One of the most rewarding things about what I do is working with wonderful people, supporting them and empowering them to live a better life. Through their commitment and determination I see their lives transform and they blossom!
I feel very privileged to be part of my clients' journey and I'm delighted to share some of their stories with you here. Miranda said "I can do anything!"... and so can you.
The reason I started the monthly subscription was because I needed the incentive of a monthly payment going out to make me do several classes a week. I was in need of strengthening my core to help support my back better, I needed to increase my strength and flexibility and I wanted to feel better about my body which I felt was falling apart and seizing up!! I wanted to be able to take on physical challenges and do more active things with my kids.
The online subscription means I can do as many on classes as I want and I can do them at a time which fits in with my life.
Since I started doing more classes my flexibility and strength have definitely improved although still a long way to go. In conjunction with this improvement in my physicality I was encouraged to lose weight to help further and I have now lost 3 stone so far which I'm delighted with.
So I'm feeling a million times better about myself than this time last year. I have just been to Wales on holiday with my children and we did white water rafting and zip lining, I would never have done these things 12 months ago, but now I feel so much stronger, better and more confident which enabled me to do these incredible things and make wonderful memories with Maisie and Alfie, I think they were quite proud of me too which was lovely.
The monthly subscription allows me lots of flexibility to do face to face classes when I can or recordings or on demand, so I can do what I want when I want. It's perfect for my life, I get quality classes when I want them. I also know that I can contact you and get help or support if I ever need it.
I would definitely recommend this to a friend, it is so flexible and easy to use. A great selection of classes with great tuition and explanation.
My primary goal when I started the online monthly subscription was to continue to manage my ongoing back injury. This was the reason I started Pilates (in person) a few years ago on the recommendation of my osteopath and the classes have been central to my rehab. My goal, particularly in the last year as my back problem became more under control, has been to return to marathon swimming – something which I haven’t been able to do for four years. Also, because I’ve been working from home during the pandemic and spending a lot of time at my desk, the sessions have been really important in keeping everything moving.
I never expected to enjoy online classes, especially since I have also been spending a lot of time teaching online, so I felt like more Zoom time wasn’t going to be a great way to relax. But in fact, I have found that the convenience of being able to do them at home means that I can take more classes than I ever was able to in person. And while I do use the video library sometimes, I still enjoy the real-time classes so that I get input and guidance (especially for my endlessly hunching shoulders), plus it’s an extra bit of accountability – if I was doing only pre-recorded videos, I know I would let work take over and end up not making the time.
Doing classes more regularly has definitely helped with my core strength and especially my spinal mobility. I also tend to be very upper body-oriented in my exercise because of the time I spend swimming, so the classes are an excellent chance for me to do some much-needed work on my lower body. I also run (a little bit, and very slowly….) and the classes definitely help with that and prevent me from getting injured. But for me, the most important thing is that doing the classes (along with input from a sports rehab therapist, a massage therapist and an osteopath), I have finally been able to return to the kind of swimming that I love, which is good for both my mind and body. There is nothing I like more than to be in a beautiful body of water somewhere and have nothing to do but swim for as many hours as I can manage. To be able to do this again is utterly joyful.
This summer, I successfully swam a double length of Windermere – a swim that took over 12 hours – and did not have the slightest problem with injury. Four years ago, I couldn’t even sit at a desk for more than 30 mins or swim more than a few strokes without pain, so to get to this point means everything to me. See the attached pic of me bringing all the glamour to marathon swimming at the end of my Windermere swim…
What I also love about Pilates, aside from its palpable benefits for my body, is that by doing regular classes I can get a sense of progress. For example, for the first two years of doing classes, I couldn’t roll down to the floor from sitting without using a towel under my lower back and hiking up my shoulders for leverage, but now I get up and down without additional support. It’s a small victory, but it feels good to make progress.
If I were speaking to someone who was thinking of signing up to the programme, I would tell them that it has been a lifesaver for me – not only in terms of the swimming, but also in helping me to maintain strength and mobility while doing a desk-based job that pulls against those goals. I am going through menopause and can feel my body going through all kinds of changes, but the classes have helped me to work on maintaining both strength and mobility in ways that feel like a real investment for the future. I want to be able to keep swimming for years to come. Plus it’s fun, no-one cares what size / shape body you have or how ‘good’ you are at Pilates and Sarah is an outstanding teacher.
Many thanks for all your work on this programme, Sarah – it’s enabled me to get back to doing something that I love but which I feared I might never be able to do again. You can’t put a price on that.
I’ve been giving some thought about my journey and have surprised myself about how far I have come!
When I started with Pilates it was because I had a vague notion in older age that I should do something to improve my strength. It wasn’t until I had my first class with you that the penny dropped! Learning how to stand and bend properly sounds straightforward but I now understand how these are so vital for my wellbeing.
I had no idea how much I mis-used my shoulders in basic day to day movement, it was no wonder my shoulders constantly ached. Now, if ever I find myself reverting to a poor stance, I hear you in my head saying ‘pull your shoulder blades down your back’ - it’s such a help!
But of course Pilates is so much more than that, the hour long classes really help improve my overall fitness and wellbeing including balance, energy, flexibility and confidence. I would never have dreamed that I could achieve the range and quality of movement I now take for granted.
The daily half hour 8.30 classes give me a real energy boost, setting me up for the day. Not only is the time very convenient but I enjoy the variety between the pilates led cardio and weights.
I respond very much to your motivational teaching style Sarah… as well as being professional and knowledgeable you are always cheerful, enthusiastic and encouraging. You are a lovely person and your bubbly personality shines through in every class. People who may have concerns about online teaching would be very happy with your positive, encouraging teaching style and the way you provide individual feedback during all online classes (you are incredible!)
The monthly subscription is ideal for me as I normally do 7 online classes each week plus I have access to the library - which represents amazing value for money.
Finally Sarah. It’s great to see you in the morning - rain, hail or shine - it feels more like being part of a lovely, supportive, friendly family than attending a class.
When I started Sarah’s Online Monthly Subscription I honestly didn’t have any goals. I’ve always felt that there is no age limit to fitness and feeling strong and confident in my body is just a way of life. It’s part of what I am and what I do.
I have always walked, in my early life played squash and badminton and dabbled in yoga. I have undertaken long distance trails over the years and on retirement went regularly to the gym and started Pilates. I now have grandchildren and they have kept me on my toes. Quite literally!
I have also tried to eat healthily.
I like the way that the Online Subscription gives flexibility to take part any day of the week either on or offline. Sarah has a wide range of programs and is expert in her delivery, catering for all abilities.
I have noticed a definite improvement in my posture since starting Sarah’s Pilates. My back seems straighter and stronger and my core strength has improved. I’m half way through my 60’s and my knees have sometimes been troublesome but I can now do squats and hold a plank! All this through, what is essentially gentle exercise. It’s amazing what it does for your body-you don’t realise how hard you are working!
By having a monthly subscription, if you have booked in for a 9.30am class you will do it!
All you need to do is get to your computer, lay your mat out and you are good to go. It makes regularly doing a class so much easier. No getting in the car or walking in the driving rain to take part.
The booking system is easy and allows you to be booked into a regular class to suit you.
Pilates Instructors are ‘Masters of Anatomy’. What are you waiting for? Give it a go. You’ll never look back.
I’ve always avoided gyms - partly because I would be the girl chosen last (well maybe second to last) for your netball team or whatever and partly because gyms make me feel like a battery hen, especially since I saw while walking in Liverpool one night, three tiers of people in a glass fronted building, trundling away on exercise bikes. I do love walking - one of the highlights of my year a week or two in Assynt in the far Northwest of Scotland. Then, it would be on the first day of our holiday, I injured my knee there. The physiotherapist gave me some exercises to do - which were tough and not at all enjoyable, and sent me on my way. Then I had the good luck to meet Sarah at a health event for older people who recommended Pilates.
From my first visit to Burley I was impressed by the welcome given to everyone, the feeling that this is for anyone, the calm atmosphere and Sarah’s detailed descriptions of the exercises and how they should feel as well as her eagle eye for the wrong sort of movement, very clearly and kindly corrected.
I was really impressed when Sarah went online almost as soon as the pandemic started and with my confidence building, I began to try out a range of classes. I was always encouraged to give things a go - and always encouraged to listen to my body and not overtax it. Even online the atmosphere is calm, friendly but always encouraging, just challenging enough.
The ‘breakfast’ classes are a great way to start the day - not too long, not in the way of other activities, friendly faces, and a quick peek into homes in Yorkshire, Ireland, Australia if you’re a bit nosey like me. So good to start the day feeling both energetic and relaxed.
I was doing weights but just started HIT and Pilates as well. The benefits - I can still walk miles, uphill more easily than before. I understand that some of the ways I used my feet and legs to brace myself on rough ground didn’t do me much good - now I’m careful with the alignment of my feet and knees, keeping my weight back and my knees (which are still a bit dodgy) feel fine. Even better I can do those walks comfortably wearing a backpack that used to make my back ache. It’s not achey or still after gardening either. In fact I used to have an odd feeling that my middle was collapsing a bit - which has gone now I’ve done all that work on my core. It’s a small but satisfying thing but I can now reach the glasses we use for G and T which were kept on a top shelf from which I had to ask himself to retrieve them for me before I became a home gym bunny. I don’t have machines though - I just have a mat in my sitting room, a few weights and my laptop and wide open French windows with the breeze blowing through on warm days. I’m hoping I’ve got lots more years of reaching these heights to go.
Just over twenty years ago, long before I’d heard of Pilates, longer still before I had a single ache or pain in my body and even longer again before I’d heard a whisper about a magical woman called Sarah who lived high up on a Yorkshire moor, I left English teaching and became a screenwriter. After an autumnal epiphany pacing through the Manhattan of Nora Ephron, I decided that my life’s work was to sit. And sit. And sit.
My heart, mind and soul don’t regret for a second that decision taken on a brisk late October Tuesday in 1999, but my lower back, shoulders and wrists? Not so delighted. Daily, they rant like Bruno Ganz in that famous scene from Downfall.
Of course, life isn’t always like a Richard Curtis movie and the reality of a professional writer means that you (probably) won’t own a delightful pied-a-terre in Notting Hill or work in an organised fashion at a beautifully appointed desk overlooking a charming roof terrace before meeting your pals in a delightful street cafe for a long lunch. No. What you will be doing is spinning plates like you’re auditioning for The Greatest Showman and you will be sitting as an endurance sport for many, many hours each day, week, weekend, month and year. Throw in some travel abroad, mad publishing deadlines, school visits and festivals and all hope of a routine is lost. The once weekly Pilates lessons you tried to get to are just part of collective corporeal neglect.
And then there’s a pandemic…
Hearing that Sarah was going to re-imagine her entire business and deliver classes on Zoom was (any John Williams’ film) music to my ears. I signed up on (virtual) sight! If anyone could make this newfangled genre of online exercise work other than Joe Wicks, it was Sarah. And so it proved to be. Just like her live classes of olden times, these sessions were every bit as thoughtful, compassionate, professional, engaging, varied and inspiring. I started last March and have, barring holidays or particularly insane work weeks, tried to get to at least 3 classes a week.
This is the bit where, in a film, there would be a montage of the hero(ine) training. It’s the classic screen narrative time saver. Remember that bit in Rocky where an out-of-shape Stallone drinks 6 eggs for breakfast, jogs along disused railways in the shadow of vast polluting factories whilst pushing weights in the air, runs through rough and ready city streets where people huddle for warmth around oil drum fires, punches a speedball with his face artfully moistened in sweat, does all manner of push- and press-ups in a ring in a dingy gym whilst being encouraged by wizened trainers before jabbing, jibe-ing and right hooking sides of beef in a butcher’s fridge?
Ok, forget that and instead imagine a middle-aged woman who isn’t boxing and looks (praise be, Mother Nature!) nothing like Sylvester Stallone. She’s wearing various uncoordinated outfits and deliberately baggy outfits. She doesn’t particularly want to draw attention to all the lumps and bumps that have emerged over the years and attached themselves limpet-like to her hips, bum and thighs but absolutely no one’s judging and gradually she stops judging herself, too. The clothes gradually get more refined as her arms and abs become more defined. The tracksuit trousers are gradually replaced by running leggings which get progressively shorter. The saggy fleece disappears to reveal an old t-shirt which in time (well, a few seconds of screen time at least) becomes a running vest. Her cans of chickpeas are replaced by proper weights. There is no upbeat thumping theme tune to mark the uphill progress of the wannabe Pilates Queen other than the tunes she sings to herself as she logs in before each session feeling happy and knowing that it all helps. She won’t start running faster and faster along the docks past scenes of post-industrial decay before eventually making it to the top of the Philadaelphia steps, arms triumphantly aloft and a smile plastered over her face but she will run up the stairs from the kettle to desk without puffing or passing out. And she’ll also shuffle around a 5km course once a week or so which she’s not been able to do for a while.
Week by week, under Sarah’s kind, attentive, warm-hearted and so supportive guidance, I’ve noticed a change: in my body, my mind and my spirits. A canoe instructor once joked that I “was no Beth Tweddle” and whilst that is undoubtedly true, I am way more flexible than I was. A natural Tin Man, regular classes with Sarah have meant that I don’t squeak or rust quite as much and can even, sometimes, get my troublesome left shoulder to behave. But even if it’s going rogue, there’s always other options. I don’t fall over or wobble in balance positions half as often and I now understand how my whole body fits together in each separate pose. Uniting mind, concentration and movement means that the classes fly by in a happy haze. Yes, it’s challenging but only against yourself and what you feel you can do.
Of course, in real life, I can’t condense time so every sentence I write has to be lived in real time. Sadly, there is no quick, screen time solution to the problem of work. Consequently, I still spend way too long at a desk in one position. And even though I still find bridge hard can’t hold the plank for longer than 30 seconds, everso slowly I’m making progress. I now wake up and can touch my toes most days on the first attempt. (Sometimes I even do it without an accompanying “Oof!”) I now get up from my desk and move easier without my neck pinching, my hamstrings pinging or my lower back disintegrating. And I know when I log in to a 6pm session at the end of a working day that there will be Sarah’s glad, sunny welcome that makes you feel as if you’ve won already.
For all the myriad horrors, griefs, sadnesses, frustrations and anxieties of the past 18 months, it has, if nothing else, given me the time to slow down, take stock and re-prioritise what I want as I near 50. Top of the list is the desire to be strong and healthy again. Thanks to Sarah’s wonderful teaching and passionate empowering of all her clients, I’m on my way to achieving that.
So let’s finish off the popcorn and fade out with this: it’s that middle-aged woman again. She’s just walking down the street in jeans in the town where she lives. To external view, she looks like any other middle-aged woman doing her shopping but zoom in and you’ll see that she’s full of energy and full of momentum. She’s moving smoothly and she’s got a spring in her step. She’s smiling to herself. In her head, she’s playing soundtracks: Working Girl - Staying Alive - Mamma Mia. She’s writing her own film. It’s about a middle-aged woman who takes up Pilates and starts to take back some control. She’s just waiting to hear back from George Clooney….