You may have seen this slim auburn-haired woman jogging quietly around the outskirts of Mangawhai with her two doggy friends but few would realise what it is she has to offer Mangawhai and the interesting and varied life that has brought her and her family to Bream Tail farm.
As a ballet dancer with a Russian teacher, Phillipa Hamblin-Wong soon became aware that the discipline required for dancing and the long hours of training required mental strength as well as physical and so, from the age of 15, she developed a fascination with what was known in the 60s as ‘controlology’, the forerunner to today’s Pilates.
Though she trained and later lectured in French and English Literature, her interest in Pilates remained and she later moved to the United States for instruction in the technique-focussed Classical Pilates and this is what she brings to her weekly classes in Mangawhai.
“Pilates is absolutely the basis of everything,” Phillipa says quite simply, explaining she often runs 15 to 20 kilometres and still enjoys Argentine Tango and horse riding.
“This is very much aligned to my training as a dancer,”says Phillipa “and the advanced training and study included physiology, anatomy and kinesiology which covers the full spectrum of mind and body health through the fluency of movement, posture and breathing which is so important to our normal everyday activities.”
Phillipa is holding regular classes from her home in the relaxed atmosphere of Bream Tail Farm from Friday to Sunday. Though her customers number opera singers to develop better breathing techniques and elite sportspeople recovering from injury, Phillipa insists Pilates is nothing remotely like a gym workout.
“A Pilates session is not a competition. It’s a commitment to an exercising regime of mind and body entirely within the parameters of one’s own ability.”
Pilates is a variation of the full range of your natural movements to improve posture, breathing and fluency of movement for all bodies, male or female, she explains. These change according to our time of life before and after sport, during and post-pregnancy and the onset of advancing age.
“It’s fun, it’s relaxing and it’s as good as life insurance,”she says.
By Rob Pooley