Pilates for Feet – Suggested Kit

Following on from last night’s online Pop-up PILATES X MELISSA foot tutorial, here are the three items of kit you might want to invest in to continue doing the exercises we covered in the session for yourself at home.  Click the links to find where to buy them online…

  1. Spikey massage ball – 6cm yellow one for small feet or 7cm red one for larger feet
  2. TheraBand – medium resistance
  3. Footsie roller

To close, happy feet wearing tap shoes.  Check out Syncopated Ladies…

The Idea of a Perfect Movement

Thought for the day…

The body’s instinct is to move. The IDEA OF A PERFECT MOVEMENT is innate in our brain, bones and tissues.  Notice how your body feels when you see a dancer…

or when you watch this performance by rhythmic gymnast, Yana Kudryavtseva…

You might notice your body wanting to or even trying to copy these beautiful movements.  At a deep neural, cellular level inside us, they feel known, possible even.

Pilates helps us realise this idea of perfect movement by encouraging us to be present in the body, to breathe correctly, to concentrate deeply, to centre ourselves physically and mentally, to be in control of our movements, to be precise and efficient in the way we move and to flow.


Pop-Up Pilates Tutorial – Feet

I’m now doing occasional pop-up PILATES X MELISSA tutorials focusing on a specific part of the body or exercise or skill (e.g. balance, coordination, breathing.) The 30-minute tutorials provide a chance to work more closely on this one area than we’re able to do in a general, holistic Pilates class.

The pop-up PILATES X MELISSA tutorials are FREE, suitable for most people and live-streamed via Zoom. The first one is on Thursday 4 June at 1830 and the topic is feet.

Inspired by the work ballet dancers do to ensure their feet are strong and supple, I’ll take you through a series of strengthening, stretching and myofascial release exercises you can then do for yourself at home to help you achieve your best feet.

Who will benefit

  • Anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet.
  • Anyone who does load-bearing, impactful activities like running or tennis or football.
  • Anyone who regularly wears heels.
  • Anyone who has circulatory problems affecting their feet.
  • Anyone who finds their feet cramp a lot.
  • Anyone who spends most of the summer months wearing flip-flops or fashion sandals.

If you have any healing fractures or new sprains or strains affecting the foot or ankle then none of the exercises in the pop-up tutorial are suitable for you to do just yet. Best to watch and take notes as these exercises will help you enormously once your injury has healed enough to resume gentle exercise.

The myofascial release exercises will not suit people with the following issues – malignancy, aneurysm, acute rheumatoid arthritis, advanced diabetes, severe osteoporosis, open wounds or bruising to the foot.

How will you benefit

The exercises over time will help the proper functioning of the foot and ankle, particularly when balancing, walking and running by:

  • improving their strength, especially at the joints;
  • increasing the range of movement;
  • reducing tension by encouraging the release of deep knots or trouble spots;
  • improving blood flow;
  • reducing aches and pains;
  • improving the transmission of information from your feet to your brain.

There is also evidence that performing myofascial release exercises on the plantar surface of the feet improves the flexibility of the hamstrings and lumbar spine.

What you will need for the pop-up Pilates tutorial

To get the most from the session you will need:

  • a 6-7cm ball of some kind, preferably a spikey massage ball or you could use a golf ball or a juggling ball;
  • a tennis ball or similar;
  • a hair elastic or a small but strong elastic band;
  • a TheraBand or a hand towel;
  • a large handkerchief or a tea towel.

To attend this free pop-up Pilates tutorial for the feet, please register with Zoom here. Once you have done this you will automatically receive a confirmation email from Zoom (please check your spam folder if it doesn’t arrive straight away in your inbox), which contains a link. On the day of the tutorial, 5-10 minutes before the start time, you simply click on this link to join the session.

Before the tutorial, if you’re using a tablet or mobile to take part you will need to download the Zoom App from the App store, which is free. If you’re using a laptop and want quicker access into the session, download Zoom Client for Meetings from their website. You don’t need any kind of Zoom account to attend my online classes and pop-up tutorials on Zoom.

Please help me to help others by sharing details of these free pop-up PILATES X MELISSA tutorials and inviting any friends, family members and work colleagues you think might be interested.

To close, a fine tune from Benjamin Clementine and a fantastic video. It’s like looking inside someone’s head while they’re dreaming…

Recommend to a Friend Offer

Existing clients, if you recommend an online PILATES X MELISSA class to a friend anywhere in the UK and overseas (except the US and Canada), who then attends a class, to say thank you for the recommendation you will get your next online PILATES X MELISSA class free.

How it works

To get your free place, please ask your friend when they book to say in the ‘Questions/comments’ section of the form that you have recommended the class to them. Please make sure they type in your full name.

After your friend has attended an online PILATES X MELISSA class, you can then apply for your free place. In the ‘Your chosen method of payment’ section of the booking form, please tick the ‘Free place (recommend to a friend offer)’ box. Then in the ‘Questions/comments’ section, please write the full name of the person you recommended and when they attended their online class.

The Recommend to a Friend Offer is valid until 30 June 2020.  This offer is not valid for referrals to the free Pop-up PILATES X MELISSA online tutorials.  If the same friend books in for another class, the original referrer is not entitled to another free class.

Here’s a favourite song and an interesting cover…

Clapping for Carers Pilates-Style

The Seal Puppy is an exercise in the Pilates repertoire which involves a clapping action.  Here was my contribution to tonight’s show of appreciation for our carers, NHS staff and other key workers…

Thankfully making a seal noise isn’t part of the exercise.


Pilates to Rehabilitate

The 1230 to 1330 online class on Mondays has more of a rehabilitative focus.  Anyone can attend the Monday lunchtime session of course. It will just be a bit less physically demanding with the emphasis more on beginner, improver and intermediate level exercises.  For full details about the rehab Pilates class including who might benefit most from it and what to expect from the session, please visit this new page of my website.

The above image is of Dr Gunther von Hagens’ plastinated gymnast from his Body Worlds exhibition.  I saw this in London in 2002/03.  I was studying anatomy as part of my Pilates Teaching Training course so it was the perfect opportunity to get under the skin (see what I did there) of the musculoskeletal system.   As those who practise with me know, the engagement of the pelvic floor muscles is a key part of the Pilates Method and this exhibition provided a chance to actually see them up-close. If I see a pelvic floor in the flesh again I’ll be surprised…and frankly disturbed.

To close, here’s a beautiful video from the Dutch National Ballet of their dancers performing at home in lockdown.  Pirouetting in socks on a tiled floor – respect!

Branding and Social Media

As you may have noticed from the website, I’m now trading as PILATES X MELISSA, which I think is more relevant and meaningful to people than Embody Pilates.

PILATES X MELISSA is now on Instagram, Twitter as well as Facebook. Follow me if you’d like to see regular musings, updates, competitions and exclusive offers.

To close, a video of Christine and the Queens with another fine pop-contemporary dance fusion performance…

“When you dance you own everything you have. You are really in your own body. You do it with your muscles and your bones and your weight and your height — it’s how to love yourself by moving.” Christine and the Queens.  It’s the same when you do Pilates.

Seeing and Hearing with your Whole Body

Lockdown can provide time for more mindful pursuits so I thought I’d share a favourite video of mine.  It features choreographer, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s pure dance piece, Rain set to Steve Reich’s minimalistic composition, Music for 18 Musicians.

Rain feels particularly apt for these unprecedented times when we’re being called upon to work together to overcome the threat posed by Covid-19.  Here’s how de Keersmaeker describes her piece…

“In Rain, the company of dancers are a close-knit group of pronounced individuals who, one by one, play a vital role in the whole. Seven women and three men allow themselves to be propelled by an unstoppable joined energy that binds them together. It’s a bustling network in which breath and speed is shared as well as that special comradery that forms when you are beyond fatigue.”

If dance isn’t your thing, I’d highly recommend you just close your eyes and listen to Reich’s music.  I often listen to it while doing Pilates at home. 18 Musicians is a beautiful piece that you experience rather than just hear.  The pulsating tones and repetitive movements seem to enter the body, clearing the mind of its chatter, releasing tension in the body and producing, if not quite a dream-like state then a stillness inside.

Anyway, less blathering from me.  I’ll let the dance and music speak for themselves…

UPDATE – rather unhelpfully, YouTube has removed my favourite video so here is the full performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians and a snippet of the dance performance, Rain in a separate video…

Studio-based Pilates Classes Suspended

I didn’t think I’d be posting another news item on the Coronavirus so quickly! Such a rapidly changing situation we’re in right now.

As I indicated yesterday evening, I planned to use the advice given by Public Health England and the World Health Organisation to decide whether or not to keep running the group Pilates classes I teach at The Wellbeing Studio and elsewhere. You may have heard today in the first of the Government’s daily briefings that they have now advised us to “avoid all non-essential social contact.” For this reason and with regret I’ve decided that from today and for the foreseeable future it is best to temporarily suspend the studio-based Pilates classes. I’m so sorry to have to do this but I think it is the right decision.

For those clients who have bought a block of six sessions and still have classes left to take, these will of course remain in the book for you to use when it is safe for the classes to resume and you feel ready to return to Pilates.

Thank you very much for supporting my studio-based Pilates classes. I’ve been teaching in Clevedon since February 2014 and I look forward to continuing to do so again later this year.  In the meantime I’m looking into running classes online.  I’ll keep you posted

Take care, stay positive and all will be well.

Time for a bit of much-needed Julia Biel. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to walk in the woods wearing a floaty cape…


Pilates Classes and the Coronavirus Situation

Amid the developing Coronavirus situation I wanted to reassure my clients on a number of points in relation to the Pilates classes I teach at The Wellbeing Studio.

First of all, I made the decision not to travel to Spain on holiday last week and remained in Clevedon so please be assured that I am ready and able to resume the normal timetable of Pilates classes from tomorrow.

However, I am of course closely monitoring the advice of Public Health England and the World Health Organisation. I plan to continue to offer Pilates classes only for as long as doing so is safe and supportive of my primary objective, which is to help improve my clients’ health and wellbeing.

You will have seen the signs at The Wellbeing Studio explaining the extra cleaning measures in place to protect our clients and the teachers and therapists who work there. If you could clean your hands with the alcohol-based hand gel in the waiting room when you arrive and use the soap, hot water and paper towels in the toilets, that would be much appreciated. We will continue to wipe clean the mats, blocks, balls and rollers after each class as we have always done. If you would prefer to use your own mats etc, or would like to bring along a towel to put over the equipment, or would like to clean your mat etc yourself at the beginning of the class, you are more than welcome to do that.

If you feel at all unwell please could I ask you not to attend class, even if that means cancelling at the last minute. Similarly, please be assured that if I am in any way unwell, I too will cancel the class. In this instance I will either text or email you to let you know. If you have recently returned from travel overseas, please ensure you have complied with Government advice on self-isolation before coming to class.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

This is a challenging time for everyone so let’s try and support each other as much as possible and stay positive…over to you, Eric and Ernie…