Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last however many years, you’ll know how much Pilates has taken over the world of fitness. The perfect balance – quite literally – between body toning and exercise for the mind, it’s a real life-saver for so many, helping them de-stress on the daily, while improving balance, posture, strength and flexibility.

50-year-old Adrian Bell is owner and founder of Blagdon-based pilates studio, Precision Fitness, where keen stretchers can go for go for one-to-one tuition and small, relaxed classes. It’s also the only studio outside of London to offer ‘Bodhi’, a type of pilates that involves suspension ropes to improve posture, core strength and muscle tone.

We joined Adrian at his studios a few months back to give it a go and believe us when we say that it ain’t the kind of exercise that you breeze through – but that’s exactly why we loved it (and why our chum, who we tagged along, has been begging us to book up for another session ever since).

Being greeted by what looked like endless ropes was daunting, but in reality, the process itself is pretty simple. In a nutshell, Bodhi involves two independent ropes which, when installed, create four suspension points, allowing for endless opportunities to suspend the body from each point. In addition, each point choice adds strength, flexibility, balance and proprioceptive challenges, depending on how you decide to move your bod.

On this occasion, since it was our first go, Adrain went easy(ish) on us – starting with some arm moves, during which our feet remained on the floor and, while holding one rope in each hand, pushing ourselves forward with our arms stretched out in front of us. We also tried some simple squats, squeezing our core as the ropes were placed in the creases of our elbows – basically holding us up.

There were exercises for the hips and legs, too. One of which we really got the hang of – involving us lying on the floor, arms by our sides, with each of our ankles suspended from the floor. A lift of the bum here means you core is immediately engaged and we really felt the burn as we began to part our legs and bring them back together, part and close, part and close, and so on. Not the most elegant move, but boy do you feel it in your glutes and thighs.

Another sweaty one was a move that involved us pretty much swinging about – the ‘full body suspension’. Sounds easy, we know, but mastering it is quite tricky business – as we discovered. You place your feet in the loops, a few inches off the floor, and hold on (for dear life in our case) to the others with your hands. Once in position, you’re asked to move in a press-up motion – forcing you to hold up your own body weight as you gently lower yourself towards the ground.

After a few goes, we were wiped out – but it did feel super satisfying. Our arms, legs and stomach felt like they’d been through the mill – tighter, somehow, than they felt when we first walked in. We’d say it’s a good one for anyone who feels like they’re in need of some firming action – but also a damn good stretch. Our class took place in the morning and it was the perfect way to melt away tension and stiffness from our kip from the night before – not to mention a week spent hunched over a computer screen.

Try it for yourselves if you fancy challenging your muscles and unwinding in more ways than one. Adrian’s a fantastic teacher, armed with a soothing tone and tons of patience. A really friendly and experienced guide, who knows exactly what your bod, bones and muscles need after only a few minutes of working with you. You go at your own pace – whatever your body can take – but encouraged to push when it counts.

50 or over? Click here for more advice from Adrian about how you can benefit from a bit of Pilates power, or read on for some fun tips on trying out some at-home Bodhi…

See Adrian and friends in Bodhi action over on YouTube


Full body…

Leg pull front

In a press-up position, lift one leg off the floor by six inches. Rock the raised leg backwards and forwards through your supporting ankle/foot three times and change leg. Repeat for three sets on each side.

Upper body…

Side bend with rotation

Lie on your side with your legs straight, propping yourself up with one of your elbows. Rotate your upper body forward leading with your free arm keeping your pelvis facing forward. Repeat six times on each side.

Swan dive

Lie face down and position your hands just in front of your shoulders with your palms flat to the floor. Push down through your hands to lift your upper body away from the floor, trying not to compress your lower spine. Hold for a few seconds and return back to the starting position. Repeat six times.

Lower body…

Glute bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor. Push down into your feet and drive the hips up whilst keeping your back straight. Hold for a few seconds and return back to the starting position. Repeat 15 times.

Leg pull through to split squat

From a high kneel, bring one leg through into a split stance position with one leg in front of the other. Press your body into a standing position then bend both knees, returning back to a kneeling split stand. Repeat 10 times on each leg.