Talking all things pilates with Angela Macdougall

05 October 2021

Posted under: Hobbies & interests

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Our Renaissance Sandbanks Road community sits practically on top of the gorgeous Poole Park, so our homeowners can enjoy picturesque views from their apartment windows and balconies. 

This year, the park held ‘Poole Park Celebration Day’ to celebrate the completion of the Poole Park Life project. They invited local community groups and businesses to come along and get the community involved with different activities and events on the day.

Our very own Renaissance Sales Advisor, Angela Macdougall, set up a pitch and offered free pilates sessions tailored to seniors. The sessions proved very popular and people were invited back to the Sandbanks Road community afterwards to take a look around.

We sat down with Angela to find out more about her experience with pilates, the Pilates in the Park event and the benefits of the exercise.


Hi Angela, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?

I started teaching fitness in 1994 and I qualified as an aerobics instructor. I was doing a couple of classes in a village hall. That was a part-time evening job and then I went full-time and did a few more qualifications to teach step and line dancing, circuits and bums and tums. This was all the thing of the 90’s. 

Then I went backpacking to New Zealand and Australia and realised how far ahead they were. They were really established with all the formatted classes, so I got really inspired. When I came back I decided to work full time in fitness and I set up my own gym with two colleagues. We were all qualified then as personal trainers but we struggled to make money so, long story short, I left there, sold my shares and then I went to teach on cruise ships.

The actual pilates came quite late on as I wasn’t qualified until 5 years ago. So, in my late 40’s somebody said to me, ‘if you want to carry on teaching, pilates is a great thing to do because it gives you longevity as a teacher when your own joints aren’t feeling up to high impact anymore and it's what everybody wants’. So I did the extra module and it's the only thing my people want now. 

I was doing 5 classes a week and then when I came here to work with Lifestory I cut it down to 1 evening class because I’m so busy with my day job. But it keeps my hand in and I just teach once a week a mixed abilities class for mixed age groups at a private hotel, the Chewton Glen. It’s a lovely, beautiful, private studio. I change my class every week. We work on a mixture of things depending on what they like really. It’s always a combination of strengthening for the weaker areas and flexibility, for stiffer less mobile areas to combine together around core strength and build from that. 

What was the pilates in the park event?

The idea was that you have a pitch but you have to give something back to the community. For our Renaissance pitch, we thought pilates classes would be good as I have experience and of course it's a good health link with what we do here with wellbeing as well. So on the day we advertised a couple of short taster sessions.

The first one we had about four or five people that came from the event and then the one we did around lunch time we had some of our own owners joining in and that was really well received actually, they’ve asked me since if we’ll do a regular one just for here and I think once we get a few more people I can do that if they want to. We could probably do it outside if it's warm enough or in the lounge. So yes it came about as joining in with the community. 

What feedback did you get from the event?

We got a lot of positive feedback. A lot of the people that came to the busier session did come up to me afterwards and say ‘can you take my number and call me if you’re ever teaching again, I really liked it’. 

You know people are always a bit daunted, ‘is it going to be too hard?’ ‘am I going to look silly?’ ‘can I do it?’ But when they’ve done it, they think ‘actually I feel better for doing that’ waking a few joints, feeling a bit warmer or a bit more mobile. Once you’ve had that little sense of achievement you do want to do more.

What are the benefits of pilates, especially in later life?

There are lots. Primarily you’re strengthening your core muscles which helps with your spinal stability. This helps to strengthen your bones and that’s really key for elderly people, particularly ladies after menopause who’ve lost a bit of oestrogen and their bones are a little weaker. If you do something that challenges against gravity, body weight exercise can help strengthen the skeleton.

It also helps with balance, so you’re less likely to fall and we know that if people fall they’re more likely to hurt themselves more seriously when they’re older. So it’s injury prevention too and it also helps muscle tone and posture and that can help comfort so you’re less likely to have aches and pains.  

It can help a little bit with body weight as well. If you are doing pilates as part of your weekly program; you do a walk, a swim and a pilates session together it helps enhance a healthy lifestyle. It addresses flexibility, stiffness, and has social benefits too. If you do it with a friend or you meet someone there, you motivate each other, it’s something you can talk about afterwards which might lead to a cup of coffee. 

Have you got any plans to do more future classes with homeowners?

I’ve been asked a couple of times by homeowners and it’s definitely something we can consider once we have more people in the community. The feedback overall has been really positive and lots of the owners are keen to keep fit and active so pilates would be great. 

What is the difference between yoga and pilates?

There are lots of moves used in both pilates and yoga but I would say the main difference is yoga tends to flow from one pose to another, whereas in pilates you might do one pose but then you do repetition of a movement within a pose. 

They both will address strength and flexibility, yoga obviously has ancient roots and is almost a whole lifestyle of its own, pilates is newer but probably a bit more core focused. Although yoga can be great for your core, pilates is centralised around core exercises and then we can add in limbs for an extra all over body workout.


If you’re looking for a new home as part of a thriving community with Poole Park on the doorstep to keep active and create new social connections then get in touch to find out more about the homes available at our Renaissance Sandbanks Road community. Call our friendly team on 01202 618 564 or e-mail [email protected].