A Congleton entrepreneur is celebrating her 10th year in business after an “extremely lucky” donation allowed her to stretch to new heights.
The team at Pure Balance Pilates, based at Congleton Garden Centre, marked its first decade with a party at DV8, but owner Lyn McLaren said: “We feel like we’ve got a whole year to celebrate.”
Ms McLaren, who first qualified as a Pilates teacher in 2003, explained that the practice, through slow, deliberate movements and breathing, connected the body and mind, which can impact both physical and emotional wellbeing.
She said: “I’d had lots of physical injuries from gruelling sessions in the gym and I’d suffered with periods of anxiety and depression. This sort of exercise was amazing. It was such a holistic approach to exercise and good health. It just clicked with everything. I believe that our minds and bodies are linked.” While living on the Isle of Man, Ms McLaren undertook training with Pilates “guru” Mo Sherring, who can trace her training lineage directly back to Joseph Pilates, inventor of the practice.
German-born Mr Pilates famously used his exercise methods to teach self-defence and wrestling to other German citizens after they were interned at Lancaster Castle during WWI by British authorities, boasting that his students would emerge stronger than when they were taken captive.
He later went on to rehabilitate veteran soldiers in Germany and invented exercise equipment, while being held as a prisoner of war on the Isle of Man, the same equipment still used in Pilates practice today.
The exercise equipment at Pure Balance Pilates has an interesting back-story of its own, after an unexpected phone call led to some “extreme luck” for Ms McLaren.
She explained: “In 2015, a local millionaire found me on Google and donated a gym’s worth of Pilates machinery, which was an amazing twist of fate.”
She continued: “Their PA called me and said they had a load of equipment they didn’t want any more. At first, I thought it was a scam, but I went to see it and it was about £20,000 worth of brand new machinery. I bought it all for £1,000. I was extremely lucky.”
The good fortune enabled Ms McLaren to move Pure Balance into a larger studio and start helping clients who weren’t able to get onto the floor to exercise. She explained that Pilates could benefit people from all walks of life.
She said: “We have people who come in with walking frames and can’t even mobilise to walk around very safely and we have middle-aged people who have emerging joint or postural pain after working in an office job for 30 years. There are other clients who are anxious about going to a gym or are overweight or might have health conditions. Most normal people have some form of osteo-arthritis.”
In the 10 years since Ms McLaren opened her first studio at Cuttleford Farm, Astbury, the business has grown from one teacher, to nine teachers, two physios and an osteopath. This year, the team plans to re-vamp its website and has plans to offer its own teacher training workshops.
The team also hopes to work more closely with the NHS to make Pilates therapy more accessible and affordable to those on lower incomes.