1. Tell us about yourself - the who, why, what, where and how of Catie.
I’m an American who leapt across the pond 12 years ago to follow my handsome English husband; we now have two wonderful sons, aged eight and 20 months. A former dancer and performer turned Barre instructor, I recently co-founded Oona Series, an online fitness and wellbeing platform. I love what I do and feel that I am really growing into who I am as an entrepreneur, wife, mother and lover of movement.
2. Where are you right now? And where would you choose to be if lockdown restrictions weren’t in place?
I am at home in London, looking forward to going back to America in the summer. I am a sunshine girl- I need to be by the sea, the sun, and the sand, so we will be dividing our time between California and Arizona.
3. We’re incredibly excited about Oona Series, your new venture... Can you explain to us what it’s about, and what makes it different from the other fitness and wellness programmes out there?
We are a fusion of fitness and wellbeing focusing on the physical, emotional and social elements. We are exclusively online at the moment, offering some incredible LIVE and on-demand sessions through Barre, Cardio, Sculpting, as well as pre and post-natal exercises. Together with an array of informative discussions, podcasts and videos between some of the industry’s leading practitioners and professionals who have inspired us along our journey. Our classes are for all levels and our instructors work their magic to cater for clients who are rehabilitating back from an injury or ones who are seeking a more technical workout with advancement options —the power of movement is truly for everyone! Additionally, we have a selection of Hiit, Pilates, yoga and other classes, all on demand, and when we get the green light to open up we will be hosting some exclusive events face to face- so stay tuned. What do I think sets us apart? Our team is phenomenal! We have nine instructors, all of whom I have worked with for years and curated for this project. The passion that each of us has for movement, positivity and building our clients’ confidence and strength so that we have a real sense of community, is second to none. Because our instructors right now are online in three different continents, we’re able to nurture our global clientele and meet their needs wherever they are and whatever time zone they’re in. What we’re focusing on is that exchange of energy. Seeing our clients on screen enables us to build rapid progress with modifications and advancements.
4. For Oona Series you’re partnering with the osteopath and holistic coach Boniface Verney-Carron; what one thing have you learnt from him that you’ve really benefited from, and what would he say he’s learnt from your own expertise?
Boniface is key to Oona Series, leading our wellbeing side of the website, creating a series of podcasts with specialist practitioners and professionals within the wellbeing sector and ending each podcast with lots of practical tips and tools to carry through our daily lives. He has really changed my life for the better, adding so much value by helping me to understand the depths of my wellbeing outside of mere physical movement. He did an online panel chat recently and I was so enthralled that I sat there and took notes - “Happiness is moving, getting ready for change, and loving it” - is just one of the things he said that I really took on board. He is godfather to our 20 month old son; my husband adores him as much as we do. What does he say about me? When we embarked on this venture together we both wrote a letter to one another about what this experience would mean to us, and he said, “Catie has taught me to believe in myself”. We are both growing immensely.
5. Your bio says before you were a Pilates instructor, you were a professional showgirl. What’s the best bit about being a showgirl, and how can we bring out our inner showgirl?
I teach so hard that by the time I’ve finished a class, I’ve left my heart on the dancefloor! I feel so proud, and that is how I felt being on the stage - you give your all, having physically trained year after year for a performance that might only last a few moments. My best showgirl tip is that, really, we have to be the showgirl of our own lives; showing up, signing up, and then creating that energy, day in and day out, because it’s infectious and breeds positivity.
6. How did you discover Pilates and how have you put your own stamp on it?
During my dancing career, Pilates was something we always did - it was a part of our training and development because it’s so technical and effective. I proceeded to train and was certified in Stott Pilates, and I continue to develop and hone my skill set year after year. I believe in Pilates and that’s why it’s incorporated in all of our Barre classes which are a fusion of Ballet, Barre and Cardio. It’s a great way to create a sustainable workout promoting longevity, joy of movement and long-lasting results. You work out, you chisel your body, and lengthen the muscles. I always say that by the end of our classes we want you to feel taller, longer, leaner, and happier.
7. How do you educate your children about health, wellbeing and exercise, without it feeling too much like, well... “education”?
Well, it’s funny you should ask this because my eight year old son has fully embraced my teaching, and also that of Joe Wicks, and he now teaches his own dynamic online classes- he really is on another level! He will be joining Oona Series as well to share his love of movement and sweet spirit. He even ends all his classes with a five minute meditation. The first time I saw him do this I just cried, thinking... where does all this come from!?
8. Is your diet as healthy as your fitness routine?
My husband likes to cook, he finds it really therapeutic. He keeps everything fresh, and while we don’t cut anything out, we do keep our plates looking really colourful- that’s my ethos. My children reach for their vegetables first but eating clean and feeling well starts from a young age.
9. What one single thing can we do to get a healthier physique in time for summer?
I’m not a big fan of saying, “in time for summer” because I like to think we are feeling well all year round. The cells in our bodies and minds go through so many transitions in a matter of seconds, so finding and setting a rhythm that you can incorporate into your life in a sustainable way is the best way to make a change. Once you create that repetition of finding a workout and healthy diet you feel you can commit to, you will feel truly nourished from the inside out.
10. What has been your biggest challenge in your career, and how did you overcome it?
Believing in myself. We all have self-doubting questions like are we doing enough, is what we’re doing the right thing to do? And I suppose how I’ve overcome that is by surrounding myself with strong mentors who have supported me physically but who have also given me strong advice on how to proceed. My husband is my biggest champion and cheerleader saying, “this is great, you’re on the right track, now let’s keep moving”.
11. How do your mentors inspire you?
One of my mentors is also one of my business partners, Fay Roberts. She came into my life about eight years ago and has not only been my voice of reason through setting up the business but she has two teenage boys herself and has become such an anchor in our lives, to the point where thinking about her now, I actually feel quite teary! She inspires me daily through her excellent communication skills, parenting advice as well as her zest for life. I am truly grateful our paths crossed.
12. How do you like to relax after a busy day’s teaching and running your business?
I love a bath with essential oils, it calms me down and gives me a rhythm. It’s my me-time, even though the lock on my bathroom doesn’t work and I always have the children joining. My husband and I eat dinner together every evening, and we joke that our kitchen table is our therapy, as we always talk things out there. It’s a beautiful place where we set our intentions and discuss our day and ambitions ahead.
13. Which fitness and wellbeing gadgets, tools, apps or devices do you rely on the most?
I don’t rely on any gadgets or apps as I tune into my body and am therefore able to adjust to what it needs and feels.
14. Which TV drama are you absorbed by currently, or do you prefer to read or do something else?
I am a podcast kind of girl; I do like a podcast because I can just pop in my headphones and listen whilst doing lots of other things. But from time to time I grab a book because I like to feel the pages on my hands - it makes me zone in and focus. Eckhart Tolle is my favourite - I listen to him and read him also -The Power of Now, I can’t tell you how many times I have read it. It means something different to me at different times of my life.
15. What do you love about Varley, and can you tell us about the pieces you’re wearing today?
I really love Varley! I was a fan for years and stocked their clothes in our Marylebone studio, and when they told me Lara was moving back to London, of course I invited them to the studio. I have a huge respect for her and Ben, the founders - everything they do looks very glossy, but as with any business there is a lot of hard work, grit and determination behind it all. The designs are really cool. Each season I can’t get enough of the prints, and I love to pair the Luna Leggings with boots, a cardigan, a nice jacket or a coat. I am thrilled to be working with them! I’m so excited to be wearing two new Spring active prints of Mono Feather and Taupe Grey Snake, these are perfect for my Oona Series classes. The Ellington and Chaucer in Mink Marl is such a cosy sweat set for lounging around the house in. Another favourite of mine is the Maceo & Brymhurst Sweat set; it’s such stylish piece that I can wear on the move, from meetings, to shoots, to out and about. The textures and style is so comfortable whilst still looking chic.