More Yoga

Yes please!

I am still running, albeit in a keeping things ticking over kind of way, leading my GoodGym runs and with the odd parkrun here and there, to test myself. My knee is still painful and swollen, so I visited my GP recently and asked to be referred to a consultant (appointment in a month’s time). I have realised that I need to think long-term and look at activities that will support my running, by increasing strength and flexibility. You can see how I’ve been working on the strength aspect here and, to increase my almost non-existent flexibility, I’ve been doing some yoga and pilates classes.

Recently I was cycling through my local area and spotted an interesting-looking building with a big stylised water lily image and ‘More Yoga’ in big letters on the front. It didn’t look very open, so I kept on pedalling and looked it up online when I got home. It seems there are studios all over London and the reason it looked closed is because the studios don’t have a reception and just open during class times, thus keeping the cost down. They also have just a few changing cubicles and one loo, with pared back decor (which I quite like!) and simple styling.

Special offer

I have been wanting to do pilates for a while, having studied it back in my dance days, but was struggling to find a class that was close enough to home but also fitted in with my schedule (there are some great classes locally, but not at times that work for me right now). I pondered the website for a while, before signing up to a ’20 days for £15′ offer and promptly heading to my first class.

Looking back over my class history, I can see that I’ve taken seven classes so far and I have enjoyed all of them. Each has been different (there are all sorts of yoga styles to choose from and a few pilates classes too) and all of the teachers have been great, really friendly, supportive and clearly experienced and professional (I like that they bring their own personalities into the class, giving each a very different feel). I would say my favourite classes so far have been ‘More Flow to Restore’ (which I did with snow falling outside last week!) and More Power Pilates, where I *really* worked out how to engage my core! Yesterday I was in a restorative session, using blocks, bolsters and blankets to support stretches that were held for around ten minutes each…blissful! The only criticism I might have is that the studio could be a little warmer, my hands and feet were cold and I think it’s important to feel warm when you’re moving into deep stretches (there are big blankets that you can wrap around you, which is helpful, but not always appropriate).

Signing up

My 20 days will be up this weekend, so I need to decide whether I want to continue and sign up for a longer period. There are all sorts of membership offers (I’m a little overwhelmed to be honest!) and you can also buy a class pass, which can be used over a set period of time (I notice you can even get annual membership now, but I’m not sure I’m ready to commit!). If you want to find out more, click here and I would definitely recommend doing the twenty-day option, I have found it a great way to get a taster of the different teaching styles and see if I can fit it in to my schedule.

Namaste!

 

 

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Bootcamp Pilates

When I’m stuck in my run, run, run, swim, swim, swim routine, I often forget about taking some time to fit in something else. I do a bit of additional core work at home after a run, or when I remember, and it really does help, but I find it hard to squeeze yet another discipline into my week. Last week I decided to have a go at Bootcamp Pilates to see if this might be something to balance all the forward motion activities I find myself doing. I have done some pilates before (actually it was a big part of my dance training, and I have always been aware of its benefits), but this has always been mat-based, but this time I found myself climbing onto a machine. At Bootcamp Pilates, they use reformer machines – this is not some new fangled thing, but is based on the original machines used by Joseph Pilates, so has been tried and tested over many years.

As I was new to the class, the teacher spent a bit of time explaining what we would be doing and showing me how to best set up my machine, she also popped over every so often to make sure I wasn’t getting into a pickle. We started with a warm-up, using a ring thing (I don’t know the technical term) and working our abs (I was glad of my regular core work at this point!) and we were soon getting into position on our machines, and using the resistance to work our legs. There I was thinking my legs were good and strong, but I was really feeling the burn as we held the last position…just a little bit longer…and three, two, one….arrrghghg! So, if you pictured pilates being something biddies do, involving lots of lying around and deep breathing, then you’re wrong!

I would definitely say I prefer this class over the mat-based class. I was so busy concentrating on getting my position right (and not falling off the machine and showing myself up) that the hour flew by and, before I knew it, we were warming down and stretching. My teacher was really friendly and made sure I understood everything before letting me throw myself about on moving apparatus, and the studio I visited was really handy for Old Street station (just a few minutes walk). There are other studios in Notting Hill, Fulham and Richmond and, if you’re quick, you can take advantage of the current offer of four classes for £50 (this is just for January, so get a move on!). I found I was aching the next day, especially my thighs and glutes, so I definitely had a good workout 🙂

Winter fun

Yes there was snow on them there Hilly Fields and yes we were going ahead with our Parkrun. Forty-five runners turned up for a frolic in the snow this morning, but I resisted the urge, being Run Director and marshal, then satisfied my snow-fun needs afterwards:

Oh, what fun!

Oh, what fun!

Hector and Edward kept themselves very busy building a snow monster/alien thingy:

Watch out!

Watch out!

Yesterday was a gymmy day, then I got hot running around in the park after school, avoiding being hit by snowballs.

In yer face!

In yer face!

And trying to persuade Hector it might be getting dark, and we should go home.

So angelic. Ahem.

So angelic. Ahem.

On Thursday I succumbed to the lure of an extra layer and wore a vest under my long-sleeve top, I even wore a hat. I normally reserve such excesses for when there is snow on the ground, but I seemed to require a little extra help in getting out. I woke with a few alien aches, a result of my hard work on the floor on Wednesday: that Pilates class is good, with the aches being in all the right places (abs, butt) so I will definitely be back for more next week. It seemed like the perfect time to try out a pair of tights I am testing, the new ACTV tights from Puma. I had a sneak preview of these leggings back in the summer at a Puma press day up in East London, with the backdrop of the Olympic Stadium to glance at wistfully. The thing that interested me about these tights was that they are like a compression garment, but instead of being worn post-exercise, they are designed to be worn during exercise. The inside of the fabric is lined with little rubber tracks that massage your muscles as you run (this is the inside-out view of the knee area):

Wiggly

Wiggly

They are interesting to get on, with the rubber bits sticking slightly – there was some stealth-like manoeuvring going on in the bedroom and, as my legs are seemingly shorter than the average leg, some interesting wrinkling occurring around the ankle. Oh, to be able to order a few extra inches of shin online… As I left the house, it was very tempting to rub my thighs, but that would mean looking like Vic Reeves and getting the neighbours talking, so I resisted (whilst in public anyway). Did I mention it was cold? Well, I wasn’t expecting one of the qualities of these tights to be extra warmth, but they did seem to keep my legs warm and there was something reassuring about the gentle hug they were giving my lower limbs. I have been experiencing some ankle and knee pain in the past few days, but amazingly there was no sign of this. Maybe this was coincidence, but it would be great to find a garment that can offer this much support during a run. I suppose if I was doing a more scientific sort of test I would have gone out for a run in a regular pair of tights to offer a comparison, but I really needed to jump straight in the shower and grab a cup of tea on my return. The Puma tights will be available exclusively from Sweatshop and will retail at £100.

It was a gorgeous day for a run along the river and I was treated to views like this:

Through Ladywell Fields

Through Ladywell Fields

And this (but no kingfisher today):

The River Ravensbourne

The River Ravensbourne

And, on my way back, this caught my eye:

One sided

One sided

Core

I didn’t make it to the yoga class on Monday morning, so I decided to try and get to the pilates class today. One minute it was 9.10 and I was sitting reading blogs with a cup of tea in my hand and the next it was 9.30 and the class started in a quarter of an hour. Oops! Undeterred by such a challenge, I jumped on my bike and pegged it down the road. Things might have been a bit easier if I hadn’t got distracted by the bird-watching man and wondered nosily what he had spotted, thus carrying on along the path instead of going up the hill. This resulted in a detour around Catford (never a fun experience), finding I couldn’t take a right turn, annoying pedestrians by riding on the pavement for a bit (I know), and avoiding getting crushed by big lorries, buses and impatient van drivers. I got to the gym at 9.44, flustered, a bit sweaty and very snotty, perfect.

My previous experience of pilates has been as a dancer, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The room was full and there was already some deep breathing going on, so I sneaked in and found a mat and a bright yellow rubber band thing that everyone seemed to have, and got down and breathed. There were points early on in the class where I was slightly bored, being more of a go faster, get sweaty sort of person, but I soon found myself working hard and engaging previously neglected muscles in the midriff region. I felt strong on some of the harder exercises, so the run/gym thing seems to be paying off. It was a good class and the teacher was attentive and obviously experienced, so I think I might go back. I’m not convinced by the opera-pop mix, wailing lady whale music thing though and I tend to mis-read pilates as ‘pirates’, which I think would be a far more exciting sort of class.