Books: Caged Lion

Caged Lion is a book by John Howard Steel, who knew Joseph Pilates personally.

It tells the story of how John started doing Pilates, then called Contrology, and how he got to know the man himself. When Joseph Pilates died, John was part of a small group who kept the exercise method alive. At the time, it was performed buy just a few devotees, but now the Pilates method is practised by millions all over the world.

The book is a fascinating read, part autobiography and part-biography. It tells us about John’s involvement in Pilates over six decades and gives us the history of Joseph Pilates, the man, and how he came to develop his exercise method and invent the studio equipment, largely unchanged today.

The book also describes the unique attraction of the Pilates Method, the power that it has to change lives and keep its devotees practising into their eighties and nighties.

I found it a fascinating and entertaining read and highly recommend it. You can buy the book from amazon or elsewhere.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a term that has come to be used for general heel pain. There are over 40 conditions which might cause heel pain, but only some of these are due to damage, such as tearing, fraying or crushing, to the plantar fascia. This is the thick tissue that runs underneath your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes. Typically, the pain is worse in the morning, gets better as you move around and then comes back later in the day after a period of inactivity.

You may be more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you:

  • recently started exercising on hard surfaces
  • exercise with a tight calf or heel
  • overstretch the sole of your foot during exercise
  • recently started doing a lot more walking, running or standing up
  • wear shoes with poor cushioning or support
  • are very overweight

Successful treatment depends on getting the correct diagnosis of the underlying cause. Things that might help are:

  • ice, arch roll, calf stretch, arch rise
  • steroid injection, ultrasound, low level laser, ECSWT (shockwave), surgical release
  • acupuncture, footwear changes, orthotic insoles, diet, supplements
  • mobilisation, strength and conditioning exercises

Pilates can help with the later as it aims to ensure good alignment and balance mobility and strength, not just of the foot and ankle joints, but of the whole of your body. Specific exercises for plantar fasciitis might be:

  • foot and ankle stability
  • foot shortening
  • plantar intrinsic strengthening
  • calf flexibility
  • general flexibility
  • proximal strength

This information was taken from a recent workshop that I attended by Ian Sadler and the NHS website. For more information and to visit Ian’s specialist biomechanics clinic based in Norwich, go to

Click to find an NHS podiatrist.

Resuming Pilates Classes Indoors

Coronavirus COVID-19 guidelines allowed group exercise classes to be held indoors from 25th July 2020, not in the second lockdown during November 2020), but again in Tier 2 areas from 2nd December 2020.

Click to read the coronavirus guidelines that will be in place for us to stay safe when meeting for Pilates mat classes at Mundford Village Hall and private sessions at the studio.

Pilates Equipment for Mat Classes

Since the coronavirus crisis means that it is inadvisable to share equipment between participants, please see below for what you will need when attending my group mat classes. You can source your own or buy from me (except mats) at the prices shown.

small equipment
  • full length mat
  • cushion for good neck alignment – 1″ head pad £8 or 3″ head pad £12
  • resistance band – 175cm purple band £7
  • soft ball – 23cm overball £8
  • set of 1″ head pad, band and ball £20
  • set of 3″ head pad, band and ball £24

I have a limited stock of used 1″ head pads and bands at £4 per piece. Delivery in Mundford free, elsewhere postage is £1.50 for a band or £3 for anything else.

Click to see the full list of small equipment that we use when doing circuit classes.

Quote: Change happens…

Here’s another quote promoting the benefit of movement. Whether you do Pilates or any other form of exercise, I encourage you to move.

Change happens through movement and movement heals.

Joseph Pilates

Archive Pilates video links

Joseph Pilates was renowned for exercising just wearing shorts and for exercising outside in all weathers. Here’s a selection of archive videos that I found on YouTube.

Demonstrating The Hundred
Classical Mat Workout
An Outdoor Workout from 1932
At an International Dance Festival and School
Joe in the Snow – A Tribute

Wrist Assured/Yoga Gloves

Wrist Assured/Yoga gloves may be useful to you, if your wrists are uncomfortable when you are performing exercises where you support your weight through your hands. The gloves have a contoured gel pad, which distributes the pressure so that your wrists don’t take all the strain.

I read about them in a recent newsletter, but have not tried them myself. They have good reviews and are available on this link.

Space to Be

While we are social distancing due to the coronavirus crisis, many of us may be feeling anxious about our health, our families, our finances, our future. Exercise is known to be beneficial to mood, so Pilates can help. Some people also find that meditation is helpful.

I have just come across some free weekly meditation sessions, held on Mondays at 10am and 7.30pm using Zoom, by Andrea, who trained with The Mindfulness Institute.

To find out more, including how to join, click on the link below.

There are also mindfulness apps for your smart device, which are free or have free trials, including:

  • Headspace
  • Calm
  • Aura
  • Insight Timer
  • Smiling Mind
  • Stop, Breathe & Think
  • UCLA Mindful
  • 10% Happier

Free Stuff!

As a thank you to those who have signed up to continue with my classes during this period of social distancing, I promised some bonus material in the form of short videos, so that you can continue your practice at home.

I have set up a new pilatesbodyuk Youtube channel and uploaded my first video. It’s a standing workout, which you can access on the link sent by email.

Since these videos are intend to supplement the supervised practice that you do at my classes, I have made the videos unlisted, so they won’t appear in any public spaces. Please do not share the links.

As sent by email with some amendments.