Savannah, tell us a little about yourself?
I am currently 16 years old. I have been playing squash since the age of 7, where I would play in the anal school tournaments and KZN events. By the age of 12 I started to focus more seriously on my squash and made exceptional leaps in terms of my performance. I began playing in more national tournaments, and by 13 years I made my first national team where I competed in international tournaments in Malaysia, Singapore, England, and Scotland. Currently, I am ranked number 1 in South Africa for the U19 age and continue to work on my National ranking in the Women's Open Sections. My goals and ambitions for the future is to become South African Women's Champion, as well as make the England national team and travel the world playing on the professional circuit.
How long have you been doing Pilates?
I have been doing Pilates for a few months now.
Has Pilates helped your squash and what has it done for your squash?
Pilates has certainly helped my squash, the sport involves lots of twisting and turning, which can place your body under constant stress and strain. In Pilates with Chi, we focus on strengthening the muscles of the shoulder girdle - the pectorals, and the deltoids, the muscles of the leg, specifically the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps, the muscles of the forearm and upper arm; the wrist flexors and extensors, the biceps, and the triceps. As well as the deep core muscles; the obliques, and the spinal erectors. Pilates has definitely strengthened me in these areas and enormously improved my posture, flexibility, and overall strength.
What exercises are recommended to you as a squash player?
Squash is a game of constant lunging and stretching which involves excellent stability work. Popular exercises would include single-leg balance work (which can have the added challenge of an unstable environment), pelvic curls, explosive box step-ups as well as any core exercises that offer additional stability and control.
What has the journey of Pilates shown you as a squash competitor?
My journey in Pilates has demonstrated the importance of strength and stability in the game of Squash. So often just the tiniest of tweaks to your game can have an everlasting effect. Pilates has helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses. I love attending classes with Chi, as the vibe is always jovial and lively!
Would you recommend Pilates to other athletes?
Yes, I would definitely recommend Pilates to other athletes, as strength, stability, core strength, and alignment are so often looked over by competitive athletes. By taking 1 or 2 hours out of your week to focus on these areas you can phenomenally improve your performance.
Chi’s words about squash, Pilates, and her sister Savannah?
Squash is a game that demands agility and a good reaction to move to the ball. Upper body strength is required to swing the racket through rotation of the spine to provide a solid hit. Overall conditioning, strength, and flexibility are critical to be able to play a complete game. Flexibility is important due to the various contorted positions to move through to react to the ball. Although the ball is soft, it often comes off the walls in different directions and good players learn to use this to their advantage.
Pilates training has allowed Savannah to focus on flexibility, agility, endurance, and cardiovascular conditioning which has helped her stay healthy and rebound from injuries quickly.