Sunday, 16 June 2013

Fern Britton – Lynne Robinson’s Everyday Pilates

Despite being the country’s foremost Pilates expert and “The High Priestess of Pilates” (according to Sophie Dahl), Lynne Robinson is no way c-list celeb enough to feature on this blog in her own right. The woman has never even appeared in a pantomime. Let alone released a perfume or been interviewed by Zig and Zag.

Luckily for her, she made a Pilates DVD with Fern Britton in 2003 and gets a grudging invitation to CLCW as Fern’s plus-one.

This DVD was produced long before Fern’s dramatic weight loss and controversial fibbing about her gastric band in 2008 so she appears on the DVD in her retro large and mumsy body wearing a selection of flattering chiffony tops. She’s a whole different woman these days.

Not that you'd want to do Pilates in that skirt

This DVD is subtitled Body Control 7 as there were six (count ‘em)  other Lynne Robinson Pilates workouts before this one. Lynne includes a quick “Back to Basics” instructional segment at the end for anyone who’s just joining at this late stage but really I probably should have started at the beginning if I wanted to properly appreciate the whole workout and character development. It’s like watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows without having seen any of the others and spending the whole film going “Who’s that?” “Why’s he got a scar on his head?” “Where’s that guy’s nose gone?”

My Dark Lord's got no nose.
How does he smell?
Better than you, you filthy mudblood!

Fern doesn't appear in the Back to Basics section. Lynne is joined by a lady called Lorna and a skeleton who doesn't merit their introduction despite putting in sterling work demonstrating where all the bones are and which bits of us are supposed to bend.

Just get a room, you two.

The three sections with Fern are called ‘Morning’, ‘Lunchtime’ and ‘Evening’ because the ladies don’t just want you to do this EVERY day, they want you to do this ALL day. They’re insatiable

Lynne introduces at the beginning by saying “I’m really excited” while sounding like the least excited person ever.

Calm yourself, Lynn.

There’s a lot of emphasis on clenching your pelvic floor muscles in this workout in a move which Lynne calls the “Zip and Hollow”.

“There’s no polite way to say this,” says Lynne. “They’re the muscles which goes front to back and form a sling underneath.”

I see what you mean about there being no polite way of saying it. Sling? You dirty bitch.

She advises women to imagine that they are stopping the flow of water when they clench. Although I am pretty sure she means piss rather than water because I was trying to imagine myself sticking my finger a dyke and it was getting me nowhere.

For the male viewer, she advises trying to lift your crown jewels. “Or family jewels” she adds helpfully for anyone who was baffled by the crown jewels  reference but instantly recognises that their ‘family jewels’ are their testicles.

My what? Ohhhhhhhhhhh.

The morning workout is “energising”, the midday one “reviving” and the evening workout “calming” which certainly all seem the right way round. You can’t say she doesn’t think these things through.

The reviving midday workout contains exercises that you can do using a chair or a wall. Lynne assures that the exercises are perfect for doing while you’re away from home – maybe at the office – and won’t be embarrassing in public.

And you know, in an ideal world, we probably would all start swinging our legs around in the office of an afternoon. But apparently I’m old-fashioned enough at work to worry about coming across as a bit of a weirdo.

Just a normal day in the office.

Best Bit
This  is the first Pilates DVD we’ve featured here and it was just lovely. Pilates was invented about a hundred years ago by Herr Pilates who nicked the bits he liked from yoga, tai chi, gymnastics and bodybuilding. Most of this DVD consists of doing really satisfyingly big stretches.

Worst Bit
During the credits at the end of the DVD, a telephone number is provided for anyone wanting more information about Pilates. We’re promised we can call “24 hours 7 days a week”. Excited beyond measure at the prospect of Lynne Robinson sitting by her phone day and night in order to share her Pilates wisdom, I ran to the phone whooping like a toddler who’s been freebasing smarties.  But time marches on, dear reader and we folk in harsh, brutal 2013 can no longer enjoy the rich pleasures that were open to us in 2003.

“Sorry. This service is no longer available”. That is all.

If only.

Difficulty Level
There was no difficulty either doing the exercises or following lovely Lynne’s instruction. The only thing that would have been tricky would have been if Lynne had popped up at the end and quizzed us on all the anatomical terminology she’d been casually dropping into the conversation throughout the workout. Half the Back to Basics segment was basically in Latin.

I don't know the name of any of these body parts.

Would I do this workout again?
It seems a bit unnecessary to use a DVD in order to know how to stretch properly. But it turns out that I’m pretty rubbish at it unless I’m being talked through it by a fitness instructor standing next to  a TV presenter. I will be doing this one at least one more time because I want Lynne to talk me through pretending to lean over an enormous inflatable ball in order to make my back feel all stretched and lovely. It was great. I may even take my gigantic invisible ball into the office with me.

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