Photo courtesy of Patricia Pena
Hello, my age is: 41
Erika Bloom |
Founder of Erika Bloom Pilates
Book a Pilates session with Erika Bloom and not only will you activate muscles you never knew you had, but you couldn’t help but show a little awe. Everything about her is inspiring – her glowing skin, her graceful body and the cascade of beach hair as well as her incredible knowledge: she studied nutrition; She has developed programs to help people with osteoporosis, structural alignment, and diastasis recti. She previously practiced as a birthing and postpartum doula. and she is one of the biggest names in Pilates. “My natural body type is different from what I’ve achieved with Pilates,” says the single mom of two from Manhattan. “With Pilates we can move wonderfully in old age, while many training methods destroy the body and cause injuries with age.”
It’s hard to imagine, but before Bloom started her thriving business – she has airy studios in New York, LA, the Hamptons, and the Amanyara Hotel in Turks and Caicos – and she’s now teaching remotely too – she was unhealthy. “I have autoimmune disease and I was very sick from it,” she says. “Biomedicine didn’t have the means to make me better. I was determined to find out how to feel good about myself and not die young. I started researching nutrition, acupuncture, and other ways to support myself and my body. “She had always been tuned into the mechanics of muscles and movement – she grew up in a family of physicists and was a professional dancer in her twenties – so she got certified in various body therapies and eventually turned to Pilates for guidance Suffering to rehabilitate an injury. Her mastery of anatomy is one of the reasons she is such a brilliantly intuitive teacher who can spot even subtle misalignments just by looking at a client who is completely still.
At forty-one, Bloom looks incredibly sleek in the spandex she spends most of the week in, and exudes a calm, radiant energy that she attributes in part to powerful, clean skin care and child birth. “I’m healthier and more connected to my body than I was before I was born,” she says. “I think that’s possible for everyone.” Her advice on aging gracefully, perhaps unsurprisingly, starts with Pilates.
Make the job fun
I wake up every day and want to do pilates. Never, never am I out of the mood. I was teaching at 6:30 a.m. this morning and couldn’t wait to get into the studio. As for the business part of running a company, hire people who know more than you, who share a similar outlook on life, and who give you pleasure. Does work ever stress me out? I can’t allow it – my business is about being calm.
Caffeine only in the morning
Caffeine can cause anxiety and I don’t sleep well when I have it later in the day. Drinking coffee when you are tired ignores a signal. If you are tired in the afternoon, you should look at your sleeping or eating habits. It can be as simple as not having enough lunch, and that makes them sleepy at noon. Just drinking drinking water or taking a break to disconnect from your screen can be hugely helpful in giving yourself a boost.
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I don’t want makeup to change my look so it’s more about enhancement than coverage. What is wonderful about clean products is that they are healthy for your skin and support it with nourishing ingredients. I dab Tata Harper’s lip and cheek tint on my lips, cheeks, and eyes for a natural blush. make a little mascara from Ere Perez; and smooth on the tinted moisturizer with SPF by Josh Rosebrook.
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Good fats make great hair
My texture is naturally wavy, but for me, the key to healthy, shiny hair is eating high-quality animal products and the fats, collagen, and vitamin B12 they naturally provide. I eat regeneratively grown meat in the pasture and cook the bones to make broths. I don’t eat or buy processed foods.
When I eat breakfast (I skip it when I’m not hungry) I have scrambled eggs and a cruciferous salad with lemon, salt, and olive oil. For lunch, I like a protein – pork or salmon – with two different green vegetables, like braised rainbow chard or broccoli raven. I try to avoid snacking by eating enough at each meal. When I need to eat, I try to have more of what I ate with my meal. For dinner, I could have a grass-fed, local regenerative-raised steak; Kale salad; and another vegetable for dinner. When I’m in the mood for a carbohydrate, I add pumpkin, beets, or something cruciferous like cauliflower.
Love every wrinkle
When you enjoy life – love your family, have orgasms – the wrinkles on your face look great. I didn’t grow up in an environment where physical beauty was important, and later as a professional dancer, I focused more on how I performed as an athlete than on how I looked. There was a woman I was friends with when I moved to New York who had a huge impact on me: she was always happy and confident, and she had those beautiful lines on her face that showed her beauty and intelligence.
I don’t eat refined sugar. I think a lot of people don’t even really like the way it tastes. You love the enthusiasm. It also has such strong emotional associations: we think of it in a celebratory context. My children and I made it a habit of celebrating holidays and special occasions by doing an activity together rather than eating Christmas cookies, for example. We’re a sugar-free family, but we’re not restrictive. If any of them have cookies at a friend’s place, that’s fine. We have steak and bacon and vegetables and we enjoy eating so much. My philosophy around drinking is: Enjoy it. But I don’t do it when I realize that I want to drink because I can’t process feelings.
Keep calm (and dance around)
The more we can shift our nervous system from fighting or flight to a place of calm and serenity, the less we age and the better we feel. I have daily exercises to keep myself 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, be it by taking time in the morning to look up at the sky from my terrace or by going on a hike when I’m out of town. I dance to 90s post punk indie music – super random, but it’s my favorite. I don’t meditate every day, but I do breath work. Cooking is also very stress relieving.
Embrace the beauty and power of childbirth
I became a doula because I wanted to help women make better decisions, ask questions, and educate themselves before going to work (I don’t currently practice). I worked in an emergency room and witnessed women with obstetric and gynecological emergencies. Often times they had no choice and I saw surgeries that didn’t have to happen. Biomedicine is amazing and life saving, but I felt we needed a better way to help women give birth. So I left the idea of becoming a doctor of biomedicine and switched 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 about getting in touch with your body and finding out how strong your core really is. You don’t have to limit yourself to specific problems: you can strengthen and transform your body and feel empowered after giving birth. I had wonderful, joyful, orgasmic births and saw that it was possible. It wasn’t just luck and genetics either – my son was posterior with his cord wrapped around his neck. But I still had some great birthing experiences.
Your body can change
I have scoliosis – it runs in my family – and one of the consequences is that you get shorter and rounder as you get older. I am determined to counter this. You can improve scoliosis curves through movement and alignment, just as you can change bone density by changing your movement: as you put more weight on one foot all your life, the bones in that foot become thicker and denser. It can happen in the whole body. Pilates raises awareness and forges connections in the body, supports breathing work and meditation, corrects posture and teaches the body how to maintain biomechanically correct movement. I love adding bala bangles – weights allow you to feel which muscles you are accessing and help tone and improve shape and proprioception. Keep your weights light enough for you to perform a full range of motion, keeping the intrinsic muscles of the joints and postural muscles moving as you work the area you are aiming for. The result is a healthy body and lean looking muscle.
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