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Emma Marie

Emma Marie

Tell us something unique about yourself

I am crazy about horses. I competed at an international level growing up, and even though I have broken my arm 6 times, and fractured my jaw whilst working with horses, I still can’t seem to get enough of them. After leaving Virgin Active Australia, I worked for a few months as a horse trainer in Germany riding up to 5 horses per day for a trainer who produced horses to an Olympic standard. Then I left to join the Virgin Active team in the UK.

There are many similarities between Pilates and horse riding. Both require a high level of attention to detail, technique and self-awareness. You need to be in tune with your body and your muscles in order to achieve the movements required, a shift of your weight incorrectly in the saddle could translate as a completely different signal to the horse. Making the difference between winning and losing a competition. When practicing Pilates you need to listen to your body and feel the movements in order to achieve the position you are aiming for and in both your awareness improves over time.

Who are you at work?

One of my favourite things about my role is that I get to teach. Working with horses from a young age taught me both empathy and patience. I think it’s important to first understand that everyone learns differently and at different speeds. It’s essential to adapt the method of teaching or learning to reach everyone and help them understand. I love discovering with each individual how they learn best, do they like things written down or shown to them visually with me demonstrating the exercise first or if they prefer to try and I then coach them verbally. I thrive on helping people grow, supporting them and sharing my knowledge about the practice and class delivery.

It goes without saying that I absolutely love teaching Pilates, both Reformer and Mat classes.  Teaching regular members that have been coming to my classes for several years, there’s nothing better! -  I have built some incredible professional relationships with our members and they always bring a smile to my face when I see them, week in week out committing to their health and fitness. Equally, I absolutely love newcomers to the class. I sometimes get a bit overly excited when I am introducing them to the practice and talking about the benefits of Pilates. 

I also like to be prepared and so I always have a huge backpack with me, just in case a situation arises and I need to jump into teaching mode or slip out for dinner after work. If you need a phone charger I am the person in the office to come to!

What are your dreams for the future?

Whilst at VA my confidence has grown through the support and encouragement from my team and managers, which has helped me find my voice, and so I would like to dedicate some time to mentoring and sharing my experience with the wider GEX team.

I would love to stay with Virgin Active, potentially becoming the Global Head of Pilates one day, as the journey so far within the company has been remarkable. I am excited for what the future holds for such a diverse and innovative company that embraces all kinds of personalities and backgrounds and that values a diverse team, embracing inclusivity. The only way is up.

What excites you about your role?

What doesn’t excite me? Educating instructors is what gets me out of bed every morning. I love nothing more than mentoring and supporting instructors to help them grow and unlock their full potential.

Designing exercise programs is also something I am passionate about in my role - it’s where exercise science and art coexist in order to create a well-balanced successful program. There’s nothing better than seeing a program I have created come to life in the studios taught by our instructors to our members.

What direction to you feel GEX at Virgin Active moving in?

The group exercise program at Virgin Active is pushing forward in the right direction, internally communicating how we value and support our teams and also focusing on how to provide a top quality premium exercise experience to our members.

The steer behind where we are going is from people who understand and love the products we are producing in GEX, and so there will be great things to come in the not so distant future. There are no compromises, no restraints placed on innovation. Quality comes first and the sky is the limit!

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