This summer, due to a combination of factors (including stress, working from home and therefore not moving enough, and carrying too much weight on my back) I had a back spasm. It was horrible. I was stuck on the floor, unable to move and high on diazepam and co-codamol (which was prescribed for the pain) for three days. It impacted my movement significantly in the weeks following. It also made me stubborn about making sure I fully recover. And the one thing I know to do when my body needs help is Pilates.
“Take a few sips of air,” is what Anna has said in order to conclude a couple of my one-to-one Pilates classes. Anna is my Pilates teacher. She is very good. At the time of writing this I have had three one to one classes with her and already I can see a difference in the way that my body is moving. And honestly, after every class, I feel those sips of air are a lifeline for me.
Anna is focused, efficient, organised, beautiful and very stylish. I met her through school, because her daughter was in the same class as my son. When we got talking, she told me about her Pilates business. I was immediately interested and asked her to tell me more about her story. She teaches Pilates online, and face to face. She also has a clothing business. I was impressed. What I was surprised to hear is that Anna was in a very unfortunate and extremely damaging car accident, some years ago. She was in the passenger seat when another car hit the one she was in. As a result, she got a broken hip, a fractured pelvis, and her shin broken in three different places. She was stuck in the car for hours until the fire service was able to get her out, and ended up in hospital to undergo surgery.
But then you look at her. And she walks. She runs after her four-year-old. And she teaches frigging Pilates for a living! The two images didn’t seem to marry up in my mind. But they do for Anna.
She describes the accident and how it felt, how it was like an out of body experience. She doesn’t remember the pain. She does remember the heartache of having to go through a long recovery. This involved having to give up the dream job she had just been offered (a buyer for a well-known retail apparel brand), being immobile for months, and having to go back to living with and being cared for by her parents in her twenties.
As I hear her talking to me about this experience, I can tell that it has had a big impact on who she is today. But it is also crystal clear to me that it does not define her.
She is not Anna who had an accident and broke her shin, hip, and pelvis. She is Anna who is a strong mum of two kids, and owner of two businesses. She is an opportunity taker, a tryer, a life-liver. Her face lights up when she tells me about her clothing business. You can tell Anna loves clothes by the way she dresses. She has fantastic taste in clothes – one of those people who know exactly how to put an outfit together, and is always on point with fashion trends, while maintaining a high level of class. No surprise then, that she is passionate about her own clothing brand – Mardy Bum Active . The purpose of her brand is to encourage normal people, with normal lives to snap out of our `Mardy Bum’ grumpy moods, and to get moving. She believes in helping people to get to a place of balance, in their body, and mind. She recognises that a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind, and vice versa. This is what she wants to encourage through her brand of active wear.
Anna discovered Pilates while she was living in Italy. After having done very little sport since her accident, she went along to a class, together with her husband. Then she went along to another one, and another one. She saw the difference it made, and she carried on.
Pilates was a significant part of her recovery. But it was clearly not the only part. As I listen to her talking, I start to realise that there is a special kind of courage about her. A special kind of drive. Mixed in with that, is a core belief that things can be good in the world, both for her and for others. I also sense a kindness about her too, and the will to help others.
She tells me about how she exchanged emails with her best friend while she couldn’t move in bed. She tells me that in these emails they wrote about their dreams and hopes for the future: “to live in a foreign country… to start my own business.” The drive and desire to achieve these goals kept her going. The hunger for life and for dreams to come true motivated her. She continues to tell me how passionate she is about helping women recover post-nataly. She knows what an impact childbirth has on our bodies. Having got through a much bigger recovery than that, recovering from two births of her own was certainly do-able. She is now passionate about helping others recover, and helping others move. “It’s about not being afraid” she says, “it’s about trying and seeing how much you can do. And if you can’t do it today, that’s ok. You can try again tomorrow.” I just love what she is saying. It’s so simple and so true. This is how we achieve things isn’t it? By doing a little bit at a time, and by persevering. By not being afraid. It is crystal clear that Anna gets this. And that she knows how to breathe life in, a few sips of air at a time.
If you are at all interested in Pilates, whether it’s to increase your strength and movement, become more aware of your body, improve your mental health, or simply wake up your core, then I can’t encourage you enough to come to Pilates by Anna !