Contributor Cherelle Mukoko recently spoke with Marsha Lindsay, founder, creator & director of Nobu Pilates, and voted No.1 for pilates in TATLER for 2023.
Hi Marsha, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, it's an absolute honour. Tell us how you got into the fitness world?
The pleasure is all mine! From childhood, being active, fit and healthy was made a priority by my parents. So, stepping into the fitness industry totally made sense when I decided to take on Pilates Instructor training. My education and love of Pilates started at Pi Studio in London, and I was obsessed from my very first class. From there, I built my knowledge and experience in management and became an educational instructor trainer working for Equinox. It was an incredible brand to work for and it was great to be part of a performance-based brand.
I also credit my time there to embracing many different forms of exercise, as well as giving me the confidence to challenge what I thought to be my limitations. Naturally, my next steps were to explore my creative side, and Nobu Pilates has been a hugely rewarding experience. To have full creative freedom has been a dream, and to see the concept come to life is extremely rewarding.
What’s a typical day-in-the-life for you?
A typical day during the working week always starts with an early morning spin class before heading to the studio! Once at work, I am running the business from all aspects; the team, the concept, connecting with our community, organising events, marketing and campaigns, leading our social media, training our VIP clients etc. There’s a lot of action during the week and it often feels like there are never enough hours in the day.
Alongside this, I must always prioritise time to fit in my personal Pilates practice and ensure I’m eating a well-balanced diet. During my down time, I will indulge in all the things that make me feel better. That can be going to the gym, spending time with my favourites or doing my self-care home facial routine. Fun fact: ‘Marsha’s self-care Sundays’ is mainly a facial routine involving a minimum of 8 steps which would need its own article. If you can’t already tell, I’m really into self-care!
You truly do look like a pillar of health; are there any tips you can give our readers on how to stay on top of their wellness game?
That’s so kind! Balance is something I work hard to improve and advise others to check in on. On a personal level, exercise and fitness has always been something that makes me happy - both physically and mentally.
When I fall on hard times, working out has always been a crutch for me. However, there needs to be balance and making sure you are not overdoing it. Overtraining can lead to fatigue and potential injury if your system is low on energy. I must be consciously mindful to balance out the heavy, energetic workouts with the low impact and restorative modalities on the body. Luckily Pilates covers many of these bases, but I also make time for regular massage, IR saunas, cryotherapy and breath-work.
I would also say to make sure you are having variety in your diet. Again, this is a work in progress for me, but since the pandemic, most of us have taken a deeper look into eating habits and how we can be healthier from the inside out. As this is not my speciality, I have sought advice from experts who can help me understand what my body needs from a nutritional perspective. With all that being said, I like to have one ‘naughty’ day per week where I don’t over think nutrition and fitness.
I must say I have never seen reformer Pilates in such a luxurious setting. How did the partnership with Nobu arise?
I truly believe in the strength of manifesting your path. Nobu came at a time in my career where I was ready to explore something fresh and exciting. I was approached by Nobu Portman Square with their proposal to launch a wellness space, which would host the first Nobu Pilates; it was the easiest decision to collaborate. With Nobu’s reputation for luxury and paying attention to every detail when it comes to quality, the vision was always going to be a great match. I feel very proud to be a key part of this history!
What makes Nobu Pilates a cut above the rest?
Nobu Pilates has three signature classes – POWER, PRECISION and PURE – which were exclusively designed by me for Nobu Pilates, so they’re not classes you will experience elsewhere. By design, the classes each offer something that caters to individual goals and tastes, with Pilates at the foundation of the workout. Incorporating our Pilates knowledge and balance into your strength routine will take your fitness to the next level. You will achieve sharper mind-body connection, improve the deeper muscle groups, achieve quicker recovery, and most importantly, longevity in correct functional movement.
Through experience, I recognise that Pilates can be a little intimidating for new starters. When creating these 3 classes, I wanted potential clients to look at our list and find something that they relate to in their current fitness regime and find their ‘in’. For example, a cross fit fan would probably be attracted to the intensity of a POWER class, where a mindful mover or yogi would steer towards PURE initially. Whichever is the chosen path in, the hope is they enjoy and engage with the class, then explore the other concepts next visit; therefore achieving the full Nobu Pilates experience.
You have a big celebrity clientele; do you ever get nervous even though you ooze confidence?
That’s an interesting question! All clients are clients to me; as soon as someone walks through the studio door, my focus is entirely on what their goals are and what I observe we need to focus on to make them stronger. As much as I am aware of some of my clients' status, and it’s really amazing to have the opportunity to meet and train them in person, once we are in session everyone is a client and is treated the same way. I aim to give them the best Pilates experience possible!
I partly credit this mentality as to why I am lucky to be recommended to people; celebrity clients enjoy anonymity, which is a luxury for us who are not. Everyone else gets to go to a studio, not worry about how they look or who will see them and get to work out feeling comfortable.
For some well-known clients, they can feel a little vulnerable when eyes are on them so frequently. My aim is to make them feel as comfortable as possible so they know they can trust me to provide a great service and have some fun with it. The fame element doesn’t enter our sessions.
What do you love the most about teaching Pilates? And what has been your most rewarding moment?
There have been so many over the last 10 years, so to pick one would be extremely difficult, but I’d definitely say launching a Pilates brand with Nobu is my biggest achievement yet. To see something that was an idea in my mind play out, and for me and my team to have built a community who are enjoying it so much they are recommending it to others has warmed my heart. I feel extremely proud of this.
Another transformative part of my career is the experience of being a Teacher Trainer for 5 years. To pass knowledge and create Pilates instructors has been hugely profound, and even more incredible to watch them go on to do great things like starting their own businesses.
Reformer Pilates has definitely taken the world by storm, why do you think this is? What makes it different from any other form of movement?
A lot of the popularity has come to light since the pandemic. During lockdown, most of us struggled with working from home and becoming much more sedentary whilst being indoors. A big factor was increased hours spent at the desk, resulting in poor posture and deterioration in mental health for some.
Pilates has been helpful to many people to combat postural issues and bring awareness to weakness and positioning, but also has had a positive outcome on improving mental wellness. Pilates provides space and time for people to indulge in mind and body movement that highlight the importance of breathing and concentration. Since the pandemic, it’s been great to see more people explore ways to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. Even better that Pilates is getting its well-earned time in the spotlight!
Have you faced any obstacles in the fitness industry? If so, how have you overcome them?
There have been 2 prominent obstacles.
The first is Pilates being recognised as a workout to be respected. Pilates has been around for many years (since the 1920s!). It has been having its shine for the last 2 years, but the early part of my career was spent explaining what Pilates was and convincing people to give it a try. Though this mentality has changed for the better, there are still some challenges around men trying Pilates and also a lot of diluted versions of the method being taught.
Another would be the journey to ensure representation and inclusivity is still prioritised. I believe it’s taken a massive turn for the better but the work there is not yet done.From a personal standpoint, I love representing women of colour in the fitness arena, and since launching Nobu Pilates, I’ve had the most incredible compliments which drives me to continue that visibility.
Do you have any more plans to expand to any more luxurious spots in London?
Nobu is a global brand and one of the most luxurious names to be associated with. This was their first step into the fitness and wellness space and I’m so happy to have been an integral part of that.
We launched the brand straight out of the pandemic and even though we felt passionate that this would be something successful and special, we still weren’t ready for the amazing response we’ve had. Nobu Pilates in London has been a great launch pad for us, so watch this space for the next steps in our adventure!
Are you working on any new exciting projects?
Many exciting new projects in the works with brand partnership, expanding the concept and hopefully retreats/new locations… but that’s all I can tell you for now. Can’t wait to reveal exciting new things this year!
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