Elle Sawyer, founder of Dubai- based Pilates studio, POSTURE. shares what it takes to launch her own wellness space.
Talk us through your career.
I started interning as a Fashion Assistant at Hearst Group [formerly, The National Magazine Company in London] whilst studying. It was there that I found my love for fashion and editorial and wanted to be part of the industry. I later graduated in English Literature and moved to Dubai at age 22, where I began work as a production manager. Working there opened up doors into editorial, advertising and many other production divisions in the region, allowing me to later niche my experience specifically when going freelance and producing regularly for the likes of NET-A-PORTER, luxury magazines and more both regionally and internationally. I am very grateful for the experience I gained in the region, and to the place, I call home, Dubai. Though I loved my career as a creative producer, I always felt something was missing. The once-loved 14-hour shoot days became mundane and the fast-paced zero work/life balance lifestyle I’d created for myself, in the end, made me feel unhealthy. Later that summer, as a result, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy and decided that it was time for a change. As a way to unwind from work, I had started Reformer Pilates and I loved what it did for my mind and body. During the lockdown, I started taking Pilates more seriously and decided to train as a teacher. While training in Pilates, I naturally started teaching it to other people – wanting others around me to believe and love it as much as I did. I became so passionate about it that it clicked that this was my calling. Other than my actual Pilates certification, I have always been a very spiritual person and enjoy being around like-minded people that inspire and teach me things I do not know, especially in mind-body practices. Life is always about learning and I take great pleasure in learning new realms of wellness in physical and mental forms. Spirituality, meditation, law of attraction, crystal healing, acupuncture [& TCM] are all areas of well-being that I actively practice in my everyday life.
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What inspired you to launch POSTURE.?
Having worked with fashion magazines and brands throughout my career, I wanted to create a brand that married the two worlds together. My love of Pilates and fashion fuelled my vision to create POSTURE. as being a positive and inviting space that was modern, minimalistic with healing. I knew I wanted more than to become a freelance instructor as I’d spent my whole adult career in Dubai predominantly freelancing, so it felt like the right time to found my own company. I had been to many studios in London and New York that just had something about them, and without fail always made me feel so excited to visit – I wanted that for myself and I wanted that for Dubai. I took everything I had learned in my life so far, put pen to paper, and began making my dream a reality. I think ultimately, it’s not just a workout that people want to experience, it’s a carefully designed space for people to belong, and for people who share the same likes and passions; to feel seen as part of a community. At POSTURE. we hand-selected all of our equipment and décor from all around the globe to ensure we were different and catered to the luxury clientele. We were selective with the instructors we hired; the schools they had qualified from, their energy, their overall vibe and their aesthetic. We partnered only with brands that we felt on-brand with – ethically and aesthetically. We curated our music/ playlists to suit our routines to give a little extra flare to our classes (increasing their stamina both physically & mentally, as well as including cognitive learning by moving to the tempo of the beat making Pilates a fun and fresh workout) and we have designed and created POSTURE. Merchandise to further strengthen our brand. The space included practicing a slice of wellness in our everyday schedule – from our breathwork at the start of every class, to our wellness club workshops in sound healing & Yin meditation, to ending on our signature affirmation cards to finish our practice together in every session. It ALL matters – every little detail as that’s what makes us who we are as a brand.
What lies at the core of POSTURE. and at the DNA of the brand?
POSTURE. is essentially a community for like-minded people to escape their realities and connect with their inner selves. Whether their workouts are more active and fast-paced, or relaxing and meditative, POSTURE. is for people who appreciate being in an environment surrounded by luxuries. POSTURE. is all about getting to know your body and its boundaries and cultivating that all-important Qi. Our studio’s method focuses not just on the strength & mobility of the Pilates repertoire but building your form and core too. I talk about Cultivating the Qi a lot in my sessions, as it is something in the last year I had researched and explored when physically, I needed it.
What are the key benefits of Reformer Pilates?
The Reformer accommodates a full range motion, using your body weight against the resistance of the springs and carriage; making this a unique full-body workout providing a strong focus on core strength + muscle engagement which improves performance, weight loss, balance, back pain plus our favourite POSTURE. At POSTURE. we split our classes into two levels to cater for all which includes the reformer flow for beginners and an intermediate level. It’s best for those new to the reformer and those that require an introduction to the principles of Pilates at a slower and controlled pace. It’s designed to tone, lengthen and strengthen and reinforce the importance of a strong core and great posture. The next level is reformer tempo for an intermediate and advanced level. It’s best for those familiar with the reformer plus the principles of Pilates, who can keep up with the pace and be ready to work up an up- beat sweat to the beat of our curated playlists. The benefits range from increasing both physical and mental stamina and raising everyone’s Pilates techniques to the next level.
As a next-generation Pilates instructor, what are the basic skills you want to instill in your students?
All of our instructors have their own groove and style to enhance the collective passion for wellness, fitness, and spiritualism. We want to bring a fresh holistic energy to Mat & Reformer Pilates – introducing the core values of Joseph Pilates’ repertoire on the Mat, and one that compliments their practice with the Reformer too. Our studio focuses not just on the flow of the Pilates repertoire, but building your form and core; and one that honours your practice with your daily well-being too. Our routines are designed to activate that all-important parasympathetic phase of relaxation that we all need more of, certainly living up to POSTURE.’s ethos of a mind-body-soul experience, that focuses on getting to know your body and its boundaries and cultivating that all-important Qi.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Passion and drive are everything over base-level talent. There are millions of people in the world doing the same job, but what makes you different is your unique passion and drive in what you do. Ultimately, people buy into you as a person, over your qualifications. What makes you different is that you need to keep asking yourself to drive yourself to do better and be better.
This is The Reset Issue – how can we reset from the inside out?
“Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty to not only to attain it but to maintain it.” – Joseph Pilates.
A famous quote from the man himself. I believe everyone should take time to learn and become aware of themselves and their daily habits. Being mindful and practicing wellness in your everyday life will really impact the way you live. I work with many clients that suffer with poor posture – most suffering from ‘popular’ back issues like Sciatica/Kyphosis and wonder why. If we carry ourselves in a way of poor posture, it can distort how our body should be feeling. We start to hunch our shoulders, look down at the floor more, feeling negative – instead of opening up our shoulders, walk- ing proud and have a positive look on life. If we constrict our body due to bad posture, it not only affects the way we walk, our nervous system, digestive system and even joints are affected causing them to shift their position and change. Over time, this shows in your everyday life in how you carry yourself. @thisisposture_
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