Poised, and purposeful Erika, the founder of Erika Bloom Pilates, an NYC-based pilates and wellness center, is finding new ways to move, tune in, and reflect. Here she shares her thoughts on living a healthier, and ultimately happier life through food practices, eastern philosophies, and listening to your body on the daily.
HOW ARE THINGS?
It's a complicated time without an easy answer; especially for people in the wellness space as we're "supposed" to be positive and yet most of us need to learn to sit in our pain a little better and not run away. It’s definitely a period of growth.
LIFE IN QUARANTINE?
Some days are great and others, less so. When I feel off I'm trying to lean in rather than run to better sift and discover what's truly important. For example, I've realized that I truly miss being able to help people in person. On the flip side, I've loved having so much quality time with my children; it's been such a gift. Therefore, I'm really trying to distill the positives and negatives of this experience to better build my life moving forward.
HOW HAVE YOU ADJUSTED TO THE "NEW NORMAL"?
The days seem to fly by and I find in some ways I’m getting more done and in other ways, less. The beginning was very emotional for me filled with heartbreak and universal sadness. Unfortunately, I didn’t transition into my new normal as quickly as I would have had I known this was going to be an extended thing. I’m finally finding my way and a good daily rhythm. This includes a solid wellness practice, daily movement, and a clean diet. I've found my body to be hypersensitive right now and have to be impeccable with what I eat; it goes to show just how much our body responds to stress and the way we feel. I’ve also let go of a lot of perfectionism and rigidity around my exercise. This means some days I'm not as thin as others, and that’s OK so long as I'm choosing healthy foods and incorporating some movement. The biggest hurdle for me has been the lack of segmentation throughout the day. Usually, we have blocks of time for school, work, personal and now it’s all overlapping in the same space. Plus, there are always dishes to do.
DO YOU FORESEE THIS PERIOD OF TIME IMPACTING THE WORKPLACE?
I’m curious to see if it will change the way women work. I basically work in an all-female environment, used to take my kids to work and breastfeed them while I was teaching. But, most people can’t do that. I wonder if more women will insist on more flexibility to be home with their kids. It could be really good.
HOW ARE YOU EATING?
I like to have some quiet time in the morning with tea and meditation if I can which doesn't always happen with my kids' schedules. I love spending the morning with them making them breakfast, although I usually skip breakfast for intermittent fasting to give my digestion a rest.
For the most part, I'm nut, dairy, and grain-free because of my auto-immune disease. For lunch and dinner, I’ll usually have some type of animal protein with vegetables and lots of high fats. I don't snack. My kids eat a more varied diet with berries and yogurt or almond flour waffles and nuts but are mostly grain-free as I don’t believe in the quality of the grain and farming practices in the US. They eat carbs, we just stay clear of grains. But this evolves and changes too depending on what each of us needs.
Wellness is not about doing the right thing or following a rule but rather listening and being in tune with your body. It's important to stay close to that and adjust accordingly.
AH-HA WELLNESS MOMENT?
I grew up in California near Caltech in Pasadena in a neighborhood that was very thoughtful about science, plus my family was extremely focused on food as medicine - we grew most of our food and ate extremely well. I went on to become a professional dancer and was constantly getting injured. When the doctors treated me with Western medicine and I wasn't healing, I paused dancing and started eating poorly and got sick. To heal, I went back to my roots and started to think about food differently. I explored alternative types of movement and medicine from yoga to eastern philosophies and found a lot of relief. From that experience I began to explore a career in medicine, but at the time, the medical field wasn't open to alternative complementary medicine, which was frustrating. I decided I wanted to work with people and bring all of this knowledge from my past forward, so I started my first studio. I quickly found that my clients didn’t just need movement but also a guide as to how to manage their health holistically, from western medicine to Chinese medicine, herbs, and experts. We created a whole team for our community that includes nutrition, fertility, movement, and acupuncture, Chinese medicine, pilates, meditation, breathwork, and yoga. Within each session we're offering all that and specialty sessions as well.
DOING THINGS VIRTUALLY?
We had to transition to an online experience for the foreseeable future. Our practice includes a lot of really specific programming and hands-on work, so initially I was concerned that it wouldn't work but to my surprise we can do so much virtually. Plus, I’m finding some clients are thriving and healing faster. The plan is to keep the virtual offering post-COVID and blend it with in-person sessions. It’s exciting to be able to relaunch with both options. I’m also teaching privates and virtual IG live classes.
WELLNESS FROM HOME?
Now that we can’t get massages, which I miss, I’m a big fan of self-massage. I do a lot of small ball rolling, foam rolling, dry brushing, applying oils, and releasing tight spots. We often focus so much on strength, but stretching and releasing are equally important if not more, especially now that we're sitting so much.
Also, taking space. We talk a lot about meditation, but more importantly we all need time to do nothing, to be reflective with no agenda. Sit in nature or take a quiet walk to understand what you're feeling. Also, remember that we don't have to be “happy” all the time to be well. Instead, we have to be “in touch.”
Plus I’m trying to shift my gratitude practice to focus less on what I'm receiving to a deeper, more global gratitude.
On a real one on one level, I’ve been trying to support local and small business owners and they are losing their businesses and not that I’m trying to be consuming and shipping right now, but any time I need something I go to them or do my best to spread the word. Buy from small businesses instead of bigger companies, like Sakara Life and Consignment Brooklyn.
Also, trying to continue to pay the hourly workers that aren't working right now, it's a small thing but trying to contribute in the ways that I can.
Then as a company, we were able to do a furlough structure where everyone could keep their medical insurance which was a huge financial undertaking with 65 employees, but it was really important to me to have that happen.
This time is about reprioritizing our lives, reframing our values, and understanding how we want to spend time with ourselves and our family. My hope, as we reacclimate to life, is that people will come back together with more empathy for one another. We all went through this together, while our experiences differed it was the same big thing and I can only hope we bring that deeper consciousness with us moving forward.