Login Cart

Finding Balance with Frances Cahill from PFI

Interviewed by: Nikki Heyder, Nutritional Counsellor, NOOD 

At Pressed Earth we advocate a balanced lifestyle and we when we met Frances Cahill from Pilates Fitness Institute we thought she was nailing it. So we caught up to find out a little more. Here's what she had to say.

Frances, you are a Pilates instructor AND a dietitian! What a great combination. What sparked your interest in these two areas?

Since I was little I was always into my dance and trained seriously all through high school with the view (a rather romantic view it turns out!) to perhaps pursue a career as a ballet dancer.

It wasnt to be though because my body type wasnt quite right.  Im naturally very tight and inflexible (thanks Mum!) and so this is something I always had to work hard at improving alongside my dance training. I started Pilates whilst I was still at high school because I had heard that it would help with my flexibility and overall conditioning and I have never looked back.

Pilates completely satisfies my love for fluid functional movement and has a discipline at the heart of the method which suits me too. As far as becoming a Dietitian is concerned, I have always loved food and cooking and really wanted to learn more about how what we ate could produce better health outcomes for people. I really enjoy being able to work with the idea that food is medicine to optimise health.


For those of us who don’t know, what is the difference between a nutritionist, a dietitian and a naturopath?

What a great question, there is definitely lots of confusion surrounding this one!

A Nutritionist is someone who can give dietary advice to generally healthy clients who dont need specific clinical intervention. For example they might consult and treat for weight management, optimising vitamin and mineral levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health management, addressing low energy levels and much more.

A Dietitian on the other hand whilst being qualified to give advice to the generally healthy population (same as Nutritionist), they are also trained to work in a clinical environment. Nutritionists and Dietitians usually complete the same bachelor degree but then to become a Dietitian you need to undertake additional post graduate studies which include practical placements in hospitals and other clinical settings. Dietitians can also offer work with patients in the following clinical areas; eating disorders, cancer symptom management, osteoporosis, tube feeding (e.g. nasogastric), paediatric nutrition, allergies and intolerances, gastrointestinal disorders and much more.

Both Nutritionists and Dietitians are trained to analyse an individuals diet and offer treatment based on the science of food and the way our body processes different foods.

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to healing based on natural remedies including herbs, mind-body connection and massage. Although dietary advice is usually included in the recommendations offered by a naturopath, it isnt limited just to dietary advice.



You and your business partner have owned PFI for 7 years – tell us a bit about pilates and how it can help our bodies…

Put simply, Pilates is just a smart way to train the body!

As part of the Pilates method we look at the body and posture as a whole and assess which muscles are tight, which are weak, which are overactive, which are underactive, which parts of the spine lack mobilisation and which joints aren’t working correctly and then work through repertoire that addresses just that. No time wasted on movements we don’t need!

It’s super efficient because we look at the body from a functional perspective and then chisel it and mobilise it bit by bit to completely optimise how it works and therefore looks. The cosmetic side of things is such a bi-product because if the body is working efficiently and effectively, your shape changes dramatically anyway. One of our favourite sayings at PFI is that Pilates will give you the best body that you are meant to have.

Pilates works from the inside out and we are also always working but stretching at the same time. We don’t forget about those deeper muscles that so often get missed and because of that, the change in strength and shape that you can achieve through Pilates is really unique. The active stretches produces excellent lean muscle tone without bulking.


What is the difference between reformer pilates and mat pilates?

Matwork Pilates classes are conducted on the mat, utilising your own body weight and small apparatus for resistance. The beauty of Matwork classes is the enormous freedom of being able to enjoy continuous fluid movement with uninterrupted flow but always at your level of ability.

Reformers are Pilates machines that use springs and pulleys to provide variable resistance to assist and challenge the body. The variable resistance with Reformer Pilates is what makes it so unique and is why it’s suitable for every level of ability.

Why would you choose group Reformer Pilates over group Matwork? It really is different strokes for different folks! If you are looking for faster results, group Reformer provides the more efficient group Pilates workout option. If you require a little more assistance or support then Reformer will also be preferable for you.


I recently tried out the Barre Attack class which I absolutely LOVED! Such a great work out. PFI is the only institute in Perth that offers this particular type of class – what is the difference between Barre Attack and ‘Xtend Barre’?

Thanks Nikki, we have loved having you at our Barre Attack classes! There are now a few different Barre workouts on the market but we decided to be the first to bring the Barre Attack method to Perth for a few key differences. Being dedicated Pilates people (ok, we are Pilates snobs, Ill just come out and say it), we are always fussy with what we align ourselves with.

The person who created the Barre Attack method previously ran a different Barre method at her Pilates studio in Bondi but being an ex-professional ballerina herself and also a very experienced Pilates teacher she started to feel that there was things she would want to change to make the method more suitable as the results werent quite what she felt they could be. Since that time Barre Attack was born!

Barre Attack is structured to ensure that the whole body is evenly addressed whereas other Barre methods may not focus on this so much. Barre Attack also has structured cardiovascular intervals to ensure that the heart rate stays up the whole time for an excellent workout experience. It also combines the functional fitness side of the Pilates method to make sure that all the movements are safe and functionally effective for the general population.


With regards to diet, what top 5 foods would you recommend that we try to incorporate in our everyday lives and why?

Thats a tricky question because I really believe that variety is the key. Im going to go with all fruits and vegetables, but not any one in particular, you should eat the colours of the rainbow with your fresh produce. Second one would be low GI carbohydrate choices like long grain rices, quinoa, oats etc because your brain needs healthy carbs to function well. Third would be low fat protein whether meat or meat alternatives. Fourth would be low fat and sugar dairy sources like yoghurt. Last but not least would be would be water, the ultimate hydration! 


You must have a pretty hectic schedule with running a business and making ‘you’ time. What do you do to ensure you have a good work/life balance?

 I am definitely sometimes guilty of living under my desk (or Reformer – which isn’t too bad then is it?) but it’s so important to look at the bigger picture and find that balance. Over the years I have tried to create work-life balance by not taking my computer home with me after hours and on weekends that I have off. I also love to spend my free time cooking delicious and healthy foods so that I don’t get to use being busy as an excuse to eat poorly. Lastly, my business partner and I have scheduled workouts factored into our day so that whilst we are busy helping other achieve amazing results through Pilates, we don’t miss out for our own wellbeing. It’s essential to practise what you preach!


Life can get a bit stressful for all of us at times – do you have any tips on ‘go-to’ exercises or foods to have when we are feeling overwhelmed?

I couldnt live without my daily green smoothie or cold pressed juice. Sometimes Ill make my own and then other times I will grab one of the Pressed Earth juices. I have become absolutely addicted to the Pressed Earth juices because I really appreciate the amount of fresh produce that goes into making each one and just how carefully controlled the process is to make them as nutrient dense as possible. I also love the fact that they arent too sweet and havent been bulked up with excessive fruit juices like most other juice brands.

My go to exercise would be the Pilates Hundred. For those of you who know Pilates, this exercise just gives you the energy and endorphins you need to get centred in your mind and body, all in one tidy and time effective little package.


What is in the pipeline for PFI over the next 12 months? Any new studios opening?

This is a funny question actually because we tend to fly by the seat of our pants a little bit! We dont have any specific plans to open any more studios as the ones we have keep us pretty busy and we really are passionate about keeping our quality very high, but we also never say never!

We love being a Registered Training Organisation that offers the Accredited Pilates Instructor Training Qualifications too and so we plan to keep expanding our training side of things to help promote a healthy Pilates industry with lots of high quality teachers out there in the workplace.


And finally, what does “balance” mean to you?

Balance to me means a healthy discipline without losing the fun in life. Lifestyle balance should be easy and enjoyable. Healthy food should also taste great, be fun to make and be accessible for everyone.  Your regular exercise choices should be activities that you genuinely look forward to doing. If its forced, no matter how good it is for you, it wont become a permanent lifestyle inclusion.


Stay up to date with Pilates Fitness Institute by visiting their website at www.pfiwa.com.au or follow them on Instagram @pilatesfitnessinstitute.

James Beare
James Beare