To start off, how did you discover your passion for fitness?
I grew up in Australia so being active and healthy was second nature to me. All my friends were sporty and we would meet either for team sports or at the beach constantly on the go and doing something physical.
Your career in health and fitness started 25 years ago in Australia. So how did you end up all the way over here in London?
I came here by default! I had no intention of living in UK. My parents were born in Italy so we would visit our family there. In 1998 I went to spend time with my aunty in Italy for the summer and I had a friend who was intent on getting me to London. I caved in and got a job in a well known gym in Knightsbridge doing personal training. I got married to an Englishman and never left, despite the fact this was not my intention!
You are the most brilliant Pilates teacher we know! What was the attraction for you?
After teaching years of fitness, lifting heavy and engaging in high intensity activities, I decided to give my body a “break”. I became pregnant with my first daughter Sofia in 2002 and I had heard a lot about Pilates for the pre and post natal woman. I kept fit during my pregnancy doing Lotte Berk in Chelsea. I loved her approach. When Sofia was 1 I decided to sign up to train with Michael King at the Pilates Institute of London and I have never looked back.
Your signature PBB class is unlike any other program! We know that your program draws on elements from Pilates, yoga, core fitness and Ballet Barre conditioning. What inspired you to tie all of these practices into one?
I decided to fuse all these disciplines together as I wanted a class that balanced the body, lengthen tight muscles, work our deeper muscles, improve our posture and have an element of high intensity training. Paola’s BodyBarre was born and the method has been very popular yielding amazing results.
You are an entrepreneur in many ways! From creating your own form of fitness to even starting up your own studios. What pushed you to make this leap in your career?
As you know I had worked in the industry for a very long time. I’d had my three children and felt running from class to class and client to client to client was not time efficient. Having my own studio was going to keep me closer to home (literally- my first studio in Fulham was next door to my house). I also realised that in every class I taught, I was filling the room, so why not do this for myself! The new form of exercise was merely me evolving as a trainer. I loved creating classes and still do. I like variety, so PBB was a way of mixing it up. I’m always evolving and creating classes….we have some new surprises for the new site near Sloane Square.
Women who go to your classes have the most amazing, perfectly sculpted bodies! Can you let us in on the secret?
I feel PBB yields such great results as it’s an efficient clever work out. We are sticklers for form and correction yet we work the girls so that they are challenged. We allow each person to work within their range….their is no need to yell or push clients into doing something that is not right for the individual.
You have trained all types of women, even celebrities and models! Have you ever felt star-struck by any of your clients?
No not at all. To me everyone is a “body”. They have come to me for varying reasons. Whether it is to improve posture, core strength or to improve tone. So my focus is not on them as a name or person, but on what we need to achieve to create a strong, healthy body.
Was it always a goal to become a celebrity trainer or was that just a side effect of your amazing fitness method?
I have never seen myself as a “celebrity trainer” I am just a trainer that has worked in London for 17 years teaching various forms of fitness. I guess you create a name for yourself and by word of mouth you get your clients. I have clients from every walk of life.
What are some of your other passions, or guilty pleasures, besides health and fitness?
I love to cook and spend time with my family. I also love to dance…..oh and sing very badly after a glass of wine. If I lived by the ocean (like I did until the age of 26) I would be in the water every day! I love the beach and know that I will retire by the sea or ocean. If not before!
Sometimes people don’t see working out as fun but you have completely changed the game! Your workout is known for being very fun, dynamic and upbeat. Would you say this describes who you are outside of the gym as well?
Oh absolutely. That’s pretty much sums me up. Life is about having fun and not taking yourself too seriously. I am a woman constantly on the go….just like my workouts.
In addition to having an amazing body you also have incredible skin! What steps do you take day-to-day towards natural skincare?
It is important to look after my skin naturally. I make sure I feed my skin from the inside out to achieve a healthy glow. Eating a lot of fresh whole foods and a lot of water make a huge difference to my skin. I am a great believer that engaging in fitness and exercises like Pilates and Yoga, can help maintain healthy, younger looking skin.
Your body and skin look so amazing and healthy! Tell us about the different ways you work on yourself to stay more natural.
I am always asked what I do to keep my skin looking younger than my 46 years and the answer is simple: Keeping fit, eating well and hydration! I believe that natural is best. I don’t have endless facials and treatments. I keep my skin clean and moisturise with natural products such as coconut oil and Dr Lipp’s fabulous “Nipple Balm” (natural lanolin oil) which can be used for so many different parts of the skin! Growing up my mother used a lot of Lanolin for various reasons (chapped lips, moisturiser for fine lines around the eyes, dry nail cuticles and much more……and now I’ve discovered it again in my 40’s I know exactly why she loved it so much.
Do you ever let yourself indulge in diet “no-nos”? Can you let us in on your life tips for staying healthy and curbing temptation?
I love to get at least 7 hours sleep and obviously I exercise every day as it’s my job. I believe in being 80% “good” and 20% “naughty” If we spend our days stressing out every time we ate too much, stayed out too late or didn’t exercise enough we are doing more damage to our bodies through stress. That piece of cake or glass of wine is less damaging than the stress itself.
You get to spend your days a helping people improve their life and their health. What would you say is your absolute favourite part about your career?
I absolutely love seeing the clients morph into strong, healthy, confident, happy people. I get so excited when I see just small changes on a weekly basis and it makes myself and my trainers so proud that we can help change someone, not just physically but mentally. I have received emails from clients saying we have changed their lives! That makes our job so rewarding.
As a fitness and wellness expert, using all-natural products and methods is important for your health. What does the term Go Natural mean to you?
I love to look and feel good and so take care of my body well; I am conscious of what I put in it so the same goes for what I want to use on it! To Go Natural to me is to treat my body as nature intended it with good quality products that will nourish me and enable me to be the best version of myself!
Wellness means feeling great from your fitness to your beauty routine. How do you think using a product like Dr. Lipp helps contribute to your daily wellness routine?
As I am on the go so much, being able to have one effective and multi-use product on me that is also free of any nasties is a saviour – also Dr Lipp only use unpainted fleece from free roaming sheep in Australia which I love!
You are a very successful and accomplished woman! What
were some of your biggest challenges and triumphs on
your journey to where you are now?
My biggest challenge was opening my studio and juggling my family life. It still is. It is all about balance. When I first opened PBB I worked myself to burn out mode and have realised Its just not worth it. Although PBB is expanding it is manageable as I have learnt I cannot do it alone and delegating rather than being a “control freak” is the way forward.
Finally, what advice can you give to other woman looking to start a career in fitness?
I strongly advise looking for a credible certification and educating yourself properly. There are so many short weekend courses that claim you can be a fitness expert in a weekend. This is not the case. It takes a lot of hard work and effort. The reality is the hours can be exhausting as when you are starting out you should take all the jobs you can, that means 5am starts and sometimes working until 10pm and weekends. Being a trainer is not a pretty picture on Instagram, it is about delivering a service to your clients. It takes a lot of work and commitment; however it is so rewarding.
Fore more on Paola and her workout program click here.