How did you first get into pilates?
After a terrible, stressful, depression-inducing year as a Pastry Chef – the only job I had wanted to do from a very young age – I made the heartbreaking decision to never go back into the professional kitchen, quit my job and refused to work my notice and was suddenly without any dream job or income. After a few months soul searching in New York working for a charity, I came home to a receptionist job at a Reformer Pilates studio where I hoped I would be able to re-assess my life. I was immediately hooked with Reformer Pilates! I had always been super fit but found Mat Pilates very boring, Reformer Pilates just felt amazing and I couldn’t get enough! I used it to train for a multi marathon charity event I was running and was told by the instructors that I should study to become a Pilates teacher too. I did and it was the start of the best, most obvious career path ever.
How did you go from teaching pilates to creating The Model Method?
After teaching hundreds of clients, and thousands of classes, I was noticing a real trend. Women who came to Pilates tended to do so because they were not fans of cardio-based exercise such as running and spinning. They were super strong but often asked me how they could ‘get rid of this’ (and point to their stomachs or bums). What they were really asking was how could they reduce their body fat. As someone who wholeheartedly disagrees with diets my advice was always that they needed to get some cardio into their regime. I was asked more and more to help clients with this and realising there was a gap in the market began my journey to creating The Model Method. I studied for further fitness qualifications, did some serious research and begun testing out some formats on my private clients. Results were amazing – reduced body fat, inches lost, huge improvements in fitness levels and physical health….and then the waiting list began.
Tell us more about The Model Method and how it differs from traditional pilates workouts?
Pilates, as a standalone workout, is a fantastic way to improve muscle tone, strength, posture and flexibility. It gives you an incredible body AND gives you a healthy, safe, pain free body. However it does not have any real cardiovascular benefit, of which these benefits include reduced risk of chronic illnesses, and it is so important that this system is strong too! To improve our cardiovascular system we need to get our heart working hard – this is where HIIT comes in. The Model Method combines HIIT, Reformer Pilates and weight training to target the bodies different systems and cover all bases! Clients burn a large amount of calories during the session but the main benefit is that post workout their bodies start to break down body fat – and it is high levels of body fat that are most dangerous for the body. Clients can expect to feel stronger, more lean, have more energy and reduced body fat.
You also offer an online Model Method plan; what does this involve?
The Model Method is a truly personalised fitness and food programme. It’s a 6 week plan combining video workouts, nutritional information, recipes and fitness testing. The plan consists of videos you can stream from anywhere, any time, on any device and also includes a Starter Pack from LifeBox Food Co containing all you’ll need to get started with your new life. At the start of the plan you fill in a 4 stage online consultation form which asks questions about your current health, levels of fitness, body confidence, motivation levels etc. You also have the opportunity to add start photos to your form (optional) for us to assess your body shape and posture. Once this is all submitted you receive a Starter Pack which has been designed with LifeBox food co and consists of some of the newest and most powerful superfoods, supplements and drinks, a resistance band (needed for the videos) and the book Nourish which was written by myself and Integrative Nutrition health coach Jenny Millichip. The book is centred around Nourishing yourself (rather than calorie restriction and diet plans) and features 22 recipes including recipes by Gizzi Erskine and Julie Montagu. I then assess your consultation form and based on your responses assign you 6 videos to be completed each week for 6 weeks (you have 1 rest day). These videos normally consist of 3 x 30 minute HIIT workouts, 2 x 15 minute dynamic Pilates workouts and 1 x 30 minute dynamic Pilates workout. After 2 weeks you receive a questionnaire assessing how you are finding your videos and this gives us the opportunity to adapt your videos if needed. At the end of the 6 weeks you fill out a final consultation form and are given your results/changes in body confidence etc.
Why do you think your classes are proving to be so effective compared to other workout methods?
I believe its down to the fact that it was created by a woman, for women, with real research, science and motivational techniques involved. The focus is always on strength and creating bodies that are functional and fit. This is not about aesthetics or ‘losing a stone in a month’. This is about making women healthier, happier and a little more comfortable in their clothes.
What benefits does pilates have compared to other forms of exercise?
Pilates is all about bringing the body to its most effective, functional, safe state. Our lives nowadays really aren’t conducive to this. We spend many hours sat over our laptops, walking looking down at our phones, slumped on the sofa watching tv. This is not what our bodies were designed for and with this our bodies start to suffer and change. Pilates aims to correct this. Good instructors will be able to spot imbalances in the body and fix them. This not only reduces any potential aches and pains in the body but helps you look taller, slimmer and happier. I can always tell someone who practices Pilates – they are super strong, flexible and have rock solid tummies!
Why is it so important to have a strong core?
Our core muscles protect and support the spine which houses the most important part of the body – your central nervous system (CNS). Your CNS transmits messages from the brain to the rest of the body and when damaged can cause death of major muscles and more severely – paralysis. Your core also has the tough job of carrying the weight of the upper body and holding the spine in the position it was designed to. If our core is not strong our posture is affected and this places the spine in an unsafe position (which again can affect your CNS). Most of us have really weak spine extensors (the muscles that run along your spine and keep it held upright) and overtime we start to hunch forward. Common side effects include headaches, migraines and back ache.
What pilates stretch would you recommend for those who work slumped at their desks all day?
Wall Roll Down – stand facing away from a wall with your bum, spine and head touching it but your feet 1 foot away from it set hip distance apart, knees soft. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale start to peel your head and then spine away from the wall, one vertebrae at a time until you are as low as you can manage with just your bum touching the wall. Inhale to stay here and on your exhale roll back up again one vertebrae at a time to meet the wall. Repeat 3 times to loosen and articulate the spine and relax the neck.
What are your three top tips for leading a healthy lifestyle?
- Download Headspace – The app is amazing, although not strictly essential for mindfulness, as it teaches you first how to meditate and then assists you in doing so guiding you through various topics of your choice eg anxiety, depression etc. Mindfulness is fantastic for reducing blood pressure, reducing tension, controlling overeating and generally improving mental health. Mental health should be seen as the most important aspect of your health.
2) Love yourself – try to put your health goals into some perspective. I have heard every fitness goal under the sun in my 6 years in fitness and the one that yields the best results is to learn to love yourself. When you love your body you don’t want to poison it with terrible food, you don’t want to abuse it with over exercising and dieting, you treat it with less disdain and appreciate it for all it does for you. When this happens your body thanks you by being strong, pain free and healthy. Forget aesthetics and dress size and care more about function and capabilities.
3) Consistency – nailed 6 spin classes in 6 days? Completed the 28 day Bikram challenge? How lovely – now how is that ever going to fit into your normal life? There is no point binge exercising to cover up for the fact you’ve been on a bender in Ibiza for 10 days. Consistency is key and some of the fittest women I know only exercise 2-3 times per week but have ALWAYS done that and always will. It is part of their life not their whole life. They will never get bored of it as it is a smaller part of their life but they will always have a great base level of fitness that will never fade.
What is your typical day on a plate?
Breakfast – Toasted Rye Bread, avocado, scrambled egg, sunflower seeds, chilli flakes, udos choice oil, lime juice.
Mid morning – Sunwarrior Vegan chocolate protein powder, almond milk, banana and hazelnut butter shake.
Lunch – homemade soup (my favourite is my Thai spiced crown prince squash soup)
Mid afternoon – Bone broth and a banana
Dinner – Ostrich steaks or Salmon, grilled asparagus, green beans with pine nuts and a sachet of ready cooked quinoa or wheatberries.
Dessert – I LOVE chocolate so usually a couple of Paul A Young truffles or Rococo dark chocolate (I love their Chuao bar).
Book your class here!