Leah Simmons is an ex DJ, qualified pilates instructor, mama to one and all round fitness expert we love to stalk for #fitspiration on Instagram. Originally starting her career in the music industry, it was in 2005 that she felt she needed a change and naturally, with a love for all things health, a new career in the fitness industry was the direction she took.
Today, she spreads her time between her home in Sydney and her one in Bali and has even gone on to launch her own comprehensive Body by Leah Simmons pilates programs that are made up of an e-book and a corresponding audio program - so you really need nothing more than a smartphone and a mat to jump on board.
With killer athleisure style to boot and doubling as a model for one of our fave. active wear brands P.E Nation is there nothing that this (rock hard) lady can't do? We sat down with the down to earth beauty recently to get to know her a little better, find out how she juggles her time between business and family and let us in all her fave. active wear brands - because you can never have too many right?
Can you tell us about your career? When did your interest in the health and fitness industry start? What were you doing prior to being a part of this industry?
I’ve been a DJ for the past 18 years but I’ve also been a Pilates teacher for the past 10 so there was already a bit of a crossover. I spent five years in London running a record label (2001-2006) and I returned to Australia somewhat broken haha! (The London lifestyle is “work hard, play harder”) I was definitely looking for a bit of a career change. Having always been active and into fitness I decided to become a Pilates teacher. I guess 10 years (and one child) later my focus has shifted from the music industry to the fitness industry. It’s where my future is. I want to help people look and feel their absolute best. And I just love feeling clear, fit and energised!
Do you stick or live by any diet mantras? What is your health philosophy for every day?
My everyday health philosophy extends to more than just diet and exercise. I really only discovered it when I asked myself the question, “What does it mean to me to be truly fit?” And the answer actually surprised me. My personal definition of true fitness doesn’t just relate to physical health. That is definitely an important part of it but I believe that in order to be truly fit you need to look at all the areas in your life where you can cultivate, change and affect your energy levels… so not only physical, but mental, spiritual and emotional too. So I make sure I train all of these areas equally to illicit the best possible overall result.
You’re also a mum, how do you ensure you make the time to look after yourself? Do you have any advice to help other mums to help ensure they make the time for their own wellbeing?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make time for your own personal growth. Everyone we encounter (especially our own children!) are just reflections of ourselves. The way we act, the way we react, our emotions, our thoughts, how we interact with our families… it’s all down to the quality of the relationship we have with ourselves. So I would say to every mum that making time for your own wellbeing should be number one priority!
What is your favourite type of exercise? Do you have a go-to workout?
I love all types of workouts! I’m really into strength-based workouts at the moment as I find the “carry over” (the results you get AFTER you finish the workout) is the best out of any form of training for me. So lifting weights, compound movements etc... And then I’ll always throw some mobility/flexibility training in there too to keep my body mobile (i.e. pilates or yoga). I only ever do exercise that I enjoy. I’ve never done anything because I felt I SHOULD do it… I believe that your mind plays a huge part in your progress so if you are enjoying what you’re doing you’ll get better results!
Where is your favourite place to workout in Sydney?
Base Body Studio in Kensington. It’s a small, women-only gym owned and run by my good friends Diana Johnson and Felicia Oreb aka Base Body Babes. The gym has everything I need for a kick arse workout and the girls are just the absolute best!
Do you meditate? If so, how and for how long?
Yes I meditate. I’m such an energetic force that it keeps me grounded and present. I believe that any amount of time where you can sit and just be with your own thoughts is beneficial so I would never say there is an optimum amount of time. Just do it!
What do you think of the athleisure trend? Do you wear workout gear when not working out?
I love it!! I think it’s great as well as practical. I pretty much spend my life in activewear so being able to have some stylish choices that take me from the gym to a meeting is amazing. I do also like to put my own spin on it too… so mixing it back with more luxe pieces or even a killer heel. As I split my time between Sydney and Bali I feel like I have two personas with two different styles. And my athleisure reflects that… in Sydney I’m all about a great sneaker and awesome outerwear while in Bali I live in shorts and crop tops or swimwear.
What are your go-to fitness brands?
I’m so excited by the boom in activewear brands - finally there are some awesome choices that are not only functional in the gym but are stylish too. I’m loving Lilybod, Nimble, Fila, Ivy Park, LNDR, Stella McCartney for Adidas, NIKE, New Balance and of course P.E Nation… the list is endless!!! My shoe obsession has now turned into an activewear obsession!
Now that you manage your own business what does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t really have a “typical day”! I split my time between Sydney and Bali every two weeks so depending where I am determines what my days look like. If I’m in Sydney I’m just your average “mum”!!! Weekdays consist of waking up, running around trying to get my seven year old to eat breakfast/get dressed/do last night’s homework and to school on time. I then head to Base Studio for a workout. The rest of the day is made up of meetings, writing, photoshoots… whatever needs to be done really. Then I pick up my son from school and we start again. Bali is a little more relaxed. I work by the pool and generally have a very nice life! Haha.
How do you stay on top of your social media? And what type of role does it play with your business?
I am the curator and stylist of all my social media. I direct the shoots and do all of the post-production. It was very important to me that my audience felt that they were hearing directly from me. In my own voice. My style of writing is very much a reflection of the way I am in the flesh. What you read is what I say and most of the time how I say it! I also don’t promote products I don’t believe it or haven’t tried. Everything on my Instagram page and blog I’ve tried, tested and loved! I believe that social media can play an integral role in business as long as you are transparent and authentic. People are getting savvy to the not-so-real Insta-lives of some people and I think that’s a good thing.
What is the best business advice that you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I was ever given was “don’t listen to advice”… everything that comes out of your mouth has a direct correlation to the type of day you’ve had, your emotional state and how you are feeling at that point in time. You have no idea about the emotional state of the person giving you the advice and most of the time you’ll get a whole lot of conflicting opinions anyway. I trust my own gut… sometimes the outcomes are better than others but at least I am then only accountable to myself. And I learn from every decision I make.
If you could turn back time and give your younger self a little business advice what would you say?
“Go out, don’t stress, experience everything and have fun! Your 40-year-old self has got you covered…”
How do you find juggling the roles of mum and business owner? How do you ensure your family eats well?
Who says they do?? Haha… in all seriousness I’m not really a foodie. Truth be told I don’t enjoy cooking much, I find it a chore. But I do make sure that my son eats well (even if it doesn’t look fancy or uses 17 different ingredients). We pretty much eat the same type of thing each day and I know how long it takes me to prepare it so I just make sure it gets done. We always have some raw veggies to munch on plus some lean protein, rice or sweet potato and lots of steamed veg. I’m super lucky that Ryder loves his vegetables otherwise that would be a challenge.
What is your go-to meal to whip up when you don’t have time?
It used to be tuna and rice! That was my staple when I was on minimum wage living in London… these days I can usually find some time to make something fairly healthy.. and if I can’t then I’ll make a nutrient-dense smoothie to tide me over until I can prepare a proper meal.
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now where do you think you would be?
I actually can’t imagine doing any else other than what I’m doing now. I was in the music industry for 18 years and somehow ended up here. The universe wants me right where I am.
If you could retire anywhere in the world where would you go?