Photo courtesy of Patricia Pena
Hello, my age is: 41
Erika Bloom |
founder Erika Bloom Pilates
Book a Pilates session with Erika Bloom and, in addition to activating muscles you never knew you had, you can’t help but be more than afraid. Everything about her is inspiring – her radiant skin, graceful body and cascade of beach hair, as well as an amazing range of knowledge: She studied nutrition; developed programs to help people with osteoporosis, structural alignment, and rectal diastase; she had previously practiced as a postpartum and postpartum doula; and is one of the biggest names in Pilates. “My natural body type is different from what I achieved with Pilates,” says a single mother of two based in Manhattan. “Pilates allows us to continue to move nicely as we age, while a lot of exercise methods break down the body and cause injuries as we age.”
It’s hard to imagine, but before Bloom started her successful business – she had airy studies in New York, LA, the Hamptons and the Amanyara Hotel in the Turks and Caicos, and now also teaches at a distance – she was unhealthy. “I have an autoimmune disease and I was very sick of it,” she says. “Biomedicine didn’t have the tools to improve me; I was determined to figure out how to feel good and not die young. I started researching nutrition, acupuncture and other ways to support myself and my body. “She was always adapted to the mechanics of muscle and movement – she grew up in a family of physicists and was a professional dancer in her twenties – so she received a certificate for various body therapies, only to eventually turn to Pilates to help rehabilitate after suffering injuries. Anatomy is one of the reasons why she is such a brilliantly intuitive instructor, able to detect even subtle inconsistencies just by looking at a client who stands completely still.
At forty-one, Bloom looks impossibly sleek in the spandex in which she spends most of the week and exudes a calm, radiant energy that she attributes in part to a powerful routine of caring for clean skin and having children. “I’m healthier now and I’m more connected to my body than I was before I had children,” she says, “I think it’s possible for everyone.” Her advice on graceful aging, perhaps unsurprisingly, begins with Pilates.
Make the job joyful
I wake up every day wanting to do Pilates. I’m never, ever in the mood. I was teaching at 6:30 this morning, and I couldn’t wait to enter the studio. As for the business part of running a company: Hire people who know more than you, who have similar life views, and who bring you joy. Does work ever stress me out? I can’t allow that – my job is to be calm.
Caffeine only in the morning
Caffeine can cause anxiety and I don’t sleep well if I have it later in the day. Drinking coffee when you are tired ignores the signal. If you are tired in the afternoon, this is an indication to look at your sleep or eating habits. It can be as simple as someone not eating enough lunch, and that puts him to sleep. Just drinking water or taking a break to detach yourself from the screen can be of great help to you in providing encouragement.
I don’t want makeup to change my look, so it’s more about improvement than coverage. What is wonderful about pure products is that they are healthy for your skin and support it with nutrients. I apply Tata Harper’s lips and cheeks to my lips, cheeks and eyes to wash them off naturally; make a little mascara from Ere Perez; and smooth a tinted moisturizer with SPF by Josh Rosebrook.
Good fats make shiny hair
My texture is naturally wavy, but for me the key to healthy, shiny hair is eating quality animal products and fats, collagen and vitamin B12 that they naturally provide. I eat meat, grown on regenerative breeding, and cook bones to make soups. I don’t eat or buy processed foods.
If I have breakfast (skip it if I’m not hungry), I have scrambled eggs and a cross of vegetable salad with lemon, salt and olive oil. For lunch, I love protein – pork or salmon – with two different green vegetables, like stewed rainbow chard or broccoli. I try to avoid snacks by eating enough at every meal. If I have to eat something, I try to take more of what I ate for my meal. For dinner I could get a local, steak, regenerated grown in grass; kale salad; and another vegetable for dinner. If I’m craving carbs, I add zucchini, beets, or something crunchy, like cauliflower.
You love every wrinkle
If you enjoy life – you love your family, you have an orgasm – the wrinkles on your face look good. I didn’t grow up in an environment where physical beauty was important, and later, as a professional dancer, I was more focused on how I performed as an athlete than on how I looked. There was a woman I befriended when I first moved to New York who had a great impact on me: she was always happy and confident and had these beautiful wrinkles on her face that showed her beauty and intelligence.
I don’t eat refined sugar. I think a lot of people don’t even like what their taste is like; they just love buzzing. It also has such strong emotional associations: we think about it in a celebratory context. My kids and I have gotten into the habit of celebrating holidays and special occasions by doing a joint activity instead of making it, say, eating Christmas cookies. We are a sugar-free family, but we are not restrictive. If one of them has cookies with a friend, that’s fine. We have steak, bacon and vegetables and we have so much joy around food. My philosophy around drinking is: Enjoy. But I don’t do that if I recognize that I want to drink because I don’t process feelings.
Stay calm (and dance)
The more we can redirect our nervous system from fighting or flying to a place of rest and calm, the less we age and feel better. I have daily practices to keep calm: I do restorative movements based on the Feldenkrais method [a technique that uses gentle movement to retrain the body to move more efficiently], and I connect with nature, whether I take the time to look at the sky from my terrace in the morning or go hiking when I’m not in town. I dance to post-punk indie music from the 90’s – super casual, but that’s my favorite. I don’t meditate every day, but I do breath. Cooking also greatly relieves stress.
Embrace the beauty and power of birth
I became a doula because I wanted to help women make better decisions, ask questions, and educate themselves before they give birth (I don’t exercise at the moment). I was prepared to work in the emergency department and I witnessed women who had emergency maternity and gynecological cases. They were often not given a choice, and I saw that operations were happening that did not necessarily have to happen. Biomedicine is amazing and saves lives, but I felt we needed a better way to support women in childbirth. So I abandoned the idea of becoming a doctor of biomedicine and moved on to prenatal Pilates, diastasis recti [helping to rebuild postpartum clients’ core after the separation of abs during pregnancy]and pelvic floor rehabilitation. Pregnancy and labor can be in contact with your body and discovering how powerful your core actually is. You don’t have to worry about certain problems: You can strengthen and change your body and feel empowered after giving birth. I had wonderful, joyful and orgasmic births and I saw that it was possible. It wasn’t just luck and genetics – my son was in the back and had a rope wrapped around his neck. But I could still have beautiful childbirth experiences.
Your body can change
I have scoliosis – it occurs in my family – and one consequence is that it makes you shorter and more rounded with age. I am committed to opposing it. You can improve the scoliosis curves with movements and alignment, just as you can change bone density by changing the way you move: If you put more weight on one foot your whole life, the bones in that foot will be thicker and denser. It can happen all over the body. Pilates sharpens consciousness and creates connections in the body, supports breathing and meditation, corrects posture and teaches the body how to maintain biomechanically correct movement. I like to add to Bala Bangles – weights allow you to feel which muscles you are accessing and help to tone and improve shape and proprioception. Keep your weights light so you can perform the full range of motion, keeping your internal wrist muscles and postural muscles engaged as you work on the area you are targeting. The result is a healthy body and lean-looking muscles.