At the age of four, I attended my first dance class. From what I’ve been told (and from the embarrassing videos I’ve seen!) it was pretty clear to my parents that I was meant to dance. At 11, I remember  making a very clear decision that dancing was going to be part of me for the rest of my life – but what I didn’t know was that it would lead me to my next biggest passion … Pilates.

By age 14, I was dancing about five times a week and was a student dance teacher to one of the most influential people in my life still to this day. By 15, I had been accepted into Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, which was a two hour commute each way from my home in a small rural town in NSW. It was safe to say my passion to dance was very strong, and I was dancing for about five to six hours a day by this stage.

This began to take a significant toll on my body. I had my first injury and was unable to dance for a long time. I was devastated: dancing was all I wanted to do everyday and it crushed me to have to sit and watch everyone else dance while I was immobile and in pain. I had been taking Mat Pilates classes for around two years prior to this injury, but had never heard of or seen a Pilates studio. I saw countless sports doctors and physios and, with little improvement, was recommended to a Pilates teacher to help correct my Patella-Femoral tracking Syndrome (this basically means that there was an incorrect alignment of the Patella, lack of muscle balance and too much uncontrolled hyper extension going on in my knee joints).

“I immediately loved the feeling that Pilates gave me. The mental relief from that hour of movement was huge”

When I entered the Pilates studio for the first time, I remember thinking “Wow what is this?”. Pilates was not popular at the time, and studios were still few and far between, so it all looked very strange. After my first session, my teacher said I would be back doing a full class in 8 – 12 weeks if I came to Pilates three times a week and practiced my exercises every other day. I immediately loved the feeling that Pilates gave me. The mental relief from that hour of movement was huge, and it gave me back a sense of control over my body and forced me to get to understand how my mind and body need to work as one from a very young age.

I remember coming home after my first week of Pilates and telling my mum that I was going to be a Pilates teacher one day. Little did we both know that that day was just around the corner. At 17, I started my Certificate in Pilates Instruction, although I still had strong hopes of building a career from dancing. At 18, I moved to Melbourne to pursue my dreams of being a dancer. I studied a Diploma of Dance and Bachelor of Contemporary at the Victorian College of the Arts and taught Pilates every night and on the weekends.

Sara Colquhoun

“It gave me back a sense of control over my body and forced me to get to understand how my mind and body need to work as one”

Sara Colquhoun

Dancing five to seven hours a day and pushing my body to the absolute limit was 100% normal, however my next serious injury came in a different way to what I could have expected. During my first year of dancing fulltime and teaching Pilates I developed Bells Palsy, a condition that paralyzes the left side of your face indefinitely. Dancing became difficult because I couldn’t stand upright without falling over. My eye was paralyzed open and I had to wear a hideous patch all the time! Trying to do kicks down the room in a straight line was quite amusing, and although I looked quite strange I did manage to see the funny side most days. But the most amazing thing for me was that I could still do so many of my Pilates exercises with the support and feedback from my apparatus gives me. This allowed me to keep up my strength, flexibility, coordination and was my mind’s release during this time. I knew that Pilates was always going to be a huge part of my life, but this six-month journey of recovery really concreted that for me, seeing how it enabled me to move through such a difficult time. I made a full recovery from my Bells Palsy and I managed to get through the following years of fulltime dance with minor injuries. I believe that was largely due to my Pilates practice.

I started to naturally gravitate more and more to Pilates teaching over dance. This was so surprising for me and also hard to accept at times. I never thought my passion for Pilates would have taken over my dream of being a dancer but it really did. For me it was not just my love of Pilates but it was helping others rehabilitate, move freely, relieve stress, increase strength, gain confidence and improve their mental health that is what really drove me to keep going down this path.

“I believe that movement is the key to a happier, healthier life and my dream is to inspire people to want to move and get to know their bodies”

My Pilates teaching career has now stemmed over 13 great years. For over eight of these years, I’ve also taught people training to be Pilates teachers. Teaching the teachers has given me an in-depth understanding of Pilates exercises that is beyond my years, and I am so grateful for this experience. I am very lucky that educating other Pilates teachers has become a big part of my life. I now get to travel around the world and share my passion and knowledge – I recently, filmed classes for Pilates Anytime in Santa Barbara. Being part of the Pilates Anytime family and knowing my classes are viewed by people all across the globe is very humbling and I feel very grateful for this opportunity and the amazing teachers I have met along the way.

The last few years I have focused on building my own studio Ki Movement Pilates and creating a great team to share our love of Pilates even further. Together we have built an amazing studio space that I believe people feel comfortable & inspired to move in. My aim is for people to enjoy Pilates and get to know their bodies in a calm and relaxed environment. Even though Pilates is so hard and requires a lot of concentration, we try not to take ourselves too seriously at the studio.

I believe that movement is the key to a happier, healthier life and my dream is to inspire people to want to move and get to know their bodies so they can enjoy all aspects of life, and continue the sports or activities they love.

I also believe there is no quick fix. Pilates is a long-term investment into your self and your overall health. And 16 years practicing, I can say it’s well worth the commitment.

Sara xx

Sara Colquhoun