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The Secret Of Success with Lily Collins

Mar 31, 2020



So here's the question, how active people in the Atlanta area, stay pain-free and live the active fulfilled life that they deserve at any age. This is the question. And this podcast is the answer. I'm Danny Matta and welcome to the Active Atlanta Podcast.

Active Atlanta Podcast is sponsored by Athletes Potential and at Potential we help active adults stay that way. Pain-free and active during the sports and activities that they love. For life. We do this by working on four different areas. 

That's movement, nutrition, stress management, and sleep. When we optimize these four areas, you feel better, move better, you live better for life. At, learn how we can help you stay active for life today.

What's going on guys, Doc Danny here with the Active Atlanta Podcast, and we're lucky to have our guests today. Lily Collins, owner of The Daily an Atlanta based reformer, Pilates and group fitness studio with locations in Inman Park and West Midtown correct?

 Yeah, that's right. 

Cool. So a couple, of great neighborhoods to get some access to some cool Pilates and group fitness work.

Lily, first of all, thanks so much for your time today. I know you're busy, you've got a lot of stuff going on, and I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us and, and to start with what I'd really like to do is learn a little bit more about how you got to where you are. So how did you get into starting running a Pilates and group fitness gym studio? 

Lot of steps to get here, but I went to school for, like I said, first interior design. 

And then where are you from originally? 

So I'm actually, I grew up in Decatur. 

So yeah, a unicorn. There's nobody from here that, that lives here is from here. You're  one of the three people I've ever met.

 Which is funny because when people say that I'm , I know so many people from here. So I went to Arizona state. I left, they had a really good interior design program and it was , 70 degrees in January. And I was  sold. This is where I'm going. So I was there for about a year with that interior design program. 

And then I was just having a little too much fun it's like being away from home. It was, it was just, you know, party school. So, my sophomore year, I was like, girl, I think it's time to switch majors. I grew up playing soccer and dance, so I was really into to sports athletics. So I decided to go the kinesiology route. And I was like, maybe I want to go into physical therapy after college.

You know, at that time it's like, you don't really know, you just kind of. Go towards the things that you enjoy, but you kind of like, see what happens. So that's what I did. I graduated with exercise science, moved back to Atlanta, and then I started working for a physical therapist and Decatur for about a year.

And he kind of put me on as like a physical therapy tech so I would basically help people through their exercises that have stem, like all the attack things. And then I was also a personal trainer, so I would go to people's homes, train them in their homes. So I learned a lot through that year, but it wasn't really what I felt like I should be doing for the rest of my life.

So I was like, well maybe let me go work for someone else. So I started working for this woman who did rehab on the Pilates reformer. And that's when I was like, this is more my speed. Screw going back to school. No offense. 

Yeah, I get it. It's time. It's time. It's expensive. Like, and it's not the only way to get people to move better.

Like I think super smart coaches like yourself and practitioners are, there's not much of a difference besides some of the pain modulation things that you learn. So I totally get it. I don't know if I would go back. It's a lot. It's a lot. Yeah. Three years. That's a lot, especially when you like already did it.

You're like, okay, here we go again. 

So yeah, so then I got certified in Pilates and I started seeing a chiropractor who lived like walking distance from me or heard her places walking distance. And she had this space down below that was like big enough for like a duet, reformer studio. So I started out doing that.

But again, I was working with a lot of people who had injuries, who weren't really able to do a whole lot. And you know, my background in soccer and dance, I kind of wanted to be a little more intense, a little more athletic. So that's when I opened my place studio and less Midtown, so I kind of combined exercise classes on the reformer, but also I had a hit element too.

So you'd have your hit classes, your Pilates and then that way they could just come to one studio and have both. 

So you do them, let's, let's dive into this a little bit. Cause I think it's both of those serve a different purpose than are necessary for different things. So when you talk about, are they combined together or are they separate classes that people can take during the day?

Actually, so, for me at the time I was really into hit workouts. So you know, 50 seconds on 20 seconds off burpees, you know, we do suspension training kettlebells. That part was really fun, but I needed something like Pilates that would help me stay a little more lean for me. Like I build muscle really easily and I tend to kind of get bulky. 

And so the dancer in me wants to be a little more.... 

That's a great problem for, I mean, that sounds like not a bad problem, in my opinion. 

Yeah. So I like to do both and combine it. And to me, Pilates helps me to be a little more body aware when I'm doing my workouts.

I have a little more core stability, so that I'm safer. So to me it was just like a perfect combination. So, how did you go from two reformers in a basement? It sounds like to then, like, what was that transition from that to your own, your own place? And now two places, right? 

So I actually had a personal training client who was just super smart in the business world. And she kind of actually guided me through it, like business plan. My mom's an accountant, so I used that. I had a lot of help that I kind of reached out to people who knew what they were doing. And really just like said, you know, feel able fear and do it anyway.

Like it was like, I don't really know exactly what to expect or what I'm doing, but I know if I don't just start it, it's not going to happen. So yeah, I just decided like, okay, let's find the space first. And there was a really cool space in on the west side. It's very industrial unlike any other studio I had been to.

So tell me a little bit about the philosophy that you guys have. Like, how do you feel like the mixture of high intensity work and Pilates, like them sort of working together? How often do you feel like people should be doing one versus the other, how many times a week do you feel like it's sort of the minimum effective dose for people for general health?

 Yeah, so hit workouts. Definitely every other day, if we're going to do it, it just depends on what your goals are. So if you're trying to lose weight then yeah. Add in like three hit classes a week, if you really want to get serious. For someone like me, who's not trying to lose weight, but just wants to like keep up with cardio and like muscle tone.

Like I do it once a week and then I do reformer five days a week. Actually, sometimes it's seven, but for a normal person, I would say like at least three times a week for Pilates to really see the benefits of it. 

So let's talk about the reformer for a little bit, because I guarantee you there's people that are listening to this that have never seen one.

I've seen plenty of them. I've never been on one. And what is it? Explain it. Why is it beneficial? Like why would somebody want to use that? 

So what's great about the reformer is it's all about stability control, but also like symmetry. So you start usually laying down on the reformer so we can already see, okay, are their ankles knees, hips lined up with their head, you know, scoops from one side, like. We already, we start in a, in a nice symmetrical place and then we work from there. So the goal is to strengthen the body symmetrically so that we tend to kind of like work through some of those imbalances in our body.

I mean, I'm sure you see when someone lays on a table. Most likely they're not perfectly centered, right? 

Yeah. Hardly ever. I mean, I think, I think it's to your point though, like think about how many people, just your sport history, right? So, so you dance, so you probably have like a lead leg is probably a little bit more flexible.

You are a soccer player, so you probably have a stance leg that's stronger. And the kicking leg is more dexterity and coordinated, and these are patterns we develop as kids. And then as adults, we typically get into training patterns that demand a lot of symmetry. And we see a lot of people in our office, we talk about about this every single day is, you know, your body, you get under a barbell, gravity doesn't care if your right hip doesn't move, as well as your left, like it will get it exposed at some point in time, unless you're going to want to make that change to continue to do this for a long period of time.

So I love the idea of training for the symmetry especially for people that are trying to do things that demand a symmetrical stance or chassis, you know, for them to load up.

Yeah. It also just helps people to be more aware of their bodies too. And like, they didn't realize that those patterns have now turned into the there's a like sitting funny or standing like Sally leaning to one side so that they carry this to their daily lives.

So when they're at their desks, they're a little more focused on like, okay, am I sitting up, right. Am I using my core? You know, am I like over here? You know, like, it just, it's not like you have to be perfect all the time, but a little more mindful. 

So it seems like it also is a piece of equipment that demands not just control, but end range control, which I think is a really, really difficult thing to develop, but a very important thing to develop.

So can you talk a little bit about like strength through range that you can develop with that?

Most of the movements we do in Pilates are working in both directions. Otherwise if you, if you just focus on the one, like, it depends on what direction you're going in, but if you're strengthening in one direction and then they just kind of like, let go when they come out of it, most likely the carriage is going to slam, your springs are going to make a loud noise.

So you do have to keep everything active throughout the whole movement. So let's say for a bicep curl, you know, you're curling your hand towards you with your straps playing against resistance. When you're letting it go, you're also, working, you're using our core, you're using like your pelvic stability, whatever position you're in.

I mean, Your body is never stopping. You know, like it's just one of those where we're going to be constantly working just maybe in different ways. 

So I'm gonna take a just a guess here. My guess is probably like the large majority of your population is probably females. Is that right? Okay. And, and it's very well branded for females.

It's like a hundred percent perfect for that. Right. But occasionally you'd probably get a male stumbling in there and bring us up because one of our other dogs, Jake, who did some work with you, he was like, dude, that was super hard. And so when males come in there, How funny is it for you to watch people that are like physically pretty strong, like Jake's a strong guy, and they get on there. 

And I mean, he did great. He did much better than most guys, so you have different springs that control your resistance. So for our reformer, it's three rides, which are the heaviest one blue, which is medium, and then yellow is the lightest spring. So all kinds of control the springs and say, hey, let's do a red and a yellow, well, a guy comes in and is like, I'm going to do three reds because it's how much, how strong I am.

Like your voice got deeper. That's like super accurate too, by the way, that it's so true. They're like in their heads, like, no, I got this and they do a harder one struggling. They fall over. Like, it's just. It doesn't work that way, like we're all about stability control, and they don't get that at first.

How long do you feel like it takes for somebody to really develop control? Like what's the, what's the, what's a normal timeframe that you see within your your practice for people to really, to develop like solid control on the reformer. 

Right. So it really does depend on the person. Some people like dance background, we have a little more coordination, we're a little more mindful with our movements. 

The typical person though, I'd say, I mean, it takes like at least a month, like I would say coming in regularly for a month, you'll really start to like hear us repeating the same cues over and over again and it starts to kind of sink in after about that time, yeah.

What are people that are struggling with, like, let's call it just some sort of like ongoing sort of, not, not an injury that stops them from necessary doing something, but something that's like, maybe they're holding back from doing other things. Cause they're worried about their knee or their back or whatever.

Are there certain variations of injuries you see that come in that seem to do really, really well with a sort of reformer based approach? 

Yes. I mean, what's great is that people kind of go to Pilates when, you know, they're not able to run anymore, or maybe they need to take a break from CrossFit. Like they're used to these more intense, more high impact workouts.

And then their physical therapist has said like, well, maybe, you know, try Pilates for a little bit. We, see the most, the biggest injury I see is someone who has low back issues. That's usually when they're referred to come to Pilates, cause we're all about strengthening the core, stretching, releasing those low back muscles.

So that is the one that not only do I see the most, but I definitely see like the benefit, like the quickest. 

Mm that's cool. It, it, it makes sense to me, especially in a, we see a lot of athletes that are, you know, traditionally our training strength training and it's a lot of shortening, you know, in, in, in a lot of ways that's necessary for speed and power. Like traditionally, very flexible people are not the most powerful people. Really tight people, especially tight through the heel cord tight, through their hip flexors, there they're real springy, and fast. 

Problem is when you're done with let's say football or sprinting, you know, whatever power sport you want to throw in there, life is kind of hard when you have a hard time getting out of your, in and out of your car because your hips are so stiff or your ankles are so tight, you can't get off the ground with your kid. So, you know, with somebody like that how have you seen the transition for people that come in they're really, really tight to then, you know, making these postures?

Is it super apparent based on like how they walk around after a period of time? 

Oh yeah. We do something called feet and straps. I usually do at the beginning of class. It's where you lay on your back and you put the big loops around the arches of your feet, and then you stack your feet over your hips. So you're laying back, your body's at a 90 degree angle, so you're against resistance. 

So you have to use your core to keep your back down for that one. Most people, if they have like tight hamstrings, this is where I see it. This is where I see, like they can't straighten their legs all the way, they're struggling, their legs are shaking. So I love like doing those kinds of movements in the beginning, just so I can get a feel for like, what the class needs.

And if I see that, like, okay, we need to work on lengthening those hamstrings. For, for hip flexors, I mean, that's a big one too. I usually ask people at the beginning of class, like, is there anything going on in your body today? Like refilling tights or injured anywhere? And hip flexors is, is a big one. So we do this move where you step one foot to the side of the reformer, and then the other foot goes to the shoulder asking you basically press back into a lunge against resistance.

So it helps to kind of open your hip flexors into like a deeper stretch and you normally would, and like a typical lunge on the floor. 

Yeah, this is such a good point. I mean, from a, I love talking like technical stuff with this. I basically, for those of you that are listening to this that are not a coach or a clinician, you might wonder why you struggle to improve flexibility. 

So really common problem. And what most people do is they just sit in a end range position. They hold it passively until their muscles sort of relax a little bit. And then for a period of time, it releases and your body downregulates and you're slightly more flexible.

The challenge is you don't maintain that very well. And even if you do, it's not very usable because your body hasn't developed control of that yet. So what you're talking about is almost the opposite where you're basically. Using resistance to push into new ranges of motion and you're actively doing that.

So imagine pre Google docs where it's like autosave back in the day. When we typed up an essay, we had to hit save on the word doc. Otherwise we'd lost all of our work. Right? 

So think of like flexibility training, like typing up an essay, think of movement, especially movement through end range as hitting save.

So those of you that are like really struggling with flexibility and control, this is the, one of the best ways to really develop true usable range of motion, long-term so I really, really liked that approach quite a bit. Is it shocking for people how hard that is? Because end range very enriched control is, is brutal.

Oh yeah. I mean, people think like, oh yeah, I can do this. And then they go against resistance to push into the stretch and they're like, oh my god, I didn't really tell store was or health wise, you know, like they don't, they don't realize it until they get into it. And you're like, oh, this is way harder than I thought it was going to be.

Yeah. And it sounds like you guys are really big on incorporating breathing into a movement. So explain that a little. 

Yeah, so every movement we do is controlled by the breath. So this makes it a little more of like a mindful practice, like yoga. This is going to help people to stay connected to their body and to where they should be feeling it.

So plies is also referred to as a control allergy. So if their mind is, you know, on dinner plans, you know, like who they're going to meet for dinner, where they're going to go to, to eat, you're not going to be probably doing the movement, right. You're not going to be getting the most from it. So we find that when you connect to your breath to control the movements, you're a little more, you know, into what you're doing.

You're a little more connected. You're going to get more from it. So every movement we talk about. Inhaling the belly button in. So when we say belly button in, it's like we're connecting to the area behind your belly button and then two inches below. So we want you to connect to your lower abdominals pelvic floor.

And when you say that people are like, what, what is that? You know, especially in the beginning when I first start, so that's why we use the whole belly button to spine. I'm sure you guys. Probably use something like that too. I think there's a lot of different ways to, you know, to cue, you know, respiratory activity.

And if we really look at it, like this is something, you know, when I was in school, we didn't, we, you know, getting a doctorate, we didn't talk about breathwork one bit, which is shocking to me looking back, you know, it's so it's so strange, but you don't get tested on that on a national board exam.

They just, you go to school to pass a test, you get out of school and then you learn how to actually like use your skillset and sort of adapt it to what you want. But as I started getting into like breathing work, I was shocked at like, why don't they teach this? Because if you really think about it, Pilates, yoga martial arts, you know meditation, all of these things independently many, many years ago, decided that breathing was an important element of control. 

And it's one of the few ways we can tap into our nervous system. If people are not practicing, you know, respiratory work in some capacity, structured breathing work, I think you're really missing out an opportunity to do a lot of things.

Number one, control their stress levels. 

Number two, they're missing out on endurance capacity runners. Like I just think it's such a good component piece of it. 

It's also something that people struggle with. How many people do you work with? Is it like one of the first, as soon as things get hard, breath goes out the window.

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I tell my instructors all the time. I'm like, if you're going to repeat one cue over and over again, it's going to be breath. You have to remind people to breathe because they do forget, like you see like the shoulders start to creep up and they're just like, and you just kind of tell them free to exhale.

And all of a sudden they just go, huh? You know, like this, they can let go. They can connect better to their body. Well, I mean, how much would you think is also, I mean, we know we're physically turning the body, right. But like, The body and the mind in particular sensations of pain, chronic pain in particular are so driven by threats, perceived threats, the nervous system being up-regulated in certain ways.

So, so with, with breastfeeding, it's like, what, what do you really feel is going on there besides obviously some of the postural stuff? Like what else do you think is a huge benefit with after people that you're working with? I mean, definitely like releasing cortisol. Like you're saying that just like letting go of like that stress.

I mean, I think that's why part of the reason why semi will lock out a plot is like, oh, I feel so much better. Like, it's not just because we stretched you. We lengthened, do you know? You, you feel taller all those things, but like, It's like therapy and it's you know, and, and, and to your point, you kind of talked about, okay, yoga, there's a lot of breathing work in this as well.

And I think this is like a really common question that people have is like, well, what's the difference? Like, okay, Pilates and yoga, like they sound similar. What's the difference? Obviously, you guys use a reformer. They don't. How would you describe that to somebody in like super simple terms? This is basically the difference.

Right. So there's something called Pilates mat as well. That is also mat based. But those plates not in reformer are more like core focus though. Everything stems from our center, so no matter what exercise we're doing in Pilates, we're talking about our core. We're talking about where our ribs should be, where our belly button should be.

So basically every single movement you're, you're going to be here. You're going to be in your center. You're going to be working as part of your abdominals. So in yoga, yes you always work your core as well, but that's not really like, their focus is not necessarily what they they'd talk about in their movements.

And we're not holding movements. We're more about repetitions and just strengthening and toning with your own body weight. 

Yeah. Where did Pilates come from? How did the, you know, I don't, I'm not even sure of the history of it. Yeah. Like, where'd it come from? 

It's kind of crazy. So a guy named Joseph started it and he was actually, I think he was a nurse.

During the war and a lot of his patients were bedridden and he, you know, it was just like, this is not good. You know, like how are they going to get better just laying in the bed. So he created what is now Pilates. I think he's first called it control ology, but he created exercises movements that they could do in their bed to stay strong and supposedly all his patients and ended up, you know, healing faster than others and you know. 

Yeah, exactly. So, so then he, after the war, he went to New York and opened a Pilates studio and that's when the dancing world kind of got into it became a little more Well, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, we work with a lot of ballerinas you know, like high level athletes.

I mean, that's what it really is. And for them to be able to be in these end range positions and hold those positions and then jump in and out of those positions and be powerful is just, it's such a difficult thing to do that, you know, and it makes so much sense to me why they would want to do something like this because it's essentially so sport specific to what they do.

Right. Exactly. Now, do you, have you gotten back into dance at all? You feel like this would have been beneficial for you whenever you were doing that? So, no, not really. I I occasionally will go and take a dance class just to see how I am. And you kind of, you start to lose it if you don't use it.

Well, there's a lot of skill to that as well. It's not dislike flexibility and, and some end range and range strength. No, this, this is awesome. Who would you say like your training program specifically crushes it with like, is there a certain like person that you could describe and if it sounds like that they need to go and see you?

Oh gosh. I mean, I always say Pilates is for everyone, so that's really tough to like narrow it down. But basically someone who just wants to maybe, you know, have a little more control and learn a little bit more about their body and how they can use their workouts to be Just to feel better in their daily lives.

Yeah. Perfect. So being someone from Atlanta that lives in Atlanta, I've got a few questions for you about like places that you like in Atlanta. Speaking of that, I think like all of you guys should have a shirt or something and you should be able to like highlight who you are cause you're hiding somewhere.

I guess you all hang out together. I don't know any, I mean, like I know a couple people that are from here that still still live here, but I think you're grossly outnumbered by people who just moved from other places. So anyway, this should be great. So you've been here a long time. What's your favorite healthy spot to go and grab something to eat in Atlanta.

So it's usually near either one of my studios. So if I'm on the west side, my go-to is Upbeat. Third time, somebody has mentioned that I love Upbeat. Literally Upbeat is, you're the third out of maybe eight people that have recommended that it's. It's my obsession. I mean, I'm there at least three times a week.

And when I'm at Inman Park, I usually go to Kale Me Crazy. Yeah. So sometimes my day is a little crazy and I only have time for a smoothie. Sometimes I get to sit down and actually like, eat like a salad and neurotic, but usually I don't have a whole bunch of time. So those are my go-to quick, healthy spots, both good spots.

Okay. What about act or outdoor activities? What's your favorite outdoor activity to do in the city or surrounding area? It could be that too. 

So I love how the boarding, because it is core focused. I don't know, but there's a spot at Sweetwater. There's also a spot High Country Outfitters has. 

Yeah, morgan Falls up there. I know exactly your tribe. I have two paddleboards sitting in my garage right now from we, so we lived in Hawaii for three years and two paddleboards back with us. They don't get as much use as we, as we want, but man, what an awesome, that's totally something that you would like. I get it. It's just like that, that one movement.

If I, you know, when we lived there, obviously we're doing a lot, but. Well, talk about a great way to like connect balance with like a flow states breathing. Like it's amazing. Exactly. Yeah. It's the best, if you ever have a bad day, as you go paddle boarding, there's no way your day's bad, yeah. So true. That's awesome.

Okay, cool. So what about a healthy habit that maybe you've acquired or developed over the last kind of six to 12 months? And you feel like is an easy, actionable thing that people could add in to their, to their day they would benefit. So, cause I had talked to a lot of people about like their eating habits.

They're always kind of like asking me advice and you know, I'm not a registered dietician, so I can't say like, this is what you need to do, but I do see a lot that people don't eat within like the first hour that they wake up. And I've just always been taught that like, that could screw with your metabolism.

It can make you more hungry and more likely to like eat bad later in the day. So to me, like, even if I'm not hungry, which I'm usually not, like if it's just eating like a protein bar or something within that first hour of waking up, I feel like my energy, like sugar levels or blood sugar levels are like more stable throughout the rest of the day.

Yeah. I think nutrition is something that you don't have to be a registered dietician to like help with a habit change, I think is probably the biggest one, you know? And and that might just be a habit people don't have or their habit is to eat like cereal, first thing in the morning, you know, which, which can be from childhood.

You know, which is essentially like diabetes in a box and, you know, so, so that's a, that's a great great tip. What's one book that you would recommend to people listening to this. It doesn't have to be you know, health-related but a book that you read recently that you really think was great. 

So there's this book called Liver Rescue.

Oh, wow. 

It is very interesting because you can basically look up like something that you could be struggling with and it'll kind of go through how it's related and connected to your level. And you know, could it be anything like, strep throat or like skin issues, whatever it is. Like, it kind of ties it all back to something that could be happening liver and like provides like supplements or like things you could be adding in your diet to kind of keep your liver working at its best.

It's just really fascinating. The functional medicine side, like, like looking how food relates to allergies that we have, or like our mood you know, yeah. I mean, I think you could make a strong statement that that's in particular is an organ that we really do some damage to with habits, especially if you're, if you're drinking a lot, you know even there's a, are you familiar with the whoop bands that people wear that basically track like circadian rhythms and heart rate variability, it's sort of like a super advanced Fitbit or it's called a whoop.

And they did an internal study where they actually looked at people and ask them like, Hey, if you had like more than one drink when did it occur and they looked at their data over the couple of days following that, and what they found was on average, even with like very mild amount of drinking, that they weren't the same neurologically and cardiovascularly for two days afterward.

So two days two days of delayed neuro neurologic output and cardiovascular, but like, that's huge, right? Especially for, it depends what you're doing, but you know, most of the time we feel, so we become so accustomed to feeling bad that we don't realize how good we're supposed to feel. And I think that like deliver takes up a lot of the brunt of that.

Yeah. So, well, Lily, this has been great if people want to reach out to you and they want to learn a bit more about your about your Pilates practice in The Daily, where can they go to learn about what you're doing or reach out to you guys if they want to get in and actually do some work with you.

Yeah. So our website is That's where you can find a lot of information about our studio. You can also follow us on Instagram or @thedailyATL. But yeah, you can reach out either way. 

Cool. Awesome. Well guys hit her up. Awesome studio. We've loved getting a chance to get in there and learn a little bit more about what you're doing and Lily as always.

Thank you so much for your time. 

Thanks for having me. 

All right. Take care. 

Hey, thanks so much for listening to the podcast today. If you want to find out more about our guests or about Athletes' Potential and how we can help you continue to be active and pain free in life, head over to to learn more.

Reach out to Lily:

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Via Instagram: @thedailypilates & @lilydawson


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