Marina Perry: From Flying High To High-Flyer

The plan was to make enough money from teaching Pilates to get back into the stock market. But instead, I found I loved what I was doing. I just glowed. You will know it in your heart when it’s right for you.

Marina Perry doesn’t breathe when she’s talking. Like, she literally does not pause to breathe. And the words that pour out of her mouth are a river of pure gold. If you don’t take notes around this woman, you’re crazy.

It’s 8 in the morning and Marina looks fresh and chipper as she takes the floor at the League of Extraordinary Women breakfast in Melbourne. This is all the more impressive because she just got off a plane and has obviously been up since the crack of dawn. She’s oozing vitality in the way only a person who really knows their way around a gym can do. I almost expect her to leap up amongst the brightly-coloured umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and do one-armed pull-ups as she’s talking. She doesn’t, but I bet she could if she wanted to.

“I’ve never been a girly girl,” she tells us, which is easy to believe despite the hot pink jacket and matching lipstick she’s sporting today.

“I have always been a girl’s girl but not a girly girl – I am my father’s son. But I love women. I love the sisterhood.”

The founder of PURE Health Clubs and The Lean Mumma System, Marina’s professional life is all about helping women reach their full potential. She’s also a business coach and just in case that doesn’t eat up all her spare time, she’s got a couple of kids too. She’s only been speaking for three minutes and already I’m wondering what the hell have I been doing with my time!

So how did this empire of positive thinking and healthy living come about? It all started with an aviation degree – naturally! Because, of course, Marina is also a qualified pilot. Yes, she can fly planes too! (Note to self: DO SOMETHING with your life!)

“I studied aviation and did the entire degree,” she said. “My Dad is a pilot and my sister is a pilot and there was a lot of weight on me to be the pin-up of aviation. I was on brochures!”

But it all came tumbling down when a friend in the class ahead of her died in a fatal crash.

“Andrew disappeared on a charter flight up north,” she said. “I was at the memorial and I remember people were saying, ‘at least he died doing what he loved’. And it made me think, ‘If that happened to me, my parents couldn’t take solace in that because to me, this is just a job’.”

The hardest thing was breaking the news to her dad.

“Stepping away from the brainwashing of your childhood takes a certain level of bravery. It takes courage,” Marina said.

“I had to have that conversation with my father and he said, ‘Babe, I just want you to be happy’.”

I’d like to say Marina then had a clear vision of her own hopes and dreams and was free to follow them but it wasn’t that simple.

“In the next phase of my life, I had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew it wasn’t what I’d been doing,” she said.

For a while she played the stock market, until she lost all her money as a result of the September 11 attacks on New York. She then drifted into Pilates.

“The plan was to make enough money from teaching Pilates to get back into the stock market,” she said.

“But instead, I found I loved what I was doing. I just glowed. You will know it in your heart when it’s right for you.”

Since then, Marina has gone on to become a powerhouse businesswoman and loves sharing her secrets for success with other women. Her top tips are:
1.    Take imperfect action.  Your 80% is well in excess of most people’s 100% so don’t get stuck in a perfectionistic rut. Just get it out there!
2.    Don’t self-sabotage. The overweight girl worries that if she loses the weight she won’t be funny anymore or her friends won’t like her and it stops her from losing weight. Everything is a choice. If it doesn’t work you can stop doing it.
3.    Stand for something. Be clear about who you are and what your values are and people will be drawn to you. Ask, “What do you do differently?” The more clearly defined you are, the more people will want to be part of it.

Finally, Marina says, “Forget perfect; be authentic”. Whatever awesome stuff you take from her talk, make it your own because the real deal is better than a cheesy knock-off any day.

Something tells me it would be a hard job imitating Marina anyway. After 30 minutes of just listening to her, I need a nap!

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Heather Potter

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