Sometimes a little bit of inspiration is all you need to get you across the line when you’re considering a career change. People within the health and fitness industry inspire me, but often my biggest inspirations can be found doing something completely different. Enter Ellen Jones. She started her career as a journalist 15 years ago but is now a lawyer. Living in Orange in NSW, Ellen is a mother-of-three and maintains her fitness in a pretty unique way. If you’re looking for some motivation to make a career change, then read on.
I met you when we were both studying journalism at university nearly 15 years ago. You’re now working as a lawyer. Why did you make the change?
I started doing court reporting for the paper and found the environment fascinating. I felt like I wanted to be part of it, not just an observer. I also met my husband Neil through that and he is a solicitor, so I got an insight from him into the kind of work he was doing. I loved many things about journalism, but it’s not the most family friendly of careers. I worked a lot of weekends and public holidays, and I knew as the kids got older that taking time off during school holidays would be just about impossible. Because Neil and I run our own firm, we have a lot of flexibility. I enjoy dealing with clients from all walks of life, and I use a lot of the skills I picked up in journalism for that.
How did you manage studying law and being a mum of three?
Sometimes not very gracefully, to be quite honest. Taking textbooks into hospital to read after giving birth to my third child was probably not ideal. There were more than a few moments of rocking a baby in a bouncer with one foot while struggling to do an assignment with tears of sheer exhaustion streaming down my face. I frequently blew off steam with much more than the recommended daily intake of red wine. On the whole, I guess I just gritted my teeth and coped because I knew that if I took even a semester off it would be just as hard getting back into it. I am also super organised, so I’d plan out the semester and get assignments done early. I tried to do some reading or work on assignments every single day – even if it was just 20 minutes.
What studying tips do you have for other people out there who have families or are working in full time jobs?
Be organised. Learn to study efficiently – you can get a lot done in a short amount of time if you minimise distractions and bad habits. Do not check Facebook every three minutes. Set aside time when your brain is working well – you might have to get up earlier or stay up later. And find healthy ways to relax. Yeah, I really wish I had taken my own advice!
What advice can you give people who are considering change but are nervous about making the leap?
There is really never a convenient time to make a career change. It’s awkward and difficult and may involve financial sacrifice and other kinds of pain. But the perfect moment is never going to come along and announce itself. I’d also recommend doing a lot of research and knowing what you’re actually working towards. I think the fact that I knew what the end game was helped to get me through the rough patches. If I had just been studying with some vague or unrealistic goal, I’d have given up for sure.
You are incredibly strong and fit and I know you attribute that to pole dancing. How did you come to be such an amazing pole dancer?
I agreed to go to a class with a friend in May 2014 at a new-ish pole dancing studio in Orange called Spinnin’ Pole Studio. I pretty much went because I thought it would be funny and cracked a lot of jokes about learning to be a stripper to annoy my mother. That class was literally life changing. From first spin, I was like “I am going to do this until my body won’t let me do it any more”. Six months later I installed a pole in my own living room and was signing up to as many classes as possible.
What do you like about pole dancing?
Everything. The creativity, the music, the impressive new abs and shoulders, the moments in class when we fall down laughing, the costume mishaps, the high heels and booty shorts, even the bruises. Especially the bruises! I love that there is always a new move to aim towards and such a sense of achievement when I nail it. I love that it is such a supportive and body-positive environment. I love that sense of female closeness and solidarity when you’re hanging upside down in a new move and an instructor or fellow student is literally holding you up by your bum (although we do have a few guys as well now, which is awesome). I love that you can really make it your own thing and work out routines, which are athletic and fast, or really sexy and suggestive. I love performing for friends and family. I love that my eldest child told his class for news that his mum is a pole dancer. I love that when I started pole dancing I was going through a really tough time in my life and I didn’t feel sexy or confident, and now I do. I love that, when I’m in the studio, I feel safe and supported and like I don’t have a care in the world.
How do you fit it into your life?
All my classes are in the evening at the studio, so I try to get something in the slow cooker for my family on those nights. My husband is pretty damn competent with the kids, which I know he doesn’t deserve a medal for but I feel lucky to be part of a great parenting team. I’m usually only out for an hour or so, so it fits in pretty well with my life. At the moment I do my own class on Monday nights, teach beginners and do another class on Wednesday nights and practice at the studio early on Saturday mornings. I have just started teaching in the past couple of months and I love it. It’s so cool to see my students picking up moves and developing a passion for it. It’s also incredible to see how quickly that muscle tone starts to develop even with a couple of hours per week. Other than that I practice regularly at home, although I’m often fighting with three children who think that it is their pole.
Do you do any other form of regular movement/activity/exercise?
I’ve always liked to run, so I try and get my dogs out for 5 kilometres or so a couple of times a week. I love bushwalking and now that my eldest is 8 and old enough to come with me it is even better. I try and do yoga every single day, even if it’s for 10 minutes, because it makes me feel so damn calm. I have an app called Yoga Studio, which is fantastic. I do splits and back flexibility stuff daily because I find it hard to keep up flexibility if I don’t do it all the time, and being flexible is essential for all the prettiest pole moves.
What’s your approach to health and fitness in general?
Health and fitness are important to me. I don’t take the joy of movement for granted. I like to be generally active in daily life – walking to the shops, bike-riding with the kids, jumping on the trampoline. There needs to be fun in it, otherwise it’s just like work. I really enjoy food and cooking and it’s very important to me that the kids experience a wide range of flavours and eat plenty of vegetables. I disagree with nearly everything I read about diet lately. All the quitting sugar and cutting carbs and demonising things like legumes and celebrity diet gurus – I don’t think it’s ideal for a balanced approach to food. I eat everything – including substantial quantities of bread, pasta and rice – and I feel great. I avoid anything, which is obvious rubbish, but I don’t overthink it. My favourite thing is cheese. I eat it for dessert.