The depths of winter can be a difficult time to keep up with your fitness regime, so I was eager to get the chance to give my health game a bit of a lift when I went to try out Cheltenham’s newest yoga and Pilates studio, One Grove.
Tucked away down a side street near Waitrose, founder Lucy Whitehead has transformed the space into a relaxing environment that oozes with a Zen-like calm that hits you as soon as you walk through the door.
The business, which specialises in machine-based Reformer and Equipment Pilates, along with offering mat Pilates, yoga and Barre classes, is a new venture for Lucy and her team of elite instructors, whose aim is to inspire clients to reach their fitness goals, whatever their age or gender.
One Grove, which opened on Friday 9 December 2016, benefits from three studios – one on the top floor that caters for a maximum of 10 students taking part in the yoga, Pilates mat and Barre classes; one that’s fully equipped with four Reformer machines; and one that features mixed equipment for rehab sessions or private tuition.
Lucy, who has over a decade of experience under her belt, welcomed me to the studio and got me to fill in a health questionnaire to determine if I had any injuries, along with asking what my current exercise regime is – HIIT classes, spin and yoga in case you’re wondering.
The session began with 20 minutes of yoga practice with One Grove’s yoga manager, Frankie Street, an advanced teacher who trained in India and worked in London before relocating to Cheltenham.
While I’m definitely no yogi, I have been ‘practising’ yoga for over a year so I’m familiar with many of the poses, albeit not the Sanskrit names, so it was pure luxury to be given the chance to have a one-to-one class with Frankie and correct any bad habits I’ve picked up along the way.
With just the focus on me, there certainly wasn’t anywhere to hide and Frankie was quick to show me how to realign my posture in order to maximise the benefit of the poses. Her calming and constructive guidance was really helpful as we worked through the series of poses, and I soon learnt that I need to engage my core more and that my hips have a tendency to dip to one side.
While the classes usually last an hour, I felt relaxed and rejuvenated in just 20 minutes, which is a testament to Frankie’s teaching, and I definitely finished the session wanting to try a full practice with her.
Next, I headed downstairs to try out a session on one of the Reformer Pilates machines, which to the untrained eye, do look a bit like a torture device! Lucy explained that the machines are a piece of resistance exercise equipment designed by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century, which can be tailored to all fitness levels.
The Reformer consists of a platform that moves along a carriage that is attached by springs, with resistance from the user’s body weight, and a number of adaptable pieces that can be added to target different muscle groups and body parts.
To begin with, Lucy took me through some leg exercises that involved me lying flat and moving up and down the machine to get used to the feeling of the equipment. She then took me through a range of different leg movements followed by some shoulder and abs exercises, before demonstrating the machine’s merits for stretching.
I soon realised that, while there are similarities, there are differences in the two disciplines, from the breathing to how you position your core, which took me a while to get my head round.
I left One Grove feeling energised and ready for the week ahead, with the combination of yoga and Pilates, something they are keen to encourage at the studio, definitely a marriage made in fitness heaven.
My body certainly ached the next day, a sure sign that I had been working hard, and I would definitely head back to the studio now it’s open to try some of the other classes and experience the buzz along with other fitness fans.
By Anna Marshall
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