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Helen Rackowe Pilates

Helen Rackowe is a specialist STOTT PILATES instructor offering group matwork classes at selected venues in the Cheltenham area.

About Pilates

The principles behind the technique are firmly rooted in muscoskeletal and anatomical fact. Predominantly the technique targets the core muscles: the deep abdominals, pelvic floor and spine. By expanding your body awareness and focussing the mind you will learn how to breathe effectively and engage the correct muscles to bring about positive postural change. Regular practice will create a supportive core, tone, stretch and rehabilitate your body bringing you into perfect balance and alignment. The carefully designed sequences of movements aim towards creating a long, lean and strong physique and will leave you feeling calm, refreshed and energised.

Pain, Injury and Conditions

Trying to cope with pain on a daily basis or recovering from an injury or operation can be both frustrating and demoralising. You may find your body can no longer operate the way it used to and you feel trapped by its limitations.

“ If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young." Joseph Pilates

Pilates is effective in mobilising and strengthening the body to reduce tension, regain freedom of movement and limit discomfort. Our bodies tend to be shaped by our lifestyles and habitual actions. Pilates is superb for correcting postural imbalances that may have developed as a result of this. The system is widely endorsed by physiotherapists, GPs and Osteopaths for its benefits in easing lower back pain, strengthening the joints and stabilising the pelvis and shoulders.

General mat classes are great for those with a reasonable level of fitness and low-level physical difficulties. Those with with long term injury and severe difficulty are recommended to attend 1:1 sessions initially. A programme can then be tailored to meet your individual requirements and the instructor can focus solely on your progress.

Benefits at a Glance

  • Facilitates injury prevention and physical rehabilitation
  • Increases general strength, flexibility and spinal mobility
  • Builds better balance and coordination
  • Alleviates aches and pains, especially in the lower back, shoulders and neck.
  • Helps maintain and can improve bone density
  • Beneficial for Scoliosis, Osteoporosis, Arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis.

Fitness and Physique

Everybody wants to look their best and be as fit as possible. If you feel you lack fitness, desire more progress in your chosen sport or would like to improve your body shape then Pilates can really help you make change. When practised regularly Pilates will help you to target your areas of weakness, boost your stamina and lower your risk of injury.

In ten sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body.

Correction of your postural misalignments can result in a longer leaner body shape and greatly improved muscle tone. Abdominals are trained flat, arms and legs sculpted. There is a strong focus on overall muscular balance to give the appearance of strength without unattractive bulk.

Benefits at a Glance

  • Increased stamina and targeted strength
  • Greater lung efficiency
  • Balanced muscle tone without bulk
  • A flatter stomach and toned limbs
  • An elongated appearance
  • Greater flexibility for ease of movement and grace


Modern day life can often be overwhelming. I hope my sessions will provide clients with time and space to get away from it all, relax, listen to and learn about their bodies. Pilates is a holistic form of exercise which teaches you how to better connect your mind and body, it enhances your postural awareness, encourages breathing techniques which ease away stresses and strains and channels your energy positively.

“Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit." Joseph Pilates

As you become focussed in class, you're able to make more profound physical changes. The controlled nature of the exercises can help you to explore fully your true flexibility and strengths without injury. The flowing sequences, without necessity for endless repetition, will leave you feeling both calm and invigorated not hot and exhausted.

Benefits at a Glance

  • Promotes a feeling of vitality and well-being
  • Relieves stress and tension
  • Improves posture and physical self confidence
  • Integrates mind, body and spirit
  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Expands body awareness

Pre- Natal Pilates

Many women want to continue to exercise throughout their pregnancy to maintain their fitness levels, prepare for the birth and allow themselves a quick recovery. Practising pilates through your pregnancy has many benefits and is perfectly safe as long as the exercise is appropriate for each stage of pregnancy.

The specialised prenatal classes are kept smaller and are slower paced than in standard mat work to ensure they are are safe. The exercises are carefully modified to eradicate the need for back lying work, excessive strain on the joints and prolonged periods of stretching or standing. They also take into consideration pregnancy specific issues such as Pelvic Girdle Pain

*gWomen who exercise regularly during pregnancy maintain positive attitudes about themselves, their pregnancies and their upcoming labour and delivery” James F Clapp III MD (Exercising through your pregnancy)

The prenatal classes focus on the use of efficient breathing techniques to aid the flow of oxygen from mother to baby and on strengthening the deep core muscles and the pelvic floor. Pilates will gently stretch and re-align you to release any pain or tension developed as a result of recent postural changes. The exercises work with equipment such as fitness balls, small hand weights and flex bands to bring about a balance of strength, relaxation, stability and flexibility.

As a mum of two myself, I understand how it feels to be pregnant and I hope to assist you in feeling proud of your pregnant body. I hope these classes will provide an opportunity for women to meet new friends and exercise in a welcoming non-intimidating atmosphere.

Benefits at a Glance

  • Improved core strength to support your spine and assist in carrying your baby
  • Maintain flexibility and muscle tone
  • Improved pelvic floor strength
  • Improved posture and reduction in back pain.
  • Improved circulation and blood flow
  • Enhanced mental well-being and self esteem.