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NULU Pop Up Shop

Thursday 27th September 2018, 9.30 - 1.00pm

Activewear from South Africa.

NULU Pop Up Shop Thursday 27th September 2018 9.30 - 1.00pm


The Natural Pharmacy Tuesday 6th March

An Introduction to the Natural Pharmacy by Pam Burn.  10am - 3pm at Tilford Cottage.

Topics included:

Energy Anatomy - Chakras & Meridians

Energy Exercises for Health and Wellbeing

Energy Medicines to have at home including herbs

Meditation techniques to help calm stress & anxiety.

Please let me know if you are interested in booking, £75 to include lunch and a handbook to take away.  Payment direct to Pam Burn please.

Coffee and Cake Tuesday 23rd January

Please let me know if you can make our Coffee break at Notcutts, 10am - 11am on Tuesday 23rd January.

Towers of Power!

The new Towers of Power fitted to all the Balanced Body Reformers in the studio provide an opportunity in both mat and reformer classes for us to write new programmes challenging our balance, whilst helping us to increase our strength working with the springs for resistance.

Macmillian Coffee Morning

Please join me here for coffee, cake and chat on Friday 6th October 2017 9:30 to 11:30am
Let me know by the 25th of September so I have enough cake!

If you cannot make the date, but would like to donate by text:
Please Text: ABAY98  followed by the amount (e.g. ABAY98 £5) to 70070

My daughter is running in the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Macmillan and her company, Aon, have agreed to match everything she raises so this year we have combined to help Macmillan get double the £'s.

Hope to see you on 6th October. If the car park is full please use Nottcuts. THANK YOU!

Exercise can help boost the brain

There have been many papers written on how exercise keeps us young and helps slow down the decline in our mobility. Now we are seeing more information on how it can help boost the brain.

“Moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, cycling or running can produce changes in brain structure and function”. (Linda Clare, professor of clinical psychology of ageing and dementia Exeter Uni.)

Research is still being carried out to see exactly how active lifestyles reduce the risk of cognitive decline seen in ageing. “Brain deterioration is seen as inevitable and unpreventable. But that is wrong – your lifestyle is intimately linked to the health of your brain”. (Professor James Goodwin, chief scientist at Age UK.)

Working with arm weights

We have known for a long time working with resistance is very beneficial and arm weights are an essential part of both male and female workout programmes. The advice has been light weights for ladies with loads of repetitions.

This has changed and currently we are urged to lift heavier weights for fewer repetitions, indeed just using the guideline to use weights to exhaust your muscles after one set of repetitions is popular advice from Jo Wicks (Body Coach). I prefer the approach of Matt Roberts who suggests 2 – 6kg for women but points out some ladies might need much heavier weights. He says, “When you reach a plateau and stop seeing results, it is time to increase the intensity”.

Be sensible about what you believe is enough for you – if you have any shoulder/elbow issues then you need to be particularly careful. Most importantly for all of us – remember to keep good form and posture whilst executing the moves. If you recruit the wrong muscles then you will be causing unnecessary stress on joints etc.

5 Core Principles

The 5 Core Principles of Pilates: Centering/Concentration/Control/Precision/Breath. Always good to remind ourselves of these principles.

I found these drawings below and thought they are a really good visual to help us to remember what we are doing when we work through our Pilates exercises.

When Planning a class I consider how best to work the body through the different movement planes incorporating full range of movement as much as possible.

Within each category of movement, there’s attention to precise alignment and placement of the body in space. This specificity requires the Pilates student to exert control over the entire musculature of the body, increasing awareness of everyday functioning and promoting balanced movements. Enjoy working through these at home and in the studio. Keeping in mind you need to include the 4 areas of movement whenever you decide to work on.

Do you have a good excuse?

There are days when we really do not want to exercise, probably quite a few days if we are honest and keep a record! Here are a few answers to the pesky problem of when to stop or go for it….

1. Thought - “I have a cold so I probably should not exercise”.
Consider - if you feel really bad and you don’t believe you will gain anything from exercise then leave it. Sometimes it does us good to get outside and have a brisk walk, perhaps change your plan to a more appropriate form of exercise whilst you have a cold. Avoid group classes where you might pass it on.

2. Thought – “It is dark early”.
Consider – If you are a runner or walker make sure you wear high-visibility clothing and perhaps a head torch. Otherwise the day is very short.

3. Thought – “It is cold outside”
Consider – Change your routine from outside to an indoor activity for the winter months – swap running outside for an indoor spinning class or double up a fitness session you already have planned every week.

4. Thought –“I don’t have time”
Consider – Walk instead of taking the car. Use the stairs not a lift or escalator. Use your body weight to help you exercise at home – utilise chairs, tables, beds, stairs. Then you do not spend time travelling to the gym.

5. Thought –“I am too tired”
Consider – This means exercise should be a priority for you and your general health and fitness. It will help you to relax as well as give you an energy boost. Make sure your decision involves something you enjoy doing so you continue with the regime.

Hopefully some of these tips will help motivate you during 2016. Remember to keep hydrated when you exercise, wear appropriate clothing so you do not overheat/are too cold.

I look forward to seeing you in the PPP studio throughout 2016. Keep Moving!!

We are what we repeatedly do.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Mindfulness is a buzzword these days having meaning for many people in different situations. People in pain often use mindfulness techniques to help cope with their situation. Generally speaking it is advisable to take more notice of the world around us – use our senses and live in the moment.

This is not new but the current approach is different. We are advised to slow everything down whether eating food, drinking, or exercising.

Mindful Movement
Here at Posture Perfect Pilates I have always promoted Mindful Movement. This is a helpful cue when instructing The Pilates Method. The body will not get the full benefit from exercise without the full co-operation of the mind in my opinion.

Here are some of my tips:

  • Breathing, stay focused, feel the breath moving in and out. Notice if the inhale or exhale is longer? Notice how the ribs move with the breath.
  • Use the floor. Feel grounded when standing upright and feel the connections from the feet right through the body. This will help with balance.
  • Symmetry and asymmetry are both crucial clues as to how the body is working. Use the floor to give you feedback when lying down and sitting upright.
  • Feel where you move from – where is your centre line? Work from the inside out and feel the energy right down to the fingers/toes/head.
  • One of the principles of Pilates is Concentration. Without this you will find it very hard to achieve the ‘essence’ of the movement.
  • Enjoy the moment. Do not rush through thinking ahead all the time.

  • “Movement is the song of the body”
    Vanda Scaravelli

Autumn Contrology

We are approaching Autumn, a wonderful season when we feel refreshed from the summer break and are looking forward to the best of English weather. Well let us hope the weather will be lovely!

I believe it is a time to reconsider our fitness levels after a ‘slow-down’ in the summer. There is so much information suggesting we lower sugar in our diets, increase good fats, take 10,000 steps a day etc. We live in an era when we can access all knowledge at any time and can pick out a regime tailored to us.

Joseph Pilates believed his exercises were a way of life and a route to well being. He encouraged people to look at all elements of their lifestyle and incorporate the Pilates Method at all times not just 2/3 times a week in his studio. He was way ahead of his time with his work being so relevant today.

His famous book, Return to Life Through Contrology and Your Health may not feature on you bookshelf but is a wonderful book to read:

“A perfect balance of body and mind is that quality in civilized man which not only gives him superiority over the savage and animal kingdom, but furnishes him with all the physical and mental powers that are indispensable for attaining his ultimate goal – health and happiness”.
(Joseph Hubertus Pilates 1934)

I love to encourage clients to, ‘mix it up’ with their fitness and nutritional programmes to make sure they find all the elements to suit their needs. The Pilates Method combines the best of Western and Eastern philosophy and Joseph Pilates brought together a series of controlled movements (contrology) that engage both the mind and body.

All movement is beneficial, let us make sure we do it well and with knowledge and awareness of muscle function and control so we can get the full benefit from our efforts.

Welcome to a new term and the fun and benefits that will bring to us all!

Summer Days

I am typing this thinking about lovely warm summer days and nights (hopefully). During the summer holidays do take advantage of booking into one of the holiday classes. The studio will be open for one day most weeks.

In case you do not manage to join in over the holidays, here are a few exercises to keep you moving. Remember do not exercise if you feel unwell.

On Mat using a band as a prop.
1. Hamstring stretch with a band.
2. Hip rolls band under back hold ends keep wide and reaching shoulders to mat. X 4.
3. Spine curls with arm and leg extension, holding band if want to x 6.
4. 100’s band under legs in hands or across shins.
5. Roll backs x6.
6. Roll like a ball – wrap in band x 6.
7. Single leg stretch x 14
8. Double leg stretch x 8.
9. Dart/Cobra x 6
10.High kneeling quad stretch x 6.
11.Side legs – kick forward and back/double leg lifts/circles x 8 each.
12.Piraformis stretch keep in neutral
13.Cat stretch each way x 4.
14.Mermaid x 4 each side. Band under knee and pull other end overhead.
15.Squat and roll up to standing if comfortable.
16.Roll downs into a balance x 4.
17.Take arms wide and overhead to stretch, turn palms and push down lengthen spine and finish.

Wednesday 24th September, 2pm – 4pm is our Macmillan Tea Party, remembering our lovely friend, Valerie Howland.

Enjoy the summer break!

Have you a wearable activity monitor?

Most of us enjoy monitoring our walks/runs/swims these days. We can take an accurate reading and compare to previous data and it is fun and challenging. But we need to remember we want Mind-Body working together when we exercise. Sometimes we meet the challenge but feel tired and miserable and look for a ‘sugar reward’. Not productive at all!

I love to use Map My Walk, it is exciting to check to see how far I have walked and the pace. But whilst on the walk look around and enjoy the countryside/houses/climate etc. There is always something to see or hear on a walk so if we can concentrate on that as well as our gait then we will really feel more fulfilled at the end of it.

Mindful Walking Practice – focus your attention on the act of walking itself. Swing your arms to make sure you utilise your ability to move through the environment with ease and grace whilst using your body correctly.

Think about how you push off through your feet. Are your glutes working as you walk?

Try to keep your mind on how your body is working for you and think about the ground under your feet.

You don’t want to be stressed during the activity as this will influence the production of glucocorticoids like cortisol much the same way as exercises can. You are likely to measure lower levels of cortisol if you walk in a lovely calming environment.

So just acknowledge how the emotional and environmental context of our activities can influence how our body responds to the exercise stimulus.

Journaling – if you enjoy writing about experiences then try writing down a few good things you experienced on your walk/run/swim and keep a record of this to look back on. What could you have done better?

So don’t just hit the number of steps you have as a goal. Try to look for things along the way, feel how your feet and body react to the walk as you take every step.

Enjoy the experience of movement, always.

Happy and Healthy You

Continuing the theme of the Seasons and exercise.

March – growth and expansion. Spring cleaning the house and the body, setting three new goals to enhance your life. Try resting the eyes for 10 minutes a day work on face and eye exercises.

The liver loves early morning exercise and fresh air, try early morning walks to harness nature’s energy. Perhaps try a one day detox or just ‘clean’ eating regularly. Hot water and lemon in the morning, minimising wheat etc. Eat lots of green vegetables if you can, in fact encourage more colour in your foods for healthy diet.

April – Joy and pleasure. Make sure you are putting into action the plans made in the previous months. Try to incorporate more laughter in your days. Speak from the heart being affectionate, enthusiastic and humorous.

Throw out clothes you have not worn for a year! Eat spring greens and stir/steam fries. Enjoy good food and company and relaxation.

Twenty Minutes A Day

Aim for 20 minutes of exercise every day to keep the body functioning well. No need to overdo it and exhaust yourself but do something every day.

Is willpower really the answer to achieving our goals?

I believe being motivated is the way to maintain our fitness goals. Feeling forced to continue an unrealistic programme of activity following a hectic social whirl at Christmas rarely encourages us to still be doing it by March.

We all know about setting goals, if you believe it is achievable then I think you can probably manage without willpower. By telling yourself you ‘want to achieve’ rather than ‘have to achieve’ makes a much more positive mindset. By saying ‘work/life is really busy at the moment BUT I want to exercise three times a week’ is much more positive than, ‘I want to exercise three times a week BUT work is really busy’.

Ask yourself;
*What do I want?
*What will achieving this goal do for me?
*What is the best thing that could happen if I do this?
*What is the worse thing that could happen?
*What small changes can I make today?

Seasonal Pilates
For thousands of years, ancient cultures have studied the two-way communication between man and nature cycles and how natural laws work in relation to human physiology. For example, the phases of the moon and its influence on the fluids of the body, and how the cycles of day and night influence activity and rest. The changes of the seasons also affect our internal conditions and mental and emotional needs. We are a part of nature and therefore part of its changes. This year in each News page I will cover two months forward planning working with the seasons.

January – Imagination and Direction.
*Try going to bed earlier and getting up later (if possible), it is a time for rest and renewal.
*Do not go on a diet but clean up your act with food and drink. Introduce seaweed into homemade soups and stews to help mineralise the body and support the kidneys. Avoid excess salt.
*Listen to what people are telling you.
*Develop a healthy ability to adjust to demands and circumstances.
*Focus on spinal health, posture, flexibility and building bone density to improve how you move.
*Read the book, ‘My Best Year Yet’ by Jinny Ditzier.

February - Visions and Decisions.
*Try to meditate 10 minutes every day.
*Treat yourself to as many massages as possible to detox and promote circulation to your muscles.
*Mentally pain a picture of how you would like to live your life.
*Work on ability to make decisions and carry then through.
*Eat foods in season and try to make 75% of your food grown within a 500-mile radius.
*Introduce lots of side bending and twists into your fitness routine to massage the internal organs.

I will plan the classes with this seasonal variation in mind as a theme throughout 2015.

I am also going to write a workshop on Posture and Balance – I will probably offer this towards the end of the Winter term. I will make sure details are on the studio noticeboard.

I am looking forward to another year working with you in the Posture Perfect Pilates studio.

Not sure if you should exercise?

Sometimes we are not on top form and wonder whether we should take a class/run/swim.

We have all heard conflicting reports on how exercise can make a cold worse or help us to ‘sweat it out’. It is hard to know what to believe.

Add to this the recent research claiming both men and women are pushing themselves to achieve marathons/triathlons/Iron men/Iron Women challenges. All this makes it hard to know which direction to head in.

Exercise should be something you enjoy doing. Without enjoyment it is difficult to maintain a regular schedule of activity. We all like a challenge and I think it is helpful to include a variety of activities each week in your exercise portfolio so your mind/body connection is involved on more than one level. Perhaps add a brisk walk/swim/dancing to your weekly activity as well as Pilates.

Adults should get at least 30 - 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week (American College of Sports Medicine). Some people prefer to take 3 one hour sessions a week and add in shorter sessions on the in between days. It is your call.

Simple questions can help you decide what might suit you best, do you like being in a group or prefer to be alone? Indoors or outdoors?

Exercise or Rest Days?
Generally the advice is to assess how you feel – do you just have a sniffle, then light exercise could be beneficial. However if you are struggling with a really bad cold then a rest would make sense. Fever is an indication to rest up.

Prevention – Germs!
Be meticulous about cleaning your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap before eating, cooking, after touching pets or blowing your nose and using the loo. Cold and flu viruses can linger on doorknobs and other surfaces so don’t touch your eyes or nose until you have washed your hands.

Carry an antibacterial gel in your hand bag; sometimes it is easier than finding a sink!

Final word
If you feel unwell leave the exercise that day – listen to your body. But remember it is important to keep mobile so if the problem is more an ache rather than an illness then movement will usually help you. Maintaining the full range of motion is so important throughout our lives.

Exercise To Help Relieve Anxiety and Depression.

Anxiety and depression, both mood disorders, are the two most widespread

mental health concerns and are increasing worldwide (NIMH2014a).

It is interesting to look at the science and see some of the ways exercise can help improve mental health.

1. Physical activity can help reduce the risk factors - inflammation, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease. The increase in blood flow is beneficial delivering additional nutrients and energy.
2. Exercise is stressful so regular exercise can increase a person’s resilience toward other forms of physical and emotional stress.
3. Improves self esteem when we master a new skill.
4. Social contact in classes can boost moods.
5. Being outdoors can be beneficial – sunlight and green environments.
6. Exercise helps people divert negative thinking – it can help people get out of the negative thought cycles.

Physical activity can cause chemical changes in the body which affect our moods. Medication can target neurochemicals to normalise levels but research shows that exercise can also increase the levels. So whilst exercise may not replace all medication there is evidence it can be a valuable adjunctive therapy.

It is important to choose the exercise programme to suit you so you enjoy it and the results will be better than being forced into a programme. Running, walking, yoga, Pilates, weight training, swimming, dancing, netball, football, tennis etc.

Try This…….
Rate your mood immediately before and after exercise. This way you will appreciate whether the exercise has made you feel better immediately.

“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well”

Happy Autumn Term!

During the summer holidays I have added new pieces of equipment to the studio – I hope you enjoy using them and feel the benefits from the class we will plan to help you get the most benefit.

The Posture Perfect team has expanded: Carina, Jean and Nicky. I am so lucky to have both Jean and Nicky working in the studio. They are both very well trained Pilates instructors in both mat and equipment as well as fun ladies. Please take advantage of trying out the different classes available in the studio and let me know if you are keen to try out new programmes. There is a delicate balance for me to maintain – I know you are happy with what we deliver but I need to make sure I keep challenging you and stimulating you with new ideas. As a team I believe we can achieve this.

The 5 Parts Of The Mind

The 5 Parts Of The Mind
“You can say what Pilates is in three words. Stretch with Strength and Control. And the control part is the most important because that makes you use your mind”

Quote: Romana Kryzanowska (June 30, 1923 - August 30, 2013) Pilates instructor who started as a student of Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara at their studio on Eighth Avenue in New York. After the death of Joseph Pilates in 1968, Clara Pilates continued the studio, in 1970 Romana Kryzanowska became the director of what was by that time called "The Pilates Studio."

Today we all talk about Pilates as a mind/body exercise but how often do we really consider what this means as we work through the Pilates repertoire?

Current research suggests we can improve our genes through exercise so surely we really should be looking more deeply into our exercise routines?

Pilates and the mind……
“Intelligence guided by the will using memory and imagination assisted by intuition” (Romana Kryzanowska).

Frequently we talk about Pilates being an intelligent form of exercise, we have to work hard to achieve the correct form for 100’s and it is only through constantly striving to learn the repertoire and perform it regularly that we will gain the benefits rather than just do the choreography.

The more we achieve, the more we love Pilates so our will makes us keep striving for greater challenges.

Without our memory we cannot keep going but somehow we can get ‘lost’ in the movement and have to call our mind back to move to the next exercise. Keep moving and it will come to you.

Imagination is vital as we perform our workout, our mind will help us move in different ways and keep surprising us.

Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. Joseph Pilates used to talk about moving like an animal and I guess this is what he meant. The body is thinking and leading the mind.

Summer Holidays…
Enjoy the long break but please try to keep moving by using the exercise sheet I have prepared for the summer. I look forward to seeing some of you over the break at the holiday sessions.