Oh behalf of the Fit ME Active team and all of our ambassadors, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the success in 2018 and may you achieve all of your personal/business goals!
What better way to start this year than with another behind the scenes look at yet another of Dubai's great yoga and Pilates studios - Piloga (Walk An Inch Taller). This time we talk shop with Alison McLaughlin, from personal life to business and even a few stories in between.
When we first asked you to be a part of our blog, you said…and I quote “Sure! I’m your lady to interview! I have all the stories…haha” We think it only fitting to kick things off with one of your stories.
When I was first asked to manage the studio, I went in with the owner to see the place and I told him it looked like a dentist office, and it needed some “Funk”.
The owners Hani and Sara (husband and wife) decided to open a studio which offered yoga and Pilates under one roof, because these types of exercises had helped them in the past. Hani worked long hours and developed back pain, which he healed with Pilates. While Sara found peace and overall health while practicing yoga. It didn’t take long for Piloga to be born!
Piloga is definitely full of "Funk" now, you feel it as soon as you walk in the front door! I can't count how many times I have been there, and I am still finding new funky art pieces and inspirational quotes.
Tell us a little about Alison; where are you originally from, what brought you to Dubai, how long have you been here?
I’m Canadian (a very PROUD Canadian), who has been living in Dubai on and off for 6 years. My husband, Chad, brought me here for his work and to be honest, at the time I didn’t even know “Abu Dhabi” existed. After this, I went back to do my Masters of Public Health in Canada and soon after we moved to Singapore for my job. Then after 1 year, Chad got another job offer in Dubai and we moved within 2 months.
When did you start practicing yoga? What (or who) got you into it?
I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years, but only 6 years on a daily basis. I’m not talking about doing Asanas everyday, but some form of breathing practice. A stressful job made me more committed to yoga. I needed an outlet, and yoga was it.
200 Hour Vinyasa yoga - @ Vikasa Yoga (Thailand) – 2013
300 Hour Hatha/Ashtanga Training @ Sheeva Yoga Peeth (India) – 2016
85 Pre Natal Yoga Teacher Training with Sally Parkes (Dubai) - 2016
65 Hour Yin Yoga Training – Jo Phee (Dubai) – 2017
Barre Foundation (Dubai) - 2017
Pilates Mat 1 & 2, Reformer 1,2,3 (Balanced Body) (Dubai) - 2017
Rad Mobility 1,2,3 (Master Instructor) (Dubai) -2017
Alison quickly lists Jo Phee as her all time favourite teacher, stating that she is BRILLIANT. But goes on to say that she also loves @juanyogi because he is the most humble, talented and kind human being she's ever met. He is REAL.
When asked which specific classes she teaches, Alison automatically responds "Everythang!!!!" (note the "a" instead of the "i"), but goes on to list: Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, Pilates Mat, Reformer, Barre, and Mobility Classes.
What makes yoga, fitness and a healthy lifestyle so important to you?
I don’t think of fitness as being part of a “healthy lifestyle”, but rather it just being a part of my life. It’s something I enjoy, and no matter how busy, I try to fit movement in on a daily basis. Managing Piloga, with amazing teachers and a variety of classes, makes it easy to stay on track as well! =)
You’re fast approaching 6k Instagram followers @alliemmclaughlin (congrats!), you appear to be quite a prominent figure in the Dubai yoga community. How did it all come about and how “difficult” is it to keep up appearances?
I just try to be real. I’m not your typical bendy yogi, so I don’t have the snazzy pictures that live on Instagram. I believe in movement and function of the body, and that means cross training, variety and Myofascial release. So, I guess I have no images to keep up, but rather just stick to the tall, real and kind person that I strive to be.
Tell us what it’s like being an ambassador for Lululemon?
Lululemon is simply the most supportive and kind brand I have ever worked with. The brand and all of the brand ambassadors have become family, and they listen to all of my crazy event ideas (even when they are absolutely ridiculous). We meet up on a regular basis and work together to support the Dubai community. I couldn’t be anymore thankful to be part of this family, not mention their clothes are simply the best (but that’s just an added bonus).
Congratulations on the recent renewal of your ambassadorship!
What would Alison get up to on the weekend?
I am up everyday (even on the weekends) at 4:30am. I have a dog who needs two long walks a day (I’ve been told he gets his energy from me…haha). I get up, set an intention for the day, have a dance to country music with my husband in the kitchen every morning and then off to teach!
That country music kitchen dance definitely sets you apart from the rest. We should all be so happy and active at 4:30am!
You’re a regular attendee and teacher at Yogafest - What’s the secret behind your signature selfie?
A selfie stick that works! I am investing in a good one this year. My yoga classes are about movement, so I don’t care what you look like or how bendy you are. I want people to do their own thing, while I guide them on the mat. I think this makes everyone smile and not take themselves so seriously; the same principles behind the selfie.
I think it’s time for another story…your choice.
So, there’s a chicken, cow, and frog walking down the street….. haha just kidding. Another story? I have too many personal stories, but I’ll bring it back to my home; Piloga. I honestly didn’t expect to have the most inviting yoga space with the kindest most approachable teachers in Dubai. Many of the teachers we opened the studio with are still around now, and that’s rare in Dubai. I guess that’s not a story, but just gratitude (which is also nice).
When we first met, you explained that you were directly involved with a product called RAD. Could you tell everyone a little about this great product? (Thank god it doesn’t compete with anything we currently sell!)
www.Radroller.com is my baby! I am the distributor of self massage tools in the Middle East. This product is for everyone, and is meant to break the muscle tissue to release water in the body and therefore increase mobility/movement. We have a range of products for the entire body. Gone are the days of the foam roller, get yourself a pair of balls! We get tight after a workout and as we age we get even tighter. These tools are like getting a massage every day, and you know how good you feel after a massage!
How and when did you get involved with Piloga?
I’ve been involved with Piloga since we opened 2 years ago, man time flies! The owners Hani and Sara, were looking for a manager and I just approached them wanting to teach. They convinced me to give Management a try, and I’ve been there ever since.
What’s the secret to Piloga's success?
Be kind, creative, and do your own “thang” (with a glass of funk).
Piloga opened its doors for the first time in November 2015.
Studio Amenities : Showers, Humble and Knowledgeable teachers.
Classes : A variety of yoga classes, Pilates classes (Mat and Reformer) and Signature classes: Booty Buster Yoga and Piloga tone.
No. of Teachers: 15!
For packages, rates & special deals : Visit: www.pilogatstudio.com / Or follow Piloga on Instagram @pilogastudio for announcements about all their monthly deals!
Something we've wanted to know ever since we first entered your studio, does the skeleton in the reception have a name?
Skeloga is his/her name. The shape of the pelvis doesn’t really tell us a gender…according to our anatomy specialist. We dress Skeloga up, and he/she has more selfies than any other teacher in the studio. Goes to show, it’s the personality that counts…haha
What would you say to someone thinking about starting yoga or Pilates?
Try a class and stick with it. Ignore the snobby regulars, and get yourself feeling the benefit of movement. You are there for you, so focus on your mat and be proud of what your body can do for you, because it will only get better!
What would you like your students to take away from their time at Piloga?
We all have different bodies, and we all aren’t going to look the same. What matters is the effort and attitude you bring to the mat.
Any last words for the local yoga community?
Pressure….. I would say to focus more on what you bring to others off the mat. Yoga/fitness/Pilates isn’t everything, but what you do for others is.
Hands down one of the friendliest people you will ever meet, Alison is constantly putting others before herself and it even shows through in this relatively short interview. If you ever get a chance to visit Piloga and take a class with Alison (which we highly recommend), strike up a conversation and you'll see what we mean!
Special thanks to Alison for the time out of her busy schedule! You can find Alison @alliemmclaughlin on Instagram and at www.alliemmclaughlin.com.
Credit again to Warren (@africanaviator) for the amazing pictures...til next time!