Stott’s Pilates - the celeb workout comes to the Ribble Valley

Arms pulling straps using the long box

Arms pulling straps using the long box - Credit: Archant

Pilates is credited with everything from reducing Victoria Beckham’s tum to extending Ryan Giggs’ playing career. Rebekka O’Grady is put through her paces

Christine Sharples

Christine Sharples - Credit: Archant

With the indulgence of Christmas over, now is the time when many of us try to get back into shape with a fitness regime. But I was keen to try something different so I took a trip to Stanley House in Mellor to workout in their new state-of-the-art Pilates studio.

Developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century,its popularity has soared in recent years due to a number of celebrities (such as Victoria Beckham) endorsing the benefits gained from the body-conditioning routine. The theory is that Pilates concentrates on helping you build flexibility and muscle strength throughout your body, while providing inner well-being and agility.

Traditionally the exercise is carried out on a mat or a table called a reformer, which uses springs and pulleys for resistance. However, Stanley House has adopted within their new studio a contemporary version of the original workout. Stott’s Pilates, developed by fitness guru Moira Stott-Merrithew, encourages every muscle group to work while maintaining emphasis on your core. A new Cadillac trapeze table is used alongside traditional equipment to gain maximum benefit for beginners and advanced users.

The innovative studio is bright and inviting, and has breathtaking views of the Ribble Valley through the glass walls. My trainer for the morning was Christine Sharples, an experienced instructor who has been teaching Pilates for four years. She was very encouraging and made me feel at ease as I have not previously practised Pilates. Before beginning the class Christine carried out a posture analysis to understand my body and recommend particular positions.

We ran through the basic principals of Pilates while I warmed up on the reformer. I learnt that focus is placed on your spinal and pelvic alignment as well as your breathing. There are two ways of holding your pelvis, either in neutral or imprint. Imprint involves slightly tucking your tailbone under, engaging your oblique abdominal muscles to stabilise - a harder but more worthwhile position. In warming-up I got to practise these basic moves before incorporating extras such as a box or arm pulling straps. Christine really broke the moves down, helping me as a beginner to perform each one correctly.

Workout on the reformer complete, it was time to progress onto the Cadillac table. The equipment looks intimidating, but once you are practicing positions it becomes fun. My favourite position was a ‘spread eagle on trapeze’, which involved holding my body weight on the bars above while balancing my legs straight on the trapeze. Throughout the session I could really feel all the muscles working, more than I’ve ever felt at the gym. A Stott’s Pilates class works various muscles deeper than a standard gym session, and I thought it was a lot more fun. When else can you become a gymnast for an hour?

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I would recommend the workout for anyone who is up for a challenge and looking for a class that is different. You may ache the next day, but that shows it works.

Fit for celebs

Victoria and David Beckham have been spotted practising Stott’s Pilates at a gym in LA. Victoria has been working out using Pilates for a number of years, and it’s claimed Pilates and exercise helped her lose post-baby weight. David began Pilates while playing for AC Milan.

? Pippa Middleton has commented that her local Pilates class always leaves her feeling calm, refreshed and invigorated. ‘Over the past few months I have noticed a huge difference in my core strength and posture,’ she said.

? Ryan Giggs, the Manchester United footballer, professes that a mix of yoga and Pilates keep him in shape to play football at the highest level into his 40s.

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