#gamechangers // Lania Louw
I first stumbled across Lania's Instagram profile not too long ago when she started sharing really fun, interesting content on the human body as it relates to movement, as well as injury prevention and recovery. Her blog is fairly new, but I love the evidence-based content that she has shared already such as her amazing resources that include a 21-day pilates challenge, core exercise programme for injury prevention, a flexibility programme, and a pilates resource for pregnant mamma’s-to-be. In this #gamechangers post you can learn more about how she got to where she is today in her career, what she hopes to do in future, and some of her tips for living a happier and healthier life.
So, can you tell us a bit about who you are?
Hi! My name is Lania. I’m a qualified physiotherapist, Pilates instructor, fitness enthusiast and healthy lifestyle advocate. I believe in Joyful Movement - movement or exercise you actually enjoy! I believe that a healthy body is a happy body. I believe that movement heals and I believe that our bodies were designed to move, and move optimally.
How have you got to where you are today in your career?
Movement has been a part of my life since I can remember. My mom always says that I could dance before I could walk! I have danced since the age of five years. My passion for dance and movement and my interest in science and medicine are the two things that steered me in the direction to pursuing a career in physiotherapy. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of the Western Cape in 2017 and obtained my Pilates (mat) qualification in 2018 through ETA College. I am currently busy completing my community service year in the small, rural town known as De Aar. During the course of this year I discovered my passion and great interest in sports – and orthopedic rehabilitation; more specifically “prehab” (injury prevention) and acute orthopedic surgery conditions. I am fascinated by the ankle and knee and would love to further my MSc studies focusing on these or one of these areas – specifically relating to dancers and performing artists.
How have your relationship with and/or approach to food, movement, and your body changed over the years?
Growing up, I did not have a healthy relationship with food or my body at all. I was on the verge of developing an eating disorder since I wanted to conform to society. I believed that, in order for me to be a dancer, I had to be thin. I believed with everything in me that dancers must look thin to look good on a stage; I didn’t realize that a strong and healthy body is much more beneficial than a “thin” body. For me, everything was centered on the fact that I wanted to LOOK a certain way. I ended up starving myself at times. I did not listen to my body at all. I ignored the hunger signals and the feelings of exhaustion. I also started to exercise and work out; not to help me to be healthy or to be a good dancer with strong muscles or to prevent injuries, but to “lose weight”. About five years ago it struck me and I realized that my world shouldn’t turn around the fact that I should look a certain way. I realized that in order for me to be an active and healthy individual, I had to nurture my body and my soul! I had to listen to my body and I had to give it the fuel it needs to develop optimally. I started eating, not to LOOK a certain way, but to FEEL a certain way. I started to listen to my body and I responded to its signals. I am still learning every day, but the journey has been amazing and I feel so happy that I am in a position to influence individuals and help them make the best decisions for them and their bodies.
What were some of the most difficult struggles you faced when figuring out what direction to move in as a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapy has many areas in which you can specialize; however, from the beginning I knew that I wanted to specialize as a sports physiotherapist. I didn’t struggle with this decision at all. I am very interested in preventative physiotherapy and therefore would like to specialize even further in this area. I feel that prevention is better than cure.
What are some of the things that you have enjoyed most about your studies and career thus far?
I enjoy being able to influence individuals. I enjoy the fact that I have learnt so much with regards to the human body and soul through my studies, career and personal life, and that I am able to carry these things learnt over to other people. I love working with people.
What are three of your top tips for staying healthy physically, emotionally and mentally?
MOVE. Always make sure that you stay active and always make sure that you enjoy which ever activity you do to stay active whether it is Pilates, yoga, dancing or running. Joyful movement is key.
Breathe. Breathing exercises does not only help to calm the mind, it also ensures optimal functioning of your body’s organs through ensuring optimal oxygen delivery.
Nourish. Eat healthy, nutritious foods. It is so important to eat healthily. Food is fuel and food is something that will help you stay healthy. Fueling your body with the correct nutrients will also help prevent injuries and it will ensure that your body stays satisfied throughout your busy days.
What is your favourite go-to meal to make after a busy day?
Chicken stir-fry with loads of fresh veggies!
What is your favourite thing to do to wind down and relax?
Traveling and exploring new places. Doing Pilates is also something I enjoy a lot and it’s a very good stress-reliever :)
Any last words of advice for girls (and guys) who want to live healthier, happier lives?
Listen to your body. This is my motto and something I live by. Your body will guide you to what is good for YOU and what works for YOU!