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Making friends with my muscles at The Pilates Pod

I spend far too many hours bent over my laptop – or stuck behind the wheel – and I’m starting to get to a point where my back has been protesting about it all.  I thought I’d get some expert advice about what I can do to keep it from shouting too loudly, and so, after chatting to The Pilate’s Pod’s Michelle at the Muddy Herts Awards reception last month, I booked myself in for a 1-2-1 session in their studio.  After all, they won Best Pilates/Yoga Studio in Herts (hoorah for them!), so they definitely know what they’re doing.

pilates pod

The Pod Family: Michelle, Dylan and Ed

It’s definitely not false modesty to say that I’m not, er, a natural athlete but I have done a bit of Pilates and yoga in my time.  But not for a long time.  I had confessed this to Michelle before I went – as well as explaining to her how I spent most of my days (i.e. hunched over the keyboard or the wheel), and she got a knowing glint in her eye.

The studio – behind a deceptive front door and up a couple of flights of stairs – was light and airy, with the brilliant orange blinds intensifying the sunshine that was pouring in.  And Michelle was friendly and welcoming – and got straight down to business.  No letting me make excuses about what I wouldn’t be able to do.  No taking me up on the suggestion that we have a cuppa and talk about what I need to do before we started.  Nope.  On with my kit and we were off.

pod studio

Michelle talked a lot about ‘making friends’ with some of those muscles I’d not used in a while.  I definitely got reacquainted with a few I’d been neglecting, although I’m not sure ‘friends’ is quite how I would have put it.  What I did realise, in the days afterwards, was that I was much more aware of the muscles I should be using to counteract the slouching over the screen that I do too much of.  So yes, maybe friends.

There’s something about one-on-one attention that is utterly brilliant – but it definitely gives you nowhere to hide.  No skulking at the back of a big class, hoping to get away with not quite trying hard enough because you’re having a slow day.  No taking a sneaky break on the grounds that you’re watching how someone to see how to do it properly.

pod indiv

Clearly this isn’t me that Michelle is working with here — but there was *no way* you were going to see a photo of that.

Michelle had put together a programme for me that focused on the exactly what I needed.  And while I focused on finding those muscles she had me looking for, she focused on me.  What felt like tiny adjustments made a huge difference, as she re-introduced me to the bits of my aching bod that needed the most work.  And made friends with them on my behalf.

pod posture 2

I’m all these. And more.

So, the deal was mostly that because I spend most of my time bending in one direction (not the band), once I was on the mat I needed to bend in the other direction.  Lots of moves to open up my hips – which get all tight when you sit all the time – and my chest (ditto).  There were exercises designed to strengthen my glutes (which are a bit squidgy at the best of times), build up my core muscles (most of whom have been doing next to nothing for far too long), and lengthen my spine.

I love that her attitude is all about doing it the best you can – rather than doing it perfectly.  After all, if I could do it all perfectly, I wouldn’t need the class, right?  It’s all about trying, working on things, developing what you can do over time.

pod class

I loved the session (in a ‘oh-I-so-need-this’ sort of a way), and it is definitely somewhere I would go again.  If I lived in Hitchin, I’d have signed up on the spot.  I’d love to try out their regular classes– there’s a 50-50 yoga and Pilates class that looks amazing – and I just found the whole attitude to me and my reluctant muscles so encouraging.  Yes, there was clearly work to be done – no punches pulled there, for sure – but there was such a supportive ‘you’re just starting, it’s fine’ feel to the whole thing that it left me feeling overwhelmingly positive (if a bit sweaty).

Businesswoman arch

Ok, so this isn’t me (obvs), but how cool would it be to be able to do this? Except the screen would be upside down…

What I’ve noticed since is that I’m much more aware of how I sit, how I stand, which bits of me are tight and need loosening, and which bits are lazing around and need a bit of tightening up.  I’m finding myself incorporating bits of what Michelle taught me into the way I am every day.  And that’s got to be good.  Not that you need to know this, but I’m pulling up my pelvic floor muscles right now

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