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The power of pilates: Aberdeen physio assistant with passion at her core

Emily Robbie says pilates has changed her life and she's now on a mission to help others discover their inner strength.

Aberdeen pilates teacher is on a mission to get people moving.
Physiotherapy assistant Emily Robbie is helping people to find their inner strength through pilates. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Physiotherapy assistant by day, pilates instructor by night: if anyone knows the importance of moving your body it’s Emily Robbie.

From running and high intensity interval training (HIIT) to gym workouts, the 26-year-old from Aberdeen is never happier than when she is keeping fit.

But it was during lockdown when Emily discovered pilates, a form of exercise that has changed her life.

Emily Robbie says pilates is for all ages and abilities. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

“I was always quite sporty at school and as I was getting older I started going to the gym and I was always running and doing HIIT workouts,” says Emily.

“I started doing a bit of pilates in the first lockdown, I just started doing You Tube videos and I really enjoyed it.

“After lockdown, I went to my first face-to-face pilates class and I absolutely loved it.”

Physical and mental benefits

Good for the mind, body and soul, Emily says pilates was unlike any other form of fitness she had tried.

“With pilates you get such a good workout but at the same time it incorporates wellness, meditation and breathing so it was everything that I loved in one 45-minute class,” says Emily.

“The aim of pilates is to improve core strength, posture, flexibility and it’s also brilliant for physical and mental results.”

Emily teaches classes at the Breathing Space studio in Aberdeen’s Huntly Street and at Mount, a cafe in Upperkirkgate. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

At the same time as Emily discovered her love of pilates she also started a new job as a physiotherapy assistant at the NHS Aberdeen Health Village in the city’s Frederick Street.

“Physio and pilates are intertwined,” says Emily.

“I work in rehabilitation so I’m based in a gym environment and I use pilates every day with my patients.”

NHS physiotherapy assistant

Kind, caring and compassionate, Emily says there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing patients getting physically and mentally stronger.

“I love it as you get to know your patients well and you get to see them getting better,” says Emily.

“I see a wide range of patients from a 16-year-old who has had a football injury to an 85-year-old lady who has had a hip replacement.”

Emily discovered pilates via You Tube during lockdown. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Inspired by the positive impact pilates can have on people of all ages and abilities, Emily decided to become a pilates instructor.

“I was looking for a core pilates to go to, I wanted something a little bit high tempo with good music and on a Saturday morning but I struggled to find a class like that in Aberdeen,” says Emily.

“So I thought if I can’t find it, I’ll just create it.”

Pilates classes in Aberdeen

After training with the The Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute (APPI), Emily started teaching classes at Breathing Space, a studio in Huntly Street every Saturday morning and at Mount, a cafe in Upperkirkgate every Tuesday night.

“I taught my first class in April and it was an absolute buzz,” says Emily.

“I was super nervous and then after the first class it was like an addiction and I wanted to teach more.

“90% of the people I’ve had in my class have never done pilates before and they’re coming every Saturday and every Tuesday and they’re getting so much better as well.”

Emily has plans to one day have her own pilates studio. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Pilates is for men too

Determined to spread the message that pilates is for everyone, Emily hopes to inspire more people to give it a go.

“Men seem to think pilates is just for girls but it’s absolutely not and it’s also for all ages as well,” says Emily.

“I always give options for exercises and I always say to people to just do what they can for the first class and don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing.

“You’ll notice yourself getting better as you grow stronger.”

Emily says pilates also brings people together on a social level. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Time to switch off

Taking time to switch off from the stresses and strains of daily life is also a big part of the class.

“At the start and end of all the classes I do a couple of minutes of breathing and I’ll ask you to thank yourself for coming to the class,” says Emily.

“It’s so good and healthy for you to just sit and not think about what’s for dinner and what you’ve got to do later on, it’s good to take a minute to just be still.

“At the end of the class we spend a bit of time coming back to ourselves, grounding ourselves and thanking ourselves for exercising and moving our bodies.”

Emily is keen to drive home the message that pilates is for everyone. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

As well as connecting to your mind and body, Emily is also delighted to see that her classes are also helping people to connect with each other.

“Recently over the past month it’s also become a social thing for most of the people who come to my class,” says Emily.

“A lot of people have been saying to me that they were nervous to come at first but they’ve actually made friends which is lovely.”

Future plans

Emily hopes to host community coffee mornings in the near future. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Nourishing that sense of community is something Emily is passionate about with plans to host coffee mornings and pop up events on the horizon.

“It just seems to be getting bigger and the classes are super busy so I would definitely love to have my own studio one day,” says Emily.

“I would also love to do a few pop-up events on a Sunday morning and maybe collaborate with other people in the wellness community.

“The studio at Breathing Space has a wee café downstairs so I’ve been speaking to them about maybe doing a wee coffee morning and inviting anyone who wants to come along.

“If you’re new to Aberdeen it’s sometimes difficult to make friends so you could come along to a pilates coffee morning and it’s all like-minded people.”

Wellbeing diary with Emily Robbie

Emily has shared her top tips for health and wellbeing. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

What are your top three tips for health and wellbeing?

1:An early morning walk.

2: Stay hydrated.

3: Give yourself an hour every day to do something you enjoy like reading, cooking or exercising.

Do you incorporate health and wellbeing into your diet?

Yes, I definitely incorporate health and wellbeing into my diet. I eat healthy when I can throughout the week and then I allow myself to relax at the weekends. I think having a balanced diet and drinking plenty water is key.

What are the main benefits of pilates?

*Core strength.

*Improved posture and mobility.

*It physically tones your body.

*It reduces stress and anxiety.

*It brings like minded people together through exercise.

Are there any other ways you like to switch off and de-stress?

I like to switch off and destress by going a long walk with my boyfriend or going out for dinner with friends.

Can you recommend any wellbeing books/podcasts?

I love to listen to Diary of a CEO on Spotify, there are often some really interesting topics discussed.

For more information check out Core Pilates Club on Instagram