Why I Move… With Paola Di Lanzo

Paola Di Lanzo, the founder of Paola’s BodyBarre, is an OG wellness guru. If you’re not familiar with PBB, a concept way ahead of its time, it’s a unique low-impact method that fuses the best of Pilates, barre, yoga, and functional training. Founded back in 2008, Paola has come a long way in the wellness industry, with studio launches and collaborations with stellar gyms under her belt. The fundamentals of the PBB method stand the test of time, hence the consistent stream of class-goers she has in tow. Paola is brimming with infectious energy, which may be the real secret behind her success. If you attend one of her classes, you’re guaranteed to be left with a renewed sense of joy and, of course, a serious burn! As part of our ‘Why I Move’ series, we’re catching up with Paola to delve into her journey with fitness, how she stays motivated, as well as some great recommendations!

Why do you move?

The answer is simple! I “move” to feel physically strong, physically capable of moving in an efficient functional manner for everyday life! At the age of 53, I can still move and teach the way I did when I was in my 20s. The old adage applies… “use it or lose it”. 

I have had many ups and downs in my life (like most people do), and movement has always mentally balanced me. It gives me the feel-good factor EVERY time I teach or attend a class. The power of endorphins!

What are some of your earliest recollections of physical activity as a child?

I grew up in Western Australia by the beach. We were water babies from a very young age. If we were not swimming in the pool or ocean we were climbing trees. Australia has always been a sporty nation; it was the norm to get stuck into all sporting and outdoor activities. Throughout primary school, I played tennis, netball, softball, ballet classes, and gym classes and had a passion for athletics and running. As I got into my teens it was Volleyball, boogie boarding, water skiing and anything we could do on the beach!

Can you tell us the story behind Paola’s BodyBarre? How has it evolved since its inception 10 years ago?

Paola’s BodyBarre the studios started 10 years ago, but the method was being taught by myself in Harbour Club Chelsea, KX Life and studios in Fulham from as early as 2008.  

How has your approach to fitness evolved since you first became a PT?

I have been a Personal trainer since 1990. As it was the early 90’s I also taught Aerobics (in a thong leotard I might add), however, my style of training has evolved, like my fitness wear! 

After my first child was born in 2002, I realised the hard and fast approach was not working for my body. I used to lift heavy and run like a maniac for hours which was taking its toll on me. I was working in a high-end boutique studio in Knightsbridge at the time I fell pregnant. There were many celebrities and “it girls” in this particular gym chatting about Pilates and how wonderful it is for pre/post-natal training. I had never heard of it but I was curious. 

In 2003 I signed up for a teacher training course with Michael King (known back then as The Pilates Institute). I hadn’t even tried a class before and I have to admit I was in shock with the method as it was alien to me. I grew to love it and started to play around with the traditional method adding in my more dynamic approach. I started to fuse my fitness training, bits of yoga, functional training (from my courses with Paul Check) and later ballet techniques.

As an instructor, what have you noticed most about people’s relationship with exercise? Is there anything you’ve learnt over your years of teaching and working with people on their fitness journey?

As I have taught for many years, I have certainly seen a shift in the mentality towards fitness training. I would have to say the beginning of my career (1988) it was all about aesthetics! Women wanted to be trim and toned. Men wanted to be “big” bulk up and look muscular. Think Baywatch… they were the inspirational body types back in the day! 

There are also “trends” in terms of the look we adhere to. The 90s were all about the exceedingly thin waif-like look shown on the catwalks (aka Kate Moss). They went as far as calling it “heroin-chic” – it was obviously not responsible to promote such a look! Then came the Kardashians with the “implanted” and “filled” curves. Times have changed and thankfully so has our mentality and ways of educating our audience and clients. 

I’d say most people who come to PBB want to exercise to not just look great but to feel great. We know that with regular exercise comes mental clarity, stress reduction, and overall happiness. It boosts your mood when you feel low, increases energy levels and improves cognitive function. There is a lot of stress with the progression of technology and our ever-fast-paced moving lives. Fitness studios have become our hub of local communities to feel great and to connect with others! 

What do you hope people gain from attending a PBB class?

Our PBB clients gain not only strength, flexibility, tone and core strength but also postural improvements. Our clients rave about the results they achieve not only physically but also mentally! 

One of the biggest rewards of my job is hearing clients say that myself and team PBB have transformed not only their bodies but also their lives. PBB is a community! I see friendships and close bonds made through our classes. We are a welcoming community that gives so many men and women a place to flourish.

When you really don’t want to work out, where do you draw inspiration and motivation from?

Teaching my classes is physically demanding so when I go to a class it has to be in line with my mood and how my body is feeling. I love yoga when I need more mental grounding which is usually when I have run myself ragged with the business, children and teaching. When I feel I need to improve my strength a good class at KXU is my go-to as they are super motivating and London’s top trainers. For Pilates (other than PBB Pilates) it is hands down Lagree at Studio Fix and MAD on Kings Road. 

Are rest days important to you, if so, how do you spend them?

Hahha! What’s that? I am not good at resting. Jokes aside I am the type of person who has to keep on the move, which I know is not good for me as I get to the point of “crash and burn”. I do however make sure I have at least one day off teaching to rest my body physically and to stay 100 percent focused on my family time. My family are my energisers and downtime. I also go to bed super early (9 pm for 5.30 am starts). I am obsessed with getting enough sleep so that is my rest and recovery!

Nutrition plays an important supporting role for movement… how do you utilise food to fuel you throughout your long days of teaching?

In terms of my food intake, it has to be fresh produce. I try and avoid processed foods. Generally, my breakfast is eggs adding either avocados, tomatoes, spinach or beans. My studio in Fulham is attached to Nati’s Wholefoods and he does the best egg dishes with an Italian dish. Delicious and nutritious. 

If I don’t have eggs it’s Greek yoghurt, muesli and berries and ALWAYS a coffee. Lunch is protein with veg or salad. On the go, I dash for a prepped acai bowl as they are tasty and super nutritious. Dinner is whatever the “bosses” at home ask for. The bosses are my husband and 3 children. We all love cooking and love cooking a variety of healthy nutritious meals. I have a very healthy relationship with food and encourage the family to have the same passion as I do in terms of enjoying a great meal with family and friends. I do not deprive myself. If I want a treat, I will have it. I generally am not a snacker but if I feel low on energy it’s either good protein shakes or a green juice from the studio I may be in teaching in on that day. 

I am a stickler for my supplements! I do not go a day without Kollo Health which is a liquid collogen. I have 1000mg of Vitamin C a day and Multivitamins by JSHealth.

If you’ve got friends visiting London, where do you send them for the best brunch?

My favourite places for brunch are Farm Girl Notting Hill, The Wolsey, Acai Girls Fulham, Black Penny Chelsea and Granger and Co on Pavilion Road.

What are the fitness essentials you can’t be without?

I can’t live without my Apple Watch, Spotify for playlists, Nike for trainers, Alo, Belsize, Vuori and Lululemon for fitness clothing. My favourite classes (other than mine) are at KXU Chelsea, Studio Fix Kensington, MAD Kings Road, and Heartcore Fulham. I also have to carry my Bala ankle weights with me to all my PBB Sculpt classes!

#Move.. #Paola #Lanzo

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