See some of our members success stories below
Susi, 53, housewife, (now learning to be a Pilates teacher!). Susi has now been doing Pilates for 14 months. Before coming to Ankor Pilates she had dealt with back pain for 30 years.
“I dealt with back pain from my early twenties which worsened over the decades. The main reason was excessive horse riding from childhood. I had to stop horse riding when I was 44. Doctors told me that I had injured a disc and my spine would not be able to cope with much impact anymore. I would “ride” myself into more pain and possibly disaster if I would decide to continue.
Through a lot of pain killers, physiotherapy and strengthening exercises I could keep my head above the waters, but developed chronic back pain with regular bouts of pain.
By 2012 I had developed a fear of certain movements and avoided these at any cost.
These back pain attacks left me sinking into a dark hole of despair and depression at times.
The pain and stiffness led me to see an osteopath who recommended yoga. With a personal yoga trainer I started building up a very basic routine which helped a lot in the beginning, but on the other hand would cause other problems in my shoulder and neck and as much as I tried, I couldn’t progress. It was then that I decided to pick up Pilates for a change.
My first class with Ankor Pilates was a 1-1 because I couldn’t bring myself up to go to a group class.. I was plagued by anxiety and did not leave the house very much back then. Zoe came across friendly, reserved and confident. I felt in safe hands and I was able to follow your instructions.
This lesson gave me so much confidence that I decided to go to an introductory class in person. I was very nervous, but I made it and it was a very pleasant experience. The room was nice and filled with light, about 8 or 10 people on mats, all friendly and there to exercise for better posture. I could breathe through any fear coming up and managed to stay.
It was an absolute breakthrough for me and I am still very thankful for how you have helped me with these classes, your teaching and being you, probably more than you know.
Overall, Pilates has helped me immensely! After only almost a year and a half my body is in a much better condition. My posture has improved. I am stronger and more mobile. I can even bend down again which I didn’t dare to do for so long and I don’t consider myself as a chronic back pain sufferer anymore. In fact I even dreamed about my lower back growing beautiful flowers! My energy levels have risen a lot and I am more optimistic, even a happier person.
Pilates has contributed a lot towards me feeling a lot happier in my life. Learning how to move according to the body’s blueprint has helped me to beat depression. I feel like I am back to life.
I have not gone back into horse riding or picked up jogging again, but I have decided to become a Pilates teacher myself. I would highly recommend Ankor Pilates to someone with back pain, especially Zoe’s teaching has helped me so much.”
I wanted to start Pilates as I wanted to improve both my posture and strength, and had previously sustained an injury at the gym. I had also had many albeit unsuccessful attempts at starting and maintaining a yoga practise, but it never stuck as I could never see any real benefit, and also injured myself a few times. I have found Zoë and Brenda’s classes fantastic – they’re incredibly attentive to your body and what it’s doing. It’s been nearly a year since I started, and having undertaken both group classes and 1:1 classes with Zoë I have a much improved posture, core strength, and a much better awareness of how my body moves by default and how to correct bad habits / imbalances in the way I move and stand. I have also been free from back pain for most the year since starting as well. I would highly recommend Ankor Pilates to anyone who is thinking about it.
Clare, 38, Geologist, had been experiencing low back pain for 6 months before coming to Ankor Pilates. She has been practicing Pilates now for 6 months.
“I started getting lower back pain about two years ago when my first baby was about 1. It became so uncomfortable that I had trouble sleeping, I had to stagger out of bed and couldn’t bend or lift. The GP was quite unhelpful and only offered pain relief so I sought help from a physiotherapist. Lots of work on improving my upper back mobility and reducing tightness in my gluteal muscles really helped and after about 6 months I was pain free. She suggested specialist Pilates to maintain my back and that’s how I found Ankor Pilates.
I think my lower back pain had two main causes. Firstly poor posture and lifting a heavy toddler with that poor posture. Secondly, I didn’t strengthen my core enough in my first postpartum period before starting other exercises. So I was very weak in that area but was running and doing strength training.
I was quite excited to attend the taster class because I really wanted a practitioner who understood back pain. I really enjoyed the taster class. It gave me an opportunity to see if Ankor was what I was looking for.
Pilates has really helped my posture and strengthen my core to maintain a pain free lower back. Now after my second baby it has helped me very gently recover my pelvic floor and diastasis recti.
Nowadays I’m still cautious with my back but I’m confident that I’m doing the right exercises and I’m happy to be slowly regaining my strength and fitness! In just a few months my core strength has improved massively and my diastasis recti has reduced in size and depth.
I would recommend Ankor Pilates because the classes are tailored for back pain which you would not get with a regular Pilates class.
The teachers have been really accommodating by letting me attend mixed level classes and give me separate exercises suitable for my postnatal period. I’ve found this much preferable to being in a specific postnatal Pilates class as it will be much easier to progress.”
Becky, 48, works for a children’s charity. She has been practicing Pilates for a year and a half. Before coming to Ankor Pilates she suffered from back pain on and off for 8 years.
“As a child I had a slight curvature of the spine and although I was flexible and agile back then, I was warned that I may suffer back issues as I got older. Despite always being an active person, my back suffered hugely during both my pregnancies. Carrying a heavy child and then complications in my second pregnancy brought what I thought for many years was irreparable damage.
Throughout those years I experienced episodes where my back would just ‘go’ and feel broken, like I’d snapped in the middle, resulting from something as simple as picking up a toy. It sounds dramatic but it could be so painful, depressing and debilitating, making me totally reliant to hold onto furniture to move around. These episodes would last a few days, then lessen. It took many years and many online searches to find out about ‘diastasis recti’ and although I have never been diagnosed, I’m certain that’s what was causing my core weakness.
Before coming to try Pilates I almost backed out. I knew that I had to do something to re-gain my core strength, but I was worried that my low fitness level would make me feel worse about myself. That I wouldn’t be able to do any of the exercises.
In the taster class, it was great to walk into the room and see such a mix of people in the class. That helped straight away! The mat layout was great too as I felt like I had my own space. Zoe explained everything at an even pace, so as a newcomer I didn’t feel left behind at all. And I could even manage quite a few of the exercises.
Pilates has helped me so much! It’s still an ongoing thing to build that core strength, but I’m so much stronger than when I started. That increased strength has enabled me to challenge and push myself but importantly, it’s really made me feel so much better about myself and my body.
I know that weakness will always be a threat for me and my back. Sometimes I feel that threatening twinge and think ‘oh no, here we go’ but for the last year, my back has not ‘gone’ or ‘felt broken’ once.
In general I feel stronger, fitter, able and confident. I also try to do 15 mins Pilates a day to keep me tuned in with my body.
I haven’t taken up any new activities because I’m busy with my children but during lockdown we’ve spent more time as a family outside, and we have been playing family football together! Previously, I would have opted out for fear of my back going.
I would definitely recommend Ankor Pilates to someone with lower back pain. This form of exercise has worked wonders for me. It’s been fantastic to find something that works for me, at my pace, to help me move forward from that awful physical and psychological fear of putting my back out.
Zoe is such a great instructor. She is attentive and makes the time to encourage every single person in the session. I’m so pleased I didn’t backout from that taster session and I really look forward to each lesson.”
I started Pilates classes in order to target lower back pain that I’d been experiencing on-and-off for the past few years. Before attending my first class I was slightly worried about not being flexible enough, not being able to keep up with my classmates or to follow what the instructor said. However, right from the start of my taster class, Zoë made an effort to make me feel comfortable and relaxed! When I have trouble with a particular exercise she is always on hand with a suggestion to adjust part of my body or to focus on a specific movement.
Since I started doing weekly sessions my back has eased up slightly. But more importantly, when I do experience neck or back ache I have a few useful stretches to combat the pain. I would certainly recommend Ankor Pilates to others, Zoë is clearly very knowledgeable but she also brings a sense of fun to her classes!
Victoria, 35, art therapist.
“I had low back pain since I was about 11, on and off during my adolescence and in my twenties. Then it started to get a lot worse and I would say before coming to Ankor Pilates I was in pretty constant pain for about 2 years. It was getting to a stage where I was really stressed about it and I felt like I couldn’t relax my lower back any more.
Before I started Pilates my back was really, really stiff. It would be really sore and stiff first thing in the morning. Depending on what I did during the day it would also be really painful. My work involves a lot of sitting so I think that my posture while working probably contributed to my back pain as well.
It was a bit nerve wracking going to a new class but somebody had suggested Pilates to me and I was pretty desperate so I went for it.
During the introductory class I felt pretty relaxed. I wasn’t sure whether I was doing things right and the movements felt quite subtle – I had been used to yoga and stretching which felt more intense. My back felt better afterwards, a bit looser and less stiff.
Ankor Pilates has really helped with the management of my pain. When I first joined Pilates I was about to go on holiday and I remember I really didn’t want to be in pain whilst on holiday. Before going on that holiday I’d done a group class and a 1-1 and I had some homework exercises to do during that trip. It was amazing how much those exercises helped the pain. It took quite a long time for me to get to being pain free but it was really amazing to start to have some exercises to do to move into a less painful state.
Nowadays, I feel good about my back! There are still days where I might ‘feel’ it a bit more, but I don’t get as anxious about my back pain now because I know it’s going to shift and it’s not going to stay. I used to have a lot of anxiety about my pain because I didn’t have any control over it; now if I experience any pain I think “ok I’m experiencing some pain and I can do something about it”.
The other thing that I do is relaxation exercises to try to help my body and mind relax – usually after my Pilates exercises. So those two things together have really helped to ease my anxiety around pain.
Since starting Pilates I’m able to do yoga again, although I do feel like I still need to be careful with it. Pilates has helped me be much more aware in yoga – I’m aware of when I need to keep the movements smaller. But yoga is really good for helping my stress. I can also run now which I couldn’t do before because of my back pain. And I can tolerate standing for much longer, which I couldn’t do before!
I found the combination of group classes and 1-1s really helpful. It was great to have 1-1s and homework as it helped me learn how to do Pilates properly. With the homework exercises I now have a sequence of moves that I use when I have back pain or I’m feeling a bit stiff – I also use that set of moves if I need to relax.
I would definitely recommend Ankor Pilates to someone with back pain.
Before coming to Ankor Pilates I was in pretty constant pain for about 2 years. It was getting to a stage where I was really stressed about it and I felt like I couldn’t relax my lower back any more.
Ankor Pilates has really helped with the management of my pain. It took me about 18 months to get to being pain free. I don’t get as anxious about my back pain now because I know it’s going to shift and it’s not going to stay. I used to have a lot of anxiety about my pain because I didn’t have any control over it but now I have exercises I can do if I experience any pain or stiffness.
I found the combination of group classes and 1-1s really helpful. It was great to have 1-1s and homework as it helped me learn how to do Pilates properly. With the homework exercises I now have a sequence of moves that I use when I have back pain or I’m feeling a bit stiff – I also use that set of moves if I need to relax.”
Mehrangez, 37, works in a university. Has been practicing Pilates for 2 years now. Before coming to Ankor she had experienced back pain for 5 years.
“I have a hypermobile body which means my spine is very flexible so it is very easy for me to hurt my back, e.g. if I have to bend down to pick something up or if I’m sitting at a desk for a long time.
Prior to starting Pilates I had been doing yoga on a semi-regular basis. I really liked yoga but I felt like some yoga movements exacerbated the pain in my back. Being a bendy, stretchy person by nature it didn’t feel difficult doing a lot of the positions to their fullest expression but I often experienced pain in my back and knees if I overdid it in yoga. This in turn made me fearful of movement and got in the way of my enjoyment of yoga and other exercise because I was worried I was going to hurt myself. Being an overweight person and used to hearing from the media and society as a whole that excess weight is the reason for every single one of my problems in life, I was concerned that I would develop body pain and difficulty getting around as I got older.
Before coming to Ankor Pilates I felt a bit nervous about going to a new group class. Firstly, I’d never done Pilates before and I didn’t know what to expect. Secondly, although I had been to many group exercise classes before, I had had mixed experiences of being an overweight person in these classes. I sometimes felt that instructors either just completely ignored me, or they would try to correct me in a way that didn’t work for my body, and even when they did offer modifications, there was this sense that the only reason I was doing the modified version was that I wasn’t good enough for the proper version of the move. I was also very used to being surrounded by people who didn’t look like me at all. So I was a little nervous about Pilates.
I felt reassured from the beginning by Zoe’s friendly and practical approach where she explained the moves carefully, paid attention to individual bodies’ needs, and offered variations without making you feel like you were doing an inferior version. The early classes focused a lot on the basics of Pilates, where a lot of the movement happens within your core at such a level that visibly you can’t really see it. The actual movements are tiny. And this was such a change from other classes where so much of the focus was on doing very visible impressive moves, and showed such a thoughtful and gradual approach towards getting people comfortable and used to Pilates, and help them learn to focus on what’s going on inside them at a deeper muscular level.
Pilates has improved my health. I am definitely stronger, able to do moves that initially I couldn’t do or had to a beginners’ version of. It’s really motivating to see that change in what you are able to do. My sense of balance has improved. I have learned to move more thoughtfully and confidently, so that I am less afraid of injuring my back because I know more about how to move correctly engaging my core. I’ve never experienced an injury as a result of anything I’ve done in Pilates because Zoe and the team really try to help you to understand how to move your body safely. I understand my body better now, that I will always be bendy and stretchy and therefore it’s important to work on strengthening my core, rather than doing exercises which feel ‘easy’ because they focus more on stretching. Just sticking to the classes, gradually building to two or three classes a week, was really important for me.
I feel more confident about my back. Although still hypermobile I am less worried now about doing moves that would usually aggravate my back (e.g. cobra or standing backbend) because I’ve learned more about how to do them correctly. This means I am less worried about moving my back in daily life. My body is stronger, and I also know what muscles to activate when moving my body in a certain way.
I would definitely recommend Ankor Pilates to anyone with back pain, because it will strengthen your core and teach you how to move safely, engaging your muscles rather than dumping all your weight on your lower back.
I think everybody could benefit from Ankor Pilates: the focus on slow, incremental progress; paying attention to what’s going on inside your body as opposed to what your body looks like while doing the move; individualised attention from teachers who take the time to understand your body; a friendly and inclusive atmosphere; and the result, which is a better understanding of your body and an awareness of how you move all the time.
I think that the ‘wellness industry’ etc focuses a lot on fast results and being able to do very impressive things. The great thing about Ankor Pilates is that it focuses on slow, steady improvement and consistency, and so the results that you get feel more lasting and genuine.”
BOOK A FREE TASTER SESSION
Click below to book in for a free taster class. You can do your class either online or in person. You will be asked to fill in a few details so that we know a little bit more about you.
We will get in touch with you before your class to have a quick chat with you to make sure you get the most from your first class with us, we can’t wait to see you.
I started Pilates to help addressing recurring back and shoulder pain from carrying and lifting my baby. A back specialist advised me to start from Pilates to build my core strength back. From the first session I felt much better, with increased levels of energy and less achiness overall. The classes are pitched at the right level so I never felt out of my depth. Zoë often offers variations to an exercise so, now that I am more accustomed to the routine, I can choose if I want to try a bit harder.
Zoë is very professional and also very approachable in her teaching style so I found myself at ease very quickly.
I started Pilates with Zoë in September last year and really enjoy the class. I certainly feel much less stressed and straighter! Zoë is very encouraging, the group is a nice mix of people and the atmosphere is very comfortable which helps you to feel relaxed. This was important to me being new to Pilates. I would definitely recommend Zoë’s classes and the free taster session is an excellent way to get a feel for Pilates.
What a great way to learn and get into Pilates!! I started Pilates with Zoe as a complete beginner. I wanted to improve my mobility and posture so I thought I would give it a go. From the free intro session I could see that Zoe was a very good teacher so I decided to start her beginner classes. These classes were a great introduction into Pilates and I have since moved up to a mixed level class which is much more challenging! There is always a lot of support from Zoe and her other instructors during and outside of class. I feel Ankor Pilates provides a really personal service and I would recommend giving it a go.
I was keen to get into Pilates to strengthen my core muscles and tone up. The taster class at Ankor Pilates was a great introduction to the discipline and Zoë was brilliant at giving proper attention and hands on support to everyone in the class and explaining the exercises really clearly. I’ve now been doing Zoë’s classes for a good few months and have moved on to the improvers level. I’ve noticed a real improvement in my core strength and general flexibility and agility in my joints. So glad I decided to sign up and would thoroughly recommend to anyone that’s interested in giving Pilates a try!
After years of a steadily worsening bad back that nothing seemed to fix, I can recommend Ankor Pilates as a significant quality-of-life improver. Although things such as swimming helped, they never fixed the problem of lost work days, sleep disruption and almost constant discomfort. I tried the intro class to reassure myself that this wasn’t one of those pack-em-in classes with an instructor of questionable capability – Zoe is friendly, approachable and clearly knows her craft.
Within a month I noticed an improvement for a couple of days after each class. Then around three months an almost complete cessation of significant back issues and at around 6-9 months a noticeable increase in my range of movements and the ability to push it and not suffer agony the following day.
It feels like my back is 20 years younger! Considering how effective it has been for me the Ankor Pilates classes represent incredible value-for-money.
Last year I turned 65 and officially (though not in my head) became a senior citizen. The years of hunching at a desk had taken their toll and my osteopath thought Pilates would help in lots of ways – and he was right! As a complete beginner Zoe’s initial tuition on a 1 to 1 basis was very reassuring. I found the early exercises quite straightforward and once I started attending classes I was impressed by the way she makes it possible for us to push ourselves but safely and at a pace that works for us individually. Zoe makes it feel like a cooperative effort even if she does occasionally remind some of us that breathing at all is a really good idea!
I am finding benefits already, particularly in posture and balance, quite apart from the sense of well-being that you leave the class with. I warmly recommend Pilates in general and Zoe’s programmes specifically to anyone thinking about taking up Pilates.
Before I started Pilates I was feeling very fed up with my chronic injuries (from a pectoral muscle tear and a transversus abdominal muscle tear), which didn’t seem to be healing. I was just really desperate to fix it however I could. At the time, I was probably doing a lot as well so I was fairly stressed but not fully aware of it.
Ankor Pilates classes have been so beneficial to me and pretty life-changing! The small class size and the really skilled but down-to-earth teachers have made me feel so welcome. I’ve learnt how to be so much more aware of the intricacies of my body and how to target certain muscles.
Another amazing thing has just been finding a type of exercise that really de-stresses me – I didn’t realise how stressed I was and taking the time to slow down and breathe has really changed the way I go about life. I’ve really felt my chronic pain lessen and in each class I feel like I learn more and more and I’m able to strengthen areas that have been chronically weak and that haven’t been targeted properly for years!
I would absolutely recommend Ankor Pilates. The teachers are down-to-earth and really skilled at working out where you tend to under/overcompensate, providing you with different cues that work for you to help correct your position. The different memberships offer a lot of flexibility and there are weekly emails, regular workshops and 1:1s that can advance your learning!
I cannot really spell it out any better – taking up Pilates with Ankor has been life-changing.
I have had returning lower back pain for many years following an accident at work. It came back once again recently. I woke every morning with my back in spasm and it took 10 – 15 minutes to get out of bed. Then all day I was walking round on egg shells to prevent a nonoccurrence. Following my first taster session I felt a bit sore but next morning was my first spasm free wake up for ages.
So glad I tried Pilates. It was only by accident I even bothered. I saw an advert on our local Facebook Page and applied rather more in desperation than for any other reason. Got an email back from Zoe almost immediately and was made very welcome. I initially was the only man there but Zoe made me feel comfortable and I was encouraged all the way through. Zoe’s clear instructions make it easy. I walk taller, have no pain after standing for a while and generally feel fitter and all after only 3 sessions.
I would certainly recommend it to anybody with back pain like me.
I wanted to find a gentle exercise class to help me relax and improve my core strength. Pilates seems like the perfect option, but I’ve been put off from previous classes I’ve attended which were really high tempo and with too many people cramped in the space. Zoë offers a free taster so it was a perfect opportunity to try pilates out again and I’ve really lucked out. Zoë was really welcoming, it’s a really calming atmosphere and because the classes are small she really take care to make sure everyone is following and giving tips on how to improve. I find the classes super relaxing and I really feel like I’m doing some good stretches to help my body feel stronger. I’d definitely recommend Zoë’s class to anyone looking to generally feel better or work through any aches and pains. She’s a great teacher and a lovely person!
I was looking for a regular form of exercise I could do alongside running and for something to help with a pain in my right shoulder/arm. Pilates turned out to be just right on both counts. It’s a great way to improve your core strength and posture as well as to tackle particular problem areas. I also found that the bodily awareness practiced in class really finds its way into your daily life. I sit and stand better and feel able to spot and work against habits of tensing up all too easily.
Zoë is a great teacher. When trying out different Pilates classes, Zoë’s stood out. Her teaching is concentrated yet relaxed, challenging and varied, and she always attends to everyone individually, helping you find ways to improve your practice. Since starting a few months ago, I’ve signed up to an additional class each week. I’d wholly recommend taking up Pilates with Zoë!