Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Through life’s twists and emotional challenges, one woman unwaveringly follows her heart — discovering unexpected gifts and a deeper purpose to serve
It was end of June 2002 when my beloved grandmother passed away. She was ninety-nine years old and a profound inspiration in my life. She not only taught me about courage and grace but she made it possible for me to step into my current life. She’s my eternal star.
Trapped in a well-paid but soulless banking job, the only highlights of my stressful weeks were my Pilates classes. It was a love at first sight relationship and I kept wanting more. I knew I had to do something about it but I didn’t have a clue how to. Fortunately as what’s meant to be is meant to be, I found out about a Pilates training school in Canada and instantly knew it was going to be a match. One major problem remained: finding the funds to support me for a whole year abroad. A few days before almost giving up, as the deadline for paying the remaining school fees and securing an apartment were still pending; a beautiful soul turned into a shining star. I was heartbroken but knew the next chapter of my life was about to begin.
My new life in Toronto was filled with excitement but also many challenging moments. Immersed in a new culture, language, intense hours of practice, practice teaching, studying, all of it demanded 200% of my presence and energy. My brain was saturated most of the time but it was a “no brainer”; I had to keep going and succeed because there was no failing possible. I loved my Pilates and was determined to share that love further and beyond.
A year later, in September 2003 I opened “Le Studio Pilates” in my hometown, Geneva, Switzerland. Alas. After a year of hard work, many sacrifices; I was becoming my own boss, doing something I felt so passionate about. It was a dream come true. To this day, in spite of the challenges linked to being self-employed, I’ve never had a single regret about following my heart rather than my head. The journey that began while I was an employee, bearing the stress imposed by my employers, leaving my soul empty after hours of meaningless labor made so little sense compared to the joy of connecting with humans and furthermore help them either regain confidence or feel empowered.
Some things never compare and compromising finding your true purpose in life should never be considered.
No matter what it takes for a dream to come true, it’s always worth the efforts and related challenges.
For about 10 years I worked diligently, sharing the vast repertoire of a full Pilates certification until I gradually saw my way of teaching change. I was naturally gravitating towards rehab Pilates and the relationship between body and mind. I even took up a psycho-kinesiology course, a somatic approach. Clients with unresolved mechanical issues were referred to me.
Incessantly I observed, identified causes and proposed simple solutions. So simple that I began seeing a pattern: people were resisting their center of gravity. Yes, that was it. The more they struggled, the more off balance they were. I was onto something indeed simple yet so big and for some of my long-term clients, it was obvious this new approach meant a complete reset of their way of apprehending movement. They and I with them, discovered all the benefits of experiencing what I often call: The Middle.
Physically, it’s the place where gravity feels weightless, where you can breathe deeply, where you can move freely, where range of motion and performance are at their highest.
What this does to your mind is equally extraordinary. It’s the place where useless struggles, “must do’s” and “have to’s” don’t exist. It’s the place where you can simply be and enjoy the “here and now” of your body and mind in synchronicity.
I would have much to say about the symbolic meaning of the center of gravity but I will stick to one: fighting your center of gravity is a bit like fighting the gravity of life. Your body holds the hidden messages that your mind doesn’t want you to hear. But like the saying goes “you can run but you cannot hide”. You can either harden yourself against adversity or choose gentleness.
Postures always reflect mindsets. Mindsets always reflect beliefs and beliefs often hold traumas.
Most of the tensions I deal with on a daily basis are located in the middle, upper back area, including neck and shoulders. When clients realize the release of tightness as soon as the body returns into its center through more presence in the lower limbs (imagine the keel of a boat), they’re always a bit baffled. It seems so simple and in theory it is, but in reality, it can be quite challenging for some, and rigidity (inside and out) has a lot to do with it. The only way out of this, is by way of the heart and its beautiful gentle energy.
Our hearts are the guides and guardians of balance. It’s location in our body, right in the center speaks of that. It sets the tone of any life situation where a positive outcome is awaiting. In the context of body and mind, it creates magic. The heart is the most powerful and efficient tool for high performance.
When connecting to their heart by simply bringing their attention to it, all of my clients, without exception, immediately go to a softer place in their minds. That’s the key.
Removing pressure and expectations by means of “must do this right” or the fearful thought of not doing it or managing it right, helps them release tensions in their body related to the stress they self-inflict. When I first found this out, I was stunned. Today I’m in awe of the beauty of it. Every time I witness this shift, I’m filled with joy for my clients because I know they learned an invaluable lesson: it’s useless to struggle for results.
“Feeling good” is way more productive than “doing good”, especially when it comes to qualitative performance. And that’s a lesson they bring home and refer to in many instances.
“Anne. You should really write a book about your method and approach to body mind balance.”
This is what I so often heard from clients in the last eight years. A pure tragedy. Why? Because deep inside my heart and soul, their words and wishes resonated more than you can imagine… but the drama was that I just didn’t know how to go about it. I realized my work was making a difference for my clients but I never saw anything in it more than business as usual. For me, my gift was nothing to brag about because it stemmed from instinct and passion.
Who and why could anyone, outside my clients be interested in my detailed, unusual, sometimes very tedious approach to body mind balance and mostly, how could I share and write about it?
No one out there knew me. I was working hidden from the world out of lower-ground spaces with no advertising, website, social media connections. Absolutely zero visibility! All my clients came through referrals. Why would I have told myself about a story of success? To top it all, I am rather shy. In short, I kept myself safe for years but also denied myself stepping into my power, because I was unable to value myself and my work. Until one day, back in January of this year when my world began turning around.
Late that month, after following a book writing workshop, I began foreseeing the strong probability that writing about my work was within my reach.
Alas. My dream was in sight! Unfortunately, that was just before getting a reality check. Kelly Notaras (a book editor and author of The Book You Were Born to Write — a ‘must read’ if there’s a book on your heart… but be ready for a ride!) crushed my hope in her chapter “Understand what you’re getting yourself into”!
Building a media platform and an audience prior to writing my book?! No way. Never. Social medias are not my friends. These were all the roadblocks I put between me and my book when I realized everything it would take for my dream to come true. To say I was upset is nothing and it took a lot of courage and faith to get to the next stage:
I knew I needed to learn about how to promote myself and my work and that’s when I came across Bill Miles, a photographer and visual media coach.
Meeting and working with Bill turned out to be everything but what I had expected. Instead of finding an easy path towards the spotlights of fame and fortune — I found a way straight back into myself and some pretty deeply hidden traumas. Was this all a bad joke? All I wanted to begin with was simply writing a book. Why was I putting myself through so much trouble? For what? Social media? My least favorite thing. Had I made the wrong decision by joining this Visual Media Coaching Program?
It was a steep road and learning curve for me, not to mention the financial investments I had to make, yet week after week, Bill helped me get a peek at what looked like my redemption. What if I was paying for all these years of preferring to hide and not face my fears or judgment about the world of social media? Thankfully it was bigger than that. It was about learning and growing in unmeasurable ways. About facing off with fears and stepping into my true self. When the course ended, I thought my new life was finally about to begin. Little did I know…
Two months after finishing Bill’s program I was in complete procrastination mode. I built obstacles here and there, created problems and excuses to stop myself from doing what I had to do to be seen and share my message. In short, I was still totally scared about owning my power.
So destiny struck, again, and without fully realizing or understanding why, I hopped into a High Performing Coaching Program. This one completely and definitely kicked me out of stagnation. The journey of self-discovery that had begun with Bill, went into tumble drying mode with these guys. Lots of stuff hit the fan and many times I asked myself the same questions as months before: What am I doing here? Seriously. All I want is to write a book! Yet, I was in it and it took me over a month to truly open up and embrace things I never thought I would have the courage to face in my life.
What I’ve learned since the beginning of my journey in January has humbled me in so many ways. My destination was a book. I was so sure of it. Today I’m not so sure anymore because the journey enlightened me and brought me exactly where I need to be. And this place still isn’t a book, but it surely is about sharing.
The most valuable asset I have acquired throughout my journey is ME. Nothing like me, myself and I but more like “Oh, hi Anne. Nice to meet you!”
I learned to look at myself through many different angles, eyes and most importantly, souls. Cameras, strangers, fellow students, artificial and natural lights, life stories, breakdowns and breakthroughs (mine and others), mentors.
Every single one of these showed me a part of myself I either denied or was too scared to look at. And all of this happened to help me celebrate who I am and how my gift to the world can now finally come into the light.
Creating my own brand that carries all of my values, stories of struggles and challenges, success and growth, learnings from almost two decades of beautiful exchanges with my amazing clients, was certainly not going to be simple and it’s taken me over a year to settle for a name that would imply simplicity, my eclectic background and the art of being present in the “Here & Now”, as I call it.
AvR Coaching encompasses all of my activities and teaching, ranging from Pilates, to rehab Pilates, to sports performance increase as well as life coaching.
My entire being knows there are many bodies, minds, hearts and souls to guide back into their sovereignty. And you know what? I simply can’t wait to see them thrive in it.
If you wish to find out more about my online working options or contact me for a chat, I’m only one email away and I would love to read and find out about you and where you’re currently at in your life.
As mentioned on my website, my clients are my greatest source of inspiration and growth. Sure, I may know some valuable things about Body Mind Balance but I keep learning every day from the many bodies, minds and souls that gift me with their trust.