How to Bounce Back- Inteview with Olympian Steph Prem February 27 2015 by Simone Denny
Every now and then, from out of nowhere, life serves us a curve ball. One day everything seems to be going along normally and the next we can’t imagine how we will ever pull ourselves out of the pain or hurt caused by an unanticipated life event. Whether it is a debilitating disease, losing a baby or a loved one, or going through a break up, the ability to bounce back becomes a crucial part of recovery.
Steph Prem is someone who knows how to bounce back! This snowboarding Olympian had a critical accident, shattering her body and her dreams and changing her life forever. Despite this, Steph made the choice to bounce back.
Winter Olympian and World Class Snowboarder turned clinical pilates instructor and health & wellness industry leader, Steph Prem. There’s one not-so obvious secret to Steph's story; a shocking crash on the snow just weeks after the 2010 Olympics bent her very badly out of shape, ending her competitive career. Steph’s accident opened her eyes to functional movement training and inspired her to study clinical pilates. Following her remarkable comeback to healthy and happy living she now runs successful Pilates, health and fitness business, Premium Performance, in Melbourne. Visit Premium Performance here
Q/ Can you tell us about your journey to where you are now in life?
Surprisingly, I wasn’t a great sportsperson when I was young. I have a dance background, ranging in everything for ballet, jazz and contemporary to funk and tap. I also dabbled in drama and musical theatre for a while. Snowsports started off as a hobby, but my competitive drive caused me eventually want to take it more seriously. When boardercross became an Olympic event in 2006, I decided to give it a go professionally.
Following my career highlight, the Olympic games in 2010, I came off a jump badly at the world cup finals, and when I was in the air I knew I was in serious trouble. As I came down I landed on my back, and fractured a couple of vertebrae, compressed a few disks, dislocated my hip and damaged my pelvis and broke five ribs.
It was definitely one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my life. After the accident I began the long and slow road to recovery. Discovering Pilates to help my injuries completely changed my life. For the first time in a long time I had something to look forward to, and I was able to channel all of the energy into pilates practice (which was the closest thing to sports and movement I could do without pain). I loved it so much and felt the change in not just my physicality, but my mentality. I knew I had to share the love so I poured all my energy and competitive drive into starting my own Fitness and pilates business Premium Performance.
Q/ What was the most difficult part of the recovery from the accident for you and how did you work through this?
Coming to terms with my injury was the most difficult thing. For a while I was in denial about how badly I was hurt. I thought I would be on the mend and competing again in no time. I literally thought I would be back on the world stage at the Sochi Olympics- I was dreaming.
It was when I finally realised and accepted the damage that I was able to properly heal, but it was a difficult process. Pilates was my saving grace. It was great to find something that was so good for my body, as well as something that I was passionate about and took me back to my dancing roots and functional training. It kept me motivated and allowed me to persevere with my recovery.
Q/ What advice would you give people who are going through a hard time right now or who have hit rock bottom?
The best advice I could give would be to let yourself hit rock bottom. It sounds scary but it is necessary. Once you stop fighting the situation and accept it, you can finally begin to move on. It will be hard, but the hard times make us strong. I wouldn’t take back anything that happened, it has allowed me to become who I am today. Never ever give up! You have good days and bad - focus on the good and keep moving forward. BE FIERCE and WANT AND NEED to help YOURSELF.
Q/ Can you tell us about your experience with Pilates and how this has changed your life?
Clinical Pilates has been a crucial part of rehabilitation from my injury. I was hooked from my first ever session and credit Pilates for allowing me to recover and live a normal life again (even snowboard again!). Knowing its benefits first hand has made me want to share it with everyone and anyone! It’s a complete body workout, appropriate for all fitness levels and ANY body type, not gender specific, ageless, great for injuries, creates strength without bulk (am I right ladies- that's the dream!) improved posture, better quality of sleep, lowered stress levels, increased energy, long and lean muscles (holla at me ballerina summer body!) , improved flexibility oh and better sex….. should I go on?
Q/ Can you share a bit about your beautiful business – Premium Performance?
We started humbly - I started by training my mum and some of her girlfriends. Eventually word spread and I was dominating the ‘mummy market’, training groups of women and ladies outdoors all around Melbourne. Due to popular demand, I looked for space to base the business and founded Premium Performance Pop Up Pilates on Chapel Street.
The Premium Performance training philosophy combines Pilates with functional strength and conditioning training, cardio and flexibility. We believe in an even balance of “all ” to give your body and mind the most ‘premium’ results.
The classes are fun, energised and social. The groups are ageless with mixed fitness levels, but everyone involved has the same goal - to be a healthier, fitter, stronger and leaner version of themselves whilst enjoying the process. I’m so excited that PP has now outgrown it’s pop up space and is moving to a bigger, more permanent location in South Yarra in Feb 2015!
Pilates is gentle and focuses on the core, making it a functional and safe way to get back into exercise after having children. It works all the intrinsic muscles from the inside out.After having children your body changes, and this needs to be considered when you start exercising again. It's important to get back your deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor post pregnancy, not just for your general health & fitness, but to support your lower back and prevent injury for your everyday demands as a new mum! You will fit back into those pre-baby jeans in no time ladies!
Q/ If there were 3 tips on health and wellbeing you could share with the world, what would they be?
1. Never ignore the core! The core is one of the most important parts of your body as it holds the center of gravity (or your trunk if you will), and is the link between your lower and upper extremities. Just like a house needs a stable foundation, in order to withstand all conditions, your core is your support to a strong healthy body.
2. Be kind to yourself!!! Don’t give yourself a hard time if you give in to temptation here and there. Celebrate every little win, and reward yourself every time you reach a milestone.
3. Just get started! Stop gramming fitspo bodies and workouts and purchasing online workout plans…. throw your sneakers on and go!!! Walk, skip, run, do a park circuit (you know that one you were just reading about on instagram) get active and breathe in all the fresh air…you are one step closer to a healthier happier you!
Q/ What are 3 health products you can’t live without?
1. Anyone who has done a class with me knows that my love for the foam roller runs deep. It’s like self-massage and it does a world of good for your muscles!
2. Workout gear that makes me feel amazing and gets me wanting to exercise! Jodie Mears does know how to design hot workout threads- The Upside tank is my fave for a summer active wardrobe.
3. Not technically a health product but I can’t go past my iPod and a KILLER workout playlist (currently obsessing over La Belle mix tapes on youtube)
Q/ What are your dreams and aspirations for the future?
My dream is for my Premium Performance studio to be the number one destination for health, wellness & Pilates in Melbourne! I also want to create an online presence for Premium Performance so that anybody, anywhere can join "Team PP". I want to be able to help as many people as possible through the PP method - everyone should have the right to be able to heal their bodies and find peak health, both mentally and physically.
Q/ Do you have a favourite quote or affirmation that you like to live by?
Strive for progress not perfection. There is no point trying to be perfect, you will only disappoint yourself if you try. LOVE YOURSELF SICK! Embrace your imperfections - they make you who you are! Instead of hiding your flaws, highlight your strengths, and draw on them in hard times. When you realise how amazing you are just as you are now, your world starts to change. Being grateful for the little things and accept yourself as the gorgeous, beautiful human that you are!
Q/ Do you have a favourite recipe you would like to share with the Nourishing Hub?
Oh it’s so hard to pick one! I have a few favs on my website but I absolutely swear by green juices! I’m completely addicted and make sure I have at least one a day to detox the body and keep inflammation at bay. Here is my favourite green juice recipe:
4-5 stalks Kale
1/2 green apple
1 handful spinach
x2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 cup of almond milk or coconut water (unsweetened)
Blend until smooth and enjoy!
A big thank you to the lovely Steph Prem for sharing her inspiring story with the Nourishing Hub!