Friday, September 24, 2004

Pilates trainer finds purpose

Career stretches into sense of place

Express Staff Writer

Olympia Nuttall demonstrates her style on a Pilates table at Innerflo. Photo by David N. Seelig

Finding one?s passion, future and saving grace all in one package can sometimes be an arduous journey. For Olympia Nuttall, 26, it was a short journey but one fraught with twists, turns and tragedy.

Nuttall teaches Pilates, Gyrokenisis, prenatal and postpartum mat classes at the Innerflow Movement Studio in Ketchum. When met she?s in a T- shirt emblazoned with a polo pony and rider in full gallop and back swing. Tiny and very young, she has a perfectly well bred British accent.

Nuttall moved to Ketchum in May of this year after securing her job.

?This is where I need to be in order to grow and have freedom. It?s like an artist with a canvas. At home they think I?m obviously doing okay, but that I?m over the edge. That it?s self-indulgent but as long as it?s work.?

One gets the impression that her family is waiting for her to get the American bug out of her system and return home to England, where she?ll marry a nice upper crust gentleman. This notion is not surprising when one looks at her background.

Her father is Sir Nicholas Nuttall, of Nassau, Bahamas, and her mother is Miranda Quarry, the Countess of Stockton. Incidentally, her mother was also the actor Peter Sellers? third wife. Her stepfather, Alexander McMillian is the current Earl of Stockton and the late Prime Minister Harold McMillian?s grandson. But despite the connections at home, she followed her own path.

?It?s all thanks to American eccentrics,? she says. She contends that Americans are generally more in touch with their bodies, while the English are still rather prim, perhaps, and tied to tradition bound attitudes about paying too much attention to one?s physical being.

Her journey beyond the British shores began six years ago when Nuttall was working as a three-day eventing, or trial, horse trainer in England. She specialized in dressage. Antsy to move on, she headed south to Torres Vedras, Portugal, where she secured employment training horses in toureio equestre, or bullfighting on horseback. The horses were also used to hunt with greyhounds, a custom she grew increasingly uncomfortable with after seeing how the dogs were mistreated.

Returning to England, Nuttal worked at the Third Space Gym, an award winning health and fitness spa in London, where she helped set up an Integrated Medicine program.

?I?ve always been interested in the body in a holistic way but I needed other things. I had a lower back problem from riding.?

She took a course on Optimum Nutrition through a Science Foundation Course. ?I worked like a dervish, I was determined.? she says. ?I surprised everyone. By the end it didn?t seem to take in nutrition in food.?

Changing direction again, she decided to stay in London rather than return to the country and the horse life. She took a job at the Garden House Boys School.

?I was so inspired by the children that I didn?t want to stop learning. That was when I discovered Pilates.? She trained with Beverly Witherington, who had in turn trained at the Kane School of Core Integration in New York City. Proprietor Kelly Kane, a certified Pilates and Gyrnokenisis trainer and teacher, lived in Ketchum in the early 1990s and is a frequent visitor to the Valley.

In the fall of 2002, Nuttall went to New York to study with Kane. For a year she was a member of the teacher-training program. ?It was an incredible honor, amazing but terrifying too. I was a lot younger than most of the people I was teaching. They were dancers or had backgrounds in physical therapy.?

In March 2004, she went to San Francisco with a friend. ?I thought? I want to be out west.?? Meanwhile, in May, Nan Cresto at Innerflow became pregnant, and needed to bring someone else into the studio as an instructor. Kane and Cresto are old friends from New York, trained together and came to the Wood River Valley together. Their businesses remain deeply connected, as Kane was a partner in Innerflow when they bought the business from Pilates trainer Beth Chiodo. Cresto needed help and called her friend, who asked her teachers if anyone was interested in going to Idaho, Nuttall recalls. The youngest by far, she jumped at the opportunity.

Now Cresto is looking to turn over the reins of the business and Nuttall is perfectly placed in the saddle. ?I?m in a position to make it permanent,? she says cautiously. ?We?re in negotiation to take over the business from Nan.?

Nuttall remains incredibly passionate about her life and work.

?I get to see results every hour through the day. You have to be patient but you?re engaged the whole time.? Many of her clients have had surgery or injuries. ?They need it. They?re trying to find balance. If you want to be able to get back on the mountain or whatever your forte is, we can help you to the fundamental things in life. It makes me sad that people think Pilates is just this exercise, its so much more, if you become connected to your body its the mind body connection. We all have the potential our bodies are incredible.?

She also does introductory classes for private class packages, as well as an autumn physio-ball that incorporates posture, strengthening and stretching. ?If you want strength you need length, strong long muscles,? she giggles. ?Lean mean skiing machines.?

No matter the distance, her parents are supportive of what she?s doing. ?They?re not sure where the girls got their drive from. My mother is all about languages, the world, culture and the arts.?

Her father founded the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, a private, not-for-profit Bahamian company, which promotes marine conservation in The Bahamas, and sits on the Bahamas National Trust.

?Through him is more my interest in the body and environment. My mother says ?you didn?t get your interest in running from me.??

In London, her sister Gytha has a successful interior decorating business and sister Amber is the Business Development manager for Robert Earl, who owns Planet Hollywood.

But it?s through another sister Tamara that she was inspired to work with prenatal and postpartum women. Seven years ago, Tamara committed suicide at the age of 30 when her only child was just 6 months old.

?She didn?t feel she could communicate,? Nuttall recalls. ?She loved her husband and son so much she wanted to spare them what her mother had done. She was afraid she?d go mad.?

In fact her mother, Sir Nicholas? first wife, also had postpartum depression but at the time the syndrome was nameless and unacknowledged. She?d also attempted suicide. Only the family was aware of this past. Even Tamara?s husband was never been told.

?It?s a combination of my sister and my aunt,? she says about her current focus. Her aunt, Lady Emma Mancroft is the patron of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust in London, which is somewhat akin to the LaLeche League, though a registered charity dealing directly with midwifery.

?I did a training course for pregnant women and had spoken to my aunt and mother and everybody about Tamara. I found out so many women have postpartum depression and men didn?t understand. A woman?s hormones are all over the place. We help them to have balance. If you have balance you have more trust in your body. Birth is a natural thing, but emotion can be held in the body. Pilates is a quicker method of learning to release these, especially if you have muscle memory.?

Bringing all these elements together is Nuttall?s mission. And not surprisingly she?s finding the valley a supportive place to grow.

?It?s through the work I?ve been doing that has helped me know myself. It?s miraculous. My friends can tell. They say ?You sound so alive.? I just want to know as much as possible.?

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