Katrina Ward: Living her very best life

If you haven’t already met Pilates Instructor and Elixr Education and Courses Manager Katrina Ward or taken one of her classes, trust us, you’re missing out! And not just on her passion for correct alignment and functional movement as well as her eye for detail, but on her warm welcome and sparkling smile, too. We sat down with Katrina to find out more about the move from corporate career to Pilates Instructor – and because she’s always up for new adventures, we couldn’t wait to hear about the next one…

You started your career in the corporate world. What inspired you to make the leap to teaching Pilates?
I worked in PR and Communications for 15 years. My last role was Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for a large alcoholic beverages company. For many years, I taught dancing before and after work and, once I’d completed my Pilates Instructor Training, I taught Pilates, too. After a while, I realised I was more passionate about Pilates and movement than I was about my full-time career – so I did some more training and made the change!

What was the biggest challenge you faced when changing careers?
Figuring out if I could afford to live off a Pilates Instructor’s pay! I support myself, so it was very important that I could afford my monthly bills, and still have a life and be able to travel.

What advice do you have for women wanting to succeed in the workplace?
To quote Sheryl Sandberg, ‘Lean in’ (I’d also recommend reading the book, I found it really insightful). Back yourself, believe in your skills and ability to succeed, and don’t be afraid to ask for that pay raise or promotion.

How long have you been practising Pilates and how has it impacted your health and body?
I started Pilates about 22 years ago, when I was suffering with a lower back injury, and it made so much sense to me. Since then, it’s been part of my regular exercise regime. Where my health is concerned, Pilates has given me another exercise option – I’ve never been a ‘gym’ person and have always preferred dance classes and yoga. As for my body, it’s really helped me to build strength and stability. I’m not a naturally strong person and I’m hyper-mobile, so Pilates provides me with strength in the correct alignment.

What does your typical training week look like?
I like to do at least three Pilates classes, three cardio sets if possible, and one PT session with Grainne each week. In winter, I run. I’m also doing some altitude training at the moment, to prepare for my up-coming trip to South America.

What do you love most about working at Elixr?
Two things: The members – it’s incredibly satisfying teaching such a wonderful group of people who love Pilates and are so enthusiastic about doing it – and my colleagues, a team of very passionate Instructors who are keen to learn and get better at their craft, which is inspiring.

What can members expect from your class?
Hopefully, a fun and challenging full body workout. I am a technically focused Instructor and prioritise correct alignment during each exercise.

You’re constantly working to increase your Pilates knowledge. What qualifications do you have and are there any that you’d like to add to the list?
I’ve done Elixr School of Pilates training, completing Fundamentals, Matwork, Reformer and Studio, as well as all the Instructor workshops. I’ve also completed my Cert III and IV in Fitness, Barre teacher training, FMS (Functional Movement Screen) and my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. Next, I’d like to do my ESOP Studio exam, the Blackroll Certified Trainers course and SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) Level 1 training.

Can you tell us a little about what students who enrol for an ESOP course can expect?
Our aim at the Elixr School of Pilates is to produce confident, well-rounded Pilates Instructors with a sound understanding of anatomy and physiology. We make sure that students understand which muscles work in each exercise, teach them a comprehensive exercise repertoire and provide them with lesson planning and teaching skills so they can be a confident teacher.

Do you think it’s important that we celebrate International Women’s Day?
Absolutely! We still have a long way to go to achieve true gender equality. For me, it’s important that everyone recognises this, that we celebrate the achievements, and that we support one other to take the next steps, leaps and bounds forward for gender equality. I love the theme for this years IWD, ‘More Powerful Together’, as it’s so true that when we work together, we can achieve so much more.

What positive changes would you like to see come about for women in your lifetime?
Wouldn’t it be nice not to even have to talk about gender equality? Unfortunately, we’re a long way from that. In Australia, I’d like to see equal pay as the norm and more women at the top in business. Globally, especially in underdeveloped countries, I’d like to see young women have equal access to education – it’s key to a better society.

Who is the most inspirational woman in your life?
There are so many! But I’d have to say my mum. She worked full time while raising three kids – looking back, I have no idea how she did it all! – and gave us the freedom to succeed (or fail) as we wanted, always reassuring us that she and my dad would be there regardless. I’m really pleased to see her retired now and doing all of the things that she loves.

What do you consider your greatest achievement to be?
Being brave enough to live my dreams. I moved away from my family, lived and worked overseas for five years and then came home and changed my career.

Looking back, is there any advice you’d give your 21-year-old self?
Stop working so hard!

What’s next for you?
I’m off to South America at the end of February for six weeks. We’re tackling the Inca Trail at the end of the trip and I’m interested to see how I cope at high altitude. After that, I’ll start training for my second City 2 Surf – I’m keen to improve on my time this year.

Quick fire questions

Favourite brekkie spot?
Bennett Street Dairy on Bondi Road – great food and amazing service.

Morning or evening workout?
If I’m not teaching, I do prefer to get it done first thing in the morning. But I like to do something every day, so if I only have time in the evening, that’s when I’ll do it!

Pilates must-have?
A foam roller. I’m on it every day. It’s so important to release!

Favourite happy mood music? Jump Around, House of Pain.

Cats or dogs?
Cats! I have an adorable little fur baby, Sammi.

Mates or dates?
Dates. My mates would understand these days!

I teach Pilates to…
Help people move and develop a love of exercise.

If I wasn’t a Pilates Instructor I’d be…
Really upset that I’m not a Pilates Instructor anymore!

When I’m not teaching, I’m…
Probably upstairs running Elixr Education, down at the beach or on the coast walk, or at home with Sammi.

I live according to the mantra(s)…

  • Just Do It (thanks, Nike!)
  • Do something every day that makes you feel good and is good for you.
  • This too shall pass.