What is Pilates?

What is Pilates?

We often hear the word ‘Pilates’ bandied about, with the assumption that everyone will know what it is. You may have been told by a doctor or a health professional to ‘try some Pilates’. You may have heard a friend extolling the virtues of their Pilates sessions – or you may have dabbled in it at a class at the gym. But what is it, where did the concept come from, and what are the benefits of Pilates? 

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness” – Joseph Pilates 

So says the founder of the movement – profound words indeed! We’re always up for a bit of happiness. I’ve got a foundational intro to Pilates in 6 weeks on my Mama Strength app, which can be downloaded from the Apple Store. and here’s a quick introduction to Pilates… 

Where did Pilates come from? 

Pilates is a type of exercise and body conditioning. It was first developed by a German boxer, Joseph Pilates, whilst he was imprisoned off the coast of England during the First World War. He started developing exercise routines for other inmates who were suffering from war wounds as a way to help them recover, and for those with bouts of inactivity to help them maintain or develop muscular strength.  

The man who uses intelligence with respect to his diet, his sleeping habits and who exercises properly, is beyond any question of doubt taking the very best preventive medicines provided so freely and abundantly by nature.”Joseph Pilates 

He would adapt hospital beds to help them find resistance through moving with, for example, springs and various straps around the hospital bed, hence inspiring the reformer Pilates beds we see in some Pilates studios, and then the concepts were taken to free standing mat Pilates movements that he then developed. After the war, as time went on, he took his methodology to America and worked more with dancers in New York City, who also wanted to recover from injuries and strengthen their bodies. He recreated the resistance that the beds offered using equipment like the resistance bands which we use quite commonly now in our Pilates classes, helping us find more benefit and effectiveness in the muscle strengthening focus with every single movement.  

What’s the difference between yoga and Pilates?  

Yoga emphasises the mind-body connection and offers physical benefits like strength, flexibility and balance, often with a bit more of a spiritual, meditative focus, holding and settling into positions for longer periods.  Pilates focuses on developing core strength through repetitive rhythmic exercises, and slowly gets more challenging as the exercise progresses. There are various forms of yoga whereas Pilates typically follows a strict set of 32 movements which were developed by Joseph Pilates himself, and now the more modern-day Pilates builds on influences from other forms of exercise as well. As a dancer, I take quite a lot of influence from my dance training to incorporate into my Pilates teaching.  

What on earth is the pelvic floor and core control? 

We focus quite often on the pelvic floor, lifting up the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles we squeeze up when we’re desperate for a pee!) before performing the movement and also drawing the tummy muscles through to the spine, and with every movement we focus on this activation of the core. 

So over time, in a very powerful way, you’ll be developing the strength of your core from deep within with every single movement, and you in turn strengthen the rest of the body as well, with all-over body benefits.  

Who does Pilates and why? 

Everyone can! This is why it’s really favoured by so many different ages and groups of the population: pregnant women, new mums, athletes, older people too – and physiotherapists love it!! 

Pilates is a brilliant way to start tuning into your body and my clients find they’re making changes that they may not have initially considered.  As we work together you’ll be helped to gain strength, release tension, improve pelvic floor function, and maybe just reduce aches and pains, if you have them.  

What are the benefits of Pilates? 

“Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. – Joseph Pilates 

There are so many general benefits of Pilates, for example, it could be relief of pain or prevention of injury, improving your core strength, improving your posture, helping both your flexibility, your balance, your coordination and your body awareness. It helps relieve stress, and it really does improve your overall mental wellbeing with the deep breathing that we do regularly throughout the sessions.  

Principles of Pilates 

We achieve all of the above benefits through the six principles of Pilates. These are:   

  1. Concentration: we’re really concentrating through every single movement.  
  1. Control: we’re consciously and deliberately moving ourselves with control, and everything is thought through very mindfully.  
  1. Centre: we’re always activating the core of our body through every single movement. 
  1. Breath: we breathe deeply, and you will be guided through the sessions on how to breathe through every single movement 
  1. Precision: we really focus deeply on technique with every movement. Nothing is done without intent. You’re really taking your time as you move and all movements are done with precision, and that in turn will help you to reduce injury and reduce the risk of injury during the movements – in other higher impact practices it can be common to injure yourself because you’re not giving your body time to really think through what you’re doing.  
  1. Flow of the movement: every move is performed smoothly and continuously – in essence, it flows.  

So there we have it – Pilates in a nutshell. If you’d like more information about how I can help you reach your fitness and health goals through Pilates and nutrition coaching, then please do get in touch! 

mum carrying child on shoulders

Can’t squeeze in your regular workouts or movement you love to do? Here’s some tips to inspire you parents how to do more regular physical activity if you can’t always get to the gym or fitness class!

I created my Mama Strength Pilates programmes based on the feedback from my clients and the mums in my life, and I’m talking to those of you who just can’t find the time to fit in the workout. How can you keep moving when you can’t get to the gym, fitness class or whatever you love to do to build the muscle, burn the calories, or just make time for yourself (but plleeeasee to try)!

Here’s some motivation to help you move more frequently before days turn in to weeks and weeks turn into months and you haven’t prioritised your energy, strength or stamina:

  1. Ready, set, go!: Get your boring stuff done with the motivation to move FAST – an actually say this in your head like you’re starting a race! Making dinner, weeding the garden, doing the shop (yeah the customers will be fascinated by you moving like there’s some sort of apocalypse coming) – you’ll get the circulation boosted as you move at speed. It’s crazy how this phrase makes us move!
  2. Wear your fitness gear on the family days out: I mean who wants to run in the push up bra? The clothes we wear are possibly going to inspire us to move in a different way, so we’re more likely to feel happy about getting sweaty in the clothes designed to let the skin breath – and it’s important to support the boobs through the active days out with a good supportive bra.
  3. Keep the music on: Blast the favourite tunes come rain or shine and see what happens to the family vibe. The times we’re in a funk in our household and one of us (meaning myself or the 6 year old) puts the tunes on and whoosh: before we know it we’re having a rave…and suddenly I can’t catch my breath whether through giggles or from the demands to pick her up and flip her upside down (my pelvic floor and core strength fully tested 😉 )

There’s so much more to say on this and essentially the key is to make fitness work for your lifestyle. Give yourself the chance to move when you can. Working out whilst baby is sleeping, finding the on demand workouts you like to work around your schedule, walk faster with the buggy…be consistent so you get into the habit of moving and before you know it you’re loving the benefits and reaping the health rewards of your work when you start to feel fitter, stronger and get more energy. If there’s one thing you can do for yourself is be kind to yourself and if you don’t feel like moving, don’t do it!!

Poor sleep, skin, mood, energy, digestion, problems with weight and/or feeling stressed? Why it might be time for a gut cleanse!

Our gut plays a massive part in regulating so many hormones which affect our homeostasis – the regulation of the body’s functions such as temperature, blood pressure, pH levels, glucose concentration, and electrolyte balance. An imbalance in the gut can therefore affect us mentally and physically. If we want to talk about how we look and feel: a happy gut can support weight management, clearer, glowing skin and a boosted immune system with bundles more energy and stamina! Let’s look at some causes and effects of an imbalance in the gut, and how we can work towards a healthy gut ‘flora’!

First off, some fun facts about the gut:

  • The gut is made up of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum.
  • 90% of our calories are absorbed here and it’s home to the largest density of immune cells in the body
  • Research is showing links between the gut and the immune system, the autoimmune system, the brain and also the skin.
  • It’s said that the gut and skin actually communicate with one another through the gut-skin axis.
  • The entire gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria. That’s 10 times more bacteria than cells in the entire body!
  • There are over 400 different bacterial species in our gut
  • We have Funghi, yeasts and even parasites have just been discovered – some healthy!
  • A huge proportion of our happy hormones are made in the gut – but not many people think to look at how in balance their gut bacteria is if they are feeling sad or depressed?! Everyone’s gut is unique and a tweak of the DNA can give the gut a different function.

The gut balance can be significantly affected after illness, stress, drinking alcohol, or a course of antibiotics or medicines. Both adults and children can be affected.

A miserable gut full of bad bacteria can affect sleep, quality of the skin (possibly causing eczema or acne), mood, weight, stress levels and cause bloating or stomach issues. It can cause or aggravate auto-immune conditions, joint pain or yeast infections.

You can support the balance of the bacteria in the gut through fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut; by adding apple cider vinegar or miso to your foods; and by ensuring you are eating enough vegetables and fibre. 

In today’s world, with the rise of pesticides used on our food, ultra processed foods in our diet, toxins in the air and stressors on body and mind it is increasingly important for us to also add in additional gut support in the form of supplements – probiotics (good bacteria), prebiotics (food for the good bacteria so they keep thriving) and digestive enzymes (which help you break down your food to digest properly). Some are also suitable for children*

I support clients with a coached gut cleanse through a 30 day diet plan – whether it be to lose weight, feel great or to aim to clear up the skin to prepare for an event, a wedding, a holiday – or just to get some healthy eating habits in place for long term health support! At the end of the 30 days you’re highly likely to feel incredible – with the boost of confidence that comes with the GLOW!

With daily meal plans, removing foods which are considered to be inflammatory from the diet, and motivation to keep you on track, fitness options and the option of supporting supplements. *I highly recommend the nutrition range from Arbonne, which includes pre-and pro biotics (suitable for age 4+) and supplements which support the body with many different health goals. I’ve researched many supplements on the market and loved the Arbonne range for its vegan, good quality ingredients from a B Corporate, clean, planet conscious company. The 30 day cleanse gets some great results for anyone who tries it and STICKS TO IT! Contact me for more info.

Always check with your doctor if you have any underlying or pre-exisiting health conditions before participating in a controlled diet.

Why Pilates is often prescribed to mums in pain by health professionals

The Pilates focus on core strength, flexibility, breath and mindful movement is commonly prescribed by health professionals concerned with musculoskeletal problems as one of THE most effective forms of pregnancy rehabilitation and holistic health promotion for mums. It’s the go-to solution to sort out the physical aches, pains and issues relating to issues experienced by mums following childbirth and in the years beyond, as kids get bigger and more physical too. Pilates is the perfect tool recommended by physios, chiropractors and osteopaths in various clinical settings. Here’s why!

I’m talking about remedial movement and rehabilitation following issues caused by for example:

  • repetitive strain injury from functional movement: repetitively picking kids up, slinging them on the hip, putting them down into the cot, sitting for long hours feeding – which can result in hip, shoulder, back joint and muscular pain;
  • distasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles some women experience as a result of pregnancy),
  • SPD (symphis pubic dysfunction or pelvic girdle pain);
  • Leaky bladder
Hands on back pain
Pilates is recommended by health professionals

The list goes on, right?

So how can Pilates help?

  1. Improved Posture: Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles, helping to support proper alignment of the spine and improve posture. Better posture = reduced strain on the muscles and joints, reducing issues associated with poor posture.
  2. Enhanced Body Awareness: Pilates emphasises mindful movement – everything is done with a smooth, slow and considered quality. By developing a greater sense of body awareness, individuals can clock and address movement patterns both during and outside of the Pilates class, that may be causing or exacerbating pain. This can lead to more efficient movement, better posture as a habit, and decreased strain on the body.
  3. Increased Flexibility: Pilates incorporates stretching exercises that target muscles throughout the body. Increased flexibility can reduce muscle tension and tightness, which are often contributors to pain and discomfort. Always try to warm up in some way before stretching – e.g. after a walk round the block or a (careful!) dance.
  4. Strengthening Weak Muscles: Pilates targets both large and small muscle groups, including stabilising muscles that are often neglected in traditional forms of exercise – especially focusing on strengthening the core with every movement. Back pain can be caused by weak abdominals for example, and in the UK, mums are unfortunately unlikely to get the support and education they need to rehabilitate the pelvic floor which can lead to issues not just in the immediate future, but into the long term future too.
  5. Injury Prevention: By strengthening weak muscles in the core and the whole body, Pilates can help to improve joint stability and reduce the likelihood of compensatory movements that can lead to future pain and injury.

Pilates is often prescribed as a form of rehabilitation by health experts for individuals recovering from injuries or managing chronic pain conditions. Its low-impact nature and focus on controlled movements make it suitable for people with various physical limitations. Pilates exercises can be adapted and modified to accommodate specific needs and abilities, allowing individuals to safely progress in their recovery journey.

Overall, Pilates offers a holistic approach to pain management by addressing underlying physical imbalances, promoting proper body mechanics, and fostering a mind-body connection that supports overall well-being.

If you have existing musculoskeletal pain it’s best to get checked out by a professional before taking part in group classes – or before switching on Youtube and picking up a recorded class where the instructor won’t see you. A Pilates instructor will assess if clients are fit to participate in physical activity before they work with them. It’s a good idea to see a Pilates instructor on a 121 basis to start with if you do have underlying health conditions, so the instructor can chat to you about your specific pain, and may direct you to a health professional for an assessment before working with you if they consider your symptoms to be severe. Once you’ve got the green light, 121s are a good way to get the foundations under your belt before taking part in a group, online or Youtube class.

Pilates could help reduce niggly aches and pains, twinges and even weaknesses in key parts of your body that make physical activity/ playtime etc with the kids a bit uncomfortable

Have you got any niggly aches and pains, twinges and even weaknesses in key parts of your body that make physical activity/ playtime etc with the kids a bit uncomfortable – pain in your back, hips or knees for example? For me it used to be the thoracic/middle area of my back – twinges caused by hours of slumping over Baby O as I breastfed her.  We kind of feel we want to close in on them to make them feel comfy and nurtured, but we’re closing in shoulders and slouching, which is only going to aggravate and squish the vertebrae.  Pilates sorted me out.  I focussed on the right type of exercise to counteract the slouch and re-strengthen the compressed vertebrae. And woah.  The energy I have – and lack of illness – I know can be attested to Pilates.

My regular, long term clients also tell me the same.  Actually these are people of all ages at the gym I teach at (some are in their 80s!). They tell me they feel strong for the day to day stuff and like they have more stamina and energy through my classes.  What stands out is the transformation from their dedication to MOVEMENT…welll, not just any old movement – but Pilates of course! These people are taking my classes two or three times per week and have been with me for over 6 months.  The parents among my clients tell me how they don’t notice it being a struggle to pick up and play with their kids now – whereas before they notices the heave-ho.  If that’s not a testimony to the power of Pilates, I don’t know what is. Consistency is definitely key to futureproofing your body. 

Here are three ways that Pilates could help:

  1. A good instructor will help identify areas of weakness and develop a programme of movement to strengthen areas weakened through lack of exercise or lack of focus on that muscle group.
  2. Pilates can help to stretch out tight or tense areas and identify antagonist muscles groups: where one set of muscles may need strengthening, another opposing set of muscles may need stretching.
  3. Pilates focuses on the breath, which is known to help increase relaxation in the total body and mind, and by focusing the breath to specific areas of the body, the breath may help to increase blood and oxygen flow to troublesome areas.

So if you’ve been starting to feel the twinge from the repetitive actions we parents do on a daily basis; feeding/leaning over baby and rocking them to sleep, putting them in the cot, picking them up and sitting them on your hip or to have a good old play around without feeling the heave ho, then perhaps you should see what the buzz is about. Chat to a Pilates instructor to get a regular programme of rehabilitative movement in your diary.

Back issues are such a cause of misery for parents, and stop them from having all the fun. I’ve got a free 30 min video of some regular, gentle back strengthening and mobility. Contact me here if you’d like to receive the video. It won’t be the magic solution, but might be a good starting point for regular movement inspiration to help.  I’ll always advise to get some physio time if a pain is debilitating and more than a ‘niggle’, and you’re unable to function because of it, before working with me.

If you want a regular programme of exercises to either prevent issues, nip your niggles in the butt, or to really get you some proper energy, strength and stamina for the long run, Mama Strength is THE place to start.  From just around £4.50 per session three times a week, this could be the perfect place to discover your future energy, strength and stamina.

Book a free 45 minute call with me to talk through those pains, and I’ll give you a good actionable plan of fitness and nutrition to start getting on with, whilst we get to the bottom of what could be keeping you stuck in the niggles.

Stomach bug Recovery breakfast

Top tips to recover from a stomach bugs, viruses or illness this festive season

Winter is the peak time for viruses, bugs and illnesses to lurk around, so I thought with my nutrition coach hat on I’d set about researching how to help recovery from stomach issues – for kids and adults. Might also help with the Christmas Overindulgences too!

✅ Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of clear fluids, such as water, herbal tea, or electrolyte solutions, to prevent dehydration.
✅ BRAT Diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are bland and easy on the stomach. (I’m working out how to incorporate them together here! Banana rice pudding??)
✅ Ginger: natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the stomach – I let some ginger infuse in the hot water this morning.
✅ Peppermint can help relieve stomach discomfort. Try as tea or oil capsules.
✅ Probiotics can aid in restoring the balance of good bacteria in your digestive system. Consider consuming yogurt with live cultures or taking a probiotic supplement. (I recommend the kids and adult friendly pre and pro BioticSticks from Arbonne).
✅ Avoid Irritants: Stay away from spicy, greasy, and acidic foods, as well as caffeine and alcohol, as these can irritate the stomach.
✅ Rest: Give your digestive system a break by getting plenty of rest. This can help your body focus on recovery.
✅ Over-the-Counter Medications: Antacids and anti-diarrheal medications may provide temporary relief. Check with a health pro or the NHS website if you’re not sure what to take.
✅ Gradual Reintroduction of Foods: Once you start feeling better, reintroduce solid foods slowly and choose easily digestible options. Avoid large meals and opt for smaller, more frequent ones.
✅ Medical Attention: consult with a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist. You’ve got to listen to your body though right? You know better than anyone if something isn’t right.

Hope that helps – and hope you don’t need it! x

#digestiveissues #stomachbugcure #stomachbugremedy #Christmasoverindulgence #recoveryfromstomachbug #recoveryfromstomachvirus #recoveryfromstomachtrouble #dancingmama #dancingmamafitness

”…but I don’t have time for fitness’: short & sweet, little & often, and how fitness could help you through stages of the menopause.

20 Plus a Day. Short and Sweet, Little and often. 

I was so chuffed to be invited to introduce my latest ‘challenge’ to the wonderful Kaleidoscopes, a peri – and menopause support group, recently at their monthly support meeting. It led me to share the benefits of an exercise ‘challenge’, which may be suitable and well designed to support women through this stage of life.  I developed my 20 Plus A Day challenge (#20PlusADay) to highlight that even 20 minutes of physical exercise, which can gently increase the heart rate,* could be more beneficial to the changing body, than a programme of one hour+ high intensity sessions on a frequent – or not so frequent (for the time poor amongst us!) – basis.   I’m particularly talking to those who don’t already have a fitness plan in place, or could be something to consider if you’re already doing one or two hours each week and would like to increase this.

Fitness and the menopause

Here are a few key points to highlight of how the body is transitioning through the menopause, and how fitness can support the symptoms and changes, and therefore why it’s a good idea to get ahead and start preparing the body through fitness during the peri-menopause phase:

  • The symptoms of menopause are quite often a result of estrogen imbalance. Exercise is proven to be a powerful practice to combat these symptoms – getting your heart rate up for at least a half hour every day helps boost estrogen levels, which can help take the edge off.
  • Muscle tissue depletes faster as we transition through menopause and beyond – strength based training is highly recommended to keep replenishing and maintaining muscle mass.
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis in the years following menopause – exercise boosts the circulation of blood through the body, nourishing and strengthening the bones, and strengthening the muscles, will also support the bones.
  • Body shape or type is likely to change. Women feel and look physical different as belly fat can increase and be harder to shift – Light aerobic, cardio activity and strength based training is proven to be more beneficial at burning belly fat than long, endurance fitness types such as running.  

Pilates is a key go to fitness type for women transitioning through peri-menopause into the menopause as Pilates focuses on strengthening the muscles and joints, burning body fat, helping to develop muscle mass with the right diet, and some Pilates exercises provide a gentle cardio benefit.  The continuous movement and breath work involved in Pilates will increase circulation and kickstart the metabolism in the body, helping with fat and calorie burning goals. 

I designed the #20PlusADay challenge with two targets in mind:  

Short and sweet – As the research shows that shorter bursts of activity are more beneficial than long, endurance fitness types for women experiencing the menopause; and/or

I don’t have time for fitness – people who struggle to find time for a dedicated fitness plan, or who already have maybe a favourite fitness class once a week, and would like to increase activity, showing how we can make fitness more manageable, to prove we don’t have to specifically get our lycra on or even get in the car to go to a gym.  We can build fitness in small, manageable chunks of time as frequently as possible. Sometimes we don’t have to make it a big heave-ho to fit in the fitness, which can, to some, seem impractical – to some – impossible!

20 Plus a day could be interpreted as eg 20+mins walking, light jog, 20+ reps of press ups, squats, or 20 secs of plank after a warm up and if 20 is feeling too tame, you’re not noticing a difference in your fitness level, or you have more time, why not increase this to 30! This challenge is the springboard to build upon and make fitness a regular habit. Start building up intensity in those 20 mins and work towards the recommendation of a minimum of 30 mins 5 times a week. Contact me if you’re not sure what would work best for your body*

Make fitness manageable for you. Try my 20 plus a day challenge #20plusaday and see what health and fitness goals you can achieve in 2023 through ‘little and often’.

Ways to make a start this February:

⚡️ Mama Strength Spark – see what a month of unlimited online Pilates can do for you;

💪🏻 121 options to fit around your schedule in person in my studio Buckingham, or online options available;

*check with a medical pro if you’re suffering from any pre-existing health condition, have just recently had a baby, or are recovering from an injury. Contact me here if you’re not sure and would like to chat more.

More suggestions about how to make the 20 Plus a Day work for you, inspiration for how to mix and match different movement types, and how to interpret the 20 Plus a Day can be found on my social media platforms – search @dancingmamafitness on Facebook and Instagram.

Will you try the #StoreCupboardChallenge

Did you see my #StoreCupboadChallenge?

I made the most of every essential in my store cupboard and freezer and my Oddbox*, without doing a big supermarket shop for the week! I probably saved £40 on my food shop by only buying the milk/juice/bread/breakfast staples – oh and popcorn and jelly beans on a cinema trip (essentials, though right?). 

I’ve done a lot of work to build up my store cupboard so I could still make sure we got the right nutrients for the week and I’d got some good meals left in the freezer from previous meals.  We’re a plant-based household, so it’s not like I was going a week without meat anyway, which can push up the food bill, though of course, so can the good vegan processed alternatives.  I worked through the previously bought processed freezer foods that were still lingering there so it wasn’t just living on veg and noodles for the week.  I also had some evening events with some canapés to help me last longer between meals, but we still had usual good portions of food everyday – plus my Baby O gets her free school meals still, so I get the run down from her on what she’s eaten (or not!) in school. I made sure she got fed well too. I just cooked more consciously for the week!

Here are my takeaways from the #StoreCupboardChallenge:

Oddbox Fruit & Veg Box
  1. I’ll think twice before buying the more frivolous treats that aren’t on my shopping list – I avoided the unplanned temptations by not going to the supermarket for the week;
  2. Massively reduced waste and I was being really careful with ingredients to make them go further;
  3. I discovered some delish food in the freezer I’d forgotten about so it wasn’t all boring;
  4. but yeahhh – some meals were pretty basic (jacket potato baked beans stylee!), but we’re so programmed to have the food we want at our fingertips – or to have the fast food can be so cheap, easy…and fast. It was quite humbling to go right back to really simple basic whole food cooking for the week without the ‘luxuries’;
  5. Saved a huuuuge amount of money for a week, so I can quite happily go for a guilt free meal out as a treat sometime soon – especially as even a meal for me + little one can equal a week of food shopping; and
  6. I found some new recipes and got creative – googled a few on BBC Good Food. Enter in the key ingredients and it finds recipes that match the ingredients (felt like I was on Ready Steady Cook); and
  7. it’s got me thinking more cleverly about my next big shop – what can I make sure I stock up on if I decide to cut my food bill again – might even have a go at the challenge once a month!

So are you going to try the #StoreCupboardChallenge? Let me know how you get on!

*use this code here for £10 off your first Oddbox. I’ll get £10 off too 😉

Leanne Stitt Doula Diary

Empowerment through connection to our bodies & moving through pregnancy

Things I wish I’d have told my younger self… I’ve been talking about ensuring we don’t leave our health, and prioritising ourselves, too late. I wish I’d have started connecting with my body on a physical level during pregnancy. I practised hypno-birthing, which worked wonders for my mental health, but really wish I’d have continued moving, exercising, dancing (I got lazy) – and totally wish I’d have discovered Pilates sooner! Leanne Stitt of Doula Diary, and I have been talking about the importance and benefits of keeping moving during pregnancy to help for a quicker and healthier recovery in the post-natal phase. In this blog Leanne shares her thoughts on why its good to keep moving during pregnancy…and beyond!

Connection is our birth right, but it’s at risk.

More and more we are finding ourselves in our heads losing the connection to our own bodies. Education and society also keeps us in our heads, and this is at the expense of our bodily instinct & wisdom.

Reconnecting to yourself and your body when you’re pregnant can be so empowering. Simple adjustments in your day to day can create new habits which will strengthen the connection to your bodily wisdom, which man of us have lost along the way. Learning to reconnect to yourself in pregnancy is also a great tool to take forward into your labour and your journey as a parent.

Connect with the body during pregnancy

Pilates and similar embodied arts like Yoga is often described as the Dance of Breath and Movement which beautifully sums up Birth too. The breath helps centre us providing you with oxygen rich blood, gives us focus and can allow our mind to relax and our body open. Focusing on your breath has been shown to alter your brainwaves in a positive way, decrease stress hormones, blood pressure and Increases oxygen levels and relaxation.

Practicing movement with breathwork in pregnancy prepares you beautifully for birthing your baby, whether that’s homebirth, caesarean birth, hospital birth, whatever your choice, it will influence a more positive experience. Dancing through contractions has lots of benefits and can help baby descend into your pelvis. You can then take these skills you have learned forward to adjusting to life as a new parent. There will be times you will feel overwhelmed and centring yourself with your breath will help you clear your mind. Movement with your baby will soothe your baby, soothe you and support bonding.

Modern society is overwhelming, the constant juggle and expectation of more, so it is no wonder we are disconnected from ourselves. The above advice does not cover only pregnancy and about but moving forward into your role as a parent.

My top 5 ways to reconnect to your body:

  1. Dancing/Movement

Dancing during the first stage of labour can decrease duration and intensity of pain. Instinctive movement can help your baby move down into the pelvis  and will divert attention away from any unwanted sensations. Dancing with your newborn is also a wonderful happy hormone release and the moment is incredibly soothing for your baby.

2. Slow Down and Be Present

Remove yourself away from the noise, switch off technology and pay attention to what you are eating, how you are feeling, how the leaves are changing colour. Note how this makes you feel. 

3. Go outside 

Feel the sun, wind and rain on your skin. Blow away the cobwebs and clear your mind. Fill your lungs with the gorgeous fresh air and oxygenate your blood.

4. Question authority

Stay connected to your own genuine needs and desires by being in the body. Be your own guru and don’t feel guilty for taking the time you need to keep yourself well physically and mentally.

5. Be creative 

Do more of what inspires you. Paint, Make something, read, take a warm bath with your favourite treats. Do that things that you love but you never find time for, make the time. Feeding your soul opens you up to so much peace and joy.

Don’t forget to rest!

Now it is important to note that equal measures of rest and movement are important. Tuning in to your body will help to find the right balance for you. Breathwork can be a key tool and influencer in how we are feeling. When it comes to Birthing your Baby, if you’re too much in your head or adrenaline is taking over it will disrupt the flow of oxytocin which is a key hormone in birth. Breath work & Instinctive movement can break this process. If you would like to learn more get in touch.

Leanne Stitt





Pilates Studio

Announcing the launch of Pilates @ Juniper Lodge!

I’ve finally named my Buckingham Pilates studio! 

Introducing 🌲Pilates @ Juniper Lodge!🌲I loved the idea of giving my studio that mountain lodge vibe, which led me to bring in my love of nature and those alpine views are not complete without fir trees🌲 Coupled with the fact it’s no coincidence that my tipple of choice is…GIN🤪and hey presto the name Juniper kept creeping back in to my contender list! I then started digging more into the name Juniper, particularly as I’m a massive essential oil geek. Love the way scent can transport the mind and elevate health. Lo and behold I discover how the native Americans burn Juniper for various benefits for example…and my favourite discovery of these ancient trees is this: “Juniper trees symbolise the strength and perseverance of human spirit… Even when it seems like we cannot survive, hope is never lost.” If that’s not an analogy for so many facets of my life, my philosophy for how I support my clients and the world at the moment, I don’t know what is.

AND IT JUST GETS BETTER! I’ve organised a giveaway!

Giveaway Competition – win a month of Mama Strength Pilates Programme and more…

Celebrating the launch of my studio, Pilates @ Juniper Lodge, I’m giving away a month of my ‘Pure’ Mama Strength online Pilates Programme and a few goodies in a competition! This is an opportunity to see how, by giving yourself the spotlight for a change in daily manageable ways, you might start to rediscover a glimmer of the energy, strength and muscle tone of the pre-child woman you know still lies within. With this insane prize, you’ll get Pure Mama Strength (a 121 with me plus one month unlimited weekly access to group sessions) and some other goodies…including gin! (no coincidence that I named my studio after a key ingredient of gin…ahem. There were other influences for the name (honest!), which you can read about through my announcement post on my Facebook/IG pages 😉 ).  Enter the competition through my social media pages below – hint: you can apply on both Facebook and Instagram!

Mama Strength is aimed at women with younger children who had their kids later in life.  The body can take up to 5 years to recover from childbirth, plus a ‘later in life mum’ body can also take a little more dedicated work to bounce back into pre-child strength, tone and energy, and well, it’s just so worth starting sooner rather than later.

Us parents have got to take time out to prioritise ourselves for a change on a regular basis, separate from that ‘mum’ identity occasionally, and understand that a personal fitness programme can be for you too. Let’s not use the excuse that there ‘isn’t time’ – and see how Mama Strength Pilates programme helps you to getting into daily healthy habits, in manageable ways, with the support of me – a dedicated Pilates coach.

Honestly – getting to grips with my strength and energy through Pilates was a massive game changer for me. I gained the post-childbirth additional curves that tells me my body did an amazing thing, giving birth to my child, but through regularly practising Pilates I feel the muscle and core strength is there underneath helping me to prep for more physical, high impact fitness types like running or dancing – the powerful calorie burners. Work gotta be done on diet and a mix of fitness types to see a total change in body shape, and it’s got to be fun right?  Pilates is a great place to start to lay the strength foundations and build the confidence to move on to the higher impact stuff. Start feeling the results in one month – ready in time for Christmas, and then make a smooth move on to ramp up the NY health goals.  The only way change can happen is by prioritising YOU!