Author Jojo Moyes on finding Pilates in her fifties: “All my aches and pains have disappeared”

The best-selling romance writer says Pilates has changed her relationship with her body – and wishes she’d discovered it 20 years ago.

She’s won our hearts with her best-selling romance novels, but writer Jojo Moyes has revealed that she’s been struggling with stiffness and pain.

The writer of the hugely successful Me Before You says that being hunched over a computer had left her aching and stiff, so three months ago she started practising Pilates.

Now Moyes credits the popular exercise with changing her relationship with her body and leaving her pain free.

Jojo Moyes pictured in a red shirt and black jacketCredit: dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

“It’s not a kind of high-impact exercise,” she says about Pilates. “But I end up feeling like every bit of me is rejuvenated. I’m at an age where often I feel quite stiff, and I never feel stiff at the end of a session. All my aches and pains have disappeared.

“I’ve never been a very flexible person. And now I’m getting flexy, which is quite strange at my age to suddenly feel like my body is moving and stretching in a different way.”


“I wish I’d discovered it 20 years ago”

Fifty-four-year-old Moyes has sold more than 40 million books. Her latest novel Someone Else’s Shoes was published earlier in 2023 and she described it as a “modern-day menopausal Desperately Seeking Susan”.

Now Moyes has revealed on Instagram how she enjoys spending her time walking, horse riding and going for an occasional run, but that starting Pilates in her fifties has had a massive impact on her life.

“This has made a fundamental difference in how I stand, how I walk and my relationship with my body. I wish I had discovered it 20 years ago,” she says.

Why Pilates is great – especially as we age

Pilates is a low-impact exercise that can help with strength, flexibility and muscle tone. It benefits people of every age and ability, with dozens of different styles that include mat workouts and the machine-based Reformer Pilates.

Moyes’s teacher is Gaby Noble, the founder of Exhale Pilates London, who also teaches singer and actor Harry Styles.

“Pre-hab not rehab”

Noble says Pilates can make a huge difference in people’s lives, especially post-40, when the priority is not only about looking great but also being proactive with your body and health. “As we say, pre-hab not rehab,” she explains.

“As we get older,” she continues, “many people start to lose confidence, as there are things they can’t do any more. They get used to pain, and being stiff and inflexible, but clients that commit to Pilates quite often say they have never felt so good in their bodies before.”

“A lot of people come to Pilates because of pain. It’s recommended by a lot of doctors and physios. But Pilates allows you to take back control of your body again. Age certainly isn’t a barrier and it’s an exercise where it is never too late to start.”


How to start Pilates

If you’ve never tried this form of exercise before, it’s easy to get started – read our Pilates for beginners to find out which is the best type of Pilates for you, how to find a teacher and whether it’s best to do an online or in-person class.
For those already active, it’s a great exercise to add into a fitness programme. Our article on Pilates for runners offers four easy exercises to help build strength and increase running speed.

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her


Phillipa Cherryson is a senior editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV.

Her passion is outdoor fitness. She’s a trainee mountain leader; an Ordnance Survey Champion; she organises walks and instructional events for South Wales members of online community the Adventure Queens and she’s vice chair of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Local Access Forum.

She hated sports at school and only started getting the fitness bug as she reached her 50s. Now she loves mountain walking, trail runs, e-biking, paddleboarding and climbing. She also loves cake.

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