Hampstead SF Studios give you strength through support

SF Studios

SF Studios - Credit: Archant

ZOE PASKETT visits a movement studio which takes a holistic and positive approach rather than shouting at you

There seems to be this new thing in fitness training: encouragement. Maybe I’ve just never noticed it before, always tending to see exercise as a necessary chore rather than something to enjoy, but recently I’ve met a few personal trainers who take a very different approach.

Suzanne Ferreira isn’t a trainer – she’s a therapist – but “personal” definitely applies. She tells me how much of her work revolves around the abilities and aspirations of her individual clients, assessing each person on the basis of their own “hardware and software”.

South African born Suzanne founded SF Studios in 2011, having trained as a physiotherapist, treating patients for more than 16 years. Coming to the UK in 2001, she worked as a physiotherapist and pilates tutor and later opened up SF Studios with a therapy practice in South Hill Park. The studio has just opened a new space, SF Movement, on Cressy Road in South End Green.

The body’s hardware and software is an interesting way of assessing limitation – do I know that I can’t do something because my body doesn’t bend that way (hardware) or do I think I can’t do it because I put up a mental wall (software)?

Suzanne and her colleagues work with a range of people from those recovering from injury to people who simply want to have greater flexibility or confidence. While focusing on physical movement, there is also a great emphasis on mental wellbeing: The mind and the body should be treated as interconnected, she says.

In the Movement studio, Suzanne pushes me to my limits, making my muscles stretch in ways that I don’t think they have done before. The goals that the studio has – to inspire positive attitudes and boost self-esteem – come into play here, as I become unsure of what my body can handle.

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Her constant support and encouragement is instrumental in pushing me to achieve more than I thought I could, even in the short amount of time we spend there.

Back in the Therapy studio, which has incredible views out over the Heath ponds, she takes me through a series of strengthening exercises. At each step she assesses how I manage and adapts what we do next according to areas that need most improvement – I can feel in my screaming muscles that it’s expertly tailored to make me work hard.

I can imagine that in the summer this studio must be an oasis – the back patio extends to the bank of the pond and Suzanne says that when the weather improves she takes the yoga mats outside and works out by the water.

The relationship between Suzanne and her clients is strong; many of them have been with her for years. A high level of trust is needed for this unfamiliar movement and a low level of ego - she says that she always leaves hers at the door.

For a full list of classes including physiotherapy, osteopathy, pilates, yoga, acupuncture and massage, go to their website (below).

SF Studios are hosting Fitness in a Digital Age at the studio in Ella Mews on March 18 as part of London Book & Screen Week, bringing fitness stars Faya Nilsson, James Exton and clean eating blogger Alice Liveing on a panel lead by Vicki-Marie Cossar.

SF Studios, 5 Ella Mews, Cressy Road, NW3 2NH, londonbookandscreenweek.co.uk/event/fitness-in-a-digital-age

Ham&High readers can get a 50 per cent discount on the SF Movement 10-Class Pass, which also gives you one class for free. Go to sfstudioslondon.com and quote Ham & High.