Bondi local and weight-lifting Pilates teacher, Leah Simmons, inspires people daily with her energetic, yet down-to-earth approach to a healthy lifestyle. Having been a DJ for 18 years (five of which were spent in London running a dance record label), Leah craved a career change in fitness. From personal trainer to Pilates teacher and strength trainer, Leah is one of the Eastern Suburbs most sought-after fitness gurus. Today, Leah takes us around her favourite places to workout in her local.
Q&A with Leah
Tell us how your fitness career has evolved? Have you always led an active lifestyle?
I’ve always been active but I’ve only been in the fitness industry for a little over a decade. I’m now taking it one step further by incorporating not only physical training into my method but also mental, emotional and spiritual training. I now know that in order to be truly “fit” you need to address the health in every aspect of your life. So, I am developing a training program that does just that.
What was the inspiration behind ‘Body by Leah Simmons’?
It really just started out as my own personal Instagram account. I’d post pictures of different workouts I was doing, my favourite gym outfit or a smoothie I made and it just evolved from there. People would message me asking questions about my regime, nutrition etc, so I designed a simple website to share more detailed articles on my experiences. It just organically grew which I am so grateful for.
As a pilates teacher and fitness instructor, what are your favourite types of workouts and why?
I adore Pilates (obviously). I find it strengthens your core like nothing else. You can do it throughout pregnancy or use it as rehab after joint surgery. I love the mobility and flexibility aspect of it, it really gives you the feeling of being longer and leaner. Your posture improves and its sufficiently low impact so won’t stress your body like other forms of exercise.
On the other end of that spectrum, I also love strength training. I train with weights (heavy ones) at least three times per week. I find this is the most effective way to build lean muscle and really sculpt your body. Not only that, it’s fantastic for red blood cell production, increasing bone density and regulating the release of hormones. So, I guess you could call me a weight-lifting pilates teacher!
What are your top picks when it comes to Sydney gyms and yoga studios?
Beach Fit Bondi. One of the best places to train and my favourite Bondi gym. This September they will be unveiling a massive renovation to reveal a state-of-the-art space with brand new high-tech equipment, a dedicated power lifting section as well as all the bells and whistles you would expect in a professional gym. And you can’t beat the location.
Pilates Moves, Double Bay. If it’s Pilates you want then look no further than my old stomping ground (and the studio I taught in for 5 years), Pilates Moves. Helen Tardent (my mentor) was one of the first to bring Pilates to Sydney and, in my opinion, they are still one of the best. The staff there are exceptional and the classes are amazing.
Power Living and Body Mind Life. In terms of Ashtanga/Vinyasa/Hatha Yoga, well I live in Bondi so I’m spoiled for choice. I bounce between Power Living and Body Mind Life, depending on which timetable suits me best but both studios are great.
Soul Flow Yoga. I’m also currently obsessed with Kundalini Yoga and there aren’t that many places that offer classes but I have found a little gem of a studio in Bondi Junction, Soul Flow Yoga. It’s owned by a divine yogi called Enza Deluca – I walk out of her classes feeling like I am literally glowing.
You obviously love your workout gear as much as your workouts! What are some of your favourite labels?
It’s no secret that sometimes the lure of a great outfit can get you out the door to train, and I definitely have my “go-to” labels for my preferred training gear. For tights, I love Lilybod, 2XU, Nimble and NIKE. Crop tops are P.E Nation, Puma and Lululemon. My outerwear is P.E Nation all the way. They do the best hoodies and sweats. My favourite track pants are from Ten Pieces. And for trainers I love NIKE and New Balance.
Best outdoor places to workout?
You can’t beat the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk for an all-round great workout. If you choose to walk it then at the very least, it’s a 7km round trip from North Bondi to Bronte pool and back again. If you want to ramp things up a bit, you can stop at the numerous workout stations along the way and try your hand at any number of bodyweight exercise combos. And if you’re really going for it then there are a few epic sets of stairs that make for some heart-pumping stair runs!
Where are your top three walk/runs in the Eastern Suburbs?
Bondi To Bronte Coastal Walk (7km round trip… extend to Coogee for the whole 14km)
Centennial Park (4km internal circumference)
Harbour Bridge – Mrs Macquarie’s Chair – Opera House (12km round trip)
Having been a DJ for the past 18 years you must have an incredible playlist to workout to, what are you loving at the moment?
My workout playlist changes with my mood. Some days I’m listening to full on techno, and others I’m singing along to 80s ballads – it really depends on how I’m feeling!! I’m currently having a renewed love affair with the 90s and have created a Spotify playlist with all my faves – you can check it out here.