Movement is medicine, on the mat with Stella Attwood

Movement is medicine, on the mat with Stella Attwood

Admin |

November 28, 2021

Bali locals might know Stella as the Pilates, Barre and Yoga Goddess from The Body Factory, she can also be spotted surfing Bali’s hotspots or roller skating through Canggu, always smiling. Known by clientele and in the industry for her dynamic sequencing, hands-on approach to teaching and her extensive knowledge of body movement. If you’ve been lucky enough to join one of her classes you’ll know that “next day body-well-moved feeling”! (We know it well!) You’ll also know she is huge hearted, down to earth and loves a good chat.

With a background in Yoga and Pilates in both New Zealand and Australia, and a resume as long as a pilates mat including FRC® Functional Range Conditioning, The Garuda Method, Pre and post-natal exercise, Aerial fitness, Personal training, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Pain science, Evidence-based movement practices and Rehabilitation, it comes as no surprise to hear that fitness professionals on the Island are turning to the New Zealand born guru for her expertise in remodelling their programs through her workshops.  

“I love movement! Let’s just move and have a good time! I’ve been lucky in Bali to be in a place where studios really encourage you to teach what you love. So I’ve had that opportunity to be less rigid and explore myself here and teach what I am passionate about which resonates with my clients.”

ALIVE: What’s unique about your approach to Pilates and Movement? On your channels you talk about  “Empowering clients to tap into their movement potential!” Can you tell us a little bit about what this means?

STELLA: People will come to me, and start moving and they will realise what their bodies are actually capable of. And then you get to do all this cool stuff, not driven by ego so much as playfulness and curiosity and suddenly they go wow look at what I can do! Now what else can I do, and it’s just so great because suddenly you see people have fun and it is limitless.

A lot of people don’t realise how capable they are of moving their bodies, or they’ve been taught a certain way. There’s a fear based language surrounding movement, I’d love to see this stepping away from the “do this/don’t do this” one size fits all approach. I hope to give people a fearlessness to be able to move their bodies to heal their bodies. Everybody is so different and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. 

We have this one vessel – our body, and we don’t often take the time to learn about what our bodies can do – unless we are doing classes like pilates or yoga, learning not just about the muscles, but also bones and how the anatomy moves and then taking ownership and responsibility and seeing where you can go with that. 

This might look like going into another type of fitness like surfing or yoga, but taking what you’ve learnt and being able to apply that into daily practises. I love that.

How do your clients today benefit from your impressive knowledge and interest in the science based evidence approach you take to movement and the body? 

I feel it’s my duty to be sharing the science backed evidence with my clients. Movement is medicine. Something happens in Pilates where you move your entire body in different positions where you end up being less stiff, more mobile. It creates strong able bodies. I want people to enjoy movement, to let go of myths. 

It’s really empowering as a person to know about pain in the body, and not reach for pills as a quick-fix. If you have pain, don’t feel like you have to rest, instead have simple tools which can empower you to assess your own body and know you can cure yourself. Understanding the anatomy in terms of the body and pain and healing time. Healing can be painful, there is so much happening and that is normal. 

Life in Bali! You’ve lived here for 5 years and have been here through the pandemic, has your clientele changed at all during this time and what are you noticing people want from their fitness? 

What I’ve experienced teaching in Bali from the get go – people are really fit and healthy. Which is a complete change coming from a rehab background working with physiotherapists in New Zealand. 

Here, everyone is happy, no one wants to come to the early classes, after a surf and vitamin D, they can feel the effects of nature, good food and exercise so naturally there is less emphasis on external quick fix medicines.There is however an emphasis on healers and massages, reiki and that’s great they all have their place. 

With my teachings I want to take that a step further and empower my clients to not rely on me, I want them to learn from me and realise they now have the tools in their tool box to be able to go off and do it themselves. If someone comes to me and they are in pain, I’m not going to say – 10 classes and you’ll be fixed, my approach is to say let’s give it a go and start with 2-5 classes. Hopefully you don’t need to use me after that because you will know what to do, you will have the tools needed to heal your own body. 

Clients who come to me with pain are different to my group classes – these have a community feel to them, people coming together and moving and it’s fun and that’s something else – I love that and love the clients who do come to me for me to provide that space for them to have fun in movement. If you really love something it’s going to work, you’re going to love it. For some people pilates just has that magic,I believe it’s because you’re using so much of your body, you’re moving your spine, strengthening your muscles at the same time creating mobility. 

What hasn’t changed is that people don’t want to stop moving. We are so lucky here (in Bali, even during a “lockdown”) we can still go for walks, we still have the sunshine. If anything It’s a loss of community that really stands out to me. Having the accessibility to classes. I have noticed people are prioritising movement more now. 

You obviously have a super healthy approach to life in general, as well as fitness, what do you do to support that? 

For me being healthy is less about taking away from my lifestyle and more about adding things in. When it comes to eating, everything in moderation. We are really lucky here in Bali, the lifestyle is predominantly healthy – of course cheese and champagne are never off the table and have their place too. But I’ll usually go for salads, soups, cheese and chocolate, there’s always chocolate. 

Diets and trends are not something that have a place in my life, but something I have started to use more for mental clarity is the 16:8 fasting method. As a trainer this just fits into my lifestyle really easily as I’m teaching classes all morning, fasting until lunchtime is something that comes quite naturally. I noticed a huge shift in mental clarity and fogginess, by giving my digestion a little rest. 

I’ve recently started doing Ice Baths (not as a recovery tool but for the mental benefits). This mental challenge first thing in the morning really sets me up mentally to tackle the day and I have seen a huge shift in my mindset since starting these. *(Google Ice baths in Bali or your nearest city if you’re curious about these.)  

I’ve also started roller skating (for fun and fitness) and I’m hooked! I’d love to start a roller skating Bali gang 😉

You’ve supported some beautiful charities doing incredible things here in Bali, you participated in the SOS Million Meals March earlier this year and are now supporting three local animal groups – Why did you feel a pull to use your platform to raise the money for charity?

I have always been an animal lover and just felt like I couldn’t sit back and not do anything when I have this brilliant platform of like minded clients (who also love animals). When this latest lockdown happened it was a bit of a no brainer and just feels good to give something to my clients and then we can all come together and give something back, and know it will make a difference. I ran a full week of classes online for the charities last month and decided to keep that running through August where I will be dedicating one class a week where 100% of the profits will go directly to Villa Kitty FoundationVethoscope BaliAct 4 Bali Dogs. Because these classes are online and open to anyone, anywhere, it also then becomes a way to raise more and more awareness of the situation here in Bali. It’s also awesome to reconnect with past clients who have left Bali recently but have been missing the classes. 

Stellas classes are fun, interactive and she really does have something for everyone.

**CLASS DETAILS BELOW. Get in touch with Stella directly over on IG for availability of these classes for a cause. 

We asked Stella for her top five picks from our Store in Bali….

Stella’s TOP 5

  1. Beetroot and hummus dip
  2. Cook and baker crackers
  3. Vegan choc mousse
  4. Alive Overnight oats apple pie flavour
  5. All the CHEESE

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