I’ve been asked to put together a little testimonial of how beneficial I find Pilates, in relation to my sport of triathlon and specifically how Pilates enables me to keep competing.

After many years of hammering triathlon training with little to zero maintenance, I ended up in 2010 having a spinal fusion in my lower back. This included a titanium disc, cage and 4 screws into the spine. I was told never to run again, bike only at leisure and swim predominantly on my back. My passion is my sport so this was pretty tough to take. Along with the back injury I also had a tear in my hip flexor, ongoing patella femoral issues with my knees, and compartment syndrome in my right calf. After a year Id started trying to bike again with moderate success, although id often break down due to one injury or another. Calf and hip surgeries followed across the next several years with swim, bike and run time pretty much non-existent.

Then I was told about the benefits of Pilates, and how it could get me back riding my bike ‘properly’ again. I gave Club Stretch a go and after a couple of sessions I could already feel improvements. I began riding more frequently, faster and was able to go back to group rides after years of being in sporting limbo. Ive been seeing Holly for some time now and the benefits Ive found from Mat and Reformer classes have been staggering. My Pilates classes are such an integral addition to my training now that I’m feel stronger, fitter and faster than ever before. It’s the understanding of how the body works that Pilates also gives me, knowing ‘why’ trans abdominal strength benefits my cycling keeps me super motivated. I now feel if my core is super strong, I can ride through anything.

To give you some tangible insights, last month I biked in the top 4% of all athletes at Ironman Dubai 70.3, setting a PB by 15 minutes.

Nowadays I focus mainly on cycling, and this year I have 4 big road races on the run up to the World Championships at the end of August in France. THERES ABSOLUTELY NOWAY I’D BE RIDING AT THIS LEVEL AGAIN WITHOUT PILATES! Holly is also pretty sensational as a coach and is certainly key to my sporting resurgence. She’s an absolute superstar…

Thanks again, see you at Mat on Tuesday!

It is an honor and ‎ pleasure to let The Club Stretch know about my transition period.

Late July 2016, I weighed 91 KG and felt miserable about myself and the entire Universe.

I decided to do a Scandinavian tour by myself.

For three weeks, I toured Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

I did endless Bikram sessions in Stockholm and Oslo but the weather outside was too beautiful in Copenhagen to go inside a Bikram Studio; so instead, I biked the entire City of Copenhagen for 4 days

I went to Iran (I am originally Persian) in middle of August where I did countless hours of mountain climbing.

Back to Dubai right after my birthday (21 October) where I got into the hot room hours after I had landed.

I have been following a strict diet, minimum one Bikram session a day, zero alcohol and tobacco policy, and some 10Ks of swimming during the week since the first day of November 2016.

I went on a hot yoga retreat in the first week of December in Thailand, where I did 2 sessions of Bikram yoga a day and that really kicked out whatever negative energy residues left in my system.

Nowadays I weigh between 75 – 78 KG depending on the amount of my Chocolate and Cheese Cake consumption!

Thank you ALL at The Club Stretch and… on a personal note : “Sometimes a break up is the best thing that happens in your life!”

Pilates is for Men Too!

December 14, 2016

As a male Pilates Instructor, I am definitely in the minority in my industry and I have frequently wondered why it is that women make up the majority of Pilates students. After all, Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates and he definitely felt that his method was for everyone!

I think there are a number of reasons why women have embraced Pilates more than men. The most obvious reason is that Pilates has been marketed more to women in the media. This is starting to change but I still find that men are less aware of the many benefits of Pilates and have some common misconceptions about what Pilates is and how it can benefit them. I would like to dispel some of these misconceptions and encourage more men to give it a try.

Let’s start with a definition of what Pilates is about and what are the goals of a Pilates practice.  The main goal of Pilates is a concept that Mr. Pilates called “Uniform Development”. The goal of a well balanced Pilates program is to organize all movements from the center and create balanced efficient movements that involve the deeper musculature of the body.  A Pilates session (either one on one or in a small closely supervised group class) utilizes specialized equipment like the Universal Reformer, the Trapeze Table also called the Cadillac, the Chair, Matwork, as well as a number of smaller apparatus. Every Pilates exercise involves fundamental functional movement skills and the all have a spinal movement skill. Every Pilates exercise is considered to be full-bodied meaning that regardless of the choreography each exercise encourages the participation of long chains of linked muscles that work together as teams. The arms and legs have specific deeper muscles that link their movements directly to the trunk or core and either directly or indirectly to the spinal muscles.  Frequently through overuse or improper movement patterns or poor posture, these pathways get bypassed and can lead to imbalance. If these imbalances are not addressed, they can lead to injury or pain.

In my 17 years of teaching, I have noticed that many of the men that come to me for Pilates lessons come somewhat reluctantly and only after experiencing an injury. They are usually referred by a physiotherapist or other medical practitioner because they are in pain. Sometimes they are also coerced by their wives or girlfriends who already know and have experienced its benefits. As we work together to get them out of pain and back to health and full movement, they frequently tell me that they wish they had discovered the benefits of Pilates much earlier!  Luckily we are seeing more and more men in the Pilates studio and are also starting to see articles on Pilates in Men’s magazines. There are also a lot of male professional athletes that are starting to incorporate Pilates into their fitness regimens and are attributing Pilates to their success on the playing field.

Did you know that the following male athletes are also Pilates enthusiasts?
Andy Murray (Tennis Player)
Tiger Woods (Golfer)
Martellus Bennett (NFL)
Jason Kidd (NBA)
Dwayne Wade (NBA)

My male clients tend to see Pilates as a powerful tool to improve their athletic performance or to create structural changes that will relieve their aches and pains or help them to avoid age related postural problems.

So when am I going to see you in class?

Joseph Pilates, the German-born athlete and physical therapy pioneer, didn’t teach group classes. It was only on the rare occasion that he would use the mat work in a group setting. His studio was primarily a series of on-going semi-privates. Over the last 20 years, Pilates has experienced the explosion on a global level and it has now become common to see group Pilates classes on offer. Having said that, Classical Pilates group classes should still be a fairly intimate setting, with no more than 8 in a class. Now that you have the opportunity to join group Pilates classes the question arises, how can you get the most out of your group class?

First of all, it helps to have health goals in mind in order to stay motivated. The benefits of Pilates are numerous, such as increased lung capacity and circulation, strength and flexibility, coordination – both muscular and mental, as well as posture, balance, and core strength are all heartily increased. With all that in mind, making goals that are more personal to you is what is going to get you out of bed and into that morning class or leave work on time to get to the evening class because you’ve made that commitment to yourself. For me, I know that I feel my best when I’m strong, agile, mentally present and energized – everything I feel after I’ve done Pilates. This feeling is what has kept me coming back to class for the last 15 years!

Get there early! I can’t highlight this enough! It’s important to meet the instructor, introduce yourself and ask any questions and have the equipment explained to you. Because Pilates group classes don’t allow huge numbers to attend, there is a more personal relationship between you and the instructor and rather than just being a face in a large crowd, the instructor would like to get an understanding of your body/movement history, if you have any injuries (and if Holly is your instructor, where you got your cool leggings from – slight obsession of gym clothing!)

Have an open mind. If you have never done Pilates before it is very different to other forms of exercise. It is not just about your body but how your mind and your body connect. The instructors teach by verbal cues and instruction only, never by doing the class with the students.

“Pilates is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control over your body.” Joseph Pilates

Last but not least, be consistent. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it also wasn’t a half-assed job! Classical Pilates is layered and structured as a system that requires progressive learning and mastery. Turn up, give it your best, and if you can do this a few times a week, enjoy the amazing benefits that Pilates has to offer!

“The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.” – Joseph Pilates

 

Are you part of the YIN crowd?

September 21, 2016

I’m the kind of person who preferred a fast-paced intense workout and hot power yoga class. Sweating it out, filled with challenging sequences and stretches, empowered beyond belief. Still do, make no mistake. Practicing this kind of “Yang Yoga” daily, I noticed my energy levels fluctuating. Some days I’d feel overly energized and could not sleep for hours after reaching home – basically bouncing off the walls! Other days I was tired and drained. I was subconsciously seeking balance. Persuaded by my ever-nagging friend, I obliged and took my first Yin yoga class to see what all the fuss was about. Up until then, I presumed Yin Yoga was more for beginners or pensioners. This is where the trouble started. I had no idea what to expect but I thought the name “Yin” suggested a softer practice.
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The Nutrition of a Modern Yogi

Often, when people find out I’m a nutritionist, as well as a yoga teacher, I get asked the question, “What should I eat for yoga”?

I must admit there’s no simple answer. A lot of people think that to be a true yogi or yogini, you need to be vegetarian or vegan; drink green smoothies and juices; and/or eat only raw foods.

To me, yoga is all about balance, in all aspects of life. Do what makes you feel good. Be healthy, but be healthily bad from time to time too.
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