Lucy Whitehead is Owner and Lead Instructor of One Grove Pilates Studio in Cheltenham. Lucy talks to Willowberry natural skincare about why she swapped high impact fitness for Pilates, how to think of movement in Pilates’ terms and how Pilates can benefit your mental health as well as your body.
What sparked your passion for Pilates and to make it your career?
I was introduced to Pilates in the early 1990s when some US instructors came to demonstrate at my London gym. At the time I was a gym bunny, unfailingly attending at least one high-impact class daily to escape the rigours of my City job. What I experienced was an entirely new, more coherent and more intelligent method of working my body - nourishing it rather than placing more demands on my system. I knew that Pilates would stay with me for life. It became my career when I left London to follow my husband’s job and raise my children.
What are the main benefits of Pilates?
Pilates works on 360 degree fitness - strength, mobility, endurance, speed control and agility, from the inside out. Most sports are one-sided or repetitive in their planar movements and this means that only parts of your body get trained. Fixed gym machinery is anachronistic, too - movement practice should always develop every spatial aspect and every muscle group, large or small. And because Pilates adopts this expansive approach to exercise, you have to expand your mind to break out of restrictive habits, too.
What kind of results have you seen with your Pilates clients?
Postural improvement is par for the course with Pilates, as you learn to strengthen your back and abdominal trunk structures using all your deep muscle groups. Lots of our runners and cyclists have achieved their personal bests after adopting Pilates training as an adjunct to their sport. And toning bingo wings and flabby abs is up there on our list, too!
We help people overcome back niggles, knee pain, shoulder and neck tension and ankle injuries. We rehabilitate clients who have had joint, spinal and abdominal surgeries. We provide gentle supportive exercise for cancer sufferers and we help clients with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and hypermobility disorders manage their symptoms and have fewer pain episodes.
What are your top Pilates tips?
My top tip is firstly to explore the world of Pilates! Try an Equipment session or come to a fully-equipped studio where the instructors are vocational with in-excess of 9,000 hours of teaching experience.
But on a more practical note, when you next undertake a big walk or gym session, try and think in Pilates’ terms, i.e. work from the inside out, balance your body movements precisely and let go of gripping tension in your hips; work your bottom instead.
How can Pilates contribute to good wellbeing?
The sense of control over and in your own body that you develop through Pilates practice has huge mental health benefits. When life is rushing on around you, you develop a true feeling of inner strength, physically and emotionally. You also become more adventurous when you know how to adapt your body movements to any shape or demand.
How do you look after your own wellbeing?
Because I am so active, teaching up to 10 classes a day, my own nourishment is centred on being still. This pretty much translates to relaxing and reading Grazia! But I am careful with what I eat and which products I use, so that I avoid contact with toxins. I am a great fan of your Willowberry Nutrient Boost Face Oil, which I use morning and night and sometimes just sniff to feel uplifted!
Willowberry natural skincare is dedicated to your skin’s wellbeing to help it feel content, comfortable, happy and balanced. Just how we all want to feel in ourselves, too! The Willowberry Wellbeing blog aims to inspire you to live a healthy, balanced and happy life for enhanced wellbeing.