Poise and perineums: discovering the joy of pilates in Croydon

By - Thursday 29th October, 2015

The gospel of Joseph Pilates, according to Jonny Rose

Every Wednesday at 1 o’clock, a group of colleagues and I steal away from our Great Portland Street office to attend a weekly pilates class, held in an exquisite Georgian terrace at Fitzroy Square.

Over the course of 45 minutes in a small airy studio to the sound of coffee table jazz, myself and other classmates contort ourselves into various positions whilst trying our hardest not to break wind or make eye contact.

You never really know someone until you have their lycra-clad perineum distend a metre away from your face for forty-five minutes

Despite it (initially) seeming ridiculous to me that nearly an hour of stretching could yield any kind of material improvements, the result in just a few short weeks has been an improved posture, deeper sleep and an invigorating sense of smugness as I tell everyone that will listen about my latest pursuit.

What is pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercise, developed by Joseph Pilates, which emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility, and awareness in order to support efficient, graceful movement.

Think of it like yoga, but without the dodgy Eastern spiritualism.

Pilates is one of the fastest-growing exercise systems in the country. It seems like everyone is doing pilates. Indeed, one of the best things about the pilates method is that it works so well for a wide range of people. Athletes and dancers love it, as do the elderly, women rebounding from pregnancy, and people who at various stages of physical rehabilitation.

Pilates has taught me a lot about my body

The classes have taught me a lot about my body. You’d have thought that occupying it for 28 years would mean that I would know pretty much what’s happening around them there parts, but nope – each week is a voyage of discovery as Lina and Becky help me to find my ‘glutes’ and other muscles that I never knew existed before.

The classes have been a revelation when it comes to how I stand, how I breathe and how I move.

Pilates is all about strengthening your ‘core’. Imagine a sturdy oak tree which has its trunk cut across to reveal the concentric rings. If those central rings were removed and the tree put back together again, it would look the same from the outside but would, in fact, be much more prone to being blown down than when it had its ‘core’. The core muscles in humans are the ones that stabilise the joints around the pelvis and shoulder girdle (shoulder socket, shoulder blades and collar bones). If we don’t know how to engage them we tend to use the larger muscles which then tire easily and become prone to injury.

Breathing is also a key part of the exercises and are usually done in measured bouts in concert with particular exercises. For the body to function more efficiently we need to take full breaths but still in a relaxed way. If we focus on drawing our breath in towards the base of our ribcage, our shoulders stay relaxed and we require less breaths per minute, while increasing our oxygen intake.  This is what is meant by ‘lateral breathing’, a term commonly used in pilates. When you are new to pilates the lateral breath can be hard to co-ordinate with the exercises but it soon becomes second nature and gives you extra vitality.

Why you should do pilates

Like most professionals, I spent a large amount of the day cooped up in an office, hunched over my laptop, eating food that I shouldn’t and trying to move as little as possible.

I try to make time for evening jogs and after-work spin classes, but neither of these seem all that appealing now that the nights are getting colder again.

I’m no ‘gym bro’, either. I can think of nothing worse than being trapped in a mirrored-room with preening men and women that look like genetically-modified Pepperami getting ready for a messy summer in Malia.

Pilates, by contrast, is an entirely different proposition. My classmates are a lot more sophisticated and interesting for a start. Just six sessions of pilates and I’m almost as keen about it as I am about Jesus. Almost.

So, if you’re a Croydonian looking for something to do in a lunch break or a spare hour in your week, perhaps you should take the leap and consider one of many pilates classes going on in Croydon near you.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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