Hugged into the side of Canning Highway in Palmyra, sits "Pilates House": a luxury boutique studio for women who want to train in Pilates. Pilates House cuts a break into the highway scene with a minimalist, white studio surrounded by trees and other greenery. Down the street, you can find the cafe-avid town Applecross where you can get a decent cup of coffee and ogle one of the many designer-size dogs passing through (If you're ever in town, give Cheeky Boy Espresso a go). I'd booked a private pilates session with Renée, the woman herself in charge of Pilates House, which would run from 9.30-10.30AM on my Friday off from work.
I drove over to the studio operating completely on lack of sleep and half a piece of Vegemite toast (of which, I'm pretty sure the spread had expired last year). I'd scrambled my gym clothes together last minute and stacked on a jumper or two to brave the morning chill. When I knocked on the door, my teeth were chattering. My body was not ready at all to be worked out.
Before walking in, I was completely filled with beginner's trepidation, I imagined the hell I was about to go through. I imagined Renée screaming into a microphone: "Five more! C'mon!". I imagined throwing up my Vegemite toast after 200 rounds of burpees (is that Pilates? I wouldn't've known). Dumbbells would rain from the Pilate House ceiling. Sirens would wail. Equipment would break. You could say I expected the worst from a casual pilates session, but, as a first-timer, the intention was to be realistic.
Renée, who, by the way, did not carry a microphone with her, welcomed me inside and brought me into the first room where a SkillMill eagerly awaited my presence. Renée's Pilates House is one of the only boutique Pilates studios in WA that has a SkillMill —cardio lovers: get ready to fan. The SkillMill is slightly different than the classic treadmill, and moves instead based on the pressure you yourself put on it. You control the speed, the machine just gives the option of resistance. The SkillMill is perfect for a hardcore warm-up, changing anyone from cold and half-asleep to alert and sweating.
Renée's character is exactly what you'd want from a trainer. During my first-ever Pilates session, she was
easy-going, informative, patient, and she carefully explained every different exercise that we went through. Renée was even able to carefully break it to me that I was not supposed to bend my neck back like an elongating turtle when stretching on the ladder barrel machine. Oops.
Like many chronic introverts, I'd developed quite poor posture over the years, particularly from lugging around a ten-brick bag of books for most of my high school and university life. Renée quickly identified the weak areas of my back and worked to show me the different exercises aimed at keeping the area strong and levelled. Her wall-stretching mirrors across the Pilates room were a certain help for checking my own form along the way. I never realised how important it was to correctly shape my body when exercising.
A lot of what Pilates House is focussed on is treating the client as an individual, helping to tailor personalised health, fitness and wellbeing recommendations. The exercises are to improve your body from the inside-out, ensuring minimal risk to any fragile areas like your knees and lower-back. Through a number of exercises during our private pilates session, Renée was able to identify both the strong and weak parts of my body, and, from there, work to improve them. Did you know one leg can be stronger than the other? Apparently so. My left leg is the starring champ compared to my jelly-like leg that couldn't, without maximum assistance, lift me up off of the floor alone.
For someone who is still at the beginning of their fitness journey, I can definitely harp on about the anxiety that comes with the territory. Trying new things will always be a way to keep yourself refreshed and on-track for ongoing fitness and wellbeing, but it can also come with its downfalls. My first Pilates session at Renée's Pilates House, however, perfectly exemplified a new thing worth trying!