Hello, I hope you all had a very happy Christmas, given the circumstances. I know it wasn't a normal year, but I hope that you managed to find ways to market and celebrate and congratulate yourselves for getting through 2020. And as a reward, I would like to introduce you to a very special festive episode of How to Fail with Elizabeth Day.
My guest is possibly one of my favorite people who I haven't yet met.
And I can't wait for you all to hear the episode before we get started.
I just wanted to draw your attention to a fantastic new book that is coming out in January. Some of you might know that I am an ambassador for Samaritans. They are an incredible charity who offer 24/7 care to those in need. The coronavirus pandemic has added to the pressures people face this year, with many struggling to access the help and support they need. Samaritan's volunteers have been there throughout providing support to those in need.
They've also been busy working with Kyle books on a new book called How to Listen.
The book is packed full of practical advice and tips about listening from Samaritans volunteers so that each of us can be a better partner, friend, parent and colleague from how to open up a conversation with someone who might be struggling to how to listen, fully empathize and reflect rather than Problem-Solving, and how to use gentle encouragement to help others share their stories.
The book demonstrates the power of listening without judgment, and it comes with some very well known contributors, including Dame Judy Walters and Michael Palin.
The book is going to be published on the 7th of January at twelve ninety nine in paperback and is available to preorder from all good bookshops and all good book website sites.
And I can highly recommend it as someone who fully believes in the power of active and empathetic listening.
This could not be a better book. Thank you so much for listening and enjoy the episode.
Hello and welcome to How To with Elizabeth Day, the podcast that celebrates the things that haven't gone right.
This is a podcast about learning from our mistakes and understanding that why we fail ultimately makes us stronger, because learning how to fail in life actually means learning how to succeed better. I'm your host, author and journalist, Elizabeth Day, and every week I'll be asking a new interviewee what they've learned from failure. Let me start by telling you a story, when I was 35, my marriage ended, I had lost faith in myself and my judgment. And somewhere in the midst of this emotional turmoil, a good friend took me to a spin class for the first time and I felt better.
I kept going and I kept feeling better and spin became my exercise of choice.
Then a little over a year ago, I tried out a pallet on a bike in a hotel gym. It was a fixed indoor cycling bike attached to a video screen which streamed on demand or live classes given by various instructors.
I was skeptical. There was no way this was going to be as good as doing it in real life, I told myself.
But I was wrong.
The instructors were amazing. The music was brilliant. I sweated more than I thought I was going to. And after a few months, we bought our own peloton. It saved us during lockdown because it was basically like having our own gym and overtime. It turned out to be cheaper than going to all those classes, too. But the thing that makes Peloton really special is its instructors. And my favorite instructor is today's guest, Lianhai Hornsby.
In twenty eighteen, Lee-Anne became the first female parathion instructor in the UK and since then has grown into a spin class legend. She has a devoted following, including multiple celebrities and lots of friends who are incredibly jealous. I'm interviewing her today.
Leon is brilliantly motivational, but not in an annoying way. She is upbeat but never inauthentic. She pushes me harder than I've ever been pushed, but does it with such kindness, clarity and encouragement that I don't notice it happening. She and her excellent taste in music have got me through some of the hardest times in my life, including two miscarriages and the not inconsequential matter of a global pandemic.
So, yes, it's safe to say, in spite of the fact that I've never met her, I've got a massive crush on Leon.
And when it came to who I wanted to interview for a special episode in that strange fulness time between Christmas and New Year at the end of the humdinger that was 20/20, I knew there was only one person who could make us all feel a little bit more positive. And that's Leon Hanes. Be Leon, welcome to Hyde to fail.
Hello. That is the kindest introduction I have ever had. I need my mum to listen to that and to know to always introduce me as kindly as that.
Yeah. Thank you. Oh, my gosh. It's such a pleasure. I'm giddy with excitement. I also feel like I know your entire family because I know that your mum and dad have a Patterson bike and you often shot them out in the middle of a class, which is very exciting.
It's so funny. I mean, they definitely understand Panettone and I actually got them the bike for a Christmas gift a couple of years ago when I first started.
And I mentioned my mum so much in the classes and I'm always like, Mum, that's a really big deal, you know, that I speak so openly about you. And she's like, Yeah, I know. It's great, isn't it? Like, so unaware, so unaware of just how special those moments are.
Yeah, because getting a shout out in a class, which I'd say is like one of those things that as a songwriter you always strive for. And I know that you as an instructor have to get through so many that it's quite stressful for you. So, yeah, Leon's mom, her name's Sue, isn't it.
Yeah, I. And how often she is a mum of Lianne so she doesn't want to go unnoticed. Let's be honest.
Yeah, well she's out today is a mom of Leon. So we're recording this in November. It's actually the first day of the second lockdown and people will be listening to this in between Christmas and New Year. And I think we all feel quite exhausted at the end of twenty twenty.
So how do you motivate yourself when you also feel exhausted? I get on the bike and motivate others. What's the key to that for you?
I think this year has been so unsettling for everybody. I am such a big advocate for energy, like good energy. And for me, the more good energy that I give out, the more I receive it back. So people are so kind to me on social media and I, I know how much they work out. The motivation can change their day, their week, their health and fitness journey. So that is my biggest motivation. Also, I was told very early on in my peloton journey during my training in New York by Robinson on who is our vice president of fitness program, in that you won't always be motivated.
So you have to be disciplined. And the reality is, I know how working out makes me feel. And I am somebody that's not hugely based on the numbers. I just know how I want to feel. I know that when I feel better, everything in my life, I feel like I can deal with it better and that may is something that I keep coming back to, because let's be honest, when it's dark, when it's cold, when it feels like it's just a really relentless year, the last thing sometimes you want to do is work out.
But if you could bottle and think about that end of the work out field and just really kind of focus on that, I think that it's just so worth it. The hardest thing is starting right. As soon as you're in the workout, as soon as you've done it, you're so grateful that you have it so true.
I always remember my friends, yoga instructor saying you never regret having made it to the mat. And I think of that so often that the hugs never regret. Exactly. The hardest thing is like getting out of bed, getting into your legs and getting there, getting into a place, a space of exercise. And you're so right that afterwards you're always so grateful that you've done it.
You're always so grateful. And, you know, it's the little things, for example, making the before process as easy as possible. So something as simple as laying out your workout outfit doesn't matter what you don't like, it doesn't matter what you're putting on, but making sure that every step that gets you to the bike or to your workout is as easy as possible so that it's like, okay, let's do this.
And I also think for me personally, at school and university, I thought I didn't like exercise. But actually what I now realize is that I was doing the wrong things for me. I was doing a lot of team sport and I always felt I was letting everyone else down. And actually what I need is to almost outsource my exercise to an instructor like you. And all I have to do is get to the workout and then someone else takes over what I need to do.
And that was the unlocking for me.
You know, funnily enough, I never, ever thought that I would be doing this. I used to be a professional dancer, and that was all I ever really, really knew. So when it comes to me training as well, I'm exactly the same as you. I have a pet and I like to put it over to him. As soon as I'm in that workout space. I totally get that. I wasn't somebody who during my dance career ever really went to the gym.
Obviously, I stayed fit through dancing, but I think people get into fitness for different reasons and at different times in their lives. And that's the connection, I think. So for me, it was a time in my dance career where I was really feeling like I needed a change. It felt a little monotonous. As fabulous as the career is, I needed a change. And then your fitness burst of energy starts at that place. Yeah, it's a weird one to think about, really, but I've always been into fitness.
I think the Periton thing works for me as well, because you pass it over to somebody else. Right. And it takes the control away from you and just allows you to be motivated and fully in it on the other side. Exactly.
Now, not everyone can afford a peloton or a personal trainer, but what advice would you give for those people who are looking for a way to be motivated themselves?
I mean, I know that during the first lockdown, I found a lot of Zoome classes, and I don't know if you've done any of them, but whether you'd advise people to get into it that way.
Yeah, I think there are so many ways. I think something that's definitely helped me. I know that you like to work out with your best friend as well, but whatever you're doing, sometimes you need to hold yourself accountable to something or to somebody. And if you're working out with a friend and listen, that can be going out for a run. The thing is, it's movement. You need to keep your body moving to be physically strong and active and also mentally strong and active.
And you can join the classes. You can find so many classes online or you could do your own thing as long as you're moving your body. And in that respect, when it comes to motivation, it's like you have to find something that you enjoy. So you could go out and play tennis as your form of exercise if you enjoy it. I always say in my classes, for me, that's the key. If you're enjoying it, you will keep coming back.
If you're not enjoying it, you'll find a million excuses not to do it. There's always something out there to spend a bit of time, like if a person isn't affordable to you, there are so many ways that you can still be working out. And I think it's worth spending the time researching those things that, you know, you enjoy. Write down your hobbies. And sometimes those hobbies will be things that keep you physically active as well. And that's a great place to start.
Actually, as you say now is like one of my hobbies is going to the cinema, which I can't do any. But I suppose that explains why I like having an instructor, because I actually quite like watching something and having an entertaining side, which is what you do brilliantly. But so many people at this time of year come up with improbable fitness goals as a New Year's resolution. So having never run ever, they will suddenly say, I'm going to run a marathon and I'm always a big advocate of not making an unrealistic resolution, because when you don't achieve it, you don't feel like a failure according to your own metric.
So have you ever been guilty of that, Leon? Have you ever set yourself an improbable New Year's resolution?
Yes, I tend to set myself unrealistic goals all of the time. Exactly. Like you said, it ends up making you feel like a failure because you can't get through it. It's something that I feel really strongly about as well, especially at the start of a fitness journey. And it's something that I really like to talk about, that if you set achievable goals that feel good feeling and when you achieve those goals allows you to think I'm going to start to make those goals a little bit bigger.
And that's how it works. If you set yourself huge goals in the beginning and you don't achieve them, it's so easy to give up because you've lost your mojo from the very beginning. It doesn't mean that you're not doing well. You just didn't make it achievable in the beginning. And that's something that now my list, I'm a very big list maker, so my lists have started to be based on things that really need to be done, things that can wait so that you have a bit of a clearer idea of the things you can achieve.
And it makes you feel good. I mean, something as simple as just ticking off the things that you know that you can do that you are in control of. I think it's very, very good for the mind. And I speak a lot about the mind because this year, especially, I think before you're even thinking about focusing on your fitness, I think your mental health should be first and foremost this year, especially.
Where does your famous phrase yes to you come from? Because it is such a lovely, all encompassing thing to say when someone is sweating through that at home, work out, feeling like they can possibly do the next hill climb. So where did it come from?
It's something that I just started to say and I think it's my way of including everybody. So during the last look down, my leaderboard grew enormously. The first live from home that I did. We took our classes to our mind and my partner Ben, who's also a pilot and instructor, we had a very small two bedroom apartment in central London. And the first class that we did from there, we had over ten thousand people in our spare bedroom.
And at that point, it's so hard to be able to have that feeling of intimacy that you want that and you do. And I personally care about every single person that has made the effort to be there. And every single person has their different reason why they're different story, the different things in life that have got them to that point to being in that class. And I want every single person to feel like they should be there, that they belong there and that they're doing a great job.
So for me, this Yeutter, you just started to be the catch phrase that I would say that made everybody feel like in that moment they were doing a great job.
And you call Sweat a sparkly fitness bubble, which is the best thing ever, because as an incredibly sexy woman, I really appreciate feeling like I'm actually just coated in glitter.
Yes, it's a much nicer way of saying you're really sweating right now. Yeah, exactly. You mentioned now that you're dating your fellow instructor, Ben Aldous. Now, tell us how people found that out, because it was during lockdown, wasn't it, when people recognized the spare room?
Yes. I mean, as soon as we went into lockdown, we had been dating for just over a year before then and we were just enjoying that. It was our thing. And then lockdown happened.
And like I said, we've actually moved now. But we were in a small chibi department and we were trying to take photos in different corners of the apartment. It didn't look like we're in the same place. And then it came to filming live from home classes and it's the same corner of the same spare room. And the only thing we could do was change the things that were featured on the corner of a shelf that you could say. And I think we know and we did change it for every class that would have different things.
I would have different things. And we knew people would notice. But it actually it became quite funny that we were changing it. And I think people enjoyed that. They were onto us in a very kind way.
It was very sweet. I will get onto your failures in just a second. But your classes are also brilliant because of your music choice, and we're going to chat a bit about the fact that your background is in professional dancing.
But if you listen, Hanes B were a piece of music. What track would you choose?
Oh, that is such a good question. It would probably be. And this is because I was listening to this morning Shiek Everybody Dance because disco music is the music that makes you want to get up and dance. I will always get up and dance at any given moment and disco sparkly. I think that's me. Shake everybody down. I love it. And by the way, Elizabeth, that would be different every single day. That's so like a rock song, but I think that is the one.
Thank you. So thank you so much for your time. Thank you. Yes. Most people can ask what the karaoke track would be, but I like to think, like, who would bother you?
Let's talk about your failures now.
Thank you so much for sending them in. So your first failure, which I think so many people are going to relate to, is your failure to see yourself beyond your problematic skin. So tell us about that. I mean, your skin is flawless as far as I'm concerned now, but it wasn't always like that. So tell us about your journey.
So as long as I can remember, I had terrible skin. And I think now that my skin and I've worked really hard to get it to where it is now, it's probably hard to believe that it was as terrible as it was. But all through my teenage years, all through my 20s, I'm 33 now. And I went on to medication to Aquitaine a about eight months ago, and that's what helped my skin. That is no easy route.
And I really do want to be very honest about that. There are quite big side effects with that mental health being one of them. And I think unless it really is your last option, you know, I always wanted to be very open about the fact that to get to this point with my skin Narro Aquitaine really did play with my mental health. But I was at the point where I really felt so low before that it was worth it for me.
Going back to my teenage years, I would put so much makeup on every single day. The second I woke up in the morning, I would be touching my face. Could I feel any new bumps immediately? Look at myself in the mirror, never see anything, no features, nothing apart from my skin. And then I would sit there and I would be like the everything because I'd be plastered on the makeup. I would always have concealer and powder in my pocket, ready to quickly cover something I always pick in, always very red going into a dance career for me with the best career I could have gone into because most of the time I'd be in stage makeup.
So I would be more than happy to have a face full of makeup because I felt like it covered me and I avoided eye contact with people. I apologized when I saw people. I remember apologizing to my friends for years. You know, I could make them have a fabulous time with them, have a lovely outfit on. And all of this sounds very trivial now. But at the time I would just say, oh, sorry about my skin.
It's really, really bad to look back and think about that. Now, I'm not so many other things going on that was so much more important than that.
But I couldn't see past it. I felt that when people looked at me, they were only looking at my skin. And I would say that people stopped looking at my skin, stopped looking at my skin, and this carried on until I actually started at Peloton. And by then my skin was a little bit better for me. Very hormonal. So things that happened in life, it would flare up, it would calm down, it would flare up, it would calm down.
But when it got to the point when we could have membered in the studio, we used to do a meet and greet after, which was lovely because people fly in from all over the world to come and take the classes. So to be able to meet them after and congratulate them on a milestone or just to connect with some of the members, which is such a huge part of the job for me, I would feel like the members were looking at my skin and I would be a disappointment to them that I wasn't a perfect thing that they were saying on the camera.
And I would cry sometimes before meeting the members, often knowing that I'd just given them an experience that they loved for me that was taken away by the fact that they'd then have to see the real me. And so I thought, this really has to stop. It has to stop. So that's when I finally went on to acting. I always knew that it was a final step for me because it is quite invasive. But the change since then has been so dramatic.
Like the weirdest thing for me now, I don't even think about my skin. I can't believe that people have gone through life not thinking about their skin. When it was the thing that really helped me back for so many years, you poor thing, and you said it sounds so trivial, it doesn't sound trivial at all.
I had a patch of having bad skin when I was at university. I got through my teenage years. It was fine. And then suddenly it kind of cropped up. And I remember that feeling of waking up in the morning and not knowing what you were going to see and how distressing that is. And I totally get that thing of like going out, seeing your friends, worrying about your makeup was sweating off or that you need a, like, touch up so that people wouldn't be focusing on that one bit of you when you've got so much more to offer and to live with that for years and years and years, especially when were a teenager, must have been so hard.
Was there anyone teasing or bullying you about your skin or was it all internal insecurity?
Funnily enough, most of my friends would say and everybody says yes, everybody said it's never as bad as you think it is.
But at the time, you're so far removed from that place because all you can see or you can think about is your skin. You can't see beyond that. You can't think, oh, I look quite nice today. You're like, okay, in this light, you can't see the bumps in this light. Oh, it was quite nice there. And then you get to social media and you put filters on and nobody looks at how they actually look.
And it's dangerous. And it's something now that I refuse to do unless it's a really silly filter that is so far removed from me. And maybe it gives me the feeling of having a little sparkly fitness bubble, which that one I am into, but I'm very strict about no filters that make me look like I've got perfect game because it's unrealistic and it's really damaging, especially if you're somebody who grew up not having that skin and you think that everybody looks perfect apart from you.
Yeah, good for you. Do you think it taught you something, that period of your life? Because I'm going to embarrass you a bit now, but you are an astonishingly beautiful woman and I'm sure you probably don't think you are because you had those years of not feeling that. And I believe that that's part of what makes you special is the you have such a degree of empathy for others that you can sense even through a video screen. Do you think that those years of feeling unattractive have taught you something important?
Yes, I think so many people would probably be shocked to know that that's how I felt for so many years, because I don't think I gave off that impression. I think I am quite confident person and I always think that I've been able to see past the feelings that have held me back. I've always been able to find a positive out of these situations. I think looking back now, it enabled me to be relatable. I think one of my strong points now is the fact that I do have empathy with people.
I am relatable, and I think that comes from knowing that everybody has their thing, even if they come across as really confident, even if they come across as if they're totally fine, everybody has their thing. And it's a great reminder to always be kind because even the most confident people may be feeling deeply unhappy because they think that they have terrible skin or whatever their thing is. And I think that I will now take in my 30s all of those years of bad skin for what it's given me now, which is being able to really know that everybody deserves to be treated with kindness because everybody is going through something, whether it's trivial, whether it's really important to them or whether it's life changing.
Everybody has their thing. And if you can be open enough to then treat people with respect and kindness and try to make people feel good, which is something that I try to do every single day, I want to make people feel as good as they deserve to feel because I know what it's like when you don't feel like that. So that's a massive thing I've learned from bad skin over the years. I mean, I love you.
That's just such an amazing answer.
Oh, I love you. No, know, I love you. OK, we've got to stop.
But you mentioned that you went on Accutane and that those side effects. Do you mind me asking about those side effects? Because if you were being a panettone instructor during the time that you were taking it and you were feeling really low, that must have been a very hard thing to handle.
Yes, I started Accutane at pretty much exactly the same time that we went into the first lock down. So some of the side effects and there's quite a few for Accutane, it can be from having dry lips, which is a kind of real minor side effect that I had and then going. Up to feeling really quiet down, and every month I would check in with my dermatologist to assess how I was feeling mentally because that's something that can be really affected.
And at first when I started to feel down, so I did a six month course about three months. I started to feel a little bit off, but we were in a global pandemic. Everyone felt a little know off. So I put it down to that. And then I started to realize that the only kind of sparkly moment in my day was when I was teaching my classes. And other than that, it was very difficult for me to feel happy or it was a struggle to even feel kind of level.
So I did come off the medication slightly earlier. The funny thing is I've always been quite used to a real up and down life at the dance. You have moments of huge highs on stage and then lots of moments of low when you're either not working or you're spending hours on a tour bus or you haven't been paid from something to come into a job like Panettone, where you have moments of high and wanting to give all of your energy to people on the bike and then maybe not feeding off of the bike is something that isn't that unfamiliar to me.
But it is something that in my 30s compared to my 20s, that I'm not really willing for that to be how I want to live anymore. So, yeah, to me, I came off the medication because I don't want my classes to be the only sparkling moment in my day. I want to feel like that as much of the day as I can. And that's not to say that I'm unrealistic and I live in this funky little bubble. You know, I'm very open about life, not always being like that.
But I do think that the pursuit for perfect gain isn't worth not feeling right in the mind. Yeah, but we found a happy medium a lot along the way. And I just feel so happy. I have to say this. I get so many messages from parents saying how lovely it is. And it's all a weird one to say this, because I always feel funny when I'm saying something good about myself. I'm not sure why, but I think to know that parents think that I'm a good role model for their children because I don't have a ton of makeup on now or I'm doing something that they would love to see their children doing that for me is one of the biggest compliments that I could get to make young adults or teenagers or children feel good about themselves and feel like they have somebody to look up to.
Amazing. I find it very intriguing that you find it difficult to say nice things about yourself, but we'll get onto that.
Don't you worry. Just tell us quickly about your dance career, because you dance with some really major music stars, didn't you?
I did, yes. I had a really fab, successful career as a professional dancer and I worked mostly in TV and pop taught over the years. I was a very, very featured reunion dancer, which basically means that when step at seven came back a lot of the 90s, boy bands and girl that came back, I was always on that tour and that was a dream come true. I mean, being in rehearsals, learning choreography for routines that I would have stood in front of the mirror as a child learned and was always quite embarrassed because it was like, I already know this routine.
But those the but then I mean, I did stuff with Robbie Williams. Kylie no, take that Taylor Swift one direction, which is always.
Yeah, always such a big one.
Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney. I did girls aloud to their final tour before they went their separate ways. And I just feel like it was everything I wanted it to be, to be honest. Looking back now, I am so grateful for the opportunity I had. I traveled the world. I did pretty much everything that I wanted to do. And at the time, you don't think about that.
You're so in this bubble of being self-employed, is it as amazing as the job is? You're always chasing that next job. You very rarely have time to stop and reflect and look at what you've done. But now that I'm not dancing anymore, I do look back. I thank God that was incredible. I mean, I started dancing at three, went to the Royal Ballet as a junior associate from the age of nine to 12, went to a performing arts college from seventeen to nineteen and then had eleven twelve year career.
So I'm very lucky and grateful to have had a career in what was my passion. Dancing is all I ever knew wasn't what do you think you're going to be when you know I am going to be a dancer and to be able to be in a job now that I love equally, I never thought. I couldn't see beyond I thought at 30, I'm never going to do anything ever again. That's what I honestly thought. And is it your experience with me?
I tend to find that when I do celebrity interviews, the bigger the celebrity and the longer they've been doing it, they tend to be the nicest ones. It's the ones who are sort of starting out who can be a bit sort of dodgy and media trying to within an inch of their lives. Has that been your experience, like you've mentioned, some huge names there. Who was the nicest of anyone you've ever worked with? I mean, you probably won't want to say because you're too nice yourself, but I'm going to ask you anyway.
Was the nicest.
So one thing that I never, ever forget very, very early on in my dance career, I did a music video for Paul McCartney, Sir Paul McCartney. And in between takes I mean, video shoot end up being a really, really long day, a great but a long day. You're looking at 12 to 14 hours and more. And in between one of the takes, we could hear the music. And Paul McCartney was in the corner with his guitar, just singing a very low key.
Do any of them sing? And you're like, oh, my God, we're just basically having a private gig with Paul McCartney. This is absolutely incredible. You're totally right. The longer that people have done it, the kind it they seem to be. I think anybody that got into the business or the industry before social media really took a very strong hold tend to always be the most down to earth. Actually, a lot of the artists that I've worked with over the years, I mean, take that were always incredibly, incredibly kind steps.
I absolutely love Kylie Minogue. I only worked with her a couple of times, actually. And once I wore what was a wig, a shoulder pads, which was very, very fine, hot pink wig as shoulder pads. And my microphone got caught onto the shoulder pad and I pulled it over. So, I mean, that's where that story and that was not my finest moment working with Kylie, but there we go. I always favored working with somebody that had been in the industry longer.
I also think that they have at times better artistry and also a love for what they're doing as opposed to a love for the same. I thought at the same time with what they loved doing as opposed to just wanting to do it, to be famous for 15 minutes.
And as a dancer, I'm guessing that you have to get used to receiving criticism, I mean, especially as an associate at Royal Ballet. How difficult is that?
Looking back now? You can't believe that, for example, an audition process may be an eight hour. This isn't all the time, but this was definitely some of our auditions along the way, an eight hour day where you obviously make yourself in the morning look as good as you could look. You really look the best that you can look. You dance in your socks off. You're given your heart to somebody to sometimes tap on the shoulder and say thank you.
And that can be in front of all of your friends, in front of people that sometimes look up to you and you learn to develop such a thick skin. And actually, you do learn to understand and appreciate that sometimes you're not right for that job. If somebody needed a five foot seven blonde haired girl, it would be me or, you know, I know that I would have a chance. But if they didn't want that, then you just start to accept that you're not going to get everything.
I think it comes with pros and cons. You learn to sometimes not take things so personally is such a tricky one at the time. You really don't give much to it. You mentally move straight on to the next job. OK, what's the next audition? And I think the older you get the audition process, it became slightly kinder because you would have worked with people slightly more over the years. But it's definitely tough. It's definitely a very tough industry.
And I think the moments that people say are, you know, your X-Factor moments or backing dancers on tour is where it looks so brilliant and the outfits are great and the lights and the music and you think, oh, just looks so great. Like with everything there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that get people to that moment. And those moments behind the scenes is sometimes really tough on people and not everyone can handle that. The audition process has changed a lot over the years, but when I first started, it was definitely tough, definitely a tough process.
And do you think, given what you said earlier about you find it uncomfortable saying nice things about yourself, the people of message, do you do you think that's partly why?
Because you've had to get so used to being neutral about feedback, whether positive or negative and. Moving on, yeah, and I also feel like I spent my life as a backing dancer, so I was never the person who received the praise or the compliments, I was always dancing for that person or behind that person. So for the feedback to come directly to me, I really appreciate it. I listen to it wholeheartedly. I do my best to connect with people and thank them for being so kind.
It just makes me clam up a little bit. I just can't believe that people are that kind and that people feel like that about me. And I'm not sure why I feel like that. To be honest, the longer I do this job, the more I understand it. I just love to be on a level with people. So I just really wish that I could tell every single person that is so lovely to me just how much they change my life as well.
And it's impossible to do that with the amount of messages. But that is something that for every person that says something nice, that builds my confidence slightly more, and that's something I would never take for granted.
William? Well, the thing is, it's like the reason you're loved is because of exactly how you are. So the fact is that you are so rooted and you don't feel better than anyone else. And the way you just express that is is really beautiful. And it leads us on to, I think, your second failure, which is such a big one. And again, I relate. It's so hard to this your failure to value yourself enough in a relationship.
So this is prior to Ben.
But course, through your relationship history and your experiences in that sphere, what I'm talking about, that's probably what it is to relationships that I had prior to being with Ben, who is just everything I could have wanted without that sound didn't really cringe. And he will not believe that I've said that.
But oh, you guys, he's such a decent man. You can tell. You can tell on Instagram and carry on.
Sorry, I had a really terrible breakup in my mid 20s and without going into a huge amount of detail because this could be a different episode in itself. I mean, it crossed over with a very close friend of mine, which then really damages trust in so many different areas of your life and your being. And I really pride myself on being a very good friend. And I think my mom has always said to me, to have good friends, you have to be a good friend.
And I've always made sure that I tried to be the best friend that I can be to the people that I love and adore and that very close to me. So to have a relationship that broke down and crossed into a friendship group was really, really difficult for me. And I don't think that I healed from that relationship enough before I went into another relationship. And I think that tends to be maybe what happens sometimes. And I definitely did go from relationship to relationship.
And I think looking back now, it's because I didn't value myself enough. My past relationship before then was I lost so much confidence. It was the same pattern that used to happen over and over again. And every time it happened, you lose a little bit more of yourself and then you feel like you've spoken to your friends so much about it and you're going to bore them if you say it again and then you feel so. And this was something that was so true to my life.
You spent so much time feeling unhappy and trapped and like you can't believe you're in a relationship like this, that when you see your friends, you want to be a happy time. So you don't want to sit there and say, listen, I'm really unhappy this isn't working. Sometimes you do, but sometimes you want to forget and have a good time and just cherish those moments of feeling free and happy. And for me, I knew I needed change and I knew it's that thing that people say it doesn't have to be this hard.
And that's something that I'm sure so many people have been. And you try to make it work. People give you their opinion and you're like, yeah, but yeah, but and actually, maybe it's because you don't want to say. I used to think I can't believe. I mean, it's so funny now that just before that I really was thinking I'm too old to start again. I can't do this again. And now, you know, I'm thirty three and I'm like I feel like it's all just beginning to be honest.
But at that point I really had such confidence that I was that I can't do this again.
And for me the huge turning point was knowing I needed change but having no energy and no confidence to know what that change would mean. And then that's when Panettone came around.
So for me, I really, really wanted the job because I wanted to be financially secure and I wanted to have something that was mine that was a fresh start and. When people say that Periton changed their lives and so on, that bandwagon, like it completely changed everything for me and now I look back and I almost the only time I really feel sad is when I think I can't believe that I allowed myself to be treated how I did. I can't believe that I wasted so much time and wasted so much advice that was given to me that I didn't take that, you know, like with so many things, like with people that are smoking or doing whatever.
Nothing changes unless you want to do so. The second that I thought, I don't want to do this anymore, that's when everything changed. But I think, you know, a lot of people know me now from a really happy, healthy relationship with Ben. And I like to be very open about my past. That wasn't always the case for me. And I think that was something that changed my life so, so massively and why I always I feel very caring and empathetic towards people that are going through similar things because I know there is something so great on the other side.
If you're willing to go through the journey of a breakup, which is never easy, but so worth it, I could not agree more.
And many of my experiences sound quite similar to yours in terms of spending time in a series of long term monogamous relationships throughout my 20s so that I was like I wasn't single from the age of 19 to 36. I was like with someone and I think so. Right. When you say you're grateful for it now, but you I wish I'd learned the lessons more quickly.
By the same token, I met the love of my life, age 39, when I felt like I just don't have the energy to go through this again. I really don't. And now I'm engaged to the most amazing man I know. And he's amazing.
He's better than I am Panettone, which is super annoying.
I try not to run better than I am now, but, you know, I don't dwell on that either.
Okay, fine, fine. But I think it's so important for people to hear that it's never too late to change your life. But tell me so I don't want you to go into detail. But when you said that relationship in your mid 20s crossed over with a friendship group, was it that your ex then moved on with a friend of yours?
Yeah, and whilst we were together as well, and it felt like my world collapsed. And funnily enough, we were all dancers. And it was during the Olympics closing ceremonies in London 2012, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Hands down. There were a core group of dancers that did some incredible performances with so many incredible artists and stars, and it was the absolute highlight of my dance career.
But at the same time, I had an ex-boyfriend and one of my very close friends on the same job. And to be able to deal with that in your mid 20s is incredibly tough and embarrassing. It felt really embarrassing at the time. And to look back now, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. But that's the thing about hindsight. It's so easy to look back and to see a situation for what it is. But at the time, you really can't say that.
And I think the best advice that I could give now is that in those situations when you can't see it, you have to listen to your friends and the people that are close to you because they care about you. They are telling you and giving you advice based on looking from the outside in. And if you don't take that advice, nothing changes. If you do trust the people that love you wanting the best for you, then I think it's slightly easier to navigate through situations like that.
I had a partner that was so emotionally and mentally damaging to me. And I think when you're making excuses for the things that people are saying and your dinner and your laughing off your partner's stories or words about you and go, oh, that that just happened. Now you want to be like, look at me now. I told you I didn't need you. And that's such a great feeling. And I always think of my family and friends always say this is that the good people always come out on top.
And if you know that you're a good person, then you just have to keep moving in the direction that you think is right for you to be brave enough to be brave.
I'm so sorry that that happened to you and I'm so glad you are where you are now.
Do you think I mean, this was certainly my experience that I think a lot of women end up being people pleasers and outsourcing their sense of self to what someone else wants, because that's how they gain self-worth.
And because you were saying, though, that beforehand you were a backing dancer. So it was always very much you doing things for other people professionally.
Do you think that happened personally as well as. Your romantic relationships? Yeah, absolutely, I put my partner's feelings and dreams and whatever they wanted to do on such a pedestal compared to what I wanted to do. I always thought it was so amazing that my partner, Mason, but I never felt like that about myself.
And I think that looking back at those relationships now, I'm such a perfectionist and it's something that I'm really trying to work on as I get older, because let's be honest, perfection doesn't exist. But in my 20s, I really I wanted to look maybe from the outside we looked like a great couple and I really wanted to keep that facade up, I think, because I didn't want anything to go wrong. I don't know whether that's related to being a people pleaser or just the fact that I wanted everything to be in its place.
Everything needed to be perfect. I just had this idea that you have to make things work. I don't know why that is. I don't know whether. Because that's what we say. You think you get with somebody in your mid 20s and then you stay with them, you get married, you have babies, you do this and it's like that. What we perceive sometimes as being the normal and it's not it's not the normal. That's not how it happens.
It's OK if it doesn't happen like that. And I think if I had felt that way in my 20s, I would have less in relationships a lot sooner. The idea of how I should be living that was what I focused on as opposed to what I actually wanted know.
It makes so much sense. And people say to me, now you're 33. Are you thinking about children or this or that? And of course I am. But the reality is that hasn't happened for me yet because I was in a really unhappy relationship. And if I followed what everybody else thinks is the right way to be, I would not be competitive. I would be desperately unhappy. But maybe to the outside in I would have life as it's supposed to be in other people's eyes.
And, you know, when they say they who say, who are we trying to kill other than really ourselves. Yeah.
And what do you think is the key to a good relationship now? Laughter Yeah. Me, it's laughter. Ben and I laugh every day and I went many years without laughing many, many years about laughing. I think communication is a huge thing.
I mean, we've just moved into a new house and we are having to compromise and communicate on things. And it is challenging at times.
I think something that's very healthy for me and Ben is that we have our own brand and our own direction in terms of work, which means we both have our own things going on, which I think is very, very important to still have your own life. One, it gives you something to talk about, too. It's not that I think you should know that you're always going to be okay on your own, but I don't think that's a bad thing either to be so confident in yourself that you're not relying on everything from your partner in order to be happy.
Even if that's a hobby, it doesn't have to be a job or anything. It can be a hobby. It can be something that you have that gives you happiness, is you on your own as a person. And if you can find those things, if you can then bring that to your relationship, it's hopefully a recipe for happiness. I mean, it's hilarious to me that I'm doing this and even talking about relationships, because up until Ben, I mean, I have failed at every single relationship.
The one thing that I've always taken away and that I say to my friends, now, if it feels hard and you have moments where you're like, why does it feel so hard? Chances are it's probably not right. I mean, you will go through really tough times with your partner and you have to know that you're with the person that you want to do that with. The good times are great, but you have to know that you're with somebody that when it gets really, really tough and life is hard and it will get hard, that's still the person that you want to spend your time with and you want to work through those things with.
Exactly. And someone that you're not scared of being honest with. I think it's so obvious.
But honestly, it's taken me a lifetime to learn that that I should not feel afraid to express what I'm feeling to the person I'm spending my life with.
And I really did for a long time.
But I actually think that you are perfectly placed to give advice, because, as I always say, failure is data acquisition.
So the fact that you failed in past relationships means that you've learned so much that it's very kind of you to share. But I am aware that we're running out of time, ironically, because your third failure is your failure to be on time, which makes it quite tricky, given that you're like you've got to schedule classes.
You've got like five classes to teach a week. So you actually really badly late.
Oh, so this is. The one that probably all my friends and family are waiting for, they're like, here we go.
I am either so OCD with time or I am terrible. And when it comes to work, I panic so much about time that I'm always early. So when we put together a class, we basically write up notes which give all the timing of when we want to do certain interviews and stuff which goes to the production team. I guess there are production technicians that basically cut the classes to turn them into the classes that they are. So there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes for a class.
We don't just jump on the bike and give it a go. It's very thought about and it's very intricate. Structured. Yeah, very structured.
And I am always that's always on, always in on time. When it comes to my personal life, I have spent the last thirty three years or let's say 30 years basically apologizing for being late. And I think it's terrible. I mean, honestly, in my dance career it became a running joke. I mean, there's two types of people that my best friend Danielle, who if rehearsals start at 10 a.m., she is there at nine thirty and she's making a cup of tea.
She's relaxed and she's having a chat. And then there's me who runs in at ten minutes to ten, still tries to make that cup of tea, chucked my bags down in a mess, sweating already. I mean, I don't know what it is. I mean, I drive Ben mad. He's like, why are you still getting ready? We were supposed to leave ten minutes ago. And I'm like, I don't know where the time's gone.
And I have spent my whole adult life saying, I'm not sure where the time has gone. So it's something that in my professional life, I mean, as a dancer, I was always like the peloton. I can't be like I mean, there is nothing like like classes to make sure you are on time. But in my personal life, it still needs a lot of work. But I was on time for this was not what you were.
So on time you were so and so funny listening to you because I'm the opposite in the naturally I'm so ridiculously punctual that I end up being early and people get offended. I'm early because then I'll be waiting. And now I've tried to factor in other people's lateness and therefore not make them feel bad for being late when I'm early. And so now I always run slightly late as well because I think it's more socially acceptable.
It is socially acceptable. But then, you know, you read everywhere that when you're late, it means you're not respecting people's time.
And it's like, no, no, no, I do.
I just don't know where the time goes after lockdown is finally over and we have a vaccine.
And when our lights go out and meet people again and you and I meet for the first time, you can be as late as you want, Leonowens me, because I will wait for a lifetime just to have a cocktail with you. It has been so lovely to get to talk to you for this beautiful hour. And I cannot thank you enough not only for what you do on the bike, but who you are off the bike. You inspire me every day and I know that you would have inspired loads of listeners as well.
So thank you so, so much for coming on. How to Feel.
Thank you so much. I've had such a lovely time. And for anybody listening, please take the pressure off of yourselves. You're doing an amazing job and just do what feels right for you. So that changes people's days then that.
If you enjoyed this episode of How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, I would so appreciate it if you could rate review and subscribe. Apparently it helps other people know that we exist.