Pilates at Clinic Equilibrium, Bowdon

Lindsey Woolstencroft @ Clinic Equilibrium

Lindsey Woolstencroft @ Clinic Equilibrium - Credit: Archant

Pilates at Clinic Equilibrium in Bowdon is designed for you and your own body’s needs.

I have been promising myself to join a pilates class for ages, but you know how it is, people telling you how great it is just doesn’t seem to overcome the inertia. Plus, with the years of abuse my neck and back have taken as I hunch over my keyboard, I confess to being genuinely convinced it would all just hurt too much. Then I met Lindsey Woolstencroft, founder of Equilibrium Sports Injury and Pilates Clinic, in Bowdon.

Lindsey came to discover pilates on the recommendation of her coach, when she was in training to represent Team GB as an ice dancer. She found the whole premise – and the difference it made to her core strength and balance – so fascinating that after leaving the sport she decided to train as a pilates instructor – after completing her BSc. in Sports Rehabilitation, that is. It is this personal experience, plus her commitment to rehabilitation rather than simple fitness, that reassured me that Linsdey might be trusted with my poor aching back. And neck. Oh, and that hip…

When you join Lindsey’s Bowdon-based studio, you will be taken through a pre-class assessment, where she works out with you what you think your issues are and then makes her own judgement – using her own skill and experience and some nifty posture-measuring tech. Often, aches and pains you carry in one part of your body will stem from an issue quietly getting on with itself elsewhere; so a shoulder pain may stem from a hip weakness for example, as you carry yourself differently to protect the weakness, thus bringing about a problem elsewhere from the altered biomechanics.

With me, it’s all in the ribs, apparently. When this was explained to me, it made complete sense. And even more so when Lindsey demonstrated just exactly how little movement I actually have through my torso. Blimey, it’s not good, I can tell you!

After my posture assessment, Lindsey took me through a series of exercises that would, over time release the rigidity in my upper back and develop a strong core – the deep muscles in the abdomen that underpin every movement you make. I honestly had no idea I had so many tiny muscles all waiting to do what they’re designed to do. By getting into bad habits in standing, sitting, walking (everything) I have placed too much stress on some areas and allowed others to weaken. Pain in my hip after a long walk stems from weakened muscles that hold all that area together; strengthen these and I will extend my pain-free years. My pelvic floor and lower abdominals are great, apparently (yay me!) but I should be extending that strength upwards, to create a core spring of strength that ties it all together.

Lindsey’s clinic offer three ways to get your pilates fix: on the mat (the sort we all know about); on reformer beds, which use springs set at varying tensions to assist you in different exercises; and aerial pilates, where participants use ‘hammocks’ to support them while working out, which enables you to hold the poses longer and with less strain on the joints, apparently. I didn’t try this, but am very tempted! Class sizes are very small, so you can be sure of the individual attention you need, too.

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The exercises I did served to show me that there are definitely improvements to be made and – most importantly – strength and improved fitness can be achieved without risk of hurting myself! After a full hour of stretches and muscle strengthening yet very gentle exercises I felt both calm and energised and absolutely confident in my body’s own ability to get me through the next stage of my life with increased flexibility and all the good things that brings – as long as I finally commit to taking up regular pilates, of course. And having spent a fascinating hour with Lindsey, I can’t think of a better place to start.

Bowdon, clinicequilibrium.com