Category Archives: Pilates News

All news on Pilates from Jackie Brealey

Pilates for runners


Pilates for runners

Why runners should do Pilates
We’ve got the lowdown on all things Pilates and why it’s so good for runners.

by Georgia Scarr

“What is Pilates?

Pilates is often compared to yoga, but they actually have very different backgrounds. While yoga is a centuries-old practice with close links to spirituality, Pilates is a mind and body conditioning technique developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. Classes feature exercises to improve core stability and encourage healthy posture. Various pieces of equipment such as stability balls, resistance bands, foam rollers and Pilates studio equipment, like Reformers, may be used.

“What we’re really trying to do is teach people how to move better,” says Lynne Robinson, co-founder and director of Body Control Pilates. “We have three fundamentals – the ABCs. One is correcting the alignment of the body (A), then working on your breathing (B) and centring (C), which is core stability.”

Why should runners do Pilates?

Core stability is essential for good running technique and to help avoid injury. “In terms of runners, sometimes a slight imbalance in the body will go on to create problems because it’s such a repetitive movement that you’re doing. Even a small adjustment in your posture or in your core stability can make a huge impact,” says Robinson.

What’s the difference between matwork Pilates and Reformer Pilates?

Both classes work the same muscles in the same way, but just with different challenges. Matwork takes place on the floor and can be done without any equipment or with small items to make it more challenging (such as balls, bands and rollers). Reformer classes use Universal Reformers (see one here). These are frame structures with springs and pulleys that provide resistance as exercises are carried out, and give a symmetrical grid to work in.

What are the benefits of each kind?

With Reformers, the closed chain environment provides a particularly effective workout. “We can really work on correcting hip, knee and ankle alignment, and improving the tracking of the knee”, Robinson says. “Particularly useful for runners with knee problems, we can focus on the vastus medialis obliquus, one of your quadriceps. Even though runners often get strong quads, this stabilising muscle can be weak. There’s also a Reformer attachment called a jump board, which is great for improving your running action.”

In terms of matwork, Robinson says the main benefit is “you can do matwork anywhere, in particular before and after your run. Unless you live above a studio you won’t have access to the equipment 24/7.” Additionally, Pilates accessories are widely available to buy if you wish to supplement your routine.

“With the Reformer, you probably get slightly quicker results than you will do just doing the matwork, however realistically most runners are not going to have access to a Reformer before and after they run. So, what they’ve got to do is come up with a few simple exercises to do.”



Endings and fresh starts!

Well, it has sure been a rollercoaster year with highs and lows, excitement and dissapointment!  Hopefully coming up to the festive season we can we can forget about all the crap and stress ONE woman caused us for nearly nine months over our hopes to move house and truely move on!

It has been like a year in limbo, waiting for something that we eventually realised was never going to happen.  Why put your house on the market, spend 8 months going through the motions and then going to ground at the last hurdle!  Finally 4 days after our supposed exchange date she emailed to say she was withdrawing……no reason, no apology, no consience and no manners.  There really should be a change of law and practice in this country with house sales.  I guess I am naive enough to believe there is some good in everyone, I have amazing family, friends and clients and they all have the same values and morals as me and therefore I was shocked she could have been so aweful.  And so………

We have found another house, resold ours, everything is moving forward (hopefuly with no hiccups this time!)  Endings and fresh starts!

Pilates classes are all going fabulously……..that is mostly due to my great and lovely hardworking clients.  There have been some pretty horrible things going on in other people’s lives and my problems pale by comparison.  I am humbled by the strength and determination of some of my peeps to keep going when things appear so hopeless…..they know who they are and I I hope they are out of the worst and moving forward on more posotive notes.   It is very difficult not to be moved by other people’s plght’s knowing what they face and I hope in some tiny part I have been able to help with a shoulder, an ear and an exercise or two!  Love you guys, you do inspire me……..Endings and fresh starts!  Keep possitive!

Floating Arms with Jackie Brealey

It has been a pleasure to teach not only my own classes but so many cover classes at the Berystede and Penyhill Park.   And now due to a moving on of one of the instructors at the Berystede I am very privaliged to now have one of my own classes to teach there on a Friday morning.  I will still be available for cover here and elsewhere but it is great to be a permanant part of the team there.  Best of luck Gary for your future classes.  Endings and fresh starts!

And finally some Pilates news…….. I have had a suprise call from a certain local radio station about being part of their Christmas promotion.  Very excited about that, great advertising for me and I love the music they play!  Will let you know more soon……….Watch this space…….No endings but could be some fresh starts!!!

Keep up the good work Pilates peeps!!


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.


Core control

True core control is about stability rather than strength. As physical therapist Gray Cook says, “Strength is the ability to produce force, whereas stability is the act of controlling force.”
Many people can do hundreds of crunches and side-crunch variations but can’t pass a simple pelvic stabilization test.

Mark Young write’s in musclefitnesshers June 2009 

And he suggests this test!

Test Yourself

Here’s a simple test you can do right now. Lie on your back and lift both legs up in the air, making sure your lower back stays on the floor. Fold your arms across your chest and slowly lower your legs until your back comes off the floor. If your feet hit the floor before your back lifts up, you’re a certified badass.
If your back comes off the floor first, you have some work to do. Your core may be strong, but you aren’t able to control the very muscles you’ve worked so hard to build.
The easiest way to build your abdominal stability is to do a simple heel slide movement.
1. Lie faceup with your knees bent and place your fingertips on your external obliques. Don’t use a mat because you won’t be able to tell when your back lifts off the floor.
2. Contract your obliques and tilt your pelvis backward so that your lower back is pressed firmly against the floor. You should feel tension in your obliques. Keep your fingers on your obliques to monitor them.
3. Slide one leg out slowly until it’s straight or until your lower back lifts off the floor. Slowly return that leg to the start and repeat with your other leg. Perform this move in socks so your heel can slide along the floor more easily.
As your leg reaches full extension, it’s important to move slowly so your lower back doesn’t rise off the floor.
When you’re transitioning from one leg to the other, it’s important that you don’t shift your pelvis. The transition of force should be smooth and controlled. If someone had their hand between your lower back and the floor and had their eyes closed, they shouldn’t be able to tell when you’re switching legs.
One common error when trying to maintain a straight pelvis is pushing your planted foot into the floor, which causes a definite weight shift. To prevent this, make sure the heel of your planted leg rests only lightly on the floor and that your abs are tight the whole time.
You might also notice that it’s difficult to breathe during the move. Instead of trying to breathe while you move, take a breath at the top before switching legs. This isn’t an excuse, however, to let your abdominals relax or your lower back rise off the floor.
If this exercise is easy for you, I guarantee you’re doing it wrong. Most trainees with “strong abs” are humbled by this little exercise.
Start with 2-3 sets of 6-8 repetitions and your control will gradually increase to the point where you don’t look like such a wuss on the leg-lowering test. Aside from that, the new stimulus might just bring about some unexpected abdominal development.
Consider that a bonus.

Fifty Shades of Pilate’s!

 It’s official!!

Pilate’s can help you find your Mr Grey!!

You too could have a Fifty Shades Body!!  As reported in this article , Pilate’s has helped “sculpt” the body of Dakota Johnson for the film Fifty Shades,  out this week.  Granted she looked fairly fabulous to start with as the article suggests but she has been doing a strict Pilate’s program to finely tune that figure, much of which is on show in the film!

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Dakota Johnson’s Grueling Fifty Shades of Grey Workouts

Dakota JohnsonGEVA/AKM-GSI

Considering how much skin Dakota Johnson is about to show on the big screen in Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s no wonder that she’d want to get into the shape of her life.

Mari Winsor of Winsor Pilates opened up to E! News all about how the Vogue cover girl has been working tirelessly on her fitness prior the film’s big Valentine’s Day release.

“Dakota has been coming into the studio since the middle of January almost every day…Pilates is changing her body, relieving her stress. It’s a private place for her to come and do the work,” Mari told us.

Dakota JohnsonXposure/AKM-GSI

She also shared that Dakota comes in for “one hour, five days a week” and “does the intermediate to advanced workout.”

“She does everything—the mat and reformer machine. She is very coordinated and very graceful. She likes the leg springs, like Miley Cyrus. She likes spending time in a focused hour, trying to be in the best shape she can.”

Mari revealed that the brunette beauty burns roughly 400-500 calories per session.

The Pilates guru added that those who are consistent with their workouts will see a difference in their shape in no time, but explained that “if you have extra weight you will need to do cardio classes” as well.


“If you are someone who is in reasonable shape and just needs a nip and tuck there, Pilates is the perfect workout.”

And considering Dakota’s famous parents, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, there’s no mistaking that good genes run in the family.

“God gave her some good stuff to work with! Like anybody in the public eye you want the best posture. Her body is beautiful. She is very focused, very smart.”


In the News!

Here is a copy of an article in the Daily Express on Lynne Robinson (Body Control Pilates, who I trained with!) and Pilates.  Pilates in the news is good news!!

Have a read!Pilates in Bisley with Jackie Brealey with Body Control Pilates

“Lynne Robinson’s arms are aching from proudly carrying her four-week-old granddaughter Amy Victoria around. And as one of the top Pilates experts in Britain, she is thankful that years of fitness training are standing her in good stead.
“I’ve realised that looking after grandchildren requires a lot of strength and flexibility,” she laughs, “and if I hadn’t got the arm strength, I’d be in trouble.”
Lynne began practising Pilates in her native Australia when she developed a bad back. “I was in my late 30s before I started exercising,” she says. “I’d avoided sport and gyms all my life before then.”
After moving to London, she co-founded her Body Control Pilates system in 1996. She has produced around 30 books and DVDs and numbers Hugh Grant, Sophie Dahl and Holly Willoughby among her celebrity clients but she had always wanted to produce an exercise programme aimed at older people.
I’ve realised that looking after grandchildren requires a lot of strength and flexibility, and if I hadn’t got the arm strength, I’d be in trouble
Lynne Robinson
Her 60th birthday this year prompted her to put the plan into action. “It was like a milestone,” she says.
“I got my first free prescription and it makes you think about ageing. I knew Pilates could improve older people’s health.”
So with the help of fellow teacher Carmela Trappa, 53, Lynne has produced Pilates For Life, a book aimed at improving strength and flexibility in people over 40. And if 40 seems early to be falling into the “older” category, Lynne says it is never too soon – or too late – to start building up physical fitness.
The book claims some old age problems can be slowed down, stopped or even reversed. Take osteoporosis. “All women will eventually have some degree of bone loss,” says Lynne. “But if in your 40s you build up bone strength – your bone bank – it’s like money in the account for the years when you begin to lose some of that density.
Pilates is not meditative like yoga or strenuous like aerobics. Its gentler, slower-paced exercises put the emphasis on staying flexible and building up strength so they are ideally suited to age-related problems.
In Lynne’s new programme there are exercises to build upperbody mobility after breast cancer surgery but also for those with heart and lung diseases and for movement problems associated with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Those with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, dementia and Alzheimer’s can also benefit.
And there are tips for mechanical problems such as knee or hip replacements.
I present myself to Carmela at BCP’s London studio. Sadly I am well qualified, being over 40, too heavy, unfit and with a newly replaced hip.
Carmela was a civil engineer in her native Italy and when I ask how it helps with teaching Pilates she says: “A structure is a structure whether it’s a building or a human.”
I fear that if my body were a structure it would have a demolition order on it.
Related articles
Tone up in 10 minutes
Andy Murray’s final stretch
Jane Seymour’s love of Pilates goes way back
She checks my posture, then tells me to close my eyes and stand up straight. When I open them I am leaning heavily to one side, a legacy of limping for several years. “Your brain compensates and tells you that you’re straight when you’re not,” says Carmela. “You have to break the habit and retrain the brain.”
And that is what she sets out to do, teaching me to be constantly aware of how I’m standing.
“You must have posh attitude,” exhorts Carmela, by which she means head up, back straight, look ahead and walk with confidence. Between lessons I check and correct my reflected posture in so many shop doorways that I begin to look sinister.
Carmela makes tiny, subtle corrections to my posture and how I move and breathe. Sometimes we use the studio machinery – developed originally by Joseph Pilates to help his clients work against resistance – but all the exercises in the book can be done at home and with no special equipment.
After three sessions with Carmela a colleague said: “What have you done? You’re taller.” And a furtive check in the window glass told me that I was standing far straighter.
I have a way to go but I now know that it’s not too late to straighten up.”

Dog Day Weekend

Pilates isn’t Just For Christmas

Good morning, is everyone is ready for another great week of Pilates in Bisley.

Really looking forward to seeing everyone after the weekend, hope there have been no body ‘catastrophes’!!

I’m sure you have all been practising hard over the weekend! I would love to say the same, however I was puppy sitting and there was no way I could lie on a mat without being chewed with razor sharp teeth!

So fail in the homework department too this week, so guess I have to let you off if you did no Pilates at all either, if you had a dog day weekend like mine.

I have the possibility of a new class in New Haw………exciting stuff!

Looking forward to checking that out at lunchtime!

Still eight Pilates classes in Bisley to look forward to, join me and my happy gang.