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Beyond the Mat: Combining Wellness and Community with Pilates at SOAS.

By Sophia Wheway, LLB Law Pilates Society Co-President

SOAS Pilates Society, the first all-women wellness sports society, has just been formed. The society aims to be a safe, friendly and welcoming space for all women who are striving to be the best version of themselves.

Held twice a week, this series of low-intensity workouts designed for women is made to both strengthen your body and also increase your mental endurance. The impact that physical fitness has on mental health can often be overlooked and in these colder winter months, the thought of braving the elements to participate in a team sport or go for a run is far from appealing. 

With more and more studies citing exercise as a stress-relieving and mentally beneficial activity, pilate’s slow-paced 45-minute workout is perfect to calm your nerves. It refreshes your brain and body and allows you to switch off from the outside world. 

We felt a need to introduce a light-hearted wellness environment to SOAS and found a glaring gap amongst societies for a safe, relaxed, and of course active place for women to come together. Pilates is the solution! 

“While many people turn to lifting weights in the gym or braving the weather with a run in the park, we have created an alternative and inclusive environment.”

For years now, pilates has been seen as a fashionable ‘trend’ among young people, and since the pandemic social media has blown it up as ‘the exercise’. However, we don’t see it as a naff TikTok trend. Simone Biles admitted how strenuous it could be even compared to gymnastics and assured her colleagues it’s something that does a lot more than it appears to. Pilates has well-being at its core, channelling mental endurance through physical strength. Think about it as well-being, rejuvenation and self-care…with a workout mixed in!

Pilates is known for its emphasis on core strength, flexibility and body awareness. The practice combines controlled movements with intentional breathing which overall fosters a healthy mind and body connection. Don’t worry, our classes are focussed on beginners, those who have never done pilates before or have had few classes although there are always adaptations which can facilitate our more experienced individuals. We hold no expectations and welcome anyone who wants to try something new, make friends or just experience our women’s wellness environment. 

As students we wanted a hospitable environment to make friends, socialise and build a community together within SOAS. Our choice to make this a women’s only society ensures a calming sense of security, and creates a space to build friendships. At the moment the committee is just two of us (with a bunch of members exercising weekly, of course). We have ensured that everyone is welcome and that we keep a keen eye on maintaining a safe space. We run the social media pages, the contacts, classes and events personally, so you will always be speaking to us directly. The little details are important to us, and that’s why we have chosen to keep our committee so close-knit…don’t worry though, we’ll be expanding soon enough!
We all see the society as more than just weekly classes and we cannot wait to see many more faces as we grow.

SOAS Pilates Society was founded by Laaibah Chowdrey and Sophia Wheway. Find us on Instagram [@SOASPILATESSOC] and the SU Website.

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