I fell in love with Pilates as a 16 year old ballet dancer at Central School of Ballet, we’d have an hour ballet class every week but I loved how it made me feel so much that I did my own hour practice before a 6-8 hour day of training and rehearsing. I wasn’t a natural ballerina, I didn’t have a high arched foot or natural turnout but what I did have was discipline and passion and I worked my butt off. The fact that I had a predilection towards gymnastics and that I used to follow Lone Godbersen did help me. I honestly believe with these things and a little bit of self belief you can achieve anything you want and I did that, I got some great roles and even won the Ballet Central cup at the end of my third year but it came at a cost for me and I wasn’t truly happy…
The ballet world had a negative impact on my body image and I became very obsessive with what I ate. We got a nutritionist in the first year but it was very basic, croissant = bad, apple = good, kind of thing. I believe I suffered from orthorexia nervosa which is an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating and I was fixated on what I put in my body. Not only did I become very underweight but my periods didn’t start, my relationships broke down and I lost my heart and soul. It was completely all consuming but I just wanted to be the best ballet dancer I could be and controlling my food was another way I could do this.
It was a slow process to getting better and I discovered food blogs and started to fall back in love with cooking and eating out again. I started to relax and go on nights out and enjoy life. My love and passion for dance slowly died but it led me to where I am today doing the job, if I can even call it a job, that I love and has never felt like a job in 4 years; teaching people movement and mindfulness and making people feel better.Pilates was the one part of my day where I felt calm and connected and I wasn’t fixated on how my body looked but on how it FELT!
I wasn’t worrying about how my body looked in a leotard or whether I could pull of a double pirouette. Similarly today Pilates isn’t about doing 100 burpees, deadlifting 100kg or doing a headstand, there’s no ego involved. If it feels good to lay on the floor and breathe for 20 minutes then that’s Pilates and that’s what you need. I’d be working on my body and what it needed, not the person next to me. What is now a trend of being mindful and connecting your mind and body, I was doing then without realising. There was no dance director to impress or role to get, it was just me and my mat and focusing on making my movements as efficient for me as they could me.
Pilates is mindful movement, it’s a discipline created by a man called Joseph Pilates who developed the method to help himself get better as he suffered as a child from asthma and rickets. He was fascinated by the ancient greek ideas of connecting mind, body and spirit and was inspired by gymnastics, tai chi and yoga. He’s own method of physical training led him to become an avid skier, boxer, diver and gymnast. He worked as a self defence instructor with detectives at Scotland Yard during World War 1 and went on to work with dancers in Germany and the US. He worked with able bodies and bed bound bodies but Joseph’s main goal was to enable us to perform our every day tasks naturally and spontaneously with zest and energy.
His formula for health was simple. There wasn’t much science behind it but does their need to be.
He wrote, “whole body health can be achieved through exercise, proper diet, good hygiene and sleeping habits, plenty of sunshine, fresh air and a balance in life, work, recreation and relaxation.”Pilates makes you slow down, it makes you listen, it makes you connect in a world where we are so disconnected.
I think one of my main things to get across in this piece is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to movement, when it comes to your health, your body and your wellness. There’s no right way or wrong way, there’s your way. And if you can be confident in the choices that you make on a day by day basis that they are the best for you then to me that’s what wellbeing and health and happiness is all about.
Because those choices you make don’t only shape who you are today but who you’ll be in the future whether that’s 2 weeks time on the beach, 5 years time walking down the aisle or 40 years time playing with your grandchildren. It’s never too late to start listening and connecting and making those choices to shape who you want to be today and every precious day we get in this life.
We can get so caught up in what everyone else is doing and worrying am I doing it right. Should I be running a 10k or taking spirulina powder or feeling something in a certain way. We forget to just feel. Pilates helps you feel again. It changes how you move and act on a daily basis. The problem today is that we are so disconnected. We are disconnected for many reasons, there’s things we don’t want to see or hear in the world and in ourselves. Reality isn’t always nice but if we don’t see things for how they truly are then how can we start to really wake up and make a change. We are all over the place, rushing from emails to a HIIT class to cooking a “healthy” meal that we think is going to give us a bikini body but actually makes us bloated and ill but we don’t realise because we are so disconnected.
We rarely sit and breathe and notice ourselves. Pilates is a full hour of that. And with that comes truth. All of that connection is awareness and is what makes my clients float out the door after a session, yes believing that they’ve worked their posture and toned their abs and glutes and all those things we think are necessary but they’ve also connected and this is what leads to making better decisions, to dealing with stress better and to better relationships. All of which are the essence of happiness. It’s what made me simply feel good back in dance school and is what makes my clients addicted to their sessions because they FEEL BETTER. You don’t have to define or describe, you simply have to feel it.
My work as a Pilates enthusiast and holistic health coach and what health and fitness is all about for me is having a sustainable healthy lifestyle, a well rested, happy, energised, efficient body and mind all year round to be able to go about our work, social, home, family lives the best we can with focus, connection and sense of calm.
I’m so passionate that a daily dose of Pilates can help you achieve that and hey maybe you’ll get your summer body along the way too.
Finally be patient and kind with yourself. Save stress and pressure for when it’s really needed not for your to do list, practice stillness, practice breathing and remember today more than ever, life is so precious so treat yourself and others with that in mind always.
Love, Lottie x
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