This is the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who left her home and traveled to London to follow her passion to become a ballerina. It’s the story of how Rhiann Keys had to grow up quickly in a physically demanding and mentally tough competitive environment. Rhiann has always been fascinated with movement, anatomy, and posture – fascinations that led her to become a qualified Pilates instructor.
She developed the Ballet Fit programme for the English National Ballet and is also passionate about helping those suffering with back pain, which in 2013 accounted for 31 million lost work days. Rhiann has worked with some of the biggest corporate brands and individuals to help keep Londoners fit, well, and on the move.
“By the age of 10 – 11 your every day is about ballet. You’re training every day, every weekend, you’re already hyper analytical of your body and your movement.”[8:00]
Rhiann says that like most little girls she wanted to go to ballet classes, and after begging her parents she started going. Before she knew it, she was put in a tutu and sent off, and by the age of sixteen had moved into the Central School of Ballet away from home. As you can imagine, she had to grow up quickly and mature in ways that most don’t have to at that age.
“There’s no sort of union for dancers there’s no – this is your contracted hours. You stay until the job is done.”[13:24]
Out of school Rhiann found it difficult to get work in the UK at first. She’s 5’8 while most other dancers are 5’5 which made her stick out. While she was performing and living her dream, she found that there was no way to be dancing year round. She spent time unemployed and found, self-admittedly, that she didn’t make the kindest waitress. However, she decided to take some training in Pilates—a decision that led to a tremendous impact on her life and career. By the time she was 23 her stage career had mostly ended in ballet, but she had snowballed her Pilates training into a successful business.[18:00]
It’s no wonder that Rhiann’s skillset has kept her employed through the years. In 2008—£14 billion a year were lost due to back pain, just employees having to take off work for sick days because of pain. With our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, be it at the work place, or holding down your head to stare at your phone—the need for proper exercise and stretching is higher than ever.
Rhiann changes the way she works with her clients based on their clinical history, but also how they learn. Whether it’s auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, or visual—Rhiann tailors her programmes for the psychology of the individual. Going forward she wants to help people with major illnesses, like cancer, stay healthy and engaged with their work—something that can be really difficult given certain injuries and diseases and how susceptible they are to infection . She plans on continuing to spread the word and teachings to keep our bodies healthy through exercise and not just medicines and surgery.