Keeping it tall and upright in Camden Row

We reach for our smartphones the moment we wake, work on PCs all day and use our tablets in the evening. Technology is good but there are downsides, too, as Pilates expert Steph Grey explains.

She’s perfectly placed to understand the consequences of all those hours commuting on the tram and train, heads bent over smartphones and tablets. “I see a lot of people with neck and shoulder pain as well as postural problems because of their usage of technology,” says the former IT sales specialist.

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Steph Grey

Her own Pilates story started in 1999 when she started taking classes herself due to various injuries. She loved it so much she decided to take teacher training to get a deeper understanding of the Method. ‘Back then I had no intention of taking Pilates up as a profession. As part of my instructor training I had to teach so I started teaching Pilates to colleagues. I got a great kick out of it and they loved it too.’

As the number of classes she was teaching increased, she set up Live & Breathe Pilates as a company in 2008. Fast forward to January 2012 and after many long searches for the perfect location she settled into her dedicated Pilates studio at 20 Camden Row.

Live & Breathe Pilates is just a stone’s throw from Harcourt and Stephen’s Green Luas stops on the first floor of an impressive old building on Camden Row.

The dedicated Pilates studio is purpose built and is bright, calm and airy – a far cry from its former days as a debtor’s prison, a school and a textile factory. It’s an oasis of calm in the city centre.

“People don’t realise there was a real person called Pilates,” says Steph, explaining that Joseph Pilates was a sickly child suffering from rickets and asthma. He developed a set of exercises to help himself get stronger and he benefitted so much from them that in his late teens, he became an anatomy model for a local medical school. Later he was a boxer, a gymnast and military trainer. Pilates’ physique, even in his 80s was strong and streamlined, despite – or maybe because of, his fondness for cigars, whisky and the ladies.

There are other misguided views about Pilates, too.

“There has always been the perception that Pilates is an easy workout just for women” Steph says. ‘But a lot more men are coming to the studio with lower back pain, postural issues and other problems and to get fit so they are seeing the real benefits of Pilates and how it can help them.

“In fact, Pilates can help nearly everyone. My oldest client is 80 – she’s here every week. My mums and babies are in on Fridays, our 6 month olds are practicing their roll overs and tummy time.”

Steph explains that Pilates is a mind and body exercise method. ‘You need to engage your brain before your muscles,’’ she says. “Pilates on the mat uses gravity and your own body weight to work the muscles in the body in a flowing exercise program. You start with a warm up and gradually move through a set of exercises. The goal is to create balance, move freely, and be aware of posture while using muscles efficiently.”

By following these principles Steph has helped many people out of pain and has shown them how they can use exercise to stay injury free. The studio gets referrals from physiotherapists, sports clinics and maternity hospitals and offer private Pilates sessions specifically for clients recovering from injury or for those who prefer to work one to one with a trainer. They also offer general fitness classes, including Barre & Jumpboard.

Steph is proud that her class sizes are small, a maximum of 12 people for the mat exercise and just 7 on Reformers. ‘’We do this so we can focus on the individual and the quality of the movements.’’ Your Pilates should be all about quality not quantity.

For her, looking after your spine is all important. She says “I am a firm believer in looking after your spine. It is after all, the only one we have. Staying tall and upright and keeping it safe, is a good place to start.”

Steph also works with many corporates who offer Pilates as part of their in-house health plans.”We can run sessions in house but I do think it is much better for people to get out of the office to come to the studio so that they can completely switch off. We offer 45 minute classes that can easily be fitted in during a lunch hour, as well as early mornings.”

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Pilates machines

 

Many overseas visitors use the studio. “We regularly have tourists book in for some private Pilates sessions during her stay in Dublin,’’says Steph, who knows many visitors staying in hotels in the area can walk to her in a matter of minutes.So how do you give Pilates a try?

Steph says “For complete beginners our unique foundation courses are great for getting you started.

However, if you have injuries, group classes are not always a great place to start. We always recommend booking a one to one assessment prior to joining group classes”

There is more to the studio than just Pilates, though.

Steph says “We recently ran a workshop focussing on the anatomy of feet and how to keep them healthy. People out running on the canal often come into me and wonder why their feet are so tight. In September we will have workshops specifically for runners to show them how they can release tight muscles and stay running longer. Teacher training is another service we offer. I believe in keeping the studio open and available to other instructors. Everybody is welcome to learn here.”

One recent international trainer had specific advice for the hunched-up smartphone/tablet generation, Steph recalls.‘’Rebecca Leone, The Pilates Nun, recently revisted us in the studio. She recommended that every time we hit send on an email that you should do three shoulder rolls to keep the shoulders relaxed.”

It’s a small change but one that can help us enjoy our virtual life while protecting our physical selves, too.

The Live & Breathe Pilates website lists the services on offer covering courses, classes and workshops as well as a very extensive Pilates FAQ,  customer testimonials and information on different membership plans and passes available.

 

Live & Breathe Pilates

20 Camden Row,

Dublin 8

 

luas

 

Harcourt Street

walking

 

7 minutes