Pilates Revival

Truth be told, I’ve never really held a deep (or even shallow) belief in yoga and pilates as serious forms of exercise. Granted I have dabbled in both at various stages of my life, and I do appreciate their benefits for people with injuries, but on the whole I always seem to come back to the more conventional cardio options like running and cross training in the gym.

But after attending a free pilates session today as part of Team London Bridge’s #lovelunch promotion I have to say I’m coming around to the idea this might actually be something worth incorporating into my life more regularly. I left the office feeling stressed out and stiff and have returned in a Zen-like state, completely free of aches and pains (one neck exercise we were taught will definitely be included into my stretching repertoire from now on).

It strikes me, now I think about it, that an important – yet often overlooked – factor in people’s enjoyment of yoga and pilates in particular (given their reputation as relaxing practices) is whether or not they like their teacher. In a gym class it’s somehow easier to tolerate an instructor with an annoying voice or irritating manner – you just grit your teeth and get on with it, focusing on the end results for those abdominals. But yoga and pilates are different – you have to like your instructor. You have to trust them. If they annoy you then you’ll never reach that place of inner calm and tranquillity that your practice demands, and therefore you will fail to reap the benefits.

Another important factor is where the class takes place. If you can hear the busy main road with its beeping car horns and shouting builders then you’ll never be able to relax enough to get the most out of your practice.

Today’s class was held at Globe House, a charming bare-brick space with a New York loft apartment feel that’s set back from the hustle and bustle of the roads around London Bridge and has a lovely calming atmosphere. The instructor, Liz, was neither annoying in voice nor irritating in manner. Far from it – she was warm, friendly and clear in her instructions (unlike many of the yoga and pilates teachers I have come across in the past, who have you twisted up like a lump of scrapyard metal in your pursuit of the elusive posture they’ve just demonstrated).

I nearly didn’t go to today’s session but now I’m really glad I did – it might just have ignited a new passion for pilates. Watch this space…

And so to work…

The first day in a new job is a funny old thing. No matter how old or experienced you are you always feel like the new girl who doesn’t know her arse from her elbow, which is really quite disquieting.

Fortunately for me, the minute I walked into my new office near London Bridge this morning my new colleagues were so welcoming I felt instantly at home. My boss gave me a thorough tour of the building (starting with “the most important room,” the kitchen – a woman after my own heart) and introduced me to everyone, then treated me and the colleague I’ll be working most closely with to lunch at Strada overlooking the river, which was just beautiful today against the backdrop of a bright blue sky. She even informed me that my “official” welcome lunch to meet the whole team (quite a few of whom are on holiday this week) will be next Tuesday, when we’ll most likely be going out for Thai (I don’t think I need to tell those of you who have been reading my NYC blog just how much I love my food, and therefore how appropriate this plan of action is. Like I said, a woman after my own heart).

The work my new charity Teens and Toddlers does – running a programme pairing disadvantaged teens with toddlers in a nursery setting, complemented by sessions with facilitators discussing such topics as risky behaviour, sexual health and education – is fascinating to me, not least because it’s firmly rooted in psychological principles (psychology being the subject I studied at university-too many years ago to admit). I’ve always harboured some regrets about not pursuing psychology as a career, though in truth I don’t think I’m academic enough to succeed in that field. Now I’ve got the best of both worlds as I can stick with what I know – PR – whilst working alongside research psychologists whose job it is to constantly evaluate the programme in its various locations.

I’m too long in the tooth (and bitter from past experience) to proclaim on day one that I’ve finally found the perfect job for me, but I will say that I like the atmosphere in the place and get a warm and positive vibe from the people who work there. It’s also such a treat having a view of Tower Bridge just metres away from the office. So far so good…