I’ve never really been one for Pilates, being more of a yogini myself – but spending 40 hours a week at a desk, and living in a box in the roof of my house with no room for yoga means my lower back gets a lil’ stiff sometimes… So, semi-reluctantly, I thought I’d give it a go.
Before we begin, though, let me give you some background on my experience of Pilates. Two weeks after I moved to London, I tentatively stepped into a class at my local gym – only to have a pretty scary, although probably very nice (probably) lady stretch me into a position I’m just not meant to go… Resulting in a good two weeks of mild discomfort, and a mortal fear of Studio Two. Suffice to say, I didn’t go back.
And as for the ‘hot’ side – I’ve so far successfully completed two Hot Bikram Yoga classes, and I’m trying to love it. Really trying. But with the first nearly killing me, and the second sending me into a mild rage as the instructor told us ‘one day, you’ll be able to see your ribcage in the mirror…’
Let’s just say it’s not a relationship I see blossoming any time soon.
So it was with trepidation – nay, fear – that I rocked up to Yotopia in Covent Garden this Sunday to try out my very first Hot Pilates class.
The thing that struck me, right off the bat, was the fact that the atmosphere was a lot more inclusive than some studios I’ve been to more recently. Everyone was relaxed, comfortable and there for all the right reasons – and the guys at Simply Health and Yotopia went out of their way to make sure everyone was at ease. Even me.
And as for the class, I needn’t have worried – my fears were allayed almost immediately as the instructor (and osteopath), Amy Slevin (on Twitter as @yogaparkourgirl and certainly worth a follow) got us all warmed up and ready to go, with some lovely, loose movements that – I’ll be honest – these ol’ bones haven’t seen in a while.
It felt easy – or at least, until we really started to get going.
Hot Pilates takes place in a room that’s 35º C – rather than the 43º you can expect in Hot Yoga – and for me, that’s a much more comfortable temperature. But don’t get me wrong – you sweat. You really, really sweat.
Which means when you’re moving from plank, to push up, to forward fold, and back again, it can prove pretty tricky just to avoid slipping in one direction or another. It’s easier said than done – but the important thing, I’m slowly finding, is that relaxing into it is absolutely crucial.
That’s what made this class so special. The atmosphere – down to a combination of a great environment, and a really, genuinely lovely instructor – meant it was easy to just ease in, and enjoy the experience for what it was.
Now, I forget, every time, that Pilates is all about your core – and if, like me, you’re a lil’ loose around the middle, that can seem a tad unnatural. But unlike in the Hot Bikram Yoga classes I’ve been to, the more movement-focused Pilates allows you to really feel your muscles loosened by the heat – which is both good, and bad.
Good, because I managed to reach positions, and stretch and flex in ways I didn’t realise I could; bad, because I’ve been hobbling around at work all day like someone who’s been punched in the gut. You win some, you lose some.
The difference, though, was amazing – after a few weeks of feeling a mild twinge in my lower back, I felt thoroughly relaxed and ironed out, from the very base of my spine up to the top of my neck. And the added detox-style benefits of getting in a really good sweat were pretty obvious – because my skin was glowing all day, in a way it doesn’t usually seem to on a Monday… If you know what I mean.
If it’s not clear by this point – I loved it. I really did. And it made me think there’s really something in this hot workout lark – and Pilates, too. It’s a great way to work out, and relax, all at the same time – so thanks to simplyhealth for the invite!