1. I feel like all women just want beautiful, strong abs, but it’s tricky to learn how to activate your core. Can you please run us through the best breathing techniques and your go-to exercises for the most effective ab results?
I couldn't agree more! Strong abs are essential to any healthy body, supporting you to do everything you want to, they make you feel amazing and feel stronger in so many ways. I love that you asked about breath, its key to enabling the most effective abdominal connections.
Breathing tip 1 is just to make sure you are breathing, the biggest obstruction to engaging your core effectively is holding your breath, so just make sure you exercise.
Breathing tip 2 is to breathe deeper, sometimes in the chaos of the day your breath can stay shallow and add to tension in the shoulders. To help you breath deeper i like to think of my inhales going into the back and the side of my ribs, almost like I've got a corset on and in trying to pop the back of it open. Then as you exhale think of narrowing your waist and gently lifting your pelvic floor. There are a few names for this breathing technique in Pilates but the most common is lateral breathing. This will enable your best core activation especially in your Pilates sessions.
My favourite core exercises are chest lifts over the ball - this simultaneously mobilises your upper thoracic (the mid and upper back that get rounded with poor posture), test your stability and deepest core muscles as well as gives you that satisfying ab burn. I also cant go past any good old fashioned planking for functional core work.
2. I personally feel pilates makes me confident in my everyday activities. Can you please give us insight into how pilates can help women and men live longer, be more confident and live prouder, ultimately attracting the best energy throughout their day that will help them conquer their dreams?
Yes, yes, yes! Pilates has changed my life for the better - there is a reason Pilates has gained such a cult like following. First and foremost, moving your body is one of the top ways to help you feel better mentally, releasing endorphins and serotonin and releasing stagnant energy. So we know moving is good for you, but the difference with Pilates is the details. Smaller and more precise movements focusing on technique target smaller muscles and increases mind to body connection. This keeps you present in your movement along with keeping your body safe in the long term. Pilates is not a fitness fad that exhausts you or injures you. Instead you build real, long lasting habits that help your body move better in every day life. I used to have chronic back pain when i was young and Pilates has lead me to not only a more pain free life now but also means that I'm doing the things that I know will make my body feel amazing in the long run. Its kind of the same as SPF is for your skin, being a part of your daily routine means you build yourself a healthier happier more glowing future.
3. I believe growing up as a woman is tricky. It is hard to find the right balance between exercise ( like what to do and how much of it), what to eat, when, etc. Can you advise us on how much exercise we should do daily and during the week and why? What foods have you noticed also help you maintain your weight and keep you lean?
Growing up as a dancer, there had always been pressure on the way I looked, but as soon as I started prioritising how I felt, my life changed for the better. The key to finding the right exercise and how much to do that is unique to you and leaves you feeling your best is:
- Think of your goals - feel stronger/better posture/more energy etc.
- Find a type of exercise that you love - this way, you will do it consistently!
- Take note of how you feel - do you finish your sessions exhausted or energised?
If your goal is stronger abdominals, let's say, then Pilates is great because there is so much core focus. But say you actually love doing dance classes. Incorporate both into your weekly routine, so you know you are working towards your goals but also able to stay consistent because it's something you love. Then let's say you do one of each a week and finish feeling energised but still aren't seeing a stronger core. Then up your sessions to 2x per week of each, and you might feel great, or maybe that extra two sessions are leaving you exhausted, and you stop loving dancing because you're going so much, switch it to 3x a week with 2 pilates and 1 dancing which you can consistently enjoy each week, this will leave you with a routine that becomes a lifetime habit, consistency will always beat intensity in the long run. Rest days are essential, and some weeks (especially just before your period), you may feel like doing less, listen to this and take holidays and weeks off to refresh yourself!
I found an amazing nutritionist; I couldn't recommend talking to an expert enough; she's helped me choose all the right food and supplements that give me all the energy I need in my busy lifestyle and help me feel my best mentally and physically. I really find joy in eating amazing food with the ones I love as well as just eating the things that make me feel amazing inside and out. If you fall in love with looking after yourself, everything falls into place. Women are often led to believe they are more worthy of something if they look a certain way, but you are worthy of your wildest dreams regardless of anything else. I really do believe there is such a glow from someone who feels good and looks after themselves, knows their worth and is confident in themselves regardless of how they look!
4. How do you stay motivated and keep consistent with exercise and wellness choices?
Honestly, with my lifestyle, there aren't many days that look the same, so I sometimes struggle to get consistency. But I think that's life; sometimes you focus more on your family, on love, or on your career, but doing something for yourself will always positively impact these areas of your life. I don't feel great when my good habits slide, and that is the best motivation, feeling your best self!
5. Lastly, what are your 5 go-to, non-negotiable beauty & wellness hacks that lead you to live a fulfilled, healthy and happy life?
- Get outside in the sun! With Olivia Rae SPF, of course. Nature getting out in nature looks good on everyone and connects us to our most authentic selves.
- Swim in the ocean; your troubles will melt away every time.
- Practice gratitude - even for the things you don't like, learn from them to continually grow.
- Find the joy in movement - fall in love with it, so it's never a chore. Your mind and body will love you for it.
- Always invest in yourself - get the book, do the course, buy the ticket, and you won't regret it, ever.
I couldn't help doing a few more if you want to include them,
- No coffee for the win - this isn't for everyone, but I am one of the rare people who can't metabolise coffee that well and giving it up has had such a positive impact on my life!
- Set goals - direction and structure excel you towards your wildest dreams!
- Be as kind to yourself as you are to others; how you talk to yourself matters.
- Give back - when reflecting on what we have to be grateful for, we realise how fortunate we are. Finding ways to give back or make a difference brings so much fulfilment to your life.
- Fall in love with looking after yourself
Holly is a Pilates, Barre and fitness trainer and teacher trainer who has lived all over the world, studying and teaching movement for 20 years. Her eye for detail, motivational, uplifting energy and intelligently challenging sessions provides her clients with incredible results.
Holly has gifted us with an incredible feminine 20-minute pilates session to get your abs burning, your ass tight, and your arms toned - what we all want, right?
This 20-minute session is designed for the woman who is always on the go but always fits in a quick but effective pilates sesh. Trust me; these 20 minutes are all you need to see the results. So pop on your motivational Spotify playlist or our OLIVIA RAE PLAYLIST and start your morning right.