How Fitbit Brought Attention To My Sleep Patterns (And Changed My Evening Routine)

Johanna May Pilates, JMP, Sleeping, Insomnia

Dear Readers:

On Tuesday, I shared a few ways to get a better night’s sleep and wondered, how have your sleep patterns have been this week?

Since getting my Fitbit, I have become somewhat fascinated with my own patterns as the device can track them with specific attention to deep sleep, restlessness and how many times you awake during the night. To have this information (and acknowledge it) has really brought attention to my evening pattern and I have started to make changes where needed.

This week, I wanted to share my new evening pattern with all of you.

I have begun to have an earlier dinner, though it’s not always a realistic or sociable goal. I do try and dine before 8:00PM on most nights. I am, thankfully, getting pretty good at the “no alcohol during the week” rule these days. This helps me to fall asleep with more ease and I definitely feel fresher when waking up. I enjoy a long, hot shower with drops of eucalyptus. I breathe in the steam and eucalyptus, which serves to relax my mind (lavender is a great oil for sleep as well).

Comfy clothing is also important to me. Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough. Soft, breathable fabrics are key for relaxation (at least for me). I try to crawl into bed by 9:30PM and put my phone away. I suffer from Tinnitus and can find it quite hard to get to sleep in absolute silence as it sounds like mosquitos are coming to get me. Alternatively, I fall asleep to the sounds of music or nature. Its very subtle, but its just enough soothing sound to put the ringing at the back of my mind.

I do have one bad habit I continue to follow; I tend to check the time in the middle of the night. Winter is truly here in Australia and it is very dark when my alarm goes off at 5.50AM. The sky looks much the same at 2AM. This can induce a panic when I think I am running late. On average, I get 5-6 hours of deep sleep and around 1-2 hours of light or restless sleep per night.

What is your evening routine? What are the habits you feel you need to change, if any?

Much Love,


On Holiday: The One Menu Item That Motivates Me To Workout Harder


Celebrity Fitness Instructor Johanna May Irwin of Johanna May Pilates in Sydney Australia.


This holiday season, I have found myself in Lennox head, northern NSW.

I’ve been on holiday for four days now,and (so far) it has all been very leisurely.  Days and evenings have consisted of swims, lunches, walks, dinners, and yes, post detox wine; most of my favourite things. The Boxing Day test match has commenced, and that it the only sound that fills the house.

Earlier, as I was working out on the reformer, Peace sat on the couch, drinking a beer. Halfway through my work out his dad sent us a text to let us know that we will be going to a fancy restaurant for dinner, and I was thrilled as that is yet another one of my favourite things.

Being the supportive partner he is, Peace decided that he should read the entire menu out loud for me to give me more motivation to work out.   He only needed to say spanner crab linguini and my workout pace doubled!

The holidays can be an interesting time for most of us and I am so thrilled to have been able to enjoy myself and relax after a challenging, rewarding and fulfilling year.   I hope all of you are enjoying yours as well and getting ready to start a healthy and happy 2015!

Much love,




Merry Christmas All!


I just wanted to take a moment to  extend a big thank you to all of my friends, family and clients.

As may of you know, this has been a huge year for me. Your patience, support and encouragement has been truly incredible and I couldn’t have done it without all of you.  We have some great things planned for the new year (well, I hope you find them great) and I’m looking forward to an even more exciting 2015!

In the meantime, enjoy your holidays with your family and friends.

Merry Christmas all.

Much love,


12 Must-Have Songs In Your Summer Playlist

road trip



‘Tis the season of summer road trips and I’m heading off bright and early tomorrow morning. My bags are packed, and I have my playlist ready to go. These are the songs that will be getting me through my 10- hour drive tomorrow. What songs will be driving you?

Beast of Burden.

The Rolling Stones

Marvin Gaye
Syl Johnson
Bobby Womack
The Rolling Stones
Ariel Pink
Roberts flack
Elvis Presley
Roy Orbison
Fleetwood Mac
Fontella Bass
Aretha Flankin
Much love,

C’Mon, Guys, Get With The Program: A Day Teaching The Boys


Dear Readers:

Many of you may not know that I hosted a special male-only class a couple of weeks ago.  Speaking candidly,  teaching the boys was fun, interesting and a little challenging, but mostly fun.  As they are all family, they definitely try things on a bit more, but for the most part, they were respectful.

In general, men who have not practiced Pilates before assume you lay on the floor and stretch. James, my brother-in-law, does Crossfit, Peace, my partner, is a kitesurfer, and John, AKA Dad,  is a golfer (and sometimes Pilates student). I am pleased to say that the boys picked up the idea of the class quite quickly. Even though the movements are small, they are definitely not understated. The class was really just a taste of Pilates but I feel like I’ve curbed their idea of Pilates to a more positive one. Read on for our post-class interview.


JM: When you were invited into the class, what was the first thing you thought?

James: “Uh, why am I doing this?”

Peace: “A few days before. I hope she doesn’t hurt me.”

John: “This is going to hurt.”


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JM: How did you view Pilates before the class?  Did you see it as Manly? Feminine?

James: “I never gave it a good thought. Maybe targeted for old women

Peace: “Neither. I had heard about it from girls and guys before.”

John: “Yep.”


JM: What did you expect the class to look, smell, feel like?

James: “A big open clean space for stretching and shit.”

Peace: “A clean room with strange looking machines. No smell.”

John: “Felt just dandy.”

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What surprised you the most?

James: “The actual burn in my muscles.”

Peace: “How hard it was to isolate certain muscles correctly.”

John: “How much it hurt.”


JM: Did anything funny happen while you were in the class?

James: “I couldn’t quite master the jump on the surfboard. And Johns moans and groans.”

Peace: “A lot of lost balance, which requires concentration, which is pretty hard when laughing.”

John: “Rutty and Peace.”


JM: Did you experience any “why did I sign up for this” moments?

James: “No actually enjoyed it.”

Peace: “Yes, about 9 years ago…”

John: “No way I was too busy trying not to think of how bad I was hurting.”

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JM: How did you feel post-class? Were you euphoric? Sore?

James: “I felt pretty good. Nice and limber.”

Peace: “Energised, not sore, but feeling a little burn.”

John: It hurt.


JM: What would be your best advice for men looking into Pilates?

James: “Get involved.”

Peace: “If you are getting repeat injuries doing the thing/s you love. Definitely give pilates a shot.”

John: Come with a heap of pain killers!


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JM: Did you feel competitive with the other men in the class?
James: “Not at all. I was clearly the athlete in the class.”

Peace: “Not really, Jo is the least competitive person in the world, not allowed. Plus we do different things a lot of the time.”

John: “No other way round.”


JM: Finally, Would you do it again?

James: “ Yes, For sure.”

Peace: “Do I have a choice?”

John: Absolutely.


Detox Blog: Wine: 1; Detox: 0

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Dear Readers,

So, as you know, I told myself that I would go 30 days sans alcohol. Apparently, I told myself a slight white lie (about white wine). The good news is that I am going longer without it than ever before. The bad news is that I still haven’t gone a full week…yet. Read below for the weekly round-up (no judgements).


Day #8

Monday is a great day for me. As I only teach a half day, I actually have the place to myself on the evenings. This usually involves a tub, a trashy TV show and a glass of wine. I’m doing all of that minus the wine. Starting the week off fresh feels good and I am feeling motivated!


Day #9

I went out to dinner with friends, all of them intent on knocking back a few during the meal. I am pleased to report that I had no real desire to join in. Could it possibly have been the $5 bottle of “chilled red” wine that turned me right off? Perhaps. I also found out that half of the dinner party guests were restricted to their bed and feeling horrible for most of the next day. There may just be something yet to this non drinking thing…


Day #10

Ah, The vicious Hump Day desire. So far so good (although it is only 9.30am).  I feel like this process is getting easier. I even booked a private Pilates class for myself to help keep my focus. Feeling good!

Update: I went out to dinner this evening and am sitting here, at a bar, with no desire to drink…yet.


Day #12

Ok, the jig is up. I want a glass of wine. In fact, I would love one. I am, however, getting into the whole not drinking during the week”. I feel like that is a healthy habit to continue. Having a glass of wine is like a treat for me. I’m missing my treat. No, seriously, I want my treat.


Day #13

So, as you probably guessed based on the last diary entry, I slipped once again. I went away to my parents holiday house and had  a nice cold glass of white wine placed in front of me. What can I say? I caved. I did, however, last two days longer this week round! That counts for something, right? As I am aiming for 30 days with no booze, i might be adding a few extra days onto this detox.


How do you feel about my progress? Are any of you keen to do this with me?


The Detox Blog: Can I Go 30 Days Without Alcohol? No. 29? Maybe.

Johanna May Pilates, JMP, Pilates Sydney, Best Pilates Studio, Health and Fitness, Yoga and Pilates,  Johanna May Irwin, Flowers, Bath and flowers,

So, I have decided to do the impossible, folks. I have decided to make an attempt to stop drinking for an entire month.  As in thirty days.  As in 730.484 hours. As in no alcohol.  Since I feel a public proclamation will aid in my success in this venture, I have decided to blog about my journey. Please find the entries for week one below (and check in every Tuesday to read about my progress).



Day #1

My family and I celebrated early Christmas and my partner had a work function which meant my weekend went something like this: Roast Pork, potatoes, Christmas ham, wine, champagne, more wine, bread and more wine. My body feels. well, truly dusty. It’s only November, and well, silly season is truly upon us. With the endless Christmas parties and end-of-the-year celebrations, its easy to let things creep up on you. I have never taken an extended break from alcohol but I am feeling determined.  My partners family is coming over for dinner tonight. This should get interesting.

Day #3

Hump Day nearly killed me. After one hell of a day, I would have loved (loved) a glass of wine. Instead, I went to sleep at 9PM. Fortunately, a nice glass of wine and sleep are pretty much on the same desirable level for me.


Day #5

I have to say, I am feeling pretty fresh over here (if I do say so myself).  Again, I enjoyed lots of sleep and and didn’t have to teach until 9AM which is quite a late start for me. I woke up at 5:30AM still feeling well-rested.  I am feeling pretty confident. Later Update:  It all happened so fast, I swear. I met a friend at a cocktail bar before a movie on a very hot day and well, I failed. So many bad choices. I have to say that I did love that ice cold glass of riesling. Let’s see how the weekend goes…

Day #6 & 7

Ah (AKA Augh), my first booze-free weekend in quite some time. It’s not easy, but I’ve got an early morning Booty Barre class booked for 8am Sunday morning’s for the next month. Hopefully, that will steer me away from trouble.   We shall see…


Have you ever done a month-long detox? Could you ever do one?



Feeling Bloated? Pilates Can Help.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 11.54.20 AM

by Johanna May Irwin

These days, it seems that mostly everyone suffers from some kind of digestive discomfort.  I am no exception. Having been diagnosed with IBS at the age of 12, I know all about bloating, believe me! Although my symptoms have eased over time thanks to dietary changes, cutting out all lactose, and reduced wheat, I still have a sensitive stomach.

The good news is that I have found that practicing Pilates really does ease my discomfort.


Here are three wonderful ways Pilates aids digestion.


The Breath

Throughout class, you are instructed to breath laterally. This allows your lungs to fill up to their greatest capacity. Not only does deep breathing help relax the mind and body–anxiety and stress are directly related to digestive issues– but each deep breath stimulates the internal organs, including the heart.

When the heart gets going, circulation is increased and you get fresh blood coursing through the body. This carries oxygen and nutrients to every cell while also removing waste products. Deep breathing is your easiest and most available internal cleansing mechanism.

Abdominal Strength

There is a strong abdominal focus in Pilates. This is important as the abdominal system supports the spine and the surrounding organs, including your digestive system.  Thus these exercises activate the core which engages and increases blood flow around the area.

Spine Extension

IBS sufferers often find themselves living with a closed front body, or poor hunched posture.  Don’t get down on yourself if you can relate to this; this is a protective instinct. In every Pilates class you will work on extending your spine which will allow your abdominals to stretch out, and creates a sense of space in the area. This space is essential for digestive comfort and reducing bloating.

Do you suffer from IBS or another digestive disorder? If so, have you found refuge in Pilates? Share your story below.

The Importance of Hydration

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You may not sweat as much in Pilates as you do in Bikram, but it is still important to hydrate!  Just as it is a fallacy that we don’t need SPF on cloudy days, so is the notion that we don’t need as much water if we’re not sweating.  Hydrate to flush out toxins, keep your energy level up and plump up your skin. ! Follow up with a cup of old-fashioned water and slip in slices of fresh fruit–such as pineapple, a natural diuretic– for added flavor!

Be honest with yourself, are you getting enough fluids?

(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)