Trainer Talks: Hande Demirel Pilates

In Trainer Talks I speak to the trainers and fitness professionals who inspire me the most. Many of them come from completely different backgrounds to one another, with their own approach to fitness, movement and health. I believe that there is no single one way to move, and for many of us, training in a variety of ways is both the most effective, and most enjoyable approach. I hope that this series will inform you of new ways to move, and even encourage you to try something new.

Following on from Emily Young’s interview, we’re now going all the way across the pond and then some to speak to San Francisco-based Hande Demirel. When I visited California last September, I searched Instagram for accounts to give me an insider’s view of SF. Hande’s bright posts caught my eye and I’ve been following her ever since. 

Briefly introduce yourself and your work.

Hey hi hello! My name is Hande (it’s Turkish and means “to smile” :)) I am a certified Pilates teacher and the creator of Let’s Start Pilates eBook that just launched in April! I live with my husband and our rescue cat in the sunny San Francisco, California. I am all about creating a healthy lifestyle in the simplest and most sustainable way possible, moving mindfully, and practicing lots of self-care and self-love.

I started my career in the health and wellness space to inspire and empower women to live healthier and happier through mindful movement and healthy lifestyle. After finishing my M.A degree in Education at the University of San Francisco, I found myself questioning what I really wanted to do with my life and career. I decided to enroll in a Pilates training program to see where it would lead. During the program, I realized that Pilates and wellness are my real passions in life. So, I got certified through multiple programs and have been happily teaching Pilates since 2017.

Besides sharing my passion through teaching, I also love writing about health, wellness, and my own personal journey on my blog, and my Instagram accountwhich allows me to connect with even more people around the world.

You’re originally from Turkey. How did you find settling into a new city?

It was my first time living away from my family, all alone and in a totally new country. It was very challenging and scary to start my life all over here. New city, new friends, new way of living…

So, I turned to fitness and food to forget about my anxiety and fears. Even though I was trying to eat healthy and exercise hard all the time, it just wasn’t working for me. I was struggling in almost every area of my life. I was unhappy with my body and weight, and I didn’t have a close circle of really good friends. I hated eating healthy, I hated exercising, I hated my job… you get the picture.

It took me so long to realize that if I just started on the inside, with my mind-body connection, that everything else would naturally take care of itself. I stopped trying to do what other people were doing and really re-connected with myself and what makes me feel good, that’s when I found health and happiness again.

How did you come to teach Pilates, and what does a week in training look like for you? Do you go to other kinds of classes?

Pilates changed how I relate to my body. It gave me the confidence in my body and myself to completely transform my health, my life, and my career. It empowered me in so many ways, on and off my mat, and I wanted to share that with as many women as possible. That’s why I started teaching and then wrote the Let’s Start Pilates guide, to help others get there more quickly than I did by giving you the tools you need to feel stronger and more confident in your mind and body.

Because of my job, I get invited to a lot of different fitness events in the city. So, I’m lucky to be able to try different workouts. But a typical week includes 3-4 sessions of mat Pilates I do at home using my guide, one Reformer Pilates class, and a vinyasa flow yoga class!

You’re an ambassador for the popular US-based brand, Outdoor Voices. Do you have ambassador roles, and how does OV’s ethos match yours?

I’ve been a huge fan and long time customer of OV before joining their ambassador team. So, our partnership happened really organically, and it’s totally a dream come true! We believe in doing things and moving our bodies daily, for fun. Whether it’s a jog in the park or a sweaty Pilates class with your friends. It’s about letting go of our expectations, rules, shoulds and should nots and just being active everyday.

Is there such thing as a typical day for you?

Yes and no. I have some non negotiables that I do every day but my schedule might look different every week.

The wellness world loves a routine, whether that’s skincare, morning or mediation. Do you have a morning or evening routine?

I loveee routines, especially in the morning. I like to start my day early around 6:30 am and have warm lemon water. Then I do a 20-30 minute of mindful Pilates flow. It’s then breakfast time, which is usually an avocado toast with eggs or oatmeal with fresh berries. Also, if I can meditate for 10 minutes in the morning, then it’s a really productive and happy day! 🙂

At night, I try to close my laptop and put my phone away no later than 8pm. Most nights, I’m asleep by 10pm after reading a book.

A lighthearted one: how do you take your matcha?

Uuu I love this one haha! I’m really specific about my matcha and have a little latte recipe I love doing at home! I use oat milk, high quality latte grade matcha, and add some collagen powder and a little bit of raw honey! 🙂

You can find Hande on her website, on Instagram and via her Pilates ebook.