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What I Learned: 5 Takeaways from switching careers during a pandemic

What I Learned: 5 Takeaways from switching careers during a pandemic

We’re proudly celebrating International Women’s Day, on 8th March. The first International Women’s Day was in 1911 and it centered around women’s rights to work, vote and hold public office. We may seem like we have come a long way since then but we have still got a long way to go. Which is why here at Fleur and Arbor we want to make a focus on IWD and celebrate its place as part of modern day culture.

Here Olivia speaks openly about what lessons she’s learned switching careers from the Photography industry and re-training as a Pilates instructor during the pandemic. She discusses how that’s shaped her and what life now looks like navigating her young business.


Let’s go back to early 2020 when the pandemic first started, I was still working as a multi-hyphenate freelancer and split my time between Kent and London. But as soon as the first lockdown came everything changed. Like most people the shift from normality was drastic, with no way to work from home. The first few months I let go of expectations and lived day to day. I exercised, learned watercolor and of course there were endless FaceTime calls to friends and family. Suddenly the holiday feeling wore off, although I have never had a 9-5, I decided to redefine the way I worked. 

As a freelancer, having worked in commercial photography and the food and wellness industries I’ve always had a passion for wellbeing.I have practiced Pilates since university, it has allowed me to have a stronger core (essential for lifting heavy photography equipment) and to be fully present in my body. The positive impact that Pilates has on me personally, led me to train with Body Control Pilates to be able to share this with others.

(I would like to take a moment to acknowledge my privilege - I was living at home with the support of my family and had the means to embark on this new adventure)


Adapting my lifestyle from being a freelancer to being thrown into full-time study again was a big shift. There are SO many reasons not to do it, it’s not my industry, fear of starting again, of being a beginner, not being flexible enough and more! All the negative and limiting beliefs started to crop up. I hadn’t done exams since school, so that was a big hurdle to overcome. I learned quickly that people on my course were in the same boat and to recognise the positives. I started the course on Zoom from the comfort of my own home and soon built friendships with people on the other side of the screen. We came together (virtually) to practice outside of the sessions to grow in confidence and boost each other!


As the months went on I realised that this course was something that truly lit me up, I was excited to learn and I felt fulfilled everyday. I began to track my accomplishments, saving good feedback, areas for improvement and new ideas to share with my family. At the time I decided I wasn’t ready to share my new venture with friends but I made sure to regularly journal to put things into perspective. My biggest acknowledgment of progress was overcoming my fear of exams. Anatomy exams are not easy but I found learning about the human body endlessly fascinating, that coupled with positive affirmations and help from my family saw me fly through the exams (but not without nerves!). I am so incredibly proud of myself and the progress I made.


After 5 months of study I did everything I could to reach the next milestone, when suddenly I congratulated two people on my course who had passed their final exams. I was surprised and amazed they could’ve gotten to that stage in such a short amount of time. (During covid times the studio wasn’t always open due to regulations) I felt like I had fallen behind “was I doing something wrong?” or “I should’ve worked harder'' were thoughts that immediately sprang to mind. I talked this through with a good friend of mine who was also on the course. We buddied up to become each other's biggest cheerleaders, and supported each other all the way to our final exams and beyond! 


To suddenly take up space in the fitness world where there were already so many amazing instructors to learn from overwhelmed me at times. The thing with Pilates and any form of movement, is that it is personal. I started small, with free sessions for family and have since begun to grow and cultivate a community and online space where my passions of Photography, Pilates and wellbeing come together. I know there is a space for me and it has felt natural to share the knowledge and experience I have gained. What started as a personal journey has led to helping others feel good. I work with clients to guide, inspire and encourage movement. Honestly when teaching I don’t feel like I’m working, it’s such a joy and privilege to teach Pilates.


Come and join the Group Pilates classes from the comfort of your home, taught live via zoom and be a part of our online community of people of all ages; based in countries all around the world. Private pilates sessions are also available for those who would like a tailored session at a time convenient to you.



Lubaina Himid - Tate Modern

Lubaina Himid - Tate Modern