WONDER WOMAN // LEAH SIMMONS, PILATES INSTRUCTOR & DJ
Sculpted, sexy, strong. Leah Simmons is a guiding light in Pilates, channeling her drive and sass into her dynamic classes and online fitness programs. With an 18-year career history in the music industry including six years spent in London, Leah left this fast-paced party scene to reconnect with her Australian roots and her desire for a more rounded lifestyle.
Radical Yes is drawn to women with a sense of humour; who are relatable and real. Leah’s energy and style is a continual reference point for us because it’s these women we design solutions for – shoes with athletic sensibilities, but with a fashionable skin. It’s functional, stylish footwear for their inspired, busy lives.
In Leah’s words, “If you work hard, you get results”. Her story is a testament to this. Currently living between Bondi and Bali, we managed to steal her away to quiz her on her holistic views, and personal tips for training.
Introduce us to your Pilates experience. Why were you drawn to Pilates over other fitness choices? What moved you about this method most?
Having been a DJ for 18 years, with a six-year stint in London running a large record label, the term "work hard, play harder" started to really take it's toll on me! I was pushing my body to the limit, and not in a good way.
My mother actually introduced me to Pilates in 2002, and I found it was not only amazing for my body, it was also really beneficial for my mind. It helped to rebalance everything in my life. I've always been active, (whether it was gym sessions, boxing, running, etc.) but for some reason, I resonated with Pilates on a different level, a more holistic level.
So, when I eventually moved back to Australia in 2006, I decided (at the ripe old age of 30) that I needed a career change. The music industry was great for my ego, but the next chapter was all about being kind to my body and focusing on my health. I studied to become a personal trainer then took two years to complete my Pilates Instructor Certification. That was 10 years ago, and I’m still as excited about Pilates now, as I was then.
What is one small activity we should all include in our fitness regime?
I would say some form of core work. Core strength is different to having a "six-pack". Core strength is what helps you jump out of bed in the morning and move freely and painlessly. A strong core is important for spinal and joint health, so it will keep you upright as you get older too.
A simple plank every day will help build core strength. Try and time yourself and set goals for improvement. Alternate between planks off your hands and planks off your forearms. Don't collapse into your lower back. Think of having a rope tied around your hips that is pulling you towards the ceiling. Do this two to three minutes every day, and you’ll benefit so much in later life.
Music is the backbone of your story. Name a song that moves you or fires you up for a hectic week ahead.
Oh wow, one song is so hard! I'm a total dag at heart, so anything 80s gets me fired up! Give me a Madonna sing-along any day of the week.
How do you stay invigorated between high-profile DJing gigs, family time with your little boy and prioritising fitness?
I thrive on activity and being busy! I actually have a unique situation where I split my time between Sydney and Bali. My fiance lives in Bali, where he’s a business owner/operator of a rapidly expanding venture, and I also have a six-year-old son in Sydney. But, if you want something badly enough you just make it work!
I rotate my time spending two weeks in Bali and two weeks in Sydney, and it’s actually perfect for all of us. It’s unconventional and a lot of travel but it’s exciting and suits our lifestyle. My work is all online, so I can do it wherever I am. As far as training is concerned, I just do it wherever I can. I have an amazing trainer in Sydney, and I also have my "go-to" in Bali, so there’s no excuses!
Why are rest days so important, and how do you spend your downtime?
Rest days are almost as important as training days - just as stretching is as integral to your actual workout. You need to give your body time to rest, recover and rejuvenate. If you constantly have it in a state of tension, your muscles have no chance to process what's happening to them, and it will only end in injury or chronic fatigue.
Training doesn't just include a gym workout - it's a lifestyle that should incorporate everything from a great program to good nutrition, adequate water intake, the right supplements and enough sleep. Only then will you really get the most out of your training regime.
I love my rest days - I'll treat myself to a massage, a Yin Yoga class or just curl up with a good book. It’s rare that I totally stop, but it might just be something simple like having a great meal or heading to the movies. I also listen to my body and respect when it tells me to slow down or take it easy.
What are your essential comforts for an active, style-driven life?
Having moved from fashion and music into the fitness industry, the biggest change in my life was not having to wear heels! Don't get me wrong; I love a "statement" shoe - I have a wardrobe full of them - it's just now I spend most of my life in trainers or barefoot, so I don't really have the need to wear them or suffer for fashion.
Sore feet, scrunched up toes, terrible posture and a tight lower back were all the result of wearing heels. This is the reason I LOVE Radical Yes. They’re just as comfortable as my trainers but with a stylish edge. Super comfy and always on-trend, I can run around in them all day, and my lower back loves me for it!