Q&A with Alice
What is your area of expertise?
Working as not only a Pilates Instructor, but also a Podiatrists means that I have a particular interest in the foot and lower limb. The foot are the foundations or building blocks for the body, and when these aren’t functioning as they should, it has the ability to create pain or dysfunction right the way up the body chain.
In relation to your area of expertise, what are 5 exercises or Stretches what would you recommend a client does at home in between coming to classesto get the most out of their Studio class? (for strength, flexibility, recovery or maintenance).
Rolling a ball into the base of the foot. Using a tennis ball, spikey ball, or my personal favourite – the rubber down balls, into the sole of the foot acts not only as a massage into the muscles within the foot, but also helps to improve mobility within the joints of the foot which helps with more efficient gait.
Foam rolling out calves, hamstrings and gluts. The sole of the foot is connected to the entire back chain of the body, so ensuring these areas are released ensures smooth lower limb, ankle and foot mechanics.
Calf raises. Calf raises are a great way to help create healthy and aligned ankle joints, improve calf strength, and also help to increase the strength of all the small intrinsic muscles of the foot.
Spine curls. The golden exercise! Helps open up the front of the hips, while strengthening the gluts and hamstrings…again all important for correct lower limb function.
Thread the needle. While this may seem strange when it comes to lower limb specific exercises, it is all relevant. A tight upper back results in compensatory adjustments through the hips and lower limb, so maintaining good upper body mobility not only feels great, but also helps with hip, knee and subsequent foot alignment.
What is your favorite Pilates stretch and why?
The mermaid!! It feels amazing! Moving into rotation and extension are moves we don’t do enough in our day to day lives and this exercise ticks both these boxes.
What is your favorite Pilates repertoire and why?
I love a good 4-pt or plank based core work out so anything from knee stretch, reverse knee stretch, down stretch etc…always with an oblique progression. This type of core work out makes me feel so strong, but is also kinder to my occasional niggly lower back or neck.
What is your background/education? What else do you do?
I have a bachelor in Health Science and Masters in Podiatric Practice. Outside of Pilates I work as a Podiatrist.
How would you persuade someone who is in pain that has never done Studio Pilates that it will be beneficial for them?
I think definitely the fact that studio classes are tailored to all shapes, sizes and levels is a great advantage, and being small size classes means that they will never be left to their own devices. The great thing about Pilates is that the repertoire is endless, it can be as basic or as advanced as required and takes into account all pathologies or limitations.
How do you explain the difference between main stream Pilates (gym or large group reformer pilates) and Studio Pilates to someone who thinks they are all the same thing?
Again class size comes into it, and the fact that everyone has their personal programs, but also the level of training the instructor has had. To become a Pilates instructor we need to have an extensive knowledge in anatomy and pathology and undergo a huge amount of education and teacher training. The Pilates courses that most of us have undergone have taken minimum 12 months and it is a government accredited course.
What are your favourite Pilates principals (precision, breathe, flow etc.) and why? How do you incorporate these in your own workouts?
Breath and Flow are my two favourite principles and both feed into one another. Every movement should be done taking the breath into consideration, and this in turn creates a flow that is kind on the joints and soft tissues of the body. Centering is also another great principle, and again can be controlled by the breath. It’s this centering that can allow you to go inward and forget about the stressors of the day.
Why do you love Studio Pilates above barre and reformer?
I love the individualisation of the Studio classes, and also love both the verbal and tactile feedback provided by the studio instructors.
Whats the best thing about being a Studio teacher?
The people! I love getting to know someone and helping them achieve their goals whether that be recovering from injury, returning to sport or a certain activity, or just functioning pain free on a day to day basis.