Meet Michele Pernetta, founder of Fierce Grace. One of London’s most popular hot yoga studios.
After training at the prestigious Saint Martins School of Art, she worked as a fashion designer for 17 years, designing costumes for award winning films, before turning to yoga. While picking up a black belt in Tae Kwon-Do along the way… ( as one does!)
We chat to the fierce yogi about why more people should do hot yoga, (particularly marathon runners), and an exciting new launch in the pipeline…
What was it like transitioning from a fashion and costume designer to a yoga teacher?
It wasn’t intentional, it was very gradual. As my yoga business grew, I had less time for my other work. I always thought I would go back to it when the studios “ran themselves” but any business owner will know that doesn’t happen! I have used my love of design in the yoga business through the branding, photos and aesthetic of the studios.
Studying with Bikram Choudhury was…
Intense, funny, surprising.
You have a martial arts black belt? Tell us more…
I studied Hapkido, a full contact Korean martial art for many years with a hard-core group in North London. Then I moved to LA, and carried on there. I eventually switched to Tae Kwon-Do and took my black belt in that. After that I took up Savate kickboxing.
When my knees were injured I took up yoga with Bikram to sort them out. And gradually moved into that, doing both for some years, but ending up giving up martial arts simply because my knees preferred the yoga.
Can you share any highs and lows along the way?
Highs – the response we got from students when we first launched FG
Lows – The year before launch, financial worries, over working, illness, stress!
Fierce Grace classes are best suited to…
Everyone! I know that’s easy to say, but FG is all about breaking down the separations between yoga styles (we have blended the best of the best styles) and levels.
We don’t have a beginner, intermediate and advanced in our structure. 90% of the classes are for everyone. We have one class specifically for those who are injured, embarrassed, older, stiffer. It’s called STIFF, OLD OR BROKEN (S.O.B) and its proven very popular as it’s still a great workout.
We don’t “baby” you because you are struggling. We give advice, tips and answer questions to get you back to fit and healthy, effectively and safely.
I do feel, however, that our clients tend to be bold, brave and a little irreverent – we have 45% male clients, lots of athletes, and clients in their 70’s too (with bodies of 30 year olds!)
You need motivation and the knowledge that yoga is unsurpassed as the way to keep fit and healthy without ruining your body like many sports do.
More people should do hot yoga because…
Conventional “cardio” fitness is often not good for joint health. Running and cycling while young, isn’t going to serve you later in life as it wears out your joints. Everyone needs yoga to keep your spine, hips, neck, knees, feet, ankles and shoulders functioning well. People have issues with their joints over the age of 40.
It’s madness not to do yoga. In India, they say the only real exercise is stretching, coupled with strength training using one’s own body weight. This builds the right amount of muscle for one’s frame.
The heat makes this process easier and safer by ensuring the joints are lubricated with synovial fluid. It also detoxes the skin, the largest organ of the body, and is emotionally cathartic. Yoga is more popular than ever, and has been around 5,000 years.
What advice would you give to runners training for the London Marathon? *
Do yoga. Not only will it improve your performance, but it will mitigate any negative impact on the body of endurance running. Perform Awkward Pose and Utkatasana, ensuring you can keep your feet parallel, not turned out, to realign knees hips and ankles.
Running with your feet parallel is better all round, but it may take months or years of yoga to realign your hips and pelvis to naturally have this alignment.
Do the yoga poses that strengthen your arches. Running with flat feet or fallen arches is not a good idea. Stretch hip flexors, Backbend daily and come see us at Fierce Grace.
Favourite restaurant in London is…
Korean! Any. Duck Duck Goose Chinese in NW3 is great.
My ultimate indulgence is…
A glass (or 2) and dancing all night.
The yoga industry will be better when…
It stops glorifying the perfect yoga pose.
Our inherent state.
What’s in the pipeline at Fierce Grace?
Fierce Grace Rome opening next month…
Visit the Fierce Grace website here.
* Taking part in the London Marathon? Bring your finishers medal and racer confirmation letter to your nearest Fierce Grace studio and get a free class each day until April 30th. Max 1 class per day, classes must be used by May 1st 2017.
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