Meet Jamie Yike, a fashion journalist turned Pilates guru. She talks us through her journey from living a chaotic lifestyle, surviving on coffee and cigarettes, suffering debilitating panic attacks, to ‘slowing the F down’ through Pilates.
Now, living a healthy lifestyle is her number one priority. But she still loves a good cheeseburger. A girl after our own heart…
When did you realise you needed a career change?
2009/2010. It wasn’t anything significant but work got slightly stagnant and started to feel silly to me in the grand scheme of things. I also had a major problem with sitting at a desk for most of the day. My brain was melting!
I am a Russian trained ballet dancer so movement is very natural to me and probably when I feel most connected to myself. A career ending injury meant a comeback wasn’t an option but I had done Pilates all through my ballet training, so I thought, why not do that. I already had a leg up and saw longevity and freedom in it so I went for it.
How has the change affected your life?
In a tremendous way. My job now promotes a healthy lifestyle. Being a Pilates instructor has allowed me to cross paths with a lot of different wellness oriented people, who are not only promoting peace of mind but are continuously seeking it.
After suffering debilitating panic attacks throughout my 20’s, I now have a direct link to some of the best people in the business for how to manage them without prescription drugs. It has been a long road and there’s still work to be done but I have come so far.
I truly believe that one day I will have a healthy relationship with anxiety. If you told me this 10 years ago I would never have believed you. I wouldn’t have believed I could get off medication! Additionally, my job has given me the space and support I’ve needed to address these issues one day at a time.
Describe a typical day ‘then’ and ‘now’
Then; over caffeinated, under nourished, a smoker, a drinker, very VERY anxious, depressed and over prescribed a list of medications. (I am American after all, there’s a pill for everything).
I was totally caught up in a chaotic lifestyle and lost sight of things. Now; I don’t even drink caffeine (there’s nothing wrong with caffeine, it’s just the last thing I need personally). I’m a non smoker, very occasional drinker and medication free. I still get anxious but 90% less so and the depression has lifted.
My mental health is my number one priority where as ‘then’ I didn’t think much about it. I was anxious and I was depressed and I took my medication for it and went on zipping though life. Now, I always think, does this benefit me in a positive way? Will I feel better after? Am I engaging in negative conversation? Or surrounding myself with positive people? Am I a positive person to be around?
I’ve learned that I can be my own solution I just have to tune in. Let me be clear that this did not happen over night or even when I became a Pilates instructor. It took years to make these changes and I’m nowhere near perfect but I am aware and awake.
Physically, I try to move almost everyday. Pilates 4 times (give or take) a week, and some cardio once or twice. Maybe some swimming. It varies but that’s what I try to maintain.
I grew up training for ballet 8 hours a day, so for me exercising 6 days a week is very doable and what my body likes. For some it may be too much but again, you just have to tune in and listen to your body. I always say, a body in motion stays in motion.
Eating wise, I cook which has been my biggest change. I eat very healthily now but I eat for fuel and health. If I go out with friends though, I eat whatever I feel like. I love a good cheeseburger.
In New York, I knew how to make macaroni and cheese from the box and that was the extent of my cooking. I lived on pizza slices, maybe a salad occasionally, Diet Coke and cigarettes. I can feel my insides rotting as I write this.
It just shows that you can always turn things around. It’s a slow process, so don’t try to do it all at once. The first healthy step I ever took was taking less Splenda in my coffee back when I drank coffee, then it was no sweetener, then no milk, then no coffee, only green tea then no green tea. It really is a snowball effect.
What do you love most about your job?
I love it when I have hard working clients that put in the work and are patient in seeing the results. Whether it’s living pain free from an injury or having everything leaned out. It’s usually a steady, gradual climb but then all of a sudden they walk in one day and they have transformed. Gradual and then all of a sudden. It makes me so proud.
I also love that my job gives me flexibility to travel and see the world. That’s an amazing thing and I will never take that for granted.
What is your advice to someone considering a similar career change?
Don’t take any shortcuts on your education. Nowadays it has become “cool” to teach yoga, Pilates, boxing or be a personal trainer. I’ve found that there’s a huge quantity but not a lot of quality. Quality in your education and training will set you apart from the rest. I’ve only ever taught classically and that’s usually where I win clients over.
There are classes in London that might make you feel a “burn” but Pilates (or any exercise for that matter) is not a one size fits all thing. Take the time, put in work, find your niche and perfect that. I was a ballet dancer for 17 years and I’ve literally been doing Pilates since age 12. In a sense, I have been working and learning my whole life. And by the way, I’m still learning!
Londoners move as such a crazy fast pace. What’s your advice to them?
I come from NYC so London is like the suburbs for me…..but, I know what you mean. City life is frantic and you can’t help but get caught up in the rat race. Take time, listen to yourself, to your body, just slow the F down. That’s a huge reason why I like meditation.
If meditation is too many steps ahead then just take 5 minutes to sit down and do nothing, enjoy the nothing. If that’s too much, then find a workout you enjoy and dedicate yourself to that for that hour.
Sometimes it’s too much to be alone with thoughts and feelings and no distractions, especially when we’re used to always being distracted. So if you feel that way, then find something you enjoy. Usually things you enjoy are good for you… unless you’re Keith Richards on tour.
How do you stay healthy on the go?
I’m not a big snacker but I do travel ALOT. When I travel I try to eat healthy when I can but if I’m with people and we want to enjoy food and indulge a bit, I don’t stress about it. I just get back on track when I can.
I try to follow the Viva Mayr cure, which will vary for everyone but it basically just asks you to be mindful while you’re eating and find satisfaction in what you’re eating.
Favourite bar or restaurant in London?
It changes weekly but I’m so happy that ferdi from Paris has opened in Shepherd’s Market. It’s a small quirky little place with the best cheeseburger.
You feel happiest when?
I have peace of mind. Tacos make me very happy too.
The fitness industry will be better when…
Instagram disappears. No, I’m only joking… probably when people start being a bit more real with themselves. Circle back to quality over quantity.
I work at Bodyism and I can honestly say that everyone I work with is curious. On educating themselves, learning from each other, finding a balance for their clients and themselves. It’s really what sets us apart.
Favourite music to work out to…
You actually aren’t supposed to do classical Pilates to any music so you can really focus on what’s going on inside your body. That being said, I’ve definitely broken that rule. Drake, Future. Any kind of rap.
Who’s your inspiration and why?
In terms of Pilates, all of the classical teachers that came before me and kept up the good fight for keeping it classical.
Specifically in London… my friend, colleague and teacher Julie. Good god this woman knows a lot and she’s humble about it.
How do you relax?
Meditation, Pilates, Bath, Netflix.
If you’re going through shit, keep going.
Where can we do a class with you?
Bodyism in Notting Hill.