Get Outside- Nature inherently moves our body more than the indoors. For example, the wind challenges our balance and core, uneven terrain works our feet and ankles’ mobility, and our eye muscles get a chance to work differently by seeing far distances. Spending a few minutes outside a day gives your body extra movement and a breath of fresh air.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katy Lush. Katy Lush, owner of Chicago River North Pilates, has a BFA in Ballet, is a Pilates Master Teacher, and Certified Movement Analyst.
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 story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I was 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.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have a BFA in Ballet, a strong academic knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as a practical application of movement. I have been on faculty with two world renown Pilates organizations and a GYROTONIC® Pre-trainer for a number of years. I went to Columbia College in Chicago and received a Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis, through their Dance Movement Therapy Department. Last year, I completed an extensive training with Nutritious Movement to receive a Restorative Exercise Specialist certification. I have attended a number of continuing education courses, workshops and seminars. With a full roster of clients for over 17 years, I am an authority in the fitness and wellness field.
My unique contribution to the world of wellness comes from all the movement perspectives I have learned over 20 years. Rules have changed, trends come and go, and science is always updating. My studio has acted as a lab for over 17 years, and the anecdotal evidence I have learned along the way is constantly evolving. The cross disciplines I use reinforce movement concepts and enhance my teaching. I call them “movement truths.” The more of those I learn, the more I feel like I’m teaching true, harmonious ways to move the body. Even if it predates the scientific proof to back it up.
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.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
1.) Time- The lack of time in one’s day, and when other things take priority
2.) Pain- When it hurts to move, we tend to do it less
3.) Lack of motivation- To be self-motivated to exercise regularly is really challenging
I like to promote more movement, not more exercise. Since time is the largest pain point, I like to layer movement into one’s pre-existing routine. We call it “stacking your life.”
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
1.) Floor Sitting- Sitting on the floor, versus outsourcing your body to a chair, improves your strength and flexibility. Sitting on the floor loosens your hips, stretches your legs, and fires up your core. Getting up off the floor strengthens your hips, legs and backside.
2.) Minimal Footwear- Minimal footwear is a category of shoes that closely approximate bare feet. They allow for more sensory contact of the foot on the ground. The most effective way to treat stiff ankles and feet, is to spend time barefoot. Wearing minimal shoes corrects bunions, improves balance, and increases your foot strength.
3.) Dynamic Workstation- We all need to maximize productivity, and there are simple, easy ways to stay active while working. Alternating between a standing desk and a floor desk, changes your work space to provide more movement opportunities. When you’re standing, you can stretch your feet with a massage ball, stand on a boot tray filled with stones to work out stiff feet, or use a half foam roller to mobilize your calves. When you sit on the floor to do your work, you get the same benefits as #1.
4.) Carry Heavy Things- When you’re grocery shopping, forgo the cart and carry items in a basket. If that’s too heavy, carry one heavy thing from your cart while pushing it with the other arm to strengthen your upper body and core. Another way to strengthen your arms, if you have kids, is to carry them instead of using a stroller. Carrying heavy things throughout your day means you don’t need to take an extra class at the gym to focus on upper body strength.
5.) Get Outside- Nature inherently moves our body more than the indoors. For example, the wind challenges our balance and core, uneven terrain works our feet and ankles’ mobility, and our eye muscles get a chance to work differently by seeing far distances. Spending a few minutes outside a day gives your body extra movement and a breath of fresh air.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
3 benefits of daily exercise are:
1.) Stress relief- Most of my clients come to me to help alleviate stress. For one hour, they have the opportunity to focus on themselves and not their daily stressors.
2.) Increased Strength and Mobility- An exercise routine that targets strength and mobility provides better overall fitness and can improve balance.
3.) Pain Management- Many people’s workout routines are a result of prescribed physical therapy exercises. To avoid pain and re-injury, those people have to be diligent about doing their daily movement prescription exercise routine.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
3 Exercises I would recommend that are absolutely critical are:
2.) Calf Stretching
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
I would recommend, to shorten the recovery time and prevent injury, by increasing your workout no more than 10% a day. For example, 10% heavier weights are going from 10 pounds to 11 pounds. A 10% longer run is going from 5 miles to 5 ½ miles. To do more than this, sets you up for injury and extreme soreness, which typically derails a new workout routine.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman is an amazing book that I believe every person should read as a guide to restore your body and reclaim your life. Move Your DNA explains the science behind our need for natural movement, down to the cellular level, and addresses the diseases we are suffering from due to a lack of movement. Move Your DNA has corrective exercises, simple lifestyle changes, and habit modifications to increase your movement throughout the day.
You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂
Ancestral health in the food space is making a comeback, and exercise is following suit. People are beginning to see the benefit of more natural movement in our lives. I would like more people to know about the simple lifestyle changes that can be made to mobilize our bodies, decrease pain, and uncover our naturally healthy, reflex-driven selves.
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 really like Melissa Hartwig of the Whole 30’s messaging around women, exercise, relationships, and faith. I think having a meal with her would be really entertaining, 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!