Pilates is a great passion of mine because I know it works. Its one of the best forms of exercise for people who want a longer, leaner physique.

Pilates has been around for a hundred years and was originated by Joseph Pilates. Much of his Pilates in previous years was based on the rehabilitation of ill or inured people.

The tummy muscles

There are four layers of abdominal muscles, criss-crossing the body over the front, sides and back. This is a way of which we can bend and twist, but even more importantly, when developed and used correctly, they protect the spine and the internal muscles from strain and injury.

The top layer is the rectus abdominis, running vertically down the front of the body from the sternum to the pelvis. This is divided into the 4 sections and is the most muscle people tend to notice – the six packs!!!

The external Obliques run diagonally from just below the sternum and wrap around the waist. The internal Obliques are underneath them, and run diagonally from the lower ribs down to the pelvis.

The deepest layer is the Transversus abdominis (TVA). This runs horizontally around the waist to the back and down in front of the hips towards the pelvis. This is often forgotten muscle and strengthening it will not only create a strong, flat stomach, it will also give support and stability to the lower back.

I have selected specific exercises which are designed to help you achieve your toned stomach. As you do the exercises, you will become more aware of these layers of muscles and start to strengthen them. Remember, it’s really important that you ensure your body is in the correct alignment, and I would recommend you attend Pilate’s classes so an instructor can teach and ensure you are in the correct positions.


Next 6 week Pilates course – November 8th, 7.45pm, White Hall, Franis Baily School, Thatcham, Berkshire. Only limited to 10 spaces.

Shoulder Bridge
Lie in neutral supine position
Exhale, and lift the spine off the floor, keeping pelvis in neutral and taking hips towards the ceiling into the bridge position.
Shoulders, hips and knees are in alignment.
Exhale, and flex the hip, keeping the leg bent or extend the leg pointing the toe towards the ceiling.
Exhale, and lower the extended leg towards the floor.
Repeat 3 times on each leg, maintaining the shoulder bridge position.

One Hundred
Lie in neutral supine position
Raise one leg at a time to table top position or extend the legs up.
Exhale, and curl the back off the floor, chin towards the chest and ensure you are sliding you’re the lower ribs towards the pelvis.
Reach your arms forward and they are parallel to the floor. Ensure your shoulders are stabilised.
Hold this position with your legs extended to an angle that is challenging you.
Beat your arms up and down as if you were making small pats onto some water.
Inhale for 5 beats, exhale for 5 beats and repeat 10 times.

One Leg Circle

Lie in neutral supine positionTVA and Pelvic Floor engaged
Exhale and float one leg up into table top position or extended leg to the ceiling.
Inhale and circle the leg across the body anti clockwise.
Repeat 5 times and then change direction for 5 circles.
Your circles can be from a size of a grapefruit to a large stability ball.
Ensure your hips do not wobble and perform smooth circles.

Double Leg Stretch
Lie in neutral supine position
TVA and Pelvic Floor engaged
Exhale and float one leg at a time to table top position. The same as the 100 hundred exercise.
Exhale, and flex the trunk and pulling both legs into your chest. Ensure shoulders are stabilised and TVA engaged. Chin towards your chest.
Hold gently onto the outside of your chins.
Inhale to prepare, exhale and stretch both legs out in a diagonal direction, away from the body and at the same time, lift the arms until they are level with your ears.
Only allow your legs to go as low as neutral can be maintained.
Exhale and return to start position.
Repeat upto 5 times.

Oblique Twist

Lie in Supine Position.
TVA engaged, Shoulder stablised
Both legs at table top position.
Exhale and flex the trunk lifting your upper body up.
Inhale, exhale and extend one leg out and at the same time rotate your upper body towards the flexted knee.
Inhale and come back to the centre and switch legs.
Ensure this movement flows rotating your body to each side.
Repeat for as many times you can

Sarah Pennicott
Personal Trainer & Pilates Instructor
07823 444 853


October Newsletter 2011

I can’t believe we are in October already. Time is going quickly this year!

It’s been a busy month. I have launched the first 6 week beginner and improver class held every Tuesday evening. This is only for a maximum of 10 participants. It has been a great success of which I love teaching and the feedback has been wonderful. May it continue! I use a mixture of small Pilate’s balls and resistance bands.

Next course will be starting on November 8th Tuesdays at a later time of 7.45pm, held at the White Hall at Francis Bailey School in Thatcham. Cost is £36 (that’s £6 per class) limited to only 10 participants so book early to avoid disappointment.

More classes will be held within the Thatcham area possibly on Friday mornings, so please let me know if you would be interested in attending.

I also teach on Friday lunch times at Donnington Valley Spa, so if you are a member, come along to my class.

Get fit for Christmas – 6 week boot camp!!
I will be launching shortly a 6 week boot camp to get in shape ready for Christmas and the party season. There will be 3 x boot camps of which 2 will be held in the week day evening (lighting is provided) and 1 x boot camp held on Saturday morning.
Cost will be £90 for the 6 weeks. This includes nutritional advice/tips as well.

Boot Camps

Well done to one of my ladies who has been a regular at boot camps and has lost 2 dress sizes! This is fantastic as she really has put so much effort into each class.

New ladies have started coming along to my Saturday morning session at 9.30am. This takes place on Dunstan Green Park, Harts Hill Road, and Thatcham.

First class is FREE for new comers, thereafter, £20 x 4 sessions, £35 x 8 sessions.


Aqua is still going strong with a full class of 27 participants at Kennet last week which was great. I teach at Kennet Leisure centre in Thatcham and also covering maternity leave at Northcroft Leisure centre on Wednesday evenings.


I’m looking to start a Nutrition and Weight Management course for 8 weeks in the New Year. Details of the course can be found on my website.

Telephone: 07823 444 853

Pilates with Stretchband

Pilates with Stretchband

Adding a Stretchband into a Pilate’s floor workout can simulate resistance, adding a new dimension to the mat exercise.

The Stretchband enables you to develop abdominal strength, assists you in distributing the weight of your torso and limbs, and helps to sculpt shoulders and arms. This will improve your strength, posture, freedom of movement, physical realignment, flexibility, strength, vitality, endurance, core stability and wellbeing.

Pilates principles are very adaptable to different mediums, which is why many medical and fitness professionals recognise the benefits of incorporating it into people’s daily lives.

Pilates is beneficial when taught individually to a person. This is because all bodies are unique, with different strengths and weaknesses, and Pilates exercises can be modified for you to achieve the most positive muscle patterning. This allows you to gradually build up to achieving a secure execution of pure Pilates sequencing. This process is fundamental when beginning Pilates, to prevent the development of poor posture and movement habits.

Pilates is simply a sensible and correct method of physical realignment and strengthening – a fact well proven and documented through testimonials over the last 90 years. People will practise Pilates for lots of reasons such as general fitness, improved wellbeing, pain management, injury prevention, rehabilitation and post natal.

Incorporating a Stretchband into a Pilate’s workout creates a new dimension for you to enhance your experience with the method. As you practice Pilates into your life, you will discover a centeredness and greater ease of movement.

Pilates classes held in Thatcham, Berkshire. Please contact me for futher details.

Sarah Pennicott
Pilates Teacher

Pilates – why is it so good for us?

Pilates is a uniquely precise and intelligent approach to exercise and body-conditioning, which gives you a leaner, suppler, more toned body and a calmer, more relaxed mind. It seems like everyone is either doing Pilates, or interested in starting a Pilates exercise program. Indeed, one of the best things about the Pilates method is that it works so well for a wide range of people
It takes its name from Joseph Pilates, a German-born to Britain and then America, who devised it in the early part of the last century. He was living in England, working as a circus performer and boxer, when he was placed in forced internment in England at the outbreak of WWI. While in the internment camp, he began to develop the floor exercises that evolved into what we now know as the Pilates mat work.
As time went by, Joseph Pilates began to work with rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from diseases and injuries. Then after, among dancers, gymnasts and others who knew of it, Pilates has now been discovered by a wider public – from those who want a stronger back or flatter stomach to those with specific injuries or medical problems that Pilates can help; or else, simply those who want to get fit or de-stress.
Pilates is a gentle, non-aerobic exercise method, which lengthens and strengthens the muscles, and improves posture, without stressing the joints or the heart. Indeed, physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and doctors now recommend Pilates as one of the safest forms of exercise available.

Core strength is the foundation of Pilates exercise. The core muscles are the deep, internal muscles of the abdomen and back. When the core muscles are strong and doing their job, as they are trained to do in Pilates, they work in tandem with the more superficial muscles of the trunk to support the spine and movement.
As you develop your core strength you develop stability throughout your entire torso. This is one of the ways Pilates helps people overcome back pain. As the trunk is properly stabilized, pressure on the back is relieved and the body is able to move freely and efficiently
Wherever you learn Pilates, you should make sure that your teacher is properly qualified.

Pilates taught by someone without the right training can do you more harm than good. Yet, many exercise teachers in gyms and elsewhere now include Pilates exercises in their classes, despite themselves never having had any training at all.

Pilates classes in Thatcham, Berkshire. Tuesday evenings.

Sarah Pennicott
Personal Trainer & Pilates Teacher