Real Time Story, My Wellness & Pilates Journey

New Series

Welcome to the first blog post in my new series “Real Time Story, My Wellness & Pilates Journey”. In the time I have been teaching I have met some incredible people (mainly Ladies) who are discovering Pilates either for the first time or maybe they have had a break and wanting to get back into it. I have seen them grow in their progression of the activity, both mentally and physically and the strength and commitment they have endeavored since coming to my classes. I thought it would be lovely to share their story with you and their journey in this world of Wellness.

Aleta’s Story

How did you first come across Pilates? 

I’d seen lots of ads for Pilates classes and had ‘good intentions’ to start taking classes – or at a minimum follow YouTube videos.  I just didn’t take the time to fit Pilates into my schedule which included a 60-70 hour work week. 

How long have you been practicing Pilates?

I started with Rachel’s Pilates 3x a week ZOOM classes during the first COVID confinement in March of 2020 and I’ve been doing Pilates ever since. I wish I had started  sooner than I did,  Once I started I made the 3x a week workouts part of my weekly routine. I started to see benefits not long after I started. I was more relaxed, core strength started to develop, my posture improved, my muscles became leaner and more defined.

Have you noticed any benefits both mentally and/or physically since you started?

I love all the Pilates exercises, but my favorites are the upper body and core exercises, I feel strong , mentally and physically when I can support the weight of my body with my arms and shoulders. Core strength is so important for all aspects of our bodies, strong core, strong back .

Do you incorporate any other wellness practices into your routine?

I’ve been able to include hiking, long distance walking, climbing the stairs ! to the Bastille without any back pain.  

Any last comments you would like to Share?

Anyone at any age can do Pilates, there are versions of all the exercises for all levels of fitness.  I thought Pilates was sedentary until I did it !  I’m so glad I started, and more importantly I’ve stayed with it ! 

Healthy Snacks for a Sweet Tooth!

Coconut Yogurt with Granola, Goji Berries & Apricot

Do you crave something sweet every day? If your like me, then your answer is probably Yes!

I have a major sweet tooth and even though I have tried to fullfill the craving with a herbal sweet tea or having enough substantial food as my main meal to see my through to the next, I can’t help myself to a treat post lunch or dinner. However one thing i do not crave daily is unhealthy, processed sweet snacks like cakes, chocolate bars, donuts etc. Don’t get my wrong I LOVE cakes and ice cream for example but i am equally satisfied with a healthier version, normally homemade and prepared by myself.

Here is a few of my favorite’s that i have regularly, hopefully you can find some inspiration!

Coconut Yogurt with Granola, Goji Betters & Apricot

  • 60g of Abbot Kinney’s Natural Bio Organic Coconut Yogurt (Vegan) (The Coconut Collaborative is another fav when i can purchase it)
  • small handful of Granola (this one is Purely Elizabeth from the States) but i recommend making your own if you can (I do this often)
  • small handful of Goji Berries
  • 1 Apricot or any type of fruit (I also love berries)
  • Sprinkle of Milled Omega Seed Mix (Linseed, Goji Berries, Sunflower & Pumpkin seeds)
  • Drizzle of Honey (optional)
  • Use a small bowl for portion size
Strawberry & Banana Smoothie

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

  • 1/2 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 cup of Frozen Strawberries
  • Handful of Spinach (to get those greens in)
  • 1 scope of coconut protein powder
  • 1 Tsp of Naturya Organic Maca Powder
  • drizzle of Honey (optional)
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Topped with Coconut Flakes
  • Blend together with a Blender (I use the Nutri- bullet) and Voila!
Stuffed Medjool Dates

Stuffed Medjool Dates with Peanut Butter

Imagine a snickers bar but 100 Times better in my opinion!

  • 3 Medjool Dates sliced down the middle
  • 1/2 Tsp of Pip & Nut Peanut Butter (any nut butter of your choice will work) for each Date
  • Sprinkle of Salt
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • Freeze for at least 1 hour, remove to soften up & eat them cold! (you will thank me later!!)
Cacao & Hemp Seed Energy Balls

Cacao & Hemp Seed Energy Balls

  • 1 Cup of Oats (Quick Oats work best)
  • 10 Soaked Dates (to blend/mash together to make a paste)
  • 1 Tbsp Naturya Organic Cacao Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp of Naturya Maca Powder
  • 1/4 cup of Honey (sometimes not needed or only a drizzle will be enough if using more Dates)
  • 2 Tbsp of Hemp Seeds
  • Either Blend together using a food processer or just use your hands, spoon and a folk
  • Set in the fridge for at least an hour before eating

Let me know in the comments if you try any of my sweet snacks and please share your recommendations to give me some inspiration 🙂

Travelling during a Pandemic!

Flying high over the clouds!

The fear of travelling at the moment is still very much present amongst the majority of us as we are still in the middle of a pandemic which has taken over our lives for the past 18 months. Travel use to feel like freedom, an escape of reality to enjoy ourselves on holiday, explore new places & culture or to go an visit loved ones at the drop of a hat who happen to live in different countries around the world. Whilst we are technically allowed to travel again, there are still many rules circulating that you must abide by and they change depending on which country you are visiting, how long for, your reason for going, date of travel, the COVID status of the country and whether you have been vaccinated or not.

Many people have opted out of travelling internationally since the pandemic hit and i can completely understand why. It is daunting, confusing and let’s be honest a headache but it is not as bad as you may think. My life was consumed by mostly travelling for the past 5 years due to my job, desire to see the world and living in France when i am from England but as expected it has drastically reduced since 2020. However I have travelled a little recently so I’m sharing with you my experience and personal tips in the hope it shares a light on what to expect if your thinking about taking a trip.

Airport Essentials

Documents to Prepare

This is the most important task you need to prioritize, more so to give you peace of mind and not to be stressed at the Airport, Train or Bus station. If you go onto the local governments website of the country you are travelling to or your travel company’s website (airline, bus or train company) they should have it listed which documents you will need. The most common one for pretty much all countries that i am aware of is a Locator Form. This needs to be filled out before you arrive in your destination. Some airlines provide it to you, for example Brussel Airlines gave me one on the plane but i had already completed an electronic copy and saved as a PDF on my phone. Others will give you a paper copy at the airport and if that’s not the case you have to fill it out on your mobile device or print from the website to show a physical copy.

Next up you have your Vaccination Certificate or PCR Test if you are not vaccinated. ALL countries expect to have one of these documents (at least every country i have visited lately which is Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the UK). You can either show your digital copy using the dedicated COVID Certificate App on your phone but i would also advise to print off a physical copy as well. You never know if something happens to your phone like the battery dying for example and you must show it as proof before they allow you on the plane, bus or train (not in all cases but definitely if travelling internationally). If you are having a PCR test instead, it must be within 72 hours of travelling. I believe some countries also state within 48 or 24 hours of travelling but you would need to check the local rules of the destination. You may also be able to travel with an antigen test also known as a rapid test. When i travelled to the UK last month, i needed to have a pre-departure test as France was considered an “Amber” List country. Even though i was actually leaving from Geneva in Switzerland, it dependent where i was in the 10 days prior to my departure date which was France in my case. Most major airports will actually have testing services available now, in which case you can take your test on the same day as you fly and pay for fast results. I personally wouldn’t do that unless you are travelling from far away to get to the airport. it is more stress than it needs to be in my opinion.

Other documents may also include additional Pre-booked tests that is a mandatory rule for entering a country. In my case as France was still on the “Amber” List when i travelled there, i needed to have a Day 2 and 8 test booked and perform an isolation period. This rule was lifted 3 days after i entered the UK but unfortunately excluded anyone already in the country (typical). Obviously you can opt for a test to release you early from your isolation period or in some scenarios you may have to perform a hotel quarantine if coming from a red country, but all of this information is available on the local governments website. A Sworn Statement that you have no COVID symptoms maybe required (at least for France it is) and I always print all of my transport tickets off as well in advanced just so i have 2 copies of everything both on my phone and a physical copy. Keep everything together neatly in a folder so it makes it easy to find. As some countries are only allowing you to travel for specific reasons it might be worth also having a document which confirms where you are staying or in my case my resident card as i was asked to show this a couple of times. (If you don’t have one, some other form of confirmation like a student card or bill with your address will be accepted). One last comment here is to remember a surgical MASK! They will not accept material, patterned masks at the airport. On other forms of transport it is different but not in airports.

Arrive in PLENTY of time at the airport, bus or train stations because there is a queue to wait in as everyone has to show their documents even if you do not have luggage to check in. It has typically taken me around 30 minutes up to 1 hour to get through. But once you are, in most cases it is then normal procedure and only your passport & boarding pass is needed to be shown. The airports are pretty quiet when you get passed security, and actually more quieter than ever so i wouldn’t worry about that! I would recommend to pre-book all of your travel though before you leave if you need to take a bus from the airport because there is limited spaces and they are not allowing you to just change your mind on the day. For example when i use to catch the bus from Lyon airport to Grenoble, if arriving earlier or later than the bus booked, they would allow you to change at the time but it wasn’t my experience recently.

Healthy Lunch prepared

Meals & Snacks prepared

Now this is a personal choice, as some prefer to treat themselves as it is the start of their holiday. I on the other hand like to be prepare in case there is nothing open but fast food chains or only a sandwich from the vending machine which was the case back in January when i was returning from the UK to France. Normally i like to prepare something nourishing like a salad with protein and different veggies or a wrap or if it is the morning overnight oats, or buying a porridge bowl which just needs hot water adding to. I also pack several snacks to keep me going (because i am the snack queen) and that are easy to travel with. Some include health bars, homemade energy balls & cookies, crackers, chocolate, fruit and nuts. I always take a re-fillable water bottle because i drink so much of it and in most places now particularly in airports they have water dispensers to re-fill it up with filtered water!

snacks on the go!

Lastly just be cautious and aware of the situation and your surroundings. Use hand sanitizer (take some with you in your hand luggage under 100ml), do your research before you go and during just in case something has changed, be mindful of people’s personal space, wear your mask and try not to stress but enjoy the experience. Once you have done it, you will see how easy it is really.

Successful Shrewsbury In Person Pilates with Rachel Louise Event!

Group Photo at the Pilates with Rachel Louise Event

When I arrived back in England to spend 1 month here over the summer, I knew I wanted to organize an in-person Pilates Event for all of my lovely followers who have supported me since I have qualified and attended my free online Facebook Group classes I ran during lockdown. Some of these ladies I already knew, however some are completely new faces and I really wanted an opportunity to meet them in person and give a little something back.

I held the event in Shrewsbury, UK (my home town) on Monday evening where the ladies took part in a 45 minute Full Body Pilates Mat class followed by drinks & refreshments and a good old chit chatter! I provided wine (of course we are Brits at the end of the day), soft drinks & a raspberry cake whilst one of my ladies generously baked the most delicious shortbread biscuits and peanut butter cookies! I could have eaten them all to myself! The event was a pay as you wish donation basis as it was a one off event and everyone was so kind and generous.

Swimming Variation Exercise

As I only qualified at the beginning of 2020 as soon as the pandemic hit it wasn’t ideal for starting my Pilates business, as the main reason I decided to train to become a Pilates Instructor was for the one to one interaction to teach. However it was also a blessing as I was able to move the classes online and reach a wider audience and attract those interested from England and other countries. Even though I am not based in the UK full time, I fully intend to organize these in-person events as often as I can when visiting.

Highlights from the Pilates with Rachel Louise Event

For my Grenoble, France followers, watch out for an announcement coming next week for an up and coming in-person event that will take place in September for anyone wishing to try out my classes!

You can also head to the Pilates with Rachel Louise Facebook Group here to become a member for free where you can access any existing live recordings and I will be posting new shorter videos every couple of weeks!

Benefits of Solo Travelling

Nice, France

Given the opportunity have you ever been on a solo trip? If not, would you ever consider it?

Travelling alone to a place you have never been to before can definitely be scary and some people simply would not enjoy it however if you do have the confidence to go, it can also be the most incredible experience. Over the years, I have been on a few solo trips, this is not taking into account my works trips. I have actually gone out of my way to book a solo holiday just for me. The places i’ve visited include Australia (Melbourne, Brisbane, Whitsundays, Arlie Beach, Bryon Bay), London, New York, Paris, Montpellier, South of France (Cannes, Nice + Monaco), Hong Kong and Boston.

Do i get nervous about going alone? Absolutely and truth be told i sometimes don’t enjoy the first day or 2 as i feel completely out of my comfort zone but once i start finding my bearings that fear goes away. Obviously you have to be very aware of the situation around you and often more so, than when your travelling with someone because unfortunately you can be seen as a target in some places but i think that’s just about having common sense and not letting it impact your time there.

Paris, France

Embarking on a solo trip can be so rewarding. For me personally, it has given me the chance to be completely myself and help me understand what it is i enjoy doing without the added pressure of compromising or fitting in with someone else’s idea of fun whilst away, When i have been unsure on which direction i want to take my life in & need the space to let my hair down and really think about what is important to me, a solo trip has given me that clarity. I have been very lucky to also meet some amazing people during my trips.

One story that will always stay with me is the time I was in Bryon Bay. I met a Brazilian girl who was also staying in my hostel and instantly we became friends. Over the course of a week we did everything together from exploring the beaches to partying in the local bars with a group of Italian guys we met and even going as far as her translating the words of a tattoo i wanted in Spanish because she was a translator and holding my hand as i got it tattooed on my foot! She was a couple of years older than me but our birthdays were 1 day apart. I met her in 2011 and we are still friends on Facebook today and speak every so often. I was hoping to meet up with her when i was visiting San Paulo on a works trip 2 years ago but our schedules didn’t match up. I still hope one day, we get to meet again but it’s also so nice seeing how her life has turned out on Facebook 10 years later.

Bryon Bay, Australia

Let’s not forget my trip to New York where i was super lucky in meeting the most friendly host. The girl was a little older than me but once again we clicked as friends from the first night and over the course of the week, she basically became my personal NYC tour guide and took me to places only locals would know! That’s one piece of advice i would give to anyone travelling solo. Befriend a local as they take you to all of the best places!

I remember on the weekend, she asked me if i would like to go to Coney Island with her. I didn’t think when visiting NYC that i would end up at a beach but i was super grateful because it was a heatwave in New York whilst i was there so being close to the sea was so appreciated. We spent the day sunbathing, walking around the amusement park, visiting local shops and ended up in Brooklyn for dinner. When she invited me to gatecrash her work meetings dinner, i felt a little bad but she reassured me that it was fine. We turned up at this cute Thai restaurant and sat in the courtyard at the back having the place to ourselves. Her work appointment turned up with his partner and the 4 of us enjoyed dinner together. Turned out he was Madonna’s makeup artist and had worked with lots of famous people in his career, as had his partner. The night was filled with stories about Madonna, Lada Gaga and Beyoncé! Oh to live the high life! We kept in touch for a little while after my trip to NYC but unfortunately it drifted out. Regardless i am super grateful for my experience there and the people i met!

Coney Island, USA

Solo travelling comes with its “Ups” and “Downs”, but i do feel it is such a fulfilling, rewarding experience that helps shape you as an individual and allows you to be comfortable in any scenario. I have more places on my bucket list for solo trips but would welcome anyone’s opinion and experience in the comments below to where you have travelled to and whether it would be suitable for a solo person!

Common Assumptions about Pilates

Pilates practice in the French Alpes

If i was to ask you the question “What do you think Pilates is?”, what would you’re answer be? Maybe you think it is another form of yoga, maybe you think it is only for the older generation or that it is an easy type of exercise, I’ve heard it all before and to be honest I had the same assumptions before actually trying it and understanding the benefits of Pilates.

These are some of the responses that people often assume Pilates is…………

  • Pilates is just like yoga
  • Pilates is for Hippies
  • Pilates is just a stretching class
  • You cannot burn calories or fat during Pilates
  • Pilates is not a proper workout
  • Pilates is only for women
  • Pilates is only for the older generation
  • Pilates is EASY (heard this one more times than i can count)
  • Pilates is simple
  • Pilates only works your core muscles
  • You cannot achieve your fitness and weight goals doing Pilates
  • You need special equipment to use to do Pilates
  • I have NEVER heard of Pilates before
  • Pilates is expensive

Whilst i can understand why you may think Pilates is all of these things, it is simple not true.

Pilates practice in the French Alpes

Pilates was originally created and designed for Dancers and Performers to help improve their flexibility and bad posture, strengthen their Joints, stretch their muscles and support their spine. Whilst these key benefits are still the focus today, the method has been adapted and modified over the years from the traditional Pilates Flow.

We now have many variations of the exercises we can perform and small equipment that can be incorporated, which means Pilates is benefical for all different levels from Beginners to Intermediate and Advanced. It can be taught in a 1-1 environment where the class can be specifically tailored to an individuals goals or within a group class typically on a Mat, Reformer, Cadillac or Tower machine.

With each flow, the method will also help to lengthen, correct and control the movements whilst improving your body awareness, stamina and breathing. You can build definition in your muscles and tone & sculpt your body shape (not only your core muscles but also your booty, shoulders and arms). Pilates classes can become creative, fun, energetic and often you’ll find you will even break out a sweat trying to concentrate and master the moves.

Grounded and Peaceful

You’ll learn how to control your breathing by practicing breathing techniques to perform in alignment with the movement and given the ability to relax your mind and focus on the present moment.

Pilates is most definitely suitable for women, men and even children (if adapted). It is scientifically known that men are typically not as flexible as women so they will see a real benefit of improving their flexibility and correcting their posture if performing Pilates regularly. So next time you attend a class or by doing a home online video, ask your partner, brother, dad or friend to join in and give it a go!

Speaking of classes, not all of them are expensive. Yes you will definitely be paying alot if you head to one of the boujee studios and typically a Reformer or Tower machine class is more expensive than a mat class but you will also find classes with reasonable prices, just make sure the teacher is qualified and knows what they are talking about. There is also soooo many online classes you can try for free and subscriptions services. As a Pilates Instructor myself, you can join in with any of my free Facebook group classes here and as i believe it is very important to keep learning, practicing & developing myself, i also love The Pilates Class that you can sign up to a monthly membership and practice from the comfort of your own home.

Have i changed your mind about Pilates yet? I hope so, and that i have given you an insight to what Pilates actually is and how it can support you in your fitness journey.

How to feel comfortable with being Alone

Happy & Thieving

Being alone can be daunting, and everyone can feel it at some point regardless of whether you are single or in a relationship. The anxious feeling of doing something alone like travelling, eating in a restaurant, going to a gym class or just spending time alone at home can sometimes become overwhelming. There’s no shame in admitting you like being around people and hate time alone, but on the other hand spending time within your own thoughts or trying to navigate through life’s activities can be equally rewarding and you may find yourself appreciating these moments more.

For me personally, I have had to become comfortable with being alone. I decided to leave my parents home at 18 years old and move to the other side of the world to experience this whole “travelling” and living in Australia scenario and truth be told it was the best thing i ever did. I literally turned up with a suitcase and barely knew anyone there and just had to figure it out as i went along. What was suppose to be a 1 year trip turned into 3.5 years and i grew as a person tremendously meeting the most incredible people along the way. That’s not to say i didn’t have moments where i felt like leaving because I did. I found myself in quite a toxic relationship (twice), living on peanuts because i was running out of money, rushed to hospital and needing emergency surgery for an appendicitis and generally felt quite lost at times. However with all of the “Downs” I experienced in those 3 years, I had far more “Ups” that out weighed them and i will never regret for one second moving there for a short period of time.

Australia Zoo – Steve Irwin

After returning from Australia and spending the next 4 years back in England, when my long term relationship ended I decided to embark on my next adventure which threw me in at the deep end and once again i had to become comfortable with being alone. After accepting a Global position at work, I was asked to relocate to Grenoble in France. I had never visited before and to be honest had no idea where it was, I had to google it!!! But i was also ready for the challenge (or so i thought) and decided it would be an amazing experience even if i didn’t stay long. Not only was it my first time living in a country where i didn’t speak the language, i was single and spending the majority of my time travelling to other countries for work trips. This made it incredibly difficult to feel “settled” there and make long standing friendships or relationships.

From the outside it may appear like i am/was living the high life with a view of the French Alps on my doorstep and spending my weeks in countries like Singapore, Dubai and Paris but it has also been a very lonely time. You do have to constantly put yourself out there and take whatever opportunities come your way even if you don’t want to. That coffee date someone asks you on, joining the running club or a gym class (even if you don’t fully understand what they are saying), going to expat meet ups where you might not have much in common with the people also attending is all part of growing as a person, living somewhere different and becoming comfortable doing them by yourself. Even if you live in the same country where your friends and family live, you may find yourself in these exact situations as it is just a part of life.

Bastille Grenoble

Here’s my top tips for learning to be comfortable alone

  • When going for a walk, listen to a podcast or your favorite music playlist. It helps to bridge that silence and boast your mood. You can also call a friend or family member if that helps you to feel less alone.
  • Journal. I started in January 2021 and it has been the best thing to write down any thoughts (positive and negative) you are feeling and a great outlet to express yourself without feeling like you are burdening anyone. You can also use the notes app in your phone if your not a paper & pen type of person and note anything that comes to mind.
  • Take yourself on a date! I literally do this all the time. Who needs a partner to go to a restaurant with or out for a drink or to the cinema? You certainly don’t! Treat yourself to something you know you love doing and take pride in sitting there alone and that you have the confidence to do it. If you are feeling uncomfortable take a book to read or watch an episode of something on your phone or ipad. You can also order your food to be delivered at home. Set up your table as if you were going to a restaurant, pour yourself a nice glass of wine (or non alcoholic drink) and enjoy the moment.
  • Start with sitting in a coffee shop alone, or taking yourself out for lunch. It’s less daunting than going out in the evening. I would recommend choosing a coffee shop that is either hidden away so less crowded and you can sit in the corner if you prefer or choose one that is busier and you can people watch from as then you don’t feel like your standing out sitting alone as there is probably many more people doing the exact same.
  • Join a local club/activity. Find out what you enjoy doing, then research what clubs are around and just go for the first time even if it is out of your comfort zone. Remember everyone else is going there because they love that activity too, which means you already have something in common. Take the plunge and start a conversation with a person there. You never know if you continue to go regularly, these like minded people may become your friends. I started my Pilates Classes in 2020 because i wanted to meet people who also shared the passion with me and now we’re at a point of going out for drinks & the occasional dinner afterwards!
  • Travelling alone, stay in an Air B n B if that’s an option rather than a hotel. If your travelling for business then that is different as most people are also travelling alone however if your travelling for personal reasons and feel uneasy with staying in a hotel where you will find yourself dining alone at eating times and don’t fancy ordering room service, then I recommend staying in an Air B n B. It gives you the flexibility to be a little more free without feeling uncomfortable. Equally though staying in a hotel may give you the chance to interact with others and you never know Prince Charming might appear! (I was proposed to in a hotel gym in Morocco but that is a story for another time!)
  • Plan things in advance to look forward to. Even if doing them alone like going for a facial, getting your hair done or visiting a new city, having things planned in the diary helps you to feel like your not missing out.

I think there’s something special about spending time alone, you really understand who you are and what types of things make you happy and fulfilled. Space gives clarity and helps you learn and grow as an individual.

What’s the benefit of using small equipment in your Pilates routine?

Use of the Resistance Band

Home workouts used to be so underrated where people thought the only way to achieve results was by going to the gym or sporting activities. However since being confined to our homes last year, many of us had plenty of time to include a home workout into our day and not only for the physical benefits but also our mentality. Mat Pilates is a type of exercise where most of the time you only need an exercise mat or soft surface to perform the movements on. Using your own bodyweight can be enough for some people, however to add variety into your workout you can also incorporate the use of small equipment. Different equipment will provide many benefits and most of the time, they are inexpensive, easily versatile and ideal to travel around with.

What are some examples of the small equipment to consider?

Resistance Bands

Either open ended or looped resistance bands are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment I highly recommend you to purchase. They can be used for many different styles of exercises both in Strength, Mobility, Stretching, Body Awareness and adding Assistance when needed. Using the bands will help work the Upper Body (Chest Press, Shoulder Raise, Dumbwaiter, Thoracic Spine Rotation), Core (supported Roll Up, Teaser) and Lower Body (Shoulder Bridge, One Leg Circle, Deadlifts, Side Kick). The difference between the two is the open ended resistance band allows for more flexibility especially when stretching where’s the looped resistance band is designed to increase the intensity of the exercise. They come in multiple colors, thickness and strength to suit all levels and abilities. Most sporting shops will sell them but you can easily purchase from Amazon too.

If your interested in trying out any examples of exercises used with the Resistance Band, Click on the links below:

Mobilizing with a Resistance Band

Pilates with a Resistance Band

Looped Resistance Band

Pilates Ball

Pilates Ball

The ball is mainly used for Awareness, Concentration and Understanding of your performance of the exercises rather can adding resistance. If you are someone who struggles with your balance and stability during Pilates, I would recommend adding in a small soft ball as it can provide that assistance and relieve additional tension you are experiencing. Often a Pilates Ball is used as a support method when teaching for Orthopedics Conditions and Pre & Post pregnancy. It is important that there is enough air in the ball before starting to use it within your exercises to add that cushion rather than deflating. It can be easily purchased from sporting shops, Amazon and even supermarkets these days. The types of exercises you can use the Pilates Ball with include Mobility Squats, One Leg Stretch, kneeled Swimming, Scissors, Stretching of the spine, Side Bend and so on.

If your interested in trying out any examples of exercises used with the Pilates Ball, click on the links below:

Swimming variation with a small Pilates Ball

Scissors variation with a small Pilates Ball

Side Series using a small Pilates Ball

Magic Circle

Magic Circle

I absolutely LOVE the Magic Circle or also known as the Pilates Ring (I think my name is better!) because it challenges you physically from strength to flexibility and increases the intensity of the exercises. You can place the ring between your inner thighs and perform different variations of the Shoulder Bridge whilst squeezing the ring or place it on your abdominals and challenge your stability whilst performing a Push Up. Alternatively you can use the ring in assisting your back extension whilst performing the Swan Dive, or stretch out your Hamstrings using the ring to pull your leg closer towards you. Other exercise examples include the 100, Hip Opener, Side Leg Adduction, Double Leg Stretch and so on. I purchased mine from Amazon for around 30 Euros but you can get cheaper or more expensive ones. A little more difficult to travel around with but for home workouts, the magic circle is fab!

If your interested in trying out any examples of exercises used with the Magic Circle, head to the links below:

5 Ways to use the Magic Circle

Friday motivation with the Magic Circle

Push Up Challenge with a Magic Circle

Small Weights

Small Weights

Dumbbell weights are used in all types of exercises not just Pilates however once again they are very benefical to introduce more strengthening exercises for your Upper Body, Mobility Exercises and to challenge your Balance & Stability. Specifically for Pilates, I can also recommend The Weighted Ball which can be a good alternative to Dumbbells incase you are worried about dropping them. Both styles can be purchased from sporting shops, maybe some gyms, Amazon, Wiggle, and some supermarkets. They come in all various weights ranging from 0.5KG and up. I would recommend for beginners to use 0.5kg to 1.5kg and intermediates/advanced to use 1kg to 3kg. Of course you can increase them if you feel comfortable to do so and as your overall strength improves. When using small weights you can perform exercises such as Tricep Kickbacks, Lateral Arm Openers, Squats, Star Arms, Spine Twist, Roll Up, 100, Deltoid squeeze and so on.

If your interested in trying out any examples of exercises used with Small Weights, Click on the links below:

Pilates using Small Weights

Side Series with Weights

Roll Down with Small Weights

You can also sub any of the equipment above for objects you have around your home like the use of the towel instead of a resistance band or water bottles/food cans instead of dumbbells or even a cushion instead of a magic circle. You will be surprised what you have lying at home that will also work a treat!

If you want to follow along to full length Pilates videos you can always become a member of the Pilates with Rachel louise facebook group where there are so many live videos i have done over the past 18 months that you can take full advantage of for FREE! Just head to the link below to join and once accepted, search for any topic to see the results! Enjoy 🙂

Pilates with Rachel Louise Facebook Group

Favorite Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Chocolate porridge with goji berries, kiwi & honey

Society always promotes that breakfast is the most important meal of your day for many health benefits such as kick starting your metabolism, re-hydrating your body after sleeping, and managing your appetite. But that doesn’t mean you should eat breakfast if you’re someone who simply doesn’t feel hungry in the morning!

For me personally, breakfast is the one meal that i always need. I even dream of what I am going to have for breakfast the night before! That is why i ensure i allow myself time in the mornings to include a healthy, nourishing meal to start my day and to give me the energy i need to tackle life’s challenges ahead.

But am I more of a sweet or savory type of gal? Well to be honest I am a mix of both depending on my taste buds for that day. When i go out for brunch or to a cafe for breakfast I tend to order a savory plate as i feel it is more fulfilling and worth the money! When i am working in the office for example I always opt for a sweet breakfast which typically tends to be overnight oats with fruit, nuts & seeds or coconut yogurt with granola. However if I am at home, I can get super creative with my choices, so below I am sharing my favorite with you if you want any inspiration!

Oat & Banana Pancakes with coconut yogurt & berries

Oat & Banana Pancakes

Making pancakes is super easy and the fact you can make them vegan or not is completely down to your preference. I tend to switch between the two options by just making some small modifications to the recipe. I normally go for sweet pancakes and add toppings such as coconut yogurt, berries, nuts, peanut butter, maple syrup/honey or sometimes i will chose a savory option and cook them with spinach in the base and top with tomatoes and avocado drizzled with balsamic glaze, seriously delicious!

Ingredients for Oat & Banana Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 egg or switch for a chia egg/flax egg to be vegan
  • 1/2 cup of milk of choice (mine is either Almond or Oat milk)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (stirred through after blending)
  • Optional: add in a scope of protein powder. I normally like to add in a chocolate vegan one from Pulses
  • Blend together in a food processer ( I use my nutri bullet)
  • Toppings: coconut yogurt, any type of berries or fruit of choice, chopped nuts, maple syrup/honey, nut butter, sugar, lemon etc
Warm Chia pudding with berries compote, banana & granola

Warm Chia Pudding

This breakfast is so versatile because you can eat it in Winter by warming on a stove or in Summer by preparing the night before. You are getting healthy fats from the chia seeds and nuts, calcium for strong bones from the milk and energy from the carbs within the fruits you top with, oats & granola.

Ingredients for Warm Chia Pudding with berries compote, banana & Granola

  • 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
  • 1 cup of Milk of choice (mine is either Almond, Oat milk or coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed seeds grain
  • warm on a stove or mix together & leave in the fridge overnight
  • Toppings: chopped banana, berry compote (warmed on the stove is better), granola, nuts, coconut flakes, oats, honey etc
Smashed Peas on Rye Bread with tomatoes & cucumber

Smashed Peas on Rye Bread

I can only handle so many days of a sweet breakfast before i crave a savory one and this is a delicious dish to try as an alternative to smashed avocado on toast. You basically follow the same steps but mash up cooked peas instead. To make it creamer, I also add in tahini, lemon juice and maybe a dash of milk. Pair this with cut up veggies & toast and viola!

Ingredients for Smashed Peas on Rye Bread with tomatoes & cucumber

  • 1/2 cup of cooked peas (bring to a boil on the stove)
  • 1 tbsp Tahini
  • 1/2 squeeze Lemon Juice
  • splash of Milk (mine is normally oat milk)
  • Mix together to become a paste
  • 1 slice of Rye Bread (or any bread of choice)
  • mixed seeds
  • 4 tomatoes
  • slices of cucumber
Veggie Chickpea Omelet with Avocado

Veggie Chickpea Omelet with Avocado

Chickpea flour is a great alternative to eggs if you are vegan and something i discover a couple years ago when i was mainly eating a plant based diet. Now i mix in fish, eggs and dairy but still do not eat meat. However i actually love the texture of this style of omlete so it has become a staple in my breakfast choices. Obviously you can add in any of your favorite ingredients inside to cook a hearty and healthy meal.

Ingredients for Veggie Chickpea Omelet with Avocado

  • 1/2 cup of chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • dash of Milk or choice (mine is normally soya or oat milk)
  • seasonings (chili flakes, pepper, salt)
  • whisk together in a bowl & cook on the stove in a frying pan with olive oil or coconut oil
  • Inside Toppings: roasted veggies (broccoli, courgette, mushrooms, spinach, cauliflower, peppers etc), avocado, balsamic glaze or sweet chili sauce

Let me know your favorites for me to try and i hope I gave you some ideas to try yourself at home. bon appétit!

3 Cities I Recommend to Visit

Whitsundays, Queensland Australia

Travelling has been a big part of my life for the past 12 years since i embarked on my biggest adventure at just 18 years old when i moved to the other side of the world to live out my Home and Away/Neighbours obsession with living in Australia. It was one of the hardest yet rewarding experiences as I was recovering from the most difficult time in my life with my eating disorder and felt like I needed a fresh start to figure out who i wanted to be without people knowing my story. I had the opportunity to reinvent myself!

Since returning from Australia at the age of 21, I had the travelling bug installed in me. However I am not your typical backpacker and would prefer shorter trips with having a base to return to when i need a clean shower and to fall back into my daily routine. I was lucky enough to score a job that has seen me travel all over the world in the past 4.5 years from Bangkok, Singapore, Philippines (Manila & Cavite), Casa Blanca (Morocco), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Munich, Paris, Budapest, Amsterdam, Rhode Island (USA), Barcelona, Mumbai the list goes on…….. Each time i would visit a destination, I would either add extra days onto my work’s trip or I would combine it with a personal trip and wonder to a different City. Of course there are also many countries in between which I have personally visited for a vacation.

With the amazing places I have had the chance to visit, some of the cities I absolutely fell in love with for so many reasons and I would love to share 3 of my favorite with you.

Manhattan, New York, USA

New York

My absolute favorite city in the world is New York. This was a solo trip for me which i piggy backed onto a work’s trip I had in Rhode Island the week before as they are both on the East Coast. It had been a dream of mine for so long to visit NYC and when i had the chance to in Summer 2019, I jumped at it. New York is definitely a city i think you can visit alone. There is so much to do that you can’t feel lonely and I also think there is so many people in the same position. I rented a room on Air B n B sharing the apartment with the girl who lived there. This could have been a very hit and miss experience and i was lucky that we got along really well and we ended up doing a few things together like going out to Bars, to Coney Island, Dinner with Madonna’s makeup artist (that was a coincidence as it was her work meeting as she worked in PR) and Pilates Classes in Soho.

I did meet a guy during one of our outings in the Upper East Side where I stayed and had a magical first date (imagine something out of a movie) with dinner and a romantic walk through Central Park. Even though we were not meant to be we remained Facebook friends afterwards! I spent 9 days there in total, as a friend of mine from the East Coast came down for the weekend and we managed to catch up and enjoy Pride weekend which was amazing.

Here’s a list of my “must do’s and see’s” in New York

  • Walk or Run through Central Park. I ran every day at 7am in the morning and it was so peaceful yet there was also many other people doing the same so you don’t feel alone/scared.
  • Visit Brooklyn by walking across the bridge and spend time actually in Brooklyn as it has amazing quirky, cool and chic cafes, bars, restaurants with incredible views of Manhattan
  • Times Square is a must but it does become very crowed so pick your moment right
  • Broadway Show! I went to see “Pretty Women” and it was powerful. You can pick up tickets for a reasonable price when your there but if there is a show you definitely want to see I would say book in advance.
  • Visit Soho, this area appears to be the “up and coming” for mid 20s/early 30s age group. Lots of chic bars and restaurants. Soho was thieving during Pride weekend
  • Walk the High Line over to the Chelsea Market which has many delicious food stands and artsy shops and a very cool vibe.
  • If your a sushi fan book a table at Tao! I went to the one in the Upper East Side but i believe they also have one in downtown. The food and cocktails are just yummy!
  • Of course visit the main attractions like Top of the Rock, Empire State Building (this one has an epic roof top bar!), One World Observatory, 911 museum, ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, the list can go on!
  • Bryant Park for live music and just a generally cool vibe, best place for people watching especially in summer!

If you want any more personal recommendations especially if travelling to NYC solo, feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to give you more.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Singapore

I visited Singapore twice within 2 months of each other for a work’s trip but i added extra days onto my trip to soak in the city. As soon as I arrived, it had that “wow” factor. I was completely in awe of the bright lights, tall and quirky buildings and just overall magnetic impression it was giving me. I stayed close to the centre, with only a 25 minute walk to the Marina Bay Sands passing multiple restaurants, bars with live music, touristic and local shops beside the water. The national language spoken there is English so I did not have any problems with communicating or getting a taxi by simply using “GRAB” which is the equivalent to Uber. Let’s be honest though Singapore is known for being expensive and I can confirm it is definitely pricy particularly if you stay in the touristic area all the time. (I paid 30 dollars for a glass of wine at the roof top bar of the Marina Bay Sands) but if you venture to the more local spots, you will experience Singapore a lot more cheaply and actually get a real sense of the Singaporean lifestyle.

Here’s a list of my “must do’s and see’s” in Singapore

  • Dinner or Drinks with a view of the Marina Bay Sands or just the City’s highline as Singapore is an incredible, vibrant city with so many colorful lights and buildings
  • Watch the Spectra “Light and Water” show down by the water which happens daily. It is a 15 minute show telling a story. Combining dancing fountain jets, colorful visual projections, advanced lasers, and lava and mist effects all led by an orchestral soundtrack. It’s a free event and perfect for families, couples or even on your own.
  • Gardens by the Bay is an absolute must do in Singapore. It’s a nature park in the city centre and consists of 3 different Gardens all with their own unique views and character. They are perfectly designed to capture the beauty surrounding nature and the outdoors. You also have the Conservatories “Flower Dome” and “Cloud Forest” which are breathtaking! You do have to pay to go into each of these but there is also 1 ticket combining them all which is what i purchased. It will take you a full afternoon or morning to go around them as there is so much to see and look at!
  • Don’t forget to add on a night view of the Supertrees light show which is outstanding. Trick is to lie down on the ground so you can see the show above you in the sky!
  • Old Town Singapore is definitely work a visit to bring you back to reality and experience how the Singaporeans live not just the Tourists or Expacts. The local food is delicious and incredibly cheap and better quality in my opinion compared to the touristic areas. You can explore the local boutiques and pick up a bargain of beautifully crafted items. I got a pair of sandals which i wore non stop until they finally died on me!

Definitely a city to add to your list if visiting South East Asia.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona

Right on our door step if you live in Europe and a city that is so easy to travel to being a stop over for many long haul flights also. I have been fortunate enough to visit a couple of times both for personal vacations and work. The first time I ever visited was with my sister back in 2017. We booked a hostel (which is rare for me but it was actually really good!) and stayed for 4 days. My first impressions of Barcelona were the cool and unique buildings. The city is made up of many unusual arty designs which makes it extra special. Funnily enough, at first we only met people who didn’t speak English (only Spanish) and I was slightly worried as we couldn’t speak Spanish back to them but over the course of our trip, when getting into the more touristic places, English was spoken widely. I must admit, during both times i have visited the food wasn’t outstanding in any restaurants or cafes (just okay) but the prices were especially if you like Paella and Sangria!

Here’s a list of my “must do’s and see’s” in Barcelona:

  • Walk along, take an ice-cream or have dinner/drinks by the beach which is easily accessible from the city centre. It’s a sandy beach and personally i found very clean. I’m sure if gets busy during the peak of summer (as I visited in February and April) but the views of the Mediterranean sea are stunning.
  • Take a “Hop on Hop off” bus ride around the city to simply take in the beautiful views of the iconic and differently shaped buildings and stop off to visit the cities landmark attractions. You can purchase a 1 or 2 day bus ride for around 40 Euros and use it as much as you want! Top places i recommend include Casa Batlló, Sagrada Família, Casa Milà, Park Güell and Plaça de Catalunya!
  • Hit the shops in Las Ramblas! They have amazing shopping especially if your a Zara fan!
  • Wonder around the hidden and narrow streets in the city centre as you will come across incredible local boutiques, cafes and bars. My sister and I found this hidden gem and went there every day for Sangria at a price of no more than 10 euros for a jug of it! I am so sorry i cannot remember the name but i am sure there is many examples when you visit that you can find!
  • If your a hot yoga fan, hit up the “Hot Yoga Barcelona” studio. They teach classes in both English and Spanish at a reasonable price of 25 Euros drop in class. This is pretty normal and I have certainly spent more in other cities. The studio is beautiful and my instructor reminded me of George Clooney!

Let me know if you want any more recommendations of any of my favorite cities or if you have any places you think are worth visiting comment below!

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