At The Joy Club we work with some fantastic facilitators to bring you expert talks, friendly fitness classes and more. ‘Facilitators’ is a broad term for all the lovely, experienced session leaders who are part of our extended The Joy Club family and it covers a range of professionals including: teachers, academics, journalists, dancers, mental health coaches and more.
But who are they? Here, we chat with our facilitators to give you a better idea of who the people leading your online events are – what they do, how they discovered the activity they are trained to lead and what brings them joy. We hope you enjoy this interview with Helen, our brilliant Pilates instructor from the Soul Pilates studio in Bristol.
The Joy Club: Hi Helen, first and foremost thank you for joining us for a chat today. We know how much our members love your pilates classes, so it’s a pleasure to get to hear from you a bit more about yourself. To kick us off, how did you first get involved with doing and teaching pilates?
Helen: I was first introduced to Pilates in the early 1990s through a ballet teacher I had when I was at college training to be a dancer. I then came back to it later in life after a car accident left me with a back injury. At 42 I wanted a career change to transfer the skill I had gained from 20 years of working in education to teaching Pilates.
The Joy Club: Who would you say pilates is for and what are some of the ways in which regular practice can benefit us physically?
Helen: Pilates is for absolutely everybody! Whether you are an elite athlete looking to enhance your performance or someone wanting a gentle but effective way to stay mobile and active in later life. The amazing thing about Pilates exercises is that they can be adapted to suit almost everyone, whatever your age or ability. Most people associate Pilates with working the core muscles but Pilates also has a positive impact on many areas of our physical health, including breathing, posture, balance and coordination. Regular practice of Pilates can support us to lead active lives as we age.
The Joy Club: Have you had any experiences with teaching pilates and helping others with movement that have really stayed with you?
Helen: Many small moments have stayed with me where you are able to see a real change in a person’s state of being. When they come into the studio stressed, anxious and then realise that they can move without pain, they are able to spend some time de-stressing and start to see a real change in themselves, which is lovely to see. But the experience that stands out most to me is an older class who attended a group session each week together. Their commitment to maintaining their health and fitness, their support for each other and their willingness to have a go at everything made teaching them a privilege and a joy.
The Joy Club: That said, can pilates have benefits for us that aren’t just to do with our physical health? What are some of the other ways it can help us, would you say?
Helen: Joseph Pilates developed a philosophy around whole body health and wellbeing. He was very much ahead of his time. He talked about getting out in nature, the importance of fresh air, getting enough sunshine, as well as the importance of nourishing the mind, body and spirit. Taking time out for mindful movement not only benefits the body but also the soul; it can calm the nervous system and help us to cope better with the stresses of everyday life.
The Joy Club: And outside of pilates, what is something(s) that brings you joy and why?
Helen: Walking in nature with my dog. I’m lucky enough to live in the Cotswolds with lots of nature and beautiful scenery around. Getting out into the fields with the fresh air and the sun on my face has brought me the greatest joy in the past couple of years and kept me grounded.
The Joy Club: For those of our members who may be wanting to move at a slightly more gentle pace, we are so pleased to say that you will be joining us from February onwards for an additional ‘Seated Pilates’ class. Who would you say those classes are aimed at and what can they expect?
Helen: This class is specifically designed for those who would like to take part in a Pilates class but who are unable to get down onto a mat on the floor. All of the exercises will be based on the traditional Pilates exercises just modified to be done on a kitchen or dining room chair and using household objects like tins of soup. These classes will focus on the different elements that help us maintain good mobility, posture and balance.
The Joy Club: Thank you for chatting with us Helen and I’m sure you will have inspired some of our members to give pilates a go, whether they have tried it before or not!
Have you tried Pilates before? What benefits have you noticed since giving it a go? Let Helen know in the comment section below.
If you would like to give one of Helen’s classes a go, you can find out when her next session is by clicking here.