I’m Sam Harris-Hughes, And This Is How I Pilates
Australian-born Sam Harris-Hughes began her university studies in Applied Science Human Movement, in thought of becoming a clinical physiologist or cardiac scientist. But shortly before graduating, she began her professional career in doing her first love…dance.
Chasing her dreams of performing on stage around the world, she also found a new love in Pilates. It was a natural marriage of her two interests—dance, and sport & exercise science. Learning and teaching Pilates allowed her to combine the knowledge she gained from her studies and her fascination for human movement, along with her enjoyment for…well, moving!
Now, she teaches Mat and Equipment-based Pilates in several studios in Berlin and Hamburg alongside her ongoing career in musical theatre, and is the first Plates instructor to be featured on DOYOUYOGA. She enjoys working one-on-one with people to create personalized programs and get life-changing results for them. She hopes to one day open her own Pilates, Barre and dance fitness studio, and write her very own ‘You’d Never Believe It’s Good For You’ cookbook.
Name: Sam Harris-Hughes
Occupation: Pilates Instructor and Musical Theater Dancer
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Favorite Pilates style: Equipment-based Pilates eg. Reformer, Cadillac etc.
Favorite Pilates exercise: Side Reach with rotation on the mat or Climb-A-Tree on the Reformer.
Pilates is… Mindful movement. It is a learning and rehabilitation tool for healthier posture and movement patterns, and a stronger mind-body connection.
What Do You Love Most About Pilates?
I love that Pilates is so diverse in how it can be used. It can be used as a rehabilitation tool, for treating a specific condition, for general strength, health and fitness, for specific sport/activity training, or just to make your body feel good.
How Has Pilates Changed Your Life, Personality And Physique?
I used Pilates initially for rehabilitation for a chronic knee injury I’d been dealing with and an acute spinal injury. Not only do I now never have a problem with my knee or back, but I’ve also successfully used Pilates exercises and principles to treat other injuries or problems that I’ve had since as a result of my dance career.
Pilates has been the number one reason for why I’m still dancing.
It’s also made me more even more aware of the health state of my body and how it feels, and therefore, has sparked my interest in nutrition. When I treat my body well with healthy (but of course delicious) food and practice Pilates regularly, my body, mind and soul feel fantastic. And I definitely notice it on the outside too.
What Everyday Things Did You Get Better At Because Of Pilates?
For me, walking up and down stairs was the first thing I noticed became easier. No knee pain! But I notice a lot that my back feels so free, especially first thing in the morning. So basically every movement of everyday is made easier for that. My balance, which was already good, is something that’s also improved.
How Do You Keep Your Pilates Practice Interesting And Challenging?
I love to play around on different machines or with different props. That’s a really great thing about Pilates…there’s so many options! I also take classes from different teachers, either online or in a studio. Even just the slightest adjustment to an exercise can change it.
What Book, Website Or Person Inspires You?
Joseph Pilates (the creator of the Pilates method) wrote a book called Return to Life through Contrology (Contrology being what he originally called his method). Every now and then I like to read through this book for inspiration.
I also have a number of teachers that I either personally know, or know of online or through Instagram, that inspire me a lot. These include Sally Anderson, Sarah Colquhoun, Tracey Mallet, Meredith Rogers and GoneAdventuring Pilates- Kristi Instagrammer (just to name a few).
The website PilatesAnytime features some wonderful teachers from around the world and also provide many lectures to help my knowledge in the field to keep growing.
Which Pilates Exercise Challenges You the Most?
The Roll Up. It’s a relatively basic exercise but targets my weaknesses.
What are Your Go-To Pilates Exercises When You’re Stressed or In Need of an Energy Boost?
If I’m stressed, the first place I feel it is in my shoulders and neck, so I get out my foam roller and do some simple Chest Lifts over the roller. It opens up my chest, re-leases tension in my upper back and helps me breath better.
If I need an energy boost, then The Hundred does a great job of that. Gets the blood pumping around my body, gets my mind focused and my core engaged.
What Do You Listen To When You Practice Pilates?
I either have the radio on in the background, or I’m just listening to the teacher. I like to allow someone else guide me through my practice, unless there’s something specific I want or need to do.
What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?
Be happy doing what you love. My mum told me that and I can’t agree more. If you love what you’re doing, than you will do it well.
What’s Your #1 Piece of Advice for Those Just Starting Their Pilates Practice?
Stick with it. At first, Pilates can be confusing as it seems like there’s a lot of information that you need to process, think about and do. But one day, maybe after a few sessions, it will click and all of a sudden you will feel what your supposed to be feeling and it will all start to make sense. And that will just be the beginning!