Gaby Noble, Founder of award-winning Exhale Pilates London, talks about why staying true to Classical Pilates is game-changing.

Known as one of the most-loved Pilates brands, her boutique studios are globally recognised for teaching the true works of Joseph Pilates and her training will soon be making its way to Dubai.

From understanding how far the brand has come, Emirates Woman spoke to Gaby on her journey and what her plans are for expansion.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

My morning routine constantly varies due to the nature of my work and whether I am in London or Dubai. The four-hour time difference is indeed a luxury for me when I’m in the UAE, as I’m able to move at a slower pace before London wakes up. I usually wake up around 6am, drink a glass of warm water with lemon to hydrate me after my sleep. While having water I begin journaling and have found this activity to be an absolute game-changer. It actively quiets my mind as I set out with my intentions for the day and write all the thoughts that I have before engaging with anyone else. I enjoy a cup of coffee with oat milk while going through my emails and messages. If my classes don’t begin early, I either workout in the gym, go to the Pilates studio or for a long walk. At some point during the day, I do the classical mat workout as it keeps my mind, body and soul in alignment.

What led you to launch Exhale Pilates and how has it grown to date?

Exhale Pilates all started by chance. After being in the wellness and hospitality industry for over 20 years and having been involved in the creation and launch of several global brands, I always knew I wanted to create my own. As an adrenaline junkie, I’ve always enjoyed that after effect after a spin or HIIT class, however, my body never did as I would always get injured and so I tried Pilates.

What is at the core of Exhale Pilates and the DNA of the brand?

Exhale Pilates as a brand is authentic, empowering and it holds integrity, similar to the Pilates we teach. We have built a reputation around trust and high standards so that new and existing clients always have confidence in the quality of service and teaching they receive at Exhale. By combining a very friendly, warm and welcoming studio along with the most incredible team, we always ensure it remains a welcoming place. Many have conveyed how our studio environment has such infectious energy and it feels like a home away from home.

Gaby Noble

Why did you choose to focus on classical Pilates?

Initially, it healed me, and I experienced first-hand how powerful the system was. In my very early years as a teacher, I had a client who came to me after having a severe stroke. Unable to walk or feel one side of her entire body she had had nine months of physio without any positive change evident. After working with me three times per week for two months using the classical system as our guide she was able to walk 10 steps unaided and got sensation down her arm again. Why would I want to deviate from a system that works and is so powerful to transform people’s lives like that? I also like to know the source, the original, the undiluted, unfiltered version of everything, of course, I put my spin on it sometimes but Joseph Pilates who created this system was a genius with the body and ahead of his time and I don’t want his legacy to die out. It has also been amazing how many contemporary teachers have come to Exhale over the years to retrain and bridge to the classical method, believing something was missing in their teaching and how feeling the classical work in their own bodies using classical apparatus was completely different from anything they felt.

You’ve been teaching Pilates for many years, how has it transformed your life over time?

Not only has Pilates helped me personally in a physical sense but the tools you learn to move your body, help to be mindful in everyday life too. As cliche, as it sounds to connect your body and mind, is an incredibly empowering tool to have, especially as a woman. There are many facets to the practice that infiltrate how you conduct yourself and respond to situations in life. Pilates is not just an exercise method, it can truly help and prepare you in every aspect of your life. I’ve helped thousands of people transform their lives both physically and professionally through Pilates. From the Pilates novice to professional athletes, people recovering from injuries, surgery and strokes to top models preparing for the catwalk, both myself and the team help everyone to feel and be the best version of themselves through Pilates. To empower people, especially women through movement, changing their careers and watching mindsets shift is an amazing journey to be part of and incredibly rewarding. I’ve been able to travel the world, meet some of the most wonderful people who have not only become clients but friends and mentors. I’ll be forever grateful for Pilates being such a huge part of my life.

Can you expand on the differences you see in terms of mat or equipment as a workout?

Both are incredible workouts designed to build strength, muscle tone, whilst increasing flexibility and balance in the body. The original Pilates system was all about working the apparatus and mat exercises together. Joseph Pilates created the mat work to do as homework for his clients when they were unable to get into the studio. Mat work can be a lot harder offering less support on the body as you work against gravity and your own body weight while learning how to control your muscles in every exercise, whereas the apparatus supports you and gives feedback using the resistance of the springs. The apparatus is also great to help correct alignment so if you have any niggles, injuries or limited range of motion, the apparatus is a better starting point as it will help re-align you in a much more safe and effective way. Pilates apparatus is not just the reformer but a whole heap of other amazing things like the barrels, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, High chair and more. There is definitely a craze around Pilates right now, particularly reformer-style workouts. But as this is an Integrity issue, it is critical to highlight the importance of doing your research when it comes to the best type of Pilates for you and your body. So many reformer-style workouts look more like HIIT training on an unstable surface rather than focusing on what Pilates is all about which is Control and teaching your body to move from a strong and stable center.

How many sessions does it take for a body overhaul?

You can honestly feel the difference after one session but with Pilates as a discipline for the more you practice the quicker you will see and feel results. We recommend at least doing two to three sessions per week, as Pilates is not a quick win, it is a lifestyle choice, and we have clients within the age bracket six to 92 years old. Doing Pilates can completely transform the way you look, feel and move by creating balance in the body and freeing yourself of tightness and stress. The body doesn’t just have a body overhaul, the mind does too. It’s amazing, and everyone should do it.

You not only teach but train – tell us more?

I absolutely love teaching as to have the skill to transform people’s lives whether that is by helping people get out of pain or making them feel better about themselves. It’s an addictive and incredibly rewarding journey to be a part of. Currently, the teacher training part of the business has accelerated, so I’m working more on that side of the business as I’m helping aspiring Pilates teachers fulfill their dreams and transform their journey in life, especially those who never thought it could be possible. I love giving people the confidence to believe in themselves no matter their age.

Do you have plans to bring this to Dubai anytime soon?

I currently train people one on one when I am here and would love to have an Exhale studio in Dubai. I think it would be a huge success as Dubai brings the best of the best from everything around the world. I am definitely looking into bringing my Teacher courses here this year as I’ve had a lot of interest – we may be doing this in Q2 this year.

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