Stockbridge Edinburgh by Susie Coupar
I was lucky enough to be asked to do a review in exchange for an hour’s session with Jo Munro at her city centre studio. I had always wanted to do Pilates properly, but hadn't been too inspired by my teachers, so I was looking forward to going to an actual Pilates studio. I love yoga and have always been interested in exercise that can improve strength, flexibility, mobility etc and above all, provide me with an hour of calm and relaxation from the stress of everyday life.
From a location point of view - the studio is based within a beautiful mews house right in the city centre, so especially great for a lunchtime session or after work if you work locally - so far, ticking boxes.On entering the studio I was really impressed - great decor, bright and airy, with a fab art installation on the walls which I believe is regularly updated. Although I was a little early, Jo greeted me and I managed to watch the class for a few minutes so I knew what to expect. And then it was my turn.
Jo dedicated an hour to showing me the basics and making sure I had all the correct postures so that I could start my future practice using the right muscles and breathing techniques - its these small things that make a huge difference between seeing and feeling an improvement in your body. Jo was really keen to talk me through the methodology so I understood why I was doing certain movements and what the results would be. Some moves where easier than others.
We went through a series of movements for my legs, thighs, arms, all the wobbly bits and ultimately the core - which it’s all about - core strength. By the end of the session I felt like I had had a proper work out, I really could feel it. I also felt totally relaxed, de-stressed and energized - Jo, you're a miracle worker! I was also more aware of my body and its weaknesses and strengths - I knew what side, what leg, part of my back etc was weaker. Knowing this has made me determined to go back to Jo in order to see the improvements.
On the way home I was really aware of my posture and it felt good to be "aligned".
If you haven't done it before, give it a go! Jo is a delight, she has a great studio, and it’s so central - and if you go, say hello to Mylo, the best wee mascot...
Edinburgh Spotlight by Victoria Bamber
As a society, we appear to be on a bit of a health kick. Gone are the days where a McDonald’s quarter pounder is followed by a couple of pints in the pub, a snooze at home and a takeaway from the local chippy for dinner. Edinburgh has woken up to a health revival, and with a vague sense of trepidation, I followed.
Of course, living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just involve bypassing Greggs the bakers (unfortunately,) it also involves exercise. One of the less intimidating forms that Edinburgh has to offer is Pilates – designed to improve strength, flexibility and overall fitness levels, using a combination of breathing techniques, stretches and balancing activities.
Described as ‘one of the safest forms of exercise’, Pilates has built quite a reputation within the city – yet having no previous experience myself, I knew little of what to expect before attending my first class. The class under scrutiny was AtticSalt Pilates Studio, run and taught by Jo Munro. Situated on Thistle Street Lane just off Hanover Street, the studio has an excellent location in the heart of the city and was easy to navigate without the use of a map or perfect local knowledge.
The studio itself was exceptionally impressive and had a light, refreshing atmosphere complimented by high ceilings and contemporary decor. (Sweaty school gymnasiums and aerobics classes in the local village hall should take numerous leaves out of this professionally styled book.) At AtticSalt there are numerous styles of Pilates on offer, including equipment, mat and mother and baby classes depending on preference and ability. Bypassing the rather daunting yet wholly intriguing equipment studio; I opted for the mat class, where each member is presented with their own mat, cushion, Spikeyball (really) and elastic exercise band.
With room for around 12 participants, the mat class at AtticSalt Studio has an intimate feel to it without feeling too ‘on show’ or overcrowded. Beginning with foot stretching and breathing techniques, each exercise worked a different part of the body by sculpting poses and using toning techniques made ever more famous recently by Pippa Middleton and her increasingly admired behind. Although each position was challenging (and painful in places,) the stretches did feel rather satisfying and indeed managed to loosen tension in muscles which often seize up over the working day.
“Jo is an experienced and friendly teacher”
As a complete and probably very obvious novice, one of the main attractions of Pilates is the fact that each member of the class can undertake the poses at their own pace in a way that suits them best. As anticipated, a few participants had injuries which prevented them from achieving certain poses, yet Jo offered alternative pieces of equipment and adaptations of exercises in order to work around ailments, yet still allowing the guest to complete a thorough workout. One of the other appreciated aspects of the class was that each movement was fully explained and extra information supplied upon request. Harder elements were added for those who wished to challenge themselves further.
Coming in at around an hour, the Pilates class felt both demanding and challenging without exhausting or draining its participants. Designed to appeal to all ages and abilities, the style was not one which would have originally appealed to me, yet after taking part I can certainly see the attraction, although the lack of sweating or feeling out of breath at the end was a highly unusual and somewhat disconcerting feeling – although my muscles the next day did assure me I had in fact put some effort in at least.
Overall, I would recommend Pilates in general, but especially the AtticSalt Studio, for both an experienced friendly teacher and beautiful surroundings. AtticSalt Studio is reasonably priced, with professionalism and charm thrown in for free.
Paul Southall says:
June 2, 2011 at 00:30
I’ve been a fan of Pilates for over 20 years now and Jo at Attic Salt is a really great instructor. She works you at a pace that challenges but isn’t unrealistic. I always bounce down Hanover Street after one of her classes.
Nicky Pender says:
This is a great write up – very accurate. I’ve been attending Jo’s class in excess of 2 years now and could not recommend the class highly enough. Pilates is a challenging form of exercise – not for the fainthearted sometimes, however, the benefits easily outweigh the effort required.
Gill Manchip says:
I have been going to Pilates at Attic Salt for around 3 years now. The classes vary in ages and I have to admit that I am one of the older members. I love the classes, they are varied, challenging and fun. I feel about 6inches taller after doing a class!(well maybe only 3ins) Pilates has helped me keep supple and energetic for which I am grateful when running after 2 active grandchildren.
The classes are not at all intimidating and although I am retired now I think it's great that you can fit in a class in your lunch hour.
Jo and Andy are great teachers and very approachable and friendly.