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my pet peeve: are you committing it?

I know we all have one or (two 🙂 ). Mine happens every day, in all sorts of places. The coffee queue, as I’m waiting to be served. Travelling on the tube. Out for a bike ride with my boy (aka the pilot of our tandem). Walking down the street minding my own business. Listening to a speaker at a conference or event. Out to dinner with friends. Seriously annoying.

And the worst thing is the people doing it don’t even know or if they do, they just don’t care. So why do I?

Because I am a Pilates Teacher on a mission to improve your posture.

I say no to rounded shoulders. No to chin juts. No to flat backs. No to slouching. No to pot bellies and tailbones in the air.


The first thing I do with any new client is to ask them to stand up as if they were waiting for a bus or lift. This gives me my first impression of their posture. We then work together to bring their body into “standing neutral” in Pilates terms or as you might say perfect posture. Their first reactions are always “Wow, this feels weird”.


It does feel weird, as your body has gotten used to its habitual way of standing, which has developed from years of use, lifestyle and workplace norms. Did you know reading your smartphone or tablet, combined with hours bent over a keyboard or eating off your lap can all add up to poor shoulder posture? Or that end of the catwalk model pose with your weight on one leg, hip thrown out to the side can give you back issues?

Ok, it’s time for you to stop committing my pet peeve and sort your posture out.

  • Start at your feet – they should be hip joint width apart. That’s approximately the width of your fist with your thumb knuckle sticking out.
  • Knees are soft and slightly bent – this lets them act as shock absorbers as you move.
  • Moving on up to your pelvis. Place your hands on your lower tummy in a diamond shape, heels of your hand on your hipbones, finger tips pointing down to your public bone and thumbs to your belly button. Roll your pelvis forwards and backwards until you find the position where your thumbs are directly above your finger tips making a vertical plane with your hands.
  • Make sure your ribs are directly on top of your hips and you’re drawing in your chest – no popping your boobs/pecs in our faces. Save that for special occasions.
  • Draw your shoulder blades gently together to open up the collarbone area
  • Your arms and hands should now hang loosely by the side of your body with your palms facing the seams of your trousers.
  • Place your first finger on your chin and pull your chin away from it a fraction.

To hold it all in place, you will need to engage your core (ha ha you’ve never heard me say that before!) – lightly squeeze your lower abs under your hand diamond and nip in your waist like putting on a fresh pair of favourite jeans.

Oh I feel better already. You know my pet peeve and how to avoid committing it in front of me.

That said, I’ve got two questions for you:

1) Do you struggle with your posture? If yes, book into a class with me. Either at Physio in the City (near Bank and Monument tube stations), Cadence Performance (Crystal Palace) or treat your team and book a corporate class via Stretching the City.

2) What’s your pet peeve and how can we avoid committing it? Tell us in the comments and brownie guide promise to stop doing it!

  • Daniela

    What is a brownie guide promise? haha…this foreigner has no idea. But I do know that attending your pilates class at Physio in the City has DRAMATICALLY improved by posture. My doc just told me last week that she can see a difference.

    But I still have a long way to go. So I pinky promise, brownie guide promise and cross my heart promise that I will be mindful of my posture.

  • Sarae

    I love it – I accept your pinky brownie colourful heartfelt promise 😀

    And that folks, is why I am so passionate about Pilates: it makes a REAL difference

  • Robert

    I love the fact that reading your post got me sitting up properly in my chair 🙂

  • Sarae

    Happy to help – should also get you standing a bit taller on your stage and a bit more air in your lungs to get your voice to the back of the room!

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lost your voice?

Last week, I wrote about purpose and personality making a compelling, inspiring message (Missed it? No worries – it’s here) and I’ve worked with some great people, who on paper have the content cracked and can blow you away with their passion for the topic. Yet when it comes to being in front of a sea of faces or that key decision maker, something gobbles up their confidence and they fail to convey their message.

I know I’ve done it – my first presentation at London Business School in front of my stakeholders and my wider team and I REALLY wanted to impress. I was all clued up on my purpose, my notes printed out and was all set. But when I started I heard this wobbly voice and someone gasping for air. ECK! That’s not me nor what I’m known for – I am an engaging, energising speaker.

I took a deep breath and announced my purpose – pause – more air and I set out my stall of great, pragmatic content including why I believed in it. I asked the audience if they’d find it valuable. I watched a few heads nod and heard a few mumble “yes”.

How was I able to do this? I had socialised my summary (aka my introduction) with a number of people – firstly, to check relevancy and style and secondly, to rehearse saying it out loud without the pressure of the moment. Once the former was cracked, the latter gave me chance to build muscle memory in my brain and tongue – the same as a sprinter will break down each part of their race into components and repeat each piece numerous times, great speakers breakdown their message and repeat it.  Each repetition builds a stronger memory in the brain and the operating muscle group (legs for an explosive start or the mouth and mouth for a speaker).

Having delivered to conference halls of 4,000+ and senior management, I have a wealth of experience, techniques and tools to share on public speaking. I can also draw upon my studies of anatomy and physiology to manage your energy and nerves to increase your success.You may have heard the mantra of “rehearse, rehearse, rehearse” and been recommended to deliver to a mirror or video camera, which can be really powerful and really unnatural.

get heard post image

Try my mini rehearsal technique – say it and say it often. Discuss your message and purpose with others and you’ll build a fluidity and familiarity, which will help you deliver with confidence and passion. Plus you gain support, encouragement and more energy for your message along the way. For the Win!!

What’s your favourite way to prepare ahead of your big moment? Share them in the comments please!

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did you get the message?

I love getting my weekly dose of TED video talks on the amazing, inspiring and sometimes downright weird from around the world. Whilst I may never travel to the moon or the Amazon basin, nor am I likely to be involved in technological advances for disease treatments and cures, I do watch in awe of how brilliant the speakers are and ponder what’s the magic ingredient making them so darn compelling and engaging.

I think it’s 2 things – both of which we can all make use of; from our 1 to 1 conversations, to the largest presentation in an overflowing auditorium.

The first is to define your purpose. For me, this is the combination of 3 things: why is this message important to this person(s), what do I want them to feel about it and what do I want them to do as a result. Combining these will help you shape your communication style, your choice of words and pick the right time and environment.

Now, number two in my head should come easy, but I know I sometimes struggle with it when I get a touch overwhelmed by the occasion. It’s about injecting a bit of yourself – why is it important to me and why do I believe in my message. By this, I mean not only sharing your brilliant logic, research, evidence and the like with them; I mean add in your emotion, passion, energy and personality to make the message really be heard.

You might say “Sarae, I get the purpose bit alright, but I need to come across as a professional here!”. I couldn’t agree more and I’d suggest you’d be a much more interesting professional to work with, learn from, debate with and support if you shared a bit more of your heart and soul.

If you’re interested in learning more about purpose and the idea of logic and emotion in your comms, give me a shout as I often train corporate teams on this in short and longer format sessions.

Can you think of someone who’s able to get you nodding along with them and eager to take action? Share their magic ingredient in the comments, so we can all learn a new one!

PS next week, get the second part of getting your message heard!

  • Ritu

    This post made me think… “do I have my message clear in my own head?” I think I’m a bit fuzzy right now to be honest. Great post! Thanks for that! xxoo Ritu

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