Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Top 5 Pilates Survival Tips for Christmas and the New Year

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year, all that yummy food and drink, and if we're lucky the company of people we love.

But as we close the Pilates studios for our Christmas break, it is worth thinking about how to keep your body happy through the festive season.

Just think ... all those long meals sitting at the dining table, wearing your high heels at parties, and bending over the kitchen sink. It all adds up to potential back aches, joint pain, and losing the progress you have worked so hard for all year.

So we have come up with 5 easy-peasy tips to incorporate your Pilates into your Christmas festivities to keep your body happy and ready to start 2017 raring to go!

And don't worry, we're not talking about teaching Gran how to do a shoulder bridge or leading an impromptu Pilates class in the living room!

5 Survival Tips for Christmas and New Year ... by Pilates Expert Peta Davies

1. Sitting Pretty: Pelvic tilts
So, you've been sitting at the table or on the sofa for too many hours and your back is beginning to ache. What should you do?

Start by making sure you are sitting upright and use a firm cushion to add some lumbar support. Gently press your lower back into that support, then release. Repeat 5 times.

Top Tip: when pressing your lower back into the cushion try not to lose any height, try to keep your spine lengthening upwards
Use a lumbar support to ease backache.
Image courtesy of Women's Voices for Change

2. In the kitchen: "Active abs"
When you're standing at the sink or work surface preparing festive food, think about how you are standing.

Start by checking that your knees are slightly bent. Then pull in your stomach muscles slightly to support your lower back. Try it - it really does reduce low back pain!

Top Tip: When engaging your stomach muscles try to keep your lumbar spine in its natural curve
Be mindful of your posture in the kitchen

3. Getting stressed out? Deep breaths
There is so much to do and so little time and the stress is building. STOP and breathe.

Pause and focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts and out through your mouth for 4 counts. Repeat 5 times.

Top Tip: When you breathe in try not to lift your shoulders. Feel the breath pushing your ribs outwards, not upwards
Image courtesy of Pick the Brain

4. Posture check: Standing against a wall
If your neck and shoulders are beginning to ache, stand against a wall and place your shoulders and the back of your head against the wall. This will help to re-align your upper back, neck, and shoulders. Then stretch one arm straight up above your head, keeping the elbow straight. Try to touch the wall above your head - can you reach it? Repeat with the other arm.

Top Tip: Check you have your heels 2 inches away from the wall
Stand against the wall to correct your posture.
Image courtesy of Dr Michael Lell DC

5. Pick-me-up: The best Pilates stretch ever!
This stretch will leave you feeling great. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your arms above your head and clasp your hands together. Reach gently over to one side, then return to the centre and repeat to the other side.

Next, let your arms hang down from your shoulders, and roll gently forwards towards your feet. Pull your stomach muscles in as you roll down, and then use them to roll back up again. Do this 3 times.

Top Tip: When rolling forwards imagine you have a small peach under your chin all the way down, this will keep you neck in perfect alignment as you roll up and down
Roll down and roll back up again.
Image courtesy of Feel Good Yoga & Pilates

Enjoy your Pilates over the festive period and don’t forget to take time out for yourself!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Guests, goodies, and giggles! What went on at our Open Day

So, did you make it down to Stratford for our Open Day? If you did, we'd like to say a massive thank you for helping to make the day a success. If you didn't make it ... here's what you missed!

We welcomed lots of guests to the studio from 10am, including Ollie & Si from 102 Touch FM. We got them on the equipment straight away and put them through their paces!

They were very good sports, and straight away they could see the benefits of Pilates. Soon everyone wanted to try our shiny new Reformers for themselves!

We had time for a chat and a giggle too ... who said Pilates was hard work?!

When it was all over we gave out our lovely goody bags ... what did you get in yours? We loved the yummy snacks provided by local Stratford company Nuts in ya Mouth!

Goody bags waiting to be grabbed
If you came to see us on Saturday, maybe you can spot yourself in one of the fab photos taken on the day by our friends at 102 Touch FM.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Pilates: A solution for back pain

We all know someone with a bad back.

Most of us have also suffered from back pain ourselves - in fact, it's one of the most common health problems in the UK. About 30% of the workforce has taken time off because of back pain, costing the economy millions. Roughly 7 out of 10 people with back pain suffer with it for as long as ten years, or even longer!

Of course, if you have any kind of serious or persistent pain you should talk to a medical professional before doing anything else. But, if you already know what's causing your pain and there isn't a medical problem, Pilates is hands down the most effective way to treat it.

Pilates relaxes and strengthens the group of muscles that support the spine. Relaxing these muscles is crucial because tension and muscle spasms contribute to pain.

Strengthening the back muscles is one of the major benefits of Pilates. Lynne Robinson, the co-founder of Body Control Pilates, recently confirmed: "The goal of Pilates is to make the spine both stable and mobile."

A 2-Step Plan for Stopping Back Pain

1. Come to our Open Day on Saturday 19th November to learn more about how Pilates can help you... Pick up a free goody bag and try a taster Reformer class!

2. Click here to download your free copy of Peta Davies's Amazingly Simple Guide to Reduce Low Back Pain featuring 6 easy-peasy exercises to do at home.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A peek inside our new studio

What a busy couple of weeks we've had at Pilates Place... But we're happy to say the hard work has payed off and we've done it - the new studio is now open!

Here are a few pics of the studio, which is just off Guild Street in Stratford upon Avon.



Thursday, 15 September 2016

6 reasons to make Pilates part of your life

If you’re thinking about trying Pilates here are our top 6 reasons why we at Pilates Place think you should give it a go!

1. Pilates is holistic
Pilates is exercise for your whole body, from head to toes. At the same time as you stretch and strengthen your muscles, you also control your breathing and learn good posture. Lots of people find Pilates very relaxing, but it can also be energising leaving you raring to get on with your day!

2. Pilates is suitable for (almost) everyone…
We often hear people worry that Pilates isn’t for them because they can’t sit or lie down on the floor. Well, the good news is you don’t have to! If you want to go to group Pilates classes, a good teacher should be able to modify all the exercises to be done sitting in a chair or standing. Better yet, you can take up Studio Pilates where the exercises are done on large pieces of equipment.

3. …but Pilates is not a soft option
Another thing we hear all the time is people dismissing Pilates because they think it’s not “real exercise”. Have we got news for you!! Above all, Pilates is extremely versatile. The most advanced Pilates exercises are extremely difficult and require great physical strength and concentration. If you're super fit (and dedicate a lot of time to Pilates!) you could eventually be doing moves like these...

The spectacular moves of Spanish Pilates teacher Cassia Frade

4. Pilates is perfect for people who sit at their desk all day
Pilates helps correct poor postural habits office workers learn from sitting in the same position all day at their desks. Pilates will stretch out your hamstrings, strengthen your core muscles, and make you more aware of how you hold your body – all of which will help you to reduce low back pain when seated or standing.

5. …and Pilates is extremely beneficial for athletes
Do you play golf? Tennis? Maybe you love swimming, cycling, horse riding, or dancing? Pilates is a great way to increase your strength and flexibility to help you reach new heights in your chosen field.
British tennis champ Andy Murray doing Pilates on the Cadillac

6. Pilates makes you feel good!
This might be the best reason of all… Have we already mentioned that Pilates helps relieve and prevent pain from stiff joints and poor posture? So it will certainly make you feel physically better, but like all forms of exercise, it will also release endorphins which lift your mood and help you feel fantastic. And, because Pilates is low impact and tailored to fit your ability level, you shouldn’t feel over-exerted after your class.

So there you have it!
We are convinced Pilates can help you, so why not give it a try? If you already enjoy the benefits of Pilates please tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Exciting times and new beginnings!

Over the last 12 years we have had amazing success and growth thanks to our wonderful customers and longstanding members.

As a result, we have outgrown our old studio in Stratford upon Avon, so we're opening a bigger, better Pilates Place! (Members who currently use the Stratford studio will be pleased to know that the new studio is also in Stratford.)

Peta outside the new studio at Payton House
We are thrilled to announce that we will be in our new home at the beginning of October 2016 ... with more space, more equipment, new classes, and a couple of new staff members. Exciting times are ahead for Pilates Place!

More information will be released very very soon, but for now ... watch this space!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Introducing ... Reformer Pilates Classes

At our brand new Pilates studio we're introducing group Reformer classes to Stratford upon Avon for the first time!

So, what are Group Reformer Classes?
Well, simply, they are classes for up to 6 people to use the Reformers in our studio. One of our highly qualified and experienced Pilates teachers will lead the whole group through the exercises together.

I'm not even sure what a Reformer is!
To the untrained eye it might look like an instrument of torture, but please don't feel intimidated by it! The Reformer is a versatile item of Pilates studio equipment - in fact, it's essential for studio Pilates.

Despite all those handles and straps, the Reformer isn't a very complicated beast. It's just a sliding carriage on a frame, attached to springs and pulleys. Reformer Pilates exercises are gentle but challenging, as you move the carriage against the resistance of the springs.

Here's Peta teaching on the Reformer in our Shipston studio
Essential Information
  • How long? 45 minutes (daytime) or 60 minutes (evening).
  • Where? Our brand new studio here in Stratford upon Avon.
  • How much? Prices start at £10.16 per class.
  • Who can attend? KEY classes are suitable for beginners. ENERGY classes are for those with a little more experience.
  • How can I book? You can book and pay online here!
If you have health problems please contact us to check if these classes will be suitable for you.

Do you have any other questions about Group Reformer Classes at Pilates Place? Let us know in the comments below, or email us at

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Pilates and yoga … what’s the difference?

With so many exercise classes to choose from … Reformer Pilates, Bikram yoga, mat Pilates, Yogalates … any beginner is likely to be a bit flummoxed!

A Reformer Pilates class.
The truth is there are important differences between yoga and Pilates. Let’s start with the fact that Pilates was invented in the 20th century, while yoga has its roots in ancient Hindu religious practices. Interestingly, Pilates takes inspiration from yoga and borrows other ideas from martial arts and gymnastics.

Pilates is all about the core
As for the classes themselves, all Pilates classes will focus on strengthening the “core” muscles in the abdomen, lower back, hips, and bottom. But when Pilates is done right it gets the whole body involved. Mat Pilates classes are most popular because no special equipment is needed and it can be taught anywhere, from leisure centres to village halls.

However, Pilates exercises were first developed to be done on large pieces of equipment in a dedicated Pilates studio. The machines (such as the “Reformer”) add resistance to make the exercises more effective. All Pilates exercises should be performed slowly and precisely to get the most benefit from each repetition.

Joseph Pilates on the Reformer. Yep, he was the
inventor of Pilates, or "Controlology" as he called it

What about yoga?
Although yoga is ancient it’s not old! Yoga is continually evolving and many popular forms are recent innovations, such as Bikram or “hot” yoga (practiced in 40 °C heat!) which was developed in the 1960s. Most yoga classes provide a total body workout as well as paying attention to breathing and mental focus. Some forms of yoga, like restorative yoga, are more focused on relaxation and improving flexibility.

A yoga class.

Ultimately different people are looking for different things in an exercise class. If you are interested in combining exercise with relaxation, meditation, and spirituality then yoga is definitely worth exploring. Pilates mat classes are great for beginners, but if you are recovering from an injury or have back pain, studio Pilates will be more tailored to your needs.

What's right for YOU
Both Pilates and yoga will make you stronger and more flexible, but only if you commit to practicing them regularly. Of course you don’t have to choose one or the other, and if you have the opportunity to try both yoga and Pilates, they can complement each other very well.

If you’re intrigued by studio Pilates, why not take advantage of our free trial offer? Call 01608 666 999 or email to book yours.