My Universe: Sculpt Barre Fitness Founder Laura Bullock
Given how passionate she is about both Barre and Pilates, it’s no surprise to discover Laura Bullock, the founder of Sculpt Barre Fitness in Manly, is an ex-dancer (and marketer-turned-entrepreneur).
She could talk for hours about the benefits of both – from stretching, strengthening, and lengthening your body to calming your mind. Wellbeing is a big part of her life – from rituals like a morning green smoothie (just add Ora Organic Greens Superpowder+) to making sleep a priority (try Ora Profound Sleep before you go to bed).
Ora was created on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and it’s the women of the beaches and their approach to wellbeing that inspire us the most. So today, we find out all about Laura’s career journey, approach to health and her top tips for feeling great.
You're an ex-dancer turned marketer turned entrepreneur. Tell me about founding Sculpt Barre Fitness?
I moved to Australia nine years ago. In a previous life back in the UK, I was doing performing arts. Since moving here, I dabbled a bit in performing arts, while moving into the corporate world. I got into marketing and spent a lot of time working in events – it really did fill my cup.
Being a dancer, Pilates and Barre was our support. I got to a point where I decided to get my teaching qualifications. While I was working full-time, I started teaching on the side. Then it just got to a point where I felt like I'd been training at all these studios, whether it be in the US, Europe or here and I noticed a gap in what I wanted to create and the style of Barre and Pilates that I wanted to bring to the studio.
I merged my business marketing skills and my passion - my love of movement, music, Barre and Pilates - and created my own studio, which has been amazing. It has been an interesting journey opening during COVID. We've been closed three times now, three lockdowns. We keep coming back, which is awesome. Our community is amazing. We have big plans to keep growing the business as well. Next year, fingers crossed, we'll open more studios.
Talk to me about what both Pilates and Barre can do for your mind and body?
I feel like there's a bit of a concept that you can only find your flow in yoga. I really talk a lot in my classes and within my studio brand about how you can find flow quite easily in Barre. I can get lost in my flows in Barre because it's a lot more fluid. Mentally, I totally lose myself when I'm moving with the music. I connect to my body. I'm all for body movement, hence why I didn't want to go down the reformer route. It's just me, my mat, my music, and the people around me.
In terms of the benefits for your body, Barre is quite remarkable. It's not a quick fix weight loss or injury preventing workout. It creates length and tone and all the great things that we want, but there's so much more beneath that as well with Barre.
Especially having the ballet influence, you do genuinely walk out feeling stronger and taller. Your muscles are lengthening, so you do walk with your head held high. It's such an elegant workout. Barre is truly a workout for everyone. I want people who aren't ex-dancers to be able to come in and not feel like it's lots of ballet-derived movements. It's very softly infused in our workouts.
With Pilates, it's all the same family. It all comes under the same umbrella. Pilates, for us, is a lot more mat based. It's a lot more toning and strengthening. A lot more focused on your core, glutes, legs, and great for post injury – they would be the main differences for me.
When it comes to health and wellness, where do so many women go wrong? Is it not being consistent?
You've totally nailed it. It's consistency. But more than that, it's literally just finding a type of movement or exercise that you find joy in. So many of us think that we need to really go hard and fast sometimes. Our lives are pretty hard and fast, especially in Sydney. Sometimes we might think that we do need to go down that high intensity route, but then we'll get an injury, and we'll plateau. It's about finding a sustainable movement.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My little man Bodie wakes up about half five, which is fine, I'm happy with that, I'm quite an early riser. We will go for a morning walk, and I'll get a beautiful chai latte en route. Me and my hubby both have businesses, so we tag team a lot through the day. But generally, we'll eat breakfast together, which is beautiful. I’ll always start the day with a big glass of water with a squeeze of lemon and a little pinch of salt. Then my day is split between teaching, emails and being with Bodie. I'm not too crazy in the evenings. I try and be offline by eight. I'm quite an early bird, I'd say I go to bed at nine, so I have a little bit of free time and then I need to get my rest in, ready for the next day. Sleep is so important.
How do you make sure that your sleep is quality sleep?
I’ve got to be offline an hour before I go to sleep, to be honest, that's kind of a non-negotiable for me. Ora has a beautiful product called Ora Profound Sleep which is high in magnesium. Magnesium is an amazing go-to for me for muscle recovery and a peaceful night's sleep.
What are some exercises that we can do every day to nurture our bodies?
The main thing I would say to anyone is just get up and out of your chair. I feel like we do stay stationary at our desk for far too long. The first thing for me would be just make sure you are taking those regular breaks, getting up and releasing. Even little things whilst you are sitting at your desk. For women, you can do your pelvic floor exercises, which is a nice one to do and you're not even really thinking about it. A lot of our people that come into classes through the day are just so sore just throughout their upper back, so make sure you’re doing shoulder rolls. For your legs, try ankle stretches, just rising and lowering. They're probably three just great ones.
Talk to me about your morning smoothie which always includes a greens powder…
A morning smoothie has been quite a strong ritual of mine. Most days I'll make sure I'm having a good wholesome green smoothie and getting all those nutrients in there. I’ll put in spinach, apple, banana, spirulina, coconut yogurt. Sometimes I'll use either water to mix it or coconut milk as well. I'm really obsessed with coconut now, everything coconut, but literally anything, I'll throw blueberries in there and whatever we've got lying around will go into the smoothie. It's such a beautiful way to start the day.
What would be your three wellbeing tips?
I'm going to pull it back to basics.
- I would say sleep is so important. We're so busy, but we must pull it back sometimes. We think we must do stuff every night, or we should be working late. We don't, we need to stop and take a moment. Sleep is key for me, making sure that I do get that rest in the evening means that I can operate the next day. Sleep will be my first one to focus in on.
- My second one would water. Very simple, but make sure you're having those two litres a day. I know it can slip but, in the morning, set yourself up with a jug on your desk and drink that water. I love adding lemon or other fruits, anything to my water, to infuse it. Or teas, I'm big on herbal teas as well. So, whatever it takes just to get that water into you every day – you’ll feel like a new woman.
- My third wellness is movement. Move your body. Even just be going for that walk. We are so blessed in Sydney and in Australia with what we have on our doorstep. So even through lockdown, sure we were doing virtual workouts, but I'd often say to the girls, "Just get outside, go for a coastal walk." Feel that fresh air in your lungs. Keep moving.