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“Play with grandchildren.” With Beau Henderson & Katy Lush

Play with grandchildren. A lot of retirees have adult children with young families. If you have grandchildren, get down on their level, play with them, and help carry them. As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Katy […]

Play with grandchildren. A lot of retirees have adult children with young families. If you have grandchildren, get down on their level, play with them, and help carry them.


As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Katy Lush, owner of Chicago River North Pilates, has a BFA in Ballet, is a Pilates Master Teacher, GYROTONIC® Pre-Trainer, Restorative Exercise Specialist and Certified Movement Analyst. Having taught movement for over 20 years, Katy’s expertise is with the aging population, clients with traumatic injuries, post-cancer treatment, and training Pilates and GYROTONIC® teachers. Katy’s unique and intuitive methods of teaching, combined with an unwavering focus on well-being, have given her clients a decidedly fresh, holistic and balanced approach to mind-body health.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Iwas a very active child and my parents put me in gymnastics to “burn off some energy.” After reaching a high level in gymnastics, I began ballet lessons to improve technique. Ballet was a natural passion for me, so I joined a dance company and went to college to receive a BFA in Ballet from TCU. After school, I moved to New York City to pursue dance. I had taken a Pilates course in college, and decided I wanted to pursue a certification while auditioning. Shortly after completing a Pilates certification program, I moved to Chicago for a teaching opportunity.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I moved to Chicago from NYC for a full-time Pilates teaching opportunity. The owner of the studio was in the process of selling it, but the deal had fallen through. She had moved to the suburbs and rarely came downtown to teach, so six months into working at the studio, I was manager and head teacher. A friend encouraged me to purchase the studio, but I said I couldn’t because I was 23 years old. Long story short, I purchased the studio at 24 years old. That was over 15 years ago.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I traveled to Chicago for a week to observe the teacher I was replacing. She was teaching two students on equipment I had never used before. The teacher suddenly became ill and told me I would have to finish teaching her students. I was unfamiliar with the equipment, but didn’t want the clients know. Ultimately, I suspect they did know, as I put them in the wrong position for an exercise, and they asked to never take a class from me again. Now I know to be humble enough to ask questions and admit when I am wrong, no matter how embarrassing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I decided to purchase the studio, I called my dad for advice. He used to work in business development, and I knew he would be able to help me create a good business proposal. As a result, the day I purchased the studio, the finances were in the black. It was an amazing deal, fair for both parties, and completed in about six months. I continue to call my dad for business advice, when I’m working through a problem, or need someone to vent to.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

There are actually a few rules around teaching movement that I was told to avoid burnout. One, work no more than six hours a day. Two, take two consecutive days off. And three, keep taking class and investing in lessons for yourself.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

I think the main ingredient in a fantastic work culture is respect. The employees need to respect you as their leader, their fellow colleagues, and their clients and space.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?

I think the change in schedule is one of the largest obstacles. While there is more free time, that also lends itself to more opportunities to be sedentary. Unless you plan on how you allocate your time for things like movement, rest, extra-curricular activities and such, you may be more apt to sit around reading all day long.

Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize their physical wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

5 things one should do the optimize their physical wellness after retirement are:

1.) Take advantage of more time! This is the perfect opportunity to take those Pilates lessons you didn’t used to have the time for.

2.) Optimize your home for more movement opportunities. Now that you don’t have to go to an office and sit at a desk for hours a day, create a Dynamic Work Station at home with a standing desk and an antifatigue mat, and tackle your computer work standing.

3.) Play with grandchildren. A lot of retirees have adult children with young families. If you have grandchildren, get down on their level, play with them, and help carry them.

4.) Get outside! Since you get to plan your own schedule, find opportunities to get outside. If you don’t live near a lot of nature, drive to a forest preserve or some easy nearby trails and get a weekly walk in.

5.) Find a walking partner. Accountability is key for most people to maintain healthy habits. Find a walking buddy to take walks with a few times a week. It could be a spouse, a friend, or another retiree with a similar schedule.

In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?

3 things that people wish someone told them before they retire is:

1.) Sometimes too much free time can be a bad thing.

2.) You will choose the path of least resistance (read: be more sedentary).

3.) Maintaining a schedule and social outings is key.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole-Body Mobility is an exercise guide to restoring movement, especially for healthy feet, better balance, and the activities of daily life. Alongside Katy Bowman, are the stories, experiences, and advice of four women over seventy-five who have used Nutritious Movement® principles and corrective exercises for years. Along the way, they found recommended surgeries unnecessary, regained strength and mobility, and ended up moving more than they did when they were a decade younger. Each of these women embodies the book’s message: No matter where you’re starting, if you change how you move, you can change how you feel.

Having taught students for 20 years, I have witnessed first-hand retirees decreasing their pain, improving their strength, flexibility and balance. My students move better today than they did 20 years ago.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Aging is not a pathology. You can always improve your mind and body, and there isn’t a point of no return. Many times, pain and lack of mobility isn’t due to age, but habits. What if changing how you move today can change how you feel, at any age? What a paradigm shift for our culture!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Your body is never ‘out of shape;’ it is always *in* a shape created by how you have moved up to this very moment.” –Katy Bowman

I have clients who go on vacation and come back stating, “I’m SO out of shape.” I tell them, “you’re not out of shape, you’re de-conditioned.” There’s a difference and it’s a good paradigm shift to know you’re never really out of shape.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to meet Jane Fonda and ask her about how she became the queen of fitness before it was even popular. I think having a meal with her would be really educational, authentic, and insightful.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I’m on Instagram @thekatylush, Facebook @lushlivingbykaty, @crnpilates and @ktstriebinger and www.katylush.com

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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