As a certified personal trainer, professional dancer, fitness influencer and founder of Train Like a Ballerina – the unique, ballet-based fitness program changing the way women work out – there’s no dancing around the fact that Louisa Paterson is an absolute boss.
Giving up her career as a professional ballerina to help other women strengthen, train and love their bodies, Louisa single-handedly built her empowering empire from the ground up. We just HAD to sit down with this changemakin’ Instapreneur to hear all about her journey from toe-pointing ballerina to total baller…
How did @trainlikeaballerina come about?
It was a lifetime in the making. I began ballet at a young age and was professional before I was 18. The life of a ballerina is an extremely tough one, and there was simply no help on how to gain strength and how to really look after your bod.
I saw firsthand how this effected women so negatively, and all I wanted to do was make a positive difference. I decided to stop looking for answers and began educating myself. Studying part time at University while working full time as a ballerina was definitely not easy, but everything I learnt was imperative for all women to know.
What started as a journey to better myself, developed into an entire exercise program specifically designed for women’s bodies to make them feel strong, empowered and utterly beautiful. After training others alongside being a ballerina became too much, my love for inspiring people on stage become a love for helping women feel confident in their skin.
Deciding to retire at 25, at the height of my career, was not an easy decision. But building a company with the potential to help thousands of women around the world was.
How did you come up with the idea?
I grew up in Sydney on the Northern Beaches. I began ballet at the ‘late’ age of 11, and at 15 I moved to Germany on my own to finish my training. After completing my schooling at John Cranko school in Stuttgart, I danced in many ballets and companies around Germany, ending my career as a Principal in a Theatre in Berlin.
My entire career was a constant battle with my body, both nutritionally and physically. I was tormented with injury after injury, with the worst being two major ankle operations which landed me on and off crutches for nearly 12 months.
Teachers often preached to us to get strong, be more flexible and be skinny, but with no education or knowledge on how. I decided to stop asking questions and start seeking the answers myself.
After completing my studies, I began training dancers in my company and the results were phenomenal. Train Like a Ballerina was initially designed to be a body-based strength & flexibility program, specifically for dancers.
Through Instagram, I started getting requests for personal training of non-dancers. I taught them the same TLB method. The results were just as if not more powerful. That’s when I knew, I had created something extraordinary that could really help change women’s lives.
How did Instagram help make your dream a reality?
Without Instagram I’m really not sure how I would have reached so many thousands of women around the world.
I would have only had the power to change the lives of the women in my close vicinity or city. Now my community isn’t just one city… Instagram allows my community to be the entire globe.
What were the biggest challenges or setbacks you faced in getting it off the ground?
I’m still at what feels like the beginning, so the setbacks are a daily occurrence!
The biggest setback would’ve been my struggle with technology. It freaks me out, and still does today. I thought I could build and hire a team to do everything technology-based for me – filming videos, editing, photography, creating and designing a website, writing an ebook, selling an ebook, client management… The list goes on. But when you have a new business, you don’t have any money!
As much as it scared me to learn how to do to everything on my own, I somehow just had to learn. It definitely wasn’t easy (struggle street to the max!) but now I do absolutely everything on my own, and that feeling is incredible.
What are your top Instagram hacks, tips or tricks?
This is a hard one. Everyone always thinks I’m an Instagram wizard, but honestly I have no idea what I’m doing half the time!
Invest in good editing tools. I use Lightroom for pictures and Splice for videos.
Your caption means just as much as your post (witty and educational always win). Aaaand, never take yourself too seriously. People will only follow boring for so long, or maybe that’s just me.
What inspired you to use Instagram to raise awareness for what you’re doing?
When Instagram launched I had a modelling account for many months. I did modelling on the side to try and save for my future business fund, and thought that’s all it was supposed to be used for. But every post only left me feeling empty inside. I couldn’t understand why posting a picture of myself in a bikini or on a photoshoot would change the world. What was the point except feeding my ego?
One day, I posted a workout and a girl commented how much it helped her. She said that just by doing this small workout it helped her feel confident enough to take on the world. That’s when everything changed for me. I no longer saw Instagram as a model set card, but as a platform to potentially help millions of women all around the world. A platform to inspire, to create, to share, to learn. To ultimately change the world for the better, one woman at a time.
What’s your main goal or mission, and how has Instagram helped you achieve it?
Inspire and empower as many women around the world as I possibly can!
If I can inspire one woman a day to move their body, which leads to them feeling empowered, strong and ready to take on the world, which leads them actually changing the world – imagine the world we would live in! Instagram helps me reach more women every single day to do this.
What would you be doing if @trainlikeaballerina hadn’t come to be? How has it changed the direction of your life and career?
Most likely still dancing. Although being a ballerina was my dream for so long, I dreamt it because I believed my dancing could inspire people. There was a point when Train Like a Ballerina started to take off, and I realised I had the ability to inspire and help so many more women than just the privileged few who were able to afford a ticket to the Ballet.
What’s your go-to way of motivating yourself when you’re feeling lazy?
Goal setting! Writing down your short and long term goals is the ultimate motivation.
Also, food. Every goal is reached faster with drool-worthy food waiting for you at the finish line. And trust me, you can have healthy, delicious, drool-worthy foods!
What’s your fave Instagram feature?
Multiple videos in one post is fantastic!
Especially with workouts, it allows my community to swipe through each exercise in each of my workout videos without having to watch the entire video.
It also makes it easier when you save a workout to refer back to it later when you actually want to work your butt off.
Your content is so raw and true to you! What’s your top tip for keepin’ it real and creating authentic content?
Stop giving a shit! We waste far too much time caring what other people think. What other people think of you is absolutely none of your business.
Always do what YOU believe in and what makes YOU happy. If posting a half naked picture with your ass out feels good, do it! If posting a piece of educational content about the Great Barrier Reef makes you feel jolly, then damn well do it!
But never do it for Instagratification. Because trust me, that fades. Be real and completely authentic. There’s no filter in life, so why put one on Instagram?
Go to bed every night feeling confident that what you put out in the world is for the better, or that you at least bettered yourself. If it didn’t, ask yourself, what was the point and why did you do it?
Tell us about your e-book! Do you have anything else in the works for @trainlikeaballerina?
It was such a big accomplishment to write my first book. My goal was to sell 5 copies but we ended up selling over 500 in the first week. That was a really exciting moment.
TLB is just getting started baby! My plans right now scare the bajeezus out of me, but they say no dream is too big right? I’m hoping to release a full online studio in the next few months as well as launch my classes in Sydney and Berlin in exclusive locations.
All of my trainers will be ex or professional ballerinas, so training up the most insanely talented team of trainers this world has ever seen will be next. Then a TLB clothing line, TLB retreats…. The dream never really ends to be honest. But baby steps for now!
What’s the biggest misconception around what you do? How are you trying to combat this?
That blonde ballerinas are clueless. I’ve been laughed out of startup meetings before even opening my mouth, just because of the way I look. It made me so upset at first, but then I realised knowledge is power. I have the facts, I have the dream and I have the focus, and if people don’t bother giving you the time of day then they’re not worth knowing or working with anyway.
What’s your advice for other women wanting to follow their passion or make a difference with Instagram?
Start. Just start. Take the first steps, and the next ones will come. Start even when you don’t know where the starting line is. I began studying Chemistry and Biology at University which I then changed to Nutrition, then did a 180 to my Masters in Personal Training. If you don’t know where to begin just MOVE. Every move you make in your life will bring you in the right direction of exactly where you’re supposed to be, even if you can’t see it just yet.
Your end goal is like one giant mountain. Sometimes at the bottom you just can’t see the top, but after a few steps you do. You won’t get anywhere in life by just being a dreamer. Get up every day, put your badass, boss bitch pants on and just do it!