Meet Sarah Wallwork – read about her holistic approach to create a healthy, fit body and mind.
Interviewed by Vanessa McCall.
Sarah wearing clothes from Iridescent Sea's HOTEL Resort-luxe label.
Sarah wearing the sweet Prairie Smock with the Denim Palazzos.
Sometimes in life, you come across people who have an intangible energy about them.Bodyschool founder, Sarah Wallwork, is such a person. She literally glows with good health and has an incredible megawatt smile that makes you smile just looking at her. Sarah’s health and fitness business is more than just fitness training. She takes a holistic approach to create a healthy, fit body and mind and focusses on connecting with community and nature on a deeper level. All nourishment for the soul. It is this ethos that sees Bodyschool classes conducted in the outdoors (rain hail or shine) and sees Sarah’s clients coming back again and again, many becoming lifelong friends.
You grew up in a very large family – six children! You have also had such a wide variety of work – from broadcasting to opening a shoe shop, all whilst having your own very young children.
I am the middle child of six. I was the first wild child in our family and she still lives deep inside me! I channel her wicked ways in different ways now. Sometimes she comes out! My siblings are everything. They are such a hearty, committed, hilarious, talented bunch of humans.
I did broadcasting and worked at Channel 9 on the Motor Show for a few years. I did ads, MC’ing and modelling.
I also opened a shoe shop in Freo called Wanderlust with some friends and had my second child, Ginger, who is now 20 years old. My other child, Stella, is 26. Opening a retail business and having two very young children was a wild ride. I am a very, very good salesperson but wasn’t so good at business back then. Retail is hard! After this I took a year to think, read every book on Buddhism & self-help, every part of my life was overhauled and I started doing fitness. I completed the study, got a job, trained friends and family and slowly, slowly built Bodyschool. I still train one of my first clients, Jason.
Sarah wearing the stunning Sahana Dress in Muscat Silk & Shala Bolero in black suede leather.
Can you tell me about your fitness business, Bodyschool? How long it's been operating for and why you started the business.
Bodyschool is 15 years old. The idea came about when I started running and aerobics to escape the mayhem of a busy house in my teenage years. I discovered all the positive effects of exercise and wanted to share this with people. I ate up information on fitness and read everything I could find on the subject.
Orla Larkin did my graphics & logo. I created the by-line Move, Laugh, Learn. I love learning and reading, laughter is pure medicine and I do a fair bit of comedy in my classes. Moving is life.
Tell us about the people you train.
I have the most incredible clients. Amazing community-minded talented funny people, many who have become dear friends.
I care deeply about my clients. I’m passionate about women’s health and I am a feminist. I want women to feel strong, fit and supported and to gain confidence in their bodies. I want women to feel vibrant and sexy. It’s been eye opening to see and hear some of the stories women have about themselves.
I love that your fitness classes are outside, regardless of the weather. What is it about the outdoors that you love so much?
My clients and I love being outside, under the trees, listening to the ocean, watching the seasons change. We also watch each other’s seasons change. The mornings are glorious. I’ve turned from an owl into a lark.
You describe yourself as plant-based - are you vegan/vegetarian?
I did strict plant-based starting about 6 years ago for a combination of reasons (environment, health, animals) and today I am predominantly plant-based. I really don’t want to eat dairy but have the occasional bit and same with seafood. I LOVE plant-based cooking. I’ve learnt so much and a book is in the pipeline.
Sarah wearing the elegant Fleur Silk Blouse & Denim Palazzos.
Do you still have your own veggie patch and if yes, how is it going? (And how much better do veggies taste picked straight out of the garden!)
My veggie patch is coming along. I’ve grown amazing herbs this winter and silverbeet of course. The dream is to develop an incredible food / herb garden and grow old, pottering and picking and then cooking & pickling - followed around by a few animals & grandchildren (hopefully!)
Music runs strong through the veins in your family. What instruments do you play?
I play a little bit of guitar and ukulele and I’m learning piano and singing from the incredible Cecilia Brandolini. She pushes me to write music and I am finally opening this door, albeit slowly. We do a mix of everything and I train her afterwards. I love being at the piano as it relaxes me and connects me to mum. (Sarah’s mum was a music teacher.)
You’re a singer in the Watkins Street Choir. How did this come about?
I am a very average singer but enthusiastic. I love singing in the Watkins Street Choir which is taught by my daughter, Stella Cain. She is amazing. Two of my sisters are also in the choir and my niece and other daughter Ginger. It cures everything.
You're a runner - how long have you been running for and what is your favourite distance? Do you have any running events on the horizon?
I have been walking this year but I plan to start running again next year and will hopefully be attempting a gruelling leg of the Margaret River Ultra for the fourth time. I like the half marathon distance. Running trails is incredible, there’s something wild about it.
I have been lucky that my body has agreed with running. But I make sure I stretch after every run and I do Iyengar yoga once a week. I’m not a natural runner, most of the time I find it hard, but there is nothing like getting to the point of peak running fitness. You feel invincible. This takes a LOT of work. I love running because it’s free and you can do it anywhere, especially travelling. I’ve run all over the world - along the Hudson River early in the morning, through a deserted St Peters Square in Rome. I pop my headphones in and head out to experience the start of a day in a new city.
You train the general public, teens and mamas with new bubs. What do you do for your own fitness?
I’m walking this year as the grief of my mum has demanded something more gentle and less taxing on the nervous system. I’ve become obsessed with steps (embarrassing!). I walk by the beach or up at my local park. I do yoga/pilates and two strength sessions plus cardio including walking, running and swimming (in summer).
Sarah wearing the statement dress Palermo in Golden Vine worn with the Shala Bolero in black suede also comes in green suede.
What do you do in your downtime?
I’ve been obsessed with Sauna and swimming in the ocean this winter. Thankyou Neighbourhood Sauna!
I’m in a fun book club. We break all the rules and have multiple books every time so you can pick what you like. I love reading. My fave book this year was Cloud Cuckoo Land.
I finish work Friday mid-morning, go to pilates and often take myself off to Luna to a movie. Afterwards, I might go and get a bite in Freo.
I love cooking and we love having big lunches that end with singing and music in our “Good Room”!
Scrolling through your Bodyschool Instagram, your posts are so eloquent and heartfelt. Have you ever thought about writing as a career?
I love writing and will continue to practise. I get my ideas when I am running or walking. The ideas, words and language float around in my head hinting at a piece. I also have a degree in English and I LOVE all word games - Wordle, Scrabble, Bananagrams, Words with Friends. I like playing with words and talking of course!