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What are you waiting for?

When is the right time to start a regular exercise routine?

Are you waiting for life to get calmer?

Are you waiting for motivation to kick in?

Are you waiting till the kids are older and you will have more time?

Are you waiting for Godot?

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I was driving past the theatre in our town and there was a poster advertising the play called “Waiting for Godot”. I asked my mum who Godot was and what the play was about, and I honestly can’t even remember her answer but something from it stuck with me.

It was about waiting.

Not knowing why you are waiting.

Not knowing if it will ever arrive.

The play is about two men waiting for a guy named Godot. They have no idea who he is or why they are waiting for him. Godot never arrives. The End.

Nothing much happens while they are waiting.

Have a read of this conversation between the two men in the play, Estragon and Vladimir:

Estragon: Let’s go!

Vladimir: We can’t.

Estragon: Why not?

Vladimir: We’re waiting for Godot.

Estragon: Ah!

Bearing in mind that they don’t know who Godot is or why they are waiting for him, this is absurd isn’t it?

And yet, this is a conversation that many of us have with ourselves many times a day. Wanting to do something, but telling ourselves we can’t. Because we are not ready, not smart enough, not good enough, not slim enough, waiting for life to get easier…..So we wait. For what exactly?

If you want to get fitter and healthier but you are holding off making a commitment to actually do it because you are telling yourself that now is not the right time, have a little think about why.

Why not now?

What are you waiting for?

It is so easy for time to just slip by while we are waiting. One day. One week. One year.

Imagine yourself in 5 years’ time. What will your life look like if you spend the next 5 years waiting? What will it look like if you took action now and made a commitment to start exercising regularly?

It could be two very different stories, and the great thing is that you get to choose.

So, close your eyes and spend 5 minutes just pondering these questions:

What are you really waiting for?

Is there any action you can take now, however small?

Could you commit to just one hour of exercise a week? 10 minutes a day?

How much of a difference could that make to the story of your life?

Anne-Marie xx

The benefits of private Pilates sessions

What are the benefits of Private Pilates sessions
In a nut-shell, a private Pilates session is all about you!
Even before you walk through the door (or log-in to your Zoom session), I am thinking about you.
I will look at the notes from your previous session, and take note of what we need to work on and if there are any exercises that we need to do in a different way and if there are any areas that we can progress. I will consider if we need to use different equipment or props to challenge you, to assist you or just to make the session more fun and varied.
Your particular goals and medical history create the framework for each session, to make sure we work on the things that are important to you in a way that is safe and comfortable.
I love to take a minute at the beginning of the session to ask how you are, what kind of a week you have had and see if anything has changed.
Maybe you have done more desk work and your neck and shoulders are tense. Maybe you have had a difficult week and we need to keep things slow and calming. Maybe you are feeling super energetic and up for a challenge.
The beauty of a private session is that I can tailor the session completely according to what you need on that particular day, while still working towards your overall goals. And because there is only you and me in the session, we can also address any issues that come up in the moment. Because the other thing about private sessions is that we get to know each other pretty well, and you can feel comfortable telling me if something doesn’t feel right while I also get to know your way of moving and your facial expressions. Yes! I notice those, and they are important.
I get to know your “ I-am-concentrating” face.
I get to know your “ I-don’t-like-this exercise” or “this-is-uncomfortable” face.
I also always recognise your “this-is-my-favourite-exercise” face. 
While classes can be a great place for social interaction, a private session is perfect if you want some time out to focus just on you. If you are with people all day it can be very refreshing to step out of the busy-ness of life, and just focus on you and what your body can do in a calm and encouraging environment.
In my previous blog post, I also talked about the importance of accountability when it comes to staying consistent with your exercise routine. When you have a private session booked, you know that I am looking forward to see you and that it matters to me that you show up. And that helps you keep the promises you have made to yourself, even on the days when you don’t feel like it. (Except of course if you are feeling unwell or there is another important reason for you not being able to attend).
Particularly when working on the equipment and learning new exercises, there is the safety aspect of having me there to support you, set the equipment up and assist you while you practise. This means that we can progress you a bit quicker than if you are in a group, because I am there just for you and can keep you safe on more challenging exercises.
Have you ever been to the gym and had to wait for a particular piece of equipment to become available because someone else is using it (or more frustratingly NOT using it, but sitting on it while using their phone)? Well, that will never happen during a private session, because the whole studio is yours, and each piece of equipment is free for us to use at any time during your session.
I love teaching private sessions, because there is no compromise. We can literally tailor each session around your body, your needs, and your goals. And you know that you are doing each exercise to the best of your ability because I am able to give you complete personal attention and help you get the most from your Pilates session.
The benefit of doing private Pilates sessions will last you a life-time as you will really get to understand and feel the fundamental concepts of Pilates in your body, and be able to apply it to almost anything you do in life.
I truly believe that Pilates makes your life better, and learning with private sessions is the best place to start.
Anne-Marie -xx

How are you making it work?

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Thanks for reading!

My very first Pilates studio was on the 2nd floor in our apartment in Cheltenham. The equipment was bought second-hand from the Pilates studio at my dance school in London where I first started my Pilates journey.

And if you think the Reformer and Cadillac at my Stone studio look daunting, well then you should have seen this!

It was made by a blacksmith, to exact specifications. It looked like black scaffolding with springs attached (which is pretty much what the Cadillac was, really). And no, you couldn’t slide the Cadillac spring rail up and down. And no, there was no gear change on the Reformer. But it worked great, and it was on this apparatus that I first learned Pilates, before moving on to train as a Pilates teacher.

Actually, it’s not that un-common to get someone handy to make the equipment. My first sitting box was made by my brother-in-law who is a carpenter, and I know studio owners in the US who have their husband make some of the apparatus for them.

Anyway, my studio was in the spare bedroom of our Cheltenham flat, and it had a sloping ceiling which meant that you couldn’t even stand up straight in some places. So that part of the room was where we did the mat exercises and the sitting exercises. A Pilates studio where you couldn’t stand up straight, and the equipment looked positively medieval. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked!

Eventually I ended up buying brand new equipment from California and we moved to a house which gave me room for a bigger home studio, which was great untill we moved a few years later to a tiny house that needed extending and complete renovation. (Yes, the very one we are still doing up!)

So, I sold my treasured Cadillac and Reformer to my first Pilates teacher from whom I had bought the black scaffolding equipment. Things had literally gone full circle.

So it was back to mat work only for me for a while, but I was missing my Reformer terribly. But my husband was adamant that we didn’t have space, so he put his foot down and said no to getting another one.

I know!!!

But where there is a will, there is a way! When he asked me to help him with a charity dinner (he is a chef, and he needed a waitress and washer-upper), I saw my chance, and said:  “only if I can have a Reformer” 😃

So, I got a Reformer that would fit under the bed.

It was awful, I am not going to lie. It had no springs, but had elastic bungy jumping cords instead. It was too short to do a proper Frog. But I adapted my workout, and it worked. And boy, has it made me appreciate the fabulous equipment we have in the studio now!

Why am I telling you this story? Because the last few weeks have been all about making changes and working with what we have. That’s what Joseph Pilates did. It is the very foundation of the Pilates technique. We work with the body we have. We work with the space and equipment we have.

To each and everyone of my lovely clients, keep up the good work however you are doing Pilates and even if things are not ideal.

What have you had to “make work” recently??

Anne-Marie xx

Can’t find the motivation to exercise?

Do you talk yourself out of exercising

Struggling to stay motivated?
If you are struggling to keep consistent with your exercise routine, you should know that you are so not alone. Lots of people find it easy to get started, and then……life happens and exercise no longer seems like a priority. So you tell yourself:
“it’s only today I will miss my session and tomorrow I will be back on it”
“I am too tired today. I will start again on Monday”
“I have had a busy week at work, and I just don’t have the motivation today”
Or it’s too sunny, too cold, too windy, too early or too late. We are all so good at telling ourselves these stories, because we are programmed to avoid discomfort. It’s completely human and this is why I don’t believe in relying on motivation to stay consistent. Motivation is a very flaky friend! You just never know if they are going to show up.
I believe that the 2 things that will ultimately keep you going are:
1. Accountability
2. Investment.
Accountability can mean that you have an exercise buddy who will hold you to your exercise commitments and expect you to show up to your session. I am that exercise buddy for you. I always look forward to see you! I have a session planned and you know that the Reformer is there waiting just for you  So I know that you are going to think twice about cancelling, and that is all part of the service I offer. I am literally your cheer leader because I know that you will feel better afterwards.
You know the saying: “You will never regret a workout”, and it’s so true isn’t it? But how many times have you felt a bit annoyed with yourself because you skipped one?
So Accountability is a much better friend than Motivation.
By investing our time and money into something, we are also creating accountability to our self. Because when we don’t want to lose that investment, we feel compelled to show up even when we don’t feel like it. And showing up consistently is what will make you achieve your goals.
I care that you show up, and I care that you get the return on your investment.
So Investment is Accountability’s best buddy. And they will make you show up even when Motivation doesn’t.
So, next time you hear yourself saying that you lack motivation to do something that you really deep down want to do, have a think about how you can create accountability and investment around it.
I hope you found this helpful in realising that feeling really fired up and motivated to do something is great, but it is not reliable to keep you going on tough days. Because we are all human.
Anne-Marie xx

 

“You’re so vain. You probably think this blog is about you”

“You’re so vain” is one of my favourite songs, written by Carly Simon, made even better when Kate Hudson sang it to Matthew McConaghey in the film “How to lose a guy in 10 days”. If you haven’t seen that film, you really should.
Anyway, I hope this blog is a little bit about you because then you will relate. I am going to talk about vanity and how this was the main reason I got into Pilates. (Yes, I am vain, and this blog is really about me)
When I grew up, my parents certainly didn’t encourage me to be vain, and no value was really put on things that made you look good. And I actually think this is quite common, and that many of us have grown up thinking that our vain insecurities are not valid enough to talk about. ‘It seems a bit shallow’. ‘I don’t want to sound vain’. ‘We should focus on more important things’. ‘It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel’.
Well, where is the line between looking good and feeling good?
Let me tell you that one of my main drivers for doing Pilates is pure vanity. I just feel better, knowing that my muscles are toned, and that my bottom is not dragging along the floor. Or maybe I just stand taller and look better in my own mind, because I feel connected and confident in my body. Who knows? It’s the chicken and egg conundrum. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. The bottom-line (pardon the pun) is that Pilates makes me a better person. I am better, inside and out, when I do Pilates.
Let me tell you a story; A few years ago, one of my best friends said to me after a few drinks;

I hate my bum. Even if someone came up to me and gave me the worst news possible, it wouldn’t override the voice in my head saying that my bum is looking big. I am always self-concious about it

My first thought was; “Wow! Imagine if 1000’s of women feel like this! How much good energy is being wasted on thoughts like this?”
And my second thought was of course: “You need to do Pilates!”
So, while Pilates is about health, well-being, flexibility, mobility and good posture, it is also really about making you a better person. Whatever that means for you.
And here is the good thing; if you really commit to Pilates, it doesn’t matter what your main motivation is, because you will get all the benefits anyway.
It is an all-inclusive package.
And while my motivation for doing Pilates has varied from time to time depending on what my body has been going through (pregnancy, carrying children, stress-related pain, menopause), the main driver has always been vanity.
Celebrate your vanity in a healthy way, and don’t be embarrassed to say that all you want from Pilates is a tighter butt or less bingo wings. It’s okay and I hear you!
Anyway, in case you want a listen to the original song by Carly Simon, it’s here https://youtu.be/mQZmCJUSC6g
Have a listen and turn it up.I dare you to not enjoy it!

Anne-Marie xx