#MyFitnessJourney: We Meet Pilates Extraordinaire, Audrey O’Connor

When she's not instructing Reformer Pilates at Platnium Pilates, Audrey is personal training in the gym she co-founded. Here, she gives us an insight into her hectic, healthy life.

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Name: Audrey O’ Connor
Occupation: Refomer Pilates instructor, Rehabilitation specialist and Personal trainer.
Instagram: @audspilates

Audrey turned to Pilates after suffering a back injury, and she hasn’t looked back since. Now fully healed, she splits her days between teaching Reformer Pilates at Platinum Pilates, and running her own gym in Dublin’s city centre. We caught up with her to chat all things health and fitness.

Why did you choose Pilates?

It offered me an escape from a situation at a time when there was no other solution. I was bed ridden with disc issues in an enormous amount of back pain and instantly benefited from the progressive results of Pilates. Pilates not only reduced my back pain significantly but improved my overall wellbeing.

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Ouch! Do you teach it every day now?

I teach reformer pilates at Platinum Pilates every week, I’m based in the Leeson Street studio. I also do personal training at a corporate gym I operate with my business partner Christine and I teach Corporate mat work classes.

Sounds busy, what does your daily schedule look like?

I’m an early riser so today for instance, I started my day with a sunrise Vinyasa session with @susieyogi. Then I taught my morning reformer classes at Platinum, and squeezed in a private client with hip issues for a session. I’m a pretty social person so even when I’m running on empty I can still squeeze activities into my evenings.

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Did it take long to become a Pilates instructor?

Pilates was always part of my life before I even qualified as an instructor. I took my time and qualified as a Personal Trainer and Sports Therapist first and then with physiology and anatomy experience as a Sports Therapist, I certified as a Stott Pilates instructor. I have since qualified with Polestar Pilates in the UK and am continuously updating my Pilates education. A career in Pilates means you never stop learning!

Are you constantly working out?!

It’s not the end of the world if I miss a day or a session. Training isn’t a chore to me, it’s almost like a form of positive therapy. I practice my vinyasa yoga with @suziyogsi on my early mornings off, I weight train in the gym three times a week, and I squeeze in regular weekly reformer sessions in @platinumpilates. I don’t waste time pounding the treadmill.

Is Pilates really that effective in terms of changing our bodies?

Yes it definitely works, even a few weeks will transform your body. Pilates not only makes your body look and feel leaner, stronger, conditioned and toned it can transform and elongate your posture without over developing your muscles and making you look bulky. It brought me more body awareness and taught me how to hold myself. My core strength has improved which means my back is pain-free, my body is in better alignment and I’m leaner and injury-free.

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Did it change your physique? Are you 100% body confident?

It brought me more body awareness and taught me how to hold myself. My core strength also improved which means my back is pain-free, my body is in better alignment than ever before and I’m definitely leaner. Body confidence to me is being happy in your own skin and honestly I can say that I am. Sure I have plenty of lumps and bumps and my weight fluctuates between half a stone regularly but I believe confidence is a state of mind not your shape. If my weight gets a little out of control I can get back on track by eating clean.

Your diet does look pretty healthy.

It is pretty healthy but mixed with a little devilment. I’m a vegetarian, slowly making my way to plant-based. I do a big grocery shop and buy a few bits at the @thehobsac and I’ll prepare my food for the week. This keeps me on track and stops me making last minute unhealthy choices. I also don’t believe in cheat meals!

Describe a day on your plate for us.

I was diagnosed as coeliac last year so that changed up my diet enormously. Brunch is my gorgeous buckwheat granola or pancakes. Lunch is a stuffed omelette or a super greens salad from @cocukitchen and dinner will be a salmon and sweet potato bake or vegan chilli with plenty of healthy snacks in between.

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We want to trim down, what should we be eating and what should we be avoiding?

I think instead of avoiding foods, simplify your diet. Instead of worrying about counting calories, think of your diet in the form of colour, variety and freshness. Avoid packages and processed food and opt for fresh ingredients.

What about snacking? Is it good or bad?

Always good as long as it is healthy! I always snack at 11am and 3pm and have prepared snacks with me. Nothing complicated, just a little buckwheat granola and berries, or avocado hummus and a few homemade flax crackers. If I don’t snack, I get cravings and find myself raiding the fridge instead before bed!

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What about alcohol? Do you drink?

I think everything is fine in moderation so I don’t restrict alcohol. I stick to non-sugary mixers and enjoy a little Dingle gin from time to time.

Sure who doesn’t! We’re off on our holidays and we really want to get in shape, can you give us five tips?

Firstly, ease yourself into it, give yourself at least six weeks and set yourself a get-in-shape goal!

1. Increase your water intake to three litres a day and drink green tea or lemon and ginger water to beat the bikini bloat.

2. Prepare you snacks and lunches for the work week ahead. That leaves less space for last minute unhealthy food choices, and you also know exactly what you’re eating.

3. Cut back or cut out the processed foods, sure it’s only six weeks and maybe it will become your way of life.

4. Cut back on the booze. There’s plenty of time for that on holidays.

5. Increase your HIIT (High intensity interval training). I did before I went to Bali this year and as little as four 20 minutes sessions a week had me on my way to a bikini body.

Any worthwhile exercises we can do from home?

Make the most of the furniture in your home. If you have stairs then utilise them for cardio or a little lunging action. Instead of lounging on your chairs, use them for a little tricep action. And, if the weather is great outside skip your way through the summer in your back garden.

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