“I used to go to yoga and Pilates to stretch out and release stress,” explains Cat, originally from Lincoln. “In 2015, I was diagnosed with ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome) and I wanted a career change, so I decided to retrain as a Pilates teacher.”
To that end, The Pilates Room was born, starting life in October 2019 with classes at Tribe, a hot yoga studio in Penwortham, and growing organically from there. In August 2020, despite the pandemic still being in full flow, Cat decided to move to bigger premises and the group has thrived.
“I went for it and the response has been amazing,” says Cat, 44, of what has quickly become one of the area’s preeminent specialist equipment-based Pilates studios. “Seeing it go from strength to strength makes me very proud and we get between 70 to 100 people through the door each week now.
“We do private one-to-one sessions and group classes, but even then, we like to keep groups small,” adds Cat. “People have really embraced the whole thing, which is so nice to see. We’ve gone from having three reformer machines to six and now run about 30 classes a week between the three of us instructors. It’s amazing.”
Geared towards ensuring people get the most out of their practice regardless of their level of experience, Pilates is a full-body conditioning exercise with a particular focus on the core, Pilates is famed for strengthening the whole body and improving posture, balance, and flexibility whilst also encouraging people to focus more inwardly on their mentality, too.
With The Pilates Room running specialist-equipment classes using reformers, which are bespoke pieces of apparatus for a more holistic full-body session, the studio pivoted to running online mat-based classes led by Cat and her two colleagues Victoria Blockley and Leah Wainwright during lockdown so as to ensure that participants could stay active and fit.
“We don’t do mat-based classes at the studio because that’s where we do the equipment-based classes, but we have a mat class at the cafe in Hurst Grange Park,” explains Cat, who also recently qualified as a yoga teacher and also offers well-woman classes for more mature participants with specialist concerns such as osteoporosis.
“People are definitely more open to trying things like yoga and Pilates post-Covid and classes are getting more and more busy,” she continues. “It’s nice because we pride ourselves on our training standards - we’re Basi-qualified, which is like the Rolls Royce of Pilates - and we really focus on precision and making sure people connect to their bodies.
“So far, the response has been great: we’re having to update the timetable every two weeks to get more people in because the demand is so high!” says Cat with a laugh. “It’s great!”