While recovering from a car accident, Elaine Simpson discovered the benefits of Pilates . Now she has trained as a Pilates instructor herself and wants to help others, particularly breast cancer sufferers, to gain from the beneficial effects of the exercise regime. Here she talks to JOANNA GAVAGHAN.
NEXT week a well known Ribchester face will officially launch her own Pilates business, specialising in helping breast cancer sufferers to regain their health.
Elaine Simpson, who was raised in Ribchester and whose family, the Skilbecks, are also well known “Ribbers”, will be the only person within the Ribble Valley– and one of very few Pilates instructors in Lancashire – offering what is known as the Pink Ribbon Program.
She will launch Discover Pilates – specialising in a recovery programme developed by a breast cancer survivor for fellow survivors to help them regain mobility and improve their quality of life – at Chapels Spa, Brockhall Village, Old Langho.
This is something Elaine has been thinking about and working towards for quite some time after becoming “hooked on” Pilates more than four years ago following a minor car accident.
Elaine, also a keen runner who raised £2,600 for Mencap in last year’s London Marathon, says: “After the 2007 car accident I had no major problem at all apart from a constant aching in my shoulder and neck. I thought I would perhaps have to put up with this, but someone suggested Pilates.”
After taking up local classes, she says improvement was quite gradual.
“But all of a sudden I wasn’t having the problems when I was driving and I was doing a lot of driving in the car at that time; two to four hours each day working in Cumbria as a director of the Halifax (bank),” she said.
“I found I was much better. When I got home I knew what to do to work away some of the aches and niggles. But the added benefit was realising how strong my abdomen muscles were getting and I had a more toned appearance.”
In fact, Elaine was enjoying it so much, she decided she wanted to teach it and share it with others.
After qualifying as a Pilates instructor, she started to take ad hoc classes in Ribchester and Langho while still working full time.
The opportunity then arose for her to work part-time on a job share basis, which enabled her to train more for the London Marathon, at which time she says she also noticed how much Pilates had helped her to gain such a strong core.
Then, at the end of last year, Elaine got the chance to take voluntary redundancy after 22 years with the Halifax.
“I had enjoyed a fantastic career with them, but decided it was time to do something else,” says Elaine adding that she wanted to get a better work and life balance for her family and to see more of husband David and daughters Katie and Olivia.
“I also wanted to have my own business and do something fulfilling. Doing sales talk all day wasn’t fulfilling me. I wanted to do something I thought I would get a lot more satisfaction from.
“I had two ladies who worked for me last year who both suffered breast cancer and it was apparent that once they had undegone the treatment there was very little to support them to become fully mobile again.
“At that point, having got these ladies in my mind, I did lots and lots of research and talked to lots and lots of ladies who had gone through treatment and there just seemed to be a gap for follow up treatment.
“During my research I found out about the Pink Ribbon Program, but it wasn’t something I dived into doing, I did some more research and digging about, and as I was doing research I came across a lady who had trained with me in Pilates at the beginning.”
This woman was carrying out the Pink Ribbon Program in the Warrington area and Elaine says it was great to get some first hand feedback from her prior to signing up for the training course, normally taken by physios, Pilates instructors and breast cancer nurses .
She gained a 100% mark on the course.
“And I think the big thing I learned from it is what people go through.
It isn’t just about the breast surgery, it can be the reconstruction surgery having a huge impact on the body as well as the radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which have major impacts,” said Elaine.
“So here I am offering the Pink Ribbon Program and starting my own business, Discover Pilates.
“The whole idea of this is to give ladies or men the confidence to go into a mainstream activity following the program. It is vitally important for these people to get their fitness back.”
Ideally, Elaine wants to catch people from the post-op time, to work with them to get them as fit and mobile as possible prior to any chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
“I want to encourage people to do something sooner, rather than later,” she says.
The Pink Ribbon Program may be taken on a one-to-one basis or in groups.
Elaine will also be specialising in Pilates for beginners and mixed abilities; for golfers and pre and post natal mums and for back care.
She will also be continuing with her Friday morning group Pilates in Ribchester Sports and Social Club and has just started another on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm, also at the club.
All Elaine’s Pilates can be learnt through groups or on a one to one basis and she can be contacted on 07525432889.