Fit Bits: Wendy Horrocks on how Pilates transformed her life after a stroke

Wendy Horrocks is a fully comprehensive Pilates teacher who credits this holistic, core-strengthening exercise with aiding her recovery after a stroke and boosting the wellbeing of her clients

Wendy Horrocks
Wendy Horrocks

My fitness story

Originally my work background was as a holistic/beauty/massage therapist. I’ve always had an interest in health, fitness and nutrition stemming back 30 years. I was first introduced to yoga and Pilates in my early twenties but also loved aerobics/step aerobics so went on to train as an aerobics instructor and personal trainer. Due to chronic health conditions I had to take a step back and slow down which meant readjusting my fitness routine and lifestyle. I had been wanting to train in Pilates for many years and took the plunge in 2013 and trained as a fully comprehensive Pilates teacher in London. This qualification, after several years apprenticeship, enables me to work as a classical/contemporary Pilates matwork and studio equipment teacher.

Where I teach

I have been teaching Pilates for seven years now. I run my own Pilates mat work classes in Girton at the William Collyn Centre and I teach online via Zoom from home. I also teach private studio lessons at Ease Pilates studio based at the Colours of Dance studio in Cambridge. I am a fully qualified health coach having completed my training in 2014.

Wendy in Pilates pose
Wendy in Pilates pose

Why I love my job

I love working and connecting with people. My job brings me so much joy as I get people moving no matter age, size or ability. Pilates is for everyone. I see people gain confidence, move easier, resolve past and present injuries, relieve stress and tension. When they leave the class with a smile on their face it makes my job very rewarding. I also get to live in comfy leggings!

My go-to quick workout

I wouldn’t say I worked out but I like to move my body. This could be 10 minutes on my rebounder not allowing my feet to leave the trampoline so I can work on my lymphatic system. That is of course when my rebounder is not being used as a clothes horse! There is always Pilates and 10 to 15 minutes is doable and can make such a difference to how I feel.

Mat work
Mat work

My favourite feel-good long workout

I suffered a rare massive stroke due to a carotid artery dissection in November 2022. I’m lucky to be alive and to live a normal life. I’m not able to do everything I was able to do before due to a genetic condition leading to a weakness in my blood vessels so I have to be very careful in everything I do, so as not to cause myself more harm. I do however love to go for a nice walk, getting fresh air and sunshine. I truly believe I need to thank Pilates for enabling me to recover after my stroke as quickly as I did.

The energy-boosting snack I swear by

My favourite would be a fruit smoothie; quick glucose for the liver and brain. I’m not into processed protein and collagen powders and prefer to get my nutrition from whole foods. I do also love medjool dates.

My indulgent treat food

I’m loving Booja Booja dairy free ice-cream made from cashew nuts; delicious. I can easily finish a whole large tub in one sitting, especially the chocolate one!

How I kick back and relax

I’m lucky to live around the corner from the River Ouse and like to sit by the river with a coffee and watch the world go by. I also enjoy a relaxing bath with essential oils and Epsom salts, listening to a good podcast.

My top tip for anyone who needs motivating to start exercising

Don’t think of it as exercise. Think about doing something to move your body that you enjoy. It could be going to a dance/exercise class, going for a walk with a friend, gardening, playing with your children/grandchildren. Sometimes it’s baby steps. If you are recovering from an illness or injury then it may take time and that’s okay. Knowing when to rest and relax is also very important and some days that may well be all you want to do and that’s fine also.


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