What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? I am a transformational life guide and support many people in living their best life. I have always lived a full life and have done yoga and meditation for many years. I believe in being of service and probably went a bit overboard for a few years taking care of others and forgetting about myself. I got ill and knew I had to make a change. I know it is all about balance and I wasn’t living my truth in my own health area and service to myself. I decided to give myself time out to rejuvenate my mind body and spirit to reconnect with myself and reclaim some peace in the midst of a hectic life and fill up my cup again, so that I could bring the best of myself to my life. I wanted to build up my strength physically and knew I needed to add to my yoga practice. I didn’t want to go to a gym I wanted somewhere a little more personal where people care and want to support the change I was looking for. Soulful fitness had all that I was looking for. I started doing Pilates reformer and mat classes for the first time in my life and was so grateful for the level of teaching that was available.
What are your favourite classes? I will always love my yoga classes and enjoy all forms of it. It depends on my mood whether I want a dynamic class or something more relaxing. I find the sound healing calming and releasing. Lucky for me Soulful brings an amazing array of different classes to choose from. Now I also love my Pilates.
What benefits have you seen? I have been amazed at how physically strong I have become. I wake up in the morning bright and alert, ready to get into my class. I feel alive and vibrant again. What Amanda the owner of the studio did throughout Covid was incredible. As soon as we were not allowed in the studio, she created outdoor classes so we could continue. She wanted her students to keep up their healthy living. When we were in lock down, she created and online library which still exists today. When I go away, I can take my laptop and tune into any of my classes via the online library
Challenge that you are working on? To keep making time for myself and my classes when I am being pulled in many directions.
Advice for people thinking of starting? Don’t think too hard about it. Jump in, you deserve to look after your own wellbeing. Soulful is a place where you will be nurtured, and a plan will be put together for where you want to go, the type of classes that will get you there and work in with your work life balance. As soon as you walk in the door there is always a smile for you. Honour you right now. Please look me up and say hi when you have joined.
Member of the Month: Madeleine Huston
What made you take on a Pilates and Yoga program? I’ve been doing reformer Pilates for almost 18 years as I’m hyper mobile and I’ve always had a lot of injuries. It’s the baseline for me to be strong enough to be able to do other activities and just for life! Yoga I have grown into and I mainly do Yin though dip in and out of hatha. Strength and keeping moving is non negotiable for me as the alternative has been spending the money at the physio. I’d rather gain the benefits of being mentally and physically fit.
I’ve always thought of myself as an ‘unsporty’ person. But I think the supportive atmosphere at Soulful has helped me challenge that. Fitness and wellbeing shouldn’t be a competitive process. And I feel that at the studio. Is about personal progress at your pace with lots of friendly faces around.
What are your favourite classes? Apart from Pilates, Yin Yoga has had a quite profoundly positive impact on my life. I also enjoy barre. Huge personal satisfaction when I can get up and work out my legs and work up a sweat. I was so unsporty as a kid that my mum banned me from doing ballet thinking it’d be too humiliating (lol). Look at me now mum!!
What benefits have you seen? Overall stress relief, but also Yin in particular has helped me be less reactive to stressors in life. I’ve actually had feedback from my manager along those lines that she’s noticed a difference. I’ve learnt to sit with challenging emotions and feelings and to not be overwhelmed and to let go. It’s helped me manage my personal relationships a lot better. Honestly, Yin yoga should be prescribed by doctors for mental health! It’s incredible. And the stretching out of muscles and fascia allows me to achieve more things in other activities. Deeper squats and less back pain.
Challenge that you are working on? I had knee surgery in October 2021 after injuring my knee during lockdown. It’s been a long process of rehab and also trying to lose the weight I put on in that time when I had the double whammy of being locked down in lock down since I was on crutches and couldn’t get easily up and down our apartment stairs. That extra weight didn’t help the injury recovery. I’ve just been pacing myself and listening to my body and focusing on consistency. I’m old enough now to know my limits and be confident to say when my knee isn’t feeling it in a class but to do as much as I can.
Advice for people thinking of starting? Do it! And schedule regular classes like an appointment. Take the guess work out of it so it just becomes routine and you don’t overthink it. Also be open minded and try new classes. I was quite rigid when I started of thinking some things just weren’t going to be for me. I’ve surprised myself.
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.