Balancing the Grind with Leah Simmons, Founder of KAAIAA

The founder of fitness program KAAIAA, Leah is an educator, a mum, a speaker and a media personality with a raw, honest and authentic approach to life.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

My background is pretty diverse – I often say I feel like I’ve had 9 lives! I was a DJ for 15 years and my love of music took me to London in the early 2000’s to run a record label. I have always been active so when I moved back to Australia in 2007 at the ripe old age of 30 I decided I wanted a change.

I had just been introduced to the Pilates method and loved it so much that it inspired me to train as an instructor. I taught in a studio for 8 years. Along the way I had a son (13) and a daughter (4) and ended up living between Sydney and Bali for the best part of 5 years. When I turned 40 I realised that my health goals had changed.

I was still wanting to train and look after my body but I also wanted a way to optimise the other areas of my life. I had started incorporating practices such as breath work, meditation and kundalini yoga into my training routine which were having profound effects on my mental and emotional health but I couldn’t find a workout that combined them all in a time-efficient (and cost-effective) way.

So I trained in all of the modalities I loved and created KAAIAA. An all-in-one solution that combines 4 proven practices into 1 complete workout. It’s the best of everything that allows me to have a strong body, a clear mind and a consistent positive outlook on life. And this is where I am today! Feeling and looking the best I ever have at 46 years young!

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

A typical day for me is that I have no typical days! I have my kids on a cycle (one lives in Sydney, one lives half her time in Bali) and I split them between their respective parents. So my mornings are either making lunches, getting kids to school and generally doing mum-stuff or I am teaching online classes, doing a corporate event or filming content. I love the variety that my life brings but I do have an organised calendar that everyone must stick to! My daily non-negotiables are KAAIAA, movement and time outdoors – I try to get all 3 into my day.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

Whilst I have a healthy relationship with both my work life and my personal life I let go of the need to try to maintain a 50/50 balance a long time ago. It just wasn’t sustainable for me and all it led to was feelings of guilt that I was letting one or the other side down.

Instead I have accepted the fact that some things will require more energy and attention than others at different times and have developed a good intuition to be able to know when I need to adjust my focus.

Balance for me is zooming out a little and looking at my life through a broader lens, then making any changes I need to ensure everyone (including myself) is getting what they need. Checking in with yourself and those around you, constant communication and honest conversations are the keys to maintaining any kind of meaningful balance in your life.

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

I greatly reduced my alcohol intake a while ago (not that I was a big drinker to start with) however I found that the energy I needed to be able to teach and show up for my community required me to be as clear as I possibly could be.

Alcohol (even the smallest amount) limited my ability to feel my best so I decided to do away with it (for the most part). I found that my sleep improved, my energy levels improved, my level of presence improved and that all led me to make better choices around my health and where I committed my time. Don’t get me wrong though.. I love a good glass of champagne once in a while!

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

As I live and breathe health and wellness, sometimes balance for me is actually tuning into something that isn’t around that topic. Whilst I love a good podcast and adore reading I am currently obsessed with audiobooks. I listen to them in the car, on my walks.. wherever I get some time. I am knee deep in Stephen Fry’s Heroes – he’s an incredible storyteller and narrator.. It is soooooo good. I could listen to him talk all day! 

Beyond that my favourite podcasts are Smartless (Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, Will Arnett), Huberman Lab (Andrew Huberman), The Rich Roll Podcast, The Well Fu*ked Woman (Kim Anami) and We Can Do Hard Things (Glennon Doyle)

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Balance is different for everyone so don’t get caught up in the numbers. Do what feels right for you and don’t be afraid to admit if you need to make changes. There is no failure in life, only opportunities to learn.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.