Interview With Balance & Movement

The Checkfit team met up with Robyn from Balance & Movement to talk about her Pilates class. Robyn has been in this industry for a number of years now and has developed a large client base around Liverpool. Check out our interview with Robyn to find out more about Balance & Movement.

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How Did You Get Into Pilates?

Initially my mum got me into Pilates, my mum started Pilates because of an injury she had, and loved it. Then Pilates came up on my gym schedule in the gym that I attended so I thought I would give it a try. And I think I was lucky because I was learning under someone who has such an amazing attitude towards Pilates, she is just an amazing person. And I watched her move in the class and I thought ‘wow’ if she can move like that I want to be able to move like that. So I basically started following her around almost like a stalker. I found out she done several different gyms so I would try and find out what day she was teaching and attend. It was at the end of one of her classes she came to me and said that I really get this and I would be an amazing instructor. She then gave me the place where she done her studies, and at the time I wasn’t particularly happy in my work so I thought why not try something different. So I signed up, walked into my first day of the workshop, sat down on the mat and thought to myself ‘yes, this is what I want to be doing’. And I haven’t looked back since. Once I qualified, it took me around a year to brave swap my job.

How Long Did It Take For You To Qualify?

It took a little bit over a year, the way I done it was half online and half practical workshops. So more of our learning about physiology and health and safety came from the online modules, what happens with these is that you will log in online and study the module. At the end of each one you do a test, with the tests you have to get a certain percentage to pass. You can do this as many times you want and it gives you a good understanding and it’s something good to start from.

Do You Do Beginner Classes?

It’s something I am looking at doing at the minute; I am just trying to find the time. If I do go ahead with it I will do 6-8 weeks courses and then once they have found their feet they can go into the other classes. So the course would be to go over some things like breathing and movements.

I would say 6 weeks is long enough for someone to be comfortable with the basics, some people may get it a lot quicker than others

What’s The Difference Between Yoga And Pilates?

I would put them in the same genera of types of exercise, so neither of them are aerobics classes and neither of them are ones where you come to sweat, but saying that you can break a sweat. In my experience yoga is much flowy, it has a huge focus on flexibility and it has meditative element to it. Pilates is much more main stream, it’s more about movements and it’s about making your body move better. The focus in Pilates is very much on form and alignment rather than flexibility. In Pilates we aim for precision and perfection. We use a huge element of breathing so that’s where the similarity is with yoga.

The two work beautifully together and I often recommend my students to do the two together. Unless you’re hypermobile, hypermobility is not ideal for yoga because you are already flexible, by doing yoga you will look and feel amazing but you won’t really get anything out of it as that person would need more stability. Whereas if you’re a tight person then yoga will be the one for you.

What Are The Health Benefits From Pilates?

The main thing we work on is building core strength, around your whole middle basically. Pilates is aimed to increase inner thigh strength, glutes strength and core strength. The ideas then, from your strong centre you can move better. So the idea is to realign your body, so when you have muscle imbalances on your body, front and back or side to side, we then realign your body. We work on things like flexibility, stability, mobilising things like shoulder joints, knees etc. There is a huge focus on your spine.

Do You Recommend Pilates For People Who Work In Offices All Day?

Yes, it should almost be like second nature in their day, something that they do part of their daily movements. Sitting is one of the worst things you can do for your body; it loads your spine so heavily. The amount of hours we sit, and the longer we are looking at our screens and hunch forward, and if we aren’t on our computer screens we are on our phones with our head hung forward. Forward head syndrome is going to become a massive issue with the next generation. But lower back pain with our existing generation is such a big issue because people are sitting for that many hours of a day and that just tightens up horrible things and weakens various things like your glutes which is what you need to use to move, it weakens your abs, it literally does the opposite of what you need to be moving so Pilates is ideal to help with this problem

Do You Have Consultation With Your Students First Before You Let Them Join A Class?

It depends, if someone comes and wants to join a class I will let them join in, because most people are very shy and don’t really want too much spotlight they just want and just want to come to the class, do their thing and come home, so I will let them join a class. I always ask people to fill out a pre exercise screening form. So I will ask certain questions about their medical history, I will always ask people before the session if they have any movement issues so I know what I need to take care of in the session. I will then watch them very carefully in the first session and from then on I will know what attention I need to give them.

With a private session I will do a full consultation before the session and assess movement from head to foot. I will do a postural analysis and I will write a specific programme based on what they want to achieve and what I’m looking at. They then have the option then to work on their own or rehab private sessions 1-1.

Can People With Major Health Issues Still Take Part?

Yes, I try my best not to turn anyone away. I usually ask for doctors clearance, so for example I have got somebody who had got quite severe spinal issues, I have made sure she had doctors clearance and then I check on her every exercise that I think might create some tension. Things I know she shouldn’t do I will give her something else while everyone else do the exercise. So this way I still keep the sessions flowing.

What Are Your Prices For Sessions?

I have put together a package for private sessions of 12 sessions in total, you have an initial assessment, 10 Pilates sessions then a final assessment where we see what has benefited since day 1. I normally have a set rate for that, it works out around £30 per session. I am also quite flexible when it comes to this, I have a client who wanted well more than 10 sessions and asked for a discount and I did.

When Are Your Classes On?

I teach Monday to Friday, I teach every morning and I teach Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lunch time and Monday and Thursday evening. I am all over the city, I am mostly in the city centre at lunch times and I am in Atherton, Crosby and west derby.

Would You Recommend A Specific Time To Do Pilates?

It depends on conditions, I have a few ladies who struggle after a certain time of the day, so mornings for them is best. I don’t teach before half 9, so when people come to me they have already been up for a couple of hours and been moving. I would say mornings are probably ideal but I understand not everyone is available in morning, straight from work is also ideal because if you go straight home after work you tend to mentally switch off and don’t want to do anything else. Lunch times are brilliant because it will boost your energy levels, I try to keep things quite fast paced and give them opportunity to breathe, slow down and destress but equaly have plenty of movement for the body.

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What Are The Benefits From Doing One Of Your Pilates Classes In A Lunch Break?

So from personal experience, I used to have a desked based job and most of the time I would either end up checking my social media which wasn’t really good for me. So instead, joining in a class you will, get the benefit off the exercises, it helps you to stop thinking about work for a little while, it helps you to totally switch off. When you focus on the breathing it helps you bring your heart rate down and completely calm down and reenergise you. People tend to feel a lot more positive after one of these classes and ready to power through the days. So from an employer’s perspective if they have someone coming back into work feel positive and having a lot more energy is beneficial to them.

Do You Recommend All Employers To Get Their Staff To Do Pilates?

I would say any type of movement, and stuff that is easy to do in work. Obviously your high impact sports in peoples lunch hours are good because people love that and they strive on it, but it’s the practicality of them having to shower, changed and get back to work. So I would say something that is easy to fit in their day, with Pilates you literally swap your clothes for a pair of leggings and a different t-shirt. So it is really easy to fit it into your day with no time wasted. Pilates will also help get the employees mind off work, they could go for a run which is brilliant, but while they’re running they are still thinking and stressing about work. Anything that has got flowing movements where you’re working and not having to think about your work is really good for you.

What Is The Age Range For Your Classes?

Open to everyone, men and women. On average most of my student are age mid 30s and over. I have a couple of people who come to my classes who are in their 70s and I have some people who are a lot younger.

Why Do You Think Most Men Are Put Off From Doing Pilates?

They need a buddy; they don’t want to be the only one in the class. That’s what I think puts guys off big time, apart from a very select handful. Some of the guys I have got in my classes have commented how it works together with their other exercises, they just have to keep in mind that Pilates won’t replace their exercise form, this is to help them be better in their other exercises. I have got a runner who has bad habits of not stretching properly and he has already seen that the core things that we’re doing will help him stabilise his body better which will help his running.

Could You Describe What One Of Your Sessions Are Like?

I go through a little bit of a warm up, we will then go into doing our main exercises and then I will do some stretches at the end. Sometimes I miss out the stretches because I will put them in with the main exercises, so if I know im going to challenge the legs, I will through in a few stretches to help everyone recover. The classes are always matt based, some times I will get them to stand up to help them get their brain more fired up. We always focus on breathing, and then I try to always mix my sessions up. Sometimes I will focus more on legs or more on the abs or upper body, sometimes I will do a mixture of everything; I tend to bring elements of balance into the exercises as often as I can. Abs are always involved, and I change my plan every 6 weeks.

To Join A Class, Do You Need To Be Fit?

No, like I have said I have 70 year olds who take part in my classes, some of them are brilliant and do lots of activates and other just come to my class once a week. So I tailor the exercises to everyone’s needs a fitness level. I can have someone who literally has issues with all of their major joints and I can still have them in my class and do something with them. I also have people in my classes who are super fit, so there is always a mixture. 

Where Do You See Yourself Going With Balance & Movement?

My dream is to have my own studio, but that conflicts with another dream of mine which is to get as many people trying and doing Pilates as possible. But in order to do that in a city as diverse as Liverpool I need to be moving around, but then at the same time I am conscious I am getting older and I can’t carry in teaching as much as I am at the I would like more instructors working with me as a team so I can put more classes on and get more people on the matt. 


If you would like to join one of Robyn's Pilates classes then click here.