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Welcoming New Teacher Clare to the Studio!

Welcoming New Teacher Clare to the Studio!

Hi there, I’m Clare Gardiner, and I’m really excited to be one of the new teachers at Chapel Allerton Pilates. Some of you may already know me from my time apprenticing with studio director Claire Sparrow on Monday mornings. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone and sharing my journey with Pilates with you all.

clare gardinerLike many Pilates teachers, I’ve come to teaching as a second career after falling in love with Pilates and what it can do, and then getting totally obsessed with it and wanting to go on to share that with other people. My “day job” is as a musician with Opera North (so less daytime and more evenings and late nights!). I play the viola in the Opera Orchestra, and we perform everything from Wagner’s Ring to Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, from My Fair Lady to 80’s Bananarama classics. I’m so fortunate to have a job which I’m passionate about; however, I’m not sure I would still be playing if it wasn’t for Pilates.

I have now been at ON for just over ten years, and like many musicians, I had suffered from aches and pains and postural problems since before I can remember. We often rehearse for 6 hours at a time, holding our instruments up in all sorts of odd contorted positions (especially in the theatre pit where there’s often no room to swing a cat, let alone play a viola, whack a timpani, or extend a trombone slide!). These long hours and repetitive holding patterns can lead to pain and dysfunctional postural habits which can then affect how we feel in day-to-day life.

I used to frequently worry that my musical career would be cut short because it felt like my body just couldn’t cope with the demands of the job. The amount of my wage that was siphoned off for maintenance physiotherapy just felt like a necessary “viola tax”. I wasn’t then aware of just how much I could achieve in terms of finding balance and supporting my own body to do the things I wanted it to do.

How I met Claire and found Chapel Allerton Pilates

I first met Claire in 2018 in Roundhay Park after being invited by a colleague from ON to try this really cool “pramercise” class for mums and babies. I was instantly hooked by Claire’s energetic approach and her knowledge of the human body and how we move. I loved how we really weren’t just thrashing ourselves to lose the baby weight but were returning to fitness and function in a really constructive way.

I felt awesome after those classes (no matter what kind of night I’d had with the baby), and I soon started attending the studio for postnatal, 1-to-1 sessions with Claire and gyms. Every time I took a class, I’d learn something fascinating about my body, how it works, how it learns, and what it can do. I just totally got the Pilates bug and wanted to keep on doing it.

My focus soon began to expand from how I was feeling postnatally to how I could apply all the things I’d learned to support my body as I prepared to return to work. As I got back to playing, I found myself using the rests in the music to think about ways I could improve the way I was sitting, breathe better, or make subtle alterations to my posture, or what Pilates exercises would feel great when I got home. I’d be playing away with my geeky Pilates brain on, thinking about what my ribs were up to as I moved my bow, whether my pelvis felt balanced as I was sitting, or if my humerus bone was internally or externally rotated as I held my instrument! When I discovered that our bones have natural rhythms in their movement, I was so excited!

How Pilates Helps Me to Play Longer

The more I practiced Pilates, the more I felt able to enjoy playing again. Of course, I still get tired, and I still get sore sometimes, and the lactic acid build-up after accompanying a long slow aria full of endless long notes can be painful. But I now feel like I have the tools to reintroduce balance, and there’s always a movement I can do to ease things. This has given me so much more self-confidence and a newfound trust in my body that I didn’t have before. This newfound confidence and love of movement gave me the itch to want to take Pilates further, and I decided to do the teacher training.

I am now a mum to three children aged 8, 6, and 2. My third baby was born in 2022, and I was 6 months pregnant by the time I finished my comprehensive Pilates training with Claire (which meant no big Swan moves or inversions, among other things!). I’m really passionate about how Pilates has really helped me as a woman, as a mum, and as a musician. It’s so true that we practice Pilates not just to get good at Pilates (although that’s very fun!), but to get good at life.

What I Hope to Create in My Classes for YOU

As a teacher, I’d really like to be able to help people find pleasure in movement and also to learn the cool little things about our bodies that spark our interest and help us take our Pilates practice out with us into our daily lives.

Join Clare Gardiner for her regular classes on Mondays: 9:00 AM for SW and 10:00 AM for Reformer. Additionally, she is available for 1-to-1 sessions at 11:00 AM.

Book a Class with Clare Now!

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