It’s funny how I, who hate exercising so much, ends up writing about exercising so much.

I spent yesterday afternoon at Kentish Town Pilates Studio, not my usual choice of weekend hangout – although preferable to watching The Minions movie again followed by another funfair, which is what my husband had to endure in my absence.

Allison Swann, friend, fellow networking group member and Pilates Matwork teacher, has been trying to get me along to the studio for months to experience a class. Up until now the closest I got was meeting Allison in Kentish Town for a late lunch.

But she had a plan.

I was invited to the studio’s summer pampering afternoon, where the teachers and students chat and share experiences, take a class together and then relax with a pampering treatment – this year, in the form of a facial given by yours truly. In return I could join their early afternoon Pilates class.

I arrived just in time to join in the snacking before the studio was prepared for our class. I was not expecting to be confronted with a piece of torture equipment called the MOTR (pronounced motor), a long cylindrical tube with resistance straps on handles at the end.

Like this:

I was put through my paces by the studio’s founder and teacher, Monika Zarebska. It’s quite an intimidating experience to find yourself doing your first ever Pilates class, with strange equipment, surrounded by professional Pilates teachers, but Monika was great – firm but fair. There were lots of laughs as we all tried our best to balance on a narrow cylinder with our arms and legs going in different directions.

Following the class we had a discussion about blogging, where I shared what I’ve learned during my short journey as a blogger and answered the group’s questions. And then each had a 20 minute Arbonne facial allowing them to relax and unwind.

One of Allison’s students kindly offered to give me a back massage at the end of the day as a thank you for my work, which was an unexpected and fabulous treat.

As I lay with my face pressed through the hole in the massage bed, I practiced my mindfulness breathing techniques and felt totally blissed out.

And I’m sure that part of the reason for my happiness yesterday was that I gave my time for free, in return for an afternoon of wellbeing. It was a skills barter – I provided my skills in return for fun, exercise and an amazing massage. And it felt great that there wasn’t any expectation of money changing hands – just me and Allison helping each other.

Small businesses owners often struggle with the multiple roles they have to play. We have to be the IT manager, HR manager, financial controller and web manager of our businesses – and have to learn and implement those skills alongside the ‘day job’.

In a society where every minute of the day is, literally, ‘accounted for’, it’s easy to lose sight of the pleasure and fulfilment one gets from helping people in business. The best networking groups recognise that we’re there not just to sell and refer business to each other, but to barter our talents within the group too.

There are websites springing up which allow people to barter for skills they lack. www.skillsbarter.com is one of them. I’ve just registered so I’ll let you know how I get on.

In the meantime, I will be returning to Pilates and have already committed to one of Allison’s classes next week.

What skill would you barter, and in exchange for what?

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