The Soul seekers with Ellen Podcast

Anna Frankland Transcription

Episode 1, Season 1 of the Soul Seekers with Ellen Podcast

Ellen 0:03
Welcome, everybody, those to the soul seekers podcast. With me Ellen Shilling and today I’m chatting to Anna Frankland of Reform Pilates.  in Blackrock. Hi, Anna, how are you?

Anna 0:18
Morning Ellen, I’m very well. It’s very nice to be here.

Ellen 0:21
Thank you so much for coming on to the podcast today. And what I really wanted to do was start our first interview, actually our second interview because we’ve already done this. But beginners error, I had to start again, because the sound wasn’t quite right. So take two I know it’s going to be an even better chat than take one because I know we were quite nervous for the first one. And it feels like there’s a lot that we’re going to cover over the next 20to 30 minutes or so and I think it’s going be really, really beneficial to people.

So for those of you who don’t know, Anna is a Pilates teacher that has a studio called Reform Pilates in Blackrock, but she’s not only a Pilates teacher, she owns a business, she’s a mom, she’s a wife. She’s a daughter. She’s a triathlete (was a triathlete) and is a swimmer now. And there’s a whole host of other things. I really wanted her to be on this podcast because Anna is just so positive, so optimistic all the time. But also, I know that she has so much experience in life and so much wisdom to share with us about her journey. About her story of things that she’s learned along the way, and that’s who I wanted to start – with somebody who makes me smile, and Anna always makes me smile. So Anna I really thank you for for being here.

And so Anna, do you want to introduce yourself? Do you want to say anything about you know your story so far, or you know how you came to be in Blackrock in Reform Pilates ?

Anna 1:56
Yes, absolutely. Thank you for that lovely introduction, Ellen. So I started the studio just about 12 years ago now in Blackrock. And that came about because we just moved back from Sydney. We’d lived there for five years and had had two kids. At the same time, we had twin girls and realized that it was not where we wanted to be to raise our kids, it was just too far from home.

At the time, when I had the girls, I was working in private equity. So I was working a lot with startup businesses. And it was something I really enjoyed. I was also a triathlete, as you mentioned, and had done a lot of swimming as a teenager, and had got injured, I’d actually got injured before we moved to Sydney. And I started doing Pilates. While I was in Sydney, having never done it before. I’d never known what it was, and really enjoyed it, but I was working in the corporate world at the same time. And fast forward a couple of years. And we had the girls and I tried going back to work and realized very quickly that that wasn’t going to work for me. So we just had such huge problems getting childcare. I wasn’t happy and myself though, was probably the bigger issue because I wanted to be at home with them. But I also wanted to work.

So it was that that conflict that we’ve all experienced, or a lot of us experience whereby I just wanted the best of both worlds. And it’s not always possible. So I gave up my job and private equity, had no clue what I was going to do except for spend some time with two babies. And very quickly realized I needed to do something to fill my time. So I signed up for course to become a Pilates instructor. I’d done Pilates since we arrived in Sydney to get me through the pregnancy to get me over an injury then through the pregnancy, then post pregnancy and just found it amazing post having the girls so I knew that it was something I really enjoyed doing. It was something I found huge benefit in doing and that if I found it that way, there had to be other people who felt the same about it. So I did a year long course it was pretty intense, a lot of study a lot of anatomy & physiology, which I’ve never done before and really enjoyed. And then started teaching in different studios in Sydney, always with the idea in the back of my mind that if we moved back home, I’d love to set up a studio that it would be a business that I’d really enjoy to run because I knew how beneficial it would be for so many people.

I also knew that studios didn’t really exist in Dublin at the time or in Ireland, a lot of the time Pilates was taught but it was taught out of church halls and community centers not the lovely welcoming environments that I was going to in Sydney so I took the both the best of what I found in different studios that I worked in and found a lovely space in Blackrock to open my own studio, and I’ve been there ever since.

So I’m very lucky, it’s a lovely space, we’ve got two rooms, we’re looking at over Dublin Bay. Beside the sea, like we were in Sydney. So that’s really nice to have. And I’ve got an amazing group of instructors who I work with, and then a really diverse group of clients who come into us every day. So it’s, it’s been a great journey. 

Ellen 5:20
Yes its a beautiful, beautiful space, like with incredible views, as you say, that’s such an interesting journey. There’s so much I want to pick apart about that journey, not pick apart, but kind of delve into to understand more. And as you were talking there, I loved to if you don’t mind me asking, well, that’s why you’re here, isn’t it for me to ask – We can edit it out later. About that conflict, you said you felt a conflict. You have the girls and going back to work –  I think so many women feel that conflict as well. So what happened during that, for you that led you to leave the corporate world, because that was such an incredibly brave decision to make at the time because the  easy option people would say is just stick at what you do just you know, just buckle down and get through it. And you know, it’ll be fine in a couple of years.

But to take that step, when you have two small kids, a lot of women and a lot of men will say no, that’s the wrong time to do that. But that sounds like the conflict got to you and that made the decision maybe a little bit easier?

Anna 6:32
Yeah, and there’s so many inputs into that decision. But I think that conflict is a familiar one. I’d grown up with my mom at home, you know, she stayed at home to mind myself and my brother, she was there for whenever we needed her. And that was really important to me, I knew that was a really important part of my upbringing. And I wanted to do that for my kids. But at the same time I was growing up in a world where I’d had a career, I had a career at the time. And I didn’t want to give that up. So for me, it was about trying to find a role or if you’d like a job that would give me flexibility –  time to spend with the kids bringing them up. But also time where I could be proud of what I had, you know, have my own professional role in life or my own career as such. And it’s very hard to find, to find a job that will allow you to do both of those things. And I think as well, another big input for me was that I felt in the corporate world, I wasn’t able to make a difference, I mean, it sounds like such a cliche, but I love what I do now, in that I feel that even in just some tiny way I can make a difference to people’s day, that I can make it slightly better and that they can leave the studio feeling a little bit better than when they came in. And that’s huge. That’s, that’s really huge for me, and I never got that in the corporate world. So I’m not sure at the time, whether that was a really conscious part of the decision that I made. But now I realize how important that is to me.

Ellen 8:19
So as you reflect back, you can see how that might have driven that decision. 

Anna 8:24
Yeah and I don’t know if I could have predicted how huge that is, what a difference we can make. And we only know that based on the feedback we get from clients, but I think that all of my instructors who I work with would say the same thing, that that’s why we do what we do, because we have that ability to make a small difference.

Ellen 8:47
Yeah. And we often think of making the differences in the capacity of counselling or something in that profession, that is talk therapy, whereas we can make a difference in anything that we do – any job, just by a smile, just by listening, just by word of encouragement.

Anna 9:07
Yeah, all of those things, for sure. Just listening, as you say, is so important or creating an environment where they feel comfortable, or where they can escape from the rest of their day, the rest of their lives, even for just an hour. And that kind of supportive environment thats what we try to create in the studio is so important and can mean so much.

Ellen 9:27
I’m curious. I’m still back in Sydney, with you and your husband and the girls. And was there a moment? Was there a morning? Was there a moment where you just turned to your husband and just said:  This is it I need to do something here. Was there a turning point or a moment or was it over a course of a period of time?

Anna 9:52
I think the decision to come home was the first big decision and that prompted any decision as to what I was going to do when I got home, I made that decision to move home probably midway on one of those flights home from Sydney to Dublin with two screaming babies in a bassinet. I think that’s it yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s when that decision was made. Then when we got home, then I knew I was going to do something. But it wasn’t till I got home, we got home in April, and I opened the studio in July. So I was just lucky to find a space that would work for what I wanted to do, because they’re not easy to come by,

Ellen 10:36
No, they’re very difficult because there’s quite a specific space that you need; equipment and access and that kind of stuff.

Anna 10:44
Absolutely. And for me, daylight was huge as well. So a lot of the times students, you know, just because it’s so unaffordable to open a studio. There, they’re in kind of smaller, not so well lit spaces, but to get this space that had this amazing view out over the sea. And that was reasonably accessible.

We’ve got three flights of stairs up to our studio. So we do get the odd complaint. Usually when people get up to the top of the stairs they’re ready to go. I have a client who started with me probably six or seven years ago, a lovely lady and the first time she came to the studio, I came out to welcome her in at the top of the stairs. And she said to me before she said anything else just said, I’m not coming back here again. I will never climb those stairs again. She now laughs and says to me that she only now realizes that the very reason she struggled to get up the stairs was the reason she needed to come back. So we always have a good laugh about this. Yeah, so it’s not ideal. Obviously, if you’re anyway physically impaired it is. And often we’re doing rehab work, it’s not ideal to have because a lift would be good, but it’s not going to happen.

Ellen 12:02
And that brings me to the next question I did want to ask you. And you said there a while ago, gosh, you have a diverse range of clients from all different ages. What do you see? What inspires you within your work with clients with the different ages?

Anna 12:20
Oh, let’s think so many different things. And I love a class we have called the mid morning movers which kind of well, the name came out of our some of our COVID classes, which is it’s a class for the over 60s. And I love when a lot of those clients have now just progressed to come to, you know, a regular intermediate class and we get 20 year olds in the class. So it’s 70 year olds and the 70 year olds way outperform the 20 year old that always makes me smile.

It’s just incredible to see. We learn so much from that generation and their determination and the changes that they can bring a base from regular practice. And it means that they can do so much else in their daily lives. And that is just that’s invaluable to them. And we love seeing that. And we also as I said, we do a lot of rehab work. So people come to pre op, some joint replacements, sorry, we do prehab and rehab. So they come pre and then they come post and we work with we work with lots of disabilities as well, which is hugely rewarding.

We’ve got one client and she’s on crutches. She has a type of cerebral palsy. So she gets up to three flights of stairs on her crutches. She comes in every time with a big smile on her face. And if you’re feeling at all sorry for yourself that day, that changes because she gets two buses, and she’s on her crutches. And she makes her way into us twice a week. So she gives us all a bit of perspective. Yeah, hugely inspirational. 

Ellen 14:00
Do you find that the work that you do with your clients, whatever age that they are,  does it have a ripple effect on other areas of their lives?

Anna 14:13
Yes, and in different ways in lots of different ways that you wouldn’t that I never expected. I have one client who still comes into me, she’s a good friend now as well. And when she first started, she had never done Pilates before. She was thinking about applying for a promotion. And we talked a little bit about that as she was coming in. We do quite a lot of one to one sessions. So we do private sessions. And I encouraged her to go for it. And she came back to me a couple of weeks later and she’d gone for the promotion. She got the promotion. And then a few months later she told me she wasn’t enjoying the job that she blamed me for the fact that she went for it!

That’s brilliant. Yeah, but it does it gives people great self awareness, and you know, changes self esteem for sure, in terms of making people realize what they can do. A lot of the time people come in with the I can’t do this, I can’t do that mentality. And we tried to flip that to show them all the things they can do, you know, so and that’s huge.

Ellen 15:25
If I can do that, if I can climb the three flights of stairs, like that lady, exactly. Well, of course, I can do all these other things

Can I ask you a really stupid question?

Anna 15:36
No stupid questions.

Ellen 15:39
What’s the difference between Pilates and yoga?

Anna 15:42
There’s very little difference. I mean, there’s so much crossover, I suppose. Typically, when people are asked that question, they would say that Pilates is yes, less mindful than yoga, it’s definitely less spiritual. But I would argue that it’s equally as mindful. So it’s a lovely way of just switching off from your daily life, in terms of just tuning into what’s going in, going on in your body, and that’s exactly what you’re doing in yoga, and in Pilates. So you’re tuning into your body, a lot of the time, we’re so far removed from what’s going on inside of us. So it’s lovely to bring people back into that space back inside of themselves, and just a little bit of escapism from the outside world. And from a fiscal perspective, you can argue that Pilates is more about strength, yoga, more about flexibility. But it really depends on what type of yoga and what type of Pilates you’re doing, we do Pilates on the mat, we do Pilates on the reformer, we use other types of apparatus, and you can do as much stretching as you like, you can do as much strength work as you’d like. And we try to tailor it for the individual as much as possible. So, you know, these are their labels that we put on forms of movement, but they’re all just a form of movement, which most of us need to be doing more of. So it’s, it’s whatever you enjoy, it’s what you should be doing.

Ellen 17:07
Yes, absolutely. That’s true of life.

Anna 17:09
Absolutely. Otherwise, you’re not going to do it.

Ellen 17:12
I know, and you brought up such a good point there, and you’re full of good points – of getting out of our heads back into our bodies, like I find that as well with the work that they do, you know, I can ask somebody how they feel, and they can’t. They can tell me how they think they feel or how they should feel or how somebody’s told them that they’re stressed. But I’m like, what, how do you feel in your body and they’re like, I don’t know, I don’t know what’s in my body. Because I haven’t referenced my body in a while. And that’s not a bad thing. It, it’s just, it can cause issues, I think, long term. But also we lose access, we lose access to our body, or we lose kind of working with our body, we can become a little bit more sick, or we can lose access to the intuition and the wisdom that lies within our body. And absolutely to come back, isn’t it into your body into work with your body? 

Anna 18:07
We spend so much time in our heads, I think it’s really invaluable to be able to get out of your head and into your body. And I think for a lot of people, sometimes mindfulness meditation can be really difficult because it can be so difficult to get out of your head. Whereas when there’s movement involved, I think for a lot of people, it’s easier for them to get back into their body because it gives a focus to what they’re doing. And I try in my teaching to incorporate mindfulness, but only at the end of a class. And it’s interesting, I get mixed feedback on it. Some people really don’t want to be doing that. They don’t expect that when they come to a Pilates class. But I do think that the end of a Pilates class is when you have the best chance of coming into your body and being able just to be whether it be focused on the breath or focus on thoughts or whatever it might be. That’s the time to do it. But yeah, it’s definitely, it’s definitely a mindful form of movement.

Ellen 19:11
I remember somebody saying to me, like, she loved to do yoga first and then mindfulness, because it got rid of the crazy mental, like the anxiety and the stress out of her body. And then she could go into mindfulness. But it’s good to challenge people as well, isn’t it? Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Not expecting mindfulness at the end of the class and not expecting three flights of stairs when they come in.

I know, I know myself, I don’t make time for mindfulness, you know. And I  love to go to class where I had that little opportunity then at the end and to fit it into my day. So that’s what I’m trying to do

Ellen 19:54
And so, going back to the classes for a moment You’ve got clients and you’re working with them in different ways. And you might be using the apparatus or you might be on the mat. I’m assuming the intention is still the same for both that at the end of the class to your feeling you’re you’re feeling more connected with your body, you’re feeling stronger, would that be fair to say? And that you’re building a feeling of resilience? Or what are the other kinds of qualities that you can foster through pilates?

Anna 20:24
Yeah, I mean, from a purely physical perspective, we’re working mainly with women, we do have male clients as well, which is brilliant, but we’re working mainly with women. And women come from the age of 40 plus, and all the researchers show it Well, it’s funny. I mean, we know about certain sarcopenia. So we lose muscle mass, as we age, from the age of 30, we’re losing muscle mass, and we’re losing bone density. And Osteoporosis is a massive problem in this country. So once you reach I think it’s over the age of 55, one in two women have osteoporosis. And then if you are getting falls on top of that, and you’re getting fractures, and that’s damaging to life expectancy, then on top of the kind of mindful side of movement, we are looking to strengthen people up to strengthen women, because we’re happy to go out for walks, and we’re happy to go and have our swim or go for a cycle, we don’t like to do the resistance work that we need to be doing. Because we’re not doing enough physical work in our daily lives to keep that strength. And just in terms of life expectancy, longevity and quality of life, as you age, it’s so important to stay strong. So although not everyone who comes to us is coming for that that is really the underlying one of the underlying reasons for doing what you know, for teaching the way we teach. And, and as I said before, alongside that you’re enabling everybody, whoever comes in the door then to do all the other fun things they enjoy in their lives. So whether that’s playing with kids with grandkids or the sports that they want to do just getting through a day with you know, young kids, and whatever it might be, that strength is going to help get you there.

Ellen 22:16
Yeah, amazing. I think I need to go to a class

Anna 22:19
Sold you yet Ellen?

Ellen 22:21
Yeah. No excuses! Now to deviate a little bit and go to work life balance. Because not only is it difficult for for everybody out there at the moment, and because there’s so much pressure on us to have the perfect life, have the perfect relationship, be the perfect parent, and also have a body to die for have a healthy lifestyle and meditate, do your sea swims and your gratitude journal and do all these things. And what you also have a business in there that you’re running.

So how do you manage your work life balance with home with the kids and other little bit older now than when you first came back from Australia? And you have a third one now as well. Thats three kids now and a husband and a dog. A very important dog, gorgeous dog. And as you look back now and I’d like to know how did you manage everything? How did you find yourself being able to be at home with the girls and then maybe being able to be at work with your clients? What kind of tools and strategies did you use to navigate yourself through that.

Anna 23:34
Yeah. And I often come back to a very good friend of mine who is also very intelligent friend of mine once gave me a postcard that said, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. So I often have to come back to that 

Ellen 23:48
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

Anna 23:52
And I think as women, we try to do everything you know, and we try to do be the very best at everything we do. And there’s a lot of pressure to be the very best at everything we do. And I think at times I have started down that road, but I’ve had to pull myself back and I think that’s familiar to a lot of people. You know, people have asked me along the way when will we open another studio –  like that’s kind of surely the way to go and to grow it.

If I open another studio, I don’t get time to spend on my kids. So I have huge flexibility in the job I have I always said the trade off is you know, a huge flexibility when I never get to switch off from it. So and I think most people who run their own business would say the same thing well about not not being able to switch off. I also to get that flexibility. I’ve surrendered it and now have the help of a team of instructors and I also have an administrator who are happy or who I am happy to give responsibility to and They’re happy to take on that responsibility. So I’m not always at the studio, they’re coming and going, they’re looking after clients. And I trust them to do that. And I have to say, I’m so lucky to have such a brilliant team. So they take that on, they have relationship with the clients. And, and I can leave them to it. So we all get together at various points during the year, but we’re not, I’m not always there, I give them huge autonomy and what they do, and most people really thrive on that.

Ellen 25:31
So do so you’re able to let go. 

Anna 25:35
Yeah,and in a way, by design, but also that’s, that can be a hard thing to do. But if I want to be around for the kids, I structure my day so that I’m always there for school pickup,  and now I don’t work evenings or weekends anymore, for the most part. Although, of course, when I started, it was a completely different story. But I’m in that nice position now where I don’t need to work weekends or evenings. So I’m always around in the afternoons, can’t always say that I’m brilliant as switching off from work. But for the most part, I’ve got better at it over the years. And when I’m at home, I try to be as present as possible. And likewise, when I’m at work, so it does work reasonably well.

Ellen 26:18
Do you have little tools that you use that, uh, that pull you back? If you find that you’re with the kids, and you’re getting too caught up in the structure, you know, vice versa? Do you have ways are just a little kind of alarm bells. 

Anna 26:33
A very practical tool, which I tried to stick to as it to leave my phone on the hall table. So when I get home, the phone goes on the hall table. So when I was growing up, the phone was always on the hall table. So obviously, it wasn’t a mobile phone. But that’s where I tried to leave the phone. So when I’m on the phone, I am in the hall. And that’s where I message or Whats app, I chat. But then I go back, I leave the phone on the hall table and I go back into the living space. It works really well. I think you gave me that tip, Ellen. Thank you very much. As I said, I drift occasionally from it. But for the most part, and my youngest wants sometimes to use my phone and she said where’s your phone mum? Right? Well, it’s on the hall table as it as it always is. But it is usually there.

Ellen 27:19
That’s so nice. I’d say that’s great for the kids as well, because they know that you’re not distracted that when you’re in the kitchen with them, you’re in the kitchen with them. You’re not listening to your phone, or you’re not alert to your phone, you’re fully present.

Anna 27:33
Yeah, it doesn’t mean I’m not sometimes thinking about work, but at least I’m not on the phone. Yeah, it works really well. So that’s one of the things I do. You know, when I go on holidays, unfortunately, the phone does usually come with me Oh, the other really important thing that I’ve done recently is hired and administrator. So for 10 years, I did all the admin and social media in the business, and then finally got to a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. Because I’d be kind of switching, I’d be powering up the laptop at nine o’clock at night, once the kids were in bed to do the admin. So I took on an administrator and that has been life changing. So I know that she’ll looked after me for look after all, the admin and I don’t need to. So that’s amazing. That’s been great. 

Ellen 28:18
And you said earlier, you know about how people are expecting you to open or asking you why you didn’t open another studio. And, you know, it’s funny is not like, you know, people seem to think that the definition of success is building building building and having more and more and more and maybe you if you have two studios is suddenly not enough and you think I’ll have three. So you know, the franchise would grow and grow and grow. But I know we talked about this before this podcast, but it’s such an important poin, isn’t it – what your definition of success is, because you’re one was completely different. Your definition of success was to be with the kids more 

Anna 28:58
Yeah it is, to have to be able to have that balance in my life, you know, and to be able to do both. Not everything, but both those things. So whenever I get tempted to go after that goal, I try to stop and reflect and see, I think your definition of success changes, you know, at certain points in your life. And as the kids have gotten older, I find I have a bit more time for myself. So instead of opening a studio, I’ve gone back and I do bits of study and a bit of you know, better continuous learning and I’m loving that. So that’s what I’ve prioritized over expanding the business. So you know, there’s a price to pay for all these things and and I think in terms of our well being we often pursue these goals at the expense of our well being and then at the expanded sense of the well being of everyone around us and I think sometimes it’s hard. We don’t realize that until after we’ve done it and it’s very hard to roll back on Yeah,

Ellen 30:00
because the ego wants stuff. Sure its very gratifying. Because the definition of success to so many people would be that growth. And would be that second studio. And it takes a lot of guts to turn around and say no, actually, my work life balance is more important to me, this is my definition of success, because other people can react to that as well. And you really have to stay strong to it. But in doing so, as you say, you’re working with what’s most important to you. And that’s going to be best for everybody around you.

Anna 30:31
Yeah. And I think in terms of modeling behavior for your kids, I think that that idea of looking after yourself and giving yourself time to to, to for self care is so important. And I have that at the moment. And I know if I opened another studio, I wouldn’t have that. So, you know, modeling going after pursuing your your goals is great. But I often wonder if modeling self care is actually more important,. Yeah, it is what I said that as women we don’t prioritize looking after ourselves before those around us, or maybe before is wrong, you know, it’s putting on the oxygen mask its looking after ourselves, so that we can look after everyone around us. I think that’s so easily forgotten. And if I can model that, for my children, I think it’s more important than pursuing goals, I think that comes, there’s enough pressure in society, I don’t feel I need to model that I think the self care is more important.

Ellen 31:44
That’s amazing. So your intention for your children is to really teach them the importance of self care rather than pursuing goals.

Anna 31:53
Now, it goes back to what we were talking about earlier about this conflict that we have as women, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. So in order to be able to do that, we need that the things we want to do in life, we need to look after ourselves, first and foremost. And then we have more chance of being able to do the things we want to do in life.

Ellen 32:15
You know, Kristen Neff, who’s a psychologist talks a lot about compassion, and she said, you know, that self care is a compassionate building exercise. And she has done a lot of research with loads of different groups, and it’s published research. She says that people who are partaking in self care regularly, are more self compassionate, and are actually much more likely to achieve their goals. They’re much more motivated, they don’t ruminate or kind of talk to themselves negatively, and they bounce back better from setbacks, because their base, their inner dialogue is one of no you can do this, you’ve got this, rather than the inner dialogue of, oh, God, you should do this. Because you need to make something of yourself or, you know, you need to prove yourself because, you know, you need to lose that weight, or you need to do X, Y, and Z, whatever it is. It’s the motivation, that is coming from a negative place. Yeah, without self care, but with self care, it’s coming from a positive place, and how much easier to live it is

Anna 33:20
Absolutely. I mean, it is that idea of filling up your cup, you know, so that you have something to give. And as you know, you know, I swim a lot of mornings as alongside you. But I do you see that as filling up my cup first thing in the morning, and I often talk to my kids about how important that is, you know, they’ve asked me at times why I do it. So I’m very clear that it is so important to me to do that to get me through the day. So I can be at my best through the day, because I start the day feeling really good about myself.

Ellen 33:55
You’re teaching them about self care through the act of going swimming and doing something that you love.

Well, I hope so. Yeah, well, that’s my intention.

Yeah, that’s what you’re telling them so and what other things do you do to fill up your cup?

Anna 34:07
So I love to read. I love it. I mean, just like everyone else, I love to just chill out and watch Netflix. I love to do that curled up on the couch with the kids. And take time and love going away. I love going on holidays. I love meeting friends for a cup of coffee or going out for dinner. All that good stuff in there with the swimming is kind of my time. It’s the it’s it’s my thing that I prioritize during the week on a given week, given kind of boring week is such a regular week. That’s always what I will prioritize for myself to get through the week. And I think for my mental health, it’s absolutely massive. It’s not about physical health, really, for me, it’s about it’s about everything that I get from swimming for my mental health.

So in positive psychology, they talk about this acronym PERMA,  which is all of this, what’s what makes us happy? What makes us thrive in life. And I figured out that swimming gives me all of those things. You know, they talk about positivity and relatedness and engagement and accomplishment and the meaningfulness and that’s the I get all of this from swimming, I could get it from other things, people get it from lots of different things. But if you can figure out where you get that from it, I think it’s it’s so important to a happy life to thriving instead of just surviving. Which is what they this is what they talk about in positive psychology. So it’s all about optimizing human functioning. And we’re figuring out why some people thrive and why some people merely survive, or you know, find it hard to get by,

Ellen 35:51
I see lots of people who are just surviving at the moment. Absolutely. So how do you make that switch from surviving to thriving? Is it through this PERMA acronym

Anna 35:59
Positive psychology talks about so many different techniques, you know, so obviously, mindful meditation would be one of them, gratitude journaling, but finding activities or things that you like to do in your daily life that give you this sense of being engaged and related to other people, which is massive, you know, which, which we’ve all lost, or a lot of us have lost since COVID. And which a lot of us are losing now with social media as well as teenagers, they’re looking at their phones, instead of chatting to one another. And there’s so much research around that now. Then just the importance of feeling related to other two people and connected to other people. And that sense of community which, again, going back to the studio, where I’ve always tried to create that sense of community because it’s, I just feel so many people are lacking that in their lives. And it’s just so important for, for our health.

Ellen 36:55
During COVID I first created the soul seekers group, online. And we used to meet every Wednesday evening and meditate together was amazing. And everyone was like, you could still feel like you were in the room with somebody. But since going back and doing group work, like you , it still suits a lot of people zoom on being online. But the difference in the experience of the person coming to an in person event into a group event, you just see them sitting down and just exhaling and just letting go of something. Almost like the are saying: Yeah, I’m here. I’m in a space where I’m not judged. And you know, I’m in a lovely space and turn off my phone. I left everything over there.

Yeah, you know, are on the journey. Because I’ve got two flights stairs in my premises. Yeah, there’s nearly always as, you know, they’ve had to make the physical journey, and this creates an intention and a space to let go…of something.  And whatever  we do in that space, then they’re just a different person at the end of it. But it’s the connection and it can be with Anybody can be complete strangers. Yeah.

Anna 38:04
That and that’s why, and that’s what brings people back as well. And the other thing I love to hear often when I’m not teaching, but one of my other instructors is teaching is to hear laughing from the students. I think that’s so important. And I don’t think people come to Pilates class and expect to laugh. But just that I think it’s so vital for all of us and to be able to come like you said, into a room where you don’t necessarily know anybody else, but to have a laugh while you’re there is just brilliant. Yeah, for sure.

Ellen 38:37
Actually, it brings me to another question. Who makes you laugh?

Anna 38:42
My husband makes me laugh. He makes me laugh a lot. I laugh at myself quite a lot for the stupid things I do. Yeah. And yeah, a bit like you’re doing now. It’s like you remember them during the day. And then I laugh and the kids are looking at me going, Mom, why are you laughing? So I love that as being able to go back over things. And certain people make me laugh. My mom makes me laugh. 

Ellen 39:15
I was away a couple of weekends ago. And it was I’m still giggling about it now, but it was ridiculous at the time. Friend of mine got the hiccups. I was crying laughing It was just hiccups. It was nothing else other than the hiccups. But every so often just when she thought she was done she’d go again and I’d be on floor and I remember just like literally crying laughing

Anna 39:43
It is a tonic. It’s so important. And we don’t do enough for us. Yeah, in order to laugh for sure. 

Ellen 39:53
What is your favorite book?

Anna 39:56
Ah, so I have a terrible memory. So the most recent book that I read that I loved was lessons in chemistry. Oh, brilliant. I absolutely love that. And I’ve bought it for a few friends, and also a book called A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which is a fantastic book. It’s a real tone of a book. But it is a really fascinating book. And it’s called a little life. It’s about four friends growing up in New York format. I often read books about women, I realized, but I love this about four men growing up, there’s a lot of trauma in it. I love books, about people’s lives in different cultures or different countries. That’s what really fascinates me. So yeah, there are two that springs to mind.

Ellen 40:48
And I want to ask you about your favorite song. Because I created a playlist during COVID, created on Spotify. So my intention is to collect a song from everybody that I have a chat to in the big blue chair, and ask for their favorite song that helps them to shake off the stress and shake off the the kind of energy of stagnancy that we all carry within our body from sitting down in front of a laptop or desktop throughout the day, and just helps us to shake as Taylor Swift would say shifted off. And I just want to ask you, yeah, what song makes you dance? I don’t make song gets you on the dance floor.

Anna 41:30
So many. There’s so many. I’m terrible at remembering. So yeah, the two teenage girls in the house, we always have music And yeah, there’s sometimes dancing around the kitchen, not as much as there used to be actually when they were younger, which is a real shame. And we have Harry Styles and my nine year old loves to dance with me to Harry Styles. So I do like, I suppose Yeah, he’d be top of my list at the moment, but it could change next week.

Ellen 41:56
We’ll go with Harry Styles. That’s gonna be popular. Well, thank you so much. I do have one last question to ask you. Because this is called the soul seekers podcast. What makes your soul smile.

Anna 42:13
There’s a lot of things that make me smile. I love I love getting out of Dublin at the weekends with the dog and just going for a walk in the forest with the kids ideally, as well, if they’ll come with me, I really love that. I feel that my soul needs that, to just get away from it all. And we don’t actually do it as much as I’d like to do, a bit more in the summer. I also love those rare occasions and they’re increasingly rare where we are sat down for dinner and instead of it taking 10 minutes and everyone jumping up to get on with the rest of their lives. We’re still there after two hours having the chats because everyone’s in chatty form and they’ve all got something to say. And I really value those times because they’re few and far between. But it’s lovely, especially as the kids are getting older. You can have those really good chats. So I do really enjoy this.

Ellen 43:11
Thank you so much for being here today for take two

Anna 43:16
it’s completely My pleasure. Thank you


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