurrent tight spots in the body. Often these are due to posture or over-using the body in certain ways. Either way a decent sport massage can make a big difference. When the tight muscles are released you can move your body in a new pattern. I know I have certain areas that would benefit from a course of massage treatments (hint hint) – you only get one body.
I’ve totally fallen in love with breathing this year. A lot of time devoted to studying this deeply has impacted my practice as a teacher and my own day to day practice. I find myself pausing at points in the day to breath and reconnect. Just 10 minutes of deep breathing can help calm your mind, work your core and ground you. My personal preference is to teach people to lie down in neutral posture and breath as it helps you relax into it with good posture, however this isn’t always possible in the middle of the day! So sitting on a chair with a high back, breathing into your back, sides and tummy with a relaxation on the inhale and engagement of the core on the exhale.
We all know too much sitting is not good for us. So building movement into your day is key. This doesn’t have to be a massive workout. Move your body in the way that feels good. I don’t think there need to be any rules, the rules confine people. Instead just know that moving is good for your body, your mind, your soul. Stretching after a busy day, changing postures at work, a 15 minute walk – it all helps.
There are times my body is just too darn tired to do a teaser and thats ok. On those occasions it is good to listen. It all depends on how in tune you are with your body. Is it your head telling you not to bother moving today and to sit on the sofa or is it your body letting yoou know it is tired, it needs a rest? We all need a rest day in our week, even God took time to rest in creating the world. I have weeks as a teacher when people turn up to class and they all look tired out. Those weeks we change the pace and although there will still be plenty of core work and a sneaky teaser, there will also be plenty of stretching and release work built in too.
Not something I’ve managed to do much of over the past few years, for which I blame my children 😉 There is so much research now showing us how important sleep is. To be fair it’s pretty obvious isn’t it. When we sleep it’s the time our bodies renew, replenish and restore themselves. So it’s a time of new growth but also a time part of us gets to unplug and switch off. If you are not asleep at night then your body can’t do all its jobs, you are just making it extra hard work! So commit to getting to bed and resting.
I cannot emphasis enough how key getting good nutrition into your body and nourishing it is. I’m totally biased, confession I’m a dietitian too… which means I have seen first hand how nutrition plays a vital role in healing and in health. Simple things like ensuring you eat plenty of fruit and veggies, stay hydrated and have your cupboard/fridge stocked with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, yoghurt, oats, nut butter to keep you out of biscuit tin on some occasions. I live by the 80/20 rule which states you eat healthily 80% of the time and you relax your approach 20% of the time. There is always room for cake!
However self-care works for you, try to build it into your week, your day, your life.
As a pilates teacher I’m well aware of how important it is to have flexible feet and to pay attention to the grounding and position of my feet… but the busyness of life meant I hadn’t been looking after the skin on my feet. Or to be honest my legs! My feet are always in use and they rarely get a pedicure, by rarely I mean like once a year. So I was pleased to try out Dr Anders range of professional foot care, perfect timing for summer.
Now one of my big foot issues is the skin on my heels. It was pretty rough and dry. I wasn’t expecting anything much from a cream but you know, it’s worked. After a couple of weeks using the intensive rescue balm my heels are smoother and look better. The whole of my foot is softer. The cream is lightly fragrance and nice to use. I’ve used it morning and night for 2 weeks with good results. I did find I then needed to keep using it regularly for this to be maintained but the nourishing daily spray also helps with this.
So if you are looking for a good foot range I’d recommend this one.
Disclaimer: I was sent this product range to review, all views are my own.
How my life has changed! Once upon a time I avoided PE lessons like the plague, hated getting sweaty and would never have gone to a fitness festival for fun! I did enjoy certain types of exercise but they were not the standard ones included at school. They were not accessible and I couldn’t just pop in somewhere to try things out.
This is part of what Luke from Sweat Southsea made accessible at the Southsea Fitness Festival. Different forms of exercise were made accessible. From high impact to upside yoga, from power plates to a dualathon. It was truly fabulous and the best part, free and family friendly. Having this festival outside also meant that people could just walk by and take part, or just watch! I saw mums with newborns, pregnant ladies, gym bunnies in Lycra and older adults all soaking up the vibe.
Quote from Luke:
“We created the Festival to inspire and celebrate active and healthy lifestyles. It was apparent from the outset that it needed to be a free and fully accessible event. There are many barriers to exercise which as fitness professionals we try to break down – so why create a barrier by charging an entry fee? Our goal is to make a major difference first and foremost in our hometown which has some pretty shocking childhood obesity health related statistics. We hope to show that there is a sport or activity for everyone. The event is also an opportunity to support other local businesses and to create a network of like-minded businesses which can work together in a positive way.”
Highlights for me included taking part in the dualathon with my kids. Again, not something I would normally enter (though I am tempted) but so much fun to do this without the pressure being on.
We need to be on a mission to get children active. It’s a huge part of how we will help with their health. In my opinion (with my dietitian hat in) its no good putting everyone on strict diets. Instead it’s about making long term changes to eating patterns AND long term changes to the whole lifestyle. So finding ways for children to be active EVERYDAY is part of this. My kids loved it all. They went on gym equipment, they tried wobble boards, they loved the TRX, my girl did a body balance class, dance and some yoga. My boy spent a long time just running and playing in the fountains getting wet 😂
Thankyou Southsea for having us. We will be back. More of this please.
Priya is the one to come to if you want to stay strong in pregnancy or need fixing after baby. She has worked with over 1000 pre/postnatal ladies and with a very high level of training you can be sure you are in safe hands. If Priya doesn’t know the answer she will know someone who can help.
Our classes are small and focus on a mixture of using your core correctly, building strength in those areas you really need it for mummyhood, releasing tight muscles and Pilates movements that will really make a difference.
If you are suffering with back ache, sciatica, pelvic pain, hip pains, shoulder issues or muscular imbalances then our pregnancy classes are focused on helping, so let us know what to focus on.
Postnatally our classes are aimed to help rebuild you, using breathing, functional work, core strength, posture and pilates. All classes are safe if you suffer from diastasis recti or pelvic floor issues.
At Pilates with Priya we pride ourselves on keeping our numbers low. We have a maximum of 8 people in our main Pilates classes, this means you get more support and input from the teacher.
All our teachers are experts in their field, with a minimum of a level 3 Pilates qualification, we only like to take on the best we can. Any medical issues you have can be catered for. Priya personally works with any new teachers to help mentor them and as a team we like to keep up our own personal practice and learning.
You will find our studio is welcoming, non judgemental, calm and “bijoux”. We use a variety of equipment including rings, bands, balls and rollers.
Before starting classes with us we ask that you go on our introductory course or have a 1-1 induction session so that you have a good grasp of the basic principles before going into a class.
We all know how amazing Pilates is, but also the huge, huge importance of a good diet. Life over here is hectic: 3 children, seeing my nutrition clients (in my role as a dietitian), running workshops, doing my business development, teaching classes and working with 1-2-1 clients…. phew. So I need meals that pretty much cook themselves but are nutritious and delicious.
I must admit to being totally dubious when GSN offered to send me their chicken to try out. It arrived frozen, well packaged with 24 chicken breasts in the one bag. Each breast is easy to get out, they aren’t all in a large lump so you can literally get out as many as you need at a time. The bag does take a large amount of freezer space but my tip on that would be to decant the chicken into serving sizes bags and then pop in the freezer. This way you can stack the bags up and just get out one at a time.
The chicken is steam cooked and can be cooked from frozen or defrosted and eaten hot or cold. I love the “no need to cook” aspect. I have grabbed this chicken out of the freezer, frosted in my mircrowave and added it to a stir fry to make a meal in 15 minutes. BAM.
The important bit is the taste. Literally I was expecting a watery chicken, but it is juicy and meaty. The whole family were pleased. The only negative point I have is that the chicken is not free range but comes from a British Retail Consortium factory.
Disclaimer – this post is a review, I was sent the chicken to try out. All views are my own.
There seems to be an obvious link between Pilates helping people wind down, relax, sleep better and reduce their stress levels. Just the act of slowing down your breathing, movements and bringing more awareness into your body is such a helpful principle. I love checking out the actual science on these things, so I’ve had a little search around and found a few articles. Here is a summary.
Pilates helps your brain function:
30 volunteers had their cognitive function tested after a yoga class, a treadmill workout and a baseline assessment. After the yoga session their cognitive function was significantly improved. This sounds like it would also translate over to Pilates. So Pilates could help keep your brain working, it definitely makes you think hard about what you are doing and teaches you a new skill.
Pilates and Mood:
There is a specific Pilates study on just over 300 subjects comparing Pilates and a “special recreation” exercise class which was a class suited to the subjects exercise ability and needs. This showed that Pilates led to a better ability to regulate mood, a more relaxed state and a better sense of wellbeing.
Taking this to look specifically depression a group of 146 women followed a 16 week Pilates programme. Depression scores were measured before and after, showing that Pilates lowered depression.
So Pilates is not just great for core strength, for all over body conditioning and for helping rehabilitate after injury. It is also helpful for keeping you mentally alert and is a great way to help regulate your mood.
People normally start doing pilates with us because they have a bad back, want to gain more core strength or are pregnant. However Pilates has more benefits than just the physical ones. Joseph Pilates believed mental and physical health were closely connected and I think this is one area we need to explore further in this busy world where levels of depression are high.
I know for myself, teaching Pilates is the best job. After a stressful time in my other work as a dietitian or as a mummy, I get to chill out in a relaxed, beautiful space and teach a calm, mindful class. Focusing on your breathing, your body movements and your muscles is part of mindfulness so you can instantly see why Pilates has more benefits than just the physical ones. One statement I heard this week was “I always sleep best on a Thursday after Pilates”. I can see why that is. Pilates helps you slow down your pace of life, move your thoughts from work, home and stress to your body and draw plenty of oxygen into your muscles, using deep, thoracic breathing.
Mindfulness is a therapy that is being used for all kinds of mental health conditions now. A definition of it is: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” It uses compassion and breathing to help you to let go of negative thoughts, stress and even pain. The similarities to Pilates are easy to spot. Even if you went to a Pilates class and did nothing except lie on the mat and breath you would feel some benefits for your mood and stress relief.
So there seems to be an obvious link between Pilates and mental health. One thing I always want to know is what is the evidence? Has there been any actual research done? There is actually quite a lot that shows a link between Pilates improving your mood, lowering stress and helping with cognitive function.
Look out for my next blog post that looks at the research.
Disclaimer – I was sent these clothes to review, all views are my own.
My days tend to go from school runs to pilates sessions to being a dietitian and seeing patients, then back to the school run and more pilates. So I either have to change clothes multiple times a day or have multi-functional clothes.
The lovely team at RUNA sent me some of their clothes to review and having initially been intrigued about how a dress could be used as fitness apparell, I’ve now been converted. One of their website statements is “Designed for life”, which is what I need. These dresses are stretchy enough to be used when I am teaching a 1-2-1 Pilates session and fitted enough to look great over leggings for the school run or for a meeting. I can easily see these becoming my staple wardrobe for the days when I do a bit of everything! The material is soft and dries fast too.
Prints and patterned leggings are popular right now and I could easily have a legging addiction brewing. What I love about Runa’s leggings is they have a very different pattern and look to the rest of the market. Each piece is inspired by a different location such as Dubai which gives them a grown up, sophisicated look. I have had quite a few positive comments about them, saying how different they are.
You can find the brand here or on Instagram: @runa_ldn