Spotlight On… Jane Lefever
1. Describe your Pilates journey. Why; who; how?
I was introduced to Pilates by a mummy friend as something we could do with our small babies. It was a wonderful way to get back into exercise post-birth and a good way to meet other new mums near me and of course always an excuse to go for cake afterwards! I loved the strength Pilates gave me and when I went back to work after my first child it was an hour of precious me-time each week!
It was after I returned to work after my second child that I began to think about training as an Instructor. I wanted to do something I loved that I could fit around my children. I did my Level 3 Pilates training and, when the time was right, quit my marketing day job to focus on Pilates. I love having a job that helps other people feel and move better!
2. What’s the difference between the different Pilates styles and which do you teach?
There are lots of different Pilates styles – Joseph Pilates always tailored the exercises for the clients in front of him and he was inspired by lots of different sporting disciplines when he developed Pilates so there are influences from yoga, boxing, skiing, fencing, dance and many more! I am currently studying for the Body Control Level 3 conversion course which has a focus on alignment and movement at joint level. I love its precision and focus on the healthy spine – it’s about so much more than a flat stomach. The Body Control Pilates approach also breaks down the mat Pilates exercises so that they are more accessible to everyone. I like to teach a class that flows and offers something for everyone so I’ll always offer alternatives or different levels of an exercise.
3. What are your favourite props to use in class?
I love the foam roller! It’s great for giving feedback to clients on their alignment and spinal articulation. And it’s a fun way to challenge the core and greater use of the stabiliser muscles. It’s also brilliant for releasing tension from the muscles – it can really help sore glutes! I often recommend clients get one for use at home. I always use head cushions and blocks to bring clients into the best possible alignment for an exercise.
4. What’s your favourite Pilates exercise?
That’s a hard question – I’ve got lots of favourites! I love roll back and shoulder bridge as they both work the core muscles and encourage clients to really articulate through the spine. I also love back extension exercises, such as diamond press as I feel that so many of us need to work into the back extensors to offset sitting at our computers or looking at our phones for long periods of time. They really help create a beautiful, tall standing posture.
5. How often do you practise Pilates yourself?
I try and make sure I get to a class each week – it’s lovely to spend a whole hour practising Pilates. I also like the “little and often” approach so will try and do a short work out a few times a week too and, of course, I practise when I am planning my lessons!
6. Top tip for maximum core engagement?
My top tip is to think of the core like a dimmer switch – use just what you need for each exercise, so you turn it up when you need more and down when you don’t need as much. For example, you’ll use less during some warm-up exercises and more for more challenging exercises such as the double leg stretch. Don’t forget the core is more than just your abs – don’t brace the abdominals before you move, work with the breath and engage the core to give your body the support and stability needed for each exercise. I aim to train the core so that my clients can move better in their everyday lives and activities whether they are rehabilitating an injury or training for a sporting event.
7. What would your advice be to beginners?
I love introducing Pilates to new people! My advice would be to have a 1:2:1 intro session with an instructor, if you can, as they can ensure you really understand how to engage your core and take you through the Pilates fundamentals. It’s also a good opportunity to chat about how to modify some of the exercises if you need to – if you’ve got sore shoulders for example you can look at alternatives for any exercises that are done on hands and knees.
If you can’t do a 1:2:1 before you join a class just make sure your instructor knows that you are a beginner and don’t be nervous about coming along – everyone was a beginner once!
8. How do you relax at the end of the day?
During the week, I am often not back til later in the evenings as I teach or that’s when I fit in a class for me – then I tend to come in and have some downtime on the sofa, probably watching TV – maybe watching The Apprentice or catching up on the wonderful David Attenborough series. At the weekends I might do some Pilates or yoga but after that it will be “gin o’clock” in my house, either it will be a quiet evening at home with my husband or with good friends.
Jane Lefever teaches Mat Pilates (Open) & Mat Pilates (Open – beginner friendly) at Red Hot Yoga. Find her schedule for this week here.