Riana Leaf loves to prove people wrong. But in the nicest possible way.
The vibrant Pilates instructor is passionate about helping people enjoy life – and proving that Pilates is for everyone; from rugby blokes and elite athletes to grandparents, children and women of all ages and fitness levels.
“There’s a definite misconception out there that Pilates is a social exercise group for mums, but you just have to look at some of the world’s top sports stars to realise the benefits spread far and wide within the male population as well.”
As owner of Blue Mat Pilates, Riana and her team work with everyone from children to a 92 year old client.
“I first became involved with Pilates after my mum had back surgery,” says Riana. “The rehab programme available for her post surgery was shocking (as in non-existent).
“I was working in the fashion industry at the time and felt helpless not being able to help her. I started to investigate how and where I could study to become a qualified Pilates instructor, as I had attended classes myself and knew how beneficial it was.
“I wanted to start helping more people, like my mum, learn some great tools on how to manage pain for themselves, and possibly eradicate it altogether, without relying on going to someone to get ‘fixed’ each week.”
Living in Mt Maunganui at the time, Riana’s husband and greatest supporter Michael was offered a job in Hamilton, making it the perfect opportunity for a career change.
“I was fortunate to meet a very open minded Pilates studio owner, who took me on as an apprentice.”
Riana worked with Vicky Stuart-Jones from The Pilates Centre for four years while completing her qualifications before branching out and opening her own studio at the other end of town, Blue Mat Pilates, where she offers everything from beginners classes and one on one sessions to pilates barre and pilates reformer sessions.
What inspires you about Pilates?
I absolutely love seeing my clients get complete enjoyment out of moving their bodies and being proactive about keeping fit and healthy, through both body and mind. Personally I find it is such an uplifting form of exercise. I always come away from a Pilates session feeling like I am in a brand new body.
What are people most surprised about when they try Pilates for the first time?
How easy the exercises appear to be, but how much of a workout they actually get from it.
What are your top three pieces of advice for someone wanting to try Pilates?
1) Take the time to learn the basics, this can be slow which some people struggle with. Persevere with it and you will be opened up to a whole new exciting world of more challenging workouts! Once the basics are mastered you can quickly progress your exercises – or of course (as many of our clients do) you can choose to stay at the more basic level for as long as you like, until you feel comfortable to move on.
2) Schedule your Pilates session in to your diary or calendar, as you would any important work meeting. This ensures you get your ‘me time’ in every week, no excuses.
3) Research your Pilates studio/instructor to ensure they have sufficient training and experience. There are many forms of Pilates instructor training certifications that can be handed out after a weekend course, which is frightening. We pride ourselves on having highly qualified staff with exceptional standards of teaching. Ensure your instructor has been certified through a well-reputed company.
Athletic wear supplied by Shoe Clinic Hamilton.
WIN WIN WIN
Whether you are wanting to kick start your year by trying something new or are already a keen Pilates fan, you can enter to win an ‘8 class pass’ concession at Blue Mat Pilates (in Hamilton or Mount Maunganui). Enjoy the fantastic array of classes available and expert tuition from the friendly welcoming team.
To enter simply fill in the form below. Entries close February 15 2016.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]