Five Minutes With…Alex Murray, Pilates Instructor & founder of AM Pilates

What is a typical day for Alex?  

I’m writing this in lockdown, so things are a bit out of the ordinary, but I think we’re just about getting there with a typical routine. My days are mostly organised around when I’m teaching classes online (largely mornings, lunchtimes and evenings) and what help my children (12 and 9) need with their home schooling.  The rest of the day is spent with a mixture of exercise, walking the dog, planning classes for the following week, cooking, and catching up with friends and family on Zoom whenever possible.  Also cleaning up dust (my husband has taken on a redecoration project in our home, creating huge amounts of dust!)

Tell us a little bit more about why you became a Pilates Instructor?

As a teenager I was diagnosed with Scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and underwent surgery to fuse a large section of my spine with rods.  I discovered Pilates during my lengthy rehabilitation.  Ever since, Pilates has had a huge impact on my physical and mental wellbeing – helping me through periods of chronic pain and through both my pregnancies.  So it led me to want to train to be a Pilates Instructor so that I can help others and to help keep mums active during and after pregnancy. 

In your view, what is the most common mistake mums make when returning to fitness after having a baby?  

I think it’s fantastic when mums feel ready to return to exercising.  What I think can be really tricky is often the desire to return to “pre-baby” fitness and shape with a focus on abdominal exercises such as crunches or planks.  These types of exercises should be avoided in the early post-partum months as the abdominal wall needs time to repair and heal after pregnancy.  Unfortunately crunches and planks can make the healing process worse.  So it’s important that new mums join an exercise class specifically for Post Natal so that the exercises they will be doing are appropriate. 

What tips can you give to busy mums who would like to take up Pilates but are unsure of where to start or how to incorporate it into their day?  

Being a mum can feel like you are trying to keep 20 spinning plates up in the air at all times,  being pulled in different directions and no time for yourself. Although it can be hard to find the time, often classes are at times when little ones might be sleeping or occupied with another activity for a little while.  With so many Pilates instructors taking their classes online, attending a class might be even more accessible during lockdown than it was before.  There’s a lot of choice out there – different days, times, durations {ranging from 15 mins to over an hour) so it can be hard to know where to start.  Couple of tips – think about choosing a local instructor, because if you like their online teaching, then if/when we get out of lockdown/social distancing you might be able to join their local classes – check out when their online classes are and see if any fit into your schedule; try out a live session (rather than pre-recorded) so that you can receive feedback from the instructor as you move (a lot of trial sessions are free and there’s a great sense of community in the live sessions too); and lastly please check that your instructor has the relevant qualifications. 

What do you believe are the main benefits of Pilates?  

Joseph Pilates was well ahead of his time when he said “physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness” – this is the biggest benefit for me – the link between emotional health and physical wellbeing. Pilates helps me through difficult periods of pain and allows me to be strong, active and healthy so that I can enjoy the good times.  Other benefits include relief from stress and tension, improved flexibility, muscle tone & posture, increased energy levels and better balance and joint mobility.  It’s also low impact and accessible to almost everyone.  There’s heaps of benefits, which is why elite athletes have been incorporating Pilates into their exercise regimes for years.  

What’s the most favourite part of your job?  

Meeting new people and having a positive impact on their lives. – seeing the smiles on their faces when they start to notice changes in their day to day life. 

What practices do you keep in your self-care toolkit?  

Well, there’s Pilates self-practice, of course, which I try to fit in at least once a day.   I also practice various different breathing techniques that I’ve picked up over the years to help calm my mind (which has been very busy recently – particularly at 3am!).  Walking the dog is a favourite part of my day – noticing the changes happening in the forest at the moment is just lovely.  And having a routine – or at least a basic plan – for my day really helps me.

Name one Instagram account we should all follow for inspiration.  

Please can I have two? I find these two ladies very difficult to split:  @the_organised_mum (Gemma Bray/TOMM) and @thisgirlcanorganise (Nicola Lewis/TGCO). They have really helped me with how to organise our home (and my mind).  I have discovered over the years that having our home organised is really important for my mental health. I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved an organised home, but it’s much better than it was, thanks to these two amazing ladies.  They are both mums with demanding lives, running their own businesses, both great fun and interesting to watch on Instagram and big champions of mental health – and TGCO is an Essex Girl! 

Happiness is…

Watching a movie with my family, with a glass of white wine and some chocolate.  Of course this is after we have spent 30 minutes bickering about which movie to choose. 

Please check out Alex’s Pilates timetable via her website ampilateslondon.co.uk You can also follow Alex on instagram and facebook.

calmmamasclub
Author: calmmamasclub

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