Day in the Life of Imelda Norris
If health and well-being is on your to do list for 2020, look no further - Imelda Norris is a Master Instructor in yoga and Pilates and a self-wellness therapist. Formerly an architect, Imelda made a career change and trained in mind and body connection. She now has 17 years of teaching and experience under her belt.
Personally, I like to think of her as a wellness guru. I’ve been attending her classes for ten years, but hit a stumbling block when I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at the age of 38. I credit this lady for building my body back and for keeping me in my beloved high heels!
Imelda was born in Waterford, and moved to Kilkenny when she was just seven years of age. In her college years, she went on to study architecture in Carlow Institute of Technology and Griffith College, Dublin before studying Interior Architecture in London College Art & Designs. She worked for Burberry International designing shop fit outs for the likes of Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport.
She then spent a year in Melbourne, Australia working for Figgins Pty which was a large Architectural practice, working on retail fit outs. Imelda spent some years in Dublin working for The Irish Pub Company, Oppermann Associates and Kenny Kane designing pubs, restaurants and hotels. She worked on well-known Dublin projects like Lillies Bordello, Pravda, Trentuno Restaurant and Capitol Bar.
Zuni, Kilkenny Cafe, The Maltings, Kilkenny Enterprise Board and the Ground Floor Café are among the Kilkenny projects that she has worked on.
She is married to Kilkenny man Damien Hogan and they have three children, two boys and a girl, aged between eight and thirteen. Here is a glimpse into her well-being world.
Imelda how did an architect become a yoga teacher?
When I was working in Dublin, I went to a yoga class as I was feeling stressed and overworked. I took one look at the Instructor, and decided there and then that I wanted to be like her. She seemed so calm and together and I felt the opposite of that.
So I went on to study yoga and Pilates. I am now a fully qualified Yoga, Pilates, and Barre Instructor with an IHCA Yoga Diploma and Pilates Body Firm Pilates Stott trained and Pi Pilates with pelvic floor, pregnancy and postnatal qualifications.
What’s your typical day like?
Morning – I am up at 7.30am to get the three kids out to school. Breakfast is usually a chia pot with berries. I get ready for morning yoga and Pilates classes and private one to ones.
Lunch – is normally a salad, with salmon or eggs. If I’m organised I make a batch of my green pea or orange soup and keto bread. Sometimes I get my own yoga practise in at lunch time. The kids are collected at 3pm and 4pm. I spend the rest of the afternoon helping them with their homework. Put on the dinner and my husband takes over when he comes in from work and I head out to my evening classes.
Evenings – I teach up to 10pm on some evenings. When I get home I always have a healthy snack of hummus, pitta bread or roasted vegetables. If I don’t fit in my practise at lunch time, I do it before I go to bed.
Nutrition is a big part of your life and you believe very much in healthy living.
I am as passionate about food nutrition as I am about exercise. We can't have a healthy mind and body unless we feed and nourish our bodies well. Studying wellness nutrition was part of my training but I have also followed a healthy lifestyle since changing career, as the two work in tandem. I spent hours researching different food, vitamins and minerals, so much so that my husband calls a book I have on nutrition ‘my bible’. I follow Dr. Michael Mosley, who is a medical doctor and a scientist and love the science behind the food proof. However, I am human too and still have a treat or two, but I aim to follow a 90/10 rule and happy to make it 80/20 sometimes!
Can you explain the different benefits of your one-to-one sessions and group classes?
We are all different and some of us need extra help and a one-to-one will help to give modification with a specially designed programme for your body. If you have a weakness or a specific misalignment injury or ailment then you can target a workout specific to your needs and then eventually be able to do a group class.
A group class is fabulous for general strengthening and conditioning and general weaknesses and for some people it can be more beneficial.
We generally think of weight training as lifting weights in the gym, but yoga is a form of weight training too?
Yes, weight lifting or strength training can be used with weight machines, dumbbells etc. People are surprised to hear that we lift and use our own body weight in yoga and Pilates. It’s a great exercise for preserving and building muscle mass, as well as reducing age related decline in bone mass.
You talk a lot about the benefits of core stability and compare it to a corset!
All exercise is good for us but we all need core work. CORE stability is a corset wrapping around the centre of the body to help stabilise us. Golfers or tennis players can over use their shoulders, or runners can over use hips or legs. Core stability is vital and stops us from overworking these muscles, so you move from the centre with stability which helps less injury and overuse of muscles. Pilates and yoga bring balance back to the body while improving our performance.
So if you don’t know where to start, what should you choose - yoga or Pilates?
I get asked this question all the time, I think if you have a weak back or core you need Pilates - it is the gold standard.
While strengthening and stretching helps to realign the body correcting any misalignments and yoga is best for flexibility and strength plus the added benefits of relaxation and meditation and deep breathing.
What’s the benefits of combining yoga and Pilates?
They are both complementary to each other. I would highly recommend both if you have the time and a lot of my clients do both. However one is better than nothing. You can see for yourself, the benefit of practise has changed your life, you have become more body aware and in tune with yourself. We should never stop learning and educating ourselves about our bodies.
Do you have to be naturally flexible to do yoga?
No, I never had natural flexibility and strength! I had to work harder than most. I think that has made me more aware of people's struggles. I am also the type of person that needs to know why I tune into a movement, this comes from a previous visual career.
You are qualified in pregnancy and postnatal yoga, what is the benefits of doing yoga pre and post pregnancy?
After having three kids myself, I really gained an understanding of how the body changes during and after pregnancy and how through exercise we can help the body back to a strong and stable healthy body. Our bodies as women are designed to have babies and repair ourselves after, but because of some our jobs, sitting at a laptop or our sedentary lifestyles, we have to work harder to get our bodies strong. We need to allow ourselves time to repair and strengthen, we need to be as kind and caring to our bodies as much as we care for our children’s health. A mother needs to put on her own oxygen mask first!
I always ask this question - is there anything that people don’t know about you or would be surprised to hear?
I am a highly sensitive person with heightened senses making me more aware of subtleties and processing information deeply. I think this has great benefits especially for teaching, but it can also be hard with smells tastes and overthinking things. Yoga was my transformation and helps me utilise this to my benefit.
What’s your health tip for 2020?
Try to do the right things for your body and mind yourself with the 80/20 rule. Don’t think of it as a chore and enjoy it, live it as a lifestyle and then it will become natural to you.
For details on Imelda’s yoga and Pilates new term classes, contact her on 087 765 0230 or follow her on Facebook @ImeldaNorrisKilkenny