An Interview with Lynne Robinson

A fascinating article about Lynne Robinson – Pilates guru, trainer and author, from The Telegraph UK.

Lynne Robinson, 65, lives in a village called Leigh, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent with her husband, Leigh, a businessman. They have two grown children Rebecca, 39 and Emily, 37 and two grandchildren, Amy, 5 and Evie, two. Lynne is the author of 16 books about Pilates, has trained the likes of Liz Hurley, Hugh Grant, Sophie Dahl and Pat Cash and is the creator of the Body Control Method of Pilates.

“25 years ago, I was on holiday in Sydney and set out to go to a yoga class, but it was cancelled, and this thing called Pilates was on instead. At the time I was a history teacher, still overweight four years after having my second child and had terrible back pain. I loved it instantly and persevered until eventually, I lost the weight, my back pain disappeared, and I trained to teach it. Now we train teachers across the globe.”

My workout week: ten minutes of Pilates, every day 

“Pilates is about making your body strong and fit for life, and if I didn’t do it I wouldn’t be able to jump on the trampoline with my grandchildren or carry them around all day at 65! As I have got older, I have made my daily Pilates as essential as brushing my teeth, because, after 45, I found I couldn’t get away with over-indulging with food and under-doing exercise like I used to.

“Now, each night in the ten minutes it takes to run a bath I do my Pilates exercises. I focus on back extensions because, after being bent over writing all day or carrying my grandchildren, I need to stretch my spine backwards with cobra-type postures. That, along with 20 minutes of the stationary bike five times a week is the minimum I need to function and if I skip it my back suffers. I also have a weekly hour-long Pilates session in my London studio. But it’s what I do daily that helps most.

My diet principles: Mostly healthy – with treats

“I do what I should do wherever I can – eat lots of nuts and seeds, berries and vegetables, lean proteins such as free-range chicken, and oily fish, lots of nuts for good fats. But I’m not going to sacrifice the things I love just to be healthy and will usually have a glass of wine with dinner, followed by a square of dark chocolate.

“I eat huge amounts at mealtimes and cook almost every night using whole, unprocessed healthy food. I have shelves of cookery books and tend to adapt recipes to make them healthier by adding more vegetables, changing the rice to brown or adding extra cauliflower and chickpeas to curry. I often have to feed the family, so it has to be hearty, filling fresh food.

“Everything has to be quick to cook and prepare too. My favourite quick meal would be a chicken stir fry – I often prepare grated ginger, garlic, chop vegetables and free-range chicken in the morning before I go to work so it’s ready to quickly stir fry when I get home. I make it, throw a few cashew nuts in and microwave brown basmati rice or rice noodles to accompany it – it’s quicker than ordering a takeaway.”

What I eat in a day: 

First thing: hot water with a squeeze of lime

Breakfast: Large 500-gram tub of Yeo Valley plain organic yoghurt with walnuts, flaked almonds, ground flaxseeds, and blueberries. Black coffee

Mid-morning: Triple espresso

Lunch: Houmous tub with four oatcakes and an apple or smoked salmon, a boiled egg or avocado mashed on two lentil cakes. Apple or pear.

Dinner: Stir-fried prawns and vegetables, chicken curry and brown rice or pasta dish with a big salad (prawn linguine is my speciality). Bowl of blueberries. A square of Willie’s Cacao 70 per cent Madagascan dark chocolate and black tea.

Vital statistics

Alcohol: About 7-8 glasses of wine a week – I love a good Australian chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon, the occasional glass of Champagne

Sleep stats: about eight hours (Pilates really helps)

Caffeine count: About three cups of the strongest black coffee I can find a day

Carb quota: I love pasta at least once a week, brown rice and sour dough bread but I do watch my portions.

Mental health fix: Every morning I go for a slow 20 mins walk in the woods on my property with my two cats and love the idea of Japanese forest bathing – shinrin-yoku. That’s my daily creative time.

Energy secret: If I’m feeling tired, I will grab a handful of almonds and walnuts, they give me energy and are full of good fats without any sugar – great for quickly satisfying hunger when I have to keep going.

If you only do one thing: learn how to breathe efficiently. In Pilates, we use lateral thoracic breathing (that’s breathing wide and full into the back and sides of the ribcage. Learning to do this is important as it means you know how to bring more oxygen into the body when you need it – for example during a stressful meeting. A quick way to learn this technique is to wrap a scarf around your lower ribcage and direct your breath into the scarf – you’ll feel your ribs (and the scarf) expand as you breathe in for a count of four and then fully close as you exhale for a count of four. I do this before filming or a big presentation.