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Pilates Teacher in Horsham and his journey to teaching Pilates classes. Read Doug's story.

I did my first Yoga class in 1979 when I was 21 and I had just finished university. The teacher was 70 years old and told us she had been in a wheelchair and her activity was due to Yoga. She appeared admirable for her age. I remember one particular incident where we were face up on the floor and the fire alarm suddenly went off. There was reaction and panic, but she made it clear that the Yoga state of mind should prevent this as we should be calm as we proceed through a Yoga exercise. I got my first graduate job in IT working for an insurance company in London. IT was the sort of logical task job that suited me, but I wasn't really interested in business. I went down to Saint Martins Youth Centre by Charing Cross on a Thursday evening. There was a Yoga class that ran from six till eight in the evening. After the class I sat down at the vegetarian café in the centre, run by Howard who had long hair down his back and was producing tofu snacks and similar. The whole youth centre was full of alternative people and I loved it. One day I turned up for the Yoga class to find there was no teacher because the Inner London Education Authority had decided they didn't recognise his qualification and so he wouldn't get paid. I had been in the class for a year and just stepped forward to run the class, it wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I wasn’t worried about being paid and I ran it for a year. The original teacher had encouraged me to go down to the Sivananda Vedanda Yoga centre in West London. As I recall, they were full days, which would involve Yoga, meditation, vegetarian cookery, and of course meals to consume. I became a vegetarian, which lasted for about three years. The people in the insurance office were gobsmacked that suddenly I'd given meat up as I’d go to lunch with them and have none. After a year, the ILEA did get a new teacher and I went back to being pupil although this teacher did ask me to go out and cover some of his classes and I did actually get paid. I got a new IT job in Croydon and met Trish who was also a vegetarian at that point. We got married and my company was taken over by SunAlliance who moved us to Horsham. I do recall offering management at SunAlliance an opportunity for me to cover a Yoga class, but they were not interested in this and Yoga went out of my life for many years. In Horsham we had three children. I got interested in golf and coaching rugby where my son was playing (and has only just retired from it 30 years later). When I was 38, I developed this chronic back pain. The only time I was comfortable was in an orthopaedic chair at SunAlliance and I was only able to play golf on the Saturday by having a massage from Trish and some painkillers that would get me moving. I had some treatment that involved injections to stimulate growth of tissue around a part of the spine that had been damaged. Essentially I had one slightly longer leg misaligning the spine and no core to support it. Around that time Trish said to me that she was going to a Pilates class, I had never heard of it. I went along to my first class that was taught by Gail. I thought this was rather like the exercises I've been given as rehab, but it was a great extension of them and somebody else would instruct me. Yes, I was the only male, but who cares. Gail’s class seemed easy for me, but as I walked out I thought I'm walking tall, and my shoulders are back. I was told when I had the treatment that I would probably need to have it done redone every 10 years, I have never had to have it redone. I joined Pavilions where I discovered Angela's Pilates class at 8 o'clock on Thursday evenings. It was perfect, I never missed it. After I changed jobs I was occasionally able to attend Ingrid's Yoga class at 10 o'clock on Thursday morning. The first one I attended I told her that this was the first Yoga class I have done for 20 years. I got to 55 and around that time friends of mine who were management types told me that they would start to reduce to 4 days and then 3 days per week. This was not a possibility for me; IT people are either wanted full time or no time. I started to wonder what I would do. I had this breakthrough thought that I would combine the attitude of teaching Yoga for nothing in my early years with teaching Pilates, which had given me such benefit in keeping my back pain free. I told Angela I was going to become a Pilates Teacher in Horsham and and did my first class on the Thursday evening with her supervising. From here, at one stage I was teaching five Pilates classes a week, one of these being the Thursday class that Angela had moved off from. That class was then ended thanks to Covid. Four Pilates classes a week with extra classes on an ad hoc basis is just perfect for me. Lawrence Clark, who was a member at Slinfold, had covered my private class, I had thought it would be good to have my class covered by an older male like myself. Lawrence moved to Scotland last year and I wasn't expecting to hear from him again. He rang me in early November to say that he had been offered a six week cruise, teaching Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi and that he couldn't do it, would I be interested? Trish and I ended up having an unbelievable cruise around the Caribbean in the early part of this year. I definitely had people come along who thought it was worth having a teacher at their age. I could relate to the management of injuries in the older person rather than simply a young person trying to get you really fit. I had made it clear that I was a Pilates teacher only, but the cruise insisted Pilates and Yoga but to drop Tai Chi. On the first morning I taught Yoga, virtually 40 years after the previous one I had taught. A world record perhaps? Some of the class asked about the difference between Pilates and Yoga. I explained that whereas Pilates was exercise, Yoga was a component of an approach to life, which is what comes out in Ingrid’s class. Two people I remember in particular. An 88-year-old woman who at one stage had won the over 70s group in the London Marathon, and was managing her body as well as she could. I also had a 75-year-old man who demonstrated the Peacock Yoga pose. Never let age defeat you. I had a long conversation with Lawrence and his wife after we got home. I then exchanged emails with him and he was thinking of doing his next cruise in April. Then I had an email from his wife inviting me to his funeral. She said he had had a heart attack and died. Pilates and Yoga have been enormously important in my life. When I was diagnosed with the brain tumour I was in doubt what I would do after it, although before I had the steroid treatment I was very confused. Now I have had an opportunity to think it all through, am proud of what I have done and will restart as soon as I can.


Pilates Teacher in Horsham

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