Pilates In Brighton review | Pilates holidays, worldwide
The quick read: UK-based company Pilates in Brighton runs various Pilates holidays in various countries for anyone interested in exploring Pilates in interesting, calm environments. Locations vary from year to year but include India, Italy and a Pilates and tango holiday in Buenos Aires. The company is owned and run by Carolyn Bayley, a fully qualified Pilates teacher who, before moving to Brighton, worked with a number of amazing organisations in sports, dance and even the opera, and at her base in Brighton offers pilates classes with a range of teachers as well as Pilates teacher training. We tried her pilot holiday in Goa, which was based at the comfortable-yet-exotic Bougainvilla Patnem with a yogadome, private beach huts and mouth-watering healthy evening meals.
Who it’s best for: These Pilates holidays are aimed at both beginners and improvers in Pilates who would like a relaxing, easy-going holiday with a healthy, structured routine and a pool of potential friends.
What you can do: Our trip in Goa offered twice-daily Pilates classes with Carolyn herself, though she also uses other teachers. Her classes are put together with a flexible philosophy, providing what the majority of the class needs or wants rather than developing a particular technique. In our case, this was a combination of Pilates with yoga and also Garuda, which takes its name from a mythological bird and combines the spirituality of yoga, the core strength and focus of Pilates and the balletic approach of dance to give a cardiovascular workout that requires a high level of concentration. Between classes your time is your own – in Goa there were some lovely walks to other beaches and into local towns, and we could hire bicycles, mopeds or Harley Davidsons and book massages with a local ayurvedic practitioner.
Where you stay: Carolyn uses different venues each year, but on our trip we stayed at Bougainvilla Patnem, a simple but comfortable beachside place with 16 bungalow-style rooms (including one family cottage). Each room has its own raised balcony with chairs and a small table. Four bungalows face on to the beach and the others face into the yoga dome. White walled bedrooms have solid, well made dark wooden furniture, crisp white bedclothes and mosquito nets that surround double or twin beds. The lounge-cum-eating area has sofa-style group seats on one side covered in soft, warm-coloured cushions, and wicker single-person chairs around small tables on the other. Mustard coloured wall hangings reminiscent of shaolin monks’ vestments ripple in the occasional breeze and impart a little more shadow in the heat of the day. The wicker chairs extend onto the beach where there are a good number of sun loungers too. The whole public area, including the bar/reception, faces out to the white-gold beach as does most of the indoor seating, which allows everyone to watch the awesome ever-changing sunsets.
How was it for us: I have done Pilates before but gave up because the teachers weren’t doing anything for me and because I felt that the lessons were just going through the motions. In Goa, Carolyn’s teaching made sense to me, and the philosophy and actions came together nicely. I learnt a huge amount and felt tangible benefits within three days, then on the fourth, when I started the early morning session, I felt my vertebrae click nicely back into place, on their own and without the osteopathic assistance I’ve always needed in the past. Carolyn adapted her session plans to the needs of the people around her – I liked that each lesson was structured to three levels so that those who were less experienced, less strong or less flexible didn’t feel any pressure to do more than what worked for them. It felt like this kind of Pilates was a real meditation in motion, as a fellow guest pointed out. I particularly loved the venue too, though sadly Carolyn isn’t going to use it again for her holidays. Everyone on the course was interesting, motivated and fun to be with, though we didn’t all gel together in a big group in the way I’ve seen on other retreats.
What we took home: A resolution to have some one-on-one sessions with teacher Carolyn Bayley in Brighton, because I got so much out of her lessons; and a determination to revisit Goa to photograph the Diwali dancers.
Would we go back: I’ll definitely go back to Bougainvilla Patnem in Goa and I’d do Pilates classes with Carolyn in a heartbeat. I’m not sure I’d go on a Pilates in Brighton holiday again though, as though I enjoyed it, I prefer a quieter, more structured and intense retreat – if I go on holiday, I prefer to go alone.
People watch: Head Chef for the holiday Tanya Darling, a Brightonian who actually comes from another part of Goa, was a rare gem. It wasn’t just that she was up and working all hours to get us delicious early morning pre-Pilates snacks, nutritious breakfasts and stupendous suppers. Her quiet influence and organisational skills were apparent outside the kitchen too. Tanya helped translate local behaviour, smoothed out organisational glitches, supported Carolyn, looked after people who might otherwise have felt a little lost and was an all-round good egg.
Food watch: Goan food reflects its culture, a combination of the best from Portugal with the best of the great Indian continent. The excellent vegetarian and vegan menu created by resident chef Arjun was supplemented by Tanya with imaginative salads and healthy fusions of traditional and European healthy dishes. Pooja Nair, wife of the owner Dinesh, was responsible for our favourite meal, which included traditional chapatis and rotis and three types of curry.
What’s lowly: The price of being right on the beach is sand. Sand everywhere. In the room, the bed, the soap, in your clothes. In one’s fingernails all the time. In our camera (which cost £350 to get cleaned). We were not amused.
Insider tip: Pilates in Brighton is a fair sized organisation with a number of teachers. We can recommend Carolyn for beginners but, as I’ve not had experience of the other teachers, we suggest that you do a trial lesson before committing yourself to a holiday.
Price with a companion: From £650 to £745 (for a beach facing room) per person for everything except your lunches.
Price going solo: From £725 to £975 as above.
Value for Money: Very good value for money; good varied lessons, fantastic food and a warm exotic location. Though you have to pay for your lunches, we didn’t stint on the food (or snacks or drinks) and paid a total of £45 for the entire week.
Reviewed by Carole Edrich
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