London Pilates Studio empowers Strictly Charity contestant after major back surgery

Friday, November 27, 2015

After last year’s success of Chiswick’s own Strictly Charity, The Park Club is again hosting the event, in aid of the Children’s Air Ambulance. 

The contestants all have their own personal stories behind the challenge including Ann Forshaw, who is a London Pilates Studio client. A childhood accident resulted in major spinal surgery in later life.

Until recently the nearest Ann had been to a dance class was the odd visit to a jazz workout at Pineapple Studios in her twenties and a bit of ballroom dancing when she was twelve. Now she is partnering the professional dancer Paul Vaskelis, two-times champion of Lithuania.

“I’ve found that it’s best to do Pilates a couple of hours before my dance rehearsals with Paul, who somehow has to fit me in to his busy schedule of competitions, teaching and training. We dance for two hours at a time and have built up to 4 times a week. I have hired a glamorous dress for the final from the Strictly costume department and my next challenge is to be able to dance in it.”

Video: Ann Forsahw and Paulius Vaskelis rehearsing for Strictly Charity

Ann’s back injury originated when on holiday as a child, she dived into a pool that turned out not to have a deep end. “Of course my head hit the bottom. I was badly bruised but otherwise recovered well.”

However, 20 years later the consequences came home to roost. Out of the blue she experienced numbness down one side and lost the use of her left arm and hand. The x-rays revealed that sections C67-C71 of her spine had sustained some form of historic trauma and looked as though they belonged to someone 20 years older.

“I had stiff hip joints and my thoracic spinal area was very inflexible. I also had a trapped nerve in my neck causing problems. My daughter was just 9 months old at the time and I was unable to lift her.”

Ann’s physiotherapist advised taking up Pilates for core strength and her friend insisted that it had to be Stott Pilates as ‘it is the best’. Ann lives in Shepherd’s Bush and Googled ‘Stott Pilates in West London’ and found Stott Instructor Vanessa Pearce in Chiswick. “It was meant to be. I explained my injuries and surgeries and asked her to generally wake my body up!”

Ann put Vanessa in contact with her physio, Gino Di Matteo in Teddington, to discuss what was needed and agree a plan. She now has Vanessa as her personal Pilates trainer.

“One-to-one workouts work better for me and I try to manage three a week. They're more expensive than the classes but health wise I couldn’t afford not to afford it. I’m really enjoying the sessions. Vanessa has the knack of making you work hard but in a really nice way.”

Ann’s nerves are starting to kick in at the thought of trying to impress the judges, including David Tennant and Wayne Sleep. “I’m not a performer and don’t usually like the limelight so I’m out of my comfort zone."

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