Member of the Month: Jason Penrose
What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? It was something I’d flirted with several times over the years, but really the motivation was through my wife Melissa, who brought me to Soulful Fitness via the partner’s promotion in February last year. Her Valentine’s Day gift to me!
What are your favourite classes? I enjoy the variety offered at Soulful, but mostly do a selection of Hatha and Yin yoga plus reformer classes. Really loved Malcum’s 9:30 class each Thu, so can’t deny I shed a virtual tear when he farewelled us recently. The first class I ever did was Goldy’s Kundalini and I’ve continued to join him every Saturday whenever possible…such a spiritual experience.
What benefits have you seen? I’ve definitely seen noticeable improvements in my flexibility (still not fabulous admittedly!) and core strength, both of which have been beneficial in limiting the back niggles I’ve had regularly over the years. And, of course, like for everyone the past couple of years have been mentally challenging…the health and wellbeing benefits in this area have been profound.
Challenge that you are working on? I really want to improve my balance. Anyone who’s seen me in some of the Yoga classes will know it’s not my forte…a work in progress!
Advice for people thinking of starting? Don’t hesitate! Even if, like me, you’re a novice, the other members and teachers at Soulful are so welcoming and supportive…anyone can join in, build their skills and experience health benefits almost immediately.
What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? I've always been a reasonably fit and active person, enjoying regular walks (especially around our beautiful harbour), dancing and the occasional yoga. However as I grew older, I felt I was missing an exercise regime that would focus on strengthening my core as well as my entire body. I'd heard of Pilates of course, but it was Pilates Reformer that most intrigued me. Once I tried it at Soulful Fitness, I was absolutely hooked! I've been doing it for over a year now and I find it's actually very enjoyable and an exercise I can sustainably keep doing for many years to come.
What are your favourite classes? My favourite mix of classes is 3 to 4 Reformer classes spread over the week. I've also incorporated 1 Barre class and 1 yoga class to round it out. All the teachers (and fellow members) are fabulous which is why I love Soulful Fitness so much.
What benefits have you seen? Even though I've always exercised, since I've started at Soulful Fitness I can actually see a visible improvement in my body tone. I have more upper body strength and my posture, although it was fairly good from dancing, appears to be so much better.
Challenge that you are working on? Only a month ago, as part of a health screen, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis which came as somewhat of a shock (I had no history of broken bones or body pain, although I've been on long term medication for gastric reflux which apparently can lead to fragile bones). Pilates is highly recommended to help counteract this, so in my Reformer class I'm working with Carol Peramezza, who as luck would have it is a Physiotherapist, to especially focus on correct spinal positions and increase core strength.
Advice for people thinking of starting? You need to find a mix of exercises that you enjoy doing and can sustain. Try different classes until you feel they're right for you. For example, you won't catch me ever in a Spin class or boot camp since I consider these absolute torture and so I'd never keep them up.
Why did you join Soulful Fitness? It took me two years to finally walk into the SF studio and join up. My husband gave me a year’s membership for Xmas 2019 and I haven’t looked back since .I knew I needed guidance in learning how to stretch properly and strengthen certain muscles. Despite playing weekly tennis, swimming laps a couple of times a week and walking regularly, I found a long car trip would leave me with some stiffness and I had tight muscles after exercise. My upper body strength needed improving even though I am a strong swimmer ( but use a strong leg kick ). I knew I needed some help. I also wanted to do yoga again after having really enjoyed it during pregnancy years ago.
What are your favourite classes? - Pilates mat with Carol, haha yoga with Brooke and Hande, yoga with Maggie and Holly, and when I can, Friday night yin and mediation with Phillipa. ** A real treat has been the recent outdoor classes ( thank you so much Amanda) as the fresh air, soft grass and gentle breeze added to the joy of the class.
What do you like most about Soulful Fitness? The range of classes, the friendly team, advice on choosing classes, the teachers’ adjustment to members with a current injury, staff patience when I couldn’t get the app to work ( thank you Emma) and the warm culture of the studio all contribute to a positive experience each time I attend a class.
What benefits have you seen? After two years of regular SF classes, I have gained so much- greater flexibility, increased balance, new ways to relax physically and mentally using yoga, greater core strength to support my back and a new understanding of what I need to do to tackle stiffness and tight muscles. I started and stayed with with Pilates mat and yin yoga, also enjoy haha yoga and when feeling energetic some ashtanga yoga and spin.
Another benefit was keeping fit and healthy in lockdown. I am pleased that I had engaged with Soulful Fitness a few months before the first lockdown so I felt comfortable joining the online live” classes. When working online from home, I booked classes into my work diary and in my exercise gear I really enjoyed the classes ( which added a very welcome distraction from the laptop.) I felt supported by SF at this time of community uncertainty about the pandemic. When I don’t attend regular classes ( in the studio or online from the library) I feel that something is really missing from my life. Even when I think I am feeling good, I find after a class that I gain a sense of greater relaxation and after yoga, a real sense of peace. I am now doing daily stretches, use yoga breathing when feeling stressed and I try to attend three classes a week. I recognize that despite being in my senior years, I can achieve greater flexibility and strength if I the put work in and I will feel much better as a result. Thank you Soulful Fitness.
What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? I started joining Pilates classes in 2016, after having a low back injury at work. I realized that I needed regular exercise to support my daily activities. After researching here and there, I decided Pilates was the best low-impact exercise to gain strength in my core. I used to be actively engaged in high-impact exercises in my younger age, such as running or playing tennis, even teaching aerobic classes. It is getting hard to maintain these exercises when my age number is adding up. In Pilates, I am re-educating my body by strengthening the core with alignment, breathing, coordination and balance. In every single classes, I discover well-designed movements targeted efficient route to my physical and emotional well-being. The Pilates method teaches me to be in control of my body and I allow myself to be conscious of the changes, not only my posture alignment and strength, but also my mind, attitude and mood.
What are your favourite classes? My favourite classes are Pilates Reformer and Pilates Mat. I love Charell's Reformer, with the combination of golden music and great techniques which makes the class so much fun and effective. My favourite Pilates Mat class is with Imelda, when the challenge is always there every week, making my obliques and core screaming happily (I literally feel my abs look similar to J-LO's, after Imelda's class). Another favourite Pilates Mat class is Kathryn's class, it makes my triceps and lower abs get stronger. I also enjoy coming to Vanessa, Maemie and Noni's Reformer classes. The dynamics of those classes remind me of my youth. All those classes are so addictive, I don't want to miss any of them. On behalf of my glutes, cores, obliques and quads, biceps and triceps, I thank all teachers for the impact they have had on my body. I also enjoy doing online classes during lockdown.
What benefits have you seen? In the first four months of doing Pilates, I noticed some physical changes as I gained more strength. I learned to pay attention to small muscles which I didn't even know existed. I improved my awareness of not only posture, endurance, strength and flexibility but also the quality of life. I become more focused in doing the exercise as well as in my work. Throughout the years, I also realized Pilates is not just about gaining a rock-hard core but it is more a complete coordination of physical, mental and emotional well-being too. The benefits from the acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm and peace are priceless. I always come home with a big smile after finishing classes, feeling melted and happy. More importantly, having a good sleep after double classes. Another benefit is also a state of happiness being surrounded by regular people who are present in classes. This community became the ground to help me heal through my sorrow after my sister's passing recently. The heavy mind was healed through movement and regular Pilates console the soul as I focused on the health. I believe change happens through movement and movement heals.
Challenge that you are working on? After doing Pilates for many years, I am keen to challenge myself to squeeze my time to join yoga classes. The challenge is definitely in dedicating my time to look after myself this year by having less stress and continue designing a healthy happy body and mind. "Everyone is the architect of his own happiness"-Joseph Pilates
Advice for people thinking of starting? Patience and persistence are important in successfully accomplish achievable outcomes. Simply start by coming to any classes available. Choose your preferences and adjust your time to be available. It's not about comparing to what others can do, but focus on self-improvement. Great motivation, commitment and self-discipline are essential to achieve any goals. It is our duty, not only to attain health but to maintain it.
What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? I’d been doing Body Pump and weights / circuit training for years, but I was not motivated or seeing results any more, and felt I needed a new focus. I also felt that my tight back, neck and hamstrings needed something different, as I work at a computer all day. I thought yoga and Pilates was exercise I could learn now and practice forever.
What are your favourite classes? My standout favourites are Imelda’s Pilates mat and reformer classes, Emma and Vanessa on reformer, and Charell’s Pilates mat. I’m very loyal! I mostly do 6am classes during the week, as I’m working full time. My goal for 2022 is to fit in more yoga.
What benefits have you seen? I thought I was fairly strong, but my upper body and core strength has increased significantly. I sleep better and I have more energy, the more I practice. I still find my classes challenging, as they offer progression, so you are always working to improve. I (mostly) kept up my practice during lockdown using the online and live classes, and that was an amazing resource to stop me going mad WFH. We have recently had a very stressful period at home, and throughout I forced myself (literally!) to attend my usual classes, and it was a great mental as well as physical support.
Challenge that you are working on? So many! Tricep pushups – room to improve! Working on my spinal flexibility, which is better but still not great – so fitting in more yoga is the plan next year. Losing some COVID kilos would be nice too.
Advice for people thinking of starting? Be brave and try things! I was a bit daunted by reformer for a while, and avoided it – now I’m addicted. Also, do a variety of classes if you can, as each teacher gives you new skills and challenges.
What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? My wife, Lorraine and I joined up in early 2018 as we were impressed with the wide range of yoga and Pilates classes on offer as well as the spin classes and the very friendly staff. We were new to the area having moved from a house on the North shore where we had lived for 34 years to a Unit in Lane Cove. We felt Soulful Fitness would help us integrate into the community here along with improving our health and wellbeing.
What are your favourite classes? Initially we attended classes such as restorative yoga, Hatha and Yin Yoga, Basics Pilates Reformer and Pilates Mat fundamentals as well as a number of Kundalini yoga classes and made use of the exercise bikes. Subsequently, we attended Barre classes and embraced Tai Chi classes when they became available. I also kept up the Pilates classes and Lorraine attended Hatha and Yin yoga classes. These are all our favourites.
What benefits have you seen? The benefits have been many both spiritually and physically. Firstly, the friendliness of not only every member of staff but also so many of the members who attend the same classes. The teachers make the classes so much fun and there is a great deal of laughter in all the sessions. As is commonly and correctly said, laughter is the best medicine. Secondly, another major benefit for me is concentrating on what I am doing and putting aside all those other thoughts that keep trying to intervene. The reduction in stress levels is palpable. Mentally I now feel more at ease. Thirdly, leaving aside the disruptions and serious problems we have all suffered from during the lock-downs as a result of the pandemic over the last two years, I feel so much better physically as a result of being a member of Soulful Fitness. Every part of the body is worked on and if I miss classes for a few weeks for whatever reason, I am aware I will have to catch up again to regain flexibility, balance and general strengthening. I do wish to commend management for arranging for so many of the classes to be available via our computer screens during the lock-downs.
Challenge that you are working on? In February last year, I had a full left knee replacement which took longer than I had anticipated to recover. However, as a result of attending Soulful Fitness beforehand, I was both physically and mentally better prepared than I would otherwise have been and subsequently after a fairly long period of physiotherapy, I was able to resume classes which were also instrumental in strengthening my knee. Today, I give it no thought whatsoever except I can now run if I want to and do not limp when I walk. I am in what I call a transition to full retirement, and I am a Non-Executive Director on a number of Charity Boards as well as the Board of a Commercial Company. In addition, I am the Chairman of the Strata Committee in our Unit complex. I only mention this because it is a challenge at times to attend the classes I would wish to especially given my wife and I also like to travel. At least we did before COVID! Another challenge is to try out other classes and see how I like them. Given the easing of COVID restrictions, the opportunity now presents itself.
Advice for people thinking of starting? My advice for people thinking of starting is to remember you are joining a welcoming community focused on improving your health in all respects. It is well rounded in terms of its offerings and I would urge those people to try out as many classes as they can. Class times are flexible to cater for the many different requirements of members. It is exciting and challenging but all at your own pace. During classes instructors are very careful to ensure you avoid any physical injury and remember there is no judgement by others regarding how you are coping. This is a case of being individually challenged and other members fully acknowledge that point. Give it a go and see what happens!
What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? I decided to join when I was 3 months pregnant as I wanted to find something that was low impact and easy to adapt as I got further along in my pregnancy. I was also looking to get involved in a community of positive like-minded people. I have met some wonderful ladies along the way who have been incredibly supportive. I’ve always walked past Soulful Fitness as I get my nails done a few doors down, so one day I popped my head in and met the beautiful Emma and I could not wait to star!
What are your favourite classes? My favourite class is Pilates Reformer with Vanessa she is firm and always lets me know if I need to adjust my form. As well as Pilates Reformer and stretch with Imelda, she is always pushing me to hit new boundaries. I’ve recently started doing the 6am class as this is the only time my partner can look after bub. I’m not normally a morning person at all, but now I’m addicted. There is no better way to start the day! I also very much enjoy the online classes. Having a little one its not always easy to get up Lane Cove to do the classes in person. There are so many online classes to choose from I have picked a few favourites that are my go-to.
OMG I absolutely must book every sound healing class that is available on the schedule. This is an incredible way to unwind, relax, let go of everything and focus on yourself. Most of the time I fall asleep, however I always leave with an overwhelming feeling of happiness, joy, and well-being.
What benefits have you seen? Overall, I feel stronger and more confident. I’ve seen substantial changes with my core strength, pelvic floor as well as glutes and legs. I finally fit back into my pre pregnant clothes as I’ve lost 8kg doing daily online classes during lockdown as well as focusing eating a balanced healthy diet. I’m also in general a more positive person as my mental health has improved tremendously.
Challenge that you are working on? At the moment I’m focused on slowly building up my core strength. I would love to be able to do a perfect plank without Imelda telling me to keep my hips in line. I’m also very focused on what I’m eating so I am loving Amanda’s delicious recipes!
Advice for people thinking of starting? You wont regret it, challenge yourself, get your body moving and meet wonderful people!