Travelling Ballet Sculpt Goddess – Meet Cat Woods

Sometimes you got to take a leap of faith to get those creative juices flowing…

Cat Woods knows about a thing or two about flexing her creativity. After all, she is a writer, blogger and founder of Ballet Sculpt classes. I speak to her about how she balances the demand of both creative outlets that require body, mind and soul while navigating the digital nomad life.

Cat – you are a lady of many talents – ballet sculpt, pilates instructor, and writer. How did it all come about? 

It came about because I have always pursued what I love doing, discussing, learning or being with passion and intensity. I have failed plenty of times, but I can honestly say that everything I’ve experienced makes me a better teacher and writer.

You managed to make the transition from living the 9 – 5 working day grind to flexing your muscles and creativity through writing. What was it that made you take the leap to live a digital nomad life?

I never managed the 9 – 5. I got sick, I was miserable and whenever I have attempted a 9 – 5 office based job, I’ve ended up morose, eating too much for comfort, angry at myself for wanting to do a good job but also hating that I get all my work done and have to sit twiddling my fingers for 3 hours because that’s what’s required.

I have always written, regardless of whether I was paid or not, because it introduces me to people and ideas that I wouldn’t have a licence to investigate otherwise. I don’t feel like I woke up and went “I am going to ditch this grind and be a digital nomad.” I imagine, like many people who work in creative or freelance style situations, that it just organically came about because there is no easy path to tread when building work or gaining experience to feel confident enough to say, “I have things to offer and I finally, really know that they’re worth your money, time and investment. So this is my work, and even if it doesn’t look like your idea of a career, I respect how I’ve chosen to live. It has integrity.

I don’t see the combo of writer and ballet sculpt very often (what a niche!), can you walk us through exactly what it is.

I’ll try! I have a regular schedule of teaching as well as taking cover classes. I’ve often thought I’d love to travel and write and be a bit of a gypsy but then, I also really love my regular class participants and I care about their lives and our time together, so I don’t know that the gypsy life is for me. I haven’t capitalised on Ballet Sculpt nearly as much as I should or could. I write as a freelancer who is like standing on ice skates in the blazing sun…precarious and risky. Sometimes I have work for weeks, and sometimes there’s nothing for weeks, or I haven’t been paid, or the story has been postponed. I haven’t chosen safe methods of living. But I can’t imagine a 9 – 5 pm life that wouldn’t strangle my spirit entirely.

Cat woods

What made you decide “Yes, this is the thing I am going to master at!” and choose both sides of the creativity spectrum?

I just love to write, and I love to move. I didn’t choose them at the expense of anything I wanted to do more; this is it. Teaching movement was always my “hobby” plan. I didn’t ever start out thinking it would be my job or calling card. I just loved it and wanted to share that with people and guide them into doing it in ways that are safe and optimal for a good body.

What has been the most challenging in making such a career change?

I haven’t ever sat down and made a 5-year plan. I have written out my goals and how I want to make money and my ideal situation, which changes over time. Often though, things have just unfolded as they have because I sowed seeds and some of them took and grew into opportunities, and others sprouted a leaf then died. I have always looked to the women and men around me who are doing what I want to do and made an effort to study their stories and learn whatever I can to direct my energies. I have always written and always loved to move. I’m not doing anything now I didn’t do when I was 8. 

Want more inspiration? Check out other People Making Shizz Happen

As a fitness writer, what do you see as the biggest hurdle in the fitness industry to overcome?

I like your hurdle reference – that’s bang on for relevance! I don’t really think about the hurdles. I mean, there are hurdles in every industry, and I can only speak for what I notice that bothers me, but I can only speak for myself. I find that there’s a lot of repetition and cliched thinking about fitness; that it’s all about getting big and muscly for men and losing weight for women. I think the longer we persist in pushing this idea – especially on social media and in magazines – the more men and women assume this is what they SHOULD focus on. The growth of the wellness industry has forced the industry to consider the value of fitness beyond the aesthetic results it can have.

What makes me sad is that fitness industry professionals don’t have the same level of protection and representation or support from professional bodies. This is despite doing labour-intensive work and putting in a lot of hours and money to staying qualified, informed, first aid ready and dedicated to their jobs as teachers and trainers. I see daily examples of workers being dismissed or overlooked, paid abysmally, spoken to or treated as if they’re dispensable objects and yet, there’s no union or authority that battles their cases for them. I believe this must change and will – at some point!

As someone that is hunched over computer almost 18 hours a day (OK, slight exaggeration), what exercise can you recommend to people to that are bound to a computer?

I could so easily suggest online classes but actually, get away from the screen and get sweating with other people. Remember how good it feels to be part of a communal environment. Even if I don’t feel like moving, as soon as I get mid-way into a class I am so glad I made an effort. I also think just going for a walk even if it’s only to get coffee or to pick up your mail, that break from the screen can be right when you have a creative idea randomly or observe something that inspires you. Plus it reminds your spine to extend and your lungs to breathe and your digestive system to perk up.

For those that are remote workers or with no routine, how would you suggest they incorporate fitness into their daily lives despite the lack of a fixed schedule?

You have to want to. I think that’s the key to anything! If you find a purpose and you decide it matters, then you find ways.  I love going to classes when I travel because it gives me a sense of belonging in a community even if I’m only there for a day or two. So many yoga and Pilates studios have classes throughout the day and evening and usually Google or asking around will find you somewhere to try. Otherwise, YouTube, walking, swimming…any number of choices will count towards fitness without feeling like a chore.

Being a part of the freelance movement, what is your favourite co-working space to get your creative juices going?

I like a library for the quiet and access to resources and no demands or expectations, but if I need to make a phone call, it’s frustrating. I love a café, but it depends on how much I need to focus really and whether I feel comfortable working in an environment for a couple of hours if I’m just drinking coffee.

What is your favourite book for inspiration to make shizz happen?

I adore reading pieces from Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It’s an enormous read and one that can’t possibly be absorbed and considered all in one reading. It is a book where I’ll sometimes flip to a section and end up completely intrigued for hours on end even if I’ve read it before. It’s accessible whether you’re new to yoga or not.

Need more book inspiration? Start shopping for your next dose of inspiration

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