Category Archives: exercise routine

Spring into a new body……with Pilates

Well the spring is officially upon us, though I am quite sure the bad weather  is not done with us yet!  Looking out at all the blossom and having seen such a fantastic display of daffodils this year maybe I am wrong.  However with the spring comes the urge to purge…….bad habits, weight, clutter and lazy muscles!!  Well,  good news, Pilates can help with some of those.

Spring is an ideal opportunity to find a new fitness regime and what better way than to ease into it with a one-to-one session Pilates session in the comfort of your own home.  I can come a long at a convenient time and discuss what you think your problems are regarding exercise and your body.  I can run through  all your questions and fears and we can check out your strengths and weakness’s so we can get you moving in the right direction and strart re-aligning and re-shaping your muscles.

Spring time gives me a determination to get as fit as possible for those lighter evenings and the promise of some sunshine. The unburdening of all those winter jumpers  is like shedding your winter coat and becoming “leaner”.  Pilates helps with toning the muscles to become leaner and stronger, ready for the summer months when I can spend more time out doors………yes, even when the good old British weather doesn’t play fair.

Spring also is an invitation to start eating more healthily again.  I always struggle in the winter months because I feel I need to eat more to keep warm……a myth I’m sure, but my excuse and I’m sticking to it!!  I have my juicer out again and have really cut out a lot of sugar from my diet.  A difficult one for me as a real sugar-holic!!  I am also trying to increase my water intake and decrease the coffee, tea and …….gingerbeer!  I knew it was sugary but whoa, not that much!  Tying to add fresh ginger to my juicing and lemon to my water, great for internal cleansing and digestion.  And soon it will be salad season, and I can resist the pasta/potatoe urge for some greenery.  Love it!

So, hoping Spring is an incentive to you all too.  To get fit, ditch the sugar, and join a Pilates class!Downward facing Dog with Jackie Brealey


Welcome to Mr Pilates

The Pilates method practised by so many of us now in so many towns, counties and throughout the world all origionated because of one determined and special man, Joseph Pilates.  Mr Pilates himself was in fact German and born in 1880,  into a woking class famly in Dusseldorf.  There is little known about his family and childhood except for the fact he was a sickly child and reprted to have suffered from rickets, ashma and reumatic fever but by the age of 14 he managed to re-build his body enough to pose for anatomical drawings.

Joseph used the influence of a new awareness of health and exercise of the time to explore the physical effects of strength and gymnastic training on the body and mind.  He devised through his own transformation his method of mind/body training.  He came to England in his 30’s and worked as a circus performer and a boxer amongst other things, one of those being a fitness teacher to detectives in the Police force.

When war broke out he was interned but continued to expand his knowledge and fitness methods, practising on other internees.  And during this time he designed the “reformer’.  A machine to be used as a help to strenghten muscles with the use of pulleys and springs, helping work with assistance or resistance and  this machine is very much a part of the pilates studio world now and a brilliant aid to body fitness and alignment.

Mr Pilates was convinced there was a connection between poor posture, sedantry lifestyles and ill health, and studied many forms of exercise and fitness such as yoga, bodybuilding and even acrobatics to use as a whole body exercise experience.  The need to engage mind and body and use flowing movements and slower fewer repetitions can help you contol your body.    Used correctly and regularly it helps to re-align, reshape and repair bad posture, weak muscles restore a balanced and stronger body.

The most common phrase I hear when new clients either come to watch classes or when they watch me teaching them basic exercises in assessments is “oh you made that look so easy………..and it’s not is it!!”  No it’s not, I have been doing Pilates for 20 years and teaching for 10 and I still find certain things challenging.  Yes, injuries can make things difficult but with the right kind or re-conditioning at class or in a one to one session you can start to help make the changes you need in your body to get back to your best “you” physically.  No, it will not happen over night and you will have to work hard for it but with the right kind of direction from your Pilates instructor and a willingness to see it through then anything is possible.  Mr Pilates proved that in his own body and in all his students.  Photographs of his students before and after his teaching really do show incredible results in body alignmnent and muscle definition and strength.

Mr Pilates was certainly an inspitation to me and all my fellow instructors, and now to my clients too.  An inspiration to want to do better, to re-align, reshape and repair my body, and to keep going because even when I have made one target I know there will always be more challenges so i can set new targets.

Sadly Joseph Pilates passed away in 1967 from smoke inhalation whilst trying to save some of his studion equipment in a fire.  He was 87 and in great physical shape and I see no reason to believe he would not have gone on many many years more.  I have clients in the 70’s and 80’s who are amazing and have really increased their movement and strength as a result of their Pilates.  It is an exercise regime for all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels.  Joseph Pilates was a true inspiration.  Come and join me at a class or have a one to one and be inspired too.

high spine curl with arms extended and single leg extension

Pilates in the Press

Well hello everyone.

Hope you are all enjoying this August Bank Holiday weekend despite the weather which is only good for ducks!!

I would love to have been out and about on the Harley or in the garden but this dingy low pressure has really put paid to the summer hasn’t it!  So instead I have worked!  I have been covering classes at Pennyhill Spa and The Berystede over the weekend, and not minded one iota as we couldn’t ride out!  Love covering these classes, I get to meet lots of lovely new people ……and teach a few I already know.  They have really worked hard over the last four days and I have to say, “very proud of them”!

Classes have been quiet over August with so many away on their holidays (and a few”injured”).  Loking forward to seeing most people back a regular classes this week and I believe most people have returned from their travels.  For those who have been reguarly attending classes in August, it was business as usual and a lot of hard work………as always! Thank you for not making me Billy no mates in the the last few classes!

There have been a few articles in the press recently about Pilates.  Pilates to help the menaupause, Pilates to help back pain in the over 40’s  and Pilates for balance.  Always great to be endorsed by the press for Pilates exercise, particularly as practioners and knowing how much it has helped with so many body issues.  We have to remember how many Footballers, Rugby players and Tennis players who regularly practice the Pilates methodology and how it can help with alignment and repair in the body.

Side leg lifts with Jackie Brealey







Here is a copy of one of the articles in Press written by Lisa Rapaport.

(Reuters Health) – Older women with lower back pain who add pilates to their physical therapy routine may see improvements in balance and reductions in fear of falling that don’t result from other types of exercise, a Spanish study suggests.

Researchers followed about 100 women aged 65 and older, offering all of them physiotherapy twice a week with 40 minutes of nerve stimulation and 20 minutes of massage and stretching exercises. Half the women also received hour-long pilates sessions twice a week.

After six weeks, the women who did pilates reported a reduced fear of falling, while the other women didn’t. Pilates was also linked to greater improvements in balance and reductions in back pain.

“Pilates exercises focus not only on physical but also on psychological development, and mind-body interaction is the main principal of the method,” lead author Dr. Fidel Hita-Contreras of the University of Jaen in Spain said by email.

Millions of people worldwide suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives, and the risk increases with age. Symptoms can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden sharp pain that makes it difficult to move.

Fear of falling is a major health problem among the elderly, associated not only with actual risk of falling but also with less physical activity, avoidance of daily activities, and lower quality of life, Hita-Contreras and colleagues note in the journal Maturitas.

Pilates uses a series of controlled movements to improve core strength, posture and balance. The exercises concentrate on strengthening muscles in the lower and upper back, hips, buttocks and inner thighs.

Although pilates is widely recommended by doctors and physical therapists as a tool to improve balance and reduce falls, few studies have evaluated its effectiveness in women over 65 living with back pain, the researchers note.

At the start of the study, the women were about 71 years old on average and generally within a healthy weight range. Most were married, almost half had at least some college education, and slightly less than a third were still working.

Researchers used a questionnaire to assess fear of falling at the start and end of the study.

To detect changes in balance, researchers gave the women a timed test requiring them to stand up from a chair, walk three meters, turn around, and sit down again. They also questioned women about pain associated with these activities.

The study is small, and the results may not apply to younger women, the researchers acknowledge. More studies are also needed to evaluate the long-term effects of pilates, the authors note.

Still, the results add to evidence that pilates can have a positive impact on balance after less than two months of workouts, said Cherie Wells, a physiotherapy researcher at the University of Canberra in Australia who wasn’t involved in the study.

“While improvements may be even greater with a longer pilates exercise program, women may find improvements as early as six weeks,” Wells said by email. “I would think, though, that it is important to maintain strength and fitness with ongoing exercise to prevent decline in the future.”

SOURCE: Maturitas, published online August 3, 2015.


Pilates ‘bite’

Happy weekend everyone.

Hope no one was washed away by all the rain.  Not a very good August so far is it!!

I have just spent a lovely afternoon with my daughter, mum and dad,  in the garden with her mad bulldog pup.  She is so entertaining.   However I did work earlier and met a lovely new lady for a Pilates Assessment this morning,  so a Pilates ‘bite’ in an otherwise lazy day. Tomorrow,  I  have a great rideout planned  with our Harley friends, so I’m really banking on a decent day to lead them all.  And we are off the Highclere Castle……..Downton Abbey… to some.  I am really looking forward to seeing the place as I have never been before.  Also I’m  really hoping I don’t take any wrong turns, never a good thing when you are leading a load of Harleys!!  The route we are taking (if I don’t get lost) is a lovely route throught he countryside and should be a great ride.

So, not much Pilates for me this weekend!!   Although I thought I might have a Pilates ‘bite’ myself and do a few exercises before I go tomorrow.  And I thought I might share them with you if you wanted to have go too.

Single leg stretch with Jackie Brealey

Pilates ‘bite’.

Starting with a couple of Roll downs.   Don’t “lock’ the knees back, and keep the arms and head heavy.  See what they are like at the beginning of a workout  as well as at the end.  The difference is quite noticible.

Onto the floor for 10 spine curls, stretching the top of the head away from the bottom of the spine.  Treating the spine like links in a chain, lifing and lowering one vertebra at a time.

Straight into a set of single leg stretch, keeping your curl up with your chin tucked in, your tailbone long and your legs stretching out of your  pelvis.

Into a set of double leg stretch.  Reach the legs out of your pelvis.

Turn onto your front for a set of dart and then cobra.  Imagine your spine at the front of your body and keep it long again,  reaching the top of the head away from the tailbone.

Up into four point kneeling for catstretch. Keep the shoulders away from the ears and naval to spine in flexion and extension.

Back into standing for two more roll downs, re-stack the spine from the bottom to the top and this time they should feel easier!.

And there you have it, a weekend Pilate’s ‘bite’.  Enjoy.

Have fun for rest of your weekend.

Cat stretch flexion with Jackie Brealey




Pilates time is here again……

‘Hey everybody, I’m back!!  From the sunny Mid-West (America, not England, obviously)

We had a fantastic time on holiday,  staying with our very good friends Jerry and Marilyn in St Louis, U.S.A.  They were their usual fab hosts. After an unbelievable long travelling day with a 5 hour stopover wait in Chicago we finally arrived at 9 in the evening on 6th ready for sun , ‘floatin’ in the lake and  great company.  The weather was  pretty pants for the first 3 days and I was beginning to wonder if the weather was ever going to get better!!!  Then, the sun came out and we breathed a great sigh of relief and boy did the sun shine, it sure did get hot!!  It was very humid and sticky but where better to spend hot sticky days but on the lake, so we packed our cossies and headed South to the cabin close to Kinkaid lake in Ava, Illionois.  Well, the entire holiday was pretty much spent  in the water, consequently I now look quite pruney,  tanned but pruney!  I’m a raison!!

Needless to say we didnt get much Pilates time in or any other exercise for that matter…..well unless you call balancing on a ‘floaty’ for 6 hours a day exercise.  I will tell you that does engage the tummy muscles! But boy we did have some funtime…..and beer, quite a lot of beer, and soooo…… now I need to get my body back into shape! So:-

‘Pilates time is here again,  get into class and bring a friend,

It’s tough but fun and you know when

You’ve have a good class you’ll feel such gains! ‘

It is time to don that exercise wear, remember those Pilates moves and re-engage those abs!

Seriously Pilates people,  classes resume  next week starting Monday 9.30,  so see you all next week.  I’ll be gentle with you………….maybe…..

For those who did carry on Pilate-ing while I was away, highly commendable,  I hope the wee Pilate’s exercise routine I left with you was at least practised occasionally. And for those who didn’t….oh well, we can ‘re-intoduce’ you! Pilates peeps who come to class I’ll see you next week, and those of you who don’t, well, I hope to see you in the future.

Jak’s back!!Downward facing Dog with Jackie Brealey