No matter where you are or what you’re doing right now, we encourage you just to take a moment to….

B R E A T H E

That’s right. Go ahead now.  Inhale deeply and fill your lungs with as much air as possible. Remember all those techniques your Pilates instructor taught you on the Reformer! 

Now Exhale deeply. As you do, allow all the stress, anxiety, negativity and fear that’s built up so far today to leave your body.

As you Inhale once more, be open to the possibility of health, abundance, optimism, and ease filling you up inside.

Feeling better already?

Great! So let’s tackle what’s probably a burning question on most people’s minds right now. 

“Just how you handle the stress of working from home?”

Good question.

Especially if you’re also juggling your kids’ schooling while trying to get in some mat Pilates classes with Contour online! If you’ve not yet tried one out, you can check out our schedule HERE. 

As a special BONUS for all our lovely members, we have a FREE Barre Class this Saturday at 10am with the always positive, happy and energetic Jessica. It’s going to be BOOTIFUL!

You can’t fail but feel better after a few Plies, Attitudes, Developpes and Rond de Jambe’s. Plus seeing her gorgeous face and those of your fellow Contourers will put a big smile on your face. Give it a go. We’d love to see you. This is the first of many FREE classes we plan to host so book on quick to avoid disappointment.

E-mail amy@reformerpilatesbrentwood.co.uk. 

Join the gorgeous Jessica for a bootiful Barre workout.

Dealing with overwhelm and anxiety

It’s so easy to experience feelings of overwhelm as you try to navigate these challenging times. 

Today we wanted to introduce some practical tips to help you through the difficult days ahead. At Contour Pilates we really do care about your mind, body and soul.

LACK OF STRUCTURE

This one can be a killer and you probably feel like your usual routine has been thrown out of the window. So create some structure by devising a new schedule and sticking to it. Create a realistic and workable framework for yourself. Make sure you include time for important phone calls with loved ones, sanity check and tea breaks as well as dog walking time if you have one. 

EXERCISE

Exercise is a proven stress buster. While the physical benefits are clear (weight loss and improved heart health) moving more also promotes mental benefits. You’ve all heard about endorphins. Those feel-good chemicals the brain releases when we exercise? You need your fix of those now more than ever. They’ll boost your emotional resilience and make you feel more capable of handling stress when it rears its ugly head.

DRINK TEA

We’re a nation of tea drinkers so this one should be easy to accomplish! The act of sipping a hot cup of tea is in itself very therapeutic and calming. Tea drinkers have been scientifically proven to recover from stressful situations more quickly than non-tea drinkers. Consider swapping to a blend of leaves including properties such as Lavender, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Turmeric and Ginseng to promote an even greater sense of relaxation. We all need a little R&R. 

DISTRACTIONS 

Distractions are an inevitable part of any lockdown! Whether they come in the shape of a partner, emails, the kids or social media. They can eat into your time and energy, throwing you off track. Before you know it, you’ve been engrossed in a WhatsApp chat group for an hour without even realising it. (granted, it was deliciously distracting!) Again though, it’s so important to schedule your time.

BOUNDARIES

This is a crucial one, particularly if you’re not used to spending so much time cooped up indoors with your significant other, kids and pets. It’s even harder if you still have work to do. You need to agree to workable boundaries with your family. This will help to create some much-needed structure in your relationships so you don’t blur the lines. If you do have an important conference call, make sure everyone knows that you’re not to be disturbed.

PRIORITIES

Get your priorities right. We naturally have a tendency to tackle what we like and enjoy first. However,  if you successfully get your most challenging and demanding tasks out of the way, you’ll experience a profound sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This in itself, will automatically make you feel better. 

REWARD YOURSELF

It’s important for you and your family to stay motivated, to keep up your unit’s morale. So if you are feeling overwhelmed with your current to-do list, break it down instead into more manageable task lists. As you tick them off, give yourself a reward. It doesn’t need to be food-related. Tempting as that might be. You’re not on a Christmas break. So step away from the biscuit tin and come up with different rewards. Maybe running a bath, taking 5 minutes to read or listen to the next chapter of a new book, or grabbing a herbal tea. 

LEARN TO SAY NO

This is a critical one but also a difficult one for many people, especially the mums among you. Your time is going to be challenged and questioned. You’ll likely experience more requests than ever before and have far more on your plate to juggle. So it’s essential that you learn when and how to politely say “NO!”.

SLEEP

Now more than ever, it’s vital that you look after and protect your precious sleep. This is the time when your body and mind get a chance to fully recharge. So avoid using mobile devices late at night as this will impact the quality and pattern of your sleep. Try as best you can to get quality sleep, aiming for a minimum of seven hours.

Final Thoughts on Managing Stress at Home

The bottom line is that although you can’t avoid stress entirely, there are plenty of positive actions you can implement while you are working from home to help you cope with overwhelm. 

Diet, exercise, meditation, regularly sipping on herbal tea and setting clear work/family boundaries are just a few. 

We’d love to see you virtually on the Mat and at the Barre as we continue at Contour Pilates to take care of your physical and emotional wellbeing. So please do join us for one of our online classes as well as a big old digital hug. 

If your inbox is anything like ours this week, it’s no doubt flooded with communications about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the increased importance of sanitation. It’s big business for anyone pedalling loo roll, hand sanitiser, good old fashioned soap, and FEAR! 

2020 sure has thrown its share of challenges our way (and it’s only March!) What with the incessant rain, Brexit, #Sussexit and now Coronavirus, the populist news has been having a field day.  

Sadly, there’s so much misinformation out there. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to believe. One thing we do know though is that armed with the right tools and knowledge, we can work together to stay fit and healthy.

This is not another Coronavirus Post!

This isn’t going to be another scare-mongering post about the symptoms of Coronavirus. Instead, we’ve put together our “mini boosters”. Call it preventative medicine if you like! It’s a specially formulated vaccine to keep your immune system at its peak. There’s no fighting in the pharmacy needed. This info is FREE FOR ALL!

Positively Well

The Global Wellness Institute has just launched its ‘Positively Well’ campaign encouraging us all to focus on building a strong immune system through exercise, healthy nutrition, stress reduction, optimism and more. We’re great advocates of that attitude here at Contour Pilates Reformer Studio in Essex. Not just during these challenging times, but all the time. 

Perhaps this pandemic will deliver one positive; forcing us to prioritise our wellbeing. 

Mini Health Boosters

So what can you and your family do to stay happy, healthy and positive through the days, weeks and potentially months to come?

Knowledge is Power

Try and avoid the temptation to obsess over every little bit of news popping up on your feeds from unsolicited and uninformed sources. Instead, follow closely the official government guidelines. The situation is changing on a daily basis. So make sure you keep up to date with the latest information HERE. If you are feeling unwell and do want to check your symptoms then refer to the NHS.

Fuel your Body with Immune-Boosting Colourful Food

Sadly, we don’t mean a bag of Skittles! Now is the time to eat the rainbow. 

You should aim for at least 10 (yes 10 not 5) portions of fruit and vegetables a day in as wide a variety of colours as possible. That way, you’ll maximise all those lovely plant-based antioxidants and nutrients that can positively boost your immune system and fight off pathogens. 

Did you know that fruits and vegetables fall into five different categories with each bunch having a unique set of disease-fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. So go ahead and have some fun at mealtimes, especially with your kids, by encouraging them to create a rainbow on their plates. 

We could test your knowledge but we figure you’ve got enough to worry about right now so we’ve put together a little chart for you. Ideally, go for 7 vegetables and 3 fruits from this list.

The Benefits of Healthy Fats

So many people run a mile at the mention of “FATS” but they have so many positive benefits. Not least because they assist the body in absorbing essential vitamins and minerals. You really can’t go wrong with avocadoes. organic meat, eggs, fatty fish, nut and seed butter and everyone’s favourite, a bit of dark chocolate.

Add Zinc to your Diet

Zinc promotes a powerful response in the body, warding off infections and helping to boost the immune system. It can be found in free-range meats such as beef and lamb, seafood including mussels and clams and also seeds like pumpkin and sesame.

One great idea is to make a morning smoothie, packed with your favourite colourful fruit and veggies, a plant-based milk such as coconut or almond and a handful of seeds. Delicious, nutritious and bound to put a spring in your step. Here’s one of our favourite recipes.

Trust your Gut Instinct!

Here’s a fact we bet you didn’t know! 70% of your immune system lives inside your gut. If you’re not already taking one, a daily probiotic can help. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer the food or drink variety. Other more palatable sources include leafy greens such as chard, kale and cabbage all of which feed our gut with good bacteria.

Walking on Sunshine

On days like today which have been GLORIOUS, get yourself outside and soak up all that lovely Vitamin D. It plays a powerful role in supporting the immune system. If it’s bucketing down again by tomorrow, then stock up instead on oily fish like salmon and herring, mushrooms which are a fabulous source of Vitamin D as well as organic dairy and eggs. Let’s face it, that Easter trip to Tenerife might not be happening this year.

Finally, move More

That’s right. Staying fit and active has so many benefits on the body, not least boosting the body’s ability to produce white blood cells which are an essential part of the immune system. 

So, taking our cue from the inimitable Bruce Forsythe……… Keep Planking! 

We’d love for you to keep coming to your Pilates classes for as long as you are fit and able to do so. For those of you who can’t, watch this space as we’re creating some home workouts to keep you on your toes!

Also, if you are interested in purchasing Pilates equipment bundles for use at home, just e-mail amy@reformerpilatesbrentwood.co.uk. You can be up and running within 3 days with your very own fitness circle, resistance band, set of hand weights and even a soft ball.

Stay healthy and positive and together let’s replace fear with wellness.

Contour Pilates Blog

The key to motivation when it comes to achieving your 2020 health and fitness goals, lies in entertainment and interaction. There are more products out there than ever before that can help you stay on track. Whether you’re counting calories and macros, looking to make your stride pattern more efficient, or interested in knowing what food types are safe to eat according to your DNA, there’s a slew of innovative apps and wearable tech out there.

Here at Contour Pilates in Brentwood, we’re so much more than a Reformer Studio. We like to make it our business to understand and be a part of the more extensive fitness and wellbeing industry. That way, we can help our clients with more than just planking! 

Last week was the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES), always a favourite event in the health and fitness calendar where brands show off their range of immersive and connected wellbeing technologies. So today, we thought we’d do a bit of trend predicting with our top pick of the best gadgets and gizmos released or due to launch in 2020.

DNANudge

First up, we couldn’t do a blog on the subject of wellbeing without including our friends at DNANudge. We were delighted to have the team come along to the studio earlier this month to introduce their groundbreaking technology. Lots of you signed up and we can’t wait to hear your feedback. One member was delighted when she scanned a bottle of Merlot, and it was green! 

The capsule and app help to “nudge” you towards making healthier choices when you’re shopping for your weekly groceries. Shop with your DNA is the smartest way to make dietary and behavioral changes that will benefit your overall wellbeing now and in the future. 

Contour Pilates

How would you shop and eat differently if you knew that you were at high risk of becoming obese or your body struggled to process carbohydrates?

Did you know that how much you move in the day affects your health and has an impact on what food types you can safely eat? Move more and what might be Amber one day, turns to Green the next. 

Simply by scanning product barcodes in-store, you’ll immediately know if a food is good or bad for you based on your unique DNA report. They’ll flash either red or green according to whether they’re a good match for your biology. Better still, the app shows personalised product recommendations and alternatives that are in better keeping with your DNA. If you care about your health, it’s the smart way to shop! You can find out more HERE.

Vuzix Labs Smart Swim

Love to swim? Then you should check out these interactive swimming goggles! Set to take your swim workouts to a whole new level, Smart Swim offers specialised training apps for both open water and indoor swimming, so ideal for the Triathletes among you. The app monitors, records, and coaches your swimming while displaying tones of real-time data. With the Smart Swim, you can also play video and audio and keep yourself entertained on long training sessions. The system is basically a wearable Android computer with a full-colour display, Bluetooth audio, and a GPS sensor. Plus, a fantastic 7+ run-time. Might even get you across the Channel! They’re goggles, but not as you know them! Find out more about Vuzix technology HERE.

ASICS EvoRide

For the runners among you, a pair of ASICS trainers probably already feature in your shoe collection but not like these! This is what’s known as a “smart shoe” and we predict many of the big brands will be introducing their version to the market in 2020. The shoe uses a unique curved sole to limit movement to the ankle joint, and those reduce energy stride output, making you far more efficient. With an embedded sensor in the sole, you get immediate biomechanic feedback by connecting to your smartphone app. If you’re looking to dial up your running, increasing speed and efficiency, then you’ll love this tech. 

Don’t forget, Pilates is an excellent adjunct to running and helps keep you more flexible. So between ASICS and Contour Pilates, we’ve got your Marathon dreams covered! The ASICS Evoride trainers are available to purchase HERE now.

Huami Amazfit HomeStudio

Accessing over 1000 fitness classes across a wide range of workouts, the Amazfit HomeStudio brings the full gym experience into your home. It’s like having a dedicated Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher, and Pilates Instructor in residence! Just imagine that? Not available to purchase until later this year, it’s a connected home fitness studio comprising of a minimalist style treadmill, a smart screen, and features full AI technology alongside smartphone integration and surround sound. The GLASS screen can be used independently from the treadmill to enjoy a host of workouts, including sculpt, stretch, and yoga. If you’re interested in finding out more, check out what Gear Junkie has to say about this latest fitness innovation HERE.

Contour Pilates Blog
Huami Amazfit HomeStudio

Pilates In Your Pocket

This one is top secret work in progress!

Interested in a CONTOUR exercise app? Fancy popping one of our Pilates instructors in your pocket and taking her home with you? Why not let your favourite instructor take you through your paces from the comfort of your living room or pack her in your suitcase when you go on holiday?

Let us know your thoughts and what would suit your life best. 

We’ve plenty of men and women coming through our doors here at Contour Pilates in Essex who are in their 40’s, 50’s and even their 60’s. Pilates doesn’t discriminate against ability, gender, fitness levels, flexibility, stamina or age. Quite the contrary, it embraces and celebrates all of them, and we absolutely encourage everyone to relish in whatever decade of life they’re at and join us in a Reformer class. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that Pilates is a must for anyone in the throes of their own midlife crisis! It’s cheaper than a fast car, and the rewards are deeply more gratifying.

Attitudes towards ageing have shifted

Our attitudes have significantly changed towards ageing, due in part to the fact that we’re living for so much longer than ever before. The concept of “Wellness” is a positive and ever growing movement that’s even being embraced in the workforce. What it means to be middle-aged has been turned on its head. Amen to that!

Contour Pilates welcomes clients of all ages

Midlife is to be positively celebrated

While the idea of a midlife crisis might still exist, it’s no longer borne out of fear that we’re has-been’s, past our sell-by date and destined to spend our days knitting or playing lawn bowls! Far from it. Midlife is positively celebrated. The barriers to entry have been smashed. Just take a look at our uber fit intructors. A lady never gives away her age but all except one of our instructors is over 40 with a couple (almost) hitting 50! They’re highly trained and will absolutely encourage you while ensuring you get the technique just right. 

It’s all about the “fifty fitties”

Landmark birthdays now signal that our best years are still very much ahead of us. It’s not uncommon to see a 50-year-old in class out-planking someone in their 20’s. We happen to have some seriously “fifty fitties” at Contour who do themselves, the studio and our incredible instructors proud. We salute you. Who doesn’t love a bit of healthy competition and how satisfying must it feel to squash the stigma attached to midlife and instead show the world just how happy and healthy you really are?

You’re never too old to perfect the plank!

Welcome to the phenomenon of 9-enders

We love that Pilates can positively help with a wide range of menopausal symptoms for a start, not to mention improve strength, build muscle and ward off both the physical and also the mental effects of ageing. As they say, age is but a number. Talking of which, there’s a new phenomenon called the 9-enders. Apparently, as one decade finishes and another is about to start, we’re more inclined and motivated than ever before to take up a new fitness challenge. So if you’re hitting 39, 49, 59 and yes, even 69 this year, why not give Reformer Pilates a go?

According to a recent study in the journal Neurology, “very fit” middle-aged women are a staggering 88% less likely to suffer from dementia. Not only does exercise help keep off the pounds, strengthen the body against age-related issues like osteoporosis, but it also keeps the brain more active. 

Sadly, almost a third of all women in the UK are classified as being totally inactive. For many, that’s because they find the classic gym environment too intimidating or they’ve already written themselves off as being too fat and unfit to benefit from an exercise regime. That’s so sad and so wrong and something that we strongly advocate against at Contour Pilates. 

Our studio is for everybody and every BODY

We want to help you shift those misconceptions about exercise and midlife and slowly begin to pay more attention to the body you do have, working with it at a pace that suits you to build strength, flexibility, stamina and control.  So cast away that harsh inner dialogue that tells you that you’re too fat, unfit or old. They’re just excuses. Instead, visualise yourself doing a plank push up, and before you know it, that’s precisely what you’ll be doing in class. Now that’s the kind of midlife crisis we’re talking about.

No matter what stage of life you’re at, you’ll love the benefits of Pilates

The importance of resistance

You’ll notice we use lots of weights and resistance bands in our Reformer Pilates sessions. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not just because our instructors are evil and love inflicting pain! It’s because lifting weights and introducing resistance work helps to maintain bone density which is essential as women hit the menopause and oestrogen levels dramatically drop. One of the very best things that a forty-something man or woman can do is take up Pilates. As we look at frailty full square in the face, being thin goes out of the window. Instead being strong is what it’s all about. Plus, Pilates is also excellent at helping to keep ageing bodies mobile.

Did somebody say midlife crisis? Thought not!

Prepare for a new lease of life

So if you are hurtling towards your own midlife crisis, or approaching a 9-ender this year and looking for something rewarding and challenging to get stuck into, why not give Pilates a go? We promise you’ll be in excellent company and who knows, you may discover not only a whole new lease of life but also muscles you never even knew you had! 

2020 isn’t just the start of a new year. It’s also a new decade. Isn’t it time you committed to finally putting yourself first for a change? Health is wealth, after all. If you focus on self-care and self-love, you can be a much stronger and more positive person for all those around you.

Forget all this new year, new you nonsense. 

We’re pretty sure you’re amazing, just the way you are! However, imagine just how much better you’d feel if your mood was improved, your posture aligned, your energy levels increased, your core strengthened, and your flexibility improved? 

Sounds pretty amazing, right?

Well, all of that can be achieved and more besides by practising Pilates. So this year, instead of making a new year’s resolution that you won’t stick to beyond February, how about committing to making real, lasting, and significant changes? The kind of change that you don’t just see, you really feel.

Rumour has it that Adele’s fabulous new figure is down to a newly discovered love of Pilates

While the beautiful Margot Robbie is another big fan. She says Pilates is her exercise of choice because it works the whole body at once. Ideal if you are searching for something that’s multi-tasking. Holly Willoughby took up Pilates after the birth of her second child, and she’s in the shape of her life. Pilates isn’t just for A-list celebrities, though; it’s for everybody. Every shape, size, age, and level of ability. 

So why not take up Reformer Pilates?

Make a start today by checking out one of our state of art reformer studios right here in Essex and find out just what all the buzz is about. We promise you’ll be hooked, especially when you start to see and feel the benefits for yourself. Talking of which, we’re currently offering all new clients 6 classes for £66; the perfect introduction course. Click HERE to book.

Why Pilates Can Be Used to Reach a Variety of Exercise Goals.

The real beauty and benefit of Pilates is that it can be used to reach a wide variety of exercise goals. Pilates has long been the go-to-choice of exercise for celebrities and sports stars wanting to get into shape, firm, tone, and build endurance. Cardio alone can’t achieve all of these goals. You need to add in some resistance style training to maintain a youthful body. Pilates is ideal for that.  

It is also important to vary your workouts, in order to keep toning the whole muscle group and so you do not reach a plateau and give up. We have a number of different workouts on offer, and our machines are incredibly versatile, so you will constantly be trying different exercises in every single class. 

Group of fit people training at spinning class. Cardio workout. Indoor cycling.

While high-intensity exercises like HIIT, spinning, and boxing are great for kick-starting weight loss, they won’t necessarily change your overall shape. However, used in conjunction with reformer or mat Pilates, you can additionally improve posture and strengthen the core while sculpting all those smaller muscles that contribute to making you look so much more toned and tightened. We prove this by combining reformer pilates, with a HIIT, in our CARDIO POWER classes on Monday evening and Friday mornings. 

Whatever your exercise goals are for this year, Pilates can help.

Whether you want to…

  • train for a marathon
  • lift heavier weights at the gym
  • improve your swimming stamina
  • take up Crossfit
  • hone your tennis or golf swing
Pilates can help you reach more of your exercise goals

Reach your goals with Pilates.

Why? Because…

  • It’s an efficient full-body workout 
  • It develops muscle endurance
  • It strengthens the core and protects your back
  • It builds pain tolerance and stamina to other workouts
  • It works at a micro-muscle level
  • It requires complete coordination of mind, body, and spirit
  • It promotes better posture and form
  • It increases flexibility and mobility

For complete top to toe toning, Pilates is the way to go.

Are you a convert to Pilates? If so, wed love to hear from you. How has it benefited your body? Would you recommend it to others? Tell us in the comments section and share your experience with our members and readers. 

Right about now, you’re probably in what we affectionately call limbo-land. That “Twixmas” time when Christmas is over and the New Year is yet to roll on around. This year it’s extra special as it heralds the start of a brand spanking new decade. Full of optimism and promise! Nothing is impossible. Whether you want to run a marathon, hold the plank for 2 minutes, learn a new language, or even become a participant of this year’s Master Chef! The trick is to…

Get yourself started.

Right now you’re probably sat in your pyjamas, watching Xmas movies and saying to yourself, 

“I’ll start again in 2020. No point worrying until next week.”

While getting stuck into another mince pie for breakfast with a sausage roll chaser! You’d be wrong, though. NOW is precisely the right time to start putting actionable plans in place and giving yourself a head start to success. It’s all about dedication and discipline, yes, but it’s also about breaking down those big longer-term goals into smaller, more achievable milestones. 

Here at Contour Pilates in Brentwood and Loughton, we’re more than just a state of the art reformer studio offering an extensive range of Pilates and Barre based classes. We’re also experts in the field of “motivation,” and we’re here today to share our top tips on how to goal set for success in 2020.

How to set goals and keep them!

t Goals And Keep Them
How to set goals and keep them in 2020

Step 1 is to determine your main long term goal.

Everyone has a goal of some sort or another. Some more ambitious than others! Don’t overwhelm yourself by setting too many. Decide on one thing this year that you really feel like you want to achieve. Something that will improve your life, your health, your happiness, or just generally make you feel better about yourself. 

Perhaps you’ve already dabbled with Pilates, attending a few of our Beginners classes, but this year you want to master the Russian Splits! Trust us. It can be done! Or maybe you want to go from being a couch potato to participating in a 10k park run. Again, you got this!

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, how big or how small, the same rules apply. 

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How are you going to achieve your goal?
  2. Where/how are you going to get started?
  3. How will you assess and monitor your progress?

Step 2 is to break down your goal.

By creating realistic and actionable short term goals, you can begin to work more effectively and practically towards that bigger long term one. Make sure that your goals are realistic, achievable, and practical.

If you are aiming towards completing a 10k park run this summer, try and commit to running 3k nonstop by March and 5k by May. Don’t be too tough on yourself, trying to achieve your goal too quickly, then getting frustrated and giving up entirely. Remember that you should also enjoy the journey and have fun along the way. Progress will come if you persevere.

Step 3 is to create an action plan.

Once you’ve decided upon your short-term goals, those markers in the sand towards success, get specific about a more detailed list of actions. Then set yourself some accountable deadlines to go alongside these interim goals. 

Here are some examples of what your action plan might look like to achieving those Russians Splits!

  • Book yourself onto a course of Pilates. Check out our latest OFFERS.
  • Ask a friend to join with you to keep you motivated. Why not try one of our new semi-private induction classes together? Click HERE to find out more.
  • Talk to your Pilates instructor about your overall goals and any injuries to work around
  • Set a date to start and commit to times and frequency
  • Read up on Pilates techniques and follow the Contour Blog to gain a greater insight
  • Work on your hip flexibility and practice lunging
  • Turn up, listen to your instructor as well as your body and always engage that core

Step 4 is to hold yourself accountable.

If you don’t hold yourself accountable, chances are you will quickly lose sight of your grand plan. That might be through lack of motivation, boredom, or even frustration that the results aren’t coming as soon as you’d hoped. Perhaps it’s also a case of lack of consequence (the old cause and effect). What do you actually have to lose anyway by not showing up? Apart from your money and disappointing yourself, of course! Those are two reasons right there to stick at things when the January blues set in, and you find yourself curling back up on the sofa in your comfort zone.

So think about ways in which you can make yourself more accountable.

  • Creating to-do lists that can be ticked off is hugely satisfying
  • Regularly reviewing where you are at against your goals can help keep you motivated
  • Sharing your goal as well as your progress with a friend, family member or “expert” might make you more inclined to stick at things
  • Consider rewarding yourself for hitting various milestones as you work towards your end game. Perhaps you’ve promised yourself that when you complete six classes of Reformer Pilates, you’ll treat yourself to a new gym ensemble! Just pick something that motivates you to carry on when your discipline is wavering! 

Achieve your goals with Contour Pilates

Whether your goal is to shift a few pounds, get leaner and stronger, improve your fitness levels, or make new friends, you can achieve them all through Pilates! 

We want everyone to stand a chance of sticking to their fitness goals, which is why we have a fantastic new offer for all our new members in January. Optimally designed to encourage you to get into a solid routine, our January offer is 6 classes for just £66. To ensure success we recommend that you attend a class twice a week for three weeks. Research suggests that it takes 21 days to form a habit so after 6 classes we’re confident you’ll be hooked on Pilates! Grab our OFFER today and get ready to fall in love with the Reformer in 2020. 

We hope that our top tips to setting goals and sticking to them has spurred you on to sit down and think about what you’d love to achieve in 2020. We look forward to welcoming all our existing and new clients back at Contour Pilates, and we wish you all….

Peace.Love.Pilates

XOXO

At Contour Pilates, we care about more than just your physical health. While our state of the art reformer beds might well be designed to give you a full-body workout, we also care about your mental well being too. Mind, Body and Soul, Pilates is all about YOU.

It’s safe to say that Christmas is upon us. For many people, that might mean missing a couple of their regular Reformer Pilates classes to celebrate with friends and family over a glass or two of festive cheer. Know what? That’s perfectly fine with us! 

You’ve worked hard, coming to class and putting in the effort all year. Now it’s your time to grab those dancing shoes, slip into that little black dress and enjoy sashaying the night away, showing off those killer Pilates curves you’ve sculpted. Ladies (and gents) all those times the Instructor said “just one more” (and you know she really meant ten) are about to pay off. 

Rock Your Pilates Body This Christmas

While Pilates might have helped you rock that Christmas party body this year, how do you survive the festive season itself? We’re running you through our top seasonal tips today.

Top Tips For Surviving Christmas the Contour Way!

It’s not all Prosecco, parties and pigs in blankets! Behind the glam and glitz of the flashing lights and tinsel can be a world of loneliness, stress and downright exhaustion. Not everyone is lucky enough to have friends and family around them, or spare cash to indulge in Christmas treats. 

The festive season might leave you feeling like you want to retreat into a hole and re-emerge in 2020 when the coast is clear of rowing relatives! Never fear. We’ve compiled Contour’s top tips to getting the most out of the festive season and surviving it “relatively” unscathed.

Prosecco and Pilates

Plan Ahead

Instead of worrying about getting the shopping done in one mammoth session, start stockpiling supplies as soon as possible. Plan in regular supermarket shops in the run-up to Christmas and buy extra items as you go along. It’s also a good idea to buy a couple of emergency presents. Lots of the larger retailers run 2 for 3 offers at this time of the year. You never know who might pop by unexpectedly with a gift so have a couple of options on standby!

Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself

There’s such a weight of expectation to deliver the perfect Christmas. It’s not about going all out, buying the most expensive of everything you can lay your hands on. That doesn’t show that you are the hostess with the mostest! Christmas is about simple family time and trying to relax and have fun. If things aren’t going quite to plan behind the scenes, the chances are your guests won’t ever realise. Unless a burnt turkey has set the fire alarm and water sprinklers off! So don’t be too hard on yourself. Try and enjoy the festivities without going overboard.

Festive Table Setting

Ask For Help

If you are the key organiser in the family and yet again it’s your turn to cook and host, don’t be afraid to delegate other duties to family members. It’s so important that you have some YOU time. Why should everyone else get to watch the Gavin and Stacy special while you’re slaving away in the kitchen? Maybe ask different family members to take care of certain elements the meal; snacks, entrees, desserts, making sure the wine is flowing. Don’t try and do it all yourself.

Everything In Moderation

Today more than ever, Christmas seems to be about excess and over-indulgence. If you’ve been coming to Pilates all year, you’ve built up a great core that will serve you well. Cut yourself a little bit of slack, but don’t undo all the good work by going all out, drinking and eating everything in sight! Try and moderate yourself. That way, the gains will come back so much quicker in 2020 when you jump back on that Reformer machine. 

Family Festive Fun Times

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Water, wine, water! In that order. It’s so important to keep yourself hydrated. Your liver is likely to be working much harder over the Christmas party season. So stay on top of your H2O so that you recover quicker and dissipate any morning-after hangover.

Stay Active

All that sitting around indoors and over indulging can leave you feeling sluggish. Grab your new hat and scarf (and the obligatory Christmas novelty jumper) and get outside in the fresh air for a brisk walk. Clear your head and work off that extra helping of roast potatoes that you just couldn’t resist! 

Get Plenty Of Sleep

Sleep is when our bodies recover. Late boozy nights are fun at the time but they can disrupt regular sleep patterns. If you’re used to being the life and soul of the party, make sure you adequately recharge those batteries. That way you will keep going like the proverbial Duracell bunny!

Take Time Off

If busy work schedules permit, plan to take some time off in the run-up to and over the Christmas period. Burning the candle at both ends can take its toll. A few strategic days off will prevent you from being overstressed and overtired even before the big day itself arrives. Don’t peak too early as the saying goes.

Spend Time With The People You Love

Try not to be alone or feel isolated at Christmas. If you do live alone, reach out to friends and family and firm up plans. Don’t leave it too late only to realise that you’re planning a turkey dinner for one. Christmas is best shared and experienced with loved ones. So make an effort to reconnect with the special people in your life at this festive time of year.

Merry Christmas To All Our Clients from Contour Pilates

On that note, Contour Pilates would like to wish all our regular, new and future clients a very Merry Christmas. Keep checking out the Blog and sign up to receive our members newsletters so that you can be kept up to date with the fantastic New Year offers coming your way.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a silver sneaker! Then you’ve come to the right place. Strictly speaking, you don’t need sneakers to enjoy Reformer Pilates. A pair of grippy socks will do! If you’re of a certain age and still keen to keep active. Or perhaps you have been told by a professional that you need to do more exercise? Then Pilates is an excellent starting point. 

Two sessions of Pilates a week is enough for you to notice significant improvements.

Here at our state of the art reformer studios in Essex, we love welcoming new clients through the doors. No matter what age or level of ability.  

Our qualified instructors are especially good at looking after our senior clients. Instilling confidence, as well as reclaiming the flexibility you thought was just a long lost memory! 

You’ll rediscover your toes, reconnect to your core and make some new friends along the way. 

One look at the founding father of this increasingly popular activity for the over 65’s should be all the coaxing you, or an elderly loved one need, to try out a Reformer class.

Joseph Pilates was practising well into his 80’s. His strong abs, muscular legs and superb definition speak volumes about why we positively invite all seniors to give Pilates a go. Just remember to listen to your body and allow Pilates to work with you, not against you. 

Our bodies show up differently every day. That’s no different whether we’re 25, 45, or 65.

Pilates For Seniors

Pilates for Seniors

As with our younger practitioners, you are going to derive so many benefits. Pilates helps with balance and stability, maintains flexibility and muscle tone and can help fight against issues like osteoporosis and back pain. 

The beauty of Pilates is that all the exercises can be modified. There is always regression and progression. You can start slow, on a lower spring in a seated position. Then, as your confidence and strength build, increase the repetitions, add on more weight and move up to a kneeling position. Within a few months of regularly practising Pilates, you will be staggered by just what your mind and your body have been able to achieve. The results are wonderful. It’s like having a new lease of life. 

While we don’t hold Senior specific Pilates classes currently at CONTOUR Pilates, we do have several Beginner’s lessons on the timetable. They provide an excellent introduction. Click HERE to view the schedule. We also offer one-to-one sessions with our instructors. These can be a fantastic way of trying out a class in privacy. Building up your confidence before you join a small group class. A private lesson will provide an excellent foundation to learn the basics.

Pilates For Seniors

Special Considerations for Seniors Starting Pilates

The same rules apply no matter what age you are. You must communicate any physical limitations or on-going injuries or conditions with your instructor before the class begins. That way exercises can be safely modified.  

For Seniors returning to exercise after an illness, injury, or just a significant gap in time, it’s also advisable to check with your healthcare advisor or professional first. 

Issues that you might find you are struggling with, such as balance, flexibility, endurance and strength, can all absolutely be tackled and improved with regular Reformer Pilates classes. Your instructor will keep a watchful eye on you to ensure that you’re not overexerting yourself.

As many of the exercises in Pilates are performed either seated or lying down, there’s less risk of falling over than there would be with other forms of exercise. 

Osteoporosis and Pilates

A weakening of the structure of the bones is a common occurrence with both men and women over the age of 65. The chances of osteoporosis increase, bone density is weakened and there’s a higher propensity towards broken bones. 

The gentle yet effective weight-bearing nature of Pilates is excellent when it comes to preventing osteoporosis. For those of you who might already be suffering from this bone disease, all is not lost. While you might not be able to do some of the forward flexion or spine twisting techniques, your qualified Pilates instructor will be able to suggest plenty of alternatives so that you can enjoy a full workout. 

Arthritis and Pilates

People suffering from joint issues and complaints such as arthritis will also hugely benefit from Reformer Pilates. With awareness and focus, you can work on increasing your mobility. Pay attention to your body and don’t do anything that feels too stressful. Only you know if something is not quite right. You’ve nobody to compete against, so respect your body and especially your spine. There’s absolutely no pushing through the pain at Pilates. Slow down, ask for modifications and work slower and in a smaller range.

Just a few repetitions done slowly and with precision in Pilates will bring significant gains.

If you’re intrigued about Pilates and want to try out this incredible workout in a safe and professional, friendly environment, then drop us a line today and we’ll help you get booked (and hooked) on Pilates. 

You’re never too old and it’s never too late. 

So if you’re a Senior who’s looking to stay flexible, reduce general aches and pains and still enjoy being sociable, we would love to greet you at CONTOUR Pilates. It could truly transform your overall well being and fitness.

For the uneducated men (and women) out there, a misconception exists that Pilates is some form of yoga-based contortion. That it’s practised only by women only. Perhaps very occasionally used as a rehabilitative and restorative recovery treatment for sportsmen but not a “real” sport. 

If you are a man reading this post, or you have one sitting at home currently watching the TV who you’re trying to encourage to give Pilates a go, we’re about to put all that nonsense to bed. In fact, we challenge you/him right now to come to one of our Reformer Pilates studios here in Essex. Why not try out our state of the art machines for yourself?

As they say, “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!”

Real Men Do Pilates!

More and more weight trainers are turning to this system. Simply put, it’s a proven way to increase not only flexibility but also muscle power. It’s the ideal way to stem that middle-aged spread and fight the flab.

The Only Question Is: Are You Man Enough To Give It A Go?

Muscular man performing exercises on the Pilates reformer at the gym.

Pilates Was Developed By A Man.

Developed by a man, Joseph Pilates, he originally named it Contrology. The method was all about gaining control of the muscles. It’s also long been the preferred training vehicle of elite professional athletes for over half a century and an adjunct to their specialised training. The Pilates method works equally as well for men as it does for women. For both sexes it helps by increasing strength and flexibility as well as working on that core control. 

Many a man’s nemeses is his midriff. We can promise you this, after a few sessions on the Reformer your flabby tummy will be replaced by tauter muscle and that trim waistline. That will be complemented by a strong back, stable core and more muscular arms. In Pilates, we work the entire body. We also use hand weights in many of your classes, as well as your own body weight. That means there is always plenty of progression and regression when the going gets a little too tough.

Man performing pilates teaser exercise on a reformer bed in a gym to strengthen the abdominal muscles and hip flexor in a health and fitness concept

Why Do We Recommend Pilates For Men?

For anyone who enjoys weightlifting, the integrative component of Pilates will certainly be beneficial . Pilates encourages not only efficient but also uniform development of all the body but in particular the core. Using the powerhouse to stabilise the trunk and protect the back. Whereas weight lifting demands a more “part by part” approach to developing muscle. The emphasis on full-body fitness and strength makes Pilates an excellent foundation for a range of other sports, including cross-training, golf, tennis, rowing, football, cricket and rugby. 

Pilates works towards flexibility in a functional and more accessible way than say, for example, yoga or gymnastics. You’ll increase your flexibility and range of motion naturally, almost without even realising it’s happening. 

  • Pilates complements other workouts
  • Pilates helps improve overall sports performance
  • Pilates develops and fosters increased confidence
  • Pilates can significantly improve focus and concentration. 
Man exercising on pilates reformer bed

Top Tips For Men Who Are New To Pilates

1. Take a class

The best way to learn is to come to a Pilates class taught by a professional Instructor. At Contour Pilates we offer a range of classes to suit all ages and abilities. Our friendly and competent instructors will be on hand to put you through your paces. OK, so you might currently be outnumbered by women but we promise, they don’t bite! For now, you might have to deal with being the minority gender but on the plus side, think about all that female attention you’ll enjoy!

2. Don’t be afraid to give it a go

Just remember that the Pilates method was initially developed on a man’s body and is generally founded around regular, healthy principles of movements. You’ve nothing to be afraid of. Sure, your hips and hamstrings might be slightly tighter than those of the 25 year old female lying on the Reformer bed next to you. However, she’ll be so busy focusing on her own leg circles that trust us, she’ll never notice your thighs quivering! Everything in Pilates can be modified and adjusted, allowing you to stretch into the postures gradually. There’s no “go big or go home” mentality in Pilates. It’s all about mindful practice. Which brings us nicely onto our next point.

3. Pilates is a mind/body activity

You could choose to hammer out that pent up stress and energy on a boxing bag, or you could jump on the Reformer and challenge yourself to a different spring setup. Sometimes less is more. So if you’re in the mood for raising the bar, then go light when you’re planking and feel the burn. You will soon forget about what’s happening at work as you focus on your breath, working deeper into your stabilising muscles. Igniting your powerhouse like never before. The mind-body connection is strong in Pilates as you develop core strength alongside coordination through concentration and breath control. 

Male Celebrities And Athletes Who Swear By Pilates.

Pilates plays a pivotal part in helping to improve the overall performance of some of the worlds top recognised athletes. We have it on good authority that the following male athletes and celebrities are firm fans of Joseph Pilates Contrology technique. 

  • Tiger Woods
  • Andy Murray
  • David Beckham
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Lebron James
  • Amir Khan
  • The England Cricket Team

David Beckham was initially introduced to Pilates while playing on loan at AC Milan and had this to say about it:

“I do an hour of Pilates a day. It is fantastic and fitness-wise I am the best I have been for a long time.”

So there you have it. Real men DO and SHOULD practise Pilates.

We look forward to welcoming you through the doors at Contour Pilates and taking one of our plank challenges! Click HERE to discover all the latest offers.

We’re very proud here at our Reformer Pilates studios in Essex to have an exceptional pool of talent when it comes to our Pilates teachers. It’s not easy recruiting such high calibre instructors. Those who combine experience, passion, personality and the ability to count! (that’s a studio joke by the way! Let’s just say that 3 out of 4 ain’t bad!)

Getting To Know Your Instructors

Over the coming months, you’ll have a chance to get to know them all better as we put them through a quickfire Q&A session. If you have any burning questions you want to ask your instructors, please drop us a line. We’re mostly going to be focussing on their extensive training and background. Asking why they got hooked on Pilates in the first place and why they think Reformer Pilates is such an amazing form of exercise. 

If there’s something that you always wanted to ask but were too shy, fire away. We’ll ask it for you!

Vilma
Just one of your lovely Pilates Instructors, Vilma, here at Contour Pilates

So What Does It Take to Be Reformer Pilates Instructor?

The first thing we’ll say is that all our instructors at CONTOUR Pilates are highly qualified and skilled, even those that have come up through the ranks, turning their passion for practising Pilates into a new found career. 

To be a Pilates teacher requires a multitude of skills. It goes without saying that a passion for Pilates is a pre-requisite, but you also need to be a great communicator and get a buzz from working with people and seeing their progression. 

You don’t need to be a fitness model to be a Pilates instructor, so forget about all those glamorous Instagram accounts you might be following. Pilates is taught by real people and practised by real people. However, it certainly helps if your Pilates teacher is a motivational role model who actively leads a healthy lifestyle. 

Besides all of that, a Reformer Pilates Instructor needs to be patient with beginners, persistent when clients start to lose focus, creative with putting together classes that offer diversity and retain interest and overall, effective motivators. 

The style in which they might achieve this will likely differ but the end results will be the same. Providing a safe, non-judgemental and supportive (even sociable) environment in which to create that long, lean and toned muscle and strong, powerful core that will support you through everyday life.

Clients being adjusted by their Pilates Instructor

Liking Pilates And Teaching It Are Two Very Different Things

You might have been coming to classes now for a while and think that a new career as a Pilates instructor is right for you. If so, excellent! We look forward to taking one of your classes in the future. 

Before you go ahead and book yourself onto a course we recommend you ask yourself a couple of vital questions:

  • Do you like standing on your feet all day? That’s pretty much what Pilates instructors have to do.
  • Do you genuinely get a kick out of helping people? You’ll spend all day listening to other people tell you about their aches and pains and spend little time taking care of your own!
  • Do you like to teach? Loving the practice of Pilates as a participant is very different from teaching and explaining each move.
  • Do you truly understand the concept and benefits of Pilates? By that, we mean “proper” Pilates. The kind that was developed by Joseph Pilates and not the latest fad that’s marketed as a quick fix to achieving a slim body!
  • Are you truly ready to learn? By learning, we really do mean understanding what every single muscle in the body does. How they’re all inter-connected. Each muscle action and opposing reaction. Every insertion point. You need to fully understand the anatomy before you even start to learn the exercises.
  • Last but by no means least, are you able to touch someone’s bare feet or sweaty back! We’re being serious! Pilates is touchy-feely and even micro-adjustments require a bit of hands-on action. 

If you answered yes to all of those questions, then you have the fundamentals to become a Pilates instructor. It’s now time to get those all important qualifications.

You need to be prepared to get “hands-on” as a Pilates Instructor

How To Prepare For Pilates Teacher Training

We touched on the importance of understanding anatomy and it’s no surprise that many instructors already come from a fitness or dance background. It’s a natural transition to make from these disciplines into the world of Pilates. That said, as you will find out when we reveal our CONTOUR instructor Q&A series, we have instructors from colourful and varied backgrounds.

Its hard to believe that it has been around for close to 100 years. The popularity of Pilates has been steadily increasing and for decades now it’s been one of the top fitness trends. The positive side of this is that professional qualifications and courses to ensure the safe and standardised practice have been introduced. Also, the demand for pilates teachers is at an all time high. However, don’t be fooled for one instance into believing this is a “cool and trendy” quick and easy career change to make. It isn’t! It requires considerable time, commitment and a financial expense. 

There are no gimmicks at CONTOUR Pilates and the one thing you can be assured of is that you are absolutely in a safe and qualified pair of hands, whether its the first or one-hundredth time you’ve used one of our state of the art reformer beds. 

Pilates Instructor Certification

There are two types of Pilates certification (although numerous courses and derivatives), namely Mat Pilates or Comprehensive Pilates which covers off all the Pilates equipment. We’re primarily a Reformer Pilates studio, so our instructors may well have a Mat Pilates certification but they will also have Comprehensive training too. 

Added to that, they are professional and have many advanced level certifications as well as more specialised training dealing with rehabilitation, pre and postnatal and also sport-specific Pilates training. You might be surprised to learn just how many qualifications some of your instructors actually have under their very tight and toned belt! 

Pilates matt class taught by a Pilates Instructor

Why Don’t You Let Our Instructors Put You Through Your Paces?

Whether you are keen to try out Pilates for yourself purely as a form of self-practice, or you are interested in checking out what our Instructors have to offer to see whether this is a career path you’d also like to follow, we’d love to see you at one of our CONTOUR Pilates studios here in Essex. You can check out our latest studio TIMETABLE as well as accessing this month’s special OFFERS. 



Hi Contourers!
September is nearly over, the nights are drawing in and most of us have probably set our sights on the next half term holiday! (it only seem like two minutes since the kids went back!) 

Ideas for Half Term – Kids Pilates Workshop.

If you’re stuck for ideas, how about signing your child onto our next Pilates workshop with Lindsey? Pilates is excellent for kids, improving their cardiovascular and overall fitness while helping to prevent injuries.

Pilates enhances flexibility, strength, posture and concentration. If they’re struggling to cope in the classroom this Term or just feeling the stress of a super busy schedule, Pilates won’t only strengthen their bodies; it will also help sharpen their minds. 

For more details about the workshop, please e-mail amy@reformerpilatesbrentwood.co.uk

Menopause Workshop – Sleep, Nutrition and Exercise Hacks

Don’t forget that if you’re starting to feel a bit itchy, scratchy, sweaty, sleepy, bloated, forgetful and dare we say it, a little bit “psycho” then we have the ideal workshop for you!

In this special session, you’ll learn easy to implement tips and tricks to help you alleviate many of the major symptoms of the menopause. Spaces are booking up fast so grab yourself a spot by clicking on the link and say goodbye to a bulging belly and sweaty sleepless nights! BOOK HERE

What’s not to love about October! 

Enjoying Autumnal Walks in Weald Park

We don’t know about you, but we love the crisp Autumnal mornings, Sunday walks over Weald Park and stopping off on the way back for a Roast dinner cooked by someone else! Or grabbing our favourite cosy sweater and curling up on the sofa on a Saturday night with a glass of red wine to watch Strictly!

Have you got a favourite couple yet? We couldn’t help but be impressed by Kelvin’s Samba! Have to say that the boys are looking strong this year.

Strictly Boy Celebs Getting Their Samba On!

Next time you’re admiring the professional dancers’ physiques, remember, lots of them practise Pilates, so you are in excellent company. Remember we’ve got lots of classes on offer at the weekend’s both at our Brentwood and Loughton studios, so there’s no excuse for hibernating this winter! Some of them even taught by ex-professional dancers so if you ask them nicely; they might also throw in a few moves from the Cha-Cha-Cha! 

Summer bodies are always a work in progress! Remember, regular practice all year round is the key.

Schedule Changes, New Time Slots and Offers

Just a quick round-up of some of the changes to the schedule we’ve made this Autumn. If you’re at all confused about what’s on when, please do check out the full schedule online for both studios. Here are a few quick highlights:

  • Loughton new time slot 7 pm Thursday
  • Loughton new mat class 1130am Sunday
  • Brentwood new time slot 0930am Cardio Jump replaces Dynamic Pilates
  • Brentwood change of instructor Martyna taking over Monday nights
  • Brentwood new time slot 0930am Cardio Power with Linsey replaces Barre

CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TIMETABLE

We also have a couple of exclusive members offers running too. Go to our SPECIAL OFFERS page to redeem.

September Offer Soon to EXPIRE
Act fast while you still have a chance to add on extra classes at our special discount offer of 4 for £44 or 8 for £88. Use one class in September and the rest in October if you prefer. Just book before the end of the month. Offer extends to all pass holders and current pack holders.

Monthly Pass Holders EXTRA CLASS
Once the September offer has expired, monthly pass holder can add on extra classes for £16.

Unlimited Members OFFER
Especially for our Unlimited Members this October, if you’ve always fancied being put through your paces on a one to one with your favourite instructor, then we’re offering you 50% DISCOUNT on a private class. Save £30 and really challenge that core to something more! Or, take things back to basics and work with your instructor to perfect your technique.

For all the details or to make a booking, please e-mail amy@reformerpilatesbrentwood.co.uk

We look forward to seeing your happy smiling faces at the studio this Autumn and helping you stay on track with your fitness goals, maybe smashing a few new Pilates challenges and picking up a few “Strictlified” moves! Keep Dancing!

Live.Love.Pilates
XOXO


How what you Eat and the Exercise you Do can effect your Symptoms.

Ah yes, the menopause! Buckle down and prepare for a bumpy ride! It’s like puberty’s older evil sister just drove into town!

Still something of a taboo subject (which is quite remarkable given that 3 billion women will inevitably go through it) we often get a one-sided story about the horrors of the menopause. According to the NHS, symptoms start a few months or even years before your periods actually stop (known as peri-menopause) and will last on average for up to 4 years afterward.

Common symptoms of the Menopause.

8 in every 10 women will experience at least one of these common symptoms.

Blogger, Alison Hurford, hilariously describes her experience of the menopause like being visited by the Seven Dwarves. Grimm ones at that!

  • ITCHY
  • BITCHY
  • SWEATY
  • SLEEPY
  • BLOATED
  • FORGETFUL
  • PSYCHO

However, if you know how to tackle the menopause effectively, it can be a time of fabulous liberation and positivity. Many women in the spotlight extoll the wonderful world post-menopause.

Take Oprah Winfrey for example. Always one to look on the bright side of life, here’s what she has to say on the matter.

Oprah Winfrey, TV personality

“So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as an ending. But I’ve discovered this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. It’s your opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then to pursue that with all of your energy, time and talent.”

That’s music to our ears at Contour Pilates. 

It’s the reason why we’ve teamed up with a leading nutritionist, Adele, and fitness specialist, Lindsey, to pull together an evening of education. In this informative and friendly workshop, you’ll discover actionable coping mechanisms. Simple and effective nutrition and exercise hacks that you can put into place to better help you combat your menopausal symptoms. If you’re interested in booking onto the workshop, hurry as places are filling up fast. 

Natural food and herbs that can help you tackle symptoms of the Menopause.

Click HERE to reserve your place today. 

A sneak peek of what’s in store.

You’ll learn about the link between nutrition and managing some of your symptoms.

Did you know that during the menopause, women experience a decline in estrogen which can lead to an increased risk of fractures? Dairy products are hugely effective as they contain calcium, magnesium and potassium (plus other beneficial vitamins and minerals), essential for bone health along with amino acids which can also improve sleep quality. Great news for cheese lovers! 

How how what you eat can help tackle symptoms of the menopause.
Selection of healthy food. Superfoods, various fruits and assorted berries, nuts and seeds.

Healthy fats, in particular, Omega-3 fatty acids, along with whole grains and lots of leafy green vegetables, are also highly recommended. Stock up on essentials like mackerel, salmon, flax and chia seeds, brown rice, quinoa and broccoli. Also, make sure that you’re getting plenty of protein into your diet. Unfortunately, ladies, it’s time to ditch the sugar, alcohol and caffeine! They’re known sleep disruptors at the best of times but they can also exacerbate the symptoms of hot flashes. 

The bottom line.

Simple and effective nutritional choices can go a long way towards alleviating your symptoms, making it easier to transition through this stage of your life. At our workshop, you’ll learn more about what could work for you and come away with an essential new weekly shopping list of meno-busting ingredients! 

Fitness is also crucial, in terms of preventing weight gain and the dreaded meno-pouch (which suddenly appears from nowhere), as well as strengthening bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and of course, boosting your mood. It’s time to add more strength training into the mix, so when your Pilates instructor tells you to pick up the hand weights. Don’t curse her! Thank her! Regular strength and resistance training will help you reduce body fat, burn calories more efficiently and also strengthen your muscles. Sounds like a winning combination. 

Don’t forget that you can book onto your workshop HERE.

The menopause fairy.

LIVE.LOVE.PILATES
XOXO

What Exactly Is Pilates?

Those of you already coming to one of our Contour Pilates Reformer studios here in Essex will know the answer to this but for any parents out there currently researching whether Pilates is appropriate for their kids or teens, here’s a quick introduction to Pilates and why it’s so beneficial. 

The brainchild of a German Doctor, Joseph H Pilates, it was initially created to help mobilise injured soldiers during World War 1. He introduced a series of body conditioning exercises that were designed to build back their strength and flexibility, endurance and coordination in a low impact way.

So Why Do We Advocate Pilates for Kids?

You don’t need to have an already athletic kid on your hands to encourage them to take up Pilates. It’s appropriate for all backgrounds and levels of fitness and can even help improve mental concentration, leading to an overall improvement in their school grades. Sounds good right?

Whether you’re concerned about your kids’ general health and fitness or are looking for fun and exciting new ways to introduce them to extra physical activity, Pilates can be a safe and low impact way to get their developing bodies and minds moving in healthier ways.

Todays more sedentary lifestyles, combined with poor nutrition have led to more cases of childhood obesity than ever before. A staggering 30.2% of children aged 6-11 are overweight (according to research conducted by the National Academy Of Sciences). Don’t allow your child to become part of that frightening statistic. 

Pilates is great for Sporty Kids & Teens who love competitive group activities.

Sporty Kids & Teens

Lots of kids these days are already sporty and if you have a kid who’s active and enjoys playing varied group or individual sports, then Pilates will help prevent them from becoming injured, strengthening their bodies and particularly their flexibility so that they can recover quicker from any extreme physical endurance they’re put through. 

It’s especially complimentary to dynamic sports that require lots of mobility and movement such as hockey, tennis, swimming, football, rugby and basketball. Yes, male rugby players, no matter what age, can absolutely benefit from a session on one of our state of the art Reformer machines.

Pilates really compliments a dance background

Dance Mad Kids & Teens

There’s long been a synergy between the worlds of dance and practising Pilates. Many of the most renowned Ballet dancers globally incorporate regular Pilates sessions into their exercise regimes, adding strength and balance to their repertoires. If you have a budding Prima Ballerina, a Hip Hop or Street Dancer or a teen who just loves to dance, then a Pilates for kids session will be the perfect companion activity. 

Even your little street dancer will benefit from Pilates!

Inactive Kids & Teens

Many kids, especially those who aren’t actively inclined, might be lacking body confidence, fitness levels and stamina and therefore be reluctant or shy about taking up a new competitive sport or group activity. With Pilates, kids can enjoy a full-body workout uniquely built around their current strengths and weaknesses, adapted according to their needs. Pilates really is suitable for all body shapes and sizes, levels of fitness and abilities and allows them to work systematically and progressively on their strength, endurance and flexibility in a completely positive and non-judgemental environment.

Pilates is excellent for improving flexibility and confidence.

Challenged Kids & Teens

We’re not just talking about kids suffering perhaps with motor control issues who might already be in some other form of rehabilitative occupational therapy. Although Pilates is an excellent adjunct if they are. It’s also excellent for remedying challenging behaviour and helping to alleviate the symptoms of stress, reclaiming a more quiet and controlled mind. Pilates requires a strong mind-body connection which improves levels of concentration and can boost academic and not just athletic performance. 

Pilates can help with concentration and improve those school grades.

We also happen to think it’s a whole lot of fun too. Why not send your kids along and see what they think?

What Do We Offer Kids & Teens Here At Contour Pilates?

At our friendly and welcoming Reformer studios here in Essex we’ve put together a workshop specifically to introduce kids to the concept of Pilates and to get them excited and interested about moving their body in this controlled way. Led by one of our friendly and highly experienced instructors, Lindsey, who passionately advocates the benefits of Pilates for kids, out next workshop will be taking place during the October half-term school holiday and is ideal for 7-11-year-olds. 

If you’d like more information about this workshop or to book your child a spot today, e-mail amy@reformerpilatesbrentwood.co.uk.

LIVE, LOVE, PILATES

XOXO

Hi Contourers!

Well, that’s another month almost over. Didn’t we finish on a high with glorious Bank Holiday sunshine? Hope that you managed to enjoy some relaxing family time ahead of the kids going back to school. New routines and manic Mondays are back on the agenda!

Even if you don’t have kids, September always feels like such a transformative month, a chance for a fresh start. Who else still remembers the excitement of getting a new pencil case! It’s a great month to commit to setting new goals. Are you up for a new Pilates challenge? Maybe experiment more with that yellow spring when you’re planking! It’s tough but remember you’re getting stronger every time you come to a class. Just trust that your core has got your back!

Challenge your side plank by changing your spring tension

What’s coming up? New workshops, classes, instructors and time slots!

If your nutrition, exercise or self-care has slipped over the Summer months  now is the ideal time to get yourself back on track. We’re here to help you press the reset button! 

Our regular timetable is back in full swing with a selection of times throughout the day from 0630-2100, so there are no excuses! We’re always happy to consider adding on additional time slots if there’s enough demand, so please let us know what times suit you best.

Check out the latest timetable for our Brentwood Reformer Pilates studio HERE.

Coming soon to our Loughton studio.

We’re delighted to introduce a new instructor and new time slot to our Loughton studio from 19th September. Kim will be running a class at 1900 and with a background in both Physio and Pilates, she knows exactly what your body needs to be safely challenged.

Check out the latest timetable for our Loughton Reformer Pilates studio HERE.

Tools to tackle the Menopause.

If you’re struggling with peri or post menopausal symptoms, we’re holding a special workshop over the October half term. We’ll cover off important issues like what happens to your metabolism and bone density and why it’s so important to eat lots of high-quality protein and exercise regularly. 

Lindsey will take you through your paces, demonstrating the importance of adding resistance and weights while a qualified nutritionist will talk you through smart food choices you can make to balance those out of whack hormones and minimise the development of the dreaded meno-pouch.

Beating the Menopause the Natural Way.

Kids Pilates workshop.

Pilates is also excellent for kids, improving their cardiovascular and overall fitness while helping to prevent injuries. It enhances flexibility, strength, posture and concentration, all vital for both physical and mental development. School life can be challenging, stressful and demanding and practising Pilates will sharpen their focus and could result in improved academic performance. 

Lindsey will be offering a half-terms kids Pilates session for 7-11-year-olds.

More info and keeping in touch.

For more details about these workshops, please e-mail amy@reformerpilatesbrentwood.co.uk

Don’t forget that you can also join the WhatsApp group for both studios, so you never miss out on the latest offers and news. Just e-mail Amy with your number if you’d like to be added.

Talking of Amy!

Amy is going to be relocating to Scotland. Don’t worry though, she’s promised to visit us once a week and will be finding a friendly face to front the studios in her absence, making sure the studios are tidy, inviting and welcoming for all her lovely regulars and new clients. Amy will also be available via FaceTime to answer any queries and client issues you have so there’s no danger of forgetting what she looks like! 

Let’s wish Amy lots of love and luck as she embarks on this exciting journey with her family.

Remember, there’s always a smile and a challenge waiting for you at the studio.

KEEP PLANKING!

LIVE, LOVE, PILATES

XOXO

You might be reading this Blog because you are already one of our Contourers, or perhaps you’ve done a quick Google search of Reformer Pilates in Essex and we’ve popped up.

However you got here you’re very WELCOME! 

We’re here to dispel the myths and break down the various benefits and styles of Pilates we have on offer. We’re taking you back to school! Summer is in full swing and as thoughts turn to the new school year, we thought it was about time we gave you a bit of education of what’s on offer.

Which Pilates Class is Right For Me?

Pilates is growing in popularity and if you’re already practising it, you’ll appreciate why. Just some of the many benefits include strengthening and toning of the entire body, improvement in flexibility and mobility as well as overall fitness.

Pilates though is not a singular term.

The various types differ in their approach and effectiveness, which is why we offer such a variety at Contour Pilates and why our fantastic instructors have such diverse teaching styles (and personalities too!) 

Naming no names (guess if you can) we have Bootcamp style trainers pushing you to your limit, instructors with a keen eye for detail correcting and perfecting your posture, some who make you laugh, sweat, ache and maybe even cry a little and yes, some who manage all those things in one 55-minute session! 

You could say we’ve got the lot. 

Just in case you’re wondering whether a class is going to be right for you and are confused about the options, let’s break it down. 

(note not all class are available at all studios so please check your timetable for further details)

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates class

As the name suggests, this class is performed on the floor and was the way Joseph Pilates originally began teaching.

It involves minimal additional equipment and is very heavily focused on strengthening the core. You’ll focus on isolating muscle groups and activating them correctly as opposed to breaking out into an aerobic sweat.

Essential (Beginners) Reformer Pilates

Designed to deliver a full-body workout using the Reformer machine, Essential Reformer Pilates is all about the flow of sequential movements, using the resistance springs to increase and decrease the level of difficulty meaning that there is always room for progression and regression. This is the class we always recommend our new members trial first.

Classes are always fun and great for improving all-round fitness. With never more than 10 people per class, you still get individual attention and are guided by your instructor how to use the Reformer machine correctly, building confidence at the same time as strengthening your whole body.

Mixed Ability Reformer Pilates

Reformer Pilates Class

As the name suggests, all levels are welcome and you can expect a more challenging and dynamic workout that will build on your beginner classes as you begin to explore more intense and varied full-body exercises. 

You might even be using some of our lovely props, including the bands, weighted balls and magic circles. Don’t worry about keeping up with the person next to you. Go at your own pace and if you need to adjust the strength of your resistance, be our guest! We have four coloured springs for a reason so that you can challenge yourself but also workout to your safe limit.

Mixed Ability Cardio Jump Reformer Pilates

Cardio Jump Reformer Class

Prepare to get your heart pounding and your pulse racing as you add the jump board to the end of our state of the art Reformer machine for an adrenalin-fuelled and fat-busting workout. 

While our other classes are more about strength and tone, delivering lovely long, lean muscles, this class is going to challenge your core, fire up your powerhouse and induce your fat to cry – AKA sweat! 

It’s high energy, incredibly dynamic and so much fun as you spring back and forth. It’s a liberating feeling. Throw in the challenge of catching a ball and it’s like being back in the playground at school. If you’ve had a long and stressful day, you’ll soon forget about it as you glide through the air with grace! (or land like a baby elephant maybe! Don’t worry though. You’ll quickly get the hang of it)

Dynamic Reformer Pilates

It’s time to switch it up a gear and while the emphasis is still on technique and correct alignment, these more challenging and fast-paced classes will build on your fitness levels, delivering fat burning results as well as toning, strengthening and increasing your endurance.

This is Pilates taught the Vin Diesel way! Fast and Furious. 

With hundreds of challenging moves in their little black book of tricks, the instructors have carte blanche to get creative in these classes. Good fun for them, perhaps a little bit like torture for you! We joke, of course. Nobody actually gets tortured at Contour, but you may hear an increased amount of panting, huffing, puffing and perhaps a bit of swearing during one of our Dynamic classes, especially when performing a plank to push up to pike! Let’s just say that the results are worth it.

Dynamic Cardio Power Pilates

Dynamic Cardio Class

In these classes, you’ll experience a much more intense workout with a higher emphasis on cardio and endurance training. A decent level of fitness is recommended before you try one of these classes, which are certainly challenging but will take your strength and power to a whole new level. 

You’ll definitely notice an increase in your stamina and you’ll do combinations of full-body exercises both on and off the Reformer machines. For anyone familiar with the concepts of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) as well as weight training, you’ll experience both these disciplines combined with Pilates. 

Barre Fitness

Barre Class

No tutus required but if you do fancy wearing leg warmers, that’s entirely your decision! There are no kids from Fame in this class although saying that, we do have a few regulars break out into song! 

In this class, you will utilise the Barre as a prop to aid balance while you perform a series of choreographed isometric moves to music. This is what we’d call a slow burner! It’s a deceptively challenging class that delivers a no impact full-body workout, focusing on the creation of lean muscle, sculpted arms and legs, a perkier derriere and elongated tights. There’s definitely a Barre Body and you’ll look Bootiful after a few of these classes. Ideal for all fitness levels including beginners and suitable for pregnant ladies you’ll benefit from increased flexibility, better posture and we’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth pointing out again, a peach of a seat!

Hello Yellow! 

Reformer Spring Tensions

The regulars among you will have noticed that we just added yellow springs to our Reformer machines; providing an extra level of challenge when you’re planking but making those tricep extensions more bearable. 

The instructors are certainly putting all the colour combo’s of springs to good use and really out-doing themselves with their creativity! 

We hope that you’re taking full advantage of the new springs this summer and also trying out a new class or two.

Back to School Offers For YOU! 

Why should the kids have all the new term fun? 

We want you to be excited about what September has in store too! That’s why we’re challenging you to take up some new classes with our Special September Offers and see what the rest of our Instructors have to offer. 

September back to school offer

Click here to find out all the details.

Reduced Cancellation Notice

Please also note that throughout the busy summer period, the usual class cancellation policy has been reduced from 24 hours to 12 hours for your convenience. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer break and hope to see some new faces in our studios this September.

Live, Love, Pilates

XOXO

A WHOLE BODY WORKOUT – 15 minute BARRE, by Jessica 

BACK EXERCISES – A BACK STRENGTHENER, by Rona 

The soft ball, as usual, may make you wobble a little. Keep trying and it will get easier.

Position yourself on all fours. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.

  • Level one – Extend your leg, and bring it back.
  • Level two – extend the opposite arm at the same time as extending the leg.
  • Extra challenge. Put a soft ball under your knee and repeat either level one, or two. Do 5 times on each side.
  • Level three – All four limbs float up and paddle legs and arms together. Do 10 times.
  • Stretch – Rock hips and then child pose

LEG EXERCISES

A LOWER BACK and HAMSTRING CHALLENGE, by Rona  

Position yourself on your back. Feet on the ground.

  • Level one – Peel your spine off, vertebrae by vertebrae. Do 10 times.
  • Level two – Put arms up, fingers pointing to the ceiling. Peel your spine off, and then down. Do 10 times.
  • Level three – Peel your spine off, then left your heels off and then place them down. Do 10 times
  • Level four – Put a ball under your foot. Peel your spine off, get to the top, and then take your other foot off and raise it to 90-degree angle and then place it back down. Do 5 times on each side.

ARMS, by Rona

You need a resistance band for these exercises. You can purchase these at the studio for £7. Put one foot underneath the band.

  • Level – To increase resistance take more of the band in your hand.

THE HUNDRED – A STOMACH BURNER, by Rona 

January has been and gone and February is about to bid so long! While we’ve had our fair share of blustery storms in 2020 the days and nights are thankfully getting longer and lighter. So if you started off the New Year all guns blazing with a new fitness regime (hopefully Reformer Pilates) but found yourself less committed through dark and dreary February, now is the time to get yourself back on track! 

Here at Contour Pilates in Essex, our lovely instructors are ready to put a “spring” back in your step and prep your for the summer months! So we thought we’d ask them what their top tips were for staying fit and healthy. We know it’s a priority for most of you but that it can still be a struggle keeping tip-top condition. Life gets in the way, we appreciate that, but if you’re not committed to a regular diet and exercise regime, you could be seriously jeopardising your long term health. Making small changes to your lifestyle can contribute significantly to better long term health.

So how can you get Back on Track to a Fitter YOU!

Move More

A lot of people simply don’t move enough throughout the day. If you have a job that demands you sit staring at a computer screen for hours a day, we feel your pain. It’s not easy, especially if you’re in a busy office, to suddenly jump up every hour and start pumping out some burpees or running with high knees on the spot for a 30-second diversion from your spreadsheet! Your colleagues might well think you’ve lost leave of your senses! It is super important though you move throughout the day. We don’t mean you have to run a marathon. Just moderate movement of thirty minutes every day will go a long way to helping you stay fit and healthy. 

  • Could you stroll around your local area at lunchtime?
  • Could you get off the bus or train one stop earlier and walk?
  • Is there a new class you could take up a couple of time a week either before or after work or in your lunchtime?
Move More with Contour Pilates

Have a word with yourself! Are you really going to keep using the excuse that you don’t have time? Thirty minutes is long enough to be effective but not too long to eat into your precious time. Just check your smartphone later today and see how much time you’ve spent scrolling through over people’s social media accounts and ask yourself if you’re spending your time wisely! Unless you’re scrolling Contour Pilates for inspiration of course! Then you’re excused if you were also planking at the same time!

Eat Well

Temptation is all around us to eat processed and convenience food. We’re bombarded by images in the media of what is presented as so-called healthy alternatives. But are they? Really? Fast food is also another culprit. Again we use the age-old “I’ve not got enough time” excuse. Make time. Your health matters and you’re buying yourself a future.

We’re not saying that you can’t enjoy a cheat meal every now and then. Overall though, opting for a well balanced and nutritious diet packed with fresh, colourful fruit and vegetables and lean protein is your best option.

Your Menopause Survival Guide
Eat Well with Contour Pilates

Making small changes can again help us to develop a better relationship with food, improving our health and wellbeing and making it easier to stick to our goals. Fad, restrictive diets might well be quick fixes, but they’re not sustainable long term. Any diet that restricts food groups isn’t healthy and is never going to become a way of life. So to live a long, happy and healthy life, eat well and do Pilates! That’s the best advice we can give.

Supplements

While we’re huge advocates of eating healthily and moderating your alcohol intake, we know there are times when you just can’t get everything you need from whole foods. At times like these you need to be supplementing your diet with effective earth soured minerals and superfoods to boost your immune system and keep you feeling healthy and strong. These are some of our favourites for when you feel a bit of a bug coming on.

Oregano Oil – it’s a natural fighter when it comes to immunity plus as an added bonus it’s beneficial for naturally boosting your metabolism.

Supplement your Diet with Contour Pilates

Echinacea – particularly useful at this time of year when the large strikes, it’s a natural immune booster that stimulates the body’s natural ability to ward off infections.

Vitamin C – a must-have immune booster. Find it in foods such as oranges, strawberries and kale.

Vitamin D – we all know how dangerous but delicious sunshine can be! The days might well be lengthening but we’re still lacking in happy sunny rays right now. Vitamin D is an excellent fat-soluble vitamin that not just boosts your immune system but also helps the body process nutrients and minerals. 

Positive Mind Happy Life!

Finally, do not underestimate this final tip. There is nothing more powerful than the mind. Whether you think you can or you can’t, it will become true! Set yourself up for success with a positive can-do attitude. You’ll accomplish great things, not least sticking for your health and fitness goals if you approach each day with a healthy mindset. Here are our top tips on how to stay happy from the inside out!

Positive Mind Happy Life with Contour Pilates
  1. Focus on the positive – retrain your brain by spending just a few minutes every day thinking about all the good things in your life. Grab yourself a new notebook and jot them down. Do not underestimate the power of a silver lining!
  2. Celebrate your victories – we all deserve a cheerleader in our camp but the best one of all id yourself. Life is full of ups and downs so always find time to celebrate the wins, however small they might be.
  3. Work-life balance – it’s hard! We get that. Finding an outlet to help you express yourself and release stress is so important. That’s why Pilates exists!
  4. Practice mindfulness – bring focus and attention to the present. Accept how you’re feeling now, then move on! It’s pretty liberating stuff. Trust us.
  5. Get creative – channel your imagination and your childlike inquisitiveness. The more expressive and enthusiastic you are, the more joyful you will feel. Give it a go! 

At the end of the day, it’s all about accepting who you are, living fully in the moment and cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful always and you will quickly feel happier, healthier and more content than ever before.

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