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I’m a full-time potter – here’s why I love Pilates

Pottery and pilates

Pilates does more than just strengthen the body, it can also be hugely beneficial for combatting the stresses and strains of daily life. One recent example of this was the feedback we received from one of our regular class-goers who’s a full-time potter.


Read on to find out her story…


Pilates, posture and pottery


Nicola Martin is a potter specialising in unique stoneware pottery which she handcrafts in her South Downs studio. She credits Pilates with helping her maintain good posture.


“I do Pilates at least 3 times a week and I find it compliments my way of working by counteracting the movements I do, specifically on the wheel,” Nicola explained.


“Very often I am bent over the wheel throwing but I do not worry too much because the Pilates moves I am doing in Lizelle’s classes, especially on the reformer, seem to counteract that position.” 


Pottery requires extended hours of working with the arms in front of the body and requires very small and specific hand movements. The fine motor control required for these actions makes it important to have good strength and stability of the scapulae (shoulder blades). 


Pilates work focuses on strength, endurance and stamina of the smaller muscles around the spine but also very much around the shoulder joint and shoulder blades. This makes it perfectly suited for pottery but also any work requiring a similar bent forward position, including desk-based work too.


When it comes to professional potters and any jobs requiring hunching or leaning, strengthening the spinal muscles is crucial. Sometimes this bent posture can develop into a condition called Kyphosis and in many cases it’s irreversible.


According to Nicola, Pilates also helps to release aches and pains in her hands: “I have noticed I am getting repetitive strains in my thumbs but many Pilates moves demand the hands to be open and stretched,” she explained. 


“We are asked to weight bear the whole body onto the hands too, for instance in plank, and therefore we strengthen these muscles.”


Pilates is especially well-suited to strengthening the body gently and gradually, while also helping to reduce joint pain. The muscles around the shoulder joints and spine (Trapezius, Serratus anterior, Rhomboids, Infraspinatus) get stronger by loading the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints.


The muscles needed to maintain good strength are targeted by a range of Pilates moves, including four-point kneeling or using spring loaded straps in Pilates reformer classes. During classes, participants are encouraged to achieve ideal alignment in their bodies and maintain this position whilst increasing load, repetitions or speed. 


Finding time for Pilates practice


Nicola credits Pilates with helping to strengthen the muscles required for making pottery, enabling her to continue working with none of the strains and stresses that are common in her profession.


Having 2 or more sessions per week ensures not only the strength and conditioning of the muscles but also makes them more active for longer, thus keeping the shoulder blades, lower neck and shoulders in a good alignment to prevent postural pain and fatigue.


While it can be hard to find time to fit in sessions during the working week, it is an excellent way to refresh the body and the mind. With regular sessions, you can also ensure that any wear and tear your body gets as a result of your job is balanced out and reduced.


We are delighted that Nicola feels Pilates benefits her health and supports her body in her daily life. We love being able to make a difference in the lives of our London Road community and hear such positive feedback.


Pilates for Potters


To find out more about our Pilates classes and how Pilates could help you, head to our classes page or get in touch.


Read more about Nicola’s story and see her beautiful ceramics at or follow her on Instagram @nicola_martin_ceramics_