A Victoria-based TikToker is getting attention for her videos on Pilates for people with disabilities and her willingness to fight back.
Norah Myers went from 4,000 to 81,000 followers in eight days. Two months later she had more than one million followers and now has 17 million likes.
A Pilates instructor with cerebral palsy, she uses social media tools to advance her work and promote the workout for people with disabilities.
An advocate for body neutrality, where one focuses on how their body works for them rather than how it looks, Myers also lobbies for more people with disabilities, BIPOC and LGBTQS+ community working as teachers in the wellness community. “We really need that representation on the instructor side in the wellness space,” she says.
More than a decade ago, a massage therapist told her if she didn’t exercise, the massage was a waste of time so she found herself in a Pilates studio, and never looked back.
“I’ve never really been a gym person and I don’t really like the gym,” she said, recalling how much she compared herself to others using the space.
What she loves about Pilates is its adaptability and accessibility. There are at least two or three ways to modify or adapt any exercise, she said. So she started a practice, promoting it for those managing an injury, chronic pain or other disability.
In 2019 she took it online with Instagram, and tried for nearly three years to work to the esthetic nature of the platform – makeup and styled hair for a polished fitness look.
“That didn’t work for me. I maybe had in three years five clients from Instagram,” she said.
She moved to Victoria from Manitoba in December 2021 and brought her online practice with her.
Social media wasn’t great at converting a follower to a client, so she switched to making it more fun for her, rather than work for business.
One day she created a reaction to another video that pointed out no matter how much work you do, you’re always disposable. In it, she shared her perspective from a previous job where she went from working 12 hours a day to being replaced within three hours.
That video went viral and had 4.6 million views
“I think it resonated with a lot of people,” she said.“If it hasn’t happened to you, you know somebody it’s happened to in some capacity.”
But some people missed the message.
Then the bullying started.
@wellnessbynorah Replying to @monban ♬ original sound - Norah | Pilates Instructor
At the start of September, someone commented on her appearance. So she fought back.
“I became known as the person responding to bullies… I would sometimes respond to the worst one and make a video about it. It felt like people were almost competing to what comment I would respond to,” she says. “For about six weeks I was waking up to thousands and thousands of hate comments every day.”
It got to the point where it all felt a bit performative, and still does at times. While it’s still not a good business model – 1.1 million followers translates to five paying clients so far – the message is moving well.
She posts an exercise a day and knows from analytics folks are revisiting it.
“There are people coming back every day, there are people watching my YouTube channel,” she said. And the live Tik Tok sessions can have 700 or 800 people doing the stretch with her.
For some, it’s a return to Pilates, for others they’ve sought a studio near them.