International Pilates Day

Celebrate International Pilates Day with Body Love founder, Ali Handley

International Pilates Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of May every year and is aimed at fostering a widespread appreciation for the 100-year-old practice. Pilates is known to not only improve physical strength, flexibility and posture but also enhance mental awareness and well-being of mind, body and spirit.

Today we want to shine a spotlight on one of our dearest instructors, the founder of Bodylove, Ali Handley and speak to her about what the day means to them.

What does World Pilates Day mean to you and how will you be celebrating it?

The global reach of Pilates these days just fills me with so much joy. I know I am biased but Pilates changed my life. It's my daily anchor. I always walk out of class with a renewed sense of purpose, energy, light and I love the idea that people all around the world are sharing that experience. The joy of movement! I will be celebrating it with a class at Bodylove - no better way!

How long have you been practising pilates for? How has it evolved since you began instructing?

I have been practicing Pilates for 20 years now and have been a teacher for 15 years, so yikes, a long time and it has changed so much. For the better. When I first practiced, Mat Pilates was the entry point and the only place you could practice in a group setting. I did all my training in New York and there was no such thing as group Reformer, it was reserved for private studio pilates. I love the explosion and evolution of boutique fitness and group Reformer. Not to take away from Mat, I like to mix it up for sure.

I love the progressive form of Pilates we practice at Bodylove. Exercise should be grounded in anatomy and making your clients feel good, but there are no rules when it comes to what an exercise is, I encourage my instructors to be creative! I believe strongly in the idea of holistic health so we can encorprated different modalties into our classes to ensure we are nourshing all the systems of the body, not just the musco-skeletal system. I introduced breath work in all our classes back in 2021, and I think clients really thrive when they are cared for in this mindful way.

When did you fall in love with practising pilates and why? How has it changed your life?

I fell in love with Pilates after my very first Mat class. I loved how the movements could isolate muscle groups. I immediately craved that burn I got in class and it quickly became a healthy addication. It changed my life completely. I worked for many years in Fashion and PR, so it was a seismic shift to become an instructor, and I’ve never looked back.

Where did the inspiration come from to start Bodylove and create your own unique studio at Woollahra?

Bodylove Pilates began an online Pilates studio for pre and postnatal movement in New York. We launched in 2015, this was long before the explosion of on-demand workout platforms. This platform still exists, it's called Bodylove Mamas and hosts 600+ workouts for Prenconception, IVF, every week of pregnancy, birth prep, postnatal recovery and beyond!

I had been planning, dreaming and scheming about my own IRL studio for about 5 years so when I moved back to Sydney I set about creating the ultimate boutique studio. I also wanted a third baby, so in 2019 it was twins - Bodylove Woollahra & Theodora!

What are some of the highlights of owning your own business? What have you learnt?

Highlights are working alongside my team who are talented, dedicated, funny, loyal, all the things! Working for my inspiring Bodylove community who have supported and evolved with me over the years, I’m eternally grateful. I love that I have flexibility in my working hours so I can always be there for my kids pick-up etc. Working for yourself can be challenging and sometimes I struggle with self-motivation, but at the end of the day, there is a wonderful freedom to chart your own path and everything you put in, you get out!

What is your favourite type of pilates to practise?

That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child! I love them all equally. Hand on heart the magic is when you mix it up - Reformer, Mat & making sure you include stretch. We offer a mat and a reformer stretch classes at Bodylove. The body requires balance. Muscles need to be supple - strong & flexible.

What is some advice you would give to anyone who is thinking of starting pilates?

Do not be put off by what you see on instragram - us Pilates instructors are just showing off! The best thing about Pilates is that almost every exercise can be modified to suit a certain level of skill and fitness. At Bodylove, we say every body, is a Bodylove body.

If you are a beginner a nice place to start is in the mat room, working on a strong foundation, before you layer in the machines!

As we all know, pilates is way more than just exercise. How have you created a unique and magical experience for your Bodylove community? What kind of environment do you strive to create?

Every element of the Bodylove studios is considered and has an impact on your experience. How you are greeted when you walk in, the incense that is burning, the cleanliness of the studio, the quality of the equipment and props, the energy and mindfulness of the teacher, it’s all crucial and class hasn’t even started. As I mentioned we breathe at the beginning and end of every class to nourish the nervous system. The nervous system innervates all the systems of the body so just by spending time breathing we can support cardiovascular, immunity, respiratory, digestive and importantly for women, the reproductive system.We are a flow based studio, and our classes seek to balance the entire body in each class, we don’t do a legs day, or arms day, it’s everything, everyday!

Tell us more about your beautiful studio. What classes do you offer to your community?

At Bodylove we offer Reformer, Mat, Barre, Yoga, Stretch and a robust schedule of Prenatal classes which include Prenatal Reformer, Mat & Yoga. We have BYO baby class for our Mamas and we offer privates and group classed upon request!


To learn more about Mode Pilates and their classes, visit: Bodylove Pilates

And check out their Instagram! @bodylovepilates