My West London Life

Paola Langella

September
18

Originally from Naples, Paola Langella is a former dancer, but took up teaching Pilates after she suffered a neck injury and had to stop training. With gentle and holistic methods, she’s known to achieve amazing results. We catch up with Paola on her passion for Pilates and unravel some of those top health tips she swears by.

Can you tell us how your career in Pilates came about and what inspired you to make this your livelihood?

I approached the Pilates technique because I injured my neck during a dance show. I had two slipped discs at the cervical spine and I couldn’t move my left arm. All the doctors and osteopaths I met pushed me to do Pilates, as I had to strengthen my shoulder muscles to get my cervical spine back in shape; an operation there would have been too delicate. I was so skeptical at the beginning but after only 6-7 classes I felt that something was going in the right direction. I felt stronger and I could lift my arm again. I really couldn’t believe that. So, I started to think about Pilates as a miracle for the body.

Not only did it cure my injury but my body shape got better, too. I had more definition, leaner muscles, better posture, but the most important thing, I was pain free. That’s when I decided I wanted to teach people and share with them this beautiful technique, and help them to reach their own specific goals: recovering from injuries, toning, getting more flexible. You can achieve anything with Pilates. It really changes your life, it is the best form of fitness for me and for stress relief. There is a silver lining for everything in life and today I am grateful for that accident as it brought me directly to this beautiful journey, teaching Pilates and meeting wonderful and inspiring people along the way.

What is a typical day in the life of Paola Langella?

I wake up at 6am, I have my warm water with lemon and then breakfast with Greek yoghurt, fruit, oats, chia seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon – my favourite!

I run my first class at 7am until 12pm. I train for myself three times per week, usually at lunchtime, 12pm or 1pm. I try to have at least 1-2 hours off after training and I start to teach again at 3pm or 4pm until 8pm. If I have a lighter day, I love spending the afternoon around Portobello road, browsing in all the stores there and going to see a couple of friends that work over there.

If someone had a private Pilates session with you what would they expect?

If someone has never done Pilates before, I will make sure they understand what it is all about from the first class. You need to expect to learn the most important principle of Pilates, which is the breathing and how this is important to engage your inner core. The class will be a total workout targeting every single muscle; you may even feel muscles you didn’t know you had.

I will start with the reformer for breathing, foot, legs work and arms and then on to the mat work for more core connection finishing on the reformer for glutes and hamstring stretches. The first class is always a bit confusing but I promise from class two everything will make sense!

You’re based in a few parts of the city, but predominantly in West London. What draws you to the area?

I decided to live in West London as it represents me more in terms of vibes and places, and eight years ago my first flat was in Marble Arch – I felt at home immediately. It was very close to Dance Work studios in Bond street and Pineapple studios in Covent garden, where I used to take dance classes and to attend auditions. I am in love with Notting Hill and Portobello now; it is four years that I have been in the area, as I love the local places and the market in the morning, and I feel closer to Italy in a certain way. I like to go to my local coffee shops and meet people I know in the street, which is a very rare thing in London.

In terms of diet and health, what are your top tips?

In terms of diet, I always say to my clients that diet is a way to describe a sustainable, realistic, healthy way of eating. My top tips are: drink at least two glasses of warm water and lemon in the morning on an empty stomach when you wake up, don’t skip your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), they should always be balanced with fresh vegetables,

Proteins (possibly fish or legumes) and carbs with two healthy snacks at midday and mid-afternoon, like fruit and a handful of nuts or carrots, something practical and easy to find that you can simply grab and carry with you. Exercise at least three times per week and do something you really enjoy doing. And I have to add another one as it is very important – sleep! Try to sleep at least six hours per night. You will get in shape so quickly just by respecting your body in this way.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced Pilates, why and for who would you recommend it?

I really recommend everyone should try Pilates because it is a form of fitness that can suit every individual and every need. It is good for people who may want to tone, sculpt and shape; for enhancing a sport, like dancing, football, rugby, golf. For rehabilitation, for prenatal and postnatal women, for stress relief, for postural corrections in case of scoliosis, lordosis. The benefits are infinite, I really recommend that everyone should try Pilates at least once.

What would you do on your perfect day off from work?

On my perfect day off work, I would treat myself with a nice aromatic massage, a walk in Hyde park for a healthy picnic with a friend, a Pilates class or yoga class for myself. And in the evening, I would go to the theatre to see a show or go to dance some Salsa and Latin music with a good dance partner. Dancing is one of the best medicines and stress relievers ever!

For more information or to book a session go to www.langella.co.uk

 

Derek “DeCutter” Clement

October
16

Derek 'De Cutter' Clement, a renowned celebrity hairstylist, Afro hair care expert, and entrepreneur, was one of the UK's first black British hairstylists to have a West End Salon. Formally known for his dedication to black hair, which started in the early 80's, he worked with the legendary Splinters (one of the 1st Afro Hair Salons in the West End) which enabled him to style celebrities such as Billy Ocean, Patti Labelle, The Three Degrees and many more.

When you did you first develop a love for hairdressing and how did you get started?

My journey essentially started in the late ‘70s and onwards, and actually, hairdressing found me. The day that steered the wheel of destiny for me was when I accompanied my girlfriend to the hairdressers and while seated… Read more →

Mrs J Mackay

September
3

Mrs J Mackay, head teacher at Hawkesdown House, on the education system, what it takes for a busy school head to unwind, and the recent change of becoming co-ed after a long history of all-boys prep schooling.

Hawkesdown House has historically been an all-boys prep, but we hear you’re becoming co-ed. What has sparked this change, and how do you think the school will change with it?

Hawkesdown is indeed becoming co-ed and at the same time extending its provision to 11. In my time as Headmistress here, I have… Read more →