In-between her busy schedule, we caught a moment to chat with mobility coach, Danielle Willemsen. When she is not teaching yoga at our favorite boutique work out spaces in Chelsea, she is focused on her wellness in every other sense. We discuss Danielle’s sacred rituals, her concept of a sustainable workout pattern and how we can incorporate health and fitness into our everyday lives without compromising our emotional wellbeing.
Q: Describe your daily routine.
A: Like most coaches, no two days are the same but I try to keep some rituals sacred - starting the day with a couple minutes of breathing, a large glass of water (and sometimes lemon) and a hot-cold shower. I have a very short morning movement routine which I normally do that at the studio when I get there, accompanied with a treasured cup of coffee.
Adapting to clients’ schedules means that I have to be quite flexible in terms of when I train myself, however it still remains a priority. Some days my training is more goal oriented, such as working on a stronger handstand, but some days I simply train for enjoyment; a climbing session or yoga class with my girlfriends.
Evening classes usually finish by 7.30 and if I don’t have an event I’ll try to go straight home. Home is my sacred space - I light candles as soon as I get in, keep artificial light to a minimum and turn on Max Ritcher or Norah Jones to end the day in a calm, gentle manner.
Q: When did you start becoming interested in fitness and wellness and why?
A: I was never a particularly sporty child but I always loved the feeling of moving in space; swinging from trees and climbing up walls was my idea of a great time. When I finished high school I decided I wanted to go to a dance school instead of a regular university and somehow stumbled my way through a successful audition despite not having a huge amount of dance experience. Soon enough, concepts of mindful movement practices like Yoga and Tai Chi started easing their way into my life whilst at dance school - and the rest is history.
Q: You are a inspired by the concept of maintaining a sustainable movement routine – can you elaborate on what this means?
A:The definition of a sustainable is ‘able to be maintained, supported or upheld’. I find it ironic that many existing workouts just aren’t supportive of a supple, pain free body. Most sessions I see around me, such as bootcamp style classes, focus on creating harsh, fast outcomes instead of gentler but more long term results - and as a result, these unsustainable workout methods are breaking our bodies down more than they’re healing them.
For me, a sustainable practice is one that allows us to enjoy the process of movement and find satisfaction in the challenge of working towards a goal, be it a 10K, a handstand challenge or a clean grand jete. This being said, it should also grant us pain-free enough to enjoy the results, both now and in the years to come. A sustainable movement practice is one that will take years off our bodies rather than add them on. A practice that leaves us feeling alive and agile, ready for anything, rather than physically and mentally exhausted and sore.
Sustainability in this sense is the ability to maintain habits that keep us doing the things we love, with the people we care about. The ability to feel fit and strong in our bodies, empowered in the workplace and to also be able to do normal activities like lift our godson up over our head, or reach down and pick up a lucky penny without throwing out our back.
Q: How can those that juggle a busy lifestyle work on not losing sight of their health?
A: At the beginning, it might be just a matter of scheduling it in; little unbreakable promises to yourself. Book sessions in advance, diary in coffees with friends alongside sessions, block out chunks of time in which you cannot be disturbed. As these scheduled moments become part of your routine, you’ll start to miss training when you skip it.
Most importantly, we must find types of training that we love. If you despise running, don’t do it- there are a million and one ways to keep your heart healthy if the idea of pounding pavement fills you with dread. Maybe you’re not into yoga, but you could be into contemporary ballet, or parkour, or jujitsu. Look for things that feel like fun when you’re doing them - because life is to be enjoyed, and we owe it to ourselves to find ways to reflect this in our fitness practice.
Thanks to Danielle for catching up with us, and for telling us about her approach to all things fitness and wellbeing. To learn more about Danielle, head to her Instagram here.