Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Body Conditioning Reunion


I used to religiously go twice a week to Andreas Reyneke's Body Conditioning Studio in Notting Hill Gate in the Seventies. Dreas is the body conditioning teacher to the stars, and Bianca Jagger, who wore plastic thigh warmers, Rupert Everett, Rod and Alana Stewart were in my regular slot. My body had never looked so good, and no wonder as Dreas, an ex-Ballet Rambert dancer has taught Pilates for over three decades and is reputed to be one of the best in the world.

The last time I saw Dreas was over twenty years ago, when I told him I was leaving him for golf (I sobbed with emotion while doing an arabesque on one of his machines). So I was intrigued when Celia Birtwell, also an ex-pupil and incidentally the best textile designer on the globe ordered me to meet up in her shop, as she was treating Dreas and myself to a big reunion lunch.

I was relieved to see Dreas looked exactly the same and was also relieved when he said I hadn't changed a bit either. I gave him the third degree, interrogating him on what form of exercise I should do now, as I'm bored stiff with doing the gym. Dreas suggested I get his book Ultimate Pilates, and also his DVDs - available from the Dance Books site.

He recommended I should first look at the Dynamic 5th: Pilates + Preparation for Ballet Students with Dreas Reyneke and students from the Royal Ballet School DVD, which gives the dancer co-ordination, core control and stability from the feet in application and action; and demonstrated by dancers from the Royal Ballet School. As this DVD contains a 'wonderful' series of arm exercises that work the upper back and posture, and also the back of the arms, it is suitable for everyone.

The Advanced Pilates DVD features three dancers from the Royal Ballet: Tamara Rojo, Johannes Stepanek, and Edward Watson (who is the Royal Ballet's most pliable principle dancer), plus the English National Ballet's Désirée Ballantyne. It would be worth getting the DVD for them alone.

I shall give it all a a whirl. Mind you, once Dreas sent me to a beginner's ballet class which was so rigorous, it left me unable to move for a week afterwards!
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