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Helen Skelton: “I Decided To Head Back To Pilates”

3 MIN READ • 21st March 2023

Your Fitness’ intrepid columnist stakes out the newest classes and takes on the latest challenges

As I begin to count down the days until the due date of my second baby, I’m starting to look less athletic when I work out and more like Mr Blobby… On a bad day! And so I recently decided to head back to Pilates to find an exercise that would help me look after my body. Without the need to bounce my growing baby bump and burgeoning boobs!

If it’s hardcore Pilates you want, a reformer pilates class is the best way to go. The whole class takes place on a carriage. A low bed with a moving platform that you lie on. It’s set on springs so that you can add resistance depending on how much of a workout you want. The best bit is the straps, which feature loops where you can place your feet or hands depending on the exercise. To me, they will always resemble something from the red room in Fifty Shades of Grey – and this will always bring a smile to my face and make a normally calm and tranquil Pilates studio a bit more amusing! To me, anything that makes you giggle and takes your mind off a burning muscle or two is a bonus.

My class was taken by Celine Cipolat, a former ballerina and dancer with the Babyshambles who has set up her own Pilates studio in Perpignan. Like many studios, the one I went to runs mat classes, reformer, group and individual sessions. The smaller the class the more expensive and so I shared my tutor with one of my friends. A class for two this way works out at £25 each. While it’s not cheap, I have found that doing private classes every now and again really improves my technique and sets me up to get a better workout in group classes.

We worked our legs, arms and backs, completing each move only a few times as our teacher reminded us the focus is on quality not quantity in Pilates. I avoided the ab moves as I am so pregnant and instead did some moving stretches on the carriage.

Reformer Pilates is definitely harder than the mat-based class. You need to concentrate both your mind and your muscles to stay on the carriage and execute the exercise. It’s very difficult to cheat too. If a move is aimed at a certain leg or arm muscle you literally won’t move if you don’t isolate and work that particular part of your body. The graceful nature of Pilates also means you think about your figure, posture and form, which can only be good for a hyperactive fell pony like me! The hour flew by and I left with that quiet throb in my thighs and arms that you have when you know you’ve worked out.

For me, reformer Pilates ticks a lot of boxes. Yes, it’s pricey, but at this stage in my pregnancy I don’t want to risk any injuries and I’m picking up techniques and tips I will use in the future. It’s an investment!

This month Helen’s been…

Working out … Online

This month I have been following Alexa Jean Fitness. I am struggling to find time to go to the gym. But Alexa Jean has easy to follow online circuits you can download to your phone. She offers a simple day-by-day guide and a series of photos and sketches. If you don’t understand, you can email the fitness bunny yourself. It’s easy, effective and cheap.

Using… A baby gym

My son has a new Infantino Grow With Me Baby Gym. It’s proving perfect for living room workouts we can do together. He sits in the ball pool and finds it hilarious when I lunge around the living room to pick up the balls he tosses out. He’s happy so I’m happy. With bikini season on the horizon, he can throw those toys as far as the living room will allow.

Slathering on… ARK skincare

I may have pretended it’s not happening but the laughter and expression lines are certainly taking up permanent residence on my face. It’s inevitable, that is life! I’ve been using age-relevant Ark skincare to try to minimise the damage. From years of sun and sleepless nights may have done to my face. They have a new range designed for your 20s, 30s and 40s.

Watching… The Grand National

I have family connections with horses and racing. So a viewing of The National has been part of my family’s routines for as long as I can remember. If you’ve never been to a ladies day, a national or a derby you must. They are a national event, part of our culture and heritage. Huge numbers of people watch and raise a glass of prosecco to the horses.


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