Muddy slides into a Reformer Pilates class
Cardio lying down? Yes please! Muddy tries Adele's fitness of choice, Reformer Pilates, at a fab studio in Hurley, Berkshire.
I’ve tried yoga and pilates many times over the years, but I’ve always struggled to really embrace it. There’s a lot of lying down and breathing. When it comes to exercise I’m a bit wham bam thank you ma’am. Running and spinning get the heart pumping and that’s good enough, right?
Er, maybe not. If you ask any aged 40+ celeb with an enviable hot bod – lean, strong and age-defying, you’ll find pilates in their fitness mix. Cardio alone just doesn’t reach the parts that keep you toned and agile.
Reformer pilates (created by German founder Jospeh Pilates in the early 20th Century) is reputedly the reason for Adele’s recent weight loss, Lady Gaga used it to treat her fibromyalgia and , Claudia Schiffer, Kimberley Walsh and J-Lo are all fans.
So, with the waistband getting a bit tight over lockdown of Mini-Magnums and intravenous G&Ts, I thought I’d take myself off for a one-to-one sesh at Cat Fitchett’s Balance Pro studio in Hurley. She is a woman who in her former life has been a competitive ice skater, Team GB high jumper, professional dancer, model and stunt woman. In fact, she did the stunts for Nicole Kidman in the 2014 film Before I Go To Sleep.
Doing stunts was her dream job and she trained hard for the British Stunt Register. It was during one training session that Cat snapped her leg off at the knee doing a full twisting back somersault on a trampoline. In that split second, life was never going to be the same again.
What’s all this got to do with reformer Pilates? Well everything, actually. Cat rebuilt her life using her experience in both elite sport and acute injuries, so Balance Pro was born. Cat’s knowledge of Pilates based movements and training in exercise therapy means that not only can she offer Pilates for fitness and weight loss, but also assist in rehabilitation and movement dysfunctions. The best part? She’s living proof it works, having turned her back on endless operations to take a more holistic approach to her own health ands wellbeing.
Enough fan girling, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Cat’s studio is in the her home in the pretty village of Hurley – just outside Maidenhead. It’s airy and light and the instrument of torture, sorry, I mean, the reformer is placed in a studio at the back of her home with all the coloured-coded tensions and extra bits of kit set out.
Cat works one to one with clients ,which is brilliant. Each session is totally bespoke, tackles any issues you might be experiencing with your body both short and long term. In the words of McFly, ‘It’s all about you’. It’s also less intimidating than a class. Cat is ballerina beautiful, but there’s nothing intimidating about her in the slightest. She knows first hand that everyone’s journey is different, and that she genuinely just want to help.
While she does teach on mats, most of Cat’s sessions are on the reformer – a wooden beech frame with an upholstered carriage which slides up and down the frame on wheels. It has straps and other functions, meaning you can lie on it and work your arms, legs, abdomen and bum just like you would on a leg-press in a gym, but in a much more precise way – targeting very specific muscles with just a slight change in the position of your feet, for example.
I started by lying down (always my favourite exercise position) with legs bent, and my feet on a metal foot-bar. Cat (who’s posing for the pics to spare you my flubber) told me to place my feet and toes in various positions and I was amazed by how a small tweak could work a different part of my stomach muscles (yes they were in there somewhere), including ones running down the centre which I’d no idea I even had. Plus Cat got me doing exercises that are specifically designed to strengthen my old ankle injury. To be honest the last time I was doing THAT with my legs I was giving birth.
But, do not be fooled. This is not just a lot of breathing and wafting about. You sweat. A LOT!. And you feel the aches in your muscles for days. It’s no wonder reformer is becoming so popular. You also have to engage your brain and try to be at least a little co-ordinated. Nail it, and you i will become a lean, mean, badass babe with the posture of a dancer and the body of goddess.
Unlike a class, that one on one attention means you can work on problems that a group class can’t cater for in the same way. So no it’s not cheap at £60 per hour, but I feel it’s worth the money – particularly if you have injuries or health problems that would benefit from that level of personal training.
Why come to Cat rather than any other studio? Because she’s a living breathing superwoman who wholeheartedly believes in the power of pilates.
GOOD FOR: To work on strength and stretching it’s good for anyone. If you’re coming back from an injury or illness, reformer can achieve amazing results and that one to one attention super charges the results.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: For adrenaline junkies, the focus on precision movements may not get your going, but the results are worth slowing down for. The hopelessly uncoordinated may struggle at first.
**** COMPETITION TIME ****
WIN 10 X REFORMER PILATES SESSIONS AT BALANCE PRO, WORTH £630
Would you, your bezzie mate or a fabulous member of your family like to win 10 sessions with Cat at her Reformer Pilates studio? We’re giving one lucky the opportunity to win 10 x one hour session and a pair of toe sox.
All you have to do is email (with your name, email and phone number – Subject PICK ME FOR PILATES) why you feel you (or the person you’re nominating) would benefit from 10 reformer sessions with Cat. Perhaps you’re battling a specific injury, suffer from back pain, would like to improve your flexibility and posture (*raises hand) or you’re struggling with your mental health. Tell us all about it. Cat will pick one worthy winner when after the closing date on 22 Oct.
- Entries must be in by midnight, 22 Oct 2020.
- Sessions must be taken one per week for 10 weeks.
- You must be comfortable with Balance Pro documenting the process on the website and Social Media.
- If you have an injury you must have sign off from your GP or consultant to be able to participate.