Introduction by The Forest Editor Aiden:
"When we spontaneously took over an arch to open a record shop back in 2017 (Arch 432 now Ramble Cafe), we were given a warm welcome by local Pilates teacher Rachel Stephenson who ran The Space East Yoga and Pilates Studio down at Arch 439. As we evolved into a bar, kitchen and community station under the umbrella Tracks at Arch 437, we were now neighbours and found a kindred spirit in Rachel who was on the same page as us in wanting to bring locals together through community building initiatives down the Avenue Road Arches.
She was about to open her second space The Reformery next door to us at Arch 436 when the pandemic struck so delayed her new Pilates studio launch. Navigating through the tough trading climate of the lockdown landscape hit hard and resulted in the heartbreaking decision to close her community hub The Space East. However, fast-forward to 2022 and The Reformery has formed a new community catering for all whether you're a beginner wanting to join an introductory class, an expert wanting one-to-one sessions or a new mum seeking post natal pilates rehab so come join The Reformery Pilates posse!
Here's Rachel's personal journey that takes us from rearranging furniture for home classes to launching her Pilates Studio The Reformery."
Pilates has changed my life and in over 12 years of teaching I've had first hand experience of seeing its benefits in so many of my clients.
I am still, to this day, amazed at how it constantly challenges you mentally and physically and I just love how darn good it makes you feel!
I moved to Forest Gate nine years ago and decided I wanted to teach Pilates in my local area. Up until that point I had been tirelessly travelling in and around central London on a bike where I had been teaching Pilates in gyms, physio clinics and private 121s.
So I set out on foot in Forest Gate and dropped off flyers advertising my classes which I ran from my home. Five times a week I pushed my sofa and the dining room table into the kitchen and climbed back over them to teach my classes!
I met some amazing people and some now really good friends teaching these classes and quickly realised that Forest Gate was a very special place to live.
So after two years of rearranging my furniture I decided it was time to open a dedicated space. I met another local (Yoga) teacher Anna who was keen to be involved, the problem was finding a space that we could afford. We found an empty railway arch down a very dark and dingy alley and thought this was the perfect space! Thus The Space East Yoga and Pilates Studio was born.
When we opened the studio six years ago there was nothing down the arches, apart from the good old mechanics and Mickey at Mbox who had opened the week before. We tirelessly tried to make the area outside our arches ‘friendlier’ only for vandals to constantly sabotage our efforts. We were disheartened but we stuck it out and continued to run classes seven days a week from 7am to 9pm creating a welcoming wellness hub for the local community.
After running The Space East for five years I decided I wanted to have a space that focused on Pilates and Reformer Pilates in particular so in 2020 I took on a second Arch by myself at Arch 436.
Unfortunately the week I signed the contracts and got the keys we went into lockdown, arrrggghhh!!!
I'm not going to lie, lockdown was very hard, as it was for all small business and there were times when I wasn’t sure if I could continue. Unfortunately something had to give and the Space East closed. The Space East had become a fantastic community space offering classes for pregnancy, post natal, the elderly and people with learning disabilities and I felt huge sadness that this was all lost in an instant.
So I put all my energy into launching The Reformery when the government allowed us to open in July 2021.
I feel so grateful for the amazing team I now have working at the studio as well as the local community who have supported us over the years.
If you haven’t had a chance to check us out yet you should make the most of our new client offers. I would highly recommend the new client 1 month unlimited classes for £99 offer so that you can try all the different classes and teachers. The teachers all have different styles so there is something for everyone!
I myself have been teaching Pilates for over 12 years now but have recently taken time out to have my twins so you’ll more likely see me on the Forest Gate Mums WhatsApp than on the reformer!
Having said that I've been doing a lot of my own post natal Pilates rehab on the Reformer.
The benefits of reformer Pilates are many, it’s low impact and works the stabilising muscles of the spine and joints so it’s perfect for recovery or rehab.
At the same time the tiny, controlled movement are also deceivingly challenging and are a great workout for even the toughest athletes!
I can honestly say I would not have got through a twin pregnancy and the initial post natal period without having done reformer Pilates. Watch this space ladies I'll be running pre and post natal classes very soon!
To book a class check out www.thereformery.co.uk and for further updates follow @thereformery