Biography: I’m a novelist. I’m the author of thirty-two novels including A Proper Family Holiday and Getting Over Mr Right. My latest book, A Proper Family Adventure, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton on July 16th. I also write as Olivia Darling, Stella Knightley and Stephanie Ash.
1. When did you start Pilates?
I started practising Pilates in 2003. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and was introduced to the discipline by personal trainer Teri Nakamura.
2. Where you inspired or advised to take up Pilates?
I was less inspired than forced to take up Pilates because I was suffering from debilitating back pain. It was so bad that I couldn’t sit at my desk and was having to type standing up at the kitchen counter. I wrote a whole novel that way. Teri advised me that strengthening my core was key to keeping my back healthy. Pilates could give me that strength. It did.
3. How many times do you practice in the studio?
Not often enough! I do my best to get to the studio at least once a week.
4. Do you ever practice yourself?
Yes. From time to time, when I’m feeling guilty, I do a little mat routine. Roll-ups. The hundred. Stomach series…
5. What is the most important thing you have learned from taking up Pilates?
That everything comes from the core. Whatever I’m doing, I try to engage those muscles. It makes almost every physical action I take – lifting, carrying, even typing – so much more comfortable and easier.
6. What has changed the most since you started?
I don’t suffer from so much back pain. I’m not cured. In fact, I slipped a disc earlier this year. However, the recovery is much faster when I spend time at Pilates. I also think I’m better able to avoid injury because I know how to engage my core when I’m going about my everyday life. It’s when I’ve been skiving Pilates and I’m racing about without thinking that I get into trouble.
7. Do you workout or play another sport?
Absolutely not! But I do walk everywhere. I try to clock up 10000 steps a day, which works out at about four miles, I think. It’s easy to do in London, where it’s far simpler to use public transport than drive somewhere and try to find a parking space. Stealth exercise. That’s my style.
8. What is your favourite exercise?
The one that comes after the hundred on the Reformer, where your feet go over your head. What’s that one? Spine Stretch? I also like the wall exercises at the end of a session because… well, because they’re at the end.
9. What is your least favourite exercise?
Leg springs. My legs are so feeble. Yet still so big…
10. Favourite apparatus?
The step-barrel. I love the weightless feeling you get doing leg-work on this. And the nice lie down afterwards.
11.What would you still like to change about your self?
I’d like to be less lazy and get into the studio at least twice a week. It would be great to see some definition in my legs but I guess that means more leg springs. Ugh!
12. How do you relax?
I relax by walking and reading (not at the same time). My ideal weekend would include a long walk on a windswept beach somewhere like Cornwall or Brittany, and a cosy evening spent reading a great novel while a log fire roars in the grate.
13. Privates or Semi Privates?
At the moment, privates with Holly because I’m recovering from a slipped disc and I can’t keep up with a group class. Privates are great because they can be tailored to your needs and all that one-to-one attention means no skiving! I work three times as hard in a private class.
14. Do you know when Joseph Pilates was born?
Not off the top of my head but I would guess it’s around 1910. Recently I met an elderly gentleman who actually trained with Joseph Pilates in the 1960s. He said Joseph was an extraordinary man.
Wow. I just Googled. He was born in 1883!
15. Do you know what nationality he was?
Google to the rescue. German of Greek extraction.
16. Are you a “lover “of Pilates or a “must” do Pilates?
Oh, I love it really 🙂