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Freshly Centered: Stonehaven mum-of-two builds Pilates empire that welcomes all

Tracy Ward believes everyone can and should benefit from giving Pilates a go.

Tracy Ward runs Freshly Centred. Image: Tracy Ward
Tracy Ward runs Freshly Centred. Image: Tracy Ward

Knee-deep in a biomedical science degree, Tracy Ward’s intense workout habits were taking their toll.

She was going from lectures straight to the gym and back again, throwing in the odd run here and there.

Knowing she needed to find something better suited to her busy lifestyle, she signed up for a Pilates class.

This small decision ended up changing the course of her life.

Tracy was interested in physiotherapy from a young age. Image: Tracy Ward

“I initially did it just to get a more relaxed physical workout because what I was doing was so intense, but what I was surprised by was the effect it had on my stress and anxiety levels,” said Tracy.

“I get stressed and anxious quite easily, whether through exams back then or motherhood now, and it has a huge benefit on that side of things. It just gives me that calming space in my head, that mindfulness.“

Love at first side bend

After graduating from her undergraduate degree, Tracy went straight into a masters in physiotherapy.

She said: “I’ve always wanted to be a physio. I did every sport you can think of growing up and I really loved biology and physiology and that side of things.

“It’s a bit of a strange story, when I was in Primary 2, a girl in my class broke both her wrists doing sport. Then one day, she came out of her casts and could move again. I was like ‘wow, I want to be the person who knows how to fix the body and get you back to sport.’”

Tracy believes everyone can and should do Pilates. Image: Tracy Ward

It didn’t take long before the mum-of-two, who now lives in Stonehaven, realised that she could apply her love of Pilates to physiotherapy.

“A lot of what we were doing with patients was exercise-based and about stability and minor strength adjustments,” she said.

“Pilates is actually fantastic for rehabilitation from a physio side of things, so I did my Pilates training about two months after graduating from physio.

“Something just clicked, and I loved the idea I could adapt it and make it so that everyone could come to a class.”

Freshly Centered Pilates

The wide range of services offered by Tracy’s Pilates business, Freshly Centered, demonstrates just how passionate she is.

She does everything from group classes in StudioBe and retreat days to one-to-one classes for specific focuses, corporate talks on wellness and an on-demand online membership platform.

Tracy is keen to ensure that her classes can be attended, and enjoyed, by everyone.

“I always say to people that everyone is welcome and that, because of my physio background, I can make sure that all my classes are safe,” she explained.

“I do a medical screening before they come so I know all about them even before the class begins. I show people what we are doing, but I’ll always provide an easier or harder option to suit how they’re feeling. It’s customer friendly and, more importantly, it’s safe.

Tracy holds classes in StudioBe. Image: Darrell Benns / DC Thomson

“I greet people at the door when they arrive so they’re not getting lost in a group of new people, then I follow up after class to check that they got on okay.

Tracy added: “I really believe that everyone should do Pilates and that it can help everyone. I want to show people that and make sure they get the best out of it.”

An evolving business

Though her studio classes are fully booked more often than not, Tracy is still keen to help anyone who wants to get into Pilates.

She has a particular focus on female health and how Pilates can help women in all different stages of their lives.

“Since I’ve had the children – my son is nearly five and my daughter is nearly two – I’ve learnt about the pregnancy and post-natal side of things,” she said.

Tracy adapts her classes to all abilities. Image: Tracy Ward

“I did Pilates right up until the day before they were born because you can adapt it so much. It helped me get physically strong in terms of getting through labour, but it also helped me keep my head calm and focused. I then used it from about three weeks after their births to start strengthening my muscles again.”

Despite how busy she is, Tracy is working on expanding her online platform to grow as she and those around her do.

“Now that I’ve had my children and a lot of my patients are either menopausal or coming to that stage of life, hopefully the online platform can evolve to cater for that too,” she said.

If all that wasn’t enough, Tracy wrote Science of Pilates which was published in December.

Inspired by all the questions she is asked by clients and students on a daily basis, the book brings anatomy and physiology together with practical programmes for all abilities.

Even this won’t be the last you hear from Tracy though.

“I’m always thinking of the next thing, I can’t stop,” she said.

Wellbeing check-in with Tracy Ward

Favourite brand of workout wear?

I’m a long-term Sweaty Betty and Lululemon lover, but recently I have moved to Tala for their simplicity and combination outfits.

Tracy is always willing to help get newbies into Pilates. Image: Tracy Ward

Favourite way to relax?

Completely switching off at the gym by myself with a good podcast on.

Favourite time of day to do Pilates?

I often teach in the evenings so I like to do my own practice in the morning to set me up for the day and ensure I get the time.

Top three Pilates moves or positions?

Side bend, shoulder bridge and leg pull in prone. Those cover pretty much everything and all give a good challenge.

Top benefit of doing Pilates?

The routine, the concentration and the strength gains all lead to overall better mental health.

Least favourite form of exercise?

High intensity interval training. I still work hard with my workouts but I prefer to work at a steady pace and focus on the movements.

Guilty pleasure treat?

I just can’t resist a bag of Haribo. Living by the beach I also love a mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Find out more about Tracy and Freshly Centered on Instagram and Facebook and at