Steph Shilling

One of my biggest things at the minute that I think is filtering down in the schools is not choosing just what you're good at.

 

Choosing something that you love, even if you're better at something else.

 

Where's your passion? You might not know as a kid but you do know what you love to do.

Steph Shilling

 

Steph.jpg

Our 38th episode is with Steph Shilling.

 

Theme: Don't sweat the small stuff.

 

We talk about: 

👟 If you lose your passion for something, you can find another. 

👟 Everyone does not have to like you.

👟 If you trust your intuition and follow your heart, things have a way of working out.

 

Bio

Steph is the creator and owner of Studio Velo, a boutique fitness studio close to the coast in Whitley Bay.

Having worked as a general dentist for 14 years, Steph ceased practicing dentistry in March 2019 to teach Pilates and run the health and fitness studio she founded in October 2017.

A mum of three and lover of the coast, interiors, art and of course health and well-being; Steph hopes to make Pilates more accessible to health care professionals who so often suffer both physically and psychologically whilst giving so much to care for their patients.

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James: 

We're in Whitley Bay today with Steph. Tell us, did you know what you wanted to be when you were little?

 

Steph: 

Actually, I did not. Well I thought I did know what I wanted to be when I was quite small and that was an astronaut, like lots of children. Yep. I had a book about the Moon, a ladybird book, which I loved and I used to read over and over and yeah. And I wanted to go to the moon. I don't even really like flying. So I think that would've probably been a poor choice of career. 

 

James: 

The training would have been difficult for that. 

 

Steph: 

Yeah, it would have been. So, yeah, that disappeared. And then for a long time I did think about being an author. I used to write a lot of books, which my mum, mini books. My mum still finds around the house largely about a cat, a dog, and a frog who lived on a log. 

 

James: 

That would sell, I’m sure it would. 

 

Steph: 

That might not have been the career for me either. But yeah, it was, it was fun. Um, and then you kind of forget about those things and you just get into school and academically everything was okay. Languages were not for me. I was actually asked to drop German and um, even though I was supposed to take it cause I was in higher sets, um, yeah, language is definitely not my thing, but sciences and art and most of the other subjects I really, really enjoyed. And yeah, ended up really enjoying the sciences. 

 

So that's when I got more into the mindset of I would do something to do with biology or along those lines. And it was like marine biology or veterinary sciences. So I settled on wanting to be a vet for quite a long time. And then later that changed before I went off to university, so yeah.

 

James: 

So you were an animal lover? 

 

Steph: 

Yeah. Oh absolutely. 


 

James: 

Was that one of the reasons...so when you were getting to a point of studying and um, you mentioned in our pre chat that you were sitting there doing initial studies for veterinary science and then it was, there was something that you thought, hmmm. 

 

Steph: 

Yeah, so I, by this point I had changed schools and area. So I did high school over in Tyne Valley even though I lived in Newcastle and my dad was a senior teacher there for, I know you've had other people who've had parents and teachers in the school so yeah, and you too. Yeah. Your Dad was the Head. 

 

James: 

Yeah I was in my Mum’s class.

 

Steph:

Oh man!

 

James:

I got no special treatment there. That was the rule.

 

Steph:  

Yeah, no you don't. I think it’s worse. I would get, I saw you rocking on your chair or yeah, I think it's harder for them in retrospect actually. I'll come back to that for them. Yeah. So I was at high school and my dad was a chemist and I was doing pretty well in sciences and it just seemed like that was definitely the way I was going to go. I did love art as well and I did art A Level and my Mum was really arty and I remember as a kid actually she used to paint, draw. Uh, she did photography for a while, actually developed and we had one bathroom. And I remember as a kid, having to hold my wee in because my Mum was developing in the bathroom and it was, it was a dark room and I was banging on the door. 

 

And so yeah, that was something she did and that, that rubbed off as well. And even though I loved that, it just wasn't what was expected. And I'm not necessarily there talking about my dad, I'm talking about the entire environment you're in. It's almost, it just seemed a natural progression. So I went on this, I was lucky actually. There was, um, a little thing in Nottingham where you could go on and you stayed over night and you went to lectures about veterinary science and what it would be like. And literally I was sitting there and it was out of the blue...II don't want to work with animals. I want to work with people. I'm not even sure where it came from. 

 

Um, my brother at this point is already studying medicine in Glasgow. Um, and I just realised, yeah, that I'd made the wrong decision. There were still time to change. So when I put in my UCAS forms and all the rest of it, um, I applied for medicine. Um, and I think part of that was following my brother's footsteps. I've actually just thought this now if I'm actually really honest with myself, I think probably it was, I felt like I'd make more of a difference if I did medicine and I'd be doing something less if I didn't live up to that. I guess. I know, I mean I love working with people anyway. There's definitely a genuine element with that, but I, I think there probably was something within me thinking it was better to make a difference with people than with animals.

 

James: 

Were you thinking then about becoming a GP or is it something you kind of, you start medicine and then you move into more of a specialisation?

 

Steph:  

Yeah, I think the ideas I had behind it, I didn't see myself as a GP actually having a lot of GPs don't from the beginning, from what I gather. But, I probably thought psychiatry or surgery. Um, I know they're very different. But. Yeah. They were the two I always like work with my hands and that was my art. It's I think, but then you've got the lack of patient contact often in surgery. Um, so yeah, it was something I toyed with while I was studying medicine and I should explain in the middle of all this. So, um, Nick, my husband, um, it seems a bit random, but we met at school, he was in my class from 14, and we got together at 17. 

 

So I followed my brother up to Glasgow ‘cause I used to go and visit them and great city, great night out. We used to go up there and have the best time when I was, um, when he was at uni I would go up and I wanted to stay in Newcastle for Nick. And everybody said to me, don't stay for your first boyfriend, not gonna work out. You know, and it is pretty naive. It's pretty unlikely to think that it will. But I knew how I felt at that age. My parents have been together since the same age and yeah, it was a lot of pressure. It was like, okay, I'm going to go away. 

 

I have to do it. I haven't travelled. So I took a year out just to sort of hesitate and be around a bit more. He was already working full time. He left school and didn't do A Levels. Um, and so I had the year out and worked with disaffected children on a project in Meadowell estate. It was, it was really interesting. There were lots of random jobs actually. Um, and then, uh, went away to Glasgow and um, met some brilliant people. But I was miserable. He was miserable. Um, he’d come up, he'd come up visiting and then he'd be shaking. And he’ll laugh at this now. And I was on the phone, so I met this little handful of people and I was only there about four weeks and I managed by the skin of my teeth to transfer to Newcastle. I had to go and see the Dean and I had a big interview with the Dean at Newcastle and he was, had a pipe. He was blowing smoke in my face, I can remember, wouldn't happen now. And he did ask me, he said is this about a boy? Completely asked that as well.

 

James: 

He’d probably seen it before.

 

Steph: 

And I lied. 

 

Michelle: 

Like no.... 

 

Steph: 

Yeah, no, of course not. They’d started a new course...what was it called? Problem based learning or something. And they were doing it in a new way so I blamed it on the new course. Um, and had to take another year out. But then started at Newcastle and I still see the friends that I was there about three, four weeks and there's some like handful of our very best friends see them every year. So no regret. 

 

James: 

There's a lot of studying, isn't there?

 

Steph: 

Yes

 

James: 

When you’re getting into medicine, dentistry and veterinary science. So at what point did you kind of come to a conclusion I want to help people, but it's more specifically linked to their teeth? 

 

Steph: 

It was, it wasn't about that, to be honest. It was never about teeth for me. So again, this is how you sometimes get led down an avenue and it isn't really for you, but you're just, you know, you do what's right. Um, I did really enjoy medicine. I think various reasons, I can’t just blame it on my brother or, or just that, you know, you watch it on TV there’s casualty. It's glamorous stuff. You know, I did love human biology and fascinated by it. Um, you know, you can dissect bodies. That's exciting. I mean it's gruesome and macabre, but you know, when, when you've just  like in school we cut up frogs and bulls eyes. 

 

James: 

They were the two classics.

 

Steph: 

Um, and like, yeah.

 

Michelle: 

Well I was outside. I wasn't having anything to do with that.

 

Steph: 

You’d be that kid that fainted.

 

James: 

No, that was me.

 

Steph: 

Oh was it?

 

James: 

I’d just watch.

 

Steph: 

Yeah, there was always a few. 

 

Michelle: 

I think there's a rat as well. 

 

James: 

Ah yes.

 

Steph: 

Oh, my biology teacher brought roadkill in one day. She brought a badger and it was covered in fleas. I just remembered.

 

Michelle: 

I used to play with stick insects in biology. I used to love it, and we put the stick insects on the teacher.. But loved it, you know. 

 

Steph: 

I like stick insects. Cool.

 

Michelle: 

We were horrible. Sorry Mrs Taylor.

 

Steph: 

Bet she loved you.

 

Michelle: 

No.

 

James: 

Um, so it was all fun. It was glamorous. 

 

Steph: 

So it was, yeah, you sort of see that side of things in it and it was fun. But you realise first couple of years are a slog. So you've done pretty hard at A Levels. I think the hardest things you'll ever do unless you're going to go on do crazy stuff. It's a lot of rote learning, so it's pretty dull. Um, parts of it are pretty dull. You're not allowed to do a lot and you start your clinical year, especially in third year and it’s a lot of history taking. Um, I did actually try to leave medicine after second year, but they wouldn't release me. Medicine at Newcastle, I think they hold your funding or something. So they literally said no, this is the tough years. A lot of people feel like this, you’ll feel different when you get on clinics next year. So I did the whole of third year and academically it was fine. I never, I am lucky I was pretty good at exams. I think it was, you said that again, um, about yourself. Learn it, forget it. Yeah.

 

Michelle: 

I can remember it for a couple of days and that’s it. It’s gone forever. 

 

James:

The cram queen!

 

Michelle:

I was really good at osmosis. You put the books underneath the pillow and then just, and then it just goes into your head. 

 

Steph: 

Put the headphones on, go to sleep. So yeah. Um, I kind of it took a whole other year to convince them all the way and knowing it wasn't right. And then, um, without going on too long about it,  I had gone onto an oncology and dermatology ward and it was a part of the RVI, this completely brand new now, but at the time, the smell in that place. It was awful. And I'm not squeamish at all, but I just went in this day and I was probably a little bit hungover. Um, and this, I opened the doors and the smell and I just knew it was wrong. And I actually excused myself, went out and rang my Mum and Dad and Mum, Dad were amazing and they've always been so supportive. And I was like, I can’t do this anymore Um, and my Mum just not surprised. We knew, we knew. They know.

 

James: 

We get a few guests on where I remember recently it was Nevil, wasn't it, where you come to the conclusion that this isn't for me anymore. And then you tell your partner, your family, and they're all like, Oh yeah, we've known this for months. 

 

Steph: 

We totally know this.

 

James: 

But why didn't you tell me anything? Oh, it’s your own decision and it's, you've got to come to that conclusion yourself, don't you? But it's very common.

Steph: 

It is. And I think you do, you hide it almost from yourself. So the weird thing is this day I went to the dental school again, so I just thought, what attracted me to dentistry weirdly was the smell in the dental school was like really like oil of cloves. Quite liked, I liked the little tunics. Um, yeah, I, I don't know, it just looked nice and I knew I’d work with my hands. Um, it seemed more straightforward and by this point, me and Nick knew we wanted a family, um, I knew it was a pretty straight forward career for a woman. The advances aren't as much. The rat race isn't quite the same. It doesn't move on as quickly. You can work part time. There was a lot of that in it as well. Practicality.

 

Um, so I went and I just said can I get in and they said, oh, they told me something strange just happened literally the same day. Can you take a seat? And it turned out somebody had been going on to the next year who was an anatomy student and they were going into second year and they'd rung up that day to say they didn't want the place that morning, so I could then go into second year. Um, I still had to, I did seven years in total. I had to do three, uh, three medicine, four dentistry. But yeah, it was one of those meant to be moments. Um, which seems funny even though I left eventually, but no, I don't regret my time there. 

 

And I definitely practiced a long time. I know it did a lot of good and I really did enjoy it. Um, so yeah, it made the transition and it was great. I loved the course. Yeah. And, and from there and, and it's a great career. I would never, just because I've left now, I wouldn't put people off dentistry. Um, you know, if that's what you want to do. It's definitely a great career. It's just quite hard within the NHS at the moment I think.

 

James: 

What do you think was the main change for you because it’s caring for patients but it wasn't quite hitting, hitting the mark was it?

 

Steph: 

Do you mean that….?

 

James: 

In that when you're talking about dental units... 

 

Steph: 

Oh yeah. Yeah. 

 

James: 

Certain targets to hit aren’t there?

 

Steph: 

So what's hard about it. Yeah. The units of dental activities, the way the system works at the minute and so principals basically they get their funding by how hard you work or how you work in a certain way. Um, you have to tick these boxes and it's not a perfect system by a long shot. There's been lots of different ways dentistry’s happened in the past, the fee per item, they all come with the pros and cons and, but the system at the minute is very difficult, um, as well a lot of people are moving into the private sector.  But I just felt...dentistry is funny. It's one of those things a little bit like hairdressing where people are very open with you often. I think they've got nerves when they come in, but they're also, you're right in their personal space, in a really intimate environment. They've got to trust you. They're quite vulnerable. And a lot of people, as I say, are phobic and they tell you all sorts. 

 

So there'll be, you know, people and you've built a relationship for years with families and people will come in and they'll literally tell you stuff like, my husband's next and you'll know Jim. He’s just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. So then she might break down or, and you know, you can't squash that into 10 minutes and just kind of open your mouth. Now you, you will sit with that person and, but then behind it you're worried, you know, there's a waiting room with people, you know, you're not gonna make your target for the day. Um, or someone I had a lady once told me her son had committed suicide, you know, things like that, that they do come out with a lot of things. 

 

I loved the human side of it, talking to people. It's a great part of the job and people are really appreciative. There's a lot that’s hard about it. And I worked within working class areas and, but yeah, there's a lot of good and it's just a pretty hard environment and I think a lot of people are strained in that environment at the moment. Um, yeah. 

 

James: 

And it's one of those things unlike having your hair done, you’re obviously working in someone's mouth….so it always makes me laugh, my dentist will be asking me questions while he's doing work and all I can do is like errrr...blink once for yes, twice for no.

 

Steph: 

Have you been to Ibiza? I know it's an awful habitat and hard to decipher. I did it quite a lot. 

 

James: 

But I can understand that. You’re caring...it's not just about dental health is there's another role. It's a wider part of that. But then you don't then have the time that allows you to have those conversations cause you've got to get people through. 

 

Steph: 

One of the most what I've found, and I know from talking to colleagues of mine, that it's one of the most stressful things that you sometimes feel you can't be the person you want to be and that you'll come across as hard or you just have to get on with the job at hand. And that's like anything. Now GPs have exactly the same life in general. But I think in dentistry it is particularly hard ‘cause people as I say, it's surprising but people do really open up to you and that also for the rest of it that they’re then stuck with their mouth open. So it's almost like you have to let them vent and you have to get the, anything you're going to communicate done beforehand and build up trust if you don't know them that well. It's an interesting career. 

 

You know, it's um, but it is intense and I've gotta have a really good poker face. So, um, I'm very transparent but in dentistry actually, you know, cause if things go wrong, major things but something's not going quite right or taking longer, teeth snap, you know, things do go wrong and you don’t want that to get across with your eyes.

 

James: 

That’s why you wear the mask!

 

Steph:  

Yeah, exactly. I've got the mask. You've just gotta be the calmest. And I think same thing when you leave at the end of the day you're like, oh cause you’ve used all your energy, you know, in transactions just trying to, you know.

 

James: 

It's a lot of emotion to, to actually take on board as well isn't it? If you're hearing lots of tragedy and upset, and nerves...it’s a lot that you take on board. 

 

Steph: 

Also transference of fear and you do, not that we’re painful obviously, you know, needles, people are scared of that and things and there is, you get better at that, but you'd definitely do pick up from people. And if you've had a lot of nervous patients in a day it's quite exhausting. 

 

Michelle: 

Well anxiety is quite catching.

 

Steph: 

It is. 

 

Michelle: 

And it’s like why am I worried I know what I'm doing. 

 

Steph: 

And the running late thing as well because it gets the waiting room up at a height  so if they're waiting, they’re more nervous and it just has that knock on effect. So that's why you try to stay on time, but it's not always possible. So yeah, it's a funny one. But um, yeah.

 

James: 

So there's obviously a realisation then that, I'm not quite feeling this anymore. This was something I was really passionate about, caring about people. But then you've got to this point of a bit like back in school it's like something's not quite right. I'm not quite feeling this anymore. So what, what was next?

 

Steph: 

So I think a lot of us have the thing where you’re doing your job mainly for money but it becomes the same. And I've never liked routine. I know some people really enjoy routine. I hate it. Yeah, the groundhog day, that whole feeling. Yeah. I really, I love waking up every day and not having a clue what's going on and that would be great. Yeah. So I think as soon as I started and I only ever worked part time. So I actually had my first son. I've got three children. I had my son Luca, I was pregnant on VT, which is like a post training year. I’m going off target here, but I went back when he was eight weeks old because I had just qualified and um, it was two days and my Mum had him and um, actually didn't feel that much of a bind except for breastfeeding. I just thought, you know, I’d express and it will be fine, but no one tells you if you haven't done it long enough, it's just going stop. 

 

Um, so there were things like that were hard, but it was a short time and you know, he was with his Grandma and Grandad. My parents I should say and they had a great bond with him. But yeah. So yeah, I had had, had the family and I think it just becomes part of your life. That's how I needed that part time. And that was fine, but I'd always worked in the fitness industry. So with my jobs between uni, I had worked and I was a spin instructor for a bit. And I've always been aware that for me to managed stress I need to exercise, and I'm not necessarily one of those people that has to run every day or, but if I leave it too many days I get anxious or stressed.  And I've always had a little bit of anxiety since childhood and no real reason, just me. 

 

Um, and so I've managed it with that, but I started to think there's nowhere cool to go. I’m bored. Again, not like Michelle, I'm bored with the gym and I was seeing all of these little boutique places popping up in London or wherever. That's pretty cool. And I used to know a lady who taught spinning. She was a cyclist and she’d done the Tour de France. Well, the Tour de France route, and she used to teach really differently, so more in your mind. And using visualisation, not screaming “go faster” or turning your resistance up in any way.

 

Michelle: 

I hate that. I’m gonna be sick

 

Steph: 

Don't touch my bike. 

 

Michelle: 

Get back. Wait until she turns her back and turn it back down. 

 

Steph: 

Yeah, exactly. This is where I was. 

 

James: 

Dude, if you could feel the pain in my legs right now, you would not be turning this up.

 

Steph: 

So for reference nobody touches our bikes. So yeah, I had this idea and then yeah, on and off it was there. It never went. So I think a lot of us have these passions or little burning things and you took it away or you do it yourself as a hobby or it doesn't actually, you don't actually think it could viably be an option and then fate stepped in for me. So I would have probably continued on that pathway. And I know like Fi Munro, she was amazing and I loved that podcast. 

 

People often have a huge thing that happens in their life; a death, terminal illness, whatever it might be. I was so lucky that my big step in was a broken finger, which isn't a big deal to anyone else but as a dentist it just didn't heal. It was a tendon on my right hand. And because you have to wear a splint. I didn't have cross infection. Um, my procedures couldn't be good enough and it just didn't heal. So I ended up being off six months, uh, which is crazy cause people have huge things and get back to work quicker. And I felt like a fraud. I felt quite pathetic and I was actually sacked when I was off because dentists are self employed. 

 

A lot of people don't realise, most dentists are self employed and no hard feeling to them. They had their units and it was a business decision. So here I was with me, silly finger, um, and I found a new job. But it starts, you start thinking this could, maybe this has happened for a reason. So yeah, I started to pursue the idea of the studio boutique fitness, doing things I would like to go to myself. Other people might like it as well. And then I got the fear again and stepped back again. And I think this happens a lot, you know. You’re two steps forward and it’s like what am i doing? This feels crazy. And then just as I was about to start a new dental job, I went snowboarding and I snapped my wrist.

 

Michelle: 

It’s like the universe saying we are going to break your finger...

 

Steph: 

It’s going to get worse. 

 

Michelle:

It’s going to be a leg next. 

 

Steph:

Like the mafia. 

 

Michelle: 

Going to do your kneecaps.

Steph: 

It didn’t have to go much further thankfully. So yeah, I did. I actually did do the finger on the other hand. 

 

Michelle: 

She just stuck her finger up at me! 

 

Steph: 

I did do a rude gesture there...it was the middle finger.

 

James:

Steph gets the award for the rudest guest…

 

Steph:

I’m sorry.

 

Michelle: 

Outrageous.

 

James: 

...at the award ceremony

 

Steph: 

Never allowed on here again, I take that back. So yes, God, the universe, fate, whatever you have, it kept stepping in and it was like enough already. Um, I'll have the courage. So I was extremely lucky that I had the backing of my parents who didn't have the whole…”you’ve studied for this many years. We have paid this amount of money for you to do this.” They are amazing. Even at 40, I was nearly 40. A dentist, my husband had a really good job, but yeah, we're not great savers. And they loaned me some money to help start it up so they couldn't have been better. 

 

James: 

We often, there's often this thing isn't there that if you do something you're passionate about something creative, something sporty, I'm going to go into art, I'm going to make pottery, I'm going to paint. It's one of those things, which is like, oh well that's not a career. So you're a bit bonkers. Did you have any...?

 

Steph: 

Yeah I had that all the way along in my head so, but people as well, oh, I would come across people who are like, almost like you're wasting taxpayers' money. And I was like, well I was a dentist for 15 years, you know. Um, cause yeah. 

James:

It’s like why would you want to leave being a dentist?

 

Steph:

So many people said, why would you want to do that. And, for me, I think I literally had just come to the end of the road and what I had to offer. And I’ve got a sore finger too.

 

Michelle: 

You need some fingers for them as well.

 

James: 

Have I shown you my finger?

 

Steph: 

Yeah have I shown you before? So yeah. Um, yeah, nobody wants to see a dentist with a broken finger coming at your mouth. But yeah, you do get that. Actually, I'm really lucky in that my parents or my Mum, this sticks in my mind, she said often she’d bump into people and they’d ask how the kids are doing. So she would say one’s a GP and ones a dentist. And they would be like, oh, you must be so proud. And my Mum always said to me, I've never really got that, you know, I would be so proud whatever you did. And she's like, so I know certain people attach a status or prestige to it. I’ve never felt the loss of that. I don't think I ever had the feeling of it and I didn't go into it for those reasons. So yeah, when people come at you with that, oh, I just kinda let it float over. 

 

James: 

It's kind of, it's the measure of, we've talked in other podcasts about the measure of success and it's, it should often be not, what's the social status? What's the income? What's the car that your kids are driving? It’s are your children happy and are they enjoying what they’re doing in life? 

 

Steph: 

Yeah. It's that Heath Ledger quote. 

 

James: 

Absolutely. I was just thinking of that one.

 

Steph: 

And as a parent, it sounds like a cliche. I think that's a great quote that and so poignant given what he did. And um, for me and my kids, yeah, I mean you do, you just want them to be happy. I, one of my biggest things at the minute that I think is filtering down in the schools now is doing, not choosing just what you're good at. Choosing something that you love, even if you're better at something else. Where's your passion? You might not know as a kid but you do know what you love to do. That I did always love art. So as I said it, yeah. I think if you took your need to want to be creative in a box and I watched my brother do it, and funnily enough, he's private person. I won't get into, you know, but he has his own thing on the side of his, he is a birder. He is very creative. He's collating a book at the minute. 

 

And I think if you don't have that outlet and you for whatever reason need to do it, you become stressed. You become very deeply unhappy often without realising it. Um, so yeah, I would say, and I say to my kids all the time, you know, my eldest son's 14 and he doesn't really need to be creative in that sense, but my daughter, she absolutely needs to potter and to draw. Yeah, he does it in different ways, but he's more football. He’s very physical. Um, but I think if you do, if you're one of those people, I think we're all artistic. But I think some people need to do it more than others. I think if you're one of those and you took it away for the sake of money or getting further on your career or just not fitting it into your life, you'll pay the price at some point in some way or other.

 

James: 

It doesn't always have to be, you don't always have to leave a career do you? To set up your own business or something. Just having outlets, like whether it's volunteering, whether it's a hobby and it's something that you put in a few hours a week doing that. I mean in some ways that's, that was the podcast we started... 

 

Steph: 

Yes, absolutely. 

 

James: 

...something creative we did on the weekend. 

 

Steph:

Yeah. 

 

James: 

So you've now moved into the fitness sphere. So you were going to classes, so what was the transition? So you said your Mum and Dad helped you out to set up. In terms of the studio.

 

Steph: 

So actually very good friends of ours. Um, there's an old auction house on Whitley Bay and they bought it and opened a hairdressers and they're really good friends and I’d looked for properties and nothing had been quite right. And Jen, a friend, they've got So And So Hairdressing in Whitley Bay - a little plug - great hairdressers. And she came to me and said, Eh, I've got this upstairs. We can't use a massive property and we're not going to do anything for it. This is your chance. You know, you've talked about this almost. So actually everything fell into place. It's that whole thing of the universe, once you've made a decision, things fell into place. Like crazily to the point, Melissa. So I knew I wanted to offer barre. I want it to be a bit different and I want a barre and dance. She's like a like a ballet barre, not a bar to drink just in case people are wondering. 

 

Michelle: 

Oh fitness studio with a bar in it. Rum and coke please.

 

Steph: 

Oh um, so yeah, I, I've put this up, b-a-r-r-e. Actually had nobody, and I didn't know who I was going to ask and it was weeks before cause I had never run a business and I was reacting and doing, I've got to do this literally one step after another plodding along actually got the frontage done and I was opening in about a week. We offer indoor cycling, pilates, yoga, barre. I was like, Oh, I've got to get a teacher. And I literally went through Facebook and rang the first person I found who was local, who is Melissa Black, who runs Black’s Barre and she's really amazing and she was teaching at the time, she's come out of teaching now. And she came along and the two days she had free were our two slots, it was just a perfect fit. So yeah, that that's been things like that that just blow your minds. Well you think, yeah, I've got to be on the right path if this is going. 

 

So our philosophy is, or the way I set the studio up, we don't do a lot of nutritional side of things. It might come, but I just wanted somewhere where all ages felt welcome. You didn't feel intimidated walking in the door. Small class sizes, good support from instructors. And we do have an amazing team and also that whole thing where you don't feel guilty if you don't come for a bit. So literally if we see someone once a month and they've been busy and they don't have to explain that to us, so we will not take away the pay as you go. We do have members now because it was expensive for them come in as pay as you go. 

 

But um, yeah, you know, pat yourself on the back if you come twice a week and that's what you can fit in rather than, I should've been five times. Uh, so it's about that and just keeping a happy, relaxed mentality about doing different kinds of movement and fitness. Um, and I'm teaching pilates now. Yeah. I love it. 

 

James 

It’s not something I’ve ever done.

 

Steph: 

It's really good for you. 

 

James: 

I like the meme that goes…”Oh I’m sorry pilates? I thought you said pie and lattes!”

 

Steph: 

It's a bit like the barre. 

 

Michelle: 

I’m so coming.

 

Steph: 

Cause there's no pie. You'll be disappointed. James.

 

James: 

Yes. Cause there’s some yoga isn’t there? I’ve signed up for yoga for blokes

 

Steph: 

Yes you have! 

 

James: 

That’s what they call it locally. I’m open minded and signed up for that. I don’t know if there is anyone else….get your husbands, boyfriends along...

 

Steph: 

Yeah come along too. So good for you. 3rd of November, third Sunday. The third or the fourth. We'll double check. Um, yeah. Nick's brilliant. He's got loads of experience. He was a teacher and came out with teaching and now teaches yoga and he does something called Chi Running as well. He runs retreats. Um, yeah, fab chap. But I think it's, it's just getting it so it's not intimidating, so it doesn't have to be about the whole Yogi lifestyle, which is often out there. Just coming, feel the physical benefits first. If you want to take those other elements away from it, great. But yes, so good for your mind and body just to, to move and do different things. 

 

James: 

I’m looking forward to it. As a former rugby player, I'm probably as flexible as a concrete pole. 

 

Steph: 

It's a good analogy. 

 

James: 

There's a few...I listen to. If you've not heard of David Goggins who's, uh, he used to be in the navy seals but runs a lot of endurance events and he went from weighing, I think it was close to 300 pounds and um, lost a lot of weight and not one to listen with the kids. Um, he talked a lot about, he got into stretching a lot more. He was doing events where you’re running for 24 hours, for example. But when he started stretching...I'm trying to think of how he described it, but his body changed and how it healed, how he felt after an event. 

 

Steph: 

Yeah a lack of mobility is a huge thing. And it gets worse as you get older. Ryan Giggs, he credits football and career being so long as he did regular yoga and Tom Hanks said it's the best, the greatest thing you can do. Like wow, it's gotta be good. 

 

James: 

If Tom said it, we've got to believe him. 

 

Steph: 

So there's so many benefits to all of these different things. Not just doing one thing, give different things a try. You'll not get bored and you feel the benefits of moving in a different way. But I think coming back to them, pilates for me with medicine dentistry, so I struggled a bit with stress in dentistry. A lot of dentists do and a lot of people in other professions do. I mean I had tingling hands. We are in awful posture a lot of the time you get bad necks and bad backs. Yeah it’s really bad from that point of view. Wearing loops helps. There are things you can do to help, um, dental nurses as well. They have to bend for the dentist. Sometimes, you know, it seems the dentist chooses their position. 

 

James: 

What I find strange though is do you know in other professions where, let's say you're working with machinery or you've got health and safety training and practices, is this a task that a human should be performing? Lifting boxes No, we can't have a human do that. Whereas when you think about it it's almost, well, the fact that you are bending over for such a long time, if that was in a manufacturing environment, 

 

Steph: 

You wouldn't be allowed.

 

James: 

There would be workplace lawsuits as it's detrimental to the health of your workforce. So I don't know why that's...But what can you do with dentistry? What would change?

 

Steph: 

There are things you can do like obviously wearing loops to magnify helps. You can keep a straighter back. There are ways you can sit. There are things you can do. However you might get an 85 year old lady popping in for a root canal on a quite posterior tooth and she'll be like, I can't, I can't lean back. You can't lean me back. I'm going to get dizzy. So some people, you know, it's extremely difficult or it might be an emergency and you need to do something there and then to really pressure in her mouth and she can't recline. So you do, you just have to bend in silly ways. Sometimes you take breaks, you watch it, but it's a career hazard for sure. Um, so Dentists, I'm sorry. Pilates Yeah, so pilates helped me with that. But it is stressful. I mean I started actually, I worried I had MS, I had tingling in my hands then had a lot of symptoms often from different things. 

 

And you're scared to go and get help because then it's on your insurance so you get yourself in this thing of escalating what it might be, what it could be, but you're scared to find out. It might not be and you can end up in an awful place. And I know a lot of people have, including me, I ended up going to a neurologist and he was like, it's nothing. You know, it'll go away. But pilates and regular movement, um, can help with that.  I used to keep two tennis balls under my desk and between patients. There’s amazing things you can do with tennis balls to relieve tension in your back and neck. Um, yeah, there's an awful lot you can do. So I’m hoping in time. I think healthcare professionals, not just dentists and nurses, um, OTs you know, there's a lot of bending in difficult positions. 

 

I think these people, surgeons, doctors, you know, a lot of, as I say, all health care professionals, they generally are quite caring people and put themselves bottom of the ladder. They'll do all sorts of things and put themselves last. So I think I'd love to get an intervention where these people are benefiting on a daily basis from a short pilates practice and seeing the benefit of that and just not letting things escalate to the point where you get a severe injury or you're feeling really stressed out. And so that's in the future where I would hopefully like to take it, but I’m just doing some preliminary investigations of what length of time would work for people, that sort of thing. 

 

James: 

So you could potentially take that sort of service to other people or would that be part of the studio set up?

 

Steph: 

I see it as sort of a separate thing. So yeah, probably going out. They haven't got time to come to me a lot of these people. So it would be going out doing seminars, um, and then probably an online course once they knew what they were doing. You know, like at home, there's a lot of simple things you can do to make an improvement and I think mindset has to change. Like you said, taking responsibility for yourself and making the small changes that you can like making a packed lunch like things that we all don't do and then you eat the rubbish at lunch, just dead easy to, it's hard to stay in that routine. And even, to keep consistency is hard but, and also supporting each other. I think who the chap that wrote that book, Adam Kay, um, this, this is going to hurt. Have you read that?

 

James: 

No.

 

Steph: 

Oh, it's quite an eye opener. He was an obstetrician. Um, and yeah, basically at the time when they were working crazy hours. Actually when my brother was a junior doctor and he wrote a diary everyday and he's written this book and it's really brutally honest. It's quite close to the bone at times, but he was clearly a really, um, compassionate fella and he ended up leaving. He now writes comedy for TV, but it's about his journey. And one of the things he said, when you’re working all these hours, you don't mind doing it. A lot of people are in the right career, but end up burning out or leaving because they're not being supported, either supporting themselves or within. He said some days even just that one cup of tea, someone bringing you a cup of tea makes a difference for a week. But everyone's too busy and yeah, I don't know. I think it's a hard environment for a lot of people. So there's a lot of change needs to happen and we'll probably just need to be a bit kinder to each other in an ideal world. 

 

Michelle: 

Okay. So if you had to go back to 16, 17, 18 year old Steph, what advice would you give her? 

 

Steph: 

It is a tough one that. I wouldn't change going into the career I did because I gained loads from it. I haven't zero regrets about that, but I would say don't sweat the small stuff. I spent an awful lot of time with crazy worries. It became a big part of who I was and had different ways of managing that. Um, my brother actually wrote that in my 18th birthday card, don't sweat the small stuff. I didn't listen for quite a while, so there would definitely be that one. Um, it's actually a Jen Sincero quote. It was the first self-help book I ever read. 

 

Michelle: 

And so literally, um, it's the first audible book that I've asked my niece slash apprentice to listen to. 

 

Steph: 

Oh Sophie you will love it. Yeah. Well, I, I didn't know any this, this is all quite new to me. I know we’re in circles where people have been doing this shit for years, but I hadn't. And when I was off from a broken wrist, um, we were supposed to be skiing and I was stuck at the chalet with my little one. And I downloaded this book and yeah, just really connected to a lot of what you had to say. And I was like, wow, you can just visualise and this is actually working. And um, but one of the things she said that stuck with me is: “worrying is like praying for something you don't want to happen.” 

 

And I don't know why it struck such a chord, but I tried everything. I've tried distraction and I've tried, but I think it's almost like the reverse of obsessive compulsive thoughts, isn't it? Actually thinking, if I ruminate on this and I'm, yes, some things you're never gonna make more like a random car crash or whatever. But in my head it just settled and I thought, yeah, actually, and that really worked for me. And I think that's made the biggest difference. So yeah, don't sweat the small stuff. And um, trust your intuition I think is a big one. I know I haven't talked about that, but I think the few times I have made a mistake or done something that I've thought wasn't great, I knew in my gut that it wasn't right. 

 

And I think those feelings are there for a reason and really true to all of us and sometimes you ignore them for whatever reason. So I think, um, yeah, I think, I think that would. And also...I’ve got a third one, the last one was that I was quite a people pleaser in school. I was bullied for a couple of years and I think that brings out in you, you know, keeping everyone happy maybe is part of why I chose careers I did. And I just think everyone doesn't have to love you or even particularly like you sometimes, you know, keeping everyone happy and yeah, they're my three things.

 

Michelle: 

I um harped on for months and months and months that James should watch The Greatest Showman. And so when he did watch it, he said why didn’t you tell me how good it was? I was like I did! But there is a quote. So Charity Barnum says to the dude in it. I can't remember his name at the moment for some reason…”Not everyone has to love you. Just a few good people.” 

 

Steph: 

Yeah. I say, yeah, ooh that's just given me goosebumps. Yeah, it's absolutely true. And I think we spend, especially when you're young, you spend all that time pleasing people you probably don’t even really like, and it's like, you know, it's a, it's a mutual thing. Just let that go. It's a great movie though, isn't it?

 

James: 

It is yeah. I have to watch it again. 

 

Steph: 

Have you seen the behind the scenes with Hugh Jackman? That makes me cry every time. It's great though.  

 

Michelle: 

He's a nice dude. 

 

Steph: 

Yes. Yeah. Love Hugh. Ooh get him on as a guest!

 

Michelle: 

Oh yes. Yeah. He’s on the list don't worry. Maybe that's one for Sophie and I to do not James, 

 

Steph:

Poor James.

 

Michelle:

We will be. Don't worry. 

 

Steph: 

Can I come? 

 

Michelle: 

Yeah, we'll be selling tickets for that one. 

 

James: 

It’s a good idea. Got me thinking actually. So for anyone interested in Studio Velo what is the best way to find you or get in touch? 

 

Steph: 

So you can find us in the centre of Whitley Bay on Park View, or we have a website, www.velofitness.co.uk.  You can book via the website or via, we have an app called Glow Fox that we use. On Facebook we are @velohealth or @velohealthstudio I can't remember. Um, and also on Instagram, uh, @studiovelofitness 

 

James: 

We’ll put the links in all the usual places. Well it’s been great. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for chatting to us. 

 

Steph: 

Yeah you too, thank you for having me. 

 

James: 

We've got, we've had Sophie here our apprentice for the first time, so it's her first experience, so hopefully she's enjoyed it. We don't have a microphone, unfortunately, so I'll just take a smile and a thumbs up as it was awesome. Thanks, Steph

 

Steph: 

Thank you.