As we leave the month of April behind and head into May it seems a good moment to look both backwards and forwards. It’s been the best part of six weeks since I last taught in a physical studio and those last classes that I taught at the start of that week seem even more distant than a month and half away. The last couple of classes that I taught were unusually quiet in terms of both numbers and volume and I remember how surreal the whole thing felt as none of us were sure how things would unfold. I was initially resistant to moving my classes online – I worried about my internet, my messy flat and, most of all, about how I would teach effectively without being in the same physical space as my clients.

This evening I’ve taught my last couple of classes of the month and I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all of my clients who have joined me for classes over the last six weeks. It’s been fantastic to see so many of my regulars, including those who are currently residing in other countries. It’s also been lovely to see people returning to classes after a break. One of the benefits that livestream classes have over physical classes is that it can be easier to squeeze a class in to a busy day if you don’t have to factor in getting there and back. A number of clients have been able to make evening classes work with bedtime routines, as it’s no longer a choice between putting children to bed or taking an hour for themselves. Several clients have actually requested that I keep some classes online even when we can return to studio classes.

The last six weeks have been challenging in many, many ways but I really hadn’t anticipated that there would be so many positives to teaching online and I certainly hadn’t anticipated the sense of community that would come with sharing our ‘home studios(!)’ with each other. I read an Instagram post from one of my favourite Pilates teachers* today and in it she told people to “expect a class with plenty of soul… if a slight lack of polish” and to be honest I’d take the soul over the polish any day. My goal is to help people keep moving during these strange times but I also hope that those who join me for classes find that sense of soul and of community.

*Katherine Pentecost

A whole new You?

Notes to Strangers - Build yourself bit by bit

There is nothing ‘normal’ about what some people insist on calling the ‘new normal’. Yes, we’re adapting to living in unfamiliar circumstances – with varying degrees of success on any particular day – but we need to make sure that this is not at the expense of our physical or mental health.

When we’re feeling strong it is relatively easy to recognise that it’s ridiculous to believe that we should all be coming out of lockdown with a business idea, side hustle or new skill. But when we’re tired or not at our best it’s easy to berate ourselves for not ‘making the most of the situation’, to imagine that we’re feckless and simply need to try harder, to apply ourselves better.

Launching my website during a pandemic I’m aware of the tension between encouraging and supporting people to exercise and giving them yet another stick to beat themselves with. Countless studies have shown the positive impact that exercise has on both physical and mental health and exercise is even one of the permitted reasons* for leaving our homes. However, exercise can become another of those things that we feel bad about. We’ve won back the hours that we usually spend commuting so why aren’t we fitting in that early morning class that we always complain that we don’t have time for?

The trouble is that we’ve become so focused on the need to ‘get things done’ that we often lose sight of the fact that there can be joy in the actual doing. Exercise becomes something that we need to tick-off each day rather than something to be enjoyed. Two of the principles that Joseph Pilates saw as key to Contrology (his name for Pilates) were Concentration and Relaxation. These principles help to remind us of the importance of being in the current moment rather than just rushing to tick another thing off our to-do list. I believe that movement should be fun and I’m passionate about getting everybody moving. It’s great to set SMART goals but let’s also try to enjoy the journey.

Here’s to building ourselves ‘bit-by-bit’!


*UK Government Guidance April 2020