South London based Pilates teacher Sibylla Meienberg has been teaching for over a decade. We spoke to Sibylla about her love of the art, how the fitness industry has changed since she’s began teaching and what a first timer could expect from her classes.
What is it that drew you to train as a Pilates instructor?
To be honest, I had been working in the performing arts and was looking for a more rewarding job in between projects! As soon as I started training and later teaching, it definitely became much more than that and I felt the Pilates teaching, as well as what I had learnt through training my body, complimented my previous work as a performer in many unexpected ways.
How have you seen the fitness industry change over the time you have been teaching?
The industry has definitely gone through many changes in the past 12 years and some fitness fads have come and gone… I think it’s great to discover new ways of doing things and achieving better results based on research and to generally motivate people with a sedentary lifestyle to exercise more. That said, I do believe Pilates taught according to the original principles, by a fully trained instructor doesn’t need any major changes and has longevity as it stands.
What did you do before you became a Pilates instructor?
I studied English and history at university, then went to drama school and worked in acting and performing. Previously my background was in competitive figure skating so a bit of a mix!
How do you spend your time when you’re not teaching?
I’m still performing and if I’m not working on anything specific, I’m usually practicing various skills which includes my own Pilates!
You’re based mainly in South London, do you have any recommendations of places to go, things to do or classes to take?
I love South London with all its parks and green spaces! With regards to classes, I teach at reCentre in Balham, it’s a really lovely place to work, they offer a variety of classes with very good instructors and they have great therapists, too. More recently I’ve been teaching at a slightly smaller studio in West Norwood too; the Pilates Education as part of West Norwood Therapies. It has a lovely community feel to it and again the standard of teaching and the therapists are excellent.
Who are your own personal favourite instructors?
I have met quite a few fantastic teachers and therapists over the years. My own teacher of many years Alvin Quek has certainly shaped my teaching style immensely and I see him for lessons when I can or for any questions I may have where I feel I need help with my own injuries or those of a client. Mike Doxey is a myofascial therapist and movement coach I have regularly consulted and talked to with regards to movement and therapy in general, as well.
You teach mat based and reformer classes, what are your favourite and why?
I can’t really say! I love working on the reformer, it’s always been my favourite studio equipment because it’s accessible to all levels, but so versatile at the same time and a well-rounded class on it really leaves you feeling amazing. That said, whenever I do a mat class myself (which is strangely enough quite rare), especially if it’s a what we call a “classical” one, I really feel fantastic too having worked and stretched all through the body. I guess it depends a bit on time, I feel with the help of the equipment, the body releases and relaxes a bit quicker than on the mat because it supports you. Someone else may experience this differently though!
For anyone who has never done a reformer class before, what could they expect?
New clients usually think it’s really fun, as it feels pretty unusual! Possibly a bit odd to start with, for some clients it doesn’t feel like they’re doing too much initially or that a lot is happening to their bodies, especially when we start on the legs with what we call footwork or leg presses. Moving on to working the abdominals and shoulder girdle, it then is more obviously challenging. Everyone tends to be really surprised at the end of the lesson though as to how different they feel in their body, much more relaxed and warmed through, particularly through their back and legs and sometimes significantly through their shoulders too.
Find out more about Sibylla and where she teaches here.