It's Small Business Saturday and firstly we want to thank you for supporting us, a small business, via your commitment to your body. We also want to celebrate some amazing local businesses we just love here on the Gloucester Road.
So read on for our short guide to just a few of the stores we love on the Gloucester Road.
Icon Beauty - a gorgeous salon with top treatments and the only Bristol salon stocking the amazing vegan skin care range by Estime & Sens! (image from Icon Beauty)
Wild Leaf - I mean Pilates + Plants is life right? We just love the lay out and variety of this store and a great place to pick up a Christmas gift!
Jack the Falafel - a new lunch go to. This independent vegan cafe serves homemade curries, falafels and cakes and vegan chai drinks! Plus they are giving our member 10% this month! Just show them your membership on the app or the email to get your discount!
The Sofa Project - SOFA Project is a reuse, recycling and rehabilitation charity selling great quality second-hand furniture, appliances and homewares.
Spicer&Cole - for our daily brownie habit at both our City Centre & Bishopston studio!
The Rambling Rose - our go to for bouquets and perfect for an bespoke, beautiful Christmas Wreath!
Grape & Grind - We of course love La Vignoble, but when shopping local on the Gloucester Road this specialist in wine, beer, spirits and coffee store is a great place to pick up some unusual wines and coffees.
Better Food - A fabulous new addition to the Gloucester Road! This independent Bristol retailer is an Aladdins cave of delicious organic, local and ethical food and products
Future Leap - A sustainable business hub offering co-working spaces and events spaces alongside some amazing retail products! An exhibition space with futuristic green technologies and sustainability services, including a sustainable lifestyle shop.
1 - The ethos that runs through our studio means that a Pilates class with us is not just a workout. It's mindfulness, meditation, strength building, toning and rehabing those aches and pains all rolled into one powerful class. Now that's an efficient use of one hour!
2 - Our unique approach not only trains the body but, we think, more importantly retrains the nervous system. This allows the body to feel more at ease physically and mentally not just in class but in life. Because more ease and efficiency means improved mental health, more tone in your body, improved digestion and less pain.
3 - If you have ever seen a chiro, osteopath or physical therapist, then know that our approach is going to take your rehab to the next level. Literally training your body to move differently so it doesn't go back into pain. We work with everyone from those with aches and pains to Consultants referring into us for post surgery rehab. Because if you keep moving the same way, you will keep needing to be re-aligned. Soul Pilates will teach your body and nervous system to move better every day.
4 - Improved Mental Health - whist our clients see and feel the difference in their bodies very quickly, the benefit they most often cite from Soul Pilates is their improved mental health. Our approach means you're going to be so focused on your body and breath that you will create more space in your mind in a similar way to a meditation session, all while working the body too.
5 - Suitable for everyBODY - our approach means we work with people from literally every spectrum of life. In our 1:1s we work with clients with disabilities, post stroke, those with degenerative conditions and everything in between. So you can be sure no matter where you're starting from you will not be too old, too unfit or too nervous to start at Soul. Our approach is about teaching individuals so everyone and everyBODY feels supported and nurtured to feel its absolute best.
Unsure of where to start? Or if Reformer is right for you? Then book into a free consultation call with the team to discuss your needs and how Reformer can work for you.
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I have had so many messages via Instagram lately asking me for advice on using our classes to support their recovery from illness, especially post Covid. Maybe you want to move but you don't have much energy yet, so what do you do?
I think the thing to remember if that movement is always going to help you to feel better, so long as you do something which works with, and not against, your body. So please listen, and tune in and don't push through how you're feeling right now. If you fall asleep mid-class then that is totally ok!
So here are my suggestions of a couple of shorter classes from our sister site MoveBetter.TV that I think will support you with feeling more in touch with your body again so that it begins to heal from the inside out and your nervous system can feel restored and your immune system boosted once again.
YOU CAN TRY THEM FREE FOR 14-DAYS by signing up at www.movebetter.tv/joinus
35mins Grounding Class with a Focus on Breath
This class will really help you feel restored and relaxed.
30mins Lengthening Class
This short class feels so delicious on your body.
I had a breast reduction at 19. My boobs were massive by the time I was 13 / 14. I gave up sprinting and long-jumping along with any hope of wearing pretty tops and pretty bras. My shoulders hurt and my back constantly ached from standing. So by the time I was 19 I decided I had had enough. The boobs were going and my life would begin again. Running and strapless tops here I come.
Then I was in a car accident. I got whiplash. The proper type. Not the claim blame type which just goes away. I had severe shoulder pain. I spent a year in physio working on my shoulder. I ran out of credits with my insurance company who insisted I see a specialist. I turned up only to find I was seeing a neurologist. I was so embarrassed. “I think there’s been a mix up, I’ve hurt my shoulder and just need you to sign off some more physio sessions I said”. He spent some time looking at me and then told me “there’s nothing wrong with your shoulder, it’s your neck. You’ve damaged a facet joint but it’s so minimal you won’t see anything on a scan which is why it wasn’t picked up but it’s impinging a nerve as this is giving you the pain in your shoulder and the tingling in your hand.”
This was the first time I started to appreciate that where you feel the pain isn’t always what is causing the pain.
I started seeing a Pain Specialist, had some injections into my neck which helped a little and then told they could “burn” the nerve to stop it firing which didn’t sound so helpful to me. “It wasn’t that bad” I told myself. I can live with this.
A few years later I fell running for a train. I wasn’t drunk I promise. I hurt my ankle and was then told I needed surgery to repair it. I had the surgery and whilst it was technically repaired I had exactly the same pain post surgery as pre. I did my physio, did a lot of Pilates (this was all before I trained as a teacher) and told myself that “well this is as good as it gets” and got on with it.
I then decided to train as an instructor with Polestar Pilates who are the most wonderful training body. The level of detail they go into really is astounding. It’s very rehab based but you realise very quickly that really everyone has some sort of rehab need. And that rehab is really just about making your body work better, be more efficient so it’s pain free.
This is when everything changed. I learned myself that we are not meant to be in pain. That it’s not something you’re supposed to just put up with. That you can change it. You can feel better.
Now let me make this clear. Pain is a very big topic and I’m not pretending to cover everything off here. But here are the things I find myself saying time and time again to my clients.
The LANGUAGE you use to describe your body affects how it feels
The language you use about yourself really matters when it comes to pain. Your “bad leg” will always be “bad” if you label it as that. Your “painful shoulder” will be in pain and your “weak ankle” will always stay weak. And of course we have the “bad back”…well…
Change the way you talk about your body and it will change the way it behaves.
Chronic pain is often linked to your emotions
This is not to say it’s not real. It’s very real. Your body is a system of communication and it’s always communicating with you about how it feels both on a physical level but also about your relationships, careers, lifestyle etc. The you don’t listen it shouts. And shouting is pain.
I have worked extensively in rehabilitating people with long term pain and I would say nearly every time we get to a point where someone realises that instead of “I just put the bins out and my back went” actually “my mum died suddenly around the same time” and the penny drops.
We store our emotions in our body. And when you get an area moving which hasn’t moved in a while, because it’s been holding on or keeping everything inside, then you might feel emotional and notice a memory that you had blocked out.
So understand that pain isn’t always a pathology. It can often begin with a life event and later become a pathology such as a bulging disc.
A PAIN-FREE MOVEMENT experience is literally the best medicine
This is well documented. If you can move in a way which is pain free then your nervous system starts to recalibrate. Because often long term pain can be more about the pain receptors being heightened than anything physical. A pain-free movement experience starts to retrain the body as to what is possible.
Surgery often doesn’t always FIX the pain
I have worked with so many people over the years who’ve had surgery and, like me, afterwards said, “I don’t really feel pain free and I expected to”. This is because you had a movement pattern that caused the issue. Maybe the way you walk led to compression in your spine which cause you to prolapse a disc. You had surgery to remove the disc and fuse the spine. The problem was removed right? Wrong! You still move the exactly same way only now you’re putting pressure on the disc above or below the one you had removed. So now another area is inflamed.
As well as any surgery you must learn to move with ease, un-learning any bad habits and re-learning efficient ones.
In fact the best results I’ve ever seen from surgery are when a client has come in before surgery to work on improving their movement patterns so they can much more quickly feel the befit of their surgery.
Your body can literally do ANYTHING
Our posture isn’t fixed. We’re not born with it. It changes throughout our life and can continue to change. Our brains are equally plastic and continue to be shaped through out life depending on our experiences.
We have the power to shift everything.
Master the EASE
In terms of movement, learning to move with ease, mastering the basic strategies with utter efficiency is the key to being able to get stronger and fitter without injury and pain. When you meet restrictions in your movement this is exactly where you need to be. If you get stuck on your roll up, spend time on the "stuck" section rather than just giving up because you can't do it. Unless you have been told you shouldn’t do something by a medical professional often it’s the lack of movement in an area where you’re going to get the most benefit when you learn to move it.
I spent 3 years trying to extend backwards over the ladder barrel in the studio. Spine extension was so painful for me with my injury but I kept working on the strategies I needed and one day I realised I was ready to attempt it again and it felt easy. It still feels easy 8 years later.
I promise you that this approach will last you a lifetime. But that also means it's not a quick fix. It takes time but it's well worth it.
LOWER BACK PAIN is often caused by the wrong muscles working too hard
Let go of the “I must do more to sort out my back” approach. The truth is lower back pain is often caused by your global muscles doing too much and your local muscles not doing enough. Pilates is all about getting the local muscles to do their thing, not just in class but in life. Any active engaging will only ever work the global muscles. You want the subtly in movement.
This is going to be your life long friend.
I started Pilates in my 20s following a car accident which left me with severe chronic neck pain which lasted years. After seeing several specialists and pain management consultants and a lot of lying inside MRI machines, I found Pilates and instantly fell in love with how it made me feel. In fact it was the only thing which removed my pain completely and also toned me up (I dropped 2 dress sizes) and gave me mental clarity like no other workout. I decided to train as an instructor and now 15 years later I own two Pilates studios in Bristol, England and our wonderful online community MoveBetterTV where we bring movement into your homes in our unique way.
What I love most about being an instructor is that you never know everything about the body. There is always more being discovered and therefore more to learn. I find it fascinating and have spent thousands training with some of the best movement and anatomy experts in the land to really understand how our bodies work and how to get the most of them while keeping them pain free. A lot of what I learned really went against everything that was being said to me in most movement classes, everything I read online and really goes against the grain of the fitness industry in general.
I don’t ‘engage' my core (or my glutes)
This is a HUGE one for me. Let me explain: Our body is the most amazingly complex system that does all this ‘stuff’ without you ever consciously thinking about it. In fact this subconscious thinking is the key here. When you walk, you don’t tell each and every muscle to engage and release. You just walk. So why then do we think that the only way to get our abdominals muscles working is to engage them? Our brains literally don't have this conscious connection in this way. We don’t know exactly which part of your core to engage, or by how much. So when you “engage your core” (this goes for ANY muscle in the body) you literally stiffen it, shorten it and actually start training hypertension into your core. When in fact what you want are muscles which know exactly when to engage, when to release, when to be short, when do be long. And to do this you have to ALLOW your muscles to do their job by putting yourself into the correct position. When you’re in the correct position your core will do its thing, your glutes will fire. I hear so many people telling me that they’ve been told they’ve got weak glutes and do lots of glute exercises only to find they still don’t fire when they run. Because the issue is not that they don’t engage or are weak and need strengthening. The AREN’T engaging because your movement pattern is out.
So let me sum this up: Put your bones in the right place and your muscles will do their thing, in exactly the way they were designed. You just need to allow them to.
Actively engaging leads to stiffness, shortness and this puts a huge amount of pressure on the lower back. Pulling in your core when walking around does not reduce your back pain. It is probably causing it.
Seriously don’t do it. But yes do get a strong core! Just in a functional way.
I don’t push myself to breaking point
I was recently chatting to our wonderful manager Dani (she’s also a totally awesome PT) about a client of hers who had talked about how her pain was holding her back in her trianing and made her feel like a failure and it brought me right back to a time when I had felt exactly the and I literally nearly cried thinking about it.
Before I was an instructor I used to do a lot of boot camp type classes. You know the type you’re supposed to be when you want to tone up, loose weight and get fit. The type which push you to your limits so you can see what you’re capable of. But the thing is I had severe nerve pain originating from my neck which ran all the way through my left shoulder and down onto my arm.
I would keep pushing in class, my arm would be screaming at me to stop and I would literally hear “push through the pain” shouted at me. I would end up in tears feeling like an utter failure at my inability to push through whatever I was supposed to push through.
But I wasn’t a failure. My body was literally shouting at me. It knew, for whatever reason, that what I was doing was not right for me in that moment.
It’s important to recognise if you’re just being lazy and need a bit of a (gentle) push OR if your body is telling you it’s unhappy. And there could be a lot of reasons why it’s unhappy but that’s a topic for another day. I'm currently doing Our 10-Day Challenge and woah it's pushing me for sure: cardiovascularly, muscularly YES. But pain? Absolutely not - well apart from the sore muscles the next day which ease off with a bit of stretching.
I stopped thinking it needed to be hard to be any good
Carrying on from number 2, through Pilates I learned to train ease into my body. To find efficiency in my body.
The Pilates classes I attended felt more like massages then workouts but somehow I noticed that I got stronger and leaner than I had ever done from working out 4 times a week AND my pain literally disappeared. I mean it actually went. I cannot stress how many specialists I had seen and was left believing that this was my lot.
What I learned is that pain is never something you should just live with but that you need to really create efficiency in your body before you can push it to its limits. So that pushing becomes a challenge not just something which is “hard”. Because if it’s “hard” it’s probably because you can’t do it. And if you can’t do it, what are you training into your body?
Think of your body like a car. We service a car so it runs smoothly and can therefore manage journeys with ease. If the suspension was a bit out your car would wear out quicker. Your body is exactly the same. You need to service it with efficient movement training so it learns to run smoothly then when you had extra load, speed your movement up, challenge with a lack of support, you’re doing it on a machine which is running smoothly. Which won’t wear out. Which won’t scream at you.
When I opened my physical Soul Pilates studios, and now our online offering MoveBetter.TV, I wanted to teach everyone who came through our physical or metaphorical doors what I had been taught over the previous 5 years. Because this literally changed my life and I wanted to share this with everyone so they could feel as good as I did.
I often say “my Pilates training changed my life” and people assume it’s because I left the corporate rat race of marketing to become a Pilates teacher and studio owner. But this is not what I mean.
Literally my Pilates training change my life. It changed the way I viewed my body, my chronic pain, my work-life, my home-life, my relationships. It brought me to a place I never even knew existed. And this is what I wanted to do for other people: to teach and guide like I was taught and guided.
Because through my practice I realised that pretty much everything I had been brought up to believe was actually not true.
In a nutshell, DO LESS TO ACHIEVE MORE. Especially in movement and absolutely in life.
This is the ethos that seeps into everything we offer on this platform. We want every experience with us to leave you feeling amazing with more knowledge of your body from every class and a calmer mind which is ready to deal with anything life throws at it.
So here are my top tips to feeling great every day.
1 - Let the easy things be EASY.
This is the one which can trigger the most people because it goes against the grain of a way many of us live our lives. We are literally conditioned to believe that nothing comes without an enormous effort. 'No pain no gain' whether that’s in studying or exercise or life.
Through movement I really learned how I could feel so much better in my life. Instead of looking to find the burn in a class and thinking that that was the goal, I thought about “how can I make this feel as easy as possible”. If it feels easy does that mean the muscles aren’t working as hard? NO! In fact they are working just as they should, just as they were designed. And you still have something left in the tank to give. You’re not always using up every ounce of effort when exercising. If my movement is constantly taking me to my edges then is it any wonder that my nervous system feels burned out, anxious and stressed?
The truth is (and this is science, not just my opinion) that your body needs to find ease so that it doesn’t burn itself out doing the simple tasks in life. When you train ease into your body and your nervous system, you learn that the simple things are simple. Then you have more left in the tank to give, so you're working with your energy and not forcing it when it’s not there.
2 - DON’T engage your core.
Please don’t. There is this huge narrative out there that you should walk around actively engaging your core and your glutes to have a good posture. And in a class you should actively engage your core, or any muscle really if you want to ‘work’ it.
Well let me make this clear. This is simply not true.
Our body is the most wonderfully complex system. It knows when to engage and when to relax when you allow it to. We don’t control every muscle in our body so why should we think we need to do this with our tummy? And if you constantly engage it, you’re actually creating more stiffness (hello lower back pain) and less function.
Plus you’re telling your nervous system you want to override the system (you know the one it’s so awesome at no computer has ever been able to replicate) and constantly hold on. Using muscles when they’re not needed. Constantly having a system turned on is like leaving the lights on when you’ve gone to bed. It’s not needed and uses up energy unnecessarily.
How many muscles are you holding onto unnecessarily?
A big “ah ha” moment in class are when a client sees a holding pattern they’ve never noticed. Something they’ve probably done for years. Because a big part of Pilates is about undoing a lot of old patterns and learning more efficient ways to move.
Because no matter how often you might see a massage therapist, osteopath, chiropractor or physiotherapist, and they put you right, if you keep moving the same way you keep running into the same problems. You have to learn to move differently to make a change that lasts. And this approach literally lasts for a lifetime.
3 - Women aren’t the same every day. Work with your cycle and learn when it wants restorative movement and when it’s ready to pump and glow.
A man’s hormonal cycle is 24-hours long. A man is the same every day. Well hormonally anyway. Whereas a woman’s is 28-days (or whatever your cycle is) long.
A woman is not the same hormonally or energetically every day.
When you tune into your energy depending on where in your cycle you are, you will see that some days (usually around ovulation) you are super energetic and this is a great time to try a Pilates Cardio class or go for a longer run. Whereas other times (usually around your period) you are low on energy and should rest or do something really restorative. When you start to acknowledge this you really start working with and not against your body. Understanding that the ebb and flow of our energy is a natural part of being a woman.
4 - Let go of the word “SHOULD”
Should has to be the dirtiest word in the dictionary. Well maybe just in terms of feeling burned out!
“I should do a workout”, “I should go here”, “I should do this” - the should is your body’s way of saying “I could this, BUT I really don’t feel like it”. Start to recognise when you’re pushing a “should” onto a body which is saying “I could but I’d rather do something else ”. This will stop you feeling burned out and leave you far more able to meet the right challenges for you and your body right now.
5 - If it’s HARD it’s because you can’t do it.
We are conditioned to believe that nothing good comes unless it’s hard, especially when it comes to exercise. I would argue that if something is truly hard it’s because you can’t do it. And if you can’t do it you have to ask what are you training into your body? Instead look to find appropriate challenges.
A strategy you’ve mastered and now feels easy? Then increase the load, or reduce the support so that your body can meet the challenge. This will support your nervous system understanding balance. And it’s a balanced nervous system which allows you to feel… balanced!
6 - Train your body to feel how you WANT TO FEEL.
Think of exercise as a life training. Less of forcing it into a shape and more about using movement and exercise as a way of creating the way you want your body to feel. Strong but comfortable. Energetic but at ease. Always having something left in the tank so when life throws your a curve ball you’re ready and able. Simply having a different intention in your workouts will have a huge effect on your energetic being.
Because here is an absolute truth. When you focus on this, your body will move in this direction too. Feel good on the side, look good on the outside. Feel strong on the inside, look visibly strong on the outside. Feel calm and centred, live a life which is calm and centred.
7 - READINESS TENSION is something you might not know you’re carrying.
Are you always ready for anything that might happen? I mean it might not happen but you’re ready if it does? Is this you?
Well this readiness tension is something that creeps into your body and into your fascia. It fatigues you before you’ve done anything. And if that “thing” did come along you’d be less able to deal with it.
Spend time finding stillness, be that as true stillness such as meditation, or as stillness in movement (yes that’s really what our Pilates classes are all about) so you training ease and not holding on, into your system
Our MoveGB partnership, and those of you who attend our classes through its membership, has been a long-standing part of our Soul family for over five years.
We have been a premium partner of Move and have worked with them from the beginning to find the best ways for you all to move with us on your memberships in every one of our classes. MoveGB members are a big part of our family (about half of you) but there have been quite sudden and impactful changes made at MoveGB that has sadly forced us (and many other studios) to reassess our partnership with them.
We appreciate that many of you use MoveGB not only to attend Soul but also other locations in Bristol. We’ve always wanted to help our clients enjoy all the movement activities they love to do, which is why being part of MoveGB felt like a natural extension of our ethos.
Two days after lockdown began, MoveGB announced a radical and immediate change to the model they use to pay us (and every other Bristol studio) for classes you attend. This wiped out a huge proportion of our income (70% less than what they previously paid us) which in turn has impacted what we are able to pay our teachers. For every class a MoveGB member attends, our teachers now earn less than if that person had booked directly with us.
I cannot tell you how painful this news was. Not only was it a huge enforced change, but one that came with very little notice, impacting not just Soul but also our teachers, all during one of the most challenging periods our industry has ever seen.
Unfortunately, this is not a short-term change for the duration of the lockdown. MoveGB has made this is a permanent change to their terms, which means that it not only affects the current virtual classes, but also the physical studios once we reopen.
In fairness to MoveGB, this change only brings Bristol in-line with the other UK cities it operates in. Whilst the unexpectedness and immediacy of the change has been difficult, I acknowledge that Bristol has benefited for many years from being MoveGB's pilot city and that the original model it has supported in Bristol over that time is no longer sustainable.
The reason I am telling you this now is that in order to keep our physical studios running, our teachers paid fairly and you moving better, there will be changes to the way MoveGB members can access our services when classes resume at the physical studios.
When we reopen the studio spaces, MoveGB members will no longer be able to attend our Equipment or Reformer classes via MoveGB. We pride ourselves on teaching small, tailored classes and their new model simply is not viable for a specialised studio such as ours if we are to be paid less than half of what we previously received per attendance.
For our Mat-based classes in the studio, there will be a limited number of spots made available for certain classes each week.
This means that if you want to continue attending a favourite class, you will need to book directly with Soul when we reopen.
We know this may be a step away from how you're used to accessing Soul through MoveGB, which is why we wanted to give you notice ahead of the studios opening again.
At that point, in addition to our normal class passes, we will be launching a new series of exciting Soul memberships to provide a variety of options to suit different budgets, ranging from £69 to £199. These will enable you to access a range of your favourite classes, supported by our new online offering, and we hope these memberships will allow you to still enjoy your Soul experience outside of MoveGB.
Once we know when our classes can resume we will launch these memberships to buy online. In the meantime, there is no immediate change to what MoveGB members can access whilst we operate an online-only timetable.
Whilst we have been busy adapting, we have also been busy evolving something that I have had in planning for a while. “My Soul Studio” is a brand new online offering designed to help you move more and at more flexible times from the comfort of your own home.
Think more Soul classes, more of your favourite teachers, more movement options and more times to suit your schedules, all combined with access to our physical studio classes.
So watch this space for more information coming very soon!
We have lots of look forward to and I am hoping we can move, laugh and feel great together really soon.
A dynamic one hour workout which is great for helping you get out of your mind and into your body. This class focuses on pelvic stability and ease, pelvic floor strengthening, functional movement and strength.
A great class for all levels but especially good for those with any pelvic floor dysfunction, those working post-natally (like Nic who's baby is 4 months old at the time of filming!), and those who want to improve their posture, release the hips and strengthen the deep core muscles. This is one of those classes which ticks a LOT of boxes!
This class was filmed as part of our live virtual classes which you can book via our website.
For more classes like this please visit www.mysoul.studio.
Here, at Soul Pilates, we are aware that keeping our team hydrated will aid them to perform at their very best throughout the work day.
As a result, we decided to invest in a water cooler from AquAid.
Our unique relationship with AquAid has also given our company the opportunity to help those less fortunate than ourselves, because with each purchase an automatic donation is made to the Africa Trust.
These funds are used to build ‘Elephant Pumps’ - a modified version of an age old Chinese rope pulley system. One such pump is currently being installed in Africa on our behalf and it will be a much needed source of clean and fresh drinking water for many.
Our organisation’s name will be proudly displayed on our well and we look forward to adding a photo and letters of thanks from the villagers to our site in the near future.
To date AquAid have built over 8,000 such Elephant Pumps across parts of Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe; and have donated in excess of £16 million to charity.
Runity (Pain-free Running) coach and Pilates teacher Nic takes you through a dynamic warm up routine which is great to get your body prepared for running and reduce the risk of injury.
We've been really missing the reformer and Pilates equipment during lockdown so we've been working really hard to create a new virtual class bringing you all that you love from the reformer into your home.
Like many studios we've moved online during lockdown. Find out about our approach to classes and 1:1s and how we can help you keep moving as well as calm and connected in your mind and body.
At Soul we want you to experience more than simply exercises so that you feel empowered, connected and at ease in your body.
Studio Founder Nic talks about the difference in a Pilates class and a 1:1 to help you understand which might be right for you.
Welcome to the world of Virtual classes with Soul! We will be coming to you via the power of Zoom which is a web-based video technology that lets us see each other via our cameras on a computer, tablet or phone. Here are some tips to help you have a really great class experience so that you get the most out of your session.
It is really simple to set up so that we can see you (if you’re happy with this, you don’t have to) and you can see and hear us!
You Home Studio Set Up
Do try to place your device in a way so we can see all of you on your mat. This might not be possible but if it is, it will allow us to teach you in as close to the way as we do in the studio. We may not be physically with you or able to do hands on correction but we will want to ensure you’re moving with precision and we can only do that if we can see you! So side on is best where possible but don’t worry if it isn’t!
Do take the time to get into your class 5 minutes ahead of the start time. This will give you plenty of time to test your set up, and ask the teacher for help if you’re having problems. We will do our best to help you where needed, hopefully this guide will do that for you! And as we do more of this, it will become easier each time.
We will be recording the class so if you can’t join or had any issues you can email us to share the link which is valid for 72 hours.
Joining your Virtual Class
If you book direct with us, you will receive your link as soon as you book your class. It will also appear in the reminder email which is sent out 1 day prior to your class. These emails are automated emails from MindBody and may be something you're used to ignoring so please check these for your class link! If you haven't received the link, please email us well ahead of your class time for us to check your settings on your MindBody profile to check you've opted in to received account and class notifications. You can also do this yourself by checking your details and preferences in your profile.
If you plan to view on tablet or mobile please download the Zoom app in advance, you can search in your app store or if you view https://zoom.us/download you will see the links to the android and Apple app store half way down this page.
You will need to create an account but this is free and creating an account will give you more features which are super helpful.
Make sure your Zoom name is your name so we know who you are!
Can I speak? How do I communicate with the teacher?
Zoom is a tool primarily for video conferences, so when you speak, the main view changes to be you for everyone who’s in the class. For that reason we have selected that you are muted as standard, with your video on.
You can change this but just be aware that if you speak, everyone will see you. So to make it easier can we ask you to “raise a hand” and we will unmute you, or just wave at the screen! Or you can use the chat function to ask a question. You can chat to “everyone” or just select the studio. It's really important to us that we interact with you. know where your body is at and provide you with as close to the physical interactive class experience as is possible.
Making sure you can see your teacher and not your fellow class members!
If you are on a desktop, you can click on the three dots and “pin” the the screen of the teacher, or select "speaker view". You will also see everyone in the class as part of your "gallery view" which you can move around on the screen. Do ensure that we are your main view before class starts!
On the mobile or tablet app, you can scroll through until you have the teacher in view. As you scroll you will see another option is to see everyone in the gallery. If this is all you can see then just scroll left/right until you see the virtual studio only.
If you can’t see us as the main screen do let us know via chat, and try these tips.
If you can’t hear the teacher
You may need to turn on the audio on your device which is in the bottom left corner and then ensure you’re muted!
At the end of your class
Do please let us know your thoughts by emailing us a email@example.com.
Check out out virtual class timetable here.
Look after yourselves and each other!
Nic, Studio Founder xx
As humans we’re creatures of habit and crave routine which has, for many of us, gone out of the window lately and can really have an adverse effect on your wellbeing and your mental health.
But this is where an exercise routine can really help create some structure into your day and your week.
But if you’re used to attending a gym or studio, you might be finding it hard to adjust to a home practice, especially if you’ve got kids at home, your space is limited, or you’re just lacking motivation.
By taking some time to plan ahead and to create a space which can be a sanctuary for you, is likely to have as much impact on your mental health as your physical health which has never been more needed.
For some, its worthwhile trying to keep to a similar exercise routine that you did previously. So if you did HiiT on a Tuesday at lunchtime, you might want to keep that up to provide some structure to your day and week.
Following the Government’s advice yesterday we have decided to close physically as a studio from 8pm today for an initial period of 2 weeks so we can continue to monitor the situation and ensure the safety of you, your loved ones and our teachers.
As you know, we are a detail orientated studio and we truly value your wellbeing. In times of crisis, moments of calm and space are even more important than ever. That’s why we will be moving our services online during this period of closure.
We know that a virtual platform can never fully replace the physical studio setting but we’re going to work really hard to find ways to bring the Soul Studio to life online. Before I was a Pilates teacher I was a Digital Marketing Director and I’m fully aware that this will take some time, and some trial and error, but we would love if you could come along for the ride with us and help us build something special. We want to bring our amazing Soul family online so that we can continue to laugh, connect and move well so that we feel well.
So how are we going to do this?
If you have a 1:1 booking with us already and want to trial how this would work virtually (trust me it actually works very well, we’ve done this many times before!), all you need is a mat, a space at home and your laptop, phone or tablet and wifi. We will send you a link before your booked session. And if you’d like some guidance we can walk you through your first set up over the phone!
If you wish to book a 1:1, you can do this in the normal way by clicking here and we will send you your link 15 mins before your session.
We want to ensure that the classes we offer you are as close to the real deal as we can possibly get. So this week we will be trialling a few classes online so that we can learn and adapt and then look to run a virtual class schedule next week. All you need to do is simply book into class as you normally would via MoveGB or directly on MindBody or our website and we will email you a link 15 minutes prior to your class so that you can join in.
Our teachers, where possible and where restrictions allow, will still be in the studio guiding you though some quality movement for you to do at home. The platform allows you to talk, ask questions and tell us anything you might be working through in much the same way as a physical class does.
This Week’s Virtual Class Timetable:
Wednesday 1.10pm - 2pm Pilates Matwork, all levels, with Olivia
Olivia will kick off our online programme! You can expect her usual light hearted approach to movement mixing a blend of calm with some definite muscle activation and heat!
Wednesday 6pm - BFHiiT with Claire
Claire is going to guide you through an uplifting fitness class blending the best of her Barre ad PHiiT classes, finishing with some calming meditation and yogic breathing.
Thursday 6pm - Pilates Matwork, all levels with Anthea
Anthea will provide some much needed calm and connection in her Pilates Matwork class.
Next Week you can expect a fuller online timetable plus those who join in our virtual classes will also get access to additional free content so you can continue to move at home outside of our live classes. We will also look to have a members area for us to connect and talk and we will look to provide a weekly moment of calm which you can log into watch.
In a time where we’re being asked to socially distance I hope we can all still come together and support each other, finding ways to still thrive as a community. So do please join us online this week!
We will extend all pass expiry dates indefinitely and put a pause on any monthly passes (unless you contact us to tell us otherwise so you can use this to join in our online classes).
Big love and please keep an eye out on social and your email for updates plus a link to next week’s virtual Soul Studio.
Much love and do please keep in touch!
I wanted to tell you all personally what we as a studio are doing to help protect you and our staff from the recent Coronavirus outbreak.
We plan to stay open with business as usual, across both studios, unless official advice changes. So all classes ad sessions are still on and our Open Weekend in Bishopston for our new studio will continue to run as planned.
Our motto is “Move Better, Feel Better” and we truly believe this has never been more relevant than it is right now. If you are well, being sedentary, scared and in a heightened state of alert is not the greatest immune booster. So we felt it was important to still offer our services to create a calm, welcoming and safe environment to help those who can, continue to live life as close to normal as possible.
With that in mind, I wanted to reassure you of the measures we are putting in place to minimise any risk. Those of you who know me well, know that I’m a bit of a cleaning obsessive anyway so most of what I am telling you here is what we’ve always done. But we’re doing more of it, and we’re also asking for you to play your part so we can work as a collective to keep moving well and feeling well.
Class Sizes & Hygiene
Love Nic, Soul Studio Founder x
What is Pilates?
Pilates was created in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates. He believed that mental and physical health are interrelated and created a method to coordinate the mind, body and spirit. He created a set of principles alongside exercises and specialist equipment to create opportunities for functional movement which he called ‘Contrology’. Over the years his work proved to be a powerful tonic to modern day life, which is becoming increasingly sedentary, and Pilates gained a reputation for physical rehabilitation alongside mental wellbeing.
At Soul Pilates, we align with the original ethos that Joseph Pilates created alongside the latest in movement science. If Joe was around today we’re sure he would constantly be striving to learn more so he could teach in greater depth, and we do too!
We run 1:1 sessions, which are predominantly used to support clients with on-going pain or health concerns, alongside small group specialist classes. We’ve gained a reputation for our excellent teaching standards which is something we’re really proud of, and as a team we are constantly learning and fascinated by the body and what it is capable of.
Our approach at Soul is to provide a mindful movement experience, as this connection of the body with the mind is a powerful medicine for many of our modern day health concerns. The power of movement constantly astounds us and our vision is to help our clients move better so they can feel better.
Pilates is endorsed by doctors, physical therapists, professional athletes and dancers around the world. Pilates is excellent for the rehabilitation of injuries and relieving chronic pain.
What is the difference between a 1:1 and a class?
Ideally we would see everyone for a 1:1 to start with, but we certainly would like to see you for a personal session if you’re currently experiencing physical discomfort, have an on-going condition (such as Parkinsons, MS), have recently had surgery or have on-going rehabilitation needs.
It can sometimes be easy to forget why you turned your passion into your career. Pilates was something which I loved so much during my career in marketing. It provided me with ease, strength and tone in my body but also space and calm in my mind. That’s why after many years as a Pilates Class regular, I decided to train with Polestar Pilates, initially just to learn more, and subsequently my love grew and I ultimately turned it into my full time career and my own studio which is soon to have 2 locations and 12 teachers.
But like many passions that you turn into your career it can be all too easy to forget the reasons why you really loved it in the first place. Luckily this never really happened for me. I have kept up my movement practice which I still love and feel inspired by, plus I get to be one of those people who really does love their job and I literally feel like I never work a day in my life. I think I get more out of teaching that my clients get out of being taught!
But every now and again I’m reminded of just how amazing the power of Pilates is and this happened just last week in a big way. Now in my 40th week of pregnancy with my second child I’m all too aware of the changes that a woman goes through during pregnancy, which whilst an amazing work of nature, doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t scream at you, sometimes a little and sometimes a LOT during those 40 weeks (or in my case a little longer!).
Have you been hearing the word ‘fascia’ bandied about as you try and get your downdog on or swim into your updog and thought ‘wtf is this teacher talking about?’
Well my friends, today is your lucky day, time for an explanation of what fascia is and why we’re all getting excited about it.
By Clare Shaw, Soul PHiiT & Soul Yoga Instructor
Pilates is an incredibly popular form of exercise that was developed in the early-1900’s, but didn’t make it over to England until the 1970’s. Since then it’s been knocking around on the fitness scene and been a constant presence in people’s workout routines.
Focusing on core strength and stability, it utilises controlled movements and breathing to build strength, coordination, balance and improve alignment.
Where did Pilates come from?
It was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German bodybuilding enthusiast who focused his life on becoming fit and healthy after a sickly childhood. He began a new approach to fitness which combined body conditioning using body weight and apparatus, such as the Reformer, which is still used in studios today! He extensively researched many different forms of exercise; from Ancient Roman exercise routines to modern day fitness, such as gymnastics, and from tai chi to meditation.
In the 1920’s Joseph Pilates opened his first studio in New York and his methods were a hit! Especially with dancers - they found it a perfect way to recover from injuries and strengthen their weak spots. It grew in popularity before being brought over to the UK where the first Pilates studio opened in London in 1970. And, as they say, the rest is history!
A beginners guide to Pilates
Hundreds of studios and venues across the UK now offer Pilates and they range in a broad spectrum of styles. Have you ever been curious to try it out? We’ve collaborated with Soul Pilates, a quality Pilates studio based in the centre of Bristol, to bring you an in-depth beginners guide to Pilates. See what it’s all about and if it’s something you would want to give a go!
Guest Post from MoveGB
Recently you may have seen adverts on prime-time TV for Versus Arthritis and thought, Arthritis that’s what old people, or isn’t it just sore fingers when it gets cold? Or maybe you didn’t think about it at all.
Well that was me up until two years ago; I have always been physically active from a young age, doing cross country running at a county level at Primary School to travelling around the world Rock climbing in my late teens and early twenties (this photo is me climbing in Thailand, and printed in a book, World Climbing by Simon Carter). Competing at a UK level in the British Indoor Climbing Championships, snowboarding, running half marathons, swimming, doing yoga. It never crossed my mind that I would be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 37.
By Rachel Ross, Soul Pilates Teacher
After the birth of my two children I found it difficult to juggle being a mother and help my body recover from the changes of giving birth whilst maintaining my love of fitness. But I made sure I found the time, if even if it was to leave the house for an hour on my own to do yoga, then I found Pilates.
I discovered the studio Soul Pilates and went to regular equipment sessions sometimes twice a week. After a while I decided that’s what I wanted to do as a career, to be a Pilates teacher. In May 2016 I managed to secure a place to start teacher training at the Physiotherapy and Pilates Rehabilitation Centre in Clevedon (in affiliation with Alan Herdman Pilates). The course was due to start September 2017, plenty of time to hone my skills, learn more of the repertoire and get my old Biology degree books out and get a head start.
However, during a family holiday to Canada in the Summer of 2016 to visit my husband’s parents, I kept being plagued by tendon trouble in my hands, and a sense of being irritable and tired all the time. I still kept running and practicing Pilates in the beautiful surroundings of my in-law’s house. I thought I had maybe over done it. or maybe it was the jet-lag; a multitude of reasons but this pain in my hands continued when we returned back home to Bristol.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of degenerative arthritis; it occurs commonly in the joints which weight bear causing them to become painful resulting in limitations in movement and function.
The joints which can be affected are the knees, hips and feet specifically the big toe along with joints which are used a lot in daily life such as the hands, back and neck.
‘Around a third of people aged 45 years and over in the UK, a total of 8.75 million people, have sought treatment for osteoarthritis’ (Arthritis research, UK).
In the synovial joints such as the hip, knee, toes, fingers and wrists the structure of these joints allows movement of two adjoining bones.
By Rachel Ross, Soul Pilates Teacher
“Pull your shoulders back and down”, “engage your core”, “sit up straight”… we’ve probably all heard these kinds of cues when it comes to finding ways to improve our posture. But let me let you into a little secret: our posture is not something which is consciously controlled - that means you can’t think your way to better posture. By looking to control our body’s position with these thoughts we unknowingly often just create more tension and stiffness in our body which ultimately leads to more postural problems and therefore increased body discomfort.
It might be interesting to know that your pelvis is twisted, or your shoulders are rounded, or you have an increased curve in your lower back BUT the truth is this is not information your brain can actually do anything with. In my experience when people try to correct these issues by dropping one side of their pelvis, standing in a different way or holding their shoulders back, they start to experience more, not less problems.
By Nic Lenny, Studio Founder