Firstly – what makes Pilates such an effective form of exercise?
“Pilates is hugely beneficial for women, especially as you age. First and foremost, it’s a low-impact form of exercise, so puts zero stress on the joints. The moves both align and strengthen your posture, keeping your body lithe, flexible and mobile as you move through physical changes. Additionally, Pilates increases blood circulation and builds long-lasting core strength, and is a mindful way of moving which can increase mental clarity and focus, which can subsequently help regulate hormone levels.” – Jess Schuring, founder of Heartcore
Can it help with any specific conditions?
“As you age, Pilates can help boost a slow metabolism, lower blood pressure, maintain muscle density, and give your body the strength and flexibility to help maintain a good posture and healthy spine. When a body is trained through Pilates, the movement can help slow down the rate of degeneration in the joints. If you’ve had injuries in the past, Pilates is great for rehabilitation and it can support the management of menopausal symptoms.” – Jess
“Pilates can significantly reduce symptoms of later-in-life ailments, such as arthritis and osteoporosis. It can even relieve and eliminate back pain. By improving your posture, it can also reduce the likelihood of injury. I’ve seen phenomenal results with clients over the last 20 years, with some becoming completely pain-free. One particular client, a 56-year-old lady, recently told me she had had a bone density test and was told the bones in her hips and lower back had increased in density since starting Pilates.” – Paola di Lanzo, founder of Paola’s Body Barre (PBB)
Who should consider trying it?
“The great thing about Pilates is that it highlights the weaker points in your body and helps you work on them. For some, it’s a struggle with strength, for others it’s a lack of flexibility or ongoing aches and pains. Through moving and learning with Pilates, we are able to identify those weaknesses and, in turn, strengthen them. If you enjoy running, cycling or swimming, you might also love the complementary benefits Pilates brings to these activities. Pilates is also great for those new to exercise – its low-impact nature means you can hardly go wrong.” – Jess
“Pilates is a must-try if you are looking to improve your posture. We have a group of muscles that have the job of holding your body upright and keeping it in good alignment, a bit like pegs on a tent. Unless you exercise these muscles specifically, they become weak and stop doing their job, and if your spine isn’t being supported, your posture suffers, and the lack of strength leads to stiffness, tightness and pain. If you have good posture, the likelihood of injury is decreased.” – Paola
What if you're totally new and not sure where to start?
“If you have never done Pilates before, consider booking in for a private session. Everybody is different – your physical abilities, the speed at which you can learn and absorb new exercises and techniques, and the exercises you find easy (and the ones you find hard), so a workout that’s tailored to you is crucial. A 1-2-1 session will help you nail trickier Pilates techniques more quickly and help you progress faster. Think of a 1-2-1 as an investment – they’ll give you a great foundation that you can then take to group-based training. Don’t be nervous of starting – Pilates has fewer contraindications than most forms of exercise.” Adam Ridler, master trainer at Ten Health & Fitness
What equipment do you need?
“Some Pilates classes use equipment which can be used as support or resistance depending on whether you need extra help due to a medical condition or injury, or whether you want to challenge your body. At PBB, we often use the Pilates ball for resistance and resistance bands to assist stretching and to load the muscles. The fitness circle (aka a Pilates ring) is also a brilliant tool used to create resistance. Light weights are also needed. If you don’t have equipment at home, get creative – you can use cushions and water bottles.” – Paola
Is there anyone who should approach Pilates with caution?
“If you have any pre-existing health conditions, it’s always best to seek advice and a personal consultation from an expert – you can book in for a 1-2-1 session with most studios, even virtually. This will enable an instructor to set you up with the modifications you may need to move safely and without pain. And don’t think you have to steer clear of Pilates if you have osteoporosis, as it can be a good way to keep you moving safely and maintain bone density.” – Jess
How often should you do it?
“Aim to practise at least two to three times per week. Consistency is key if you want to see results.” – Jess
Ready to get going? These are the classes to try, all of which are currently available online…
BEST FOR CLASSICAL PILATES: Exhale Pilates
Dedicated to teaching the posture-correcting, strength-building methodologies of Joseph Pilates himself, Exhale Pilates workouts are for those looking for a fad-free approach. The London-based studio’s doors may be closed, but its team of world-renowned instructors (they’ve all completed at least 700 hours of training) are on hand for virtual classes throughout the week, with sessions aimed at both beginners and intermediates. Once studios are open again, Exhale’s bricks and mortar space in North London is well worth a visit, offering a mix of tower, reformer, chair and barrel classes. For serious results, book in with founder Gaby Noble, who has trained everyone from Kate Moss to Sadie Frost.
THE DETAILS: Classes are £15 each or £100 for 10; there’s also the option to sign up to the 21-Day Lockdown Challenge – for £95, do four classes weekly for three weeks and you’ll be rewarded with £95 in credit for either an online private class or studio classes post-lockdown.
BEST FOR TONING: Paola’s Body Barre
Approaching her 50th birthday and a mother of three, Paola di Lanzo understands how women’s bodies change. Her unique method, PBB, is a Pilates-fusion which helps improve posture and alignment as well as energy, flexibility and strength, all areas Paola believes disappear with age. Paola also says her method can help aid a better night’s sleep, making it one to try if you’re prone to sleepless nights. Her Dynamic Pilates Flow delivers a serious but pleasantly slow-paced workout, while those looking for more of a challenge should seek out PBB Signature, which fuses Pilates with barre and low-impact cardio.
THE DETAILS: Get access to unlimited PBB classes for £20 per month; three-month minimum subscription.
BEST FOR FIXING BROKEN BODIES: Ten Health & Fitness
Founded by Joanne Matthews, who was left with back and pelvic injuries after a serious car accident, Ten, a physio-led studio, is the name to know if you’re prone to niggles. Driven by their MoveBetter mantra, improving quality of movement is at the heart of Ten, so expect a strong focus on form, technique and alignment. The online schedule is impressive, and each class is capped at 20 participants to enable individual attention and targeted corrections. As well as its live offering, there’s also the option to sign up to an on-demand library, where you’ll find dozens of classes including classical mat Pilates, bodyweight Pilates and sessions designed to improve mobility.
THE DETAILS: Your first two live classes, held via Zoom, will cost £10 while membership to the on-demand platform is priced at £21.99 per month.
BEST FOR PAIN MANAGEMENT: Nathalie Clough
Having discovered Pilates as a form of rehabilitation following a slipped disc, and currently living with endometriosis, PCOS and anaemia, South London-based Nathalie is an expert in understanding how to keep the body mobile and strong when exercise feels like a struggle. One of the few instructors in London who has full qualifications in both mat and apparatus Pilates, as well as ten years’ experience in the industry, Nathalie is your go-to movement specialist. Need convincing? She’s worked with everyone from athletes to royalty and is a strong believer that age needn’t get in the way of a strong, healthy body.
THE DETAILS: Nathalie is currently offering virtual 1:1 sessions as well as small group classes via Zoom. If you don’t want to commit to set class times, there’s also the option to sign up for access to an on-demand library, with unlimited access to over 100 workouts; prices start from £19.99 per month.
BEST FOR BUILDING STRENGTH: Hollie Grant
A former pastry chef turned Pilates instructor, Hollie advocates a long-term approach to health and fitness, and her method focuses on strength and conditioning. Whether you’re a Pilates pro or a first-timer, Hollie’s virtual classes won’t disappoint – start with her Dynamic Mat Pilates sessions and work your way up to her Pilates PT Method, a more challenging combination of mat-based moves and high intensity interval training to improve posture, boost cardiovascular fitness and build strength and definition.
THE DETAILS: Hollie usually charges from £120 per class in studio, making her online offering an affordable way to access top-quality tuition. Pay-as-you-go classes are priced at £10, and unlimited membership to live and on-demand classes will set you back £50 per month.
BEST FOR A 360 APPROACH: Paola Langella
Having worked at some of the capital’s top studios – think Bodyism and Core Collective – before setting up her own in Holland Park alongside an online platform, Paola is the definition of a movement expert. Her online offering is packed with hundreds of on-demand videos, spanning everything from cardio-focused Pilates classes using rings and bands to mat-based workouts using balls and foam rollers. There’s even a section dedicated to stretching sessions, ideal for sore backs and knees. If you’re looking to make real changes to your wellbeing, Paola is also a qualified health coach and nutritionist and can be booked for bespoke 1-2-1 programmes, which include virtual pantry makeovers and weekly check-ins.
THE DETAILS: Classes on Zoom, taking place at 5pm every Friday, cost £12 for non-members and £6 for members. Membership, including unlimited access to all on-demand videos, is £25 per month, and your first three days are free. Private 1-2-1s are also available.
BEST FOR A CHALLENGE: Heartcore
Renowned for its world-class Pilates classes, Heartcore has recently taken its studio online to offer access to a carefully-curated selection of on-demand workouts and 30 live classes per week. Whether you’re looking for wake-up and wind-down flows or sessions designed specifically for the upper body, lower body and core, there’s something for everyone. We recommend both the signature Pilates Flow, a lower-impact version of mat Pilates, which flows steadily through a full-body movement series, as well as the on-demand stretching sessions, ideal for runners and cyclists.
THE DETAILS: Membership to Heartcore at Home costs £55 per month for unlimited classes.
BEST FOR PILATES FUSION: Louisa Drake Method
Former professional dancer Louisa Drake’s unique style of teaching fuses Pilates with barre and yoga to lengthen limbs, build strength and boost energy levels, and is ideal for those looking for a Pilates class with an edge. Sculpt and Stretch, a 45-minute class that uses resistance bands, is a good option for those looking to incorporate some low-impact resistance training into their week, while those looking for a more personalised approach can sign up for a private class with Louisa or one of her hand-picked trainers. What makes LDM unique is that every class is different – you’ll be surprised at the number of ways you can use a resistance band or stability ball.
THE DETAILS: A single livestream class costs £7 (done via Zoom), but cheaper if you buy a package. On-demand, 30-minute workout videos cost £12, which you can access as many times as you like within 30 days.
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programmes.
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