Anyone who spends the majority of their day in an office chair will know that without some kind of movement, you will start to feel aches and pains that you do NOT want. The kind that, over time, can lead to all sorts of long-term health issues. But there’s a difference between those who spend all day in a busy office with the opportunity to walk to a colleague’s desk, or to a meeting, or to the water fountain on the other side of the building, and those who work from home with nothing to break up the monotony of sitting.
That’s where Kerrie-Anne from PAYD comes in. Her business is all about going into offices and giving employees the Pilates tools they need to stay mobile during the day, even if they can’t leave their desk. I’m excited to share Kerrie-Anne’s interview with you all, as this is something that can absolutely benefit anyone working from home just as much as those in offices.
Hi Kerrie-Anne. You have such a unique business! Tell us about PAYD, what you do there and who your clients are?
Pilates At Your Desk (PAYD) is all about getting people to sit well and move more during their working day. I offer a series of workshops and classes to businesses in London and beyond. I also share my daily tips, reminders and exercises on Instagram.
When I’m not teaching PAYD I teach 1-2-1 and duet Pilates classes to clients in SW London.
How did you come to work in this field, and what steps did you take to get to where you are now?
Before becoming a Pilates teacher I was a desk-slouching economist. In fact, that’s what I did for around 10 years. I didn’t sit well (usually alternating between crossed legs and sitting on one leg) and I definitely didn’t move much. I had a whole shopping list of postural issues including sciatica, a recurring frozen shoulder, bad knees, lower back pain and a stiff neck. I started doing Pilates as a way of addressing some of the issues – but it was only once/twice a week and so as much as I would feel good after the lesson, I found that I wasn’t really making loads of progress.
I really loved Pilates and decided to quit my job and retrain. The training was very intense – basically 10 months in a studio for the best part of 6 days a week. Once I started working with bodies I realised that I had a knack for it and actually, I had been looking at bodies and making connections throughout my life. I think that coupled with my problem solving skills meant that I had made the right choice.
I taught classes and 1-2-1s for a couple of years before coming up with the idea of PAYD. Essentially I was working with lots of people who had desk jobs and was repeatedly giving them similar homework. Not legs over head stuff, just simple movement.
I joined the dots together and that’s where the idea of PAYD came from. That was in January. I put together a programme of exercises for my first workshop and through my network of clients and old corporate contacts, managed to line up some work. I’ve been lucky in that people really like PAYD so we’ve had a lot of clients already.
You call yourself an ‘ex-professional sloucher’ – I think there are quite a few of us out there! Did you struggle with sitting at a desk in your corporate job?
Yes! Primarily because I didn’t know how to sit and I didn’t have the brain capacity to remind myself to make it better. That’s why I put so many tips and reminders out there, to encourage people to do it better.
In my workshops I pair people up and get them to make commitments to each other as a way of making them accountable. I also offer further workshops so we can monitor progress, further ensure accountability, etc.
What is it about Pilates specifically that changed your work life?
For me, it made me realise that corporate life wasn’t the way forward for me!
For people who have completed the PAYD workshop or follow me on Instagram, the biggest feedback I get is that it reminds them to not cross their legs and to sit on their sit bones. I’ve had a lot of people write to me to say this has significantly improved their lower back and hip pains, and definitely their posture.
What are the main physical problems you hear professionals complain about from working at a desk for long hours?
Lower back pain, and stiff neck and shoulders.
Tell us about how you work with your clients in person.
Workshops. These tend to be group workshops that last for 45 minutes. I teach everyone how to sit properly and then take them through a series of simple, yet effective exercises. It’s fun and an accessible way to learn how to improve posture, strength and mobility at work. I teach 1-2-1s too.
What is the number one stretch or exercise that you would recommend for someone working long hours in an office?
Can I suggest a few things?
– Sit properly (you’ll see more on this on my Instagram)
– Move your spine sideways, rotate, extend and flex
– Roll your shoulders
– Get up and move every hour
– Do a star stretch. Literally stand up, legs in a V, arms in a V above your head, and stretch everything
Your Instagram is packed with great tips for those struggling with sitting all day! Do you find that most of your clients come from online?
My private clients come from word of mouth in SW London – I now have 30 1-2-1s and duets every week. Corporate has been through Instagram, my network and I’m hoping more word of mouth as time goes on.
What are some of your future goals for your business, and what steps are you taking to get there?
I’d love to see lots of offices incorporating PAYD moves into their agenda. Get people moving more and sitting well. I have a team of Pilates teachers working with me so we can really spread the movement.