Thousands of sports fans will understand how much training and commitment there is to be at the leading edge of cycling, but do people realise that the same goes for motorbikes with engines as well as bicycles with pedals?
British Superbike racer Sam West, GB Track sprint cyclist Jessica Varnish and BMX World Champion Liam Phillips have to be at peak physical fitness to contend on their bikes. Based locally in Wilmslow, tucked in a quiet corner is the Wilmslow Pilates studio where some of the hard work goes on.
Julia Atherton, owner and lead instructor at the studio is experienced in working with athletes at the top of their game. “From professional golf, tennis and cricket to 2 wheel racing, Pilates as part of a training plan provides valuable strength, muscle co-ordination and balance. The feedback we get at the studio is that Pilates adds an extra dimension to training which the competitors believe gives them an extra edge”. Julia is a chartered physiotherapist and member of the Health Professions Council. After studying and qualifying in Pilates established her Wilmslow studio in 1999.
For Sam, racing his Superstock 1000 Kawasaki ZX10R and his electric motorbike in FIM electric world championships, it is vital that he is strong enough to get the bike around the demanding race circuits. It takes extraordinary balance and stamina to work against the G forces that take him up to 200mph in little more than the blink of an eye. Sam says “people don’t realise how physical the riding is; flicking the bike from side to side, controlling both the power and the braking takes enormous strength”.
Olympic track cyclists and BMX competitors need the fine-tuned balanced core work with Julia to support their spines through the strength and weight training they have to do in order to increase speed and power on the track. Jess calls Pilates "her favourite time of the week"
Victoria Pendleton, World and Olympic champion worked with Julia for the 2 years prior to London 2012. She said “Pilates became an integral part of my training week. It helped my body manage the heavy training program and to avoid injury in my build up to London 2012”
Photo by Mike Allen Jess Varnish Team Sky Cycling, Julia Atherton Physio&Pilates, Wilmslow and Sam West British Superbike Racing.