Mimi ON Jun 19, 2017 AT 11:17 am

By Chrissy Iley

I had more than a sabbatical from Pilates. It feels like a lifetime. I used to be obsessed because it gave me length and strength and an exercise high. It tightened up muscles but in a fun, S&M kind of way. I bought packages and finished them relentlessly both in London and LA. And then I didn’t.

I’m not sure why my package just ended and I let 8 classes go to waste. For a while I think I was too cheap to buy another package for fear I would waste them. And I thought of the possibility of single classes but that possibility came and went because we all need a routine and why would we buy a single class when a package is cheaper.

Months turned into years. Dress sizes crept up. Jeans would not go on. Then there was all this reading of new science that cardio, be it a spin class or walking everywhere is just not good enough. It’s all about strengthening muscles, burning the burn, not in an aerobic way but in a muscle sculpting way. Pilates is the ultimate form of that, especially reformer based. But if you haven’t done something for a very long time you need a kick start.

Gina Papadopoulos

Gina Papadopoulos

Fear of being the worst in the class will just make you not go to that class. Fear of starting over, fear of that thing called muscle memory which has in fact turned into muscle amnesia. So the first step was Gina Papadopoulos. She comes to you with a portable reformer. I’d heard of portable reformers – the first generations of which were flimsy things or alternatively massive things that were too heavy to carry. This one, a DMA Reformer is compact yet sleek and sturdy.

Gina herself has a wonderful touch. Friendly, funny, caring, attentive, strict in a way that you don’t even notice, she is the best kind of personal trainer. She’s been teaching for ten years and been mentor to some of the most fabulous people, celebrities and non-celebrities alike. At once you notice she has a manner that can deal with anyone and fit in anywhere. She doesn’t judge, she helps. Getting back on the machine was hard. She instantly calmed me and made me realise that some parts of me were actually OK in terms of strength and it was actually fun getting up there on the reformer again.

Of course all Pilates classes involve a ring at some point. I used to call it the ring of doom. She calls it Suffer Ring. I was so amused by the Suffer Ring I laughed at it before I squeezed it and that helped with squeezing. The ab exercises were hard, not unbearable but the kind of level of difficulty that your pain threshold has you instantly dismiss. You get through it and the next day those muscles that Gina calls the Bra muscles involving nasty flabby bits around the back and the bra strap, feel the kind of tingle and semi ache that just reminds you that yes they are there.

There was one exercise I couldn’t do which she very quickly modified. It felt not so much like starting over but remembering something that I actually enjoyed. Something that felt good and something that I didn’t want to be without.

Having a reformer come to your house is of course a total luxury up there with having a chauffeur and a personal chef. It’s a personal trainer with a reformer. So you get the benefit of full on one to one instruction with the machinery that normally belongs in a class. After she left, I felt instantly that I wanted her again. Gina was good, exceptionally good. Did it kickstart me enough to think I’m ready to buy a group package? That would be like opting for Ryan Air when I could go First Class. And after you’ve had first class you don’t want to go back. After just one workout I could feel muscles tightening that had forgotten to be alive. Gina has helped me get my Pilates mojo back and also the thrill of letting yourself be put entirely in an experts hands. I definitely would like to make a habit of this.


Pilates Plus Retreats  Tel: 07917 300899  e:

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