HomePeopleFor the love of movement

For the love of movement

Imagine being able to bathe in the fountain of youth from time to time. A trickle here and a splash there and… voila, you’re ten years younger! We chat with professional dancer and Pilates instructor Shelly Turner, who’s found her own real-life fountain of youth – movement.

A lot of dancers often look younger than their years. Coincidence? We think not. And Shelly Turner’s proof!

Learning to dance even before she could read, Shelly Turner can’t go a day without moving her body. The first half of her life through dancing, and the second through Pilates.

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“I remember performing my first tap solo on stage and I absolutely loved it! The feeling of anticipation, the silence before the music starts, the attention of the audience and the butterflies. Oh my goodness … and then the applause! It all just brought on this wonderful feeling of accomplishment to my life. It really is an adrenaline rush and leaves you wanting to experience it all over again, every time.”

She’s always enjoyed expressing herself through movement, thanks to her mom, Rosemarie Middleton, who instilled the passion in her from a very young age. That, coupled with her love of teaching, inspired Shelly to turn her passion into a career.

“I entered the workforce as a dental assistant. In the morning I’d be dressed in my dental assistant uniform, then I’d rush home to change into my teaching gear and give dance lessons for the rest of the day. During this time, I also realised just how much I really loved working with people.

“Seeing a young dancer start as an insecure beginner and helping her transform, grow and eventually blossom as a beautiful performer has always been incredibly special to witness.”

As time progressed, Shelly expanded her horizons by adding jazz and contemporary, ballet and hip-hop to her list of dance styles.

Before she knew it, she was teaching full-time. Being appointed as an examiner and, later, board member of the Association of International Dance Teachers – which took her to various countries around the world – has undoubtedly been the highlight of her career.

A firm believer that happiness comes from within, Shelly believes it’s imperative to find your own mojo – the things that make your heart sing – outside of your partner and family.

“When my two sons became of age, one of them leaving the house some years ago, I refused to let my happiness leave as well. I then decided to take on a new challenge. Since I’ve always loved the anatomy of the body – which goes hand-in-hand with dancing – becoming a Pilates instructor seemed the most natural progression for me. And so, I qualified and opened my own studio, Pilates on Point, here in Krugersdorp.”

It wasn’t long before she was dubbed ‘the back whisperer’, growing more and more passionate about finding methods to help people – especially over 50 – live a healthy and pain free life.

“I’ve been so blessed to have encountered the most special people, each with their own concerns, aches and pains and it has truly thrilled me to work with them and rehabilitate them to the strongest version of themselves. I’ve grown to especially enjoy fixing backs and spines, which adds a few more years to a person’s life.”

For Shelly, Joseph Pilates says it best. ‘If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.’ And lucky for her clients, she believes that you are never too old to improve your body’s strength and confidence.

It comes as no surprise that she jumped at the opportunity to combine her love for both dancing and Pilates by hosting courses on anatomy and safe dance practice.

“With this I hope to help dancers and teachers become even more enlightened on the workings of a dancer’s body, and how best to stretch and strengthen both safely and holistically.”

And, then came Covid. Coming to realise that change is the only constant, Shelly was determined to keep going, and so she started hosting virtual Pilates classes.

“My parents have always led by example – being flexible and resilient to whatever life throws at them. Thanks to them, my inner voice told me to make a plan and work with what I have. And I’m so thankful I did. Since hubby was laid off during this time, it’s my clients’ continued support that pulled us through. I will forever be grateful for them as my business just continued to grow from strength to strength!

“I’ve just moved into the most beautiful space and I feel so grateful to have accumulated all the Pilates equipment that I could possibly need! I would love to continue creating a better awareness of what Pilates and something as simple as frequent movement can do for people.”

When she’s not in the Pilates or dance studio, Shelly can be found in the kitchen where she’s either cooking up a storm or dancing with her hubby, taking a long walk, visiting food markets, chilling around the pool, or just spending time with her family.

Whether she’s busting a move, reversing ageing through Pilates or walking the Tankwa Camino, Shelly will always stay true to herself by acting on the callings of her heart.

“I always know that things will work out… always! I also believe that you can achieve what you believe and so I’ll always remain the positive person I am today. I hope to inspire others to get their bodies moving too because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that nothing keeps you young quite like raising your heart rate from time to time.”

Follow @Pilates on Point on Facebook and @pilatesonpointwithshelly on Instagram.

Common Pilates myths
Despite gaining popularity, Pilates is still new for a lot of us. Shelly helps us understand it better by debunking the most popular myths around it.
• Pilates is like Yoga – not!
• Pilates is for women – ask my male clients this question!
• You need to be flexible to do Pilates – Nope, but it’s definitely something you can work towards through Pilates.
• Doing Pilates solely can help you lose weight – Maybe throw in a healthy diet and one or two other forms of exercise, and you’re good to go!
• Pilates is boring – I’ve never conducted the same class twice in the seven years I’ve been teaching. Props, weights, balls, bands, and specialised equipment makes Pilates one of the most diverse interesting and challenging forms of training around!

5 Health benefits of Pilates
• For all ages and abilities – Pilates caters for everyone, from beginner to advanced. You can perform exercises using your own body weight or with the help of various pieces of equipment.
• Increases flexibility – Pilates practice keeps moving with smooth transitions between precise and slow, controlled movements. Instead of stretching after a strengthening exercise, most Pilates exercises are a combination of the two, which improves strength, flexibility, and mobility
• Develops core strength – Pilates is famously known for its emphasis on the core — the centre of the body from which all movement stems. The core is all of the surrounding muscles of the trunk that when strengthened and pliable, support and stabilize the body.
• Improves posture – Improved posture is the difference between weak, imbalanced muscles, headaches, shoulder or back pain, and sitting or standing tall with ease. Pilates focuses on the full body’s alignment, the ideal range of motion at the joints, and a balance of all opposing muscles.
• Increases energy and a sense of well-being – By focusing on breath, Pilates improves cardiorespiratory capacity. This stimulates feel-good hormones, oxygen flow, and blood circulation.

Text: ALANICKA LOTRIET. • Photographer: HILDA MANS. • Make-up and hair: ELAINE BOSHOFF. • Outfit: MADELAINE CLOTHING.

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