Friday, 30 June 2017

Q and A with our new Pilates teacher Polly!

Hi Polly! Tell us, where did your interest in Pilates come from?
I had been suffering with repeated knee injuries for some time but as a relatively young dancer in the ballet company I didn’t want to admit how bad they were for fear of losing my job. One evening performance, dancing as a swan in Swan Lake, I froze in the wings unable to make it onto stage as the pain in both knees was unbearable.  I was lucky enough to have a nurturing ballet mistress called Elaine Macdonald who noticed a swan missing and came and found me in the dressing room packing my belongings, ready to give it all up. Telling me I would regret that decision for the rest of my life, she sent me off to London to train with the Pilates Master, Dreas Reyneke.

Pilates was still relatively new to the UK in those days, from the minute I laid down on the Reformer, with Dreas’ calm instructions, I was sold. Moving my legs against the resistance of springs, feeling my back supported by a barrel, my ankles stabilised in straps - the experience came as a revelation. It was also humbling! My assumption that I was strong because I was a dancer was put to the test daily. I shared the studio with non-dancers who had much more core control than I did.  After three months of intense work I returned to the company a much stronger and secure dancer, my technique had improved without doing one step of ballet.  I learnt to work smarter, not harder.

What’s your favourite thing about being a Pilates teacher?

I love the journey that both my client and myself take whenever I start with someone new.  They will come to Pilates because of injury or to improve their performance and they will have a goal. Together we will work on achieving that goal but along the way other things will appear and present themselves, patterns that have not been serving them to their best; it could be the way they breathe, where they hold their tension, what their ankle does – what it should do – all of these different parts of the puzzle that need to be addressed. I love that everyone works differently, that they respond to different stimuli; my hand on their hipbone, for instance, could be the trigger to organize the body better, for others a verbal cue or a visualization. This takes trust and a good dose of humour and I feel very privileged to be able to work this intimately with people.
Does Pilates combine well with other therapies?

Yes, very much so. When Steve, Hazel and Karen have given the all clear for the patient to engage more actively in their recovery, Pilates can be a great way to start. Resuming exercise and normal activities after injury or inactivity can be scary and uncertain; Steve wanted to create the Pilates rehab studio at The Octagon to provide the bridge from treatment table to returning to the gym, generic exercise classes or even feeling confident to lift their baby out of the cot. We believe that offering treatment and rehabilitation all under the same roof is hugely beneficial to the patient in both communication between the therapists, and that one to one attention to give the individual all the tools, skills and awareness needed to take control back over their body. I feel very excited to be part of this team.

Any common misconceptions about Pilates that you would like to clear up?

Yes! Pilates is not all about a rock solid core and killer abs. In fact endlessly cuing ‘naval to spine’ is not beneficial to finding ease of movement with control and grace.  Nor is Pilates something to be good at, we practice Pilates so that we can, “Go about our varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.” (Founder, Joe Pilates). In my mind Pilates is more than just building core strength, after I do a lesson I feel buoyant and happy which is then reflected in other aspects of my life. This is my goal for my clients.
Any Hammersmith and Chiswick local recommendations?

I live locally so I have lots, but I won’t bore you with them all. For coffee it has to be Artisan, for the best cut and colour in West London I recommend Adam and Potsie – they are a husband and wife team who are great fun as well as being fantastic. My family are big cyclists and The London Cycle Workshop are very knowledgeable, friendly and deliver a great service. For a quick dinner pre or post cinema Killer Tomato on the Goldhawk Road is good for speedy tacos and enchiladas. 

Read Polly's full bio here and get in touch here to book in a 1:1 Pilates session with her.