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Why it's more important than ever to do exercise in 2023:

By Ros Harley - Chartered Physiotherapist

Exercise is incredibly relevant to 2023

Initially and most importantly it helps with improving your posture; an upright posture creates better efficiency when breathing; allowing space and ventilation for the cardiovascular system to work effectively.

We are often stressed at this time inducing back pain and anxiety, exercise helps to calm your system down to promote a stronger immune system.

You are probably having to do more stuff for yourself and exercise helps to strengthen and tone whilst improving balance and flexibility through the stretching component.


💥The COVID-19 pandemic means that many of us are staying at home and sitting down more than we usually do. It’s hard for a lot of us to do the sort of exercise we normally do. It’s even harder for people who don’t usually do a lot of physical exercise.

But at a time like this, it’s very important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible. The World Health Organisation highly recommends exercise to help to maintain your fitness at this time.

Physical movement and stretching, will help ease your muscles and improve blood circulation and muscle activity.


💥💥Regular physical activity benefits both the body and mind. It can reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers - all conditions that can increase susceptibility to COVID-19.


💥💥💥Regular weight bearing exercise also improves bone and muscle strength and increases balance, flexibility and fitness.

For older people, activities that improve balance help to prevent falls and injuries. Where alot of us may be indoors on our own too; we need to keep strong to maintain our independence.


Even if you don't join our classes. Please, please think about watching and participating in some of the amazing classes we have in Plymouth.


But if you do want to join us; we're here to help you too 💛

Heat Acclimatisation

By Ros Harley - Chartered Physiotherapist

Exercising in HOT weather can put extra stress on your body.

We absolutely ask you all to hydrate but there's more; much more that you can do to follow a safe exercise class.

We take you seriously and have a list of ideas to help.


Feeling Hot hot hot....


Exercise plus air temperature and humidity can increase your core temperature.

Your body has to effectively alter its system; vasodilating the skins pores, and sending more blood around the body to aid circulation to cool you down.



Your body is currently going through what's known as heat Acclimatisation and we; living in the UK need to accept our body may be struggling and trying to adapt.

That's why exercise can feel harder.

Your ability to exercise in hot weather will be dependent on many factors inluding your weight, metabolism and capacity for heat exchange.


What can you do in your classes:

Obviously hydration is key but to be safe you MUST do more if exercising remotely on ZOOM:

1. Timed meals: Eat light nutritious foods a good 4 hours before class.

Don't eat just before class as your body will struggle to digest and exercise concurrently.

Additionally you may need to monitor your salt intake. Heat causes excessive perspiration and with that we may lose minerals and salt which needs to be considered. Talk to your GP if you sweat excessively about learn how to replace minerals lost.

2. Hydrate throughout the day.

Not just in your class!!!

You sleep on average for 6 - 8 hours a day without hydrating; so drink a glass of water in the morning. Ideally 1.2 litres of water a day. Evidence sourced: Public Health England.

3. Monitor your day. Do not exert yourself too hard in class. Especially if you've been physically active in the day.

4. Consider your current health conditions.

Some health conditions do not sense a change in heat and some medications do not react well to heat. So check out your medication.

Conditions such as reduced blood circulation, heart disease, mental illnesses and obesity are also risk factors when it's hot.

Some neurological disorders and respiratory disorders do not like the heat too.

So safe exercise is key. With knowledgeable risk aware instructors is key.

Consider your current conditions. Think about your health diagnosis and what you can do to maintain your bodies safe temperature.

5. Rest. Consider your sleep hygiene. Ventilated rooms create a better environment, cool showers before bed a glass of water close by.

6. Don't warm up too quickly in class; let your body regulator kick in. Go steady. No over exertion and no turning.

7. Take breaks at any stage. Sit chill and enjoy the music too.

8. Open your windows, ventilate your space and get a fan.

9. Don't exercise outside in the sun. It's just too hot at the moment. Stay shaded or go indoors.

Hope it helps

Lower back pain and exercise

By Ros Harley - Chartered Physiotherapist


"I have lower back pain can you help?"

More and more people are contacting us; saying they have lower backpain and asking for our advice.

Why do I get Lower back pain?

Lower back pain is common; caused by a myriad of reasons from inactivity, muscle weakness, poor posture, sitting at a computer to driving for a lengthy time.

Many of us get back ache and it can be a very lonely, painful time.

The most common type of back pain is "non-specific" this means that no medical reason has been diagnosed as to the reason for the discomfort.

However, if this is you all is not lost.

The clever guys at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend lower back pain programmes that includes:


-Postural control

-Muscle strengthening

-Aerobic activity


What we've done to adapt our choreography:

Our Pilates choreography mobilises the spine, strengthens the back extensors, activates the abdominal muscles and stretches the hip flexors, hamstrings and back extensors.

All to help you to reduce lumbar back ache and relieve your pain through tailored warm up routines.

So if you blend this with our free home exercise programmes and postural re-education; then your lumbar back pain will have a seriously good chance of reduction.

There are additional home exercises you can do as attached too.

Do these if you are certain you're physically able to and cleared medically.

If not; contact us and we'll give you an alternative!

Exercise and your Immune system

By Ros Harley; Physiotherapist, Pilates Specialist, Lover of Newfoundland dogs and dodgy ukulele Player (according to Irene).

The pandemic has raised many questions about whether exercise protects us from respiratory infections by boosting immunity or does it infact expose us to increased infection by suppressing the immune system? So, I did some research and read the clever stuff written by the clever dudes so I can tell you all about it!

Firstly, numerous studies have examined the effects of exercise on individuals with illness who have been either moderately active or sedentary in the lifestyles. Studies consistently illustrate how people who are active get significantly less upper respiratory tract infections per year than those who are less active. This is because the immune system gets a lovely boost! The human immune system is a well-coordinated network of cells and chemical components designed to recognise and destroy invading pathogens such as a virus, bacteria or fungi. A healthy immune system requires the teamwork of two layers of immune protection. Without going into too much detail (as it’s pretty complicated let’s leave it to the clever dudes) we have two systems.

1. The innate immune system (the immune system we are born with and already in the body)

2. The acquired or often termed the adapted immune system (the immune system created in response to exposure to a foreign substance.

Research studies have shown that a single bout of moderate exercise provides a positive boost to both the innate and the acquired immune systems. What’s more each boost of moderate aerobic exercise instantaneously mobilises millions of immune cells! Read the last sentence again, then out loud and then with a hat on. The mobilised cells travel into the lungs where increased immune defence may be required. These cells are mobilised by exercise, primed and ready for a good

‘fisti-cuffs’ as they patrol between circulation and tissues. Therefore, exercise has never been more important and substantial health benefits can be achieved with many types of exercise.


What’s more; research illustrates that 20–40 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day is adequate enough to provide a positive boost to the immune system. We have therefore put our serious hats on and designed both our Pilates and CheeziFit classes to help you boost your immune system! But, with serious hat still on, the most important thing is; you need to exercise regularly and make moderate exercise part of your lifestyle. I REPEAT, YOU NEED TO EXERCISE REGULARLY. There is no point in doing a little exercise now and then; it has to become a regular feature in your life. For evidence dictates; sustained and regular moderate exercise is key to improving the immune system’s response to pathogens and reducing the risk of infection long-term. So guys; you know we nag, because we can and we care. Please think about joining us in our Pilates classes or CheeziFit or doing whatever exercise floats your boat. We research for your benefit, we design choreography for you, we adapt classes for your health and we have the knowledge to support you all individually and collectively. We can only provide you with the information, ultimately it’s your decision, but we hope you’ll invest in the healthiest version of you; with us by your side.

Boogie and the Brain

By Ros Harley Physiotherapist Pilates instructor and lover of all things that woof and bark

Many people say exercise is good for the brain; but do we really know what that means and how a boogie, a groove or a wiggle can help you? To be perfectly honest to say the brain is a muscle that needs to be given a good workout is not entirely accurate, the brain is more, much more than that. It's an absolutely incredible complex system of neural wiring and intricate routes and roads that crave being fed and watered with information. Use it, explore it, control it and make it last your lifetime.

Exercise including Pilates and Dance can help.

Firstly, exercise has an oxygenating effect on the brain and the brain reacts. For example boogying to the band Queen increases the heart rate which then pumps more oxygen to the brain. This helps the brain to function more clearly. Thus you can often feel more alert, make good decisions and feel more able when you are healthier and brighter. (How handsome is Freddie! Brian’s a dish too!)

Secondly; exercise releases important hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of new connections and re-routing of new pathways!!

Thirdly, exercise often works as an antidepressant and this can correlate with a reduction in stress hormones. This reduction in stress was observed in a very clever study from some very clever gents in Stockholm. The study illustrated how exercise was associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area responsible for learning; therefore exercising to fab music, with great people can help to reduce your stress and lift your mood. Brains are very adaptable and can in fact rewire and re-invent themselves. Exercise and carefully created choreography can amazingly help your brain to retain, retrain and re-gain information. The steps in our CheeziFit class that we include are often challenging to learn but once mastered your brain is fizzing with new neural pathways and life; helping your brain buzz! Too cool for school!

So when it gets tough; don't give up, keep dancing, keep practising and remember you are increasing your brain's health, your physical health and your quality of life; which is what it's all about right?

If you are interested in blending Pilates with a cardiovascular workout then why not look at our Sister company CheeziFit 

Pilates, bones and Osteoporosis

By Ros Harley

It’s our Halloween edition and of course that means we are going to be focusing on all things boney! 

You and your skeleton!

Falls and You

Your bone health is incredibly important to us; having strong healthy bones can help maintain a good quality of life; especially when we trip or fall; which we ALL do from time to time. 

When we trip or fall if our bone health is compromised fractures may occur, confidence is reduced and our quality of life can change overnight. Even if you don’t break a bone the distress can ensue changing your mental health too. 

Public Health England tells us that people over 65 years old and older have the highest risk of falling and around a third of people aged 65 and over fall at least once a year. 

The great news is that recent studies have indicated that Pilates can have a seriously positive effect on your bones. This is because the weight bearing effect of Pilates can improve the strength of your bones, maintain bone mass, improve muscle strength, reduce your risk of falls and help the healing process of bone breakages. 

What’s more, the clever people tell us that Pilates is also incredibly important for a condition called Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weaker and more fragile. It affects over 3 million people in the UK and increases the risk of fractures occurring: most commonly in the wrist, hip and vertebra by 15%. It also has an effect on the person’s posture, causing a stooped or flexed posture.

However Pilates is brilliant for osteoporosis but it’s essential to know which exercises to teach to any participant with all bone health issues. Some exercises must be avoided and some are incredibly beneficial and we maintain our knowledge through continued professional development. 

If I am honest when I Graduated as a Physio and decided that Physiotherapy led Pilates was the route I wanted to take; I didn’t realise how beneficial Pilates was for bone health. 

After graduating I took myself off to the rigorous osteoporosis and Pilates course with the Australian Physiotherapy, Pilates Institute; to find out more and share the news around the land; to you and to your bones!

Let’s get serious. 

Finally; it’s seriously important to have qualified instructors who understand how to teach Pilates for people who have varied bone conditions. This is to ensure you do the correct exercises properly and to avoid injuries which can happen if you don’t know the correct exercises to teach. We take this very seriously and those of you who have the condition now know what you can do to sustain the bone density that you have and to avoid fractures. 

Sleepless in the South West

By Ros Harley - Physiotherapist


Sleep deprivation is absolutely no joke. We have all been there; going to bed at a sensible time but simply unable to drift off! This can have an affect on our quality of life, emotions, decisions and even relationships.


I can honestly remember being reduced to tears after working a stream of night shifts and then being unable to sleep for days; my body ached and my moods - well..... (sorry Lynn, sorry Gilly, Sorry Mom, sorry man at petrol station).


As Pilates instructors we don't just work on strengthening and toning your body but we have an insight into other areas that may help you to improve the quality of your life; one of these being your "sleep hygiene."


Sleep Hygiene:

What a year! Our brains must have been buzzing; overloaded with information, data, statistics, worries and the stress of; "where oh where to get a double lining loo roll from!!!???" This accumulation of information and change may have had a huge affect on our physical response and sleep can be the first to go!


On a serious note; recently we've had several calls saying that many of you are struggling to get a good night's sleep. So we've spent a couple of weeks reading various articles to give you some tips and tricks to help you.


A good night's sleep can fight anxiety, depression and stress and in a well written paper called; The Importance of Sleep Hygiene they argue that good sleep may even reduce your potential for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer's!!


So what can you do?


Reduce your caffeine intake

Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world with stimulating properties. Try to reduce your intake of coffee, tea and fizzy drinks and try not to drink caffeine before your bedtime.


Reduce/Stop smoking

Nicotine promotes arousal and wakefulness stimulating neurons in the brain. In the early stages of smoking cessation you're often more alert as your withdrawal can heighten your cravings. However, stick at it your sleep will be improved or try not to have a late night smoke.



Alcohol and especially alcohol consumed in the evening can definitely affect your sleep quality. Try to reduce your consumption or time your alcoholic intake so you are not drinking later in the day.



Stress and anxiety precipitate cognitive arousal; increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Try to engage in relaxation before bedtime. Calming music, turning off your phone and breathing exercises all help. Try to laugh; laughter has a powerful reaction and can increase the happy hormones and knock out the stressy chemicals; read something happy, watch a happy movie or engage in a happy memory.



Regular exercise is great for sleep hygiene. Exercise not only helps your body to release tension but it can act to deflect your mind from problems and relax your body ready for bed. Sleep onset often coincides with a decline in body temperature and therefore gently exercising before bed can help to increase the rate of decline in body temperature naturally. A medium paced calming exercise class or a late night walk before bed with a happy doggie is a great way of relaxing down the body and initiating a great night's sleep.

We've had amazing feedback from our participants getting a great night's sleep after taking part in our evening classes.


Relaxation and Mindfulness

Stretching, relaxation and mindfulness can equally and your sleep. Breathing techniques and their calming effect is incredibly beneficial. Focusing on removing your mind from worries can induce what's called the parasympathetic nervous system and calm you and your mind. (Para means to slow down; think para-graph, para-chute; one slows down a sentence, the other slows you down so you don't get a bruised gluteal. The calming breathing exercises that we do in Pilates activate the "para"sympathetic nervous system to induce relaxation.


Noise and air

Easier said than done but try to have a noise free environment. Phone free, a well ventilated room with a window slightly ajar.


Sleep habits

Try and get yourself into a pattern. You have something called the "Circadian Rhythm" which is your pattern of sleeping; which monitors the time you go to bed and the time you rise. Your body likes a good rhythm. It likes to know when it needs to be alert and when it can start to wind down too. Again easier said than done but try and get into roughly the same pattern of sleep and your body will start to function better.


We hope these ideas help.


Kind Regards Ros and Gilly



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