There’s a special word in Greek which I feel defines my approach to teaching Pilates and running retreats. That word is Meraki. There’s no direct translation as it’s more of a feeling or an experience than a simple adjective; it’s the soul, the creativity, the love that you put into something. It’s the essence of yourself that you put into your work.
My studio, Pilates North East, is therefore founded on both love and expert knowledge; passion and extensive training; joy and a will to keep learning. Pilates works with the body and not against it, and henceforth, can be adapted to everybody. Our doors are always open to hopeful practitioners, whatever their individual needs. We specialise in rehabilitation spinal health as well as individual programmes. We use small props alongside mat-based work, and provide sessions for total beginners and athletes alike.
As did most studios at the beginning of lockdown, we made the transition online to ensure our clients could still access the support, guidance and movement medicine they needed. We continue to provide virtual classes to suit all levels, from ‘Back to Basic’ practices to intermediate and advanced Pilates.
One of the positive things about going online was that I was able to learn something new alongside my clients. I was apprehensive in the beginning, but we learnt how to traverse that technophobe bridge into a place that now feels safe, secure and familiar. While I miss being able to hold my clients in person, I feel their energy through the screen and I can see the progress they continue to make after every session. The classes are well attended and it’s given the opportunity for clients to practice much more regularly in the comfort of their own home or wherever they find themselves.
It can be a little harder to sustain a practice when you don’t have the social-pull to practice with friends or with people, so we’ve tried to make the classes as accessible for clients as possible. We understand that consistency is the key to long-lasting results, so we recently launched an Unlimited Class Pass offer which allows practitioners to partake in 20 classes of their choice for just £69. If clients don’t feel they can commit to 20 classes over 30-days, we also have a variety of courses available to book on, single sessions, or a 10-class pass for £55. As well as that, we now offer bespoke corporate packages. This means employees can receive the care and wellness support they deserve during the working week.
Moreover, teaching online gave me and my husband, Andreas, the freedom to travel to our beloved island Crete, where we would normally be delivering our Pilates, Culture and Cuisine retreats: Create Retreats. We were saddened that due to COVID, our clients decided to postpone their trip until 2021, but this has allowed me to teach live online classes from our second home; my spiritual home. We have the bonus of being with our family and friends as well as getting prepared for next year’s retreats.
Even though the actual retreat didn’t take place, something else magical happened… For many of my clients, myself included, just coming to the mat to move, breath and reconnect with ourselves is a retreat all of its own. It’s an escape from our daily lives, even if it is just into another room for an hour. It’s a diversion from the stresses that pervade our homes. As we explore this new, online territory and community together, we find new ways to be present, to be at one, and to find wholeness within ourselves, an experience that is at once personal and private, and yet collective and shared.
We’ve all had to learn a new language of love and acceptance during these challenging times. However, in a way, I feel I have been able to facilitate the most incredible lesson of all, and that’s showing my clients how to be their own guides, to discover and listen to their intuition, to be truly aware of their bodies and mind. Whether it’s through a computer or in a studio, my purpose and my essence are and always will be to show people how magnificent they and their bodies are.