Why Achieve Pilates?

One of the reasons why I love Pilates so much (you can read about my love affair with Pilates here) is due to the mind-body benefits.

One of the BIGGEST benefits for me is the fact that for that one hour you get to focus just on ‘you’ and nothing else – how often do any of us do that these days?

Having suffered a really traumatic time in 2013 which led to grief and subsequent depression I have come to realise just how important that mind-body connection is.

I teach a fusion of very traditional Pilates mixed with modern knowledge and current thinking on what is most beneficial for the majority of people today.

My classes aren’t ‘just’ Pilates.

I really don’t mean that to sound derogatory to other Pilates teachers as I respect everyone’s method of teaching and all styles have their own merits.

In actual fact most Pilates teachers these days don’t ‘just’ teach Pilates either as we’ve all been influenced by other methods, styles, knowledge, experience and qualifications.

Achieve Pilates is all about re-connecting to our bodies to help them work better for us.

What I mean by this is that we often experience little niggles, painful movement, stress, tightness & tension in our day to day lives.

Just one session of Achieve Pilates will start to alleviate these symptoms and regular practice makes a massive difference to our general feeling of well-being, both physical and psychological.

If you’re interested in finding out more please do give me a call or drop me an email

What IS Pilates?

Pilates is many things to many people and there are hundreds of reasons why people all over the world start Pilates but some of the most common reasons I hear at my classes are: 

  • ‘I need to chill out’
  • ‘I’ve got a sore back and someone told me Pilates is good for backs’
  • ‘I want to be more flexible’
  • ‘I’d like to have better posture’
  •  ‘my doctor said I should do Pilates’

These reasons give us some idea as to what Pilates DOES but still doesn’t help us know what Pilates IS so I’m going to explain a little now. Pilates is even different things to different instructors and many people attending classes will find that they ‘gel’ with one instructor’s style and not another’s.

Why is this?

This is mainly due to the different interpretations of how Pilates has developed since Joseph Pilates first devised the exercises in the period of the First World War.

Of course this means the technique is now 100 years old and when he moved to America (from Germany) he set up his studio and trained other people to teach the method – which was then called Contrology.

As his instructors spread out and trained another generation of teachers, and so on, the method evolved.

In more recent times, with further developments a lot of the moves have been adapted to make them more suitable for everyone rather than the already very strong and supple ballet dancers Joseph worked with.

Different training schools have different approaches – some very traditional and similar in technique to the original style; some very modern and almost unrecognisable from the original style.

Different people prefer different things and this is why even if you have tried Pilates with one instructor but didn’t get on with it you may find a different style that does work for you.

Regardless of where an instructor did their training & how  their own style of teaching Pilates has developed you can still pretty much sum up Pilates as ‘a sequence of slow, controlled movements which aim to improve posture and breathing whilst strengthening your core muscles and improving mobility’.

This is why I love the term ‘Contrology’ as it suggests all of the above in one word.

In the next few blogs I’ll be explaining a bit more about my own style of Pilates and what to expect when you come to class.

Thanks for reading!

A ‘slow-burn’ love affair

A couple of weeks ago Darren wrote about how we got together and the story actually reminded me of my relationship with Pilates.

When Darren and I first met we were just friends for a while and it took quite a bit of persistence on his behalf to get me to agree to go out on a date with him.

When I first came across Pilates it was through my friend Clare – she had a back injury and found Pilates to be a great method for helping her to manage the issue. She trained in Pilates and we practiced together a lot.

I liked the method and thought it was interesting but continued as a participant in Clare’s classes for quite a while – just flirting with the technique really – much like mine and Darren’s early days!

When Clare and I went our separate ways I decided to get trained up myself – I didn’t think I’d still be teaching 11 years later; I doubt I gave it any real thought back then! It was just another qualification to add to the list of classes I could teach as I was already teaching aerobics, circuits, BodyBalance and various other legs, bums & tums type stuff.

Similarly when I first agreed to go on a date with Darren I didn’t give much thought to the future other than the fact that we got on well so I might as well give it a go (thanks to my sister for persuading me of that!)

Darren was also a change from some of the less desirables I’d been ‘entertaining’ :) in much the same way as Pilates was a change from the other more high intensity classes I was teaching!

So I completed the course and started teaching – I don’t remember LOVING it back then although I did like the slow and controlled nature of the exercises and the mind/body aspect.

After a few weeks of proper dating (well going out and getting steaming in Scholars!) Darren and I fell madly in love.

My love affair with Pilates took a bit longer to develop. As I built up my confidence through teaching more and more Pilates and less and less of the other ‘stuff’ I realised that I had fallen in love with it.

The more I taught the more benefits I discovered for my clients. I thought when I first started teaching that it would help people tone up and get a flat tummy but when people started telling me they were sleeping better, feeling better, moving better, having less back pain I realised it actually has much more wide-reaching benefits than what people initially think – I’ll be writing more about these benefits in future blogs.

Darren and I have been married for nearly 8 years (it’s our anniversary in 2 weeks) and I’ve been ‘married’ to Pilates for roughly the same amount of time.

During our marriage our love has grown and developed from the heady early days of being crazy about each other to a more rounded, fulfilling, generous, grown-up but no less passionate relationship. I’m sure the longer we are together it will evolve into something different again.

I can say the same for my relationship with Pilates – I still feel passionately about the benefits it brings to people and I certainly understand it a lot more deeply now than I did when we first ‘fell in love’!

Struggling to sleep?

I’ve lost count of the amount of times people say to me at class – ‘I get the best night’s sleep of the week tonight’! One of my lady’s made the comment again last night so I thought I’d write a quick piece about why this happens after a Pilates class.

Good quality sleep is so important for all aspects of our health and well-being and it’s just awful how many people put up with poor quality sleep and/or spend half the night awake.

There are many things you can do to help yourself sleep better (I’ll write about these next time) but the reason why people sleep better after a Pilates class is purely and simply down to the fact they have spent a whole hour breathing deeply – and correctly. You’re probably thinking – breathing correctly?? Surely everyone breathes correctly – it’s the most natural thing in the world isn’t it?

Unfortunately not – due to many factors such as poor posture, stress, asthma, coughs and colds we often end up losing our ability to breathe correctly. This in turn has knock-on effects to our posture and stress levels and we end up in a vicious circle of just not being able to properly unwind and therefore drop off to sleep easily.

In Pilates we perform specific rib cage breathing during the exercises because this assists with the abdominal activation work we are doing. These rib cage breaths are often a lot deeper than the breaths we take in every day life which accounts for the reason why we feel so much better after class – you are getting the chance to spend a full hour taking in deep breaths and flooding your body with oxygen.

In addition, in between the exercises, I also like to remind people to breathe in a relaxed fashion and more specifically down into the belly. Belly breathing is absolutely fantastic for instilling a sense of relaxation and I think everyone should do at least ten deep belly breaths every day before they go to sleep.

How do I belly breathe?

Lie on your back in a relaxed position; ideally do this when you’re in bed as hopefully you’re going to drop off whilst doing it! Place your hands on your belly. Now, clear your mind and only think about your breath. First of all just be aware of your breath and then try to focus on breathing into your hands; when you breathe in the hands should rise and when you exhale your tummy and hands should lower. Do this fifty times – most of us will be asleep by now but if not just keep going and you’ll soon drift off :)

Pelvic floor issues? Incontinence? Prolapse? Maybe I can help; here’s how…


Two weeks ago I spent the weekend in London training to become a Hypopresive Method Instructor – the course was amazing, eye-opening and absolutely fascinating and I’m now proud to say that I am one of only 40 trained professionals in the UK able to deliver this technique to clients.

The Hypopresive Method is brand new in the UK but has been used, tested and developed in a clinical and therapeutic setting in Europe since 1980.  The doctor (Dr. Marcel Caufriez) who designed the technique, was examining a woman’s uterine prolapse when she happened to perform diaphragmatic aspiration (a specific type of breath).  The prolapse reduced whilst she was doing this so he decided to investigate to process and developed the Hypopresive Technique from there.

The technique is now used to prevent & treat urinary incontinence, prevent & treat hernias, prevent & treat organ prolapse, tone the abdominals, improve core strength, posture and sexual function.

The idea behind the technique is to train your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to work naturally i.e. to activate involuntarily. So, even when you are not thinking about them they are doing their job – one of their main functions is to support our internal organs and they should also support our back and keep our tummy flat.  Unfortunately, many of us have lost this involuntary control of our pelvic and abdominal muscles leading to various issues such as incontinence, prolapse, hernias, back pain and ‘soft’ abdominals.

The method is particularly beneficial for postpartum women as it helps to regain core strength but the research so far has shown that EVERYONE can benefit from learning this technique.  Even elite athletes can benefit with some great results occurring in testing as to improved cardiac function.

Winter Workout

Below is tonight’s Pilates workout.  If you prefer you can download it to your computer and transfer to your smart phone or tablet.

New Classes for 2013

New Classes for 2013

I’m pleased to announce that in January I am adding two extra extra classes to my timetable. In addition to the Monday evening at Park Hill School in Allesley I will also now be at Body Perfect Personal Training Studio on a Tuesday 6.15 – 7.15pm and Aldermans Green Scout Hut on a Friday 10am – 11am.

These classes will run in blocks to coincide with school half-terms so you can book a block at £5.00 per session (the first block will be 6 weeks so £30.00 in total – see below for more details) or pay as you go at £7.00 per session.

The Tuesday class at Body Perfect Personal Training will be restricted to 10 spaces only as that is all the studio can accommodate so please call me direct on 07771 722175 to book your place.  The first date of this new class will be Tuesday 8th January and the first block will be 6 weeks long – £30.00 if you buy the six week block.

The Friday class at Aldermans Green Scout Hut will be restricted to 15 spaces so again you ail need to call me direct to book. The first date of this class will be Friday 11th January and the first block will be 6 weeks long – £30.00 if you buy the six week block or £7.00 pay as you go.

Full details of locations can be found on the Timetable page and term dates on the Term Dates page.

If you have any questions please do call or drop me an email fran@achievecoventry.co.uk


Principles of Pilates

Principles of Pilates

Pilates technique is based on eight principles which form the basis of each session.  Pilates has become known as a ‘mind-body’ form of exercise and the principles below sum up many of the reasons why and the benefits that most people find from regular practice.

Concentration – Pilates has been called the ‘thinking way of moving’ because each movement is controlled by focussed thought. Unlike other exercise systems where you can let your mind wander you really have to focus on the technique which means that most people find the method very relaxing.

Breathing – correct breathing is a major part of the technique although most people find it the hardest to master. It doesn’t matter at first and I always reassure beginners that as long as they keep breathing atthe start that is the main thing! However as you begin to master the breathing you will discover how beneficial it is.

Centring – Pilates technique uses our ‘core muscles’ which are also known as our centre. All the movements are controlled from our core and as we strengthen these muscles so our posture improves.

Control – Each exercise is done with slow, controlled movement working against gravity to improve our overall strength.

Precision – Each exercise starts in a specific position which ultimately means that each movement is performed with precise technique.

Flowing Movements – Each exercise is performed with control and precision but also as one continuous flowing movement in order to work the body through a full range of motion.

Isolation – Each person will feel each exercise in a slightly different way depending on their own strengths or weaknesses. As you become practiced at the technique you will learn to isolate specific muscles and target certain areas of the body.

Routine – As with any other activity your skill level in Pilates will increase with regular practice. However, Pilates is not designed to be the only exercise you do rather it should complement any training program and strengthen your body for any activity you require. Pilates is a great way to start exercising, especially if you haven’t done anything for a while or are suffering from back problems.