In 2010, Steph Prem was on a high. A five-time national champion in snowboarding, Prem had just represented Australia in the snowboard cross event at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It was the pinnacle achievement in a sport she started on a family trip to Mount Buller when she was just 11 years old.
But eight weeks after the Olympics at the Snowboard World Cup, Prem’s professional snowboarding career came to an abrupt – and painful – end. “I had a horrific accident off a 60-foot jump that I didn’t land,” she says. Prem suffered extensive injuries in the fall, including fractured vertebrae, broken ribs, a dislocated hip and a torn hamstring.
“It was a five-year rehabilitation journey to get back to good health, both physically and mentally,” says Prem. “My journey still continues today. I’m 10 years post-accident, but I still have to do a lot of … rehabilitation and self-care.”
Central to Prem’s recovery was Pilates, a practice she’d started as a dancer before her snowboarding career took off. After her accident, she became a clinical Pilates instructor and in 2013 opened Studio PP. It also led to her becoming a ‘wellness ambassador’ for EpZen.
“Pilates is an ageless practice,” she says. “It’s something you can put in your toolkit no matter what part of your health journey you’re on.”
We find out how her relationship with the practice evolved, including the importance of recovery (like integrating magnesium bath salts into her routine).
Pilates is a “form of resistance training” that focuses on strengthening the core: “those deep core body muscles like your abdomen, your back and your pelvic floor,” says Prem. “If it is your first class, you’re going to rediscover muscles you’d forgotten about.”
It’s also a regime that strengthens the mind-body connection. “A regular Pilates practice is more than the physical,” says Prem. “It’s about stress relief, improved sleep quality, maintaining a positive mood and improving overall energy levels. It will leave you feeling a little more connected and empowered, not just in your body but in your mind.
Part of the method’s appeal is its versatility. “It can be tailored to you as an individual,” Prem says. “Whether you’re a fanatic or you’re a senior or someone just starting out, the foundations of Pilates movements are for all abilities, all ages and all body types.”
Where to start
Two of the most common types of Pilates are mat Pilates, which rely on body weight for resistance, and reformer Pilates. A reformer, explains Prem, is a custom-designed machine that uses body weight and resistance to get the most out of the Pilates framework.
For beginners, “Mat Pilates is a great place to start, especially coming off the back of the challenging year we’ve all had,” says Prem. “Being able to use your own body weight is really important.”
Start by finding a good, clinically trained instructor “who can show you how Pilates can be useful to you and complement the other kinds of exercise you’re doing,” advises Prem. “I would never recommend that someone replaces anything they’re doing with Pilates. If you’re someone who loves doing a lot of strength training or high-impact exercise like running or gym work, the Pilates should be something you use as a complementary practice to those things.”
Recovery: what to do after your workout
Like any effective workout, Pilates’s targeted movements can leave your muscles feeling tender the next day. Prem’s quick fix for any muscle soreness is a long soak in a magnesium bath with EpZen Relax Magnesium Bath Crystals. “Magnesium is an important nutrient for regulating a lot of the body’s processes including muscle and nerve function, blood-sugar levels and blood pressure,” she says. “If I don’t have access to a bath, I’ll have a simple magnesium foot soak to help aid circulation.”
Magnesium’s restorative effects extend to sleep. “Magnesium is responsible for regulating melatonin, which is what guides our sleep-wake cycle,” Prem says. “For me, non-negotiable self-care is about really good sleep. In terms of getting a quality night’s sleep and muscle recovery, magnesium is a huge part of that.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with EpZen.