Friday, 21 October 2011

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Natalie Allen

PILATES instructor Natalie Allen, 41, lives in Uplyme with her husband Neil and son Max. She grew up in London and moved to West Sussex in her twenties, but soon fell in love with the Lyme Regis and Uplyme area after visiting it on holidays and moved to the village three years ago. Originally trained in dance and drama, Natalie first tried pilates in 1986 and soon took a further interest in the positive changes it can bring to the body. She now teaches from her own equipped pilates studio in Uplyme.

HOW did you first get into pilates?
I tried pilates back in the 1986 whilst I was training in dance and drama at The Italia Conti School of performing arts. I went off to a studios to do some pilates training with Alan Herdman who was the first person to set up an equipped pilates studio in London, and it was my first experience of the pilates studio.

WHERE did you train to become a pilates instructor?
After working for a time as a dance teacher then working in the fitness industry I wanted to understand more about the body and movement and the positive changes pilates can bring, so I trained with Polestar Pilates, which is an international pilates teacher training company. The comprehensive education includes manual skills, advanced body awareness and the principles of motor learning. I taught pilates back in Sussex and when we moved to Uplyme I placed an advertisement in the village shop to see if anybody would be interested in taking a class. Three years later my classes have grown to six per week, and I am thrilled that I have managed to keep the interest of my very first participants.

HOW does pilates differ from other keep-fit activities?
Pilates is a very precise, intelligent exercise method where the message is “quality not quantity”. Most people are astonished by the gentleness of pilates. Keep-fit and aerobics classes tend to work more on a cardiovascular workout, but don’t tend to train balanced strength and flexibility. Sometimes they over-train some muscles and under-train others creating imbalances that can lead to injury.

TELL us about your own pilates classes...
Pilates is for everybody. I have worked with teenagers, people suffering from osteoporosis, sports enthusiasts, dancers and many people who have injuries or back problems. Many clients take part just to feel better about the way they look and move. I teach from my equipped studio in Uplyme on a one-to-one or one-to-two basis, and I design the session to suit the individual. Studio sessions are great for improving technique and easing movement discomfort. I recommend that people who are suffering from and/or recovering from an injury work one-to-one with me from my studio, obviously having consent from their doctor or physio. I teach all of my mat classes at the Woodmead Halls in Lyme Regis on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings and provide all equipment mats. I teach a variety of different level classes and I insist that participants start with the beginners sessions despite their fitness level, as this will introduce them to the pilates fundamental exercises.

WHAT other activities do you take part in to keep fit?
I love walking and taking in all the beautiful landscapes which surround us here. I use a cross trainer which helps to keep my cardio fitness (which i should do more often!). Of course I practice pilates which keeps my body feeling great.

WHAT are your other personal interests?
I love going to the cinema and theatre and socialising with family and friends. There is nothing better than a glass of wine, a great chat and giggle.

WHY did you move to Uplyme?
After spending a couple of holidays in Lyme we fell for its charm and beauty. We also have friends who grew up in Lyme and now live in Uplyme and we could see how they as a family have a lovely lifestyle. Our son loves sailing and the beach lifestyle, and we feel that there is a great community spirit in Lyme.

WHAT do you like about living in the area?
Uplyme has a great community spirit and I love the countryside and its closeness to Lyme Regis. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

WHICH three guests would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Comedy duo French and Saunders for a good laugh, and Gary Barlow for a sing song around the piano after dinner.

WHAT would you do if you won the Lottery?
Firstly I would treat my family and friends to the most amazing holiday. I would teach pilates asking people to donate to a charity of their choice rather than payment to me. I most certainly would not give up the teaching or studying. The luxury of a housekeeper also seems rather appealing!

For more details, email Natalie on


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