AT 5ft 7ins, Nisha Srivastava’s slender frame may not immediately strike fear into the heart. But as some of the country’s top footballer and rugby stars are finding to their peril, appearances can be deceptive.
The top yoga and pilates tutor, who has worked with Saints for several years, has now been employed to help whip England rugby league side and Everton’s senior squad into shape.
Both sides have enjoyed a run of good results recently but Nisha, who is from Rainhill, told how the task of getting groups of hulking rugby players and highly-paid footballer to get the most out of her sessions has not always been plain sailing.
She said: “If you’re not confident when you first go in there and you don’t know your stuff then there’s always a chance they might not get on and do it. You have to be quite strict to start with - if you go in all soppy they won’t take you seriously at all.
“You do get a bit of sniggering and messing about at times but you have to be willing to have a bit of banter with them - they’ve got to enjoy it too!
“The key thing is to let them know why it’s important that they do it and what benefits they can get out of it. My aim is always to focus their minds and ensure they enjoy a quick recovery from a game or training session - not to kill them off.
“Typically, it’s the older players who get the most out of my sessions. It can help prolong their careers. But I’ve seen real improvements and a change of attitude from all the players.
“They enjoy seeing themselves getting better at the yoga - it’s not something they can master in five minutes.”
Nisha, who runs the North West Pilates and Yoga Centre in Claughton Street, was recently booked to help the England rugby league team’s preparations for the Autumn International Series and has now been working with Everton FC three times a week for the last five months.
And she also told how she tailors her programmes to suit each individual player’s role in the team.
She added: “In New Zealand and Australia they’ve been way ahead of us in terms of using yoga and pilates with their top sportsmen and women.
“At Saints, the New Zealanders tend to be the most spiritual and the Aussie lads often have a fire in them, while the English lads are true gentlemen.
“I’ve even started doing a little bit of philosophy in the sessions too. Most of the lads really enjoy it.”