Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I have now taught exercise and fitness on and off for over 20 years. I started doing it as a hobby because it got me to go to classes (if I was teaching them I’d have to turn up!), and it gave me a bit of extra cash. Then I got a ‘proper’ job as a Performance Analyst for central government (The Department for Education mainly), which meant I had to travel frequently to London, which is difficult when you have kids, so I had to give up the teaching.
However, once I gave up the exercise, had two young kids and a lifestyle that involved grabbing whatever snacks I could whenever I could, and living in hotels – I piled the weight on. I remember trying to put on jeans that had previously been my ‘big’ pair and they were far too tight, I couldn’t get them past my thighs.
So I decided to give Zumba a try (it was just as the craze hit). I absolutely loved it. It really made me realise how much I missed exercising and dancing. Then my teacher left, and she asked me take over her classes, so I did and that’s how I got back into teaching exercise again.
After teaching Zumba for a year, I began to want something more in-depth. I decided to become a Pilates teacher. I’d always loved Pilates and Yoga, and I’d used them in the past to fix my bad hip, which, had started to niggle again through teaching Zumba. So I thought I’ll fix myself and learn how to fix others in the process.
Tell us about Organic Pilates
Organic Pilates has been a labour of love. I’ve finally, after years of teaching fitness, got it together! I love all things health and movement-related and Organic Pilates is really now starting to bring all of these into one. The core values at Organic Pilates are fitness should be fun, open to all ages and be not just about the exercises, but about dealing with the body as a whole.
Thinking about the way we stand, sit and move, but also about what we put into and onto our bodies, reducing the stresses and strains that we place our body under, and look at ways of reducing them.
Many people are on the lose weight/gain more weight rollercoaster and I want to help to show them that there is another way; a way that works with your body and not against it.
I draw my inspiration from so many people but mainly my dad who’s the fittest and most active 72 year old that you’re ever likely to meet. My mam died of cancer a couple of years ago, and that really spurred me on to help others and teach them healthy lifestyle choices.
What are the most sparkly bits of what you do?
My most sparkly bits are my clients! I love them. They are all my motivation and inspiration. I have people who are in their 70s who move and look 20 years younger – you really don’t lose it, if you don’t stop using it!
I have trained ladies with prolapses and saved them from having an operation. I regularly get people telling me that because of me they are pain-free, able to move better, have better posture, and have lost weight. It gives me great job satisfaction that I am actually making a real difference to people’s lives.
We are building a wellness community that I’m so proud of. I have heard so many times people say ‘I wish I’d started this years ago’ so if I have one thing to say it is don’t leave it too late, because if you don’t have health, you have nothing!
What are the challenges you face?
Time! With every small business you are your own accountant, sales person and marketer. There’s always loads going on in the business. I have my boys, husband, dog – just lots to do. But because I love my job so much, it doesn’t feel like work, but I sometimes do think I could do with a clone.
What have been your biggest achievements?
My biggest achievement has been being able to give up the ‘day job’ and to be able to support myself through doing something that I love. It was a big risk to stop working a regular job with all the security that it provides. But I’m almost two years down the line now, and there have been ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! Anyone who is currently having the ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ dilemma – I would say: Just Do It.
You never know unless you try!
What are your goals? – For yourself and for Organic Pilates!
I want to be able to spread the word and reach a wider audience. I want to teach more people to think of their body as the most amazing thing that you own, and to help them to look after it. We have two places that we live in - our body and the planet - and if I can help people look after both, then that would be awesome!
For me, my goals are to keep healthy and keep doing a job I love, whilst still being there for my boys. My business works for me and not the other way around (ok, not quite there yet, but working on it!).
Oh, and I want to write a book.
What is your favourite place in the North East?
Obviously I’m a Durham lass, so Durham Cathedral has to be up there. But we also have a caravan in Cresswell in Northumberland, and I absolutely love the Northumberland coastline – that is definitely my happy place!
Who puts a sparkle in your eye?
My husband. Also my boys, my friends, and Professor Brian Cox!
A final thought – what tips would you give to busy entrepreneurs who want to get fit, get motivated and maintain their fitness?
I think a big mistake that people make, particularly busy people, is that they sit all day at a desk and then go for an hour to a gym where they walk or run on a treadmill, or lift weights.
You’re much better off trying to incorporate more movement and exercise into your day. So don’t sit in one place for longer than an hour, get up and move, do squats whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Little things like that throughout the day are much more beneficial than blasting it for an hour twice a week.
Another tip is to try walking about barefoot and doing a bit of training barefoot. As a Pilates teacher I always teach barefoot, but last year I had a bursitis in my heel so I had to wear trainers to teach in, what a difference it makes. Trainers are supporting the foot, so you don’t feel all the micro adjustments that your lower leg, ankles and feet are making.
I’m all for working as many muscles as possible at once, and doing the most efficient types of exercise. Who wants to spend hours in a gym anyway, life is too short!
Also find something that you love to do, and make time to do it – schedule it into your diary and keep it sacrosanct. It’s so important to make sure that you look after yourself and keep yourself healthy – your business and family will suffer if you don’t.